The Government very much seek to make cycling and walking the natural choices for short journeys, or as part of a longer journey. In April this year we published the first-ever statutory cycling and walking investment strategy for England. The strategy details our plans for increasing cycling and walking and identifies £1.2 billion of funding, which may be invested until 2021.
I very much thank my hon. Friend for his response. My constituency has many footpaths, cut-throughs and small tracks that link our green spaces together. These are extremely pleasant for residents to make use of in their leisure time. However, they are not always visible on mapping platforms such as Google Maps. We would like to encourage their use to promote health and wellbeing in the constituency, so will the Minister tell me what discussions he has had with those technology platforms to make those paths more accessible to local residents?
I thank my hon. Friend for her question and share her delight in these informal paths, of which we have an enormous number in Herefordshire, as she might imagine. Local authorities are best placed, in the first instance, to use their knowledge and understanding of local networks, as are tourism agencies and local map providers. From my point of view, there have not yet been any discussions with the electronic mapping services, but I very much take my hon. Friend’s point and I have already made plans to meet some of them in order to take forward this agenda.
The Minister will know that many cyclists are killed and injured on the roads every year. Just on the edge of my constituency, one person was killed and two were injured this week. We need to look at improving cycling, and we must have discussions with the Health Department. What discussions has the Minister had with the Health Department to ensure that people get more exercise but are also kept safe on the roads?
I absolutely recognise the problem that the hon. Gentleman raises. I have not yet personally had any discussions of that kind, but the Government are making significant investments in improving safety for cyclists. That includes training and improved cycling facilities such as cycle lanes. That will continue to be part of our programme over the next few years.
Can the Minister assure me that he is having regular discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government about promoting cycling and walking networks in new developments? We have a massive opportunity in Taunton Deane now that we have garden town status. In particular, I know that constituents would love to link up Bishop’s Lydeard, Cotford St Luke and Norton Fitzwarren with a cycleway. Will the Minister agree to meet me to discuss providing help with some pots of money to unlock that?
As a keen cyclist, I look forward to meeting my hon. Friend and discussing that matter. There are plenty of existing pots of money that are potentially available for applications, and we as a Department work closely with the DCLG, notably on the local growth fund.