Election Special: Green Party's manifesto outlines cycling pledges

Party promotes sustainable transport and promises lower speed limits... and an end to "road tax"

by Simon_MacMichael   April 21, 2010  

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Last week, our report on the UK Independence Party’s transport policy generated some lively discussion here on road.cc and now we’ve turned our attention to the opposite end of the spectrum to see what the Green Party has in store for cyclists.

There’s little doubt that the party’s profile has risen in recent years. Following the 2009 local council elections, it has 125 local councilors throughout England & Wales, with a strong presence in places such as Oxford, Brighton & Hove, Norwich and the London Borough of Lewisham.

It also gained almost 8% of the vote in last year’s European elections, giving it two MEPs, while Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson both represent the party on the 25-strong Greater London Assembly, while outside England & Wales, sister parties have done well in elections to the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly.

Party leader Caroline Lucas, meanwhile, is strongly tipped to become the party’s first MP, and as well as the Brighton Pavilion seat that she is contesting, the party has strong hopes in Norwich South and Lewisham Deptford, and is also targeting success in next month’s local elections.

Unsurprisingly, sustainable transport figures strongly in the party’s policies, with cycling an integral part of that, and in the Transport section of its manifesto, the party says that to “encourage walking and cycling for shorter journeys and improve road safety we would:

  • Reduce speed limits(e.g.to 20mph in built-up areas, including villages).
  • Make streets safe; make them public spaces again. Plan for mixed-use developments where shops, housing and businesses are closely located and connected by pavements and cycleways.
  • Introduce a maximum speed limit of 55mph on motorways and trunk roads, and 40mph on rural roads, to make them safer for all road users.
  • Introduce schemes such as Home Zones, Safe Routes to School and pedestrianisation.
  • Ensure that at least 10% of transport spending is on securing a shift to more active travel like walking and cycling.”

No real surprises there, then, and very much in line with initiatives already being promoted by cycling campaigners such as CTC. Those policies, of course, sit within a broader framework of transport initiatives including promoting greater use of public transport and reducing dependency on motor vehicles.

The proposed reduction of reduced speed limits would no doubt meet with resistance from the motoring lobby, although elsewhere in the manifesto, there is a proposal to do away with car tax – erroneously often described as “road tax”, as highlighted by the iPayRoadTax campaign – and replace it with “a purchase tax on new cars that reflects their emissions. That way we would affect the types of car chosen at the time that matters, when they are bought new.”