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MP Ruth Cadbury urges people contact their Member of Parliament to support cycling as congestion and poor riding used to attack active travel

A pro-cycling MP, Ruth Cadbury, says the UK could be at a tipping point with everyday cycling as air pollution and congestion crises reach critical levels, and urges people to get in touch with their MPs to encourage support for cycling and counter tabloid and anti-cycling voices.

At a Parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, attended by road.cc, the co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) said her cycling questions in Parliament are often met with ambivalence from MPs who believe cycle routes cause congestion and that cycling is a minority pursuit, rather than a viable everyday mode of transport.

The APPCG is a cross-party group of MPs who gather evidence on cycling and inform and advise Parliament, as well as lobbying for investment and legislation to support cycling. The group was responsible for producing the pivotal Get Britain Cycling report in 2013.

Massive increase in cycling on London's Cycle Superhighways

Cadbury, who is Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, said: “I explain to people here that I co-chair the APPCG and it’s like ‘ooh, well I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a kid’ or ‘I wouldn’t get on a bike because it’s too dangerous’ or ‘I wouldn’t let my kids cycle’, and that is a real issue in this place.”

“There’s the popular culture, there’s what the cabbies say, and that comes back to MPs,” she said.

She said she worries the response to questions on cycling from her, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP or Meg Hillier MP are “oh god she’s going on about that again”, while some in Parliament blame the fact they are stuck in traffic jams on London’s new segregated cycle routes.

Cadbury said: “Everybody, including me, can give an example of where somebody on a bike cycles badly. That becomes the narrative, we’re struggling here in this place [Parliament] to change that narrative.”

Lord Berkeley, a Labour peer who is the Secretary of the APPCG, says the problem is mirrored in the House of Lords. “We’ve got someone in the House of Lords, Baroness Sharples, who’s 87, every time any of us ask a question about cycling she says ‘I was run into by a cyclist on a pavement 40 years ago’,” he said.

Motorcycle group echoes unsubstantiated bike lane congestion claims

However, Cadbury believes the UK could be at a “tipping point” with cycling, as a solution to the urban health and transport problems caused by motor traffic, and people should contact their MPs to build support for cycling and help counter local backlash against change.

She said: “Congestion and air pollution are coming up higher up the political agenda in urban areas than has been,” she says. “That is potentially an opportunity [to make a case for cycling].”

It was revealed in October four out of ten UK councils currently exceed air pollution limits.

She said: “Even in my patch in West London, the push back when the council proposes closing through routes to vehicles…

“We’ve already got pretty high congestion and any time there’s a traffic jam on the alternate road it’s all because of the closure of the road, and I see this in the Evening Standard on different nights and in different boroughs: ‘horrified residents opposing road closures’ but then you often see others saying ‘well my children have been suffering from asthma and I blame the pollution, and if this makes life better and it will be safer to walk…’ so we’re at that potential tipping edge where we have to keep pushing.

“I would say contact your MPs,” she said.

This week the latest figures from the East-West (CSEW) and North-South (CSNS) cycle superhighways in London showed huge numbers of people cycling in the morning and evening peaks - 3,608 and 4,695 respectively - or 20 and 26 per minute.

On CSNS, southbound journey times are at pre-construction levels, while northbound journey times have risen from around 5-7 minutes to around 10 minutes.

On CSEW, where there has been removal of a motor traffic lane, westbound journeys have increased by 3-5 minutes in both morning and evening peaks, while eastbound journeys have increased by 5-10 minutes in the morning peak and by 10-15 minutes in the evening peak.

This week the author of a report on how cycling infrastructure can reduce cyclists’ exposure to air pollution, Professor Simon Kingham, told road.cc: “I’d be surprised if anyone can find any evidence that cycle paths increase traffic pollution by slowing traffic down. On the contrary the presence of cycle paths is likely to increase numbers of people cycling that reducing traffic volumes.”

8 comments

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burtthebike [1374 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

Everyone reading this site should do this, and they can do it here http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

Coming on websites and whinging might make you feel better, but if you want things to change, you have to influence the politicians.  You don't need to write a massive screed, just a short message saying that you support more spending on cycling, for health, pollution, congestion, sustainability, safety, whatever.

Just send it, before you post again on here.

Avatar
Dave the Drivin... [18 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I've been haranging my local mp (lab) on Twitter due to her anti Corbyn stance & her refusal to vote against the government on various matters. She uses social media to explain that she does so as a tactic against Jezza.
As we all know that JC is a cyclist so I bet she'd not give this any support whatsoever.

Avatar
Bluebug [310 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Dave the Driving Instructor wrote:

I've been haranging my local mp (lab) on Twitter due to her anti Corbyn stance & her refusal to vote against the government on various matters. She uses social media to explain that she does so as a tactic against Jezza. As we all know that JC is a cyclist so I bet she'd not give this any support whatsoever.

When dealing with an MP argue about the issue in hand not on whether they agree with their party leader you get much further.

In the case of cycling mention air pollution and the fact it is killing people.

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Sykles [3 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I believe it's also important to keep mentioning the benefits to pedestrians in the same breath - fewer cars and slower cars are better for pedestrians too, and it helps counter the "What? Why should we spend on a minority?" attitude.

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severs1966 [415 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I have already harangued my MP for too long. I get ignored now, I don't even get replies any more.

Every letter I have written that HAS been answered has resulted in said MP giving a piss-poor excuse as why my wishes are irrelevant, and will be ignored, and will not influence the said MP's desire to do nothing to advance cycling.

Bluebug wrote:

In the case of cycling mention air pollution and the fact it is killing people.

MPs only care about getting and holding power; anything that isn't an ELECTORAL issue is not an issue at all. MPs don't actually care whether any given voter lives or dies.

“Congestion and air pollution are coming up higher up the political agenda in urban areas than has been,” she says. “That is potentially an opportunity [to make a case for cycling].”

Yes, they are something like number 1000 in the "hit parade" of issues now instead of number 10 000.

It will be great to see Ruth Cadbury make a case for cycling, but all other MPs will ignore it.

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ianrobo [1219 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Sykles wrote:

I believe it's also important to keep mentioning the benefits to pedestrians in the same breath - fewer cars and slower cars are better for pedestrians too, and it helps counter the "What? Why should we spend on a minority?" attitude.

Thats exactly it, more of us cycle and everyone benefits it is a no lose situation for everyone yet because a certain faction are so anti - yes looking at LTDA and others we get the press reporting on crap etc.

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kevvjj [329 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Grayling is my local MP...

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brooksby [2906 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
kevvjj wrote:

Grayling is my local MP...

  Then maybe it's your civic duty to send him a copy of the Highway Code with some pages highlighted...