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House of Commons

Wednesday 7 June 1995

The House met at Ten o'clock


[ Madam Speaker-- in the Chair ]


Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Wells.]

10.4 am

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the question of bicycling and the Government's policy towards it. It is a particularly apt time to do so, because National Bike Week starts on Saturday. I would like to highlight that event, and I welcome its sponsorship by Hovis. I hope that as many people as possible--both in the House and in the country--take note of an event designed to highlight bicycling and to make bicycling a more acceptable means of transport. The Cycling Public Affairs Group is holding a reception this afternoon in the House of Commons to highlight the question of bicycling to the representatives of the nation.

I bicycle around London, and while I should say that I also drive from time to time, bicycling is the quickest way of getting around London. We should realise that bicycling is no longer a fringe pursuit--if, indeed, it ever was--and I do not see myself as a fringe person. I bicycle in a suit, and I do not own a pair of lycra shorts.

Mr. Oliver Heald (Hertfordshire, North): Shame!

Mr. Robathan: Perhaps my hon. Friend would like to see me in a pair of lycra shorts--I hope not.

I am the chairman of the all-party cycling group because I believe that cycling is a part, but only a part, of improving the quality of life and of our urban environment. Cycling can play a part in solving the real problems with transport and traffic in this country. In the three years that I have been a Member, there has been a shift in attitudes towards transport, roads, general traffic policy and cycling. I hope this morning to help that shift of attitudes, because attitudes are the key.

From the age of 13 to 17, I bicycled to school every day. Many people did that, and it was an acceptable way of getting to school. I read in the Leicester Mercury on Friday one man's opinion of bicycling. He said:

"I make my personal choice--a car--as it is comfortable and keeps me dry and I don't arrive all sweating and smelly . . . I have to expend less energy too and arrive fresh at my destination without the pains I would suffer cycling . . . you keep your bike and I'll keep my car."

That is entirely up to him, and I have no grudge against car owners-- indeed, I am a car user myself. But there has been a change from believing that cyclists are a bit loony towards believing that cycling is a sensible way of getting about.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham): The House will be grateful to my hon. Friend for obtaining this debate, and

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for the positive way in which he is suggesting that we ought to promote cycling and walking as positive choices for those who have access to cars. Does my hon. Friend welcome the way in which the RAC and the AA have started to take the interests of cyclists into account, as well as representing other road users?

Mr. Robathan: I welcome my hon. Friend's point. As a member of the AA, I found it distressing that the AA seemed to think that cyclists and motorists cannot get on. Cycling is a part of transport, not a way-out activity for people in lycra shorts.

Cycling is viewed by some--such as the correspondent of the Leicester Mercury --as a fringe activity for the poor, but just because someone is on a bicycle does not mean that he is to be pitied because he cannot afford a car. It must be understood that cycling is an excellent and cheap way of getting around, and it is particularly suitable if one does not have a car. It is also a good way for a car owner who wishes not to use his car in order to save money. It must be got across that having a car does not mean that a person has to use it. Cycling is now coming in from the cold, but it has a long way to go.

At a reception yesterday, somebody told me that his child's school had just knocked down the bicycle sheds. Although bicycle sheds have many uses besides sheltering bicycles, it is essential that schools take the view that cycling is a sensible way for their pupils to get to school. When I was a young boy, I cycled to school. They may not have been halcyon days, but there was certainly much less traffic and less danger of being knocked down, the air was cleaner, there was much less noise, and traffic was slower, so those days had something to recommend them.

I welcome the policy statement issued by the Minister's predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), last June, which was a step in the right direction. It contained much talk of perception, which is the key. I hope that this debate will assist in changing people's perception of cycling. I also welcome the fact that a number of hon. Members are present this morning. It is a good turnout for an Adjournment debate, especially so early in the morning. It shows the rising interest in cycling in this place.

Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam): I thank my very fit and young hon. Friend for giving way. As a rather timid and exhausted cyclist, I find that London is full of mountains. What really puts me off cycling are the dangers. Is my hon. Friend aware that, every year, some 25,000 cyclists are injured on the roads and, of that number, 200 are killed? That is a considerable risk factor. Does he agree that much more effort must go into teaching other road users how to respect cyclists?

Mr. Robathan: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who makes an excellent point. I shall come to the dangers of cycling in a minute. My hon. Friend is not unfit and London is not entirely full of mountains, although the Haymarket and St. James's seem mountainous as one ascends on a bicycle.

My great aunt used to live outside Hereford, which is pretty hilly. She used to cycle into Hereford--a distance of five miles each way--every day until she was well into her sixties.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: I think that Lower Regent street goes uphill, whereas Haymarket goes downhill. They are one-way streets.

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Mr. Robathan: I thank my hon. Friend for his geography lesson. I certainly do not go the wrong way down one-way streets.

Why should cycling be such an important part of our transport policy? The first, and perhaps most important, reason is to reduce congestion. Outside this place even now, the traffic is stopped in Parliament square, and all the way along the Embankment, cars are bumper to bumper as people try to get to work. Some 70 per cent. of journeys made in urban areas are less than five miles. Cycling is a practical way to get around, because, instead of sitting in a traffic jam, one can move as fast as the traffic in central London, or even central Leicester just outside my constituency, and arrive at one's destination relatively quickly and, hopefully, safely.

The second reason is to reduce environmental pollution, which is closely linked to congestion. Among its many other recommendations, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommended that a target should be set to increase cycle use to 10 per cent. of urban journeys in the next 10 years--a fourfold increase. I welcome that ambitious start.

Lady Olga Maitland: I appreciate my hon. Friend giving way so generously. On environmental pollution, has he noticed that many cyclists in London wear face masks to protect themselves from gassy fumes? It is impossible to remove all the fumes in the city right away. Does he agree that cyclists are in danger of exposing themselves to the very fumes that they should be protected from?

Mr. Robathan: I take my hon. Friend's point entirely. It can be extremely unpleasant to breathe in the particles that have been coughed out by dirty taxis and buses, and the carbon monoxide from motor cars. However, notwithstanding what cyclists may taste, they are in a much better position than those who sit in a small box on four wheels where the air circulates less quickly. Doctors confirm that people are better off on bicycles than in cars if they want to avoid pollution.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: That is an important point. We all know that car drivers and cyclists breathe the same air. If car drivers want to exclude the fumes they generate, they should wear the same masks as cyclists.

Mr. Robathan: People should take that fact on board. Although cyclists wear masks, they are in less danger than people in cars. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said that it wants to reduce all urban journeys by car by 10 per cent. by the year 2020. We should all try to achieve that. Cycling can be only part of the solution. It is alleged that environmental pollution is causing a great increase in asthma. That must concern us all, especially those with young children who have asthma. Cycling can bring health benefits in that respect. We are in danger of becoming a nation of couch potatoes who watch television and sit in those boxes on four wheels getting fat eating crisps or chocolate. Cycling has a role to play in the health and fitness of the nation.

The fourth benefit of cycling is recreation. Cycling has come a long way in that respect, too. Bicycles can now be hired around Rutland Water. One can cycle around my constituency along the rolling lanes of Leicestershire on any weekend and find people cycling for recreation either

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on their own or with their families. An excellent scheme, SUSTRANS, which the Minister supports, aims to set up a safe, segregated cycle way all the way from Inverness to Dover--and beyond in the future. We would all wish to support that.

Following this debate, I hope to see further Government progress. I hope that the Minister will talk about a national cycling strategy. Should he be thinking of devising such a strategy, I should like to make a few suggestions.

My first suggestion is on safety, which was mentioned by hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland). The greatest deterrent to people cycling in an urban environment and to parents allowing their children to cycle to school is the danger. A young cousin of mine was killed by a lorry on Clapham common some five years ago at 7 am; my brother has been knocked off his bicycle on several occasions; and I have had many close squeezes. I was hit by a car outside my office in Westminster.

The Cycling Safety Bill, which I introduced two years ago, would have led to a charge of dangerous driving being brought against a motorist who, through his or her own fault, struck a cyclist. I commend such a legislative measure to my hon. Friend the Minister. Last year, Camden and Islington health authority issued an interesting report on lorries, which showed that, in inner London, a heavy goods vehicle is 30 times more likely to kill a cyclist than a car in relation to traffic volume. That is an amazing statistic. I should like my hon. Friend the Minister to look at the question of heavy goods vehicles in the urban environment.

Some of the best measures would be traffic restraint, segregation, traffic calming and reducing speed in the urban environment. As someone who is always late for everything and always trying to reach my destination five minutes ago, I accept that we cannot use our cars as fast as we are able where there are cyclists, pedestrians and vulnerable road users.

My second suggestion to my hon. Friend is that of security. The risk of returning to one's bicycle and finding that it is no longer there is another major deterrent to cycling. We need better facilities. This problem was noted in the policy statement by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury ( Mr. Key) last year but I urge the Minister to work towards encouraging local government to provide better facilities.

I also urge him to speak to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, as I have twice returned to my bicycle, which was legally left in London, to find it moved because the Metropolitan Police Commissioner believes that bicycles will explode. It is possible to get Semtex down the crossbar of a bicycle-- in Crossmaglen, a bicycle was found with its crossbar packed full of high explosives--but a bicycle can be effectively used as a bomb only if it is carrying a package. That is the same as with any package sitting in the street or anywhere else. I therefore urge my hon. Friend to stop the Metropolitan Police Commissioner moving everyone's bicycles on, so that the left hand and the right hand of local government policy each knows what the other doing.

Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams): Not only do the police move bicycles; there is a problem in parking bicycles. Is my hon. Friend aware that the staff of Government buildings are hostile towards Members of

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Parliament who ride bicycles, considering that it lowers the tone of the building? Does he agree that all Government Departments should have cycle bays so that visitors can arrive as well as staff? I am sure that the Minister will say something helpful, but does my hon. Friend agree that such bays are needed?

Mr. Robathan: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, because that is absolutely right. When I visit Government Departments, sometimes people look at me aghast, and sometimes, if I telephone in advance, they will kindly allow me to put my bicycle behind a desk. At the Department of Health, I regret to say, I was consigned down a lift with my bicycle into a back room miles from anywhere. I might just as well have walked from the House; it would have been quicker.

Mr. Bottomley: You should have done.

Mr. Robathan: Well, I thought that the bicycle was helpful at the time.

I tabled a series of questions last year to encourage Government Departments to set an example. If they talk about encouraging bicycling, they must set an example and provide space for bicycles. I am grateful to my hon. Friend.

That brings me to my next recommendation, which is that we should have more user-friendly employers. Parking for cyclists is important, but--as was recognised in a policy statement in June 1994--so are showers. If one has bicycled five or six miles into work, one may have worked up a slight amount of perspiration--if my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam will excuse me.

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham): She merely glows.

Mr. Robathan: Indeed, she merely glows.

Mr. MacShane: All the time.

Mr. Robathan: However, it is important that there is the facility for employees to wash and get changed when they reach work. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will go further to encourage such facilities.

My fourth argument relates to a subject that I have mentioned. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will discuss with the Department for Education encouraging children to bicycle to school, as they did once. It is ludicrous that, at 8.30 or 9 o'clock in the morning, our roads are jammed with people driving one or two miles, taking their children to school. I know that there is another safety factor, regrettable as it may be, concerning the possibility of children being abducted, but, statistically, that is very much more in people's perception than it is in reality. If more children bicycled, there would be a much smaller chance of their being abducted, and they would be safer on the roads.

Bike sheds, schools' attitudes and local education authorities' attitudes are important, but so are the mobility, independence and health of a child. Too many children are becoming dependent on being driven to school. That is surely not the way to develop independent and healthy minds.

Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton): Encouraging schoolchildren to cycle to school is the key, because it is at that stage in life that one gets into the habit of cycling, if one is ever going to. An all-party study in Taunton

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Deane in my constituency brought up the issues of safety on the roads. Abduction was mentioned, and other factors. At a time when traffic is becoming more and more congested, my hon. Friend makes a vital argument.

Mr. Robathan: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support, because I think that is a way in which we can make a real difference by means of Government policy, not any great legislation.

Mentioning children and bicycling and the health of children leads me to my further recommendation. I understand--I hope that the Minister will discuss this--that a physical activity task force is being set up. Bicycling can play a major part in health. It is aerobic, therapeutic and non-polluting. We must make strides to encourage people to consider cycling as a sensible, good way of taking exercise--something which I know my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health would encourage.

Mr. Heald: I do not think that my hon. Friend has discussed the leisure aspects of bicycling.

Mr. Robathan indicated dissent .

Mr. Heald: Well, I wanted to ask my hon. Friend about a specific matter. In many parts of the country now, there are cycle routes, such as at Grafham water and Rutland water. In Sussex, there is a cycleway between Polegate and Hailsham, which is being expanded. Does my hon. Friend envisage a role for the Millenium Commission in providing funding to organisations that want to set up routes of that type, and does he feel that that might improve the leisure aspect of bicycling?

Mr. Robathan: That is an excellent idea, which I hope the Millennium Commission will consider carefully. As recently as last week, in the recess before rushing back for the debate last Wednesday, I walked along something called the Tarka trail in west Devon, which is, similarly, set up on an old railway line--I would rather that it was still a railway line, to be honest --where people walk and bicycle and hire bicycles. That is a growing leisure activity.

Finally, I recommend to the Minister that targets be introduced. I suggest that the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is being over- ambitious. I recommend that we consider doubling the number of cycle journeys in the next 10 years by involving local authorities, which are the local transport managers, and applying Government policy seriously.

All those recommendations help to change attitudes. Cyclists continue to be deprived. I read continually, in my local Leicester Mercury , of people saying, "I saw a cyclist on the pavement, and he nearly knocked me down." I have, as a boy of about 16, hit a pedestrian when the pedestrian ran out into the street at school, chasing another boy. Let me assure the House that the pedestrian was fine, although he was half my size. I bounced heavily on the ground, ruined my suit and received several big grazes. Any cyclist has similar tales to tell.

I decry those cyclists who break the law by not using lights, by bicycling on the pavements and so on. They may feel that they have good reason, but I do not accept it. Of course it is wrong to break the law, but that does not invalidate the need for more bicycling. We must change the perception against bicycling.

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Two years ago, when I made my cycling safety speech, an hon. Friend said--albeit in jest--"I would get all cyclists off the road." I am afraid that that is an underlying feeling among many motorists who are held up by a couple of cyclists. They think, "Why are those two riding two abreast? Get them out of the road." We must change that perception, so that bicycling is accepted as the best way, in the urban environment, to go swiftly for two or three miles.

As well as hitting the targets, we need further joint action by the Minister, with the Department for Education, the Department of Employment-- for employer-friendly attitudes--the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment. We may even need further joint action with the Lord Chancellor's Department, because I notice that Sir Richard Scott is a bit of a cyclist, to introduce a topical note; with the Department of Trade and Industry, where Howard Davies of the Confederation of British Industry is a bit of a cyclist; and with the Cabinet Office, because Sir Robin Butler is also a bit of a cyclist.

Mr. Heald: And the House of Lords--Lord Tebbit.

Mr. Robathan: Indeed, in the House of Lords; Lord Tebbit has made some very apt comments about bicycles.

In Denmark, nine times more cycle journeys are made, and it is 10 times safer to bicycle, than in this country. More cycling will make for cleaner, clearer roads, and it will mean that motorists are used to cyclists and their attention is gained by cyclists, so that they do not come round a corner and not expect to see one. If there is more cycling, it will become safer. It will become self-fulfilling. I call for no legislation, except perhaps introducing a cyclists safety measure, such as I have suggested, in the next Road Traffic Act. I look forward to my hon. Friend the Minister's reply. I recently noticed my right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary walking to his office in Marsham street. I note that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has recently taken to walking to Parliament for Prime Minister's questions. That is common sense and should not be remarked on, because it is quicker than taking a car.

Cycling is only part of the process. At the moment, traffic jams Parliament square. I look forward to Parliament square being semi-pedestrianised, when there are few cars, cleaner buses, perhaps horses, a lot of pedestrians--

Lady Olga Maitland: Horses?

Mr. Robathan: Indeed; horses are very clean, and an attractive means of transport. There will also be more cyclists. I believe that that will happen in about 20 years; the sooner the better, because the quality of life of the nation will be improved if there is more cycling.

10.28 am

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South): I am grateful to be able to support the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan), not only in the Chamber, but as vice-chairman of the all-party cycling group. This is an all-party occasion up to a point, and if I bring other matters into the debate, I am sure that no parliamentarians will blame me for doing so. Although

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there has been plenty of support for cycling from Conservative Members, the Government have done certain things, and they might do certain things that might make things rather better.

My contribution could be described as a little more plebian than that of the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan), whose remarks I support. I have been cycling in London continually for 50 years. I have had the privilege of being able to cycle to work in London for the past 40 years--for probably 80 to 90 per cent. of my journeys. I decided to reveal today that, for the past 25 years, as a Member of the House I have cycled not much less than 100,000 miles, most of which have been in London, with a proportion in rural areas in the holidays. I try to match precept with practice, and the practical with the legal. The work of organisations such as the Cyclists Touring Club, of which I have been a member for many years, the Youth Hostels Association and the London Cycling Campaign, which has official support, has been helpful.

As I was travelling in this morning, I took a count--in the course of about five miles, I saw 55 cyclists awheel, apart from several hundred cycles at the side of the road. Cycling is an increasingly important mode of transport in the capital, even on a dull day. I am not convinced by some of the statistics that suggest that there has been a reduction in cycling nationally. In London, particularly in the past 10 or 12 years, the numbers awheel seem to have been increasing.

Mr. Steen: I think that the hon. Gentleman's work for cycling should be recognised by the House. As long as I have been a cyclist--20 years--the hon. Gentleman has always been on two wheels, whatever the weather, and has made a great contribution to the cycling debate.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the number of cyclists coming into London alone has reached about 130,000 a day? In view of that, does he not believe that a much more serious contribution should be made by the Government to provide for those 130,000 cyclists who come in and out of the capital?

Mr. Spearing: The hon. Gentleman is right, but cyclists do not just come in and out of London: they travel around it. Short journeys by bicycle can easily be undertaken, even in central London, if certain routes are used. The subject should be taken up by the boroughs. I am glad to see that one inter-borough organisation, the Association of London Government, has been established. It may be able to get the London cycle network going faster.

Road surfaces in London are dangerous; the number of holes is distinctly unpleasant. That safety problem should be looked at as a priority. I also commend some of the individual initiatives that have been taken. There is talk of advanced stop lines for cyclists. One of the hazardous places for cyclists is when they turn left at crossroads--where vehicles and cyclists turn left together. We do not necessarily need to change the lights or make expensive electrical changes, but we could try pushing the white stop line back a few feet and ensuring that there is an advanced stop line for cyclists on the near side.

There is an active cycling policy, with a full-time cycling officer, in the borough of Newham. With me, Friends of the Earth have undertaken pioneering rides. The Department of Transport was asked to send a

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representative along one day. He emerged from a car with a portable cycle, and promptly skidded and fell on the A13. It turned out that the borough was not directly responsible for the maintenance and road sweeping of the A13; the borough was paid to sweep the road twice a year by the Department of Transport. The Department's official suffered from his own departmental policy.

Lady Olga Maitland: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Spearing: If the hon. Lady will forgive me, I will not give way, as many people wish to speak and the hon. Lady has already contributed. I must press on.

Lady Olga Maitland rose --

Mr. Spearing: I shall give way for the last time.

Lady Olga Maitland: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because I know that time is precious. He has made an important point about the difficulties faced by cyclists turning left. Does he agree that further studies should also be made into the problems involved in cyclists approaching junctions, roundabouts and crossroads, as three quarters of all accidents happen at those very places?

Mr. Spearing: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for endorsing precisely what I was saying.

I shall now hasten on to a less pleasing subject, to which the Opposition and the Government may take slightly different approaches: precept and practice. Earlier in the week, I became aware that, if someone wished to leave a bicycle in Whitehall outside any Government office, he would encounter notices stating that the bicycle would be taken away. That matter was given some publicity.

I hope that Westminster city council or the Government will ensure that visitors to this place--those who may not officially be present in the Chamber--who wish to come by cycle can, with relative ease, find a place to leave their bicycle. Perhaps there could be signposts showing the places for leaving bicycles instead of the prohibitive signs.

Cyclists should be able to leave their bicycle and walk the last 100 yards, perhaps under supervision. It is an anomaly that we should be discussing this important topic for an hour and a half, but that, if someone wants to come to the debate, he or she is virtually prohibited from leaving their cycle outside. I am glad to see that the Minister for Transport in London takes that point.

An even bigger anomaly is the Government's failure to provide adequate facilities for taking cycles on trains. I do not think that cycles, particularly modern ones, are much heavier than a normal suitcase, and they cannot add to the cost of train travel. The right hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young), whose selection to contest the seat was not entirely unconnected with his cycling activities--the previous occupant of that seat also indulged in that mode of transport--

Mr. MacShane: Name him.

Mr. Spearing: The seat disappeared through boundary changes. In co- operation with the Cyclists Touring Club, the right hon. Member for Ealing, Acton introduced a wonderful arrangement on British Rail, whereby virtually any train on any day could take a cycle if there was room. In those days, the luggage compartments were larger than they are now. Network SouthEast still continues with that policy, except

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in the rush hour. It is a useful policy, but elsewhere things are getting worse. Matters are even worse as a result of the recent policies of Her Majesty's Government in respect of different parts of the railway network.

Different routes have different rules and different times, most of which are ridiculous. Cross-country trains, which were designed by British Rail, can officially carry just one bicycle on a first come, first served basis. Passengers do not take their bicycles, because they know that someone further up the line may have placed a bicycle on the train already. That is a terrible disincentive, particularly for those in rural areas, to use trains and bicycles--the combination of which is an economical form of transport and a viable alternative to motoring. It is the sort of thing that I am sure those in rural Leicestershire would welcome.

Such a policy must be considered. Present legislation and the regulator clearly do not require such facilities at present, so perhaps the hon. Member for Blaby, the Opposition or someone with cross-party support will introduce an appropriate private Member's Bill. I will not say that it would be successful--it might be objected to at 2.30 pm one Friday--but, as A. P. Herbert found, the threat of legislation sometimes moves Governments to action before legislation is drafted and laid. I hope that I am being sufficiently constructive and not too controversial.

The subject involves more than simply the trains themselves; we must consider the terminals. One used to be able to leave a bicycle at a London terminal, go off and return later. I went to Paris on an official duty not long ago. I thought that I should get to Waterloo quickly from here, and did so in just four minutes.

When I arrived, I found that the left luggage facilities had not only been let out to a contractor and were closed at 9 pm, after the train from Paris returned, but there was a £3 charge. If one does not return before 9 pm, which I did not, the charge is £6--the cycle is removed. I understand from the London Cycling Campaign that one can leave a bicycle there and lock it up if one knows where to leave it. Such facilities should exist, but they are not as accessible as they should be in many terminals. The fee of £3 a day for leaving a bicycle can mount up if one is taking a two-day journey, and it seems excessive to have to pay £3 to take it on the train. There should be some places, as there are at King's Cross, to leave bicycles in relative security, locked up to a Sheffield bar or a cycle rank. I commend that thought to British Rail. If more cyclists travelled by train, British Rail would collect more money, as the right hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) said when he introduced the successful scheme.

That excellent magazine The Big Issue addressed the question of cyclist safety recently when one of the people associated with the publication, Miss Kate De Pulford, died while riding a cycle on London roads. Its edition of 22 May pointed out the problems, to which the hon. Member for Blaby has alluded, of heavy goods vehicles, and the difficulties for cyclists who wish to turn left at intersections. The magazine stated that 60 per cent. of cycle accidents in inner London were related to those two factors. The number of cyclists who died as a result of accidents involving cars and heavy goods vehicles were about the same--although, as the hon. Gentleman said, the ratio of cars to heavy goods vehicles is 30: 1. The British Medical Journal of 11 June 1994 contains a paper written by Dr. Mark McCarthy, who is from the health authority mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. It points to the awkward figure of 58 per cent. for that type of accident.

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I am sure that all hon. Members are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving us the opportunity to debate these matters today. I look forward to further constructive debate on the subject, and I hope that we will see common-sense, across-the-board, pro bono publico, pro -cyclist legislation and administrative action from Her Majesty's Government.

10.41 am

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