British Cycling policy advisor Chris Boardman says that UK candidates standing in next week’s elections to the European Parliament should be “ashamed” of their apathy towards cycling.
The former world and Olympic champion made his comments in reaction to a survey of candidates across the EU carried out by the European Cyclists’ Federation in which just one of the 364 responses was from the UK.
Had the levels of response been in line with UK MEPs’ presence in the European Parliament, where the country has 9.5 per cent of the 766 seats, there should have been around 35 responses.
The most replies by country was from Finland, where 40 candidates responded, followed by 31 from Spain and Slovakia and Greece, both with 30. Relative to the number of seats in the European Parliament, the highest response was from Luxembourg, with 11 replies.
Boardman said: “The pitiful British response to the European Cyclists’ Federation is worrying and the candidates should feel ashamed.
“I'd like to know why candidates are showing so much apathy towards a mode of transport that answers so many of the problems we face in Britain today, including a growing obesity epidemic.
“Earlier this week we saw new evidence that said that over two thirds of adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2030.
“Clearly, many of the cycling-related proposals being considered in Europe – such as taking action on dangerously designed HGVs – will encourage more people to get on bikes and our MEPs need to be engaging with these issues rather than ignoring them.
“This lack of vision is more than disappointing; it's unacceptable, especially coming from the people who are supposed to be looking after our future.”
That sole response from a UK candidate was made by Bill Newton Dunn, who is currently a Liberal Democrat MEP representing the East Midlands constituency.
Previously Conservative MEP for Lincolnshire from 1979-94, he was elected to his current seat in 1999 and joined the Liberal Democrats the following year due to what he saw as an increasingly negative attitude by fellow Tories to the EU.
Last month, he welcomed proposals to make lorries safer for pedestrians and cyclists across the EU after the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted through revised regulations relating to their size and design.
He said: "Today's vote is a victory for all the campaigners in the UK who have worked so hard to bring about these life-saving changes to lorry design."
"This shows that when individuals engage with MEPs and the EU they can affect the outcome and bring about positive change."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.