Parliamentary inquiry to ask 'Why Don't More People Cycle'?

MPs to launch inquiry with help of £10,000 grant from Times owner News International

by Simon_MacMichael   September 21, 2012  

Palace Of Westminster At Night © Andrew Dunn.jpg

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) has revealed that it is launching a major inquiry called ‘Why Don’t More People Cycle?’

The APPCG confirmed the inquiry on Twitter this morning, with a link to a Times story that provides further details, including the revelation that the newspaper’s parent company, News International, is providing a £10,000 grant for it.

The inquiry will be led by Dr Julian Huppert and Ian Austin, co-chairs of the APPCG, with a panel of ten MPs hearing evidence from a wide variety of people and organisations including cycling and road safety groups, transport planners and representatives of local and national government.

Earlier this year, Dr Huppert, MP for Cambridge, led a Commons debate on cycle safety after the issue received national attention following the launch of The Times newspaper’s Cities Fit For Cycling initiative in February.

Announcing the new inquiry, Mr Austin, who is MP for Dudley North, said: “The Times campaign has given cycling safety a higher priority than ever before and the stunning success by British cyclists this summer has more people interested in cycling.

“We want to use this inquiry to get all the political parties signed up to an action plan to create a better environment for cycling, make cycling safer and to get more people on their bikes.”

Dr Huppert added: “This work is crucially important if we are to seriously promote cycling as a safe, viable means of transport and give it the investment it needs and which has been seriously lacking in the past.”

18 user comments

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So proud to have Julian Huppert as my MP.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1451 posts]
21st September 2012 - 11:58


Too many people are either lazy or scared. There's your answer. Can I have the £10,000 please?


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
21st September 2012 - 12:05


Jesus, really?

To extend on the above...

Lazy, Scared, Insane motorists
Lazy, Scared, Insane cyclists
Lazy, Scared, Insane councils

That about covers it I reckon... I take it this is essentially money for a PR led 'debate', which I suppose is no bad thing, but the issues are pretty much known aren't they?

I would spend the money working out how to get the interest groups to actually talk to each other. Lock them in a remote hut and feed pies and beer through the post box until the agreed an action plan...

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [419 posts]
21st September 2012 - 12:42


Good that they are enquiring, I suspect there will be few surprises though. I wouldn't put it quite like OldRidgeback though (brutal! Smile ), I think that as things are at the moment, unless you are already confident on a bicycle you have good reason to be concerned for your safety getting about by bike.

I think too though, even as someone who enjoys cycling, sometimes it can be a bit unpleasant. Having to ride past queues of stopped cars in their exhaust fumes, or use shared paths and wait 1 minute to cross at each intersection (despite the cars in front of you all being stopped) as the lights deprioritise you, or try to avoid traffic and use back roads that are one and a half times as long and get you lost the first dozen times you try your route, people nearly hitting you and not even noticing...

And on top of that (in London anyway) you suddenly become a target for the rage of taxi drivers and others who feel it is their right to drive at or above the speed limit everywhere all the time and resent having to wait to pass you safely (bring on 20MPH for residential streets!).

You dont experience these things to nearly the same extent in your car, on public transport, or even on foot. When viewed from other modes of transport it doesn't look much fun.

sparrow_h's picture

posted by sparrow_h [35 posts]
21st September 2012 - 14:14


Why not? Really? Ok..

As a cyclist government offers zero protection to you despite the PM acknowledging your life is in your hands when you ride (actually it's in the hands of others but let's not be picky).

There are too many cases of cyclists (and all vulnerable road users) being victims of aggressive and lethal driving. Further, the penalties for exploiting what should be a privilege are negligible.

Take the example of the driver in Wales who having spent the night playing poker with mates drove back in the early hours in an uninsured car with 2 bald tyres. He had previously been banned under the point totting up process so he'd already demonstrated he was a risk to society.

He hit the woman who was on her way to work then fled the scene leaving her fate to chance. He dumped the car then hid in bushes with no regard for the safety of his victim. 15 minutes later another motorist found the woman and called for help but the impact proved fatal.

This coward of a specimen had the gall to state he thought his wife had arranged the car insurance. He pleaded not to get a custodial sentence as prison scared him. His defence stated he would have to live with his actions for the rest of his life.

To that I say lucky least you can enjoy the rest of your life and let's be honest, like the vast majority of drivers who kill he'll still get back behind the wheel so the trauma of killing someone clearly doesn't have that much of an impact or you'd never wish to drive again.

He was given a 4 month custodial sentence and another 2 and a half year ban. Pathetic. Just what do you have to do to lose your licence for life? If you kill your licence should be revoked indefinitely, you've proved at an irreversible and catastrophic level that you are not fit to hold such responsibility.

Just what does society owe to these lethal drivers anyway? Why does society insist that everyone must have a licence even when they demonstrate at a sickening level that they are dangerous?

If we extended similar leniency to other situations we would have convicted pedophiles teaching our children, unsafe doctors practicing medicine, drunken pilots taking us on holiday and armed bank robbers being granted a firearms licence. Does government support any of that? So why do we give driving licences out like candy and to anyone, irrespective of their performance?

All we ask is that people operating lethal machinery do so in a safe manner, particularly around vulnerable groups. Is that too much to ask?! If I go running and find a group of small children in my way do I not slow down or walk as necessary to ensure I don't hurt them?

Any decent person would agree any individual who went barreling through and knocked them over was being completely unreasonable but when a car does the same around pedestrians/horses/cyclists government doesn't bat an eyelid.

Make the roads safe, remove those who use their cars aggressively or prove they are unfit to operate such machinery and protect road users for the good of all.

Do that and perhaps we'll see people willing to let their kids ride to school and prepared to try cycling knowing they are far less likely to lose their life at the hands of someone on the phone posting a message on their facebook site.

'just killed someone LOL'

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [210 posts]
21st September 2012 - 14:16


Never mind the 'it's obvious' retorts, it might be obvious in many people's heads but until it's written down formally for a political audience, nothing is going to change fundamentally. Let's hope that the cycling groups involved are able to articulate the issues properly.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3724 posts]
21st September 2012 - 14:40


I think you could get a good idea why more people do not cycle by reading this (and other) cycling internet sites! You do not need £10K for that! BUT I am nearly always happy as a pig in shit whilst on the bike; even if not so happy when climbing on! The knob-head drivers are a small minority; maybe we should try and convey to more people why we enjoy something that is not always obviously good fun?

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
21st September 2012 - 14:46


There are a good few people near me who say that they would like to start cycling but are too scared to ride on roads. I wouldn't say where I live is particularly busy, but you do get drivers overtaking on blind bends, passing too close, sitting right behind your back wheel and gunning the engine etc. Sadly it's something I've had to accept if I want to do something I enjoy.

Having said that, last Sunday a pimped-up Q7 waited patiently behind me on a single lane country road, came through when I indicated it was clear and thanked me when I gave a thumbs up for not overtaking earlier, so I won't tar everyone with the same brush.

posted by Sadly Biggins [271 posts]
21st September 2012 - 16:01


The point about this enquiry isn't that it 'we already know the answers' - it's that government doesn't! They will go through a fairly rigorous process to hear 'evidence' – statements from experts and published reports, etc.

They will need to get to the bottom of difficult questions, like 'why do local authorities not make more provision for cycling as an alternative to car travel on short journeys?'.

They will also have to identify what actions to recommend to address the barriers to cycling they identify. It's all part of the democratic process of overcoming inertia and changing road transport policy. This is a great opportunity for all of us.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
21st September 2012 - 16:32


@ironmancole Good answer, all your points are taken! Still think mine covers most of that - perhaps if I had added Lazy, insane and frightened Legislators that make it better...

Sure, if there was a chance at a good judicial review of the sentencing around cyclist killed on the road, and just perhaps a change in the law to make the driver culpable in the first instance... well actually that would be worth millions!

So yeah, ok, IT IS a good idea to get politicians et al on the case. And then lock them in a room with pies and beer until they signed up for action.

Happy riding this weekend folks. Me, I'm on the MTB, too much stress on the roads...

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [419 posts]
21st September 2012 - 17:25


What puts parliamentarians off is the '****ing plebs and morons' operating the Downing Street gates who will not open them, like dutiful proles, but instead make important cyclists dismount and push. I mean, talk about treating cyclists as second class road users. Devil

posted by wild man [295 posts]
21st September 2012 - 20:53


post deleted, too much wine!

posted by Arthur Scrimshaw [60 posts]
21st September 2012 - 22:44


Arthur Scrimshaw wrote:
post deleted, too much wine!

Oh, sod it...missed the original...stayed to late at the pub Devil

posted by batch [60 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 0:01


Well the weather is a bit sh*t too Devil

posted by bigant [43 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 2:47


Am sure there is not a single answer to this question and no doubt those organisation giving evidence will point this out.

The question as formulate at least includes both individual choices and governmental choices as potential causes of what is implied lower than desired cycling (it does not say why more cycling is desired)and therefore allows for consideration of virtuous and vicious circles in cycling.

For individuals there are issues of perception verses reality, practicality verses economics verse comfort.

For government one has to wonder how cycling impacts with it's broader policy objectives and what it is prepared to do to maximize the benefits a society might gain from increased cycle use. For all political parties how any cycling related action it proposes for government will impact with voters and how cycling fits with it's general philosophy.

The advantages this inquiry has is a generally positive feeling there is towards cycling and I suspect low expectation of it in terms of immediate impact. It therefore has a unique opportunity to think outside the normal constraints and make a more significant contribution to the longer term development of cycling as a viable transport option.


posted by lushmiester [166 posts]
22nd September 2012 - 11:22


OldRidgeback wrote:
Too many people are either lazy or scared. There's your answer. Can I have the £10,000 please?

To which the next question has to be - WHY are they too lazy or too scared?

Seriously though, while surveys and enquiries usually end up with a statement of the bleedin' obvious, the reason they are still held is that bureaucracy won't respond to the bleedin' obvious, it only responds to formal studies and enquiries.

Who knows, they might even respond to this, in some useful way

posted by Paul M [345 posts]
23rd September 2012 - 14:22


well put notfastenough (reply doesn't seem to work for me).

posted by nuclear coffee [201 posts]
24th September 2012 - 15:16

1 Like

As most posts on this site say (some very well) politicians cannot see the bleedin' obvious until it is written down in an official report, but I think that until the culture of thinking changes in this country a lot of people will still state as their (main) reason for not cycling is the percieved danger/threat from motorists.


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [735 posts]
24th September 2012 - 16:57