This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 132.
I want Cambridge – and the UK – to be somewhere people can get around safely, cheaply, cleanly and easily, without being stuck in congestion all the time. I also want it to be a place where streets are designed for people and communities, not just as transport arteries.
Cycling is crucial to achieving this. Together with walking, these are the two forms of transport that produce the lowest emissions, and have the largest health benefits. They’re also fun!
There’s a large economic benefit from cycling. It directly contributes £3 billion a year to the economy, and far more indirectly.1 A Department for Transport study2 found cyclists go to local shops more regularly, and spend more when they do, as well as the more obvious benefits of reduced congestion. Even those who cannot cycle benefit from more people cycling – it frees up road space for others.
Cycling and walking also lead to improved physical and mental health. If we reached Dutch/Danish levels of cycling, that could save the NHS about £17 billion over a decade.3
That’s why I have been passionate about promoting cycling and walking for more than 15 years. When I chaired the Cambridge Traffic Management Committee, I scrapped the ban on cycling through the city centre Cambridge was the only place on the national cycle network where you had to walk your bike – and opened up many areas for cycling.
As MP, I Co-Chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group for 5 years. I led the inquiry that produced the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report,4 calling for, among other things, a serious funding commitment to cycling; £10 per person per year, rising to £20. The report, and the funding, is now Lib Dem policy.
I secured two very well-attended debates in Parliament, and persuaded the House of Commons to pass my motion setting a target of 10% of all trips to be by bike by 2025.
I won hundreds of millions in extra funding for cycling, and obtained a legal requirement for a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, which has finally been produced with a £1.2 billion budget – not enough for all we need, but more than before.
I now serve as Senior Independent Trustee for Cycling UK, the National Cycling Charity, and work with them to continue to promote cycling. There’s far more to do in Cambridge and across the country, and I hope to be able to continue championing cycling.
3. Lancet. 2012 Jun 9; 379 (9832), pp 2198-2205