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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 16:40 GMT
MPs fail to get on their bikes
John Prescott
Two bikes: Ministers want to encourage cycling
A scheme to get more MPs cycling to work has failed to catch on.

MPs who cycle to the Commons - or use their bikes on constituency business - can claim a 7p a mile allowance.

But four years after the scheme was brought in, only four out of a possible 659 MPs are taking advantage of it.

The figure was revealed by Commons leader Robin Cook, in answer to a written question by Liberal Democrat Norman Baker.

Subsidised

MPs are already subsidised to travel by car and public transport.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair champions cycling in Amsterdam
But the allowance was extended to bicycles in 1998, after lobbying from Labour's Anne Campbell, who cycles up to 70 miles a week in her Cambridge constituency during recess.

Other cycling MPs include deputy Commons leader Ben Bradshaw, Spectator editor Boris Johnson and Sir George Young, who is known as the 'bicycling baronet'.

Lacking commitment?

Earlier this year, the government came under fire for abondoning targets for increasing the use of bicycles by the general public.

An all-party group of MPs accused ministers of a fundamental lack of commitment to cycling.

Twice in the past, the government has endorsed a target of doubling the amount of cycling between 1996 and 2002.

But Transport Minister Lord McDonald has told the all-party group of MPs that the targets were never formally adopted.

The MPs - investigating the spending plans of the Department of the Environment and Transport - have said they were surprised by Lord McDonald's admission.

Instead the government has proposed a new target to treble the use of cycling between now and 2010.

In June the first 5,000 miles of the 43.5m National Cycle Network was opened, which will eventually link almost every major town in Britain and run within two miles of half the population.

By 2005 this network is expected to be over 10,000 miles long.

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