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All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's Get Britain Cycling report on cycling

Penny Farthing

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group produced a report on cycling in the UK in April 2013. 

The Get Britain Cycling report followed an Inquiry held by the group, with evidence taken from interested parties, with a view to enabling more people to take up cycling, cycle more often, and cycle more safely.

Britain compares poorly to other European countries in terms of the percentage of total journeys made by bike. Top of the league table is the Netherlands, with 27%, whereas Britain is towards the bottom, on just 2%. However, there are local exceptions, where a high percentage of journeys are made by bike - for example, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, and Hackney. The number of bikes on London's main roads has doubled since 2000.

The report identifies that a cultural shift is needed, so that cycling becomes a core issue when planning our streets, roads, buildings and communities. It calls for vision, ambition, and strong political leadership. Its recommendations are in five categories: investing public funds, redesigning our roads, safe driving and speed limits, training and education, and political leadership. 

Investment per person per year is £24 in the Netherlands, whereas it is only £4 per person in Scotland, and £2 per person in England outside London. The Group suggest increasing cycling spend to £10 per person initially, then to £20. They stress the need for continuity and long-term planning. 

Statute should require that cyclists' and pedestrians' needs be considered at an early stage of planning. 

Fears over safety are a major barrier to cycling, and lower speed limits, and enforcement of speed limits would help tackle this. 

Cycle training should be offered at all schools, and cycling should be promoted as a safe and normal activity for people of all ages and backgrounds. 

In terms of political leadership, the government should produce a national Cycling Action Plan, appoint a national Cycling Champion, and set national targets for cycle use. The target suggested by the Group is to move from 2% of journeys in 2011, to 10% of journeys in 2025, and 25% by 2050.

Department for Transport response

The Department for Transport's response to the report 's recommendations, published on 28th August 2013, is underwhelming. It is fairly clear from the document that they are not currently intending to show any vision or ambition. A lot of the reply involves restating existing measures and funding, and passing responsibility to local authorities.

On a positive note, the DfT points to the Prime Minister's statement on 12th August 2013 that any big new road developments will have to incorporate the needs of cyclists - but we'll have to wait and see whether this is the sort of token gesture that is usually made, or something genuinely helpful.

There is also mention of the £77 million Cycle Ambition Grants to eight cities, which will take spend per head to £18 in those areas only, for the period up to 2015.

However, on the recommendation to include a statutory requirement to consider cyclists and pedestrians in developments, the DfT simply refers to the existing planning framework. 

The DfT says that segregated cycle lanes are a matter for local authorities; speed limits of 20mph in built-up areas, and 40mph in rural areas, are also down to the local authorities. 

Finally, it rejects the idea of a national action plan, a cycle champion; and it dismisses the concept of national targets for cycle journeys. 

Parliamentary debate

The report was also debated by one hundred MPs on Monday 2nd September 2013, and they unanimously passed the motion to endorse the recommendations. 

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