Tell Scotland's politicians why you care about cycling

Jim Densham's picture

Tell Scotland's politicians why you care about cycling

Elections aren't just a time to vote, they are also a key opportunity to tell politicians what you want them to do if elected. Cycling UK's campaigns and policy manager in Scotland, Jim Densham, discusses the importance of making your voice heard as politicians go on the campaign trail

16 February was Pancake Day and while I was flipping tasty pancakes for my family that evening, I was also pondering how many signatures we might get on our election campaign petition. That day, we had launched our Manifesto for Cycling and throughout Lent we have been asking you to be part of our Scottish election campaign by signing our petition, telling the political parties that cycling matters to you.

Your response has been amazing and exceeded my expectations. As I write this, we are very close to reaching 3000 signatures on the petition – if you haven’t done so there is still time to sign and share our election petition over the Easter weekend before we give final numbers to the parties.

Reaching, and going beyond this huge target will show political parties that cycling really matters to people in Scotland, and help to convince them to include our manifesto asks in their own manifestos.

Persuading parties to get out of their comfort zones and go further on their manifesto commitments can be difficult - showing them that people support our ideas can give them the confidence to do more

Jim Densham, campaigns and policy manager - Scotland

Scottish election campaigning kicked off properly at the end of last week when the Scottish Parliament was dissolved, and on Tuesday, the BBC hosted the first Leaders' debate. As I write this blog post none of the parties has published a manifesto, outlining what they will do if they can form the next Scottish Government, and they are reluctant to give away too much until they do.

Manifestos are important for parties as they are a set of promises saying what they will do if they get into power, in order to win our votes. That’s why we have been talking to all the parties since last year telling them what we think they should include in order to win the votes of cyclists and to improve Scotland's transport systems during the next five years. Parties have to craft their manifesto commitments carefully, as breaking manifesto promises doesn’t go down well. Persuading parties to get out of their comfort zones and go further on their commitments can be difficult - showing them that people support our ideas can give them the confidence to do more.

Since we launched our manifesto and petition, we have been giving the parties regular updates on how many people are signing. As the numbers have grown and approach the 3000 target we hope it tips the balance and makes parties decide to go further in their commitment for cycling – to promise more money, or write in additional policies.

Ask candidates to pledge support

After Easter, our campaign moves into a new phase. We will be giving you the opportunity to contact your constituency and regional list candidates to ask them to pledge support for cycling and active travel. Asking candidates to pledge support makes them stop to think about what their party policy is on cycling and sustainable transport. It also gives us a head start when we speak to those who are elected as MSPs after 6 May.  

Hustings

We will also be co-hosting Scotland’s Cycling and Sustainable Travel hustings on 20 April at 7pm, with Pedal on Parliament. We are excited to have a high-level panel of transport spokespersons confirmed to take part on the evening, including Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, speaking for the SNP. By the 20 April all parties should have launched their manifestos so it will be a good opportunity to debate the commitments each has made.

Register now to join us for the hustings and start thinking of your questions to ask about cycling, active travel, and the transport systems we need in Scotland. It should be a great event.

Other election events

April will be a busy time for election-related events. Get involved with events run by our partners:

Our partners at Walk Wheel Cycle Vote held their inclusive streets election hustings this week. If you missed it watch the recording.  

GoBike (Strathclyde Cycle Campaign) hustings, 12 April, register for the event

Spokes (The Lothian Cycle Campaign) hustings, 15 April, register for the event

Pedal on Parliament have a day of action on 24 April.

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