Cabinet Ministers and MPs got on their bikes this morning to cycle to work at the Houses of Parliament. Britain has the highest level of heart disease in Europe and the lowest level of cycling - these two are not unconnected," says Ben Bradshaw MP

75 MPs battle London traffic on their bikes

Police on motorcycles escorted about 75 MPs from all parties as they cycled from the offices of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in Victoria, and past Buckingham Palace to Westminster.

The officers eased the path of the MPs by stopping traffic along the route.

Six ministers, including Environment Minister Michael Meacher, Charles Clarke of the Home Office and Keith Hill, the man in charge of Government policy on cycling joined the group making the 20-minute journey to mark Bike to Work Day.

Disabled MP Anne Begg, who took part on a specially adapted bicycle, said the event was about proving that cycling was for all, especially now that specially adapted machines were available.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Cycle Group, which organised the trip, said the Government still had a lot to do to make cycling safer and more attractive.

"The Government needs to do more to make cycling in our towns and cities safer. We have just come along a route which doesn’t have a single cycle lane," he said.

"But it is a brilliant means of transport. Britain has the highest level of heart disease in Europe and the lowest level of cycling – these two are not unconnected."

Keith Hill, who had never learned to drive, said he usually walked rather than cycled to work, but his escorted cycle ride this morning made it seem a "very attractive proposition", adding: "There is also nothing like having an out-rider to get you around London in the mornings."

But Rotherham Labour MP Denis MacShane, also a cyclist, boycotted the ride in protest at Westminster City Council’s failure to create more cycle lanes in the centre of London.

Mr MacShane said he had taken part in the event in previous years, but now thought it was an empty publicity stunt.

"Six years ago when I was just elected, I joined the annual parliamentary bike ride and I thought we were finally going to get cycle lanes in central London," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"Six years later, I am a sadder and wiser man.

"I don’t think this annual bike ride has any point if we can’t get safe, secure bike lanes in London, like in other capitals in Europe."

Text by the Press Association

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