With the dust settled and the new cabinet members picked, what does the 2015 General Election mean for cycling and the UK bike business?
Firstly, many eyes will be on Robert Goodwill after being reappointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport with a remit that includes looking after cycling.
And what of the Conservative majority government? Pre-election, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that the party would "aim to increase spending further" on cycling to £10 per person per year – the golden number widely seen by cycle advocates as necessary to build a robust cycle nation (and a view that even the Transport Select Committee has shared since at least 2014).
In addition the Conservative Party pledged to "double cycling by 2025", aiming to make it "the natural choice for shorter journeys". Cameron went on to state he’s a "huge cycling fan" and echoed his comments made in 2013 about a "cycling revolution".
Cameron made the pledge in response to British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling network – a group of major British businesses that believe more cycling would boost business and employees who wrote to party leaders on the topic.
However, the party included the possibly significant caveat: "This is something we can only afford if we continue to secure a strong economy" – adding it is sticking with its long term economic plan to cut the deficit, rather than taking the view that supporting cycling now would have long term benefits for the economy, NHS, et al, and also in cutting the deficit.
British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said in response: “It’s great to hear that the Conservative party wants to increase spending further to £10 per person per year. However, it’s clear that they see this as a long-term aim rather than something they will bring in now. With HS2 and other transport schemes set to cost many billions over the term of the next parliament, it’s hard to see why further money cannot be allocated to sustainable transport – especially given its ability to transform Britain’s health, improve air quality and reinvigorate our towns and cities.
“The fact is that Britain can only become a cycling nation with significant investment behind it. The £200 million that the Conservative party has already pledged to make cycling safer will only scratch the surface.
“Having said that, it is heartening to hear about plans to introduce several key measures to improve the experience of cycling, such as dedicated cycle streets, low level traffic signals and bigger cycle boxes at traffic lights.”
THE NEW PARLIAMENT
Post election there’s a number of new MPs in the UK Parliament and – according to the CTC – over a sixth of them strongly support cycling.
114 of the newly elected 650 MPs, including the Prime Minister, have shown their strong support for cycling, as identified via the CTC’s Vote Bike campaign.
Run for the duration of the election campaign, CTC’s Vote Bike enabled constituents to ask their candidates to support five areas identified as crucial for the future development of cycling in the UK. The questions covered ambition, funding, design standards, safety and positive promotion. 3,286 candidates were contacted of whom 1,058 responded, with 1,013 of them in strong support for these calls.
The purpose of the campaign was to identify cycling’s allies before the new Parliament returned to Westminster, and give cycle campaigners the means to hold government to account should this level of support slip.
A particular useful response was received from the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who voiced clear support for creating consistently high design standards for cycling in all highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned road maintenance work. The previous administration had resisted such calls.
Over the next week, CTC will make contact with the new MPs to congratulate them on their appointment and also to encourage them to join the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.
Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns Director, said: “Following the announcement of a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy at the end of the last parliament, the future of cycling is looking much more positive. It’s now down to our new MPs and Prime Minister to deliver on the spending and other Vote Bike commitments they made to their constituents. This is vital if we are to at last start to Get Britain Cycling.”