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Election 2015: Vote Bike figures reveal stark differences between parties' commitments to cycling

Conservatives lag behind UKIP in sign up to cycle policy commitments

Figures from the CTC's Vote Bike campaign suggest this government's "cycling revolution" may have come from the Liberal Democrats rather than the Conservative party.

The CTC released sign up figures for its Vote Bike campaign today, two weeks ahead of the general election, revealing a striking divide between major political parties.

While 22% of all candidates have responded, the Greens top the leader board with 51% signing up in support of Vote Bike, Lib Dems with 32%, Labour 20%, while the Conservatives lag behind UKIP, with 6% and 7% respectively*.

Meanwhile only two party leaders, Lib Dem Nick Clegg (Sheffield Hallam) and Green Natalie Bennett (Holborn and St Pancras), have pledged official support for the campaign. The CTC says David Cameron's office in Witney has made assurances they are considering the matter with urgency.

The purpose of Vote Bike is to form "cycle allies" in the new parliament after 7 May, among MPs who officially support the campaign's five asks - ambition for growth in cycling, funding, design standards, safety and positive promotion.

Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns and Policy Director said: "Vote Bike builds on CTC’s success in persuading the last Parliament to vote for a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. We now need to know who our allies will be in Westminster to help push for serious investment in cycling, and for the design standards needed to ensure the funds are well spent.

"I’d therefore urge everyone who cycles, or knows someone who does, to use Vote Bike and ask their candidates where they stand."

Despite the Conservatives' promise to start a "cycling revolution" in 2013, the party has pledged just 79p per person per year to cycling in its latest manifesto, money that, it transpired, was already allocated during the coalition government.

During that time millions of pounds were given to eight cities and four national parks to be spent within two years, as well as to "cycle proofing" trunk roads, where only a small minority of cycle journeys are made. For the rest of the country investment for cycle infrastructure has been noticeably absent. The Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) was designed to "cut carbon emissions and create local growth", and is cited by politicians as having a cycling element, but LSTF money has also been spent on traffic lights to help smooth traffic flow.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have pledged to spend £10 per head per year on cycling, signing up to both the five Vote Bike asks and the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report, published in 2013. The Lib Dems have also pledged to increase journeys by bike to 10% of all trips by 2025 and 25% by 2050.

Labour this week committed an additional 33p per person per year to cycling but neither Ed Milliband, nor his would-be transport ministers Michael Dugher or Richard Burden, has signed up to Vote Bike.

The Green Party pledges to spend the highest of all parties, at £30 per person per year on cycling and walking, as well as an impressive list of policy measures in its manifesto to protect those cycling, including introducing presumed liability.

UKIP candidates have responded to Vote Bike requests saying they are told not to sign pro-forma documents, though that didn't stop a couple of them making some ill-judged comments in response to Vote Bike requests from constituents earlier this month.

This week Stop Killing Cyclists campaign co-founder, Donnachadh McCarthy, said: "Time after time, for 20 years, we have heard politicians say 'we're in favour of cycling'. In their transport plans they always say we support cycling and pedestrians... and then there's no money. The Dutch are spending £28 per year per person, and have been doing for 40 years. The last Labour government spent £1 per person the [coalition] government £2.

"The Tories just announced that they are going to spend 78p and Labour said £3.90, Lib Dems said £10, UKIP £0 and the Greens said £30.

"Of the major parties, none of them are actually proposing to invest the money that's needed to turn [UK cities] into a modern city like Amsterdam."

McCarthy believes we need to spend £60 per person per year on cycling in order to catch up with the Dutch.

You can see a breakdown of each major party's manifesto pledge for cycling here.

*UKIP and the Conservatives each have 38 candidates signed up to Vote Bike, but UKIP has fewer candidates.

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