The signs for renewed Government support for cycling are strong following the arrival of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition into power earlier this month.
Headed up by Prime Minister David Cameron, a high profile cycle-commuter, and containing a significant Liberal Democrat presence – which has pledged to BikeBiz to introduce new measures to benefit IBDs – the new cabinet has a significant pro-cycling balance.
However, of the three major political parties, the Conservatives had the smallest number of MPs sign up to the CTC’s Vote Bike Manifesto before the election, suggesting cycling won’t necessarily be high on the party’s agenda. Only four Conservative MPs signed, compared with 27 Liberal Democrats and 52 Labour MPs. Despite that, the Tory manifesto states: “We will support sustainable travel initiatives that work best for local communities by...giving the concerns of cyclists much greater priority.”
The Conservative Party also told the CTC that: “encouraging cycling will be a major priority for a future Conservative Government as it already is for the administration in London.”
The Liberal Democrats have been more forthcoming than their new partners in making promises to back cycling.
Prior to the election, a party spokesperson told BikeBiz that the Lib Dems would introduce a number of new measures to benefit cycling: “Liberal Democrats will require train and coach operators to accommodate bicycles on all new vehicles and improve cycle storage and parking at stations. We will introduce a cycling ‘Gold Standard’ award for all rail and bus stations which meet minimum cycle facility standards, including adequate provision of secure cycle parking and information on local cycle routes."
The future of Cycle to Work appears safe too, according to the spokesperson: “We agree that cycling can help to combat obesity, man-made climate change and congestion and we have no plans to cut pledges already made on cycling schemes.
“We are committed to including the promotion of safer cycling and walking in all local transport plans and promoting ‘Liveable Cities’ with requirements for decentralised public services like schools and hospitals and safe walking and cycling routes in new developments."
“We will seek to further boost cycling through our commitment to improving road safety, road quality and reducing traffic levels and on-road cycling which will make cycling, easier, safer and more accessible to all.
"All these measures together will help to boost cycling which should be beneficial to independent bike retailers.”
BikeBiz asked the party to confirm that the power sharing would not compromise its support for cycling, but at present no reply has been forthcoming. Perhaps new PM David Cameron will put bike security high on the agenda after having his bike stolen twice, in ‘08 and then in 2009.
For more on the new coalition's cycling credentials, read Carlton Reid's 'Spokesman' comment here.