Measures to make cycling safer and more attractive to millions of potential riders will be debated by MPs tonight – but turnout is expected to be lower than at a similar debate held last year.
About 50 MPs are expected to attend the Commons debate, where politicians will question proposals to increase the annual budget for cycling infrastructure and discuss targets for 10 percent of all journeys to be made by bike by 2025, and 25 percent by 2050. Currently, about two percent of all UK journeys are made by bike.
The proposals were key points in the wide-ranging Get Britain Cycling report, published in April and based on evidence given to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.
In February 2012, almost 80 MPs participated in a similar debate, triggered by The Times’ Cities fit for Cycling campaign. The high turnout was seen as an indicator of the momentum building for improved cycling funding, infrastructure and safety.
However, Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at cycling charity CTC, said: “We’re not expecting the same level of turnout as the previous parliamentary debate. My guess is 40 to 50, but it’s hard to tell.” He added that key cycling proponents such as Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, will be absent.
Geffen agreed that timing for the debate could affect turnout – an evening session on the first day of business after the summer recess, and with the Syria crisis dominating the agenda. However, he said the discussion could still prove useful if there is broad cross-party support for the proposals, particularly on the issue of increased funding. The Get Britain Cycling report recommends £10 per head be spent on cycling, country wide.
Meanwhile, the London Cycling Campaign is using the debate to organise a 6pm Space for Cycling demonstration, at which cyclists will urge London mayor Boris Johnson to make cycling safer in the UK capital.