Government ministers cycling around Whitehall could become a regular sight should the Conservative Party win the forthcoming General Election, according to a report in The Mail on Sunday.
With shades of former Tory minister Norman Tebbitt, who famously told the unemployed to “get on your bike,” Conservative leader David Cameron plans to get his cabinet pedalling around Westminster following proposed cuts to the ministerial car budget should his party come to power.
According to the newspaper, Shadow Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, who has been been tasked with slashing government car service spending by £6 million in the event of a Tory win, said: “Unless they have a good reason – such as carrying lots of ministerial boxes or security – we will expect Tory Ministers to consider using bicycles to get around Westminster and Whitehall. Ministers can always put their paperwork in a backpack.”
Presumably, Mr Cameron, who used the fact he cycles around London to reinforce his green credentials when he first became party leader but was subsequently revealed to have a car following him round with his briefcase, would be expected to follow his own diktat.
Nor is that the only time that the Tory leader’s penchant for cycling has hit the headlines, whether as a victim of bike crime – his Scott hybrid bike has been stolen twice in the past couple of years – or for his failure to follow the rules of the road, with the Mirror catching him jumping red lights and cycling the wrong way up a one-way street in 2008.
Mr Goodwill, who himself uses a folding bike to get around, told the Mail on Sunday that ministers could either purchase their own bicycles, or use House of Commons pool bikes through a scheme that is currently being put in place.
The newspaper said that Mr Cameron’s decision to reduce the government’s 171-strong car fleet was motivated by the revelation in former Labour minister Chris Mullins’ autobiography published last year that one depatrtment where he worked had ten cars, each costing £846 a week.
The aggregate weekly spend in that department alone of nearly £8,500 would be enough to buy five ornamental duck islands, and prospective Tory ministers can also take comfort in the fact that Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue allows cyclists to claim a 20p per mile tax-free allowance when using their bicycles on business.
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.