Tuesday night’s dramatic Brexit debate and vote were not enough to deter an influential panel of MPs and officials from discussing “Fit & Healthy Childhood” in a well-attended meeting in Westminster.
The event focused on cycling for children, and the Bicycle Association provided key input both ahead of and during the event. The outcome was a forceful recommendation for measures which, if implemented in full, could revolutionise child cycling.
The meeting was chaired by Jim FitzPatrick MP, who heads the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fit and Healthy Childhood. In attendance were Minister for Transport Jesse Norman, numerous MPs as well as representatives from Public Health England, Transport for London, senior officials from the Department for Transport and others.
The meeting’s agenda was focused on getting more children cycling, a key element in the Bicycle Association’s recently revealed advocacy strategy. As well as working with the meeting chair Jim FitzPatrick to encourage MPs, decision-makers and influencers to attend, the Bicycle Association provided background research, policy suggestions and also the economic case for ensuring that children – and hence a future adult generation – have the opportunity to cycle at an early age.
Delivering the opening address at the meeting, the Bicycle Association’s Executive Director Steve Garidis set out just how vital getting children cycling is for the health and well-being of young people across the UK. It’s essential to tackle obesity, pollution and congestion – and to foster transport independence and a lifelong active travel habit.
The Bicycle Association’s key policy suggestions were:
- Full funding for Bikeability – the national cycle training programme (currently only half of all children can access this programme)
- Cycling on the national curriculum
- Government to work with industry on a programme to ensure all children have access to a bicycle
- Promoting cycling to children actively and nationwide.
Following the debate, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fit and Healthy Childhood will draw up a list of final recommendations for Government, and the BA is optimistic that this will include many of the key elements called for at the meeting.
Steve Garidis, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association said: “There is a real recognition now that for the good of our children, and for the long-terms health of our whole society, active travel habits must be built into fit and healthy childhood across the country. This won’t happen overnight but this expression of political will from an influential cross-party Parliamentary group should have a real impact on policy development. We’re delighted that the Bicycle Association was able to play a strong part in making this meeting happen, as we continue to work to secure a pipeline of future cyclists for the sake of a cleaner, healthier Britain. The UK cycle industry is eager to be part of this and to help deliver a healthier, cleaner country while also providing UK jobs and growth: policies which get children cycling are essential to capture this opportunity.”
Details of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fit and Healthy Childhood and its membership can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/ybb2roou