6 facts your MP should be aware of for the September 2nd debate on cycling

Today, I’ve written to my Member of Parliament, Karen Buck. On the 2nd of September 2013, from 7pm to 10pm, there will be a parliamentary debate on cycling, based on the “Get Britain Cycling” report by the Parliamentary Cycling Group.

I’ve written to her asking to attend and explaining why I think it’s important.

If you’d like to write to your MP, visit:


There is a template letter available on the British Cycling website. Make sure you include your address at the top.

Here are some of the facts I included inside the letter:

  • Currently, nationwide around 2% of journeys are completed by bike – this is falling embarrassingly behind our European counterparts. In Copenhagen, 33% of all journeys are made by bike. (Source)
  • A government report from 2004 estimated the total cost of physical inactivity in England alone to be around £8.2bn a year. Cycling is one of the best ways to get physical activity, and reduce the burden on the NHS.  For every £1 pound spent on cycling initiatives, they can generally return up to £4 in saved costs to the NHS and value to the economy. The health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by 20 to one. (Source)
  • The Prime Minister has today announced £77 million pounds spend on cycling that will benefit 8 key UK cities. This will bring the per head spending to £10 per head in those cities. This compares to a pathetic national average of just 94p per person. (Source). In comparison, 26 euros per person is spent in Amsterdam. 25 Euros per person in Copenhagen.
  • A mile of new motorway costs on average £30m according to the Highways Agency. When the health benefits, time saved and reduction in congestion and car crashes are taken in to account, Copenhagen authorities have calculated that society makes a net profit of 1.22 Danish kroner (13p) for every kilometre cycled by one of its citizens. By the same criteria, society makes a net loss of 8p for every kilometre driven by car. (Source)
  • TfL is behind the times, it’s own counts show that in 2010, cyclists made up 36% of northbound morning rush hour traffic. More than cars and taxis combined. This shows the demand for cycling is there. People want to cycle, but they want to feel safe. It’s a case of if you build it, they will come.
  • Official predictions are for the capital’s population to grow from around 8.25 million now to nine million in 2020 and 10 million in 2030. That’s the equivalent of tacking on a city the size of Birmingham within just 18 years. People talk about the lack of space for bicycles. I’d argue, where are all these extra cars going to go exactly?
So we shouldn’t be asking: How can we possibly afford to provide cycling infrastructure? We should be asking: How can we possibly not afford to provide cycling infrastructure?
Mark Ames from iBikeLondon has an excellent post on today’s £77m announcement by David Cameron.

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35 Responses to 6 facts your MP should be aware of for the September 2nd debate on cycling

  1. Chaz 13/08/2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Try and live in Devon and see where you can cycle, if you have to carry goods to do your work, you need more then a bike. Living in rural Devon it not an option for most. also Cycles use the road at no cost to them, no tax or insurance, I think this need to change. If a cycle has an accident its not covered by insurance, also many cycles think they own the road, passing pass my own home they come past with no regard for the 30 MPH speed limit, and also ride three abreast and up to six deep on a ‘A’ road most are the lycra types, not out to save, a car, on a nessuery journey….. so don’t ask me to agree with this letter….

    • Richard Simon 13/08/2013 at 7:12 pm #

      If a car was driving above 30mph – which they so often do – it would do a lot more damage than a bicycle. In regards to ‘no tax, no insurance’, above it suggests that society as a whole can experience substantial benefits with fewer motorist and more cyclists (NHS, pollution, cost incurred through accidents etc). Also, the ‘lyrca types’ probably cycle to work too.

    • MrCommuter 14/08/2013 at 8:28 am #

      Unfortunately Chaz, it’s always the car-drivers and anti-cyclist that think the “no costs to cyclists” should change. If the government changed the need for licensing and insurance for car drivers so that it was optional, I wonder how many would continue to pay it?
      The vast majority of car-dependent individuals that complain about cyclists not paying anything are not living in rural Devon. My advice to them is get out of the car onto a bicycle then you will experience genuine freedom and at no cost. Then they could take advantage of it instead of complaining about it.

      Besides, I just cycled 300 miles through France and I can assure you there are plenty of pensioners living in rural France that don’t think twice about jumping on a bicycle and cycling 20 miles to buy or transport something.

      • Chaz 14/08/2013 at 12:58 pm #

        I do experience freedom on my Motorbike… also a much better option then a car for fuel. But the down side is when you need to go out with the family..

        • Jason 16/08/2013 at 8:58 am #

          I live in “rural” cornwall and commute 20 miles on a bike. Whilst its not taxed, I do have thrid party insurance cover and I’d say 95% of drivers are accomodating of cyclists. Its just the remaining few that think you have no right to be there and drive accordingly.

          As for following a club ride, its not really any different from a drivers perspective than having to find a safe spot to overtake a tractor pulling spuds or some other veg.

    • Jozudave 16/08/2013 at 10:26 am #

      Hi Chaz,

      I think you make some valid points, but I’d like to answer those points in turn if I may:

      1) I agree it is next to impossible to live in rural areas without access to a car and indeed when I lived back home in Fife I did have a car and used that as well as a bicycle

      2) In terms of tax, there is no such thing as a road tax. Roads are centrally funded by everyone’s income tax and were explicitly set this way by Winston Churchill himself to prevent exactly this kind of arguing over who “owns” the road. The tax motorists pay is a tax on cars and driving and it could be fairly argued that it is a pollution tax as fumes kill cause thousands of premature deaths per year as well as contributing to climate change. Also, cyclists cause only zero degradation to the roads as they are so light compared with motor vehicles. If there were a cycling tax then how much would be fair though? £10 a year? £30? I’d pay it if it solved this constant bickering over who pays for the roads.

      3) Many cyclists DO have insurance including me (mine is through ETA) and I have it partly in case my bike is stolen and partly in case I ever knock anyone down then they will be paid appropriate compensation from my insurers just like if I was driving. Should insurance be complusory for cyclists… that’s an interesting point that could be debated further!

      4) While I’m sure some cyclists do exceed 30mph in places, it is not that common and if cyclists are doing that in a 30mph zone then they should be stopped by the police as anyone else should be. But please be aware that faaaaaaar more motorists manage break 30mph (it’s quite hard to do so on a bike!) and I’d certainly rather be hit by a cyclist at that speed than a car or a lorry!

      5) Although I don’t go out an cycle in a big group with people I too have seen cyclists riding abreast on country roads, but I would argue that many are doing this for self preservation as people simply pass far too close and far too quickly a lot of the time when people are cycling single file. If motorists drove more carefully (not to mention legally as unsafe passing is illegal!) then cyclists would likely not feel the need to cycle in such a defensive way.

      I hope you can see I’m answering your points honestly, but really the only way to find out for yourself is to try cycling on some country roads. It’ll make you change your mind on some views pretty quick, particularly about No.5 above!!



    • Mark 16/08/2013 at 10:29 am #

      Anyone who works pays tax, so tht probably includes most cyclists.
      why cyclists don’t pay is vehicle excise duty, which is based on co2 emissions. However, a lot if cyclists also drive, so they probably pay this duty fee too

    • Mark 16/08/2013 at 10:31 am #

      Also chaz, please don’t forget, a cyclist does not have to cycle in the gutter to allow you to overtake. If they ride three a breast or ride in th centre of th lane it is to prevent a vehicle making an unsafe overtake maneuver….

      which should not be necessary if they are riding at the maximum speed limit of 30mph!

    • Jackie Frewin 16/08/2013 at 12:22 pm #

      I’m insured in case of an accident. Cars don’t pay road tax they pay a vehicle excise duty which is a car tax and not a road tax, this doesn’t go towards maintaining new roads. Many cars think they own the road, and take up far more space than cars.

    • Bob Davidson 24/08/2013 at 12:34 pm #

      The excellent article mentions Copenhagen.

      In creating superb cycle paths the Danes have also looked at the legal framework in

      which cyclists and vehicle drivers travel.

      Denmark has succeeded in separating cyclists and vehicle traffic + it has also made

      drivers automatically at fault where there is an accident involving a vehicle and a cyclist,

      unless it can shown otherwise.

      Cycling in Copenhagen, and in Denmark in general, is a pleasure because the

      coexistence of driving and cycling was thought through. In this respect the UK still

      needs to “get on its collective bike”

  2. Paul 13/08/2013 at 8:21 pm #

    Most cyclists do in fact contribute to the road network, there is no such thing as road tax, that was abolished many years ago, you pay vehicle excise duty, most of which does not go back into looking after the roads, roads are primarily funded by a proportion of your council tax, which the vast majority of cyclists will pay and a lot of cyclists do have 3rd party insurance, however, I agree that this should be more widespread amongst cyclists.

    We are a very people crammed nation and we all have to use the roads and we all must show more tolerance towards each other.

    • Chaz 14/08/2013 at 1:03 pm #

      road tax was not mentions I said TAX and without it you can not put your car or motorbike on the road… Please do not read what you want to, but was was written,….
      Why change the point to one YOU think I was making or that you feel adds weight to your point…
      As for showing tolerance.. we get none from the cycles who like to ride 2 or 3 abreast on narrow roads holding up traffic.

      • Pete 15/08/2013 at 12:15 pm #

        Chaz – the reason you pay tax to but a vehicle on the road is due to the cost that car creates for society. In economic terms a vehicle has “negative externalities”. This is illustrated by the study about that shows every mile a car drives costs the country money. That is due to a variety of factors including the polution it causes and the health impacts of that polution, road wear, the need for policing etc., all of which need to be paid for by the state.
        Bikes on the other hand have postive externalities. They still have some negative ones, eg need for policing etc. and some minor road wear. But they completing the journery with less polution (still some polution obviously as you burn food energy in your body which needs oil to produce), and the cyclist benefits their health, which means the state is less likely to have to pay for their or anybody elses health care.
        For these reasons alone the government should be subsidising bike travel whilst taxing motor vehicles.

      • Mark 16/08/2013 at 12:09 pm #

        I quote “narrow roads”

        If the road is narrow they are purposefully riding further to the right to prevent you making an unsafe overtake!!!!!

        • Chaz 16/08/2013 at 12:30 pm #

          I say narrow as visitor to Devon think all our roads are one way after driving on major city roads and M-ways, Our roads are two ways roads with center line so are not narrow like you’re implying, just not wide duel carriageways.

          As for your post after post I will not reply anymore, as you are blinkered in our views and read what you think is written..

      • Mark 16/08/2013 at 12:11 pm #

        chaz the reason motor vehicles are taxed was clearly written in the article above!

        “openhagen authorities have calculated that society makes a net profit of 1.22 Danish kroner (13p) for every kilometre cycled by one of its citizens. By the same criteria, society makes a net loss of 8p for every kilometre driven by car. ”

        so clearly the government pays MORE for motor vehicles, and actually SAVES money from cyclists, hence a reason to tax motorised vehicles…..

      • Mark 16/08/2013 at 2:04 pm #

        so what car specific tax are you speaking of then chaz???

        roads are paid for by everone – through normal taxation.

        cars require MOT, to keep them safe and roadworthy… thats not a tax….

        vehicle excise duty is for damage to environment eg co2 pollution and the wear and tear on the roads. biks dont do either of these. actually, without cars and lorries we would probably never need to do anything to the roads, maybe fill the occasional pot hole or do a bit of weeding! but of course this is silly, as i know from living in more rural areas (eg before i moved to london) a lot of places rely on cars for 40 mile commutes, or big month;y shopping trips.

        so, what other taxes exist for cars ? only one – tax disk. this is to give you a “vehicle license” and register your car with dvla. of course, this is not something bicycles will ever have (or need!)

        have i forgotten a tax? or is there one im not aware of that gives motorists more of a right to the road?

        • Philip Russell 24/08/2013 at 5:47 pm #

          [[[[[[[[ MARK—-spot-on, squire.

      • Mark 16/08/2013 at 2:09 pm #

        chaz, having lived in dorset and devon for 26 years i know what a narrow road is. you also seem to think london has lots of lovely wide roads?! im sure some are as narrow as devon!
        i know how to ride a bike, so please, dont expect anyone on a bicycle to stay in the gutter. if a 2 way road is as narror as ONE car im probably going to need to ride 1m or even 1.5m from the edge of the verge, to prevent silly dangerous overtakes and to allow me to see and be seen around corners. last thing i want is someone driving AT the speed limit because they are allowed to, but they cant see me round the corner and go straight into the back of me.

        regarding my replies to your points, im merely responding to each point you make, so why not defend your article?

        oh wait, you cant, because you are wrong. accept it!
        as Jozudave said , im sure you wil change your mind about point number 5. so stop being so ignorant

      • Philip Russell 24/08/2013 at 5:29 pm #

        [[[[[ CHAZ—when motorists are motoring, but held up by CAR-gridlock, traffic jams, vehicle pile-ups, road-works, road-closures, route-diversions, “sheer weight of traffic”, vehicle-breakdowns ahead, a trio of buses they can’t get past….and when other drivers overtake them at 40mph as they drive along at the legal 30mph, (I’m sure you yourself never drive even ONE mph over the limit), and when they’re frustrated because they can’t find anywhere to park, and have to swallow yet ANOTHER big rise in their Insurance——-what do they do?
        They bitch about “Bloody Cyclists”. I do hope you’re not becoming that way, old bean.

      • Patrick 27/08/2013 at 10:30 pm #

        Cyclists are traffic

        • MrCommuter 27/08/2013 at 10:53 pm #

          Indeed they are. But I always leave the car at home when commuting because I know that I only take up a fraction of the space and can do most journeys in less time because we don’t clog the roads.

          When oh when will the masses wake up and smell the coffee?.

  3. Vincent 13/08/2013 at 10:39 pm #

    > Currently, nationwide around 2% of journeys are completed by bike – this is falling embarrassingly behind our European counterparts. In Copenhagen, 33% of all journeys are made by bike

    But then, you’re comparing a whole nation with just a single city.

    Also, the article doesn’t mention something even more important: How much does cycling save in gasoline/petrol, which GB is about to go without like continental Europe?

    “UK, [oil] production, thousands [of] barrels daily”

    “Could the economy shrink ?”

    • Chaz 14/08/2013 at 1:13 pm #

      Oh how easy it is to mislead with numbers….. You compare a country (UK) figures against a city (Copenhagen).. Come one get real and look at the facts Denmark has extensive network of bicycle routes extending more than 12,000 kilometres (7,500 mi) nationwide and is much flatter then UK
      As for the lower output of oil well do you know know that is a way of pushing up prices, by restricting your out put the cost is kept artificially high.
      What about this report then?
      20% fall in the use of London’s public bike hire scheme compared with last year.

      Transport for London (TfL) figures show that despite an increase in the number of bikes available, total usage fell by 20% in May.

      • Jackie Frewin 16/08/2013 at 12:30 pm #

        I would probably think that a lot of people tried the cycle hire scheme, and found they enjoyed cycling so went out and bought a bike. I’m certainly cycling a lot more 11 mile commute each way regularly now.

      • Fern 16/08/2013 at 1:48 pm #

        May was unusually cold so it is not s surprise that there was drop in cycling

        • Mark 16/08/2013 at 1:56 pm #

          and its not very fair to use statistics from one month only, LOL
          need to compare year after year

      • Philip Russell 24/08/2013 at 5:43 pm #

        [[[[[[[[ CHAZ—–Yipee! Hooray! Less cyclists on the roads? Er…maybe not. I suspect that there are less BORIS-bikes about because ten thousand citizens have enjoyed that experience enough to go out and purchase their own machines…..which must annoy some drivers (no names mentioned) who would just LOVE to have the roads to themselves, at all times!
        And that ain’t gonna happen, bro’. Quite the reverse, in fact.

  4. MrCommuter 14/08/2013 at 1:27 pm #

    I think there’s a bit too much comparison going on here using studies etc (I’m guilty of this as well).

    I think the bottom line is, cycling is undeniably more sustainable than our use of cars and we must promote cycling whether one hates the law breakers or not. But it would benefit all if we can realize that idiots on bikes do not outnumber idiots in cars, they just seem to get noticed more because of their ability to get through traffic.

    I appreciate there are times when we need cars simply because of the way our society has evolved, but there are also an awful lot of instances when bicycles could have been adopted instead of jumping in the car. I know of people that drive 1.5 miles the long-way round a giant superstore to get to the car park just to buy 1 bag of shopping, whereas they could have walked or cycled 500 yards to get to the back of it!

    It really is for everybody’s benefit to engage in the promotion of cycling. So instead of using the antics of some bad cyclists to oppose a cycling trend, let’s promote cycling and then also deal with the bad guys (bikes and vehicles).

    Trying to impose licensing isn’t going to work in the short term because it would cost more to administer it than the governments would want to invest. And if it forces cyclists off the road, that just means more cars added to the gridlocks.

  5. John 14/08/2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Third party insurance is a great idea for peace of mind and most cyclists pay road tax and motor insurance as well anyway. Taxing bikes as well for what ? There are some useful routes being developed but London for one remains a very hazardous environment for the cyclist and the default is still minimal provision.

    Having said that cycling needs to present itself as a responsible activity and we cyclists need to spend more time improving our image. Fifteen years ago, when cycling was much less popular, it was possible to negotiate London without causing undue distress to anyone. London is now getting much more crowded, particularly with cyclists, and we must go out of our way to be the responsible road users.

    I sympathise with road users in hilly areas or with family to transport but bottom line – we need cycling in flat urban environments because taking a ton of metal with us where ever we go is not sustainable.


    • Fern 16/08/2013 at 1:58 pm #

      The Dutch don’t have a problem getting families on bikes.
      My membership to the London Cycling Campaign includes third party insurance which is ridiculously cheap compared to car third party because the comparative damage that a bike can cause is minimal.
      There are loads of studies that show that for every pound that is spent on cycling infrastructure three pounds are returned to the community where as cars are just a financial hole and every pound that is spent on them costs more pounds to the community.
      Here is one such study from Australia http://sydneycycleways.net/the-network/strategy-research/economic-research

  6. Theandyman 17/08/2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Can’t help wondering how an ingorant troll wandered onto this site? Chaz obviously doesn’t have much cycling experience – perhaps he doesn’t know how? Jealousy can be a powerful motivator.
    He’s definitely not a member of the CTC, LCC or British Cycling. If he was then he’d have FREE third party insurance like the rest of us!
    What are you going to tax on a bicycle? We already pay VAT of 20% on all purchases (bike, spares, tyres etc.). Emission free vehicles are VED exempt so that only leaves a registration fee. That’s something I’d willingly pay – having a national register would help recover stolen bikes (number one economic crime in at least three London boroughs…) and might even force lazy plod to do something about detection and deterrence.
    As for ‘congestion’ caused by bikes on rural roads, it might not do Chaz any harm to slow down a little – he drives on the most dangerous roads in England and Wales and statistically he’s most likely to kill himself in a car ‘accident’.
    Finally, to withdraw from the argument he trolled up in the first place is cowardly. When I troll the petrol heads or Daily Fail readers I hang around to back up my arguments, provide sources and, most importantly, keep the thread going until it gets picked up by the search engines or the bigoted and ignorant die of frustration… Not sporting dear Chaz, not sporting!

    • Mark 18/08/2013 at 10:25 am #

      “When I troll the petrol heads or Daily Fail readers I hang around to back up my arguments, ”

      sounds like a fun new hobby, thanks for th idea 🙂

  7. Mark 18/08/2013 at 12:44 am #

    I love this thread. It brings me enjoyment to watch how idiotic dome people are. But then i feel a sudden sadness and hope that the stupidity dies out with them and is not inherited lol!

  8. Dave 09/09/2013 at 2:12 pm #

    A bike is defined as a carriage, a car is a motor carriage, the road is a carriageway i.e.. a way for any carriage to use, while observing the (Highway) carriage code. Its really very simple

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