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MPs call for fivefold increase in Government spending on cycling

Cycling Safety report calls for£10 per head spending, training for motorists, and for government departments to work together

A House of Commons committee says that spending on cycling needs to be raised to £10 per head by 2020 to pay for infrastructure and improve the safety of bike riders.

The appeal is made in a report, Cycling Safety, published today by the Transport Committee, which also says that motorists should be trained in how to share the road safely with people on bike, and calls on government departments to work together on making conditions better for cyclists.

The report says that too often, the approach to providing infrastructure "treats cycling as an add-on to roads – an optional extra to be added if there was spare space, rather than a valid mode of transport."

It cites dangers to cyclists as including "poorly designed junctions, aggressive driving and unsegregated, narrow cycle lanes."

It is also critical of some lorry operators, saying: "We are particularly concerned by the number of construction vehicles, such as concrete and tipper lorries, involved in fatal collisions with cyclists, and the failure of some haulage companies to follow best practice around cycle safety."

A number of the recommendations mirror those contained in the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report, published last year following a parliamentary enquiry.

Launching the report, the Transport Committee’s chair, Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: “Last year 109 cyclists were killed on our roads, and over 3,000 seriously injured.

“Cyclists have told us the dangers they face every day from a lack of cycling infrastructure, poorly-designed junctions and aggressive driving.

“Spending on cycling is currently estimated to be just £2 per head. To make the necessary improvements to cycling infrastructure and training, we call for spending to be increased to £10 per head by 2020.

“Investing in cycling will make the roads safer for all users, and encourage more people to cycle and walk.”

The key recommendations of the report are:

  • Road safety measures should aim to curb the number of cycling casualties while increasing the overall number of cyclists on the road. Achieving both these goals will require steps to improve actual and perceived levels of safety for cyclists on the road.
  • Central government, regional and local authorities, should use all the tools at their disposal to promote the safer sharing of the road between drivers and cyclists.
  • Safe cycling should be made an integral part of the design for all new infrastructure projects.
  • Local authorities should be required to demonstrate that cycling was considered and incorporated into the design of new roads at the earliest stage, and that local cyclists were consulted as part of this process.
  • The disproportionate number of HGVs involved in collisions with cyclists demonstrates that the industry must improve its road safety record.
  • Cycle training should be available to all cyclists: children in primary and secondary school, adults seeking to gain confidence, and those looking to refresh their road skills.
  • DVSA must ensure that drivers are tested—in the practical test if possible, and certainly via the theory test—on their approach to sharing the road with cyclists.
  • Government should reassess its approach to road safety awareness and set out, in its response to this report, the steps it will take to ensure a clear and consistent message of mutual respect between all road users and compliance with the law by cyclists and drivers.
  • Government should consider amending the Highway Code to promote cycle safety and ensure that it reflects the rights of cyclists to share the road with drivers.

Ms Ellman added: “The Committee calls for a cultural change across government, so that all departments work together to fund and facilitate support for cycling.”

“Transport Ministers must demonstrate clear political leadership by championing cycling and the Department for Transport must co-ordinate action across government on this vital agenda.”

Among those who gave evidence to the committee was Roger Geffen, campaigns director at national cyclists’ organisation CTC.

He said: “I am delighted that MPs have once again backed what CTC has long been calling for. Cross-departmental leadership, clear cycle-friendly design standards and serious long-term funding commitments are essential if Britain’s long-overdue ‘Cycling Revolution’ is finally to get underway.”

CTC president, the broadcaster Jon Snow, added: “The positive recommendations made by the Select Committee are good news, but we need our government to go one step further and make the commitment to at least £10 per head funding to make safe cycling with in the United Kingdom with immediate effect, not six years from now.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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