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"Suicide" for parties not to commit to cycling funding, says Boris Johnson

"I’m sure it will be in the Conservative manifesto"...

Amid increasing calls for more spending on cycling facilities, Mayor of London Boris Johnson says it would be "suicide" for any political party not to commit funding in its election manifesto.

Speaking to Kaya Burgess of The Times at yesterday's announcement of the final plans for London's East-West cycle superhighway, Johnson said political parties should "absolutely" pledge significant funding for cycling for the rest of the country.

He said: "I’m sure it will be in the Conservative manifesto. Other parties can commit suicide by failing to promote cycling if they want.

“We need a cycling revolution across the country as a whole and I think we should be looking at a much more thorough system of links across Britain.”

On Twitter, Chris Boardman said Johnson was "bold"

It's certainly a change from the political squabble earlier this month in which Conservative and Labour parties appeared to be competing to see who could spend least on cycling.

The Conservatives accused Labour of planning to resurrect Cycling England and the Cycling Towns and Cities initiatives, at an alleged cost of £63 million.

"This is just nonsense," said shadow chancellor Ed Balls, denying that Labour's National Policy Forum Report commitment to "promote cycling by making it safer and more accessible” amounted to a £63 million spending commitment.

Roger Geffen, CTC's campaigns and policy director, said: “This fierce competition between Conservative and Labour party leadership over how not to spend money on cycling is massively disappointing. It is about time that the two main parties reflected [recognition of the benefits of cycling] through meaningful long term funding of at least £10 per head per year."

Against that background, the last couple of weeks have seen a remarkable turn-around in Conservative policy. As Parliamentary candidate for the safe Conservative seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Johnson has been tipped as the next party leader.

Yesterday, the Government approved the addition to its Infrastructure Bill of an amendment mandating the Department for Transport to plan for cycling and walking. Once the Bill passes into law, that amendment would also oblige the DfT to allocate a budget to be spent on cycling.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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