SPOKEMAN: A coalition of the willing - BikeBiz

SPOKEMAN: A coalition of the willing

The MPs and Lords who hold the (tyre) levers of power can smooth the path for cyclists and the bike trade, says Carlton Reid...
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So, we’ve got a commuter cyclist for a Prime Minister. No doubt he’ll now be persuaded to drive everywhere in a Government limo. Well, it’s hard to protect the PM from a terrorist attack when he’s out in the open, vulnerable and easily spotted.

Of course, David Cameron would probably be far more at risk of being killed by an inattentive motorist than the actions of an Al-Qaida suicide cyclist.

London may be becoming a global cycling city – and this will sky-rocket come July when TfL’s cycle hire scheme kicks off – but, in perception terms, it can still be a dangerous place for cyclists.

With the incoming Government having to radically reduce the deficit (a poisoned chalice if ever there was one), there will be less largesse for ‘fringe safety projects’ such as building more cycle facilities nationwide. There will be less cash for mainstream road building projects, too, but cyclists would argue that diverting just a fraction of the road building budget to cycle projects would make economic sense. An economist commissioned by Cycling England found that for every pound spent on cycling, the result was a benefit to society of four pounds.

It is good that the bloke in charge of the country is a bike shop customer, and knows what it’s like being a cyclist in modern Britain. But Cameron’s cycling credentials can’t be wheeled out very often. To pander to the electorate he will need to be MondeoMan, not
MarinMan. So, if Cameron won’t be partisan to the cause of cycling, who will be?

Enter, stage left, the APPCG. This is the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. The then Shadow Transport minister Theresa Villers attended an APPCG meeting last year. At the last meeting, former minister Charles Clarke was the highest profile member of the group to be present. A few weeks later he was ousted as Labour MP for Norwich. Also voted out was Gwyn Prosser, the hard-working Labour MP for Dover. He was the chair of the APPCG.

Most of the other cycling MPs got voted back in. There were also some newcomers, such as Julian Huppert, the new Lib Dem MP for Cambridge. He’s so pro-cycling he turned up at the election vote count on his bike. These cycling MPs don’t always have a lot of direct clout, but they can apply pressure from within.

The APPCG is run by Adam Coffman of the CTC. This secretariat is paid for by Sustrans, British Cycling, London Cycling Campaign, CTC and Cyclenation: it’s money well spent. And who is the APPCG’s highest profile member? David Cameron.

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