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Party shows overwhelming support for measures included in Get Britain Cycling inquiry report

Liberal Democrats today voted at their annual conference to pass a motion setting out the party’s plan to boost cycling in the UK.

Cycling Reform, debated and voted on in Glasgow, included a number of proposals including:

  •       Creating a cycling budget of at least £10 per person per year, increasing to £20
  •       A Government strategy to increase Bikeability cycle training course for people of all ages and backgrounds
  •       An increase of priority traffic lights for cyclists
  •       The inclusion of a cyclist safety section in the national driving test and cyclist awareness training for drivers of large vehicles

Dr Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said: "I am delighted that the Lib Dems are the first party to formally endorse the 'Get Britain Cycling' policy from the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, which I co-chair.

"Cycling is efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy and fun, and the Liberal Democrats will continue to champion cycling and walking.”

The full motion text can be read here.

Unsurprisingly, most of the measures passed in principle include those outlined in the Get Britain Cycling report that followed a six-week parliamentary inquiry, many of which were not adopted in the Government's official response, to the disappointment of many cyclists.

Of course, the passing of the motion doesn't mean that the policy will automatically be passed; for that to happen it would need to be included in a manifesto for the 2015 election, and then adopted as part of a Coalition Agreement by any party partnering with the Liberal Democrats to form a second coalition government.

But along with the eight-point cycling manifesto outlined by shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle at the Get Britain Cycling parliamentary debate earlier this month, it suggests that more and more politicians are seeing the value of the 'cyclist vote'.

Speaking in the debate, Eagle said:

First, we must end the stop-start approach to supporting cycling, which means that we need long-term funding of the infrastructure needed for dedicated separate safe cycling routes. Ministers recently set out annual budgets for rail and road investment up to 2020-21, but they failed to do so for cycling infrastructure, which means that while there is a £28 billion commitment for roads, we have only a one-off £114 million from central Government for cycling, and that is spread across three years. It is time for a serious rethink of priorities within the roads budget with a proportion reallocated to deliver a long-term funding settlement for cycling infrastructure.

The priority for investment to support cycling must be dedicated separated infrastructure to create safe routes. The focus has too often been on painting a thin section at the side of the road a different colour. Genuinely separated cycle routes are vital not only to improve safety but, as we have heard from many hon. Members, to build confidence and to encourage those who are not used to cycling to make the switch to two wheels. It is also important that a commitment to new infrastructure does not become an excuse not to improve the safety of cyclists on roads where there is no separation. The priority should be redesigning dangerous junctions where almost two thirds of cyclist deaths and serious injuries due to collisions take place. We need a much greater use of traffic light phasing to give cyclists a head start.

Secondly, we need to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, so I propose a cycle safety assessment before new transport schemes are given the green light. In the same way in which Departments have to carry out regulatory impact assessments and equality impact assessments, there should be an obligation to cycle-proof new policies and projects. We need new enforceable design standards and measures to ensure compliance.

Thirdly, we need national targets to cut deaths and serious injuries to be restored, but they should sit alongside a new target to increase levels of cycling. The number of cyclist deaths is tragically at a five-year high. Of course, targets alone are not the only answer, but they help to focus minds and efforts, so Ministers are wrong to reject them. However, it is vital to ensure that targets do not perversely lead to local authorities and others seeing the way to cut deaths and injuries as discouraging cycling. In fact, cycling becomes safer when more cyclists are on the road, so we should learn from the success that has been achieved in European countries that have set clear goals to increase levels of cycling alongside the policies necessary to achieve that.

Fourthly, we should learn from Wales and extend to England its active travel legislation, which sets out clear duties on local authorities to support cycling. Local authorities are central to devising, prioritising and delivering measures to support cycling, so it is important that additional support from central Government is matched by clear obligations. To assist councils, we should provide them with a best-practice toolkit to boost cycling numbers that is based on what we learned from the cycling city and towns programme and evidence from abroad. Councils should be supported to deliver 20 mph zones, which should increasingly become an effective default in most residential areas.

Fifthly, we must ensure that children and young people have every opportunity to cycle and to do so safely. The Government should not have ended long-term funding certainty for the Bikeability scheme, nor axed the requirement for school travel plans. Those decisions can and should be reversed. Sixthly, we need to make it easier for cycling to become part of the journey to work, even when the commute is too far to do by bike alone. Employers can play an important role in providing access to showers, changing facilities and lockers. However, our public transport providers need to step up and do much more too. Instead of the Government’s approach, which has been to propose a weakening of franchise obligations, we should toughen up the requirement to provide station facilities and on-train space for bikes in rail contracts.

Seventhly, we need to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done in cases where collisions lead to the death of cyclists and serious injuries. I welcome the recent commitment from Ministers to initiate a review of sentencing guidelines. It is vital that this is a comprehensive review of the justice system and how it protects vulnerable road users, and it should be concluded without delay in this Parliament. We are certainly willing to work with Government to implement sensible changes that may be proposed.

Finally, we need tough new rules and requirements on heavy goods vehicles that are involved in about a fifth of all cycling fatalities, despite the fact that HGVs make up just 6% of road traffic—there is clearly an issue there. We should look at the case for taking HGVs out of our cities at the busiest times, as has happened elsewhere in Europe, including in Paris and Dublin. As a minimum, we should require safety measures on all HGVs, including sensors, audible truck-turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars, as well as better training and awareness. I have previously suggested to Ministers that the £23 million that is expected to be raised annually from the new HGV road-charging scheme could be used to support the road haulage industry to achieve that. I hope that that idea will be taken seriously and considered by Ministers, along with all those clear proposals. Taken together, I believe that that would be a significant improvement in the Government’s current approach, and it is something that all parties could support across the House.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

11 comments

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 4 years ago
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Great! Now if we can get the Monster Raving Looney Party onboard we'll DOUBLE our possible future representation

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koko56 [330 posts] 4 years ago
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WIder public credibility is somethign they don't really have and I struggle to see how they would gain much of it back without doing something first...

"Why did the chicken cross the road? Because Nick Clegg said it would not"  29

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Stumps [3496 posts] 4 years ago
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Minority party trying to win votes with false promises.

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Ghedebrav [1099 posts] 4 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Minority party trying to win votes with false promises.

Bit harsh - Lib Dems are the only one of the three main parties that have real democracy within their membership (and a conference at which policies are decided and voted on, rather than announced to the nation).

Cycling policies - backed by government investment - chime very clearly with the SDP side of the party, which has found itself ideologically outflanked in the coalition by the free-market liberals at the top (esp. the Clegg/Alexander axis). Voting in this stereotypically Lib Dem policy is a statement from the party base - who are largely of the SDP persuasion - that they want their party back.

I certainly don't think it's just opportunism. There are very few votes (and no lobbyist funding) to be gained from promoting cycling .

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Stumps [3496 posts] 4 years ago
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Basically they are trying to sound like a party of the people with new and invigorating policies in order to win public support and enhance their own reputation.

How many policies have they managed to successfully bring into law whilst in the coalition ? Even the most ardent supporter who disagreeed with the Uni fees policy got them nowhere.

So thats what i mean by false promises, they know it will have virtually no chance for success however they put across that they are working for the people with these type of policies.

Hand on heart i wish the 2 main parties would follow suit but you have absolutely no chance of that with the cons and only a slim chance with Labour.

EDIT: I have to admit it's a cracking policy though  4

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Ghedebrav [1099 posts] 4 years ago
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stumps wrote:

How many policies have they managed to successfully bring into law whilst in the coalition ? E

Pupil Premium is their biggie, I think. I'm a governor in a school with very high numbers of kids who qualify for free school meals - and the extra money has genuinely made a big difference to provision (and outcomes) for these children.

I should be clear at this point that I'm not a Lib Dem (and didn't vote for them at the last election). I just think that while cycnicism about politics is understandable, we should also recognise and credit politicians and activists from all parties (some more than others, obvs) who are genuinely trying to change the country for the better.

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georgee [181 posts] 4 years ago
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Does this fit in the same policy document as no higher education tuition fees?

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RTB [190 posts] 4 years ago
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Does anything the limp-dumbs say have any credibility?

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tired old fart [77 posts] 4 years ago
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Is this a similar promise to the one they made to the students to not raise tuition fees?

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arowland [167 posts] 4 years ago
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"Creating a cycling budget of at least £10 per person per year, increasing to £20"

So let's start with a small amount to address decades of under-investment and bad infrastructure-building and slowly increase it until it is less than the Dutch, who have been building for 40 years, need to maintain their already excellent facilities.

That will work.

Or how about starting with £50 per person and slowly decrease to £25 when the country has a uniformly high standard of cycling infrastructure everywhere, most journeys of 10 km or less are undertaken by bike and the KSI rate is reduced to near zero?

Ten pounds is just planning to fail. People will not turn to cycling for transportation in large numbers until the infrastructure is pervasive (end-to-end for the journeys they need to make) and safe. We will spend a tenner each per year, after 5 years a report will say it was all for nothing and the policy will be scrapped, having wasted what little investment there was and putting back cycle campaigning by a generation. The only argument against putting in adequate catch-up funding right from the start is that highway planners still don't know what to do with it and need training in Dutch standards -- something the LibDems say nothing about.

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hood [118 posts] 4 years ago
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considering how the lib dems have bent over backwards to the conservatives demands in the past few years them saying they will "boost cycling in the uk" means f**k all!

does anyone actually believe anything they say? they had ONE taste of power in the coalition and they messed it up because they didn't stand up for any of their principals or policies!