General Election 2015: 'Bike trade must speak up'

Industry, from retail to brands to distributors, urged to lobby their MP in 'crucial year for cycling'
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In what is being called a vital 12 months for cycling, prominent figures from the cycle world have called on members of the bike industry to do their bit in lobbying government and ministers for cycling.

While the local elections in the UK are now completed, the political world is now looking ahead to the General Election in 2015 in May.

Executive director Phillip Darnton closed this year’s Bicycle Association Annual General Meeting with an impassioned plea to the industry to tell their local politicians that backing cycling also backs companies working in the cycle industry.

Darnton also slammed the government’s approach to cycling: “There’s no budget, no leadership, no target. Next year is very important to get political. Cycling must be on the agenda.

“If you have a business that relies on cycling, would you tell your local politician that your business relies on cycling? We’re not campaigners, but we can all play a role.”

Meanwhile Chris Boardman MBE told BikeBiz that he has been despairing of the progress of cycling in the political sphere but added that there are ‘12 months to get cycling on track to become a normal means of transport for normal people’ adding that he ‘intends to use the elections as a lever to make that happen’.

He told us: “There isn’t a single logical argument to not back cycling, any battleground you want to fight: Health, pollution, transport, economic…it wins in every area, so it’s depressing that of all the politicians, only Boris [Johnson] has stood up and put targets and long term funding in place to make a difference. It makes me sad when people shoot at Boris when he is the only one who is having a meaningful go, because his head’s above the parapet.”

“[Political progress for cycling has been] massively frustrating.

“Campaigning work is my second biggest work area, I think we have 12 months to get cycling on track to become a normal means of transport for normal people and I intend to use the elections as a lever to get that to happen. I don’t know whether we will win, but it’s a worthy cause to fight and if you are going to fight, then you have to do it to the best of your ability.”

Elsewhere the London Cycling Campaign – backed by cycle industry levy Bike Hub – has been running its Space of Cycling campaign at a local level and saw significant success with over half of London’s election candidates backing Space For Cycling.

Darnton added: “In the end it needs political leadership. Please consider – can I and my business help to lobby government and ministers?”

There’s more on the BA AGM here and from our interview with Chris Boardman here.

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