It’s time to take cycling seriously, MPs will start hearing tomorrow when the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group begins taking evidence for an inquiry, a report from which will be presented to the Government for actioning. ‘Get Britain Cycling’ will have six evidence sessions with a panel of MPs and Peers who will take verbal evidence from a selected group of witnesses. The first session is tomorrow and the last session will be on 6th March. On the morning of the first session three publications have been asked to give evidence: The Times, The Guardian and BikeBiz.
The Times will be represented by journalists Phillip Pank and Kaya Burgess; ‘bike blog’ editor Peter Walker will be appearing for The Guardian; the bike industry and the endemic cycle media will be represented by Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz. Reid will be discussing whether there’s a genuine urban cycling ‘bike sales boom’ and the scourge of pavement parking (did you know there’s a national blanket ban on cycling on the pavement but none for parking a car on the pavement?)
‘Get Britain Cycling’ was set up thanks to the ‘cities safe for cycling’ campaing by The Times.
Pank and Burgess will present the inquiry with the results of an online survey of 14,000 people. When asked what could be done to encourage people to cycle, more than 25 percent suggested segregated cycle lanes, 23 percent called for simpler and safer junctions and 16 percent wanted 20mph speed limits and road surface improvements.
The inquiry is set to examine the barriers which are preventing more people from cycling in the UK. Cycling makes up 2 percent of all journeys, compared to 27 percent in the Netherlands and 18 percent in Denmark. Some European towns have more than 50 percent of all journeys made by bike.
A report with recommendations will be written by Professor Phil Goodwin and will be published in mid-April.
“I hope we can get the Government to take action," said Julian Huppert, the LibDem MP for Cambridge, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. "They have said they will take good ideas seriously.”
On the first day of the inquiry the MPs and Peers will hear evidence from British Cycling’s Martin Gibbs, Roger Geffen of the CTC, Andre Curtis of Cyclenation, the umbrella organisation for Britain’s cycle advocacy groups, and Jason Torrance of Sustrans.
Also called to give evidence are Phillip Darnton, executive director of the Bicycle Association, Lynn Sloman of Transport for Quality of Life, and University of Westminster’s transport specialist Rachel Aldred.
The panel for the first session will be Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Lord Hoffmann, Ian Austin MP, Julian Huppert MP, Sarah Wollaston MP and Steve Brine MP.
The session will be held at the House of Commons in Committee Room 13 between 9.30 and 11.30am.
Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, Ian Austin MP said: “We’re launching this inquiry to build on the momentum created by the Times’ brilliant campaign which has given cycling safety a higher priority than ever before. It’s great that all the political parties have expressed support for the campaign, but the time has come for the government to commit to real change in the way Britain’s transport system is run to make cycling safer and get more people on their bikes.”
Huppert added: “We have made huge headway in getting the government to support this campaign to make our cities safer for cyclists, but we need more to happen. It’s time to turn Cameron’s commitment into a year-on-year budget so that when the cycling inquiry releases its findings they can be acted on quickly and efficiently.”