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Foot and Bicycle Journeys

Volume 670: debated on Thursday 30 January 2020

11. What recent assessment he has made of trends in the number of journeys taken by (a) foot and (b) bicycle. (900511)

As the Minister for the future of transport, I am committed both to creating a framework for UK leadership in transport technology and innovation and to bolder measures for place-based cleaner, greener and healthier transport and decarbonisation. I am delighted that, as a result of the £2 billion that we invested during the previous Parliament, we have seen a 13% increase in cycling and walking, and we are committed to a 100% increase over this Parliament.[Official Report, 10 February 2020, Vol. 671, c. 8MC.]

The Minister will be aware that transport accounts for a higher share of overall emissions than any other sector, so helping people to drive less and cycle more is crucial to tackling the climate crisis. We currently spent £7 per head on cycling infrastructure, but the Walking and Cycling Alliance recommends that we should be spending £17 per head on cycling infrastructure if we are serious about improving cycling. He will be aware that the Conservatives’ pledge to spend £350 million on cycling infrastructure actually reduced that spend to £1.18—[Interruption.]

As the new Minister for the decarbonisation of transport, I can say that the Government are absolutely committed to this, and we have a cycling Prime Minister who is committed to it. We have announced £350 million for cycling infrastructure. As I have said, we are completely committed over this Parliament to doubling the number of people cycling and walking.[Official Report, 10 February 2020, Vol. 671, c. 8MC.]

Walking and cycling have a vital role to play in easing congestion, cutting carbon emissions and helping people lead healthier lives, yet cycling and walking rates are flatlining in this country, and we are a very long way from Dutch or Danish rates. Interestingly, a report from University College London has criticised the Government for approving new housing developments that are dominated by roads and do not take account of pedestrians or cyclists. It found, quite simply, that three quarters of developments should not have been given planning permission because of the lack of safe cycling and walking routes. When will the Government address this important issue?

Right now—we already are addressing it. We are quite a long way from Denmark in all respects, but we are completely committed to this. It is true that for decades this country has not put cycling and walking at the heart of housing development—that was as true under the Labour Government as it has been over the past 40 years. We are committed to it, through the work we are doing with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with the housing infrastructure fund and our new single housing infrastructure fund. I am talking to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about how we can ensure that every housing development has proper cycling, walking and public transport integration. If we are to achieve our decarbonisation targets, we have to do this.

Cycling is extremely popular in my constituency of Ynys Môn, with its 125 miles of stunning coastline and unspoilt countryside. Can my hon. Friend confirm that the Government are committed to doubling cycling by 2025, and what difference does he think the £350 million cycling infrastructure fund will make in achieving that?

My hon. Friend is a brilliant advocate for Ynys Môn. I can confirm that commitment, and she is right that it will have a big impact on cycling and walking.

Very complementary to cycling and walking are electric scooters, which are increasingly popular and commonplace in cities across the continent—they have just been legalised in Germany—yet they remain illegal in this country. Can we at last have a review to regularise the situation, because they are environmentally friendly and could make a huge contribution to reducing congestion, and it is a hip and cool thing to do?

Again, I seem to be a purveyor of good news. My hon. Friend will be delighted to know that as part of our innovation strategy we will shortly be announcing that we want to test scooters as part of a mixed economy for sustainable transport.