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'Cycling should be central to the 2015 General Election,' says Ian Austin MP

Parties pitch safety and infrastructure policies against one another in the hope of winning votes

The Labour MP Ian Austin has called for cycling to feature as a central issue during the run-up to the 2015 general election, allowing each party to pitch its safety and infrastructure policies to the electorate.

Austin, who opened the Cycle Show in Birmingham today, is also speaking at a Love London, Go Dutch conference running alongside the show.

The MP for Dudley North is co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), which in April published its Get Britain Cycling  following a six-week inquiry earlier this year.

He said: “Let’s start planning now to make cycling a really important issue at the next election.

“I have asked British Cycling, Sustrans, the CTC and the Bicycle Association to draw up proposals to make cycling a central issue at the next election.

“We can use the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling recommendations to develop clear demands and call on the political parties to sign up to them, let’s challenge all the parties to produce manifestos for cycling, with detailed pledges about the investment they will earmark, and the improvements they will make to get more people cycling.

“Let’s organise hustings on cycling and mobilise cyclists, local campaigns, clubs and groups around the country, support them and equip them with the resources they need to meet their local candidates and demand they pledge to support cycling too.

“The next election is the moment we can achieve a real breakthrough and get the changes we want to see to promote cycling in Britain”

Austin’s remarks follow an announcement from the Labour party that if it is returned to government in 2015, it will introduce “clear goals to increase cycling,” as well as restoring road safety targets.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle told the party’s conference this week that following the formation of the Coalition Government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in May 2010, Cycling England was scrapped, and with it the £60 million annual funding it distributed.

She outlined measures that Labour – which has pledged to adopt the findings of the Get Britain Cycling report – would adopt if it were elected at the next general election.

“Here’s what we need to do,” she said. “Clear goals to increase cycling.  Separated routes.  Redesigned junctions. Phased traffic lights. Cycling Safety Assessments for all new transport schemes. Restored targets to cut road deaths and serious injuries.

“Duties to support Active Travel, as Labour introduced in Wales,” she went on.

“20mph zones, the default in residential areas. Long term support for teaching safe cycling. Space on trains. Secure facilities at stations – required in rail contracts. Sentencing guidelines reviewed. Tough new rules on HGVs.”

The pledges reflect the substance of the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report, also welcomed last week at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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