PACTS Comments on Parliamentary Questions: 7th – 10th Feb
Norman Baker [holding answer 1 February 2011]: The Government are keen to promote sustainable travel initiatives, including cycling and walking. The recent White Paper (Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon) includes specific measures to encourage active travel. We anticipate that the recently announced ‘Local Sustainable Transport Fund’ will support a wide range of measures, including packages that support the promotion of walking and cycling.
We have also allocated £11 million for Bikeability training in schools in 2011-12 and are committed to funding Bikeability training for the remainder of the Parliament. In addition, in 2011-12 we are funding £13 million for Links to Schools, Bike Club, Bike IT and walking to school initiatives.
Norman Baker: The Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey estimates the number of people usually travelling to work by cycle in Great Britain in October-December 2009 as 704,000. This represents 3% of all adults in employment.
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to promote the Cycle to Work Scheme (a) to employers and employees and (b) to other Government departments. 
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport values the Cycle to Work Scheme and continues to support it through the provision of the Cycle to Work Scheme implementation guidance and advice to employers and employees.
Cycle to Work Scheme
While the Department does not hold data regarding the take up of the scheme, the Cycle to Work Alliance report that there are currently over 400,000 employees taking advantage of the scheme. This involves 650 bike retailers and 15,000 employers.
PACTS comments: PACTS supports the government’s Cycle to Work scheme and any encouragement for active travel. However, active travel must also be safe travel, and currently there is a worrying trend of an increase in deaths and serious injuries to cyclists. When looking at the recently published Reported Road Casualty provisional estimates for Q3 2010, we can see that in this quarter alone, deaths and serious injuries were up by 16% compared to the third quarter in 2007. We need to know why this is the case and what we can do to make cycling safer.
Additionally, as the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust point out, most accidents involving child pedal cyclists are off-road. Therefore a significant percentage of accidents involving child cyclists may not have been reported to the police and thus will not be included in the Reported Road Casualty data.
Other transport safety Parliamentary Questions this week:
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the extent to which pilot fatigue affects aviation safety; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 1 February 2011]: It is recognised that pilot fatigue can impact on aviation safety. UK airlines are therefore required to have robust flight time limitation schemes to prevent the onset of fatigue. These have to be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The CAA reviews all available information, including newly available research, on the effects of fatigue in aviation and maintains an advisory group with its stakeholders to discuss the effect of crew fatigue on aviation safety.
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effects on travel safety of implementation of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s recent proposals for legislation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 1 February 2011]: The European Aviation Safety Agency has published draft legislation for consultation. The Civil Aviation Authority is currently reviewing the proposals and we will seek to ensure that the final requirements maintain a high level of safety for UK airlines.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: Ophthalmology
Mr Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria the Driver and Vehicles Licensing Agency applies in selecting opticians to carry out eye tests for the purposes of driver licensing; and whether the Agency has assessed any optician as unable to meet such criteria. 
Mike Penning [holding answer 4 February 2011]: Prior to being selected practices must demonstrate they have the necessary equipment (binocular Humphrey, Dicon and Medmont perimeters, each measuring 120 points, and Henson perimeter measuring 112 points) and are able to carry out an Esterman binocular visual field test within the specified timescale.
Opticians are not registered if they do not have the acceptable equipment or cannot meet the specified time scale. Information relating to the number of opticians not able to meet the criteria is not recorded.
Electric Vehicles: Marketing
Norman Baker: The recent spending review announced that the Government have made provision of over £400 million for measures to promote the uptake of ultra-low carbon vehicle, including hybrid technologies. These measures include support for consumer incentives, development of recharging infrastructure, and a programme of research and development work.
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport does not hold data on vehicle sales, but does hold data on newly-registered vehicles. During the 2009-10 financial year there were 202 electric cars and 17,437 hybrid cars newly registered at addresses in the UK.
Motor Vehicles: Insurance
Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he (a) has had and (b) plans to have with the motor insurance industry on the (i) availability and (ii) cost of motor insurance to younger drivers. 
Mike Penning: I am keen to explore developing new insurance products which offer discounts to those newly qualified drivers who have chosen enhanced training or who are happy to accept restrictions from their insurer (for example no night time driving or “pay as you go” initiatives). I have raised this with the insurance industry and I am seeking to arrange an early meeting to discuss the issues in detail.
Speed Limits: Fines
Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department issues to police forces on circumstances in which motorists found to have exceeded speed limits are offered the option of a safer driving course in lieu of a fixed penalty. 
Mike Penning: The Department for Transport does not issue guidance to the police about courses offered to drivers as an alternative to a fixed penalty for a speeding offence. Guidance about the criteria for offering courses is issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Operational decisions are for individual police forces.
Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effectiveness in reducing speeding by motorists of offering those convicted of speeding offences the option of attending a safer driving course in lieu of a fixed penalty. 
Mike Penning: The Department for Transport has published two road safety research reports assessing the effectiveness of speed awareness courses: ‘Monitoring Speed Awareness Courses: Baseline Data Collection’
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(September 2010) and ‘Effective Interventions for Speeding Motorists’ (March 2006). These reports are available on the Department’s website.
Norman Baker [holding answer 1 February 2011]: The recently published Local Transport White Paper ‘Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon’ outlines the Government’s strategy to encourage more sustainable transport choices, including active travel.
Alongside this, the Government have announced a £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund for local authorities to bid for funding for sustainable travel packages, which could include active travel schemes. Bids from authorities working in partnership with their local communities and businesses will be especially welcome The Department also funds the National Business Travel Network, which provides guidance and resources to encourage business to adopt more sustainable travel measures, and continues to support the Cycle to Work scheme and guarantee.
Local Sustainable Transport Fund
Norman Baker: As part of the bidding guidance issued to accompany the £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund, local authorities are encouraged to engage with local businesses and employers when preparing applications in order to ensure that such bids meet the key objectives of the fund-to create growth and cut carbon.
Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to take steps to encourage community ownership bids for statutory harbour authorities under clauses 66 to 70 of the Localism Bill. 
Mike Penning: The Localism Bill is currently being considered by the House of Commons Committee. It will be for the community to determine whether it wants to make a challenge or a bid, under the opportunities provided by the Localism Bill.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2011,Official Report, column 891W, on railways: disability, if he will assess the provision of support available to disabled passengers who choose to travel at short notice. 
Norman Baker: We do not currently intend to carry out an assessment of the level of service and facilities available to disabled passengers who choose to travel at short notice, as this is primarily an operational matter for the train operating companies and Network Rail in their compliance with the obligations placed upon them by the Equalities Act. We do however understand that Passenger Focus is planning further research in this area, which we await with interest.
Mr Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether parties injured in a motor vehicle accident where the driver at fault is not insured are entitled to compensation from the public purse.