Jesse Norman, the transport minister whose brief includes cycling, has only been in the job for six months but has already prompted controversy by insisting that cyclists follow the Highway Code, something criticised here on the Bike Blog.
In his office at the Department for Transport in Westminster, he comes across as affable and open – and talks the talk when it comes to bikes for transport.
Having learned a “raft of things” in meetings with campaigners since the controversy, Norman says a key question is “how can we make the transition to a world where a 12-year-old can cycle safely?”
“I like the 12-year-old test,” he says. “I think Chris Boardman is absolutely right to talk about that.”
His solution? “I think if we’re doing our job properly, there’s a whole raft of things, and infrastructure is absolutely part of it. The lesson of many, many cases is better cycling infrastructure – better road infrastructure – helps to bring in new users but it’s not by any means the only part of the picture.”
However, he sees this as primarily the preserve of local authorities and the likes of charities like Sustrans, not national government, which becomes problematic when local authorities fail to act out of a fear of backlash, or a lack of interest.
He also believes in cycle training. “Bikeability is really important, actually teaching kids how to use a cycle safely and effectively on the road, teaching them good manners and good practice as well as signalling. I’m amazed by the number of cyclists who don’t signal effectively on the roads now – it’s staggering.”