Chris Boardman says UK MEP candidates should be "ashamed" of attitudes on cycling

Just 1 response of 364 to a European Cyclists' Federation survey of candidates came from the UK

by Simon_MacMichael   May 14, 2014  

European Flags outside Commission building (picture Xavier Häpe, Wikimedia Commons)

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."

23 user comments

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The only thing I'm surprised about is that Chris Boardman is surprised. Politicians do not care about cyclists in this country unless it allows them a good photo opportunity.

posted by kitsunegari [24 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:44

44 Likes

This is pretty good considering UKIP's attendance and participation in the European Parliament...

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [414 posts]
14th May 2014 - 9:57

16 Likes

Meanwhile there's a plan to build a 22mile road tunnel under London to improve the flow of motor vehicle traffic, which could rise by 60% by 2030 according to estimates. The project will only cost £30 billion to build the tunnel after all.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
14th May 2014 - 10:06

19 Likes

Oooo the MEP elections are up, yet more numpties from the political class joining the gravy train of UK & EU politics, nice £84k a year for doing jack shit.

I still find it ironic that UKIP still take the wages from the EU their are fighting to leave, then again Daily Mail readers shouldn't shock me any more.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
14th May 2014 - 10:09

19 Likes

andylul wrote:
This is pretty good considering UKIP's attendance and participation in the European Parliament...

Why single out UKIP? They have 10 MEPs out of 80 odd. The only respondent was a Liberal. That means the Greens failed to reply too. Does that suit your political dogma?

posted by racyrich [152 posts]
14th May 2014 - 10:15

21 Likes

racyrich wrote:
andylul wrote:
This is pretty good considering UKIP's attendance and participation in the European Parliament...

Why single out UKIP? They have 10 MEPs out of 80 odd. The only respondent was a Liberal. That means the Greens failed to reply too. Does that suit your political dogma?

Because they voted against EU Directive 96/53/EC to improve HGV design, despite overwhelming support for it from every other party.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [604 posts]
14th May 2014 - 10:30

35 Likes

Leading Green candidate for the East of England has now promised to look at it https://twitter.com/GreenRupertRead/status/466534429218054145

posted by HKCambridge [175 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:06

19 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
Meanwhile there's a plan to build a 22mile road tunnel under London to improve the flow of motor vehicle traffic, which could rise by 60% by 2030 according to estimates.

Bollocks! Despite what the oil companies would have you believe the world's oil reserves will be nearly dry by 2030 and global government have left it too late to do anything about it. By then only the mega rich will be able to afford fuel so there will be a sharp decline in motor vehicle use.

posted by drfabulous0 [403 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:28

22 Likes

Sadly Chris, the people standing to be MEPs in the UK are generally the sort of people who would never get elected as an MP but have ambitions higher than a local councillor presenting the Longest Leek award at the villege fete.

If we can't get actual MPs to listen, this lot are a dead loss.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [958 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:32

11 Likes

Seems to me MEPs and prospective MEPs are not, in general, interested in having any contact or communication of any kind with constituents and voters.

They never send out any election literature round here, and one never hears a squeak out of them between elections.

The fact that its all done on the basis of party lists, so you don't vote for an individual but just a long list of names, doesn't help. I suspect its viewed as a sort of retirement home for politicians that national parties don't quite know what to do with.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [753 posts]
14th May 2014 - 12:13

12 Likes

drfabulous0 wrote:
Bollocks! Despite what the oil companies would have you believe the world's oil reserves will be nearly dry by 2030...

No they won't. Just saying...

posted by pwake [313 posts]
14th May 2014 - 12:16

14 Likes

Lead East of England LD candidate (and current MEP) Andrew Duff is likewise suggesting he didn't receive it.

https://twitter.com/Andrew_Duff_MEP/status/466543602244395008

Possibly he or his office overlooked it, or perhaps there is a bit more to this than is obvious. What contact details did ECF have?

As for MEPs having no contact with voters - I just got a response from the two I contacted within an hour, on twitter. How hard have you tried to engage with your MEP candidates? I've also been door-stepped by Andrew Duff.

posted by HKCambridge [175 posts]
14th May 2014 - 12:46

8 Likes

MEP = waste of time and money -on any subject-, the sooner we do away with these pointless jobs the better. Leave the eu, regulate ourselves, Sweden I want to move to Sweden!

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [397 posts]
14th May 2014 - 12:52

17 Likes

Without wishing to sound like a mindless Boardman fanboy, he is bloody good with words. Even I felt ashamed reading that...

posted by Quince [208 posts]
14th May 2014 - 14:06

24 Likes

racyrich wrote:
andylul wrote:
This is pretty good considering UKIP's attendance and participation in the European Parliament...

Why single out UKIP?

Perhaps because they claim they don't want anything to do with Europe, yet get themselves employed as MEPs taking a hefty wage as well as expenses from Europe and apparently like to vote against cutting Euro budgets so they can keep getting their hefty wage and expenses.

A little bit of hoisting by their own petards maybe?

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
14th May 2014 - 14:25

15 Likes

Simmo72 wrote:
MEP = waste of time and money -on any subject-, the sooner we do away with these pointless jobs the better. Leave the eu, regulate ourselves, Sweden I want to move to Sweden!

Sweden has been a member of the European Union for nearly 20 years.

posted by dp24 [195 posts]
14th May 2014 - 14:30

25 Likes

pwake wrote:
drfabulous0 wrote:
Bollocks! Despite what the oil companies would have you believe the world's oil reserves will be nearly dry by 2030...

No they won't. Just saying...

The problem is not the lack of oil reserves, quite the contrary. If existing reserves are burned climate change will be way out of control. There is too much oil about, not too little.

And Chris Boardman continues to be excellent - apart from appearing on Top gear, that is. Nobody's perfect.

posted by ChairRDRF [169 posts]
14th May 2014 - 17:01

19 Likes

dp24 wrote:
Simmo72 wrote:
MEP = waste of time and money -on any subject-, the sooner we do away with these pointless jobs the better. Leave the eu, regulate ourselves, Sweden I want to move to Sweden!

Sweden has been a member of the European Union for nearly 20 years.

And, as an EU citizen you are free to move to Sweden whenever you want without restrictions. It's a lovely place and I would highly recommend doing so.

posted by Sean Schneider [1 posts]
14th May 2014 - 17:33

11 Likes

ChairRDRF wrote:
pwake wrote:
drfabulous0 wrote:
Bollocks! Despite what the oil companies would have you believe the world's oil reserves will be nearly dry by 2030...

No they won't. Just saying...

The problem is not the lack of oil reserves, quite the contrary. If existing reserves are burned climate change will be way out of control. There is too much oil about, not too little.

Indeed. Though, as I understand it, the share prices of the energy companies (and in turn the viability of much of the financial system) are dependent on the existence of those reserves. Which means the financial system is dependent on assuming we will do something that we really shouldn't do.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [753 posts]
14th May 2014 - 17:46

8 Likes

Having contacted the north-west Green candidates they are also adamant they received no information about any such survey. They replied quickly and helpfully and seemed quite dismayed that they should come out in a bad light because of it and were keen to look into it and to point to their (fairly convincing) cycling credentials.

It's notable that the only UK respondent happens to also be an existing MEP.

I'm a big fan of Mr Boardman, but it seems rather unfair to criticise candidates for not completing a survey they weren't told about. It seems the survey was only circulated by ECF member organisations, so perhaps that's lazy, or maybe we should blame our UK ECF member groups - CTC, Sustrans, Cyclenation - for not getting on the case?

posted by pmanc [144 posts]
14th May 2014 - 22:57

6 Likes

pmanc wrote:
I'm a big fan of Mr Boardman, but it seems rather unfair to criticise candidates for not completing a survey they weren't told about. It seems the survey was only circulated by ECF member organisations, so perhaps that's lazy, or maybe we should blame our UK ECF member groups - CTC, Sustrans, Cyclenation - for not getting on the case?

Cyclenation is volunteer-run and I'm sure its local group Greater Manchester Cycle Campaign would welcome the help if pmanc is in Manchester.

Also, isn't Mr Boardman only volunteering for British Cycling, which isn't even an ECF member group? http://www.ecf.com/about-us/our-members/ Maybe he could step up to the European level and give them a hand?

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
15th May 2014 - 12:43

8 Likes

British have a very strange attitude to Cycling, and quite a bit else too. The Law tries to push Cycling but the belief in those policies appears to be namesake. At the same time you have those inept individuals being killed on the streets.

I regularly receive this: "Get off the f*ing road you tw*t."

Culture of Morons.

posted by dogcc [125 posts]
16th May 2014 - 20:19

4 Likes

In my view, UK politicians will never give cycling issues serious consideration unless by doing so they stand to further their own careers.
When asked in an interview in Cycling Weekly recently if this nation will ever commit itself to developing cycle and pedestrian-friendly cities, Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, leading the committee enquiry into cycling safety said: "...we are still a long way from understanding that concept...."
Which says it all.
So much for The Times excellent Cities fit for Cycling Campaign which spawned the Get Britain Cycling Report.
This you will remember was applauded by Prime Minister David Cameron who then refused to give it Cabinet backing!

posted by Condor flyer [25 posts]
17th May 2014 - 8:00

2 Likes