Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Tuesday, 24 April 2012 12:22 UK

Transport Committee

The government needs to "show leadership" on cycling to improve the safety of the increasing number of cyclists on UK roads, the Transport Committee has been told.

Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow said it was an area "completely neglected" by the government despite the "burgeoning" take-up of the activity, particularly in the UK's cities.

He believed the answer lay in improving infrastructure - which had "remained static" despite growing demand - and for a joined up approach to cycling within government.

Mr Snow was giving evidence to the committee on 24 April 2012, as part of its inquiry into road safety, alongside The Times editor, James Harding and author Josie Dew.

The Times launched a major cycle safety campaign after one of its reporters, Mary Bowers, was left in a coma after a serious accident with a lorry.

Mr Harding welcomed the inquiry telling the panel of MPs he believed cyclists' safety had been ignored for too long.

He said there needed to be someone at every level of government who is responsible for cyclists, with an overall figurehead in Downing Street to oversee the government's strategy.

He said cities in particular were not fit for cyclists and called for new roads and pathways needed and dedicated cycling commissioners.

Author Josie Dew believed it was crucial for motorists to understand what it was like to be a cyclist on the roads.

She called for better training for motorists, particularly when they are learning to drive, suggesting practical elements as part of the driving test.

Mr Harding backed her calls, particularly regarding better training for HGV drivers, but Jon Snow did not think this would do enough to improve cyclist safety; arguing that the answer lay in better infrastructure.

The panel of cycling advocates suggested filter systems at traffic lights, priority lanes at roundabouts and for greater private sector involvement, for example getting firms to sponsor cycle lanes or highways.

They also called for legislation to make it compulsory for planners to take cycling access into account when planning every new urban development; and for stricter penalties for motorists who injure or kill cyclists in road accidents.

Later on, the committee took evidence from Transport ministers Mike Penning and Norman Baker, who are responsible for the government's policies on road safety and cycling.

The committee put questions to them that had been submitted by members of the public via Twitter.

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