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Walking and Cycling

Volume 685: debated on Thursday 3 December 2020

What support his Department is providing to local authorities to increase levels of cycling and walking. (909715)

What support his Department is providing to local authorities to increase levels of cycling and walking. (909726)

The Government are investing £2 billion in active travel over the next five years, which is the biggest ever boost for cycling and walking.

In the Government’s document “Gear change: a bold vision for cycling and walking”, they promised a trial scheme for boosting the use of electric bikes, yet they have only found £1 million for that so far. When will more funds be forthcoming, and may I urge the Minister to consider Warwick and Leamington as the perfect place to undertake trials?

Warwick and Leamington is a truly beautiful constituency, and I agree that it is almost perfect for an e-bike trial. We have £257 million of funding in 2021-22, which will enable key actions from the long-term plan, and we can look forward to more announcements on this shortly.

Will the Minister join me in praising Denbighshire and Wrexham councils and the Canal and River Trust for their work in encouraging walking and cycling by the Llangollen canal and for promoting those activities in the newly announced master plan for the Trevor basin and surrounding area, in our world heritage site in Clwyd South?

Cycling and walking policy is a devolved matter for the Welsh Government, but I am happy to congratulate those councils and the Canal and River Trust on their work in and around this globally significant site and the canal world heritage site. We will follow in the steps of Thomas Telford, who designed the beautiful aqueduct there, to deliver high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure for future generations with the £2 billion that I just mentioned.

Active travel funding is one side of the equation, and a lot is starting to be achieved from that, but authorities in Greater Manchester also need to obtain powers to ensure that this new infrastructure and the roads generally can function well. One example is around moving traffic offences, giving Greater Manchester London-style enforcement powers to keep roads moving efficiently for all users. When will the Government commence the remaining elements of part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004, as set out in the Department’s “Gear change” publication in July?

I know that the hon. Gentleman is passionate about all things active travel. He will doubtless be pleased that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been allocated over £18 million in the two tranches of the active travel fund this year, and 143 “Fix Your Bike” vouchers have been given to his constituents, but the answer to his question is: shortly.

In my constituency, the Derwent Valley Trust is trying to create a traffic-free cycleway along the beautiful Derwent valley, increasing tourism and enabling people to cycle to work safely. Will the Minister join me in commending their efforts and consider visiting the site with me to see the work that has been completed so far and how he can help to fund its continuation?

I commend the efforts of the Derwent Valley Trust and encourage it to work in partnership with Derbyshire County Council through the local cycling and walking infrastructure plan. As my hon. Friend knows well, Derbyshire has received more than £1.6 million in tranche two of the active travel fund, and decisions for the allocation of that are made locally, but I would be more than happy to meet her. I know that neck of the woods very well, and I know that her husband is a keen MAMIL—middle-aged man in Lycra—who uses the cycleways around there. I suppose I could don a bit of Lycra and join him and her on a ride.

I did not know MAMILs were a thing, but I have now been enlightened by my hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane).

As part of support for active travel, we ought to be supporting our UK bicycle manufacturers and retailers, but they have been hit by tariffs imposed as a result of the Boeing-Airbus dispute. I think the Minister will agree it is somewhat ironic that an aviation dispute leads to bicycle manufacturers being penalised. They are also facing the threat of anti-dumping duties being lifted and a flood of cheap Chinese imports. I know the Minister has written to his counterpart in the Department for International Trade about this. Was he as unhappy as I was with the reply, and can he release the figures showing that anti-dumping duties should not be lifted because they do represent more than 1% of the UK market?

As the hon. Lady knows, I am very concerned about this particular matter and have been engaged with it for quite some time. Fortunately, we are in a position in the United Kingdom—with the funding that the Government are putting in and, indeed, the actions that people themselves took during the first and second lockdowns—where the cycle market has never been as buoyant as it is. However, we can never be complacent, and I follow this very carefully indeed.