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Manifestos fail to impress cycle advocates - BikeBiz

Manifestos fail to impress cycle advocates

British Cycling and Sustrans among those yet to be excited
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Disappointment and scepticism has greeted much of what the main political parties' manifestos had to say, if anything at all, on cycling.

This week has seen most of the parties reveal the promises they are basing their election campaigns on.

Conservative Party
British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, has responded scathingly to the cycling pledges made by the Conservative Party in their manifesto. He said: "The Conservatives are full of rhetoric about building a stronger economy but they have failed to listen to business today by announcing plans to dedicate less than £1 per head to growing cycling. Either David Cameron believes the ‘cycling revolution’ he has already promised can be delivered with such a small amount of funding or he does not intend to honour his word.

"British Cycling, alongside major British businesses such as Santander, the National Grid and GlaxoSmithKline, wrote to party leaders last month calling for four key actions on cycling, including the need to ring fence at least 5% of Britain's transport budget. We are yet to receive a response from the Conservative party. Without specific commitments, cycling - a mode of transport that could improve the nation's health, cut congestion and pollution and invigorate towns and cities - will remain a choice for a brave minority not the majority."

Claire Francis, Sustrans Head of Policy, said: “Sustrans has been campaigning for a safer school run. We’ve been calling for the UK Government to make dedicated funding available, commit to lower traffic speeds, and transform local walking and cycling routes.

“The Conservative Manifesto talks about promoting cycling and promises to “invest over £200 million to make cycling safer” but this does not go far enough. It falls well below the £10 per head needed to get more people cycling and walking short journeys, especially compared to the £15 billion they are spending on roads.

“The next government must produce an ambitious cycling and walking investment strategy, as required by the Infrastructure Act, to match the commitment to the road network.

“The next government will also need to commit to slower speeds, including a national 20mph default speed limit in built-up areas and stronger duties and incentives to improve safety and get more people walking and cycling short journeys.

“The manifesto also promises to tackle air pollution and recognizes the importance of physical activity, but disappointingly it lacks specifics and neglects the role active travel has to play.”

Labour Party
The Labour Party has not really fared much better. You can read what the Shadow Transport Minister told BikeBiz here, but it's the manifesto that has left many cycle advocates disappointed.

British Cycling’s campaigns manager Martin Key blasted: "It's disappointing to see so little mention of cycling in the Labour manifesto. British Cycling, alongside major British businesses such as Santander, the National Grid and GlaxoSmithKline wrote to party leaders last month calling for four key actions on cycling, including the need to ring fence at least 5% of Britain's transport budget.

“Today's proposals on cycling by Labour are so vague that they could easily be neglected in favour of other transport projects."

Meanwhile Jason Torrance, Sustrans policy director, said: “Sustrans has been calling for long-term investment to transform routes and support walking and cycling so we welcome the Labour manifesto pledges to address the neglect of local roads and promote cycling.

“However, a priority for any future government must be the production of an ambitious cycling and walking investment strategy, as required by the Infrastructure Act, to match the commitment already made to the strategic road network. 

“We are pleased to see the manifesto include a national ambition to improve the uptake of physical activity and a pledge to give local authorities powers to tackle air pollution.

“The next government will also need to commit to slower speeds, including a national 20mph default speed limit in built-up areas and stronger duties and incentives to improve safety and get more people walking and cycling short journeys.”

Green Party
Sustrans had kinder words for the Green Party's manifesto but is reserving judgement as should the party become part of a coalition, would it be able to push through its cycling measures?

Jason Torrance, Sustrans policy director, said: “Sustrans has been campaigning for a safer school run. We’ve been calling for the UK Government to make dedicated funding available, commit to lower traffic speeds, and transform local walking and cycling routes.

“We are pleased to see the Green Party make ambitious commitments on all three of these issues, including £30 per head on walking and cycling, reducing speed limits to 20mph in residential areas and an Active Travel Bill for England – measures that could make it possible for people to walk and cycle for short local journeys and transform local economies”.

“With the possibility of a coalition or a cooperation agreement in the next Parliament, the real test will be which of these measures they would prioritise in collaboration with other parties.”

VOTE BIKE
While the manifestos may have their cycle-based shortcomings, we'd urge you to head to the CTC's excellent Vote Bike site for more in-depth appraisals of local MP candidate's cycle proposals - votebike.org.uk

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