The campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists will this evening stage a vigil and die-in outside the Labour Party’s headquarters in central London to call for more money to be spent on cycling infrastructure and greater action to tackle air pollution.
A similar protest will be held outside the Conservative Party’s headquarters in Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9HQ next Friday 26 May as campaigning continues ahead of the General Election on 8 June.
The group, founded in late 2012 after six cyclists lost their lives in road traffic collisions on London’s roads in the space of a fortnight, is calling on all political parties to commit to spending 10 per cent of the transport budget on protected cycling infrastructure by 2020.
It is also calling for £15 billion to be invested over the next five years to start bringing the quality of cycling infrastructure in the UK up to Dutch standards.
While the Labour Party’s manifesto, published earlier this week, outlines plans to spend billions of pounds on rail and road infrastructure, only two sentences refer specifically to cycling, with no new money appearing to be committed beyond that outlined in the government’s Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy published last month.
The Labour Party’s manifesto says:
We will invite the National Infrastructure Commission to recommend the next stages for developing and upgrading the National Cycle Network. We reaffirm the commitments in the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.
The Conservative Party’s manifesto, also published this week, contains just one sentence related to cycling:
We will continue to support local authorities to expand cycle networks and upgrade facilities for cyclists at railway stations.
Tonight’s vigil and die-in takes place between 5pm and 6.45pm outside the Labour Party headquarters at 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT with people attending asked to bring gas masks and candles.
Stop Killing Cyclists co-organiser Alex Raha said: “Air pollution is poisoning millions of people in the UK, whilst traffic carbon emissions are contributing to the climate emergency.
“Road danger means most people do not feel safe cycling on UK roads, which means they lack life-saving physical exercise.
“There is now an urgent health crisis which is costing the NHS billions.
“It is now crucial that our national cycling infrastructure gets its fair share of national infrastructure investment.”
Dr Ruth-Anna McQueen, another co-organiser of the protest, said: “It is unacceptable in a supposedly free society that parents are afraid to allow their kids to cycle to school.
“It is even more unfair that our children’s lungs are being stunted from being in polluted schools. All political parties must now commit to invest the money needed to protect the public when cycling,” she added.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges to “design towns and cities as safe and attractive walking spaces and implement the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report.”
The report was published in 2013 – a time when the party was in government in coalition with the Conservatives – following an inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.
Among the report’s recommendations were that the government commit to spend the equivalent of £10 per head a year on cycling, ultimately increasing to £20 per person per year.
The party also says that it would pass a Green Transport Act and introduce an Air Quality Plan to reduce air pollution.
The Green Party is due to publish its manifesto next week.
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.