MPs – and a Lord – from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group met with Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin on Wednesday, and pressed him on his department's lacklustre support for cycling.
MPs Ruth Cadbury, Alex Chalk, Dr. Sarah Wollaston and Steve Brine were joined by Lord Berkeley. They asked the Transport Secretary to clarify the funding for cycling following the recent reduced settlement in the Comprehensive Spending Review. The MPs and Lord Berkeley also urged McLoughlin to chivvy his department along over the adoption of National Design Standards. London and Wales have been sharing a "Best Practice Base" to share knowledge but nationally little appears to moving.
McLoughlin said that he will be “very mindful to fund cycling bids submitted through the Local Growth Fund." When challenged on the APPCG call for spending £10 per head, per annum on cycling (one of the APPCG's 18 Get Britain Cycling recommendations), he said he while he could not guarantee it, there is no reason why “all the pots of money available to cycling, won’t add up to £10 per head”.
The APPCG members also asked McLoughlin to follow the lead taken by the Highways Agency and ensure that all DfT-funded road schemes are "cycle-proofed".
As HGV-related cycle deaths has been a major issue for the APPCG, members sought assurance that the Transport Secretary would focus attention on initiatives that reduces deaths and serious injuries of cyclists under the wheels of heavy lorries. Initiatives discussed included incentivising hauliers to invest in direct vision lorries, encouraging site developers to transport heavy loads by rail rather than road, and for the DfT to work with other departments to consider hypothecating fines to make enforcement regimes more affordable for police and local authorities.
Ruth Cadbury, co-chair of the parliamentary cycling group, said: “The Secretary of State shared our concerns over the safety of cyclists and I feel encouraged that he will pursue the suggestions that we made, particularly encouraging Local Authorities to cycle-proof their roads, based on the Highways Agency model.”
Fellow co-chair Alex Chalk said: “I was encouraged by the Secretary of State’s comments about funding streams available through the Local Growth Fund. It is delivering those safe cycle schemes that will be key to getting more people onto bikes.”