Ask your Councillors to support #Space4Cycling

A bus stop bypass on the Lewes Road, Brighton. Photo Geograph/Malc McDonald (CC licence)

Ask your Councillors to support #Space4Cycling

The #Space4Cycling councillor sign-up tool has relaunched - and we need you to contact your councillors! Since the tool's launch, 744 councillors have pledged support for the campaign. However, elections since then mean that many of these people have lost their seats. As we gear up to revive the Space for Cycling campaign, we're calling on the public to help rebuild this lost political support!

It's two years since Cycling UK first launched the national Space for Cycling campaign – with the ambitious aim of transforming Britain’s roads to create the conditions where anyone can cycle anywhere. Space for Cycling is a campaign led nationally by Cycling UK, but very much relies upon the implementation and input of local campaign groups.

Since its launch, the campaign has won some key victories, securing safe, comfortable and convenient Space for Cycling on Britain’s roads.

Cyclox in Oxford has successfully campaigned for the transformation of Weirs Lane, which can now be safely enjoyed by all road users with two-way segregated paths running its length. Likewise in Manchester, a refurbished Rusholme now has safe Space for Cycling, thanks to the valuable time and insight given by GMCC

Across the UK, change is beginning to happen. And that change is happening because of you. Change is happening because local groups are campaigning hard where they see cyclists being treated as second class road users. Although many improvements are far from perfect, we are starting to see a step change in both provision and attitude.

An essential component of the Space for Cycling campaign is the Councillor sign-up tool and map. These help communicate public support for cycling to local politicians and display local political support to the public. Campaigns are rarely won without political will – hence the prominent positioning of the tool within the campaign.

Using the map, many of you took action and asked your Councillors to pledge support for Space for Cycling. Over 17,000 e-mails were sent to 6,002 Councillors across 168 local authorities – resulting in 744 Councillors supporting the national campaign (excluding London).

Thanks to local groups such as Bricycles and the Newcastle Cycling Campaign, entire councils have signed up in Brighton and Newcastle. Cities such as Nottingham and Manchester have attracted widespread support. Rural councils too, have given a clear message that utility cycling is not reserved for the urban domain - Somerset and Herefordshire both attracted the support of over 30% of their Councillors. It is no coincidence that places with a high level of support have seen some of the most significant improvements to cycling conditions.

However, as a result of local elections taking place since the campaign was in full swing, some of the Councillors who initially pledged support are no longer in office. A recent update of the map lost nearly 300 supportive Councillors. Herefordshire lost 14, Newcastle 22. Some authorities, such as Northumberland and the Isle of Anglesey, lost all of their supportive Councillors.

Space for Cycling is a campaign led nationally by Cycling UK, but very much relies upon the implementation and input of local campaign groups."

Tom Guha, Space for Cycling Campaign Officer 

To shift our map of Britain back to the greener end of the colour scale, we need everyone to use the tool to contact their Councillors – even if you have done so before. A green map supports local groups when they lobby their council for better infrastructure. A green map supports us in Cycling UK's national office, when we lobby Government to make the UK’s streets cycle-friendly.  

As we prepare to revive the national Space for Cycling campaign, the more political support we can show, the better. The political horizon is shifting, as are political structures. In May 2017, elections will be held for every council seat in England's shire counties, as well as in Welsh and Scottish councils. There will also be elections for 'Metro-Mayors' in some of the key metropolitan areas, such as Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region and potentially others too. We must ensure that these new decision-makers understand the case for investing in cycling, and are aware of the strength of the cycling vote.

Space for Cycling is becoming ever more important on Britain’s roads. Last month, on the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, the Faculty of Public Health published a report entitled Local Action to Mitigate the Health Impacts of Cars. The report clearly states:

“The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) recommends a 'major shift away from cars in favour of active travel: walking, cycling and public transport' in order to reduce the health harms of road transport and improve the health of the population and individuals”.

A shift away from cars to cycles is not only of major benefit to people’s health and the quality of air. A shift of this kind helps mitigate against global climate change, it can stimulate local economies and provide a net gain to our national GDP.

Improving infrastructure is the single most effective way of increasing the number of people taking up cycling. It is the logical thing for any local decision-maker to do. However, the voices best placed to convince them of this are yours - their constituents - the people they rely on to remain in office.

Please ask your Councillors to back our call for safe Space for Cycling today! 

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