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Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 19 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to encourage the use of cycles (a) to and from workplaces and (b) within local communities; and if he will make a statement. (144057)

Cycling England, the Government's advisory body on cycling, is tasked with getting more people cycling, more safely, more often. It is working with local authorities and others to promote cycling, focusing on the journey to work and to school. We doubled Cycling England's budget to £10 million last year and launched “Bikeability” cycle training earlier this year. The six cycling demonstration towns with whom Cycling England is working have increased cycle trips by around 30 per cent. in just one year.

Furthermore, the Finance Act 1999 and the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 provided a tax exemption for employers to purchase cycles for their employees to commute to work. In June 2005 the Department issued guidance and assisted in the establishment of a group consumer credit licence for all UK businesses to allow them to implement the scheme up to a value of £1,000 per cycle. We understand from the scheme providers that approximately 70,000 people have benefited from the scheme to date.

Since 1999, we have also sought to mainstream the use of workplace travel, planning to reduce car use and increase sustainable travel such as cycling through guidance and pump priming funding for local authority employed travel plan officers. In February 2007 we set up the National Business Travel Network to enable businesses to share their experiences of travel planning with a view to promoting wider take-up of sustainable workplace travel.