Ahead of the election for West Midlands new Metro Mayor on May 4th, Cycling UK and Bike West Midlands Network have secured support from all five candidates for improving cycling.
Several of the candidates have pointed out how more cycling can improve air quality and reduce congestion.
West Midlands is the first of the six new Metro Mayor locations to have all candidates from the main parties unanimously pledge their support for Cycling UK’s campaign asks.
Cycling UK’s president and Channel 4 newscaster Jon Snow wrote to each candidate asking them if they would support the West Midlands Cycling Charter aim to have five per cent of all trips in the West Midlands made by cycle by 2023, and to actively seek the funding necessary to implement the West Midlands Cycling Charter.
West Midlands residents have also been active, with nearly 150 emails being sent to the candidates, urging them to improve cycling in the West Midlands. Through its Space for Cycling campaign, Cycling UK is working with local campaign groups in the six new Metro Mayor locations to urge the new candidates to make cycling a part of their future transport plans.
Conservative candidate Andy Street said: “We need to supercharge cycling in the West Midlands to tackle congestion, air quality and inactivity. We must upgrade cycle routes, making the most of the canal network and off-road routes, whilst accelerating existing plans for on-road cycle superhighways”.
Green candidate James Burn said: “I will actively seek the funding necessary, but it's important to be clear that the level of funding is currently very low, and forecast to drop even lower… As Local Authorities (and not the mayor) control cycle funding in large part, getting to £20 a head will be a real challenge, particularly in the light of huge government cuts.”
Labour candidate Sion Simon said: “In addition to cycling, I will also support walking as a form of active transport - working with all Local Authorities within the combined authority to promote a campaign of encouraging 20mph limits in residential areas.”
Lib Dem candidate Beverley Neilsen said: “As Lib Dem Candidate for Metro Mayor I am keen to promote cycling as a real alternative and to move as quickly as possible from 5% cycling and upwards to 10% plus. I would also like to link our cycleways into a network of cycle routes crossing our region and linking canals, rivers, and Sustrans network.”
UKIP candidate Peter Durnell said: “I believe the further development of the West Midlands cycling network can and should play a role in helping reduce congestion and resultant air pollution across the region… I'll develop a proper integrated cycling strategy across the WMCA to better utilise our canals and achieve full cycle integration on public transport, including better way-finding, night-time cycling networks, bike racks on public transport and at public buildings, improved integration of cycle routes and facilities to rail and Metro stops.”
Residents will have the opportunity to meet all of the candidates at the Bike Bike Picnic on Saturday, April 22nd, organised by the Bike West Midlands Network and Cycling UK. All candidates have confirmed attendance and will be speaking at the event, except the Greens, who are sending a representative.