Jo praises local cycling initiatives in Parliament

Jo Swinson MP took part yesterday in a Parliamentary debate to highlight the work that ED Cycle Co-op and other local organisations have taken to advance cycling in the community

Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire detailed a catalogue of successes in the community that have made cycling more accessible for local people, in particular the great work done by the ED Cycle Co-op led by Mark Kiehlmann.

From ED Cycle Co-op setting up school cycle clubs to delivering 1000 hours of cycle training, Jo touched on the initiatives that have helped lead to a 5% point modal shift in cycling to primary schools in Bishopbriggs in just one year including a tenfold increase at St Matthew’s Primary School.

She also spoke of her meeting with charity Rebound on Friday to discuss building mountain bike tracks in Lennox Forest.

Commenting Jo said:

“I was proud to raise local initiatives like the annual cycle festival and the Bishopbriggs BMX club. So much good work is being done locally on cycling and it’s a promising development that so many groups in Bishopbriggs are signed up to 20mph zones in residential areas. Now we hope the Council will act to take this forward and improve road safety for everyone.”

  • The full text of Jo’s speech is below:

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) on securing this important debate and I also congratulate The Times for its leadership on this issue. There has been an impressive turnout today of Members from all parties, and I truly hope that this debate can be part of a momentum for change.

In East Dunbartonshire, seven cyclists have been killed or seriously injured on our roads since 2006. That is indeed a sobering statistic. However, we are fortunate to have an award-winning organisation called the East Dunbartonshire Cycle Co-operative. Under the dynamic leadership of Mark Kiehlmann and with a committed and growing team of volunteers, the organisation has secured funding and put in place a range of different initiatives to get people cycling and enjoying using bikes as a means of transport. So far, it has delivered 1,000 hours of cycle training, including cycle mechanics, because, as was mentioned earlier, being able to fix a bike is very important.

There are cycle clubs at many local schools. There has been a cycle map with different routes distributed to more than 20,000 individuals, and we now have an annual cycle festival with more than 1,000 people participating. Summer cycle rides are organised. Importantly, it is often the children who are enthusiastic and they are encouraged to bring their parents to get them cycling for the first time in 15 or 20 years. When we have families cycling together, it is more likely to be something that sticks.

The group has even organised a Guinness world record attempt for simultaneous bike bell ringing with the help of Classic FM and the “Blue Danube”. It has achieved great success. In less than a year, there has been a 5% modal shift in cycling to school in one town. St Matthew’s primary now has nearly 20% of the pupils cycling to school, which is a great achievement and shows what can be done. It has also inspired other initiatives. We have Bishopbriggs BMX club for 10 to 19-year-olds, with 100 members. One of its founders, Christopher Eastwood, was a winner in the first national BMX competition at the end of last year.

Mountain biking is popular in Scotland. The charity, Rebound, is trying to ensure that new facilities can be put in place in East Dunbartonshire, particularly in Lennox forest, where it is hoping to build tracks that can be used both as a leisure pursuit and to host competitions and events. I look forward to meeting that local group tomorrow.

I want to touch on two issues. One is a slight controversy about cycling on pavements. I had an initiative in my constituency called Cycle Train. Children as young as five would cycle to school on the pavement, with an adult at the beginning and at the end of the group of children cycling. Once the pupils had passed their cycling proficiency test, they would move to cycling on the road. It was a safe way for children to get to school, but it had to stop, because it was not in accordance with the law. Although there are undoubtedly problems with irresponsible cycling on pavements, there is a role for responsible, supervised pavement cycling for young children. We would not expect five or six-year-olds to cycle on the road, but getting practice in place would be helpful. I discussed it with the then Minister with responsibility for cycling in 2009 with a delegation. I hope that the Minister with responsibility for cycling now will consider that.

I strongly support point 6 of The Times campaign for 20 mph limits. There is a big campaign in my constituency to encourage that in residential areas. It is very popular indeed. I hope that my local council will outline a timetable for moving towards that. I understand that time pressure is upon us. With so much enthusiasm for this debate, perhaps we need further debates on this issue, even on the Floor of the House. I hope the enthusiasm for the debate today and the wealth of ideas put forward will empower and embolden the Minister with responsibility for cycling. He is no doubt keen to take this forward and make a real difference on this issue.

Share this post on social media:

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or Email.