David Cameron has told MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) that he will ask transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to explore ways in which Britain’s roads can be made safer for cyclists, including a possible ban on lorries in city centres.
The meeting had been requested by the group’s patron, Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, during Prime Minister’s Questions last month following the death of 26-year-old cyclist Ying Tao, killed in a collision with a tipper truck at Bank junction in the City of London
Besides examining evidence from cities around the world regarding restrictions on the movement of lorries, other issues Mr Cameron said he would raise with the secretary of state include better design of construction vehicles and greater enforcement of compulsory lorry safety features.
He will also ask him to explore improved design of junctions to increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and staggered phasing of traffic lights.
After the 20-minute meeting, Mr Bradshaw said: "I was delighted the PM agreed to meet us so soon after I raised the issue in Parliament.
“Our major cities have a lamentable record both for levels of cycling and for cycle safety compared to those of our European neighbours, and it would take very little public investment to make a big improvement in the climate for cycling.
“Following our meeting today, we will be meeting with the Transport Secretary to discuss the issues in more detail."
He was joined at the meeting by APPCG co-chair Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth, plus Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk and Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes, who also chairs the Health Select Committee.
Noting that six of the seven cyclists who have lost their lives in London so far this year were women involved in collisions with construction lorries at junctions, Dr Wollaston said: “. It's so important that women are not deterred from cycling on safety grounds and there is far more that can be done to reduce the risks.
“We hope that the Government will implement and fully fund the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which the All Party Cycling Group successfully lobbied for inclusion in the Infrastructure Bill in the last Parliament."
Ms Cadbury added: “The Prime Minister shared our concerns over the number of cyclists that have been killed and seriously injured by HGVs mainly from the construction industry and I feel that he will now encourage ministers to seriously explore measures to reduce these incidents.”
Sam Jones of national cyclists' charity CTC told road.cc that the organisation viewed the meeting as "very encouraging," pointing out that given the other pressures on his time, it was significant the Prime Minister had devoted 20 minutes to the meeting.
But he maintained that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which the government is currently working on, needs to have teeth and commits to at least £10 per head per year spending on cycling, along with national infrastructure design standards and the procurement of safer lorries written into government contracts.
He said: "It is great to see the Prime Minister is taking an active interest in what is a very important topic. What we would like to see is that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy has teeth, with proper funding of at least £10 per head. There is real concern when all you see is cuts, cuts, cuts from George Osborne.
"We need national design standards, rather than having every council coming up with their own design standards - the only people who are benefiting from that are the consultants, it is not cyclists.
He said design standards would rule out conflict between vulnerable road users, adding "you wonder how many deaths you see on the roads would be ruled out by decent infrastructure?"
"Whether it's HS2 or the redesign of the A303, or any big public funded project, the government should be looking to ensure that the Heavy Goods Vehicles used are cycle safe, and making that into its bid process.
"If a company wants the contract they have got to make sure they have got the right vehicles. If central government is doing, that it is only a matter of time before local government does that too," he added.
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.