What do the Conservatives say they will do about cycling?

Here’s a quick post on what the Conservative’s promise for cycling in the 2015 election. We have had a pop at the Labour promises (and take a recent look at Labour’s claims against those of the Lib Dems ) Above all, take a look at the CTC’s excellent summary of the Manifestos.

So what do the Conservatives say? Here is their response to Chris Boardman. (His back to it is referred to here )

We note:

1. The target of “doubling cycling by 2025”.

That is some time off, there is no way of checking if we are on target – and penalising those who are judged responsible for failure. That never gets mentioned. We have had doubling (and quadrupling) targets before, and they were not only met, but there was often no increase at all.


2. “£6 per person” being spent.

No, this is only in 8 specified cities and London, not for the vast majority of people in Britain.


3. £200 million

This is an aim. As the CTC point out…” As pointed out by Ralph Smyth of Campaign to Protect Rural England however, this figure comes from the Highways England Road Investment strategy launched in December 2014 and is unfortunately nothing new.” Also over what period? £200 million is just over £3 per person, over a Government that is some 60 – 70 pence.


4. “Cut red tape”.

The localism agenda again. How many local transport professionals see this as away of shifting responsibility away from central Government on to those without resources or commitment to achieve objectives?


5. Trialling “cycle streets”.

An interesting idea but trialling something in a even quite a few locations doesn’t really deal with the vast majority of cycle safety issues. The problems of motors overtaking cyclists are associated with highway engineering in general, a lack of understanding by motorists about the space necessary and the willingness of the police to work in this area to get the kind of behaviour motorists seem to be able to achieve more frequently in other European countries .

6. Changing design features of ASLs and pedestrian/cycle crossings

Are these changes seriously expected to make a significant difference to the ease and safety of cycling?


7. Role models

Actually, here at RDRF towers we think Mayor Johnson cycling in normal clothing because he obviously thinks cycling is a sensible way of getting about (as opposed to the usual politician photo-ops) is excellent. But the role models selected are mainly sports cyclists. I also love cycle sport – but the issue is cycling as TRANsport, not as sport.


8. Cycle-proofing

On new roads only – and we don’t know what the design standards used would actually be.


There has been plenty of criticism of the parties’ manifestos on the web, with a focus on the nature of what “spending on cycling” is actually going to mean in terms of what happens on the ground. There are plenty of grounds for fearing that . Any programme which is going to work for cycling needs:

  • A commitment towards law enforcement and deterrent sentencing for the safety of cyclists – as well as other road users
  • A commitment towards the non-highway elements of cycle provision. These can include residential cycle parking, access (particularly for those on low incomes) to roadworthy bicycles, maintenance and accessories. Cycle training has to be about empowering and building confidence for potential cyclists, not just a programme based on schools, and one which is
  • Training and associated support based on evidence rather than hi-viz and helmets dogma. Has traditional “road safety” helped or hindered the take up of cycling?
  • Assessment of danger based on just that – danger to cyclists rather than totting up the totals of cyclist casualties.

Basically we have political parties, with the possible exception of the Greens, that are going along with a car-centric system which has a variety of obstacles and dangers to cycling. Issues such as the costs of motoring to society need to be raised both for producing a sustainable transport policy as well as attacking the mythology of the motorist paying “road tax”. Steps have been made by cycling campaigners like achieving the Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Bill, but don’t expect there to be any change in the UK lagging way behind nearby European countries on cycling whoever gets in on May 8th.






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