HC Deb 06 March 1995 vol 256 cc4-5
3. Mr. French

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take further steps to improve the safety of cyclists.

The Minister for Railways and Roads (Mr. John Watts)

Fatalities to cyclists are at their lowest level since records began in 1927. We shall seek to continue the improvement by means of education, publicity, research and advice to local authorities on cycling matters.

Mr. French

Does my hon. Friend agree that, where accidents do take place, one of the most frequent causes is the failure to show a clearly visible light when cycling at night-time? Is he aware that a number of police authorities strongly recommend that bicycles should be fitted with integral lighting systems at the point of manufacture? That would overcome the problem of lights failing through faulty batteries. Will he seriously consider making that a mandatory requirement when cycles are manufactured?

Mr. Watts

I shall certainly consider my hon. Friend's suggestion, but I remind him that it is an obligation for cyclists to show lights when travelling at night, and that it is clearly in their interests to he responsible in the way that they use roads.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that, in the 1930s when we had mass unemployment on the scale that we have today, it was decided that one of the ways to provide work was to build cycle routes in many parts of Britain? That was true in north Derbyshire, where many of the miners were not in work. To some extent, it helped to mop up unemployment. Why do not the Government start such a scheme throughout Britain today?

Mr. Watts

This year, £3 million has been made available for a 1,000-mile cycle network in London which, it is estimated, will reduce casualties by 25 per cent. The Department is extremely supportive of the development of cycling. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited Holland earlier this year to look at cycling policy and the lessons that can be learnt from there.