With December’s election looming, there has been plenty for politicians to consider within their campaigns and their manifestos. For us, the election pledges around cycling and cyclists, unsurprisingly, are very important. And, while the environment and pollution are increasingly becoming an uncompromising concern for both the public and parties, cycling is a surefire way of reducing pollution and as an effect, increase the happiness and fitness in its uptakers.
With transport – especially in London – participating in high pollution rates, and a higher share in omissions than any other sector, cycling as a healthy alternative must be considered. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that we have seen political parties rally around the idea – some a little more fresh to the concept than others. If you are a voter who is concerned about which party is going to benefit cyclists the most, then we have got a rundown of each of the main parties and their pledges. If you are looking for something more locally based, why not try CyclingUK’s candidate pledge checker? It gives you a way of asking your local candidates to stand up for cyclists.
Below, you’ll find a summary of each party’s pledges.
The Conservatives are pledging:
- £350mil cycling infrastructure pledge over five years (£70mil per year)
- To enforce “tough new design standards” for infrastructure
- To offer Bikeability training for every primary school child
- To work towards low-traffic “healthy neighbourhoods”
- To introduce separated bike lanes on main roads
- To incentivise GPs to prescribe cycling and bicycles, and £2bn towards the pothole fund.
Labour are pledging:
- £7.2bn per year investment
- 3,100 miles of cycleways to be delivered within their first term
- To provide safe cycling and walking routes to 10,000 primary schools
- £200 e-bike grants to be made available with hints towards funding support for an “e-bike valley” industrial development
- To double Bikeability funding to cover all primary school children, secondary school children and adults
- To back and contribute towards the 2025 biking and walking strategy, and
- To incentivise GPs to prescribe cycling and bicycles.
The Green Party are pledging:
- £2.5bn a year pledged to cycling and walking over ten years – that would consist of £2bn towards infrastructure and £.5bn for other related measures such as cycle training
- To work towards the goal of having half of all local (five-mile) trips to be made either by foot or by bike within a decade
- To provide an “expert body for governance and advice” will support local authority to deliver funds to only high-quality cycle infrastructure
- To incentivise low traffic neighbourhoods
commitment to new housing to be served by quality walking, cycling and public transport routes
- To introduce car-free national park access and car-free city centres.
The Liberal Democrats are pledging:
- 10 per cent of the transport budget to go towards cycling and walking by the end of five years
- To give more power to local authorities to make decisions
- To develop a national strategy to promote cycling and walking
- The creation of dedicated “safe-cycle” lanes, and to encourage cycling and walking.
The Brexit Party have not yet released any official pledge towards cycling and walking.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive rundown of each party’s offering with analysis, Laura Laker discusses each party’s pledge in her article: which party’s general election pledges are best for cyclists?
Considerations for voters
Each party is offering something different, and while some have very expansive and detailed plans in regards to cycling and walking, the budget proposed may be a little too hopeful. There is no doubt, the higher the available budget put towards the sector, the better the results have to potential to be. Still, considering the last government fell short of their targets by two-thirds, due to lack of funding, we should not get too carried away.
Another thing to consider is the lack of experience that, in the vast majority of cases, local authorities have when it comes to quality cycle infrastructure. Cycle security such as cycling hubs and two-tier bike racks, or perhaps an increasing demand for electric bike charging stations will undoubtedly rise should policy lead more people to take to the streets on their bicycles. Currently, they are ill-equipped to deal with increased demand, and would more than likely struggle to get started, even if they were handed a higher budget; they need experts. Policies that revolve around getting experts into local authority are welcomed, but finding the personnel and the budget for this has been something past governments have fallen short of.
Investing in cycling and walking will lead to innovation
If there is one thing we are confident of, it is that by investing more into greener transport, such as cycling and walking, innovation will be a by-product. We should stop seeing electric cars as the only solution to our transport and pollution issues, and start looking at better – manual – ways of travel. Not only will this go to reduce congestion further, but it will reduce the accident, injury and fatality rate on our roads (especially within cities).
With investment also going into making cycling more accessible to everyone, with more investment moving towards e-bikes and adult cycling training – we should see an uplift in easy ways to travel without filling up with petrol each time. If these parties are to stick to their pledges and follow through with their proposed budgets, the future of walking and cycling could really be revolutionised, and fascinating.