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Double Olympic champion currently taking part in Sustrans' Pedal On UK says MPs can't debate cycle safety until you have experienced conditions...

Former Olympic 800 and 1,500 metres champion Dame Kelly Holmes says MPs are not qualified to debate cycle safety in Parliament until they have ridden on Britain's roads.

Speaking ahead of the House of Commons debate on the Get Britain Cycling report on 2 September, Dame Kelly, who won her Olympic gold medals at Athens in 2004, said that politicians needed to lead by example; and that meant getting out of their cars and onto two wheels.

She told The Times (£): “One way is to get everybody out there and let them cycle and see for themselves from a cyclist’s perspective what the issues actually are.

“You can’t debate the subject unless you’ve been on a bike yourself and know the issues that are involved with safer cycling.

“As a politician, if you are going to talk about getting people into healthier lifestyles then you have to lead by example. Boris Johnson does, so why can’t the others?”

Currently acting as an ambassador for Sustrans' Pedal On UK bike ride , Dame Kelly says cycling makes up the majority of her fitness training now she no longer competes.

She went on: “If you’re just going a couple of miles down the road, it would be more beneficial to go by bike than sitting in a car in a traffic jam for two miles.

“You’d get there quicker, it would be cheaper for you, you might enjoy it and it would be part of your normal fitness regime as well.”

MPs from across the political spectrum will debate the Get Britain Cycling report when they return from summer recess in September.

The recommendations they will mull over include:

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 report was published after a six-week long inquiry hosted by the Al Party Parliamentary Cycling Group at the Palace of Westminster earlier this year, and outlines how a goal of 10 per cent of journeys being made by bike by 2025 can be achieved.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

8 comments

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Furry Mommy [32 posts] 2 years ago
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Personally I do think that Dame Kelly Holmes is correct that MPs are not qualified to debate cycling safety issues unless they have ridden on the roads themselves but there again I personally do not believe that many politicians are actually qualified to debate all the issues they do anyway!  13

Does this make their decisions any better or any worse...???  39

I realise what Dame Kelly Holmes is trying to do and that is to get across the point that the vast majority of politicians REALLY do not understand the problems that cyclist have to face on a daily basis because they themselves rarely if ever cycle...but if the politicians are really smart enough to realise they do not know enough and that they should discuss the issues with their own experts or members of their own constituencies they know of who do cycle to find out.

Now wouldn't that be better than letting all these idiots cycle on the roads and get themselves hurt....!!??  19

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qwerky [184 posts] 2 years ago
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Very sensible suggestion by Kelly Homes.

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jova54 [644 posts] 2 years ago
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Apparently my MP has just bought a bike and rides it to constituency events, probably followed by her 'team' in a motor car.

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langsett [35 posts] 2 years ago
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dangerous precedent that people can't debate something unless they have personal experience? So does that mean Dame Kelly can't comment on MPs .....  16

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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Absoluty agree, they've no basis to make policy when they don't know what they're talking about. For example Norman Tebit's recent waffling.  39

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BetterNever [10 posts] 2 years ago
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Eric Pickles on a bike? Yes please!

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nivagh [56 posts] 2 years ago
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BetterNever wrote:

Eric Pickles on a bike? Yes please!

Bwaaaaaahahahaha  24

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tradescant [16 posts] 2 years ago
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Don't some manufacturers still have rider weight limits though?