Organisations including CTC and British Cycling are using this autumn’s party conference season, which starts today with Labour in Manchester, to lobby for safer conditions for cyclists, a year after Prime Minister David Cameron promised to bring about a “cycling revolution” in Britain. A mass bike ride calling for Space for Cycling will take place in Manchester this evening, with hundreds of cyclists expected to take part.
British Cycling’s policy advisor Chris Boardman and broadcaster Jon Snow, who is president of CTC, addressed an audience of Labour MPs and representatives of local authorities at a breakfast meeting in Manchester this morning, and a similar event is planned for the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham next week.
The two organisations are acting under the umbrella of the UK Cycling Coalition whose members also include Sustrans, the London Cycling Campaign, Cyclenation and the Bicycle Association.
Their appeal for cycling provision to be a central part of the nation’s transport policy is supported by transport minister Robert Goodwill and shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh, both scheduled to speak at their respective parties’ events.
The coalition was formed last year in the wake of the publication in April of the Get Britain Cycling report by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG).
The report urged the government, among other things, to commit to spend £10 per head on cycling with the aim of growing modal share to 10 per cent by 2025, but it received a lukewarm response from the government.
A petition set up by Times journalist Kaya Burgess calling on the government to implement the recommendations of the report, written at the end of a six-week enquiry hosted by the APPCG, received more than 73,000 signatures.
In August last year, announcing the cities that had won Cycle City Ambition funding, the Prime Minister said he aimed to launch “a cycling revolution” across the country, but campaigners say that it is action, not words that are needed.
Boardman, quoted on the British Cycling website, said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement last year about his desire to see a cycling revolution in Britain was of course welcome and I have no doubt that MPs of all political persuasions would love to see more people on bikes. Who wouldn’t?
“However, ‘revolution’ is a lofty word carrying real weight – and we know that a revolution cannot be realised on rhetoric alone. One year on, we’re still waiting for cycling to be given the priority it deserves rather than playing second fiddle to rail travel or motorised vehicles.
“At a time when obesity levels are at an all-time high, our local high streets need all the support they can get and the fact that most car journeys today are less than five miles, it defies belief that we’re still waiting for some decisive action from our country’s MPs.”
Meanwhile this evening CTC and the Manchester Cycling Campaign are holding a ride calling for Space for Cycling in the city this evening, with 200 local councillors who have supported the initiative, as well as all Labour MPs, invited to take part.
Hundreds of riders of all ages are expected to meet from 6pm at All Saints Park to take part in the ride, which starts at 6.30pm. A similar ride is sceduled for the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham next Monday.
CTC Space for Cycling co-ordinator, Robbie Gillett, said: “We’re glad to be supporting local campaign groups in calling for long-term, consistent funding for cycling across the country. There is already cross-party support to get Britain cycling, now it’s time to see firm commitments in all the parties’ manifestos to make that a reality."
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