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Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald makes commitment at Space for Cycling rally at party conference

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald has said that a future Labour government would spend £10 per person per year on cycling and walking in England.

He made the announcement at a rally organised by Cycling UK and Brighton cycle campaign group Bricycles outside the Labour Party Conference yesterday evening.

McDonald, who is MP for Middlesbrough, said: "Our country is blighted by illegal air pollution, crippling congestion and a public health crisis. Cycling and walking can holistically address all these issues in an efficient, cost-effective way.

"Labour is committed to ensuring that potential is met and is committed to revolutionising our transport system through cycling and walking."

The rally was held to highlight the Space for Cycling campaign, initially launched by the London Cycling Campaign and subsequently taken nationwide by Cycling UK, with Brighton and Hove the first city outside London to adopt it.

> Brighton becomes first council outside London to back Space for Cycling campaign

In its 2013 report Get Britain Cycling, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group called for spend on cycling to be raised to £10 per person per year, ultimately increasing to £20,

While former Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2015 that the government planned to raise spend on cycling to £10 per person per year, the amount allocated to cycling in most of the country remains woefully short of that figure.

> David Cameron aims for £10 per person per year cycling spend – but only if economic recovery stays on track

According to Cycling UK, from 2010/11 to 22014/15, Department for Transport (DfT) per capita spend on cycling (excluding London) was £1.90 annually.

Adding in local spend the national figure was equivalent to £6.70 per person in 2015/16.

However, that figure will be skewed heavily by the inclusion of the Cycle City Ambition cities as well as London, which is home to around one in six people in England and alone has annual spend of £17 per person.

Earlier this year, the government published its long-awaited Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy, which pledged £1.2 billion to cycling and walking outside London over the next five years, which works out at a little over £5 per person per year.

> £1.2bn in funding as Government finally publishes cycling and walking investment strategy

Labour MP for Leeds North and APPCG treasurer Fabian Hamilton commented: "As a longstanding member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, I am thrilled to hear our shadow transport secretary pledge £10 per head for cycling and walking if elected.

“We need a radical shift in our transport system and we are committed to making sure that happens."

Cycling UK’s Space for Cycling campaigner Tom Guha added: “This is a landmark announcement from the Labour Party.

“Around the country, local political leaders have been doing their best to invest properly in cycling to unlock the many benefits it can bring.

“However, it is national funding like this that is necessary if we are to see the cycling revolution we so desperately need.”

In the Netherlands, estimated spend on cycling per head of population is £24 a year while in Denmark it is £17 – although both countries have a four decade or so head start on England in terms of building infrastructure for people on bikes. 

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.