Labour pledge £10 per head for cycling and walking if elected

Andy McDonald, centre, said a Labour Government would invest £10 per head annually in high quality cycling and walking infrastructure

Labour pledge £10 per head for cycling and walking if elected

At a Space for Cycling rally at the Labour Party conference, organised by Cycling UK and Bricycles, the Labour Party pledged to commit a budget of £10 per head to cycling and walking if elected to Government.

On Monday evening on the Brighton seafront, against a pink sunset obscured slightly by the iconic burnt out west pier, forty or so people gathered armed with bikes, a public address system and flags, to rally for high quality Space for Cycling.  

We were at the Labour Party conference and despite the hectic conference schedule, various familiar faces popped by to add their support.

As we set up, Dennis Skinner, the veteran backbencher known for his quips before the Queen’s Speech, recounted how he used to cycle to Parliament regularly – and do laps around Hyde Park when time permitted - until his bike was stolen from outside the House of Commons. As we kicked off, Diane Abbot walked by and encouraged us with, “everyone cycles in Hackney!”

Speaking at the event were Labour members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, Fabian Hamilton MP and Stephen Morgan MP. The main speaker was Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Andy McDonald MP. We were also joined by local councillors from a range of parties.

At the rally, Mr McDonald announced that a Labour government is committed to spending £10 per head on promoting cycling and walking, a first from the Labour Party.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr McDonald said, "Our country is blighted by illegal air pollution, crippling congestion and a public health crisis. Cycling and walking can holistically address all these issues in an efficient, cost-effective way. Labour is committed to ensuring that potential is met and is committed to revolutionising our transport system through cycling and walking."

Fabian Hamilton MP said he was “thrilled” at the pledge, adding, “we need a radical shift in our transport system and we are committed to making sure that happens."

The announcement certainly is a landmark one. Although previous Labour Party manifestos have given warm words to cycling – and many Labour MPs have been highly supportive of our aims – this is the first time the party have committed funds to their ambitions. 

Of the 2017 party manifestos, the Liberal Democrats’ was the only one to attach a financial commitment to their cycling policies. They pledged to implement the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling Report, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, which is where the £10 per head figure derives from.

Our country is blighted by illegal air pollution, crippling congestion and a public health crisis. Cycling and walking can holistically address all these issues in an efficient, cost-effective way. Labour is committed to ensuring that potential is met and is committed to revolutionising our transport system through cycling and walking.

Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 

Around the country, local political leaders of all colours have ambitiously pursued high investment in cycling. Just two weeks ago the new Conservative mayor of the West Midlands committed to finding funding for cycling worth £10 per head annually. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan earlier this year announced funding to the value of £17 per head annually.

There are a number of local authorities making similar commitments. Earlier this year Conservative controlled Cheshire East council allocated 8.5% of their transport budget to cycling. Various other places, like Cambridge and Leicester, have made fantastic inroads investing in cycling locally. And let’s not forget Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that the Scottish Government’s will double spending on cycling across Scotland to £13.50 per head annually.

Current UK Government spending on cycling, excluding London, is estimated at roughly £1.90 per person annually – and is set to nosedive to just 72p by 2020.

That so many devolved and local authorities are continuing to invest in cycling, despite the shortfall in central Government support, demonstrates the local eagerness to unlock the many benefits cycling can bring. However, without central government support, the “cycling revolution” will struggle.  

The commitment made by Labour at the Space for Cycling rally is a significant step in that direction. We hope that other parties – and the Government – will now follow suit, so we truly can Get Britain Cycling!

In the meantime, if you want to get your local council to commit some funding to build Space for Cycling, why not ask your councillors to table a motion?   

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