Julian Huppert says, “Get Britain Cycling”!

On Wednesday, after a four month inquiry, the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group – of which I’m co-chair – published our plan to “Get Britain Cycling”.

Cycling is fast, safe, healthy, cheap, environmentally sound, and fun. Yet in 2011 less than 2% of journeys made in the UK were by bike.

For a nation in which 30% of our children are overweight or obese, and our roads are increasingly congested, this is a serious problem.

Our report sets out how, with strong leadership from the top, we can increase the proportion of journeys made by bike to 10% by 2025, and 25% by 2050, while making cycling safer.

We already have cross-party support through the APPG, and we’ve even got support from the Automobile Association. The President of the AA, Edmund King, said that ‘if the recommendations in Get Britain Cycling are followed through it should be the catalyst for change to put cycling on the front foot… We now need leadership to match this vision.’

The key thing we need is leadership from the top and an end to the apathy over cycling policy.

At PMQs, I asked Cameron to support our report. He agreed that “we should be doing much more in our country to encourage cycling” and “this report has many good points in it”.

With support from the top, and continued Lib Dem pressure (we’ve long been the loudest political voice for cyclists, and Norman Baker is an excellent Cycling Minister), we could implement the report’s recommendations and Get Britain Cycling.

This is a vital opportunity for British politicians to do the right thing – both at the local level in the run up to the local elections, and on the national stage. Let’s make sure we don’t waste it.

The key recommendations were:

  • More of the transport budget should be spent on supporting cycling, at a rate initially set to at least £10 per person per year, and increasing as cycling levels increase.
  • Cycling should be considered at an earlier stage in all planning decisions, whether transport schemes or new houses or businesses.
  • More use should be made of segregated cycle lanes, learning from the Dutch experience.
  • Urban speed limits should generally be reduced to 20 mph.
  • Just as children learn to swim at school they should learn to ride a bike.
  • The Government should produce a detailed cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan, with annual progress reports.

The Times, who’ve done a huge amount of work on this issue, have launched an e-petition to support these proposals. It opened on Wednesday morning – and has already hit over 32,000 signatures. Please sign it and help us deliver real change.

* Julian Huppert was the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge from 2010-15

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  • Stuart Mitchell 26th Apr '13 - 12:47pm

    I feel rather hypocritical about this as, despite being a lifelong cycling enthusiast myself, the thought of my kids taking to the road on two wheels fills me with horror. The reason being that I see on a daily basis just how many drivers flout speed limits and/or drive along with eyes fixed downwards at their smartphones rather than concentrating on their driving. In the absence of a proper comprehensive cycle network (which I don’t think will ever happen in this country), the main thing that would make cycling safer would be better enforcement of the road traffic laws.

  • @ Andrew Ducker

    I’d love to cycle too, but I’m also put off by safety concerns. I live in central London and it is dangerous enough driving around in a car (which I hasten to add, I rarely do), let alone using a bike. My dream is not only to be able to cycle safely around the area I live and into central London, but also to be able to get on a train and take my bike to the countryside and cycle around there. Yet, if cycling infrastructure is bad in London, it is usually non existent outside major cities.

    We desperately need dedicated cycle infrastructure, but that will take money, and taking it from the existing transport budget i.e. buses, trains etc is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    As always, it’s a failure of public debate. No one wants to admit that to have good public transport and cycle facilities, we have to have funding and in order to do this, we have to levy taxes. Until we can convince people that these are things worth paying for (yes, you and me actually having to pay for nice public stuff rather than borrowing money like Labour politicians constantly advocate), then we are not going to get anywhere with this.

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