"The ayes have it! The ayes have it!" That was the conclusion to last night’s four hour parliamentary debate on cycling, with none of the 100 or so MPs who attended daring to vote against the motion that called for more support to ‘Get Britain Cycling.’
It’s important to stress that the yes vote carries no weight, there’s to be no new dawn for cycling and the promises made could be pie-crust ones ("easily made, easily broken," as Mary Poppins would say).
However, the clear cross-party support for cycling is highly encouraging and now needs to be carried forward into the party manifestos.
On the eve of the Get Britain Cycling parliamentary debate last night, a Labour group launched a new campaign in support of cycling.
The group is called ‘Labour for Cycling’ and is co-ordinated by SERA, a Labour environment campaign. (SERA stands for Socialist Environment and Resources Association and was founded in 1973, the era of ‘Small is Beautiful’ and the oil crisis).
Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary, had an eight part plan to boost cycling in the UK and, if this was translated into manifesto promises before the next election, could be a game-changer, with other political parties rushing to follow suit.
Speaking at last night’s debate, Eagle said: "Supporting cycling is a hugely cost-effective way of improving our personal and national quality of life. When nearly a quarter of all car journeys are for less than a mile, making cycling a more attractive option has great potential to cut congestion and boost the economy. Making more journeys by bike is a good way to reduce the impact of rising fuel costs on the household budget, and as a cost and time-effective way of staying fit. Of course, it also benefits the environment, helping us to cut emissions and reduce transport’s contribution to climate change, which remains significant.
"Cycling has the potential to be a huge British success story, but it needs a new approach and a shared commitment across Government, councils, schools, employers and public transport providers. Most of all, it needs Ministers to cut the spin and instead give cycling infrastructure greater priority within the existing transport investment plans that they have set out. It is time to end the stop-start approach that is getting in the way of progress and agree a cross-party, long-term commitment to cycling."
Read the full speech in last night’s BikeBiz story on the four hour debate.