Why the next Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs should care about cycling

Jim Densham's picture

Why the next Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs should care about cycling

Devolution has meant decision making on transport issues largely resides with your home nation, so is there any reason why your next MP should care about cycling and walking? Jim Densham, Cycling UK’s Campaigns and Policy Manager in Scotland, explains why it should matter.

What will you ask general election candidates on the doorstep, in the High Street, or even on Twitter? What will they do about the Climate Emergency, the NHS, or spending on cycling?

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If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland spending on cycling and much of transport policy is decided in your home nation rather than in Westminster, so as people who cycle and want easier and safer cycling, why should we be bothered about what prospective MPs have to say about it? Should we ask them to support cycling and walking - is it worth asking them to pledge their support?

Devolution has seen huge amounts of decision-making power on all sorts of everyday issues move away from London, but not everything is devolved and MPs can still champion cycling. If candidates do get to realise their dream of sitting on the green leather benches they can vote on all sorts of issues related to cycling, speak in debates, sit on a transport committee, or be part of devising their party’s next manifesto.

MPs from Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland can have influence and make conditions for cycling better, even if they can’t influence day to day decisions on, for example, creating a new cycle route in Wrexham, Lisburn or Inverness.   

People put themselves forward for election for all sorts of reasons – altruistic or otherwise – but unless they are a scholar of politics and government few will grasp the full range of issues that MPs have to consider and vote on.

Devolution has seen huge amounts of decision-making power on all sorts of everyday issues move away from London, but not everything is devolved and MPs can still champion cycling.

It’s good to ask candidates to support the needs of cycling because it lets them know that it’s an important issue that people care about and needs action. Even if they lose (and obviously most candidates do) they will probably still be involved in local politics and in their party branches so the effort to ask them to support cycling is worthwhile.

You never know what might happen to that losing candidate. At the next election at Holyrood, the Welsh Assembly or Stormont they might stand again, win their seat, and become a transport spokesperson for their party or sit on a health committee.

So, what are you going to ask the candidates who want your vote?

The underfunding of cycling and active travel is an urgent issue wherever you live in the UK. Every nation needs more money dedicated to creating new cycle lanes, install secure cycle parking, provide projects to help kids get cycling – there is so much that could be done.

We need general election candidates to pledge support for increased investment in cycling and walking to at least 5% of transport spending next year, rising to at least 10% within five years.

There’s no guarantee that a rosette-wearing candidate will knock on your door or that you will meet them in the street. So, to help you get your voice heard, Cycling UK has set up an online tool so you can ask them to pledge this support. It's easy to use.

We need healthy places to live, safer streets, and more money spent on modes of transport which reduces our carbon footprint.

We need to ask for these from the people who want to represent us in Westminster.

We need champions for cycling in the House of Commons so please contact your candidates and ask them to pledge their support.

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