On Monday I returned to Parliament for the start of the new Parliamentary term and took the opportunity to attend a debate about the future of cycling in Britain.
Cycling is a matter that I consider to be very important and is something that I know many cyclists also care deeply about too.
The debate amongst cyclists has, for some time, focused on the need to make cycling into a mainstream method of transport, and not just something people do solely for leisure.
Until fairly recently this is a debate that has mostly taken place between people who have an active interest in cycling, but it is now starting to receive serious attention at a political level too, and rightly so.
Cyclists have long cited simple and easily avoidable mistakes in public policy decisions that have restricted the growth in its popularity.
The fact that policymakers have never really viewed cycling as a priority in transport matters and there is no doubt that this underlying attitude is responsible for holding British cycling back over the years.
Putting this right and showing cycling the attention that it deserves can only help cyclists in this country go from strength to strength. If we can make that happen there will be tremendous benefits for the environment and public health.
Policymakers have long accepted that one of their key challenges is the need to get people out of their cars and on to other means of transport as a means of reducing congestion and the environmental impact of travelling by car.
Whilst this work has tended to focus on encouraging increased use of trains and buses the same benefits can be obtained from cycling too with the added of benefit of getting people to incorporate exercise into their travel.
Monday’s debate was extremely well attended, and along with the recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, I think this signifies that progress is being made on this issue, something that cyclists will no doubt appreciate.
Good work is already being done on this at Local Government level too, not least here in Tameside, where Tameside Council and Transport for Greater Manchester are putting their funding to good use on measures aimed at cyclists.
The cycling hub in Ashton town centre is the first example of this, and hopefully we will see similar such work over the coming months and years.
I think the big debate that needs to take place now, at all levels of Government, is how we will allocate the funding that is needed to help cycling grow.
There are different opinions on this but we can at least rest assured that it is a debate that is finally under way and it is one that I look forward to participating in.