HC Deb 14 July 1986 vol 101 cc667-8
5. Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what factors led him to bring forward amendments to the "Highway Code" relating to the safety of cyclists.

Mr. Moore

Both cyclists and other road users should be more aware of the vulnerability of cyclists in accidents. That is why we are proposing amendments to the "Highway Code".

Mrs. Bottomley

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and for the efforts that he and his Department have made to recognise more the needs of cyclists as fellow road users. May I remind him that cyclists still face around 300 deaths a year and 6,000 serious accidents or injuries? Will he look again at the investigations by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory and, perhaps more important, at the request by the Cyclists' Touring Club, which has its headquarters in my constituency, that greater diagrammatic emphasis should be given in the new Highway Code to the needs of cyclists, as all too many people learn through visual images rather than the written word?

Mr. Moore

I am conscious of the fact that my hon. Friend raised this important issue for her constituency and for the general public in an Adjournment debate on 16 May before my hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker). I am conscious of the important points that she has made. I shall certainly look at the points that she has made about graphical material, because that is a perfectly legitimate point to examine.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

Will my right hon. Friend look at the growing numbers of cyclists who are deliberately disregarding traffic lights, driving through them, driving without lights at night and contributing to the large numbers of deaths and accidents which my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley) has just mentioned? Will he ask the police to pay particular attention to that as it is putting other road users at great risk?

Mr. Moore

If my hon. Friend is factually correct, he is right in saying that those who injure and create injuries must obey the "Highway Code." Clearly one of the changes to the "Highway Code" proposed by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary is to include, for the first time, references with relevance to cyclists. Obviously that is an important change.

Mr. Tony Banks

Is the Secretary of State aware that since the abolition of the GLC's cycling project team there is no co-ordination and development of cycle lanes around London? How many miles of cycle lanes would the right hon. Gentleman make his objective? What is his objective? The GLC set a target of 1,000 miles.

Mr. Moore

The GLC set many targets and did many other things that I would not wish to go into now. There is no need for us to do other than delight at the demise of that erstwhile irrelevant organisation. Having said that, I am interested in cycle lanes and will consider the particular point that the hon. Gentleman has raised. I shall do so in the hope of coming up with a serious comment unlike the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

Mr. Couchman

In considering the dangers in which cyclists find themselves, is my right hon. Friend aware of the jeopardy in which they are placed by drivers who use hand-held radio telephones while driving? Will he take urgent steps to dissuade drivers from this extremely dangerous practice?

Mr. Moore

My hon. Friend is making a legitimate point. There are references to the problem of hand-held radio telephones in the new "Highway Code", and we must concern ourselves with the obvious vulnerability of cyclists. As my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley) said, over 300 cyclists—345, in fact — were killed in 1984. The figure was slightly reduced in 1985, when 295 were killed, but it is still unacceptable.

Mr. Dormand

The Secretary of State knows full well that the main reason why he introduced these amendments to the "Highway Code" is that I persuaded him recently to join the all-party friends of cycling group. I am now awaiting the receipt of his £1. Will the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of the Lord Chancellor to a deplorable accident that happened recently in which a cyclist was killed by a lorry, when the coroner said that cyclists should not be permitted on the road on which the accident took place? Cyclists have as much right to be on any road as any other road user. Will the right hon. Gentleman do something about that?

Mr. Moore

The hon. Gentleman will recall that cyclists must not use motorways. I have seen the hon. Gentleman pedalling around Parliament Square and I am conscious of his serious interest in the subject. I shall seek to draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor to the point that he made.

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