Cycling and the Senedd Elections

In Wales, we have some ground-breaking legislation, but how can we ensure that the next Welsh Government delivers? Engagement officer for Wales, Gwenda Owen explains

On 6 May, if things go according to plan, the people of Wales will go to the polls to elect the next Welsh Parliament.

There's no doubt that these elections will be different; the candidates are unlikely to be knocking on our doors, there will be fewer leaflets - but the would-be politicians will be listening, so we need to make sure that we're heard, that it's understood why cycling is so important, and what we think they need to do.

Over the next few months, we'll have to campaign differently - no big bike rides or face to face meetings. It will be as it has been for much of the last year - online more than we’d like - but with your help we can still make best case we can for cycling.  

Another big difference in 2021, is that for the first time in Wales 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to vote in the Senedd elections. They will be able to hold Welsh politicians to their promise of considering the wellbeing of future generations in every law and policy they make.

In our towns and cities, the air felt cleaner. It felt as though there was a better understanding of the economic benefits of active travel

Gwenda Owen, Cycling UK's engagement officer in Wales

After a challenging year, we have got to hope that all party manifestos will reflect what we've learnt, and that active travel will be an integral part of every parties vision for Wales.

Last March, during the first lockdown, the people of Wales clearly demonstrated that when the roads aren't dominated by cars, more of us will ride our bikes; from key workers unable or reluctant to use public transport, to families making the most of their once-a-day escape into the outdoors.

Then, as in this latest lockdown, bike shops remain open as they provide an essential service. Trade soared, they sold out of bikes, and spare parts were hard to come by as old bikes were rescued from sheds.

In our towns and cities, the air felt cleaner. It felt as though there was a better understanding of the economic benefits of active travel as town centres made space for the walkers and cyclists who were spending money in the shops and cafes when they were open.  

To start transforming Wales into a cycling nation, for everyone, we need to see continued and increased investment, and, most importantly, we need to see delivery on the ground. For cycling to be accessible for all, our politicians need to hear from all of us - whether we ride bikes or would like to do so. We know that no matter how many laws, strategies, and policies there are, if we don’t see the cycle lanes being built and investment in behaviour change projects, Wales will not be a nation where cycling is for everyone.

Cycling is not just for sport, for the fit, or for men, and with the actions Cycling UK are demanding from politicians we can make Wales better and have cycling for all as part of a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

We will launch our Manifesto for Cycling in a couple of weeks’ time, and set up an online page where you can your pledge support and tell politicians that cycling is important to you.

Together, and with your help, we can get cycling on the agenda during this election, and secure commitments from the next Welsh Government that will help everyone to cycle.