Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle has said that a future Labour Government would fully implement the manifesto of The Times newspaper’s Cities Fit For Cycling campaign, and has urged the present government to adopt its proposals in full.
Ms Eagle, who is MP for Garston and Halewood, was addressing the Labour Party Conference in Manchester yesterday, telling delegates: "When two-thirds of the journeys that we make are under five miles, let’s make alternatives to driving, not just a possibility, but an attractive choice. Not just affordable public transport. But supporting cycling and walking too."
After highlighting recently released cycling casualty statistics told delegates: “We must have a renewed focus on [cycle] safety.”
Referring to the current Secretary of State for Transport, she continued: “I know that Patrick McLoughlin agrees. So I urge him to restore the axed targets to cut deaths and injuries on our roads.”
Ms Eagle went on: “I congratulate The Times on their Cities Fit for Cyclists campaign. The Government should implement the campaign’s manifesto for change in full.
“Separated cycle-ways. Redesigned junctions. Advance green lights for cyclists.
“Setting aside a proportion of the roads budget to make it happen.
“Supporting local authorities to extend 20mph speed limits in residential areas.
“Better cycling facilities at train stations and on trains.
“Safe routes to schools.
“And learning the lessons for England from the innovative Active Travel legislation being taken forward by the Labour Government in Wales.”
While Prime Minister David Cameron was among the members of the government to express support for the Cities Fit For Cycling campaign following its high-profile launch in February, that has not translated into a formal adoption of the manifesto.
Cycle campaigners, meanwhile, are continuing to call for the safety of cyclists to be improved, while the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group last month announced that it is launching an enquiry focusing on the question of ‘'Why Don't More People Cycle?’
While the Labour Party has promised to implement the Cities Fit For Cycling manifesto in full should it return to power in the next general election, due to take place no later than 2015, there is obviously the thorny issue of what a party says it will do while in opposition not always reflecting what it actually does – or is able to do – once in government.
The eight point Cities Fit For Cycling manifesto, in full, is as follows.
1. Trucks entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible truck-turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.
2. The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side.
3. A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety.
4. Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.
5. The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
6. 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
7. Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
8. Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.