Stuck in first gear – the Government’s Cycling Revolution

Parliamentarians call for more investment and more ambitious cycling targets

A report on the current state of cycling in Britain calls for 10 per cent of all journeys in Britain to be by bike by 2025 and a minimum investment of £10 per person per year, rising to £20 per person.

The report of the influential All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) also calls for a commitment to improve enforcement of traffic laws.

The group’s report, published today (8th June) follows an evidence session in May with the Minister for cycling, and representatives from cycling organisations and business.

The Prime Minister expressed his intention to start a “cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists” in August 2013, following the publication of the APPCG’s ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report.

The APPCG’s recent evidence session and subsequent report, examined the extent to which the Government’s draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) will be the catalyst to start the revolution.

The APPCG’s Recommendations to strengthen the CWIS are:

  • Strong ambition to see a cycling revolution
  • Greater investment in cycling
  • Clear direction that cycling is a national priority
  • Robust measures to gauge progress nationally and locally
  • Improving quality of cycle infrastructure design
  • Deregulation of street design
  • An updated Highway Code
  • Action to improve enforcement of traffic laws

Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham (Con) and Co-Chair of the group, said: ‘Cycling has huge advantages – it is healthy, efficient, reliable, green and fun. When more people cycle, society benefits.’

‘It is high time we kick-started a true cycling revolution, one that reaches beyond the lycra brigade and benefits all parts of society – particularly women and children.’

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth (Lab) and Co-Chair of the group said: ‘The real test of whether something is taken seriously in Government is who leads on it – and that means the Prime Minister has to take that lead and follow through on his pledge to create a cycling revolution’

‘We can achieve similar levels of cycling to our European neighbours, if there is the political will up and down the country to do this. There are good examples of better conditions for cycling around the country, but it must not be a postcode lottery’

 

 

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Ruth Cadbury MP & Alex Chalk MP

 

APPCG Inquiry – Stuck in first gear – the Government’s Cycling Revolution

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Government cycling strategy to undergo Parliamentary inquiry

 An all-party group of Parliamentarians will hold an inquiry into the Government’s commitment to cycling in Westminster on Monday (23rd May). The inquiry will take evidence from the Transport Minister Robert Goodwill MP, Olympic gold medalist Chris Boardman as well as cycling organisations and transport experts on recent government proposals outlined in their consultation for the ‘Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy’, which closes on Monday 23 May.

 The last APPCG last inquiry in March 2013 resulted in the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report with 18 recommendations to improve cycling. This inquiry led to a debate in the House of Commons with over 100 cross-party MPs attending and supporting the recommendations. Following this activity, the Prime Minister announced a ‘cycling revolution’ in August 2013, funding of £10 per head was announced for 8 cycling cities in November 2014, and the first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy was announced as part of the Infrastructure Act in January 2015.

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 Ruth Cadbury MP (Brentford and Isleworth, Lab) said: “The Cycling and Walking Strategy is a first for Government, so it is to be welcomed and deserves proper scrutiny. Our inquiry will seek to be assured that the Government is able to meet its laudable aim of making cycling “the natural choice for shorter journeys or as part of a longer journey”.

“We will want to establish if the Government’s proposed funding of £300m is enough to meet their targets for greater rates cycling in the UK.

 Alex Chalk MP (Cheltenham, Con) said: “Last time the All Party Cycling Group held an inquiry it drew significant cross party interest and sparked the beginning of a ‘cycling revolution’.”

“This inquiry is to make sure that revolution hasn’t gone flat. We know there is overwhelming cross-party agreement to promote cycling – and we believe that Government should do it all can to promote and support a sustainable form of transport, that relieves congestion, addresses climate change and health issues, whilst at the same time making a valuable contribution to the local economy.”

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Press release: The House of Commons Transport Select Committee has published its report on ‘Road Traffic Law Enforcement’

18 March 2016

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee has published its report on ‘Road Traffic Law Enforcement’

The full report is available here.

There is a whole chapter on cycling, and the Committee says: “The increase in injuries among pedal cyclists is of particular concern”

Other findings highlight the link between how seriously the police take cyclists’ reports of ‘near misses’ with how dangerous people think cycling is, and that the police are all too often unwilling to pursue cyclists’ reports of dangerous driving, even when they have camera footage to illustrate the incident.

The Transport Committee also mentions perceptions of cycling safety: “The level to which cyclists feel unsafe on the roads due to a perceived failure to enforce traffic law is at odds with the Government’s aim to promote cycling, and must be addressed.” The Committee would like to see research commissioned by the Home Office on how collisions or near misses are handled by the police.

Ruth Cadbury MP and Alex Chalk MP both welcome the report and hope that the Government will implement the recommendations.

Ruth Cadbury MP: “I am pleased to see that the Transport Committee has recognised that enforcing road safety laws will create better conditions for people riding bikes. It is essential that police forces are supported to boost the numbers of traffic police, which in recent years have fallen.”

Alex Chalk MP: “If we are going to achieve a true cycling revolution, cyclists need to feel safer on our roads. Robust enforcement is part of the solution. Bad driving which puts cyclists at risk of serious injury or worse needs to be taken seriously by traffic police. I’m pleased the Transport Committee agrees.”


 

The Transport Select Committee published this press release about their report:

Motoring offences undetected due to fewer specialist traffic officers

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Press release: APPCG response to the March 2016 Budget

All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group response to the March 2016 Budget

There was no more money announced for cycling in this week’s Budget but the All Party Cycling Group has welcomed the news that the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme will continue to operate as normal.

Ruth Cadbury MP: The Chancellor announced further large investments for road building, but on a national level cycling continues to receive small amounts of money and well below the £10/ head that was recommended in the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report.

Alex Chalk MP: We are delighted to see that the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme will still be available to employees, as three-quarters of a million people have already benefitted from this excellent initiative.


 

The APPCG wrote to the Chancellor regarding the Cycle To Work scheme, prior to the budget:

Rt Hon George Osborne MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

9th March 2016

Dear Chancellor,

We are writing as the chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to express our support for the government-backed Cycle to Work Scheme and to urge you, ahead of the Budget, to ensure that it remains in place as a key national policy tool for increasing participation in cycling. The scheme has an important role in achieving the Government’s manifesto commitment to double the number of journeys made by bicycle.

With HM Treasury’s ongoing review of salary sacrifice schemes and speculation that further policy action relating to salary sacrifice could be announced at the upcoming Budget, we believe that it is important that the scheme – and the salary sacrifice mechanism that underpins it – remain in place.

The scheme is an effective and cost-efficient way of driving behavioural change and encouraging non-cyclists to undertake physical activity. Over 500,000 individuals are currently commuting to work by bicycle through the scheme. Recent research undertaken by the Cycle to Work Alliance found that 62% of participants in the scheme were either non-cyclists, novice cyclists or occasional cyclists before joining the scheme, and having joined the scheme 79% of respondents described themselves as en-thusiastic cyclists who cycle regularly.

The scheme plays a key role in delivering government policy in relation to public health and sustaina-ble travel. It also plays a key role in improving employee wellbeing, reducing absenteeism and improv-ing productivity in the workplace. The scheme is critical to the success of the UK bicycle trade, with the scheme delivered in partnership with over 2,200 independent bike retailers, the majority of whom are small, regional businesses.

Yours sincerely,

Ruth Cadbury MP & Alex Chalk MP

Co-Chairs
All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group

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Update on the Government’s proposed review of motoring offences and penalties

In November 2015 Lord Berkeley, the All Party Cycling Group Secretary wrote to Andrew Selous MP (below), in the Ministry of Justice regarding the Government’s proposed review of motoring offences and penalties.

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He didn’t receive a reply, and followed it up with another letter in January of this year:


 

Rt Hon Andrew Selous MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice
Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France, London SWIH 9AJ

26 January 2016

My letter of 18 November 2015 and the Government’s proposed review of motoring offences and penalties – written answers to questions of the Minister 14123, 14124 and 21522.

I refer to my previous letter to you of the 18th November last year, to which I note I have yet to receive a response. You will recall that I wrote to you as a Vice President of CTC, the national cycling charity, to seek clarification on:

  • Whether the Government’s review of driving offences and penalties has commenced yet;
  • If so when the public consultation phase will commence;
  • If not, when the review will commence and when will the consultation phase begin;
  • and the reason for the delay in progressing this to date.

The then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP announced via a Ministry of Justice (MOJ) release the Government’s intention to undertake a review of all driving offences and penalties (‘the review’) as long ago as the 6th May 2014. In my original letter I outlined the subsequent chronology, and the delay in this review being progressed. I also explained that the answer you gave to written questions to the Secretary of State (numbers 14123 and 14124), were no more helpful than your response in September at a Westminster Hall debate. For reasons of brevity I will not repeat the chronology, questions and answers here, but they are clearly set out in my first letter.

I wrote to you because I sought a clear answer to the questions above, including reference to a timetable and what has or has not been undertaken to date. Whilst waiting for your response Ben Bradshaw MP, presumably and understandably frustrated with the inadequate response to his initial questions, tabled a further written question to the Secretary of State for Justice on the 7th January 2016, which you answered as follows on the 15th January 2016:

Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, when the Government plans to commence its review of driving offences; when he plans that the public consultation on that review will take place; and what timetable he has set for the completion of that review.

Answer: Driving offences can have devastating consequences for victims and their loved ones, which is why tough sentences are available to the courts. It is our intention to consult on sentencing proposals, including driving, before the end of the year.

The original MOJ release indicated that the review would include all driving offences and penalties. Your recent answer only mentions sentencing, and makes no references to a review of driving offences whatsoever. Nearly two years on, I am unclear whether the Government has shelved the planned review of motoring offences, or whether your answer simply failed to mention that part of the review. Can you please clarify the remit and extent of this review?

You have specifically been asked by both Ben Bradshaw and myself for a timetable regarding this review, and a commencement date. Your recent answer merely refers to ‘an intention to consult … before the end of this year’. That is eleven months away and I am unaware whether this means that the review has commenced already, will commence in some other form before the ‘consultation’ commences, or is intended to commence as and when the consultation commences.

As I indicated in my earlier letter, the purpose of parliamentary questions is to afford parliamentarians the opportunity to question Ministers on relevant issues of concern. The present position is that questions have been asked at a Westminster Hall debate, CTC have written to your Department, parliamentary questions have twice been tabled, and I have written to you directly so far without response. Despite this the position is still unclear, and neither my questions nor those of Ben Bradshaw MP have been clearly or satisfactorily answered.

I am also aware that only five days after your last parliamentary answer, press reports emerged referring to the Government’s intention to consider sentencing in relation to drink or drug drivers who kill people whilst in control of a vehicle, as part of a broader review or criminal sentencing, which Ministers were said to be hoping would be ready by the Queen’s Speech the following year.

I am therefore left unclear whether:

  • This means that the proposed review of motoring offences and penalties has now become a review of criminal sentencing generally;
  • If the remit of the review has changed, whether it is just sentencing in serious driving offences (however defined), or those where someone has killed someone whilst in control of a vehicle, which are being reviewed;
  • Whether the timescale now involves a consultation hopefully beginning before the end of the year, or whether this has now been pushed back to the next Queen’s Speech.

I trust that you appreciate my frustration, and indeed disappointment, with this unsatisfactory state of affairs. I would be grateful if you could now expeditiously answer the questions repeated at the beginning of this letter, with reference to a timescale, and including clarification of the remit of the review given recent press reports.

Tony Berkeley


 

Here is the reply from Andrew Selous:

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Government Minister confirms cycling spend is £6 per person, per year

During a recent debate on cycling in the House of Lords Lord Berkeley, the Secertary of the All Party Cycling Group asked the Transport Minister, Lord Ahmad for more detail on the Government’s claim of spending £6 per head of population per annum on cycling.

Click on the link below to read the letter from Lord Ahmad to Lord Berkeley:

xc160222 letter form Lord Ahmed on cycling budgets

 

 

 

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House of Lords debate ‘promotion of cycling as safe transport’

One of the founder members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, Lord Young of Cookham secured a debate in the House of Lords on the promotion of cycling as a safe form of transport.

Here is the transcript of the debate, and a report from CTC

 

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