HC Deb 10 June 1996 vol 279 cc10-1
7. Mr. MacShane

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to encourage the use of bicycles. [30607]

Mr. Norris

We have taken a number of initiatives designed to give people confidence to cycle more. We have asked local authorities to look at how they can contribute to a national target of doubling the level of cycling by the year 2002. The national cycling strategy to be launched on 10 July will set out common objectives and a range of actions to achieve the target.

Mr. MacShane

Is the Minister aware that one of the most important cycling routes in London is Parliament square and the approach roads to Parliament? Those of us who want to arrive at our place of work with our trousers tucked into our socks find it incredibly dangerous to do so. I was knocked off opposite St. Stephen's entrance. Can the Minister use his muscle—for the last time before he retires to sell second-hand bikes in his new career—to have a word with his friends at Westminster city council to introduce cycling lanes in Parliament square and on the approach roads to Parliament?

Mr. Norris

I am sorry to hear of the hon. Gentleman's unfortunate experience of being knocked off in Parliament square—although that may not come as a surprise to Government Members. I shall draw his remarks to the attention of Westminster city council because those roads are its responsibility. We must give people a safe place to cycle if we are to give them the confidence to cycle. A great deal of the basic groundwork will go into those elementary safety measures to help us to achieve the national target. The measures will enable people who are too scared to cycle—particularly in large cities such as London—to cycle.

8. Mrs. Anne Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to encourage businesses to promote cycling by their employees. [30608]

Mr. Norris

My Department, along with most other Whitehall Departments and some local authorities, provides a range of facilities to help staff who wish to cycle to work. These include secure parking, showers, changing facilities and assistance with bicycle purchase. Obviously, the decision to provide such facilities is a matter for individual employers, but I hope that the Government's lead will result in similar facilities in the private sector.

Mrs. Campbell

Will the Minister join me in congratulating the World Conservation Monitoring Centre—which is in Cambridge—which has managed to persuade 40 per cent. of its employees to cycle to work? Will he also congratulate Cambridge Econometrics, which has an almost 100 per cent. cycling work force? In fact, it has changed its car park into a garden. That should be a great encouragement to other employees who could cycle to work.

Mr. Norris

I warmly endorse what the hon. Lady has said. It is marvellous to hear of that sort of initiative being taken. It underlines the concept of the green commuter plan which, for example, cities such as Nottingham have introduced. The accent is on allowing the company that provides a more environmentally friendly and efficient way for its employees to travel to work to use its car park for whatever purpose it regards desirable, such as a garden. That sort of scheme means that this is not simply a pro bono contribution by a company; it is a perfectly cost-effective way of improving the environment and the health of the employees. It is also beneficial to the company's accounts.