Call for Government to help more children to cycle safely to school

Following requests from parents and cycling organisations for more safe routes for children to cycle to school, South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, raised this issue in the House of Commons with Roads’ Minister, Jesse Norman last week.

The exchange in Hansard was as follows:

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) 

If we are going to get half of all children cycling to school, as happens in the Netherlands—that can be compared with the paltry 3% here in the UK—so that we can cut pollution, congestion and obesity, can we ensure that all new roads and housing estates have safe cycle infrastructure designed into them, as it is more expensive to retrofit later?

Jesse Norman

I certainly share that ambition. As my hon. Friend knows, the Government are seeking to have a child of 12, as well as people of all sexes, races and backgrounds, able to cycle without fear or impediment. Not all housing estates will be suitable for this kind of change—[Hon. Members: “Why not?”] Some may be too far removed from urban city centres, but where they are suitable, I would support that ambition in the way that the Government have done by looking at electrification for new housing. [1]

Speaking afterwards Andrew Selous said:

“I have started cycling as often as I can from my home to my constituency office and I know that many parents would like their children to be able to cycle safely to school. We do have some cycle routes locally but they are not always fully connected and it is important as new house building and roads take place that we design in a healthy lifestyle, to reduce congestion, pollution and obesity in Central Bedfordshire. The 2017/18 figures show that 29.5% of Central Bedfordshire children in year 6 are overweight or obese.”

[1] In the Road to Zero strategy, the Department set out that they would consult on a requirement for all new housing developments, wherever suitable, to have electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Essentially the Minister was saying that we could look into having a similar ambition for cycle infrastructure in new housing developments.