Monday, 2 September 2013

Please attend Cycle Safe debate. Response from Andrew Lansley MP.

On the 22nd August I wrote as a constituent to Andrew Lansley MP for South Cambridgeshire asking him to attend the Cycle Safe debate. I received a reply on the 2nd September.

Dear [my name] 
Thank you for contacting me about the 'Get Britain Cycling' debate, taking place on 2 September 2013. 
Unfortunately, due to other pressing commitments in my diary, I will not be available to attend this debate. However, I fully agree that we need to get more people cycling.

I can also assure you that the Government is already doing a great deal to help increase safety for cyclists in the UK. For instance, in the last 12 months Ministers have allocated £107m of new money to support safety and community links that encourage more cycling. This is over and above the £600m Local Sustainable Transport Fund where 94 out of the 96 projects contain a cycling element.

There has also been the introduction of measures to make cycling safer, including flexibility for Local Authorities to introduce 20mph speed limits in residential areas and a process for applications for further rural 40mph zones. It has also been made easier to install Trixi mirrors to improve the visibility of cyclists at junctions.

This has been part of a cross-departmental effort by the Department for Transport to promote cycling, in particular with Defra and the Department of Health. For example Transport and Health Ministers shared a platform at the Leicester Active Travel Conference in November to promote better working between public health and transport planners. There are now plans to take this further by establishing a project team involving more departments and stakeholders.

Finally, you will be pleased to know that the Government is working on making the UK's towns and cities more cycle friendly. In January it announced The Cycle City Ambition Grants and has invited cities outside London to bid for a share of a £42m grant. The guidance requires cities to demonstrate local leadership and set out a 10 year ambition for more cycling.

Successful bids will receive a cycling budget equivalent to £10 per head, which is the level of support the 'Get Britain Cycling' report recommends. The £42m grant will also benefit National Parks who have also been asked to develop schemes to improve cycling facilities to help support the message that cycling is normal and fun. Successful bids should be announced later in the summer.

I do hope that this information helps, and thank you again for contacting me about this issue.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Lansley

On hearing I had written to Andrew Lansley, a Twitter user responded with:
I wrote to James Paice (SE Cambs) but he will be unable to attend due to "prior commitments". Copied-in govt spiel.

Cambridge City is a Lib Dem area, surrounded by the two constituencies, South Cambs and South East Cambs. Both Andrew Lansley and James Paice use the same office in Hardwick as their point of contact. Both have "prior commitments" and copied in government spiel.

The areas surrounding Cambridge City have high cycling rates compared to the rest of the country. They may be able to offer some valuable knowledge and experience to the Cycle Safe debate.


  1. The pat reply you received looks suspiciously similar to the one I received; I didn't know that they shared a common office... If I hadn't permanently deleted it in disgust I wouldn't be surprised to find they were identical texts. I am sorry to discover that both MPs seem disinterested and disengaged with cycling concerns.

  2. Marvellous. A few towns are to be given a third as much money as it takes for a limited period of time... That's all the commitment you're getting.

    The important lesson from this is to remember what the responses were. This is very far from the first time that cyclists have been fobbed off with replies exactly like this this.

    Talking down what's required, boasting about not actually very large numbers etc. They've been getting away with it for decades.

  3. I emailed my MP over here in the West Country - one Dr Liam Fox - and got a reply from his office which starts

    "Thank you for contacting me about the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ debate, taking place on 2 September 2013. We have been in touch about these issues on several occasions in the past few years. I hope to attend this debate and I fully agree with its central premise that more should be done to encourage cycling."

    but then goes on with exactly the same boilerplate text as yours.

    Someone in Central Office must just draft a fixed response ("Something about cycling here" "OK, just text number 1" "Great, thanks").