To Get Britain Cycling Get Your MP to Engage on Monday

This week has shown the British Parliament at its most effective.  Faced with a decision on military intervention in Syria, MPs overruled the Government and withdrew support for action.  For those who had written off MPs, this was a week for a reassessment.  uk+parliament+syria+vote

Next week could be another opportunity to celebrate our representatives.

MPs will have an opportunity on Monday to debate the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group which are set out in their report Get Britain Cycling.

The Get Britain Cycling report lists 18 recommendations on how the Government could increase investment in cycling infrastructure, improve training and safety, and introduce stricter guidelines for how roads are designed.  get_britain_cycling_launch_web_pic

Particularly, the proposed report recommends that government funding for cycling should start at a minimum of £10 per head, up from our current spending of £2.22.

Key recommendations include:

• Cycling should be considered at an earlier stage in all planning decisions, whether transport schemes or new houses or businesses

• More use should be made of segregated cycle lanes, learning from the Dutch experience

• Urban speed limits should generally be reduced to 20 mph

• Just as children learn to swim at school they should learn to ride a bike

• The Government should produce a detailed cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan, with annual progress reports

These are essential, simple and cheap measures to help Get Britain Cycling.

They will also ensure that those in Britain who are already cycling stand more chance of staying alive.

Now is the right time to invest in pedal power.  Cycling is on the up on the back of UK pro cyclists like Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome dominating the sport and inspiring amateurs to take to the saddle.

But the most recent figures on participation (2011) show the UK was still way behind our European neighbours: 27% of journeys in the Netherlands were made by bike, and even Germany, with the strongest car manufacturers in the world, boasted 10% of journeys en velo.  Britons took to the bike for a mere 2% of trips.

The result is congested roads, poor health and dangerous towns and cities.

boris bikes8673189042_b5339e19eaSome progress is being made where strong local action and incentives have reaped impressive results – London, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham have run successful schemes.

But we need a national commitment to ensure that the benefits of cycling are felt across the country, particularly in rural areas and smaller towns and villages.  The Get Britain Cycling report sets out how that national plan could be delivered at a reasonable cost.  Investments of £10 per head have been shown to yield results.

The debate on Monday shows that cycling is finally on the political agenda.  To make sure your MP engages in the discussion and helps drive the recommendations forward, write to him or her today!

I wrote to Ed Vaizey (MP for Wantage and Didcot) and though I have yet to receive a response, his column in this month’s Faringdon Folly rates cycling as one of the main issues animating constituents at the moment.

MPs do read their postbags – the message is getting through!

As this week’s vote on Syria shows if all MPs are minded to address an issue, their collective voice will be heard by Government.  bike 115860557__352620c

So write to your MP this weekend and ensure that the Government invests now to GET BRITAIN CYCLING!

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