Daniel Zeichner MP said: "I want to make cycling a Labour issue and Labour the cycling Party."

Cambridge MP appointed as Labour’s cycling spokesman

Daniel Zeichner, the MP for Cambridge, has been made Labour’s spokesman on cycling. The appointment was made at the "Labour cyclists" fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Brighton. 

Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said making Zeichner the spokesman for cycling was a "great appointment."

Zeichner is following the tyremarks of Julian Huppert, the former MP for Cambridge and who was the LibDem cycling spokesman as well as co-chair of the All-party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

In a pre-election pledge made to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign Zeichner said: "I am determined to lead an ambitious effort to expand the use of cycling both here in Cambridge and across the UK."

Zeichner may now be Labour spokesman on cycling but he won’t be Labour’s leading cyclist. That tag goes to the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. 

In a parliamentary debate on cycling in 2012 Parliament Corbyn, the MP for Islington North, said he was a lifelong cyclist, admitted that he much admired the cycling facilities in the Netherlands and said he wanted "better facilities" for cyclists in the UK. He made the comments when just a lowly back-bencher – as the leader he can now put flesh on these bones.

"London is now seen as the most pro-cycling city in the country," said Corbyn. "Certainly, as someone who has cycled in London for more than 20 years, I have noticed the increase in the number of cyclists and, to be fair, an increased awareness by many car, lorry, bus and taxi drivers of the needs of cyclists. That is very welcome indeed."

He added: "There are serious issues of cycle safety. We should be realistic about that, but not in a way that puts people off cycling. It is important to keep a balance."

An early day motion started by Corbyn had earlier stressed that he believed there should be more training of cyclists and the introduction of regulations to "require all new bicycles to be fitted with lights at the point of sale."

He praised the cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands as "incredible".

Corbyn said: "I have cycled many times in the Netherlands, and the cycle routes there are incredible. It is possible to get off a boat at the Hook of Holland and get all the way to Copenhagen almost without touching a main road. The system and the facilities in the Netherlands are superb."

He also acknowledged he knew something about the cycling credentials of Cambridge.

"A Dutch railway station is a bit like Cambridge: there will be hundreds of cycles outside the station. Cambridge is probably the only station in this country … with that number of cycles parked outside it. That indicates the transport integration there."

Corbyn is also aware that what politicians wish for and what is sometimes delivered on the ground are two different things. 

"There is a question about getting through to road planners about cyclists and the need to incorporate cycling in designs," he said, citing a visit to China.

"Coming back from my one and only visit to Beijing, I met an engineer, a Chinese gentleman, on the plane. I have never forgotten this. He said, “How did you find Beijing?” I said that I thought that it was a lovely city and very interesting, but I was very concerned about the pollution and the traffic. He said, “Don’t worry. We are going to sort out the traffic problem.” I said, “How are you going to do that?” He replied, “We’re going to get rid of all these damn cycle rides so that we can get more cars on the road.” Unfortunately, it was a very long flight home, because he then proceeded to give me a long and totally incoherent explanation about how cars took up less road space than bicycles. I still have not fully grasped his logic. Perhaps there was not any there."

Corbyn added that he feels "very passionately in favour of cycling."

The 2012 debate on cycling was, said Corbyn, a "real achievement for those of us who spend our lives cycling and who demand better facilities."

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