Cycling groups angered by MP’s refusal to support Early Day Motion

The Times' Cities Fit For Cycling campaign.Local cycling groups have labelled Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti “a wimp” for not signing an Early Day Motion (EDM) that calls for measures to be taken to make cycling more popular and safer.

In reply, Mr Lopresti says the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ EDM has little prospect of achieving anything, adding that he prefers to help the cause by pressing the Government to continue its support for initiatives such as the £600 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

CTC Right to Ride officer for South Gloucestershire Richard Burton said:

“Other local MPs, have signed this, but Mr Lopresti has said he won’t. He has made positive statements about encouraging cycling, but when push comes to shove, he won’t sign this EDM in case cyclists hold him to account. It’s extremely disappointing that the first time he’s asked to do something constructive for cycling, he wimps out.”

“MPs from all parties have signed it, so it isn’t a party political matter.”

Bristol Cycling Campaign spokesperson Eric Booth said:

“In this era of austerity and obesity, many people are discovering the financial and health benefits of regular cycling, saving money, getting fit and losing weight all at the same time. We are extremely disappointed that Jack Lopresti hasn’t immediately signed this EDM, and are puzzled about why he won’t. He’s made positive statements about cycling, but doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. The benefits to our area of increasing cycling would be tremendous, with reductions in congestion and pollution, improved health and better road safety, so why won’t he sign? We’re baffled.”

The EDM points out that cycling is very beneficial for society with huge gains in public health, the economy, the environment and quality of life, and calls for more government action to increase the number of cyclists and to reduce the risks.

Its supporters claim that regular cyclists live longer and suffer less from all forms of illness and they point out that that it has been estimated by the British Medical Association that the benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by at least twenty to one.

A press release put out by the two cycling groups states:

“Anyone cycling in the area will recognise the problems, with poor road design, drivers who don’t look, and dangerous junctions and roundabouts. The local authorities are fully in favour of increasing cycling, and so are all the major political parties, but there needs to be increasing pressure on road designers to make roads safer, which is mostly what this EDM is about.”

In reply to the criticism from the two cycling group representatives, Mr Lopresti told The Post:

“I have been in contact with Mr Burton regarding this EDM, and I explained at length my reasons for not signing. I therefore am extremely disappointed that he and his organisation have made misleading statements which feign ignorance over my position, which I have set out at length.”

“Mr Burton is not correct in saying this is the first time he’s asked me to do something for cycling; he has argued vehemently against the promotion of wearing cycle helmets for safety and specifically, the necessity of helmets for children, and asked me to help prevent the promotion of cycle helmets in the media. It is therefore fair to say we do not always agree on issues of cycling safety.”

“Not only am I a keen cyclist myself, I have spoken in Parliament on the issue of cycling safety, and I offered to write to the Minister responsible for cycling with Mr Burton’s comments, however he has not yet taken me up on the offer. This provides the prospect of real action, whereas the signing of the EDM does not.”

“EDMs are almost never debated, they commit you to supporting a position which may be incompatible with future Government policy. If I were unable to vote for something in the future which Mr Burton supported because I’d signed this EDM, I’m sure he would be just as unhappy.”

“Instead, I will continue to concentrate on pressing the Government to continue their support for cycling over the course of this Parliament, which so far includes the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, worth £600 million, £11 million for bike training, £30 million to tackle dangerous junctions and £15 million for infrastructure. Ministers are also seeking to reduce accidents with cyclists and pedestrians caused by poor HGV visibility, and having already made it easier to install 20 mph zones and implement Trixi mirrors at junctions.”

At the time of writing, EDM 679 had been supported by 112 MPS.