'No cycling leadership' from state, Jon Snow tells MPs

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Media caption,
Jon Snow is campaigning to protect cyclists' 'human rights'

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has told MPs there is "no leadership from the state" on cycle safety.

Mr Snow and Times newspaper editor James Harding called on MPs to promote cycling and provide more funding to make roads for safer for cyclists.

Mr Harding has led a campaign to make roads safe for cyclists after Times journalist Mary Bowers was knocked off her bike and left in a coma.

Transport ministers said the government had already made progress.

Every city should have a cycling commissioner and there should be a cross-departmental cycling representative who would promote cycling in government, Mr Harding said.

Reporter Ms Bowers, who crashed with a lorry last November, has not yet regained full consciousness, Mr Harding told the committee. The newspaper editor said everyone in the newsroom had been "emotionally affected" by Ms Bowers' accident.

"The best way to fix these problems is to listen to cyclists... there's no-one in the room to look out for cyclists and we need that in DfT (Department for Transport)."

Mr Harding said more separate cycle lanes were needed in UK cities. There will be antagonism between motorists and cyclists "until we address the structural problems in our road system", he added.

Cycling minister Norman Baker said the government had "already made a lot progress" before the Times' campaign was launched.

But Mr Snow told MPs: "There is paint on the road, which is not infrastructure. Cycling is good for the economy, cycling is good for the environment, cycling is good individual health - all of which save the exchequer money and yet the exchequer refuses to spend money.

"The fact is there has been no leadership from the state at all on cycling."

The Channel 4 news presenter said he and Mr Harding were "asking for a lot" but called on the government to spell out how they planned to "raise the profile and power of cycling in this country".

Giving evidence during the second part of the session, Mr Baker said ministers could not micro-manage how cities promote cycling. He said the government was "very keen to promote to cycling" but improvements were the responsibility of local authorities.

Asked what funds were being made available for cycle lanes, the Lib Dem cycling minister said the government "wouldn't ever get involved" in allocating funds at local level.

More aggressive

The Times editor and Channel 4 news presenter appeared alongside author and cycling campaigner Josie Dew who called for more dedicated cycle lanes, enforcement of speed limits and a "massive education campaign" about the effects of speed.

But Mr Snow said it was "no good just blaming motorists" and that some cyclists should have training before taking to the roads. He also called for cyclists to be allowed to turn left at red traffic lights.

Calling for separate cycle lanes, he described roads for cyclists as a "crazy jungle of a situation" where more female than male cyclists were killed because men were "more aggressive".

Transport minister Mike Penning said all new lorries would have to install 'trixi' safety mirrors from March 2014 but that the government "must not take responsibility away" from lorry drivers.

The Times has published a list of the "worst roads for cycling in Britain" as part of their campaign. Cyclists and drivers highlighted 4,010 junctions, 2,778 stretches of badly designed road, 1,453 poorly built cycle lanes and 1,360 roads made dangerous by pot holes, the newspaper said.