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Volume 596: debated on Thursday 11 June 2015

The Government are committed to doubling the number of journeys made by bicycle and to continuing the excellent progress we made in the previous Parliament when, thanks to a strong economy, we were able to invest record amounts in cycling. The Infrastructure Act 2015, which will shortly come into force, places a duty on us to produce a cycling and walking strategy. It will contain specific objectives and funding requirements to meet those objectives.

Weaver Vale has many excellent cycling groups and initiatives, such as Pedal Power and Breeze, to encourage constituents of all ages to get on their bikes. Under the last Government there was record investment in cycling. Will my hon. Friend please confirm that the Government will carry on the previous Government’s excellent work?

I know of my hon. Friend’s great interest in and support for local cycling. Indeed, as a keen Boris biker myself—or perhaps they will soon be known as Zac zippers—I am delighted to support both my own personal commitment and the Government’s firm commitment to making cycling the journey method of choice, particularly for short journeys.

As has been noted, cycling has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years. Will my hon. Friend reconfirm that new road schemes built by Highways England will be cycle-proofed to enable more of us to get on our bikes?

I welcome my hon. Friend to his place. He fought a marvellous campaign, and I know he is a keen cycler. He was also one of the first MPs to lobby me on behalf of his own rail services. He is doing a brilliant job. Yes, I can confirm that the Government are committed to cycle-proofing any new road scheme— a really important change—and we have committed £100 million to do just that.

Is it not an act of the deepest cynicism for the Government, a few months before the election, to announce, in a fanfare of self-congratulation, a very modest increase in spending on cycling safety, only for that money to be axed in the first week after the election? Why should any of Britain’s millions of cyclists believe a single word the Government say?

I am slightly disappointed, because I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a keen cyclist, and I am sure he will know and welcome the fact that when the last Administration came to power, cycle spending across the country was around £2 a head; that currently it is around £6 a head; and that in the cycle ambition cities, it will reach £10 a head. I have been assured that the cycle ambition city programme, which the previous Government introduced, will fully deliver its outputs. He should welcome that.

What steps is the Minister taking to make cycling safer, particularly in our great cities, such as London? There can be no greater deterrent to people getting on their bikes than their fear of cycling on busy roads.

I am sure that, like me, the hon. Lady has had some very scary cycle journeys. We have to continue to work with cyclists. Bikeability training—so we start young—is important. We also have to make sure that any new road scheme does what road schemes of old did not do, which is make sure that cycling is “baked in” to those road designs. She will also know that we are working closely with local authorities and Transport for London to make sure that any pilot changes to HGV requirements are looked at carefully and, potentially, implemented.