As the West Midlands look toward the election of their new Metro Mayor on May 4th, Cycling UK has challenged all the candidates to make public their level of commitment to cycling.
All five of the hopefuls agreed that they would support a “West Midlands Cycling Charter”, devised by the Bike West Midlands Network and Cycling UK.
This involves pledges to:
The Charter suggests a spend of £10 per person annually on cycling, rising over time to £20.
Cycling UK’s president Jon Snow wrote to each candidate, and nearly 150 local residents sent emails to the candidates, urging them to improve cycling.
Conservative candidate Andy Street said: “We need to supercharge cycling in the West Midlands to tackle congestion, air quality and inactivity.
“We must upgrade cycle routes, making the most of the canal network and off-road routes, whilst accelerating existing plans for on-road cycle superhighways”.
Green candidate James Burn said: “I will actively seek the funding necessary, but it's important to be clear that the level of funding is currently very low, and forecast to drop even lower.
“As Local Authorities (and not the mayor) control cycle funding in large part, getting to £20 a head will be a real challenge, particularly in the light of huge government cuts.”
Labour candidate Sion Simon said: “In addition to cycling, I will also support walking as a form of active transport - working with all Local Authorities within the combined authority to promote a campaign of encouraging 20mph limits in residential areas.”
Lib Dem candidate Beverley Neilsen said: “As Lib Dem Candidate for Metro Mayor I am keen to promote cycling as a real alternative and to move as quickly as possible from 5% cycling and upwards to 10% plus.
“I would also like to link our cycleways into a network of cycle routes crossing our region and linking canals, rivers, and Sustrans network.”
Peter Durnell, UKIP candidate, said: “I believe the further development of the West Midlands cycling network can and should play a role in helping reduce congestion and resultant air pollution across the region.
“I’ll develop a proper integrated cycling strategy across the WMCA to better utilise our canals and achieve full cycle integration on public transport, including better way-finding, night-time cycling networks, bike racks on public transport and at public buildings, improved integration of cycle routes and facilities to rail and Metro stops.”
Residents will have the opportunity to meet all the candidates at the Bike Bike Picnic on Sat 22 April, organised by the Bike West Midlands Network and Cycling UK. Rides are organised from around the West Midlands to reach Cannon Hill Park for a picnic at 13:30.
All candidates have confirmed attendance and will be speaking at the event, except the Greens, who are sending a representative. More details can be found here.
You can find out more about local action for better cycling here.