Parties' election promises on cycling

5th December 2019

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Liberal Democrat badge, by Paul Walter, Licence CC BY 2.0

On the Guardian's Bike Blog, Laura Laker recently assessed the parties' election promises on cycling.

Laker points out that cycling is crucial in tackling the climate crisis, congestion, pollution, inactivity and obesity; it helps reduce the burden on the NHS, and makes our streets more pleasant.

Current spending is £7 per head. The Walking & Cycling Alliance wants to see spend on active travel of £17 per person per year, rising to £34 by 2025.

Labour party

This is what the Labour manifesto says about cycling and walking:

'We will increase the funding available for cycling and walking. We will bring together transport and land-use planning to create towns and cities in which walking and cycling are the best choice: safe, accessible, healthy, efficient, economical and pollution-free. We will help children’s health and well-being by ensuring street designs provide freedom for physically active outdoor play and by introducing measures to ensure the zones around our schools are safer, with cleaner air.'

Canal Road cycleway, Bradford

There was a separate press release on 1st December 2019 from Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary Andy MacDonald. It announced plans to make England one of the most cycling and walking friendly places in the world, with a Healthy Streets programme. Specific commitments included:

Laura Laker says the funding commitment is £50 per head per year, and there would be design standards for infrastructure, to avoid sub-standard routes.

Green party

The Green party wants to see more than half of local trips (up to 5 miles) made on foot or by bike by 2030. They pledge funding of £2.5bn per year for 10 years, amounting to £42 per person per year.

The Greens plan to set up a new expert body to make sure that infrastructure is built to the highest standards. They want to block rat-running traffic through neighbourhoods; 20mph should be the default limit in residential areas, and 40mph in non-residential areas except on major roads. All new housing is to be served by high-quality walking, cycling, and public transport routes.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats pledge to increase spending on cycling five-fold, reaching 10% of the transport budget by the end of the 5-year Parliament. (Five times current spend would mean £35 per person per year). They want to introduce a national strategy to promote walking and cycling, with the creation of dedicated safe cycling lanes; and they will amend planning rules to promote sustainable transport and land use.

The Liberal Democrats' plans for cycling and walking are ambitious with decent funding. Laura Laker points out that they are a little light on detail.

The Lib Dems have the best chance of defeating the Tories in Harrogate & Knaresborough.

Conservative party

In their manifesto, the Conservatives (or is it factcheckUK?) are proposing £70m a year on cycling infrastructure, amounting to a miserly £1.18 per person per year. That's if it's even honest - unlikely, in the light of all the lies they've told in their election campaign.

They say they will spend a monster £28.8bn on roads (p27 of their manifesto), inevitably increasing overall volume of traffic.

In summary:

Andrew Jones MP

A special word on Harrogate & Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones here.

His election materials emphasise his opposition to the so-called Harrogate relief road (without mentioning that the project was promoted by his Conservative colleague Don Mackenzie).

Jones wasn't responsible for the community campaign against the road - that was down to Chris Kitson and Save the Nidd Gorge. The MP was late to the party, but ok he did eventually plump for the right side.

But this is Andrew Jones all over - trying to look cuddly in the constituency, battling against the bypass; but standing for a party that wants to inflict ever more roads on us, and do nothing of value for sustainable travel.

If we elect him again, there's no chance of him prioritising his constituents over his party and his career. We'll be in for another 5 years of fluffy photo-ops in Harrogate & Knaresborough, then going off to Westminster and voting with the hard right-wingers in his party, and against our interests.

More on the UK Election 2019.