24 Apr 2012

Time for a joined-up strategy on cycling

It wasn’t quite gamekeeper-turned-poacher, but there was something bizarre about appearing in front of MPs to be questioned about one of my passions – cycling.

The transport select committee has been examining cycle safety in the light of The Times campaign following the desperate damage inflicted upon one of its young star reporters by a turning truck – she is still in a coma six months on.

I appeared with the editor of the Times, James Harding, and with a cycle activist, the vice-president of CTC.

It was hard to divine where the committee is going. They didn’t seem to like the idea of compulsion when it comes to making provision for cyclists. I was asked whether new urban developments should be compelled to make provision for cycle ways. I said yes.

We talked about training motorists – including interacting with cyclists as part of the driving test. We also talked about improving training for cyclists.

But above all, it was accepted that amid the vast surge in cycling in Britain, the present situation is now beyond dangerous.

We asked for leadership in the government – one minister whose sole job was to be responsible for all cycling matters. We wanted a joined-up cycle strategy, and expenditure on infrastructure which would eventually save money in terms of health, education and environment.

I can’t say that anything’s going to change overnight. But it certainly felt like the first time in a long time that the political and media classes had put cycling anywhere near the top of the nation’s priorities.

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