Somerset and Hereford support Space for Cycling

Councillors supporting Space for Cycling by Highway Authority - 16 December 2014
Somerset has became the first shire county with over 30% of its councillors committed to Space for Cycling. Since then, Hereford County Council has followed with 47% of councillors backing the campaign.

“As an authority we want to see more people cycling, it’s good for people’s health and means fewer cars on the road and less congestion." So says Councillor Harvey Siggs, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Somerset County Council.  This month, the local authority became the first shire county council with over 30% of councillors backing the national Space for Cycling campaign, funded by the Bicycle Association’s 'Bike Hub' levy.  

Jonathan Sladden, Campaigns Officer for Cycle Somerset explained how they secured these political commitments. “Forty percent of Somerset County Councillors have responded to a survey conducted by Cycle Somerset. The health benefits of cycling were recognised and most were keen to support initiatives which help people to cycle safely. There were, however, some concerns about constraints in relation to road layout and financing of initiatives. After carefully studying their replies Cycle Somerset have decided  to identify difficult junctions and hazardous roads in the towns of Somerset. This will enable local councils to spend their scarce resources in a more effective manner."

As an authority we want to see more people cycling, it’s good for people’s health and means fewer cars on the road and less congestion."

Councillor Harvey Siggs 

Securing the commitment of councillors to cycling is an important step on the long road to improving infrastructure. It is important to reach councillors who sit on planning and transport committees, approve budgets and (ideally) scrutinise new schemes. 

Nonetheless, identifying political allies is a useful campaign tactic and CTC wishes to applaud Cycle Somerset's hard work for galvanising support for the Space for Cycling campaign. CTC Space for Cycling Campaigner Robbie Gillet said: "By encouraging councillors to sign up to Space for Cycling, activists can better understand the political landscape around them.  Does the political will currently exist at to implement cycle-friendly design standards?  Is more work needed to convince decision-makers of the benefits of cycling? If the political will is there, how can more more funding be levered into improved infrastructure? Does my local councillor back cycling in my area? These are all questions that Space for Cycling is helping local campaigners to answer."  

However, since passing the 30% mark, Hereford County Council has since overtaken Somerset with 27 out of 58 county councillors (47%) also backing the campaign. Like Somerset, this is down to some determined campaigning from local group Cycle Hereford.  Local Hereford campaigner Paige Mitchell notes, "We’ll keep going until it’s 100 percent. Reminding councillors of this level of support will be important when the budget for the 2015-16 Local Transport Plan is being allocated.  There’s a lot to play for with £100m just awarded to the Highways Agency for investment in cycling infrastructure on the strategic highway network."  

How does your local authority compare?  Check out our online map of supportive councillors.

Want to know how you can get involved in local campaign?  See CycleNation's map of local campaign groups to find a contact near you.