Did you Vote Bike on 5 May?

Did you Vote Bike this May?
This spring Cycling UK has been contacting candidates throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales ahead of the various elections held today, 5 May. Cycling UK campaigner, Sam Jones, outlines what has happened and what’s next…

This April and May, Cycling UK – via our President Jon Snow and our supporters – have written over 5,000 letters to candidates across the length and breadth of the UK, asking them primarily to support funding for cycling, but also other topics specific to their future roles. All their responses are online and there to help inform the wider public’s voting decisions…

This has been a truly pan-UK campaign and has reached every spot of the four nations where there has been a national or Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election – ie, everywhere apart from Manchester and London.

While it was to be expected, it is still disappointing that we’ve not heard back from 100% of candidates – but that’s not for want of trying! Cycling and the issues relating to improving it still have a long way to go throughout large parts of the UK.

In Scotland, as well as writing to MSP candidates, Cycling UK financially supported the collaborative Walk Cycle Vote campaign. As of this morning (5th May 2016), 17% of the candidates contacted have replied. Here the collective asks were investment, infrastructure and safety.

In Wales, with a smaller candidate base, Cycling UK ran a bilingual campaign. We were asking Assembly Member candidates whether they would give the Active Travel (Wales) Act the teeth it needs to be successful by supporting dedicated funding of at least £10 per head, and also whether candidates would support an adopted version of the Scottish open access laws. We had a response from 24% of the candidates, with 77% of them indicating full support for our twin asks, 88% seeing the need for dedicated funding and 77% supporting open access.

Additionally in Wales, as well as across England, we also contacted Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, asking them to treat road crime like real crime and reverse the dramatic decline in roads policing. We saw a whopping 60% response from candidates. While only 9% gave their full support to our ask of a 2%-above-inflation annual increase in roads police funding, the majority realised the importance of this issue and gave some commitment, which if elected they can be held accountable to.

The task at hand is... to identify cycling’s supporters, hold them to account on their election promises and maintain the momentum to bring the gift of cycling across the UK."

Sam Jones, Campaigns and Communications Coordinator
Cycling UK

It’s in Northern Ireland, however, that there has been the most excitement. Here we have seen a remarkable 74% response rate. We worked closely with Sustrans NI and local campaigner NI Greenways asking candidates to support our asks on investment, greenways and legislation.

It’s not just the high level of response which is remarkable, but the high level of positive responses! 95% of respondents want to see more funding for cycling of at least £10 per head per year, 99% see the benefits of developing traffic-free greenways, and 97% want to see legislation which will make cycling and walking provision a requirement in all new developments. 

By reaching out to all these candidates, and thanks to the support from our members and supporters, future PCCs, AMs, MLAs and MSPs will all have heard from Cycling UK. They will know what cycling needs to make it a normal and safe option for everyone – whether they’re cycling to school or work, or going for a weekend ride with friends – and most importantly they will know what it means for the people who voted them in, too. 

Over the coming days we’ll know who the next generation of elected officials will be. The task at hand is then to identify cycling’s supporters (we’ll be publishing this online in the coming weeks), hold them to account on their election promises and maintain the momentum to bring the gift of cycling across the UK. It will be a challenge, but with our members’ and supporters’ help we can do it. 

NB: A special note of thanks and recognition needs to go out to volunteer campaigner NI Greenways. His dogged determination and relentless pursuit of candidates resulted in such a phenomenal response from MLA candidates. Thanks NI Greenways!