Will you Vote Bike this May?
While the prospect of a potential Brexit might be top of most people’s agenda, before the UK has the chance to make this collective decision, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections will be held on 5 May - not to mention all the local and mayoral elections too!
That’s why this week Cycling UK President, Jon Snow, is writing to candidates for the Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh and PCC elections asking them to support cycling should they be successful in their campaign for office.
Unsurprisingly across each and every one of our actions there is a common theme: funding."
Cycling UK is primarily focussing on ensuring candidates for the Welsh Assembly and PCC elections are aware of the key issues relating to cycling, and providing voters with an insight into their candidates’ views. We are also supporting the ongoing collaborative campaign, ‘We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote’ in Scotland and working with local campaign groups in Northern Ireland to push the cycling agenda.
With so many elections going on, tracking down all of Cycling UK’s activities is going to be a bit tricky. We’ve therefore created a single portal for all our activities and news at: www.cyclinguk.org/votebike
Unsurprisingly across each and every one of our actions there is a common theme: funding.
In Scotland, Jon has asked MSP candidates to pledge their support to provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking that reaches 10% of the transport budget as called for in the collaborative campaign of ‘We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote’. This funding for cycling and walking will help ensure the further two pledges of building and maintaining dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle; and promoting and delivering safer roads can become a reality.
‘We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote’ has already contacted the majority of MSP candidates seeking their views on these three areas of investment, infrastructure and safety. You can check out your potential representative’s views online at: www.walkcyclevote.scot/candidate-info
Similarly in Northern Ireland, Jon is asking candidates from the main stream parties to consider cycling in their patch. Cycling UK is therefore working with local campaign NI Greenways and Sustrans Northern Ireland ask Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) candidates to lock in annual cycling investment between £10 and £25 per head of population.
Additionally, we’re supporting calls for the building of a 600 mile plus greenway network across Northern Ireland using predominantly the former railways which silently wind their way through much of the country. Similar greenways across the border in County Mayo have seen the local economy benefit by €7m each year through increased tourism and local employment, and such a network could help make Northern Ireland one of the top long distance, long stay cycling holiday destinations.
In Wales, the funding for cycling theme of at least £10 per head continues. While Wales has the most progressive and forward thinking cycling policy throughout the British Isles, progress in its realisation is hampered by funding. The Welsh Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee’s report ‘Active Travel: The Start of the Journey’ published at the end of February, backing Cycling UK’s call for funding, called on the Welsh Government to set up a specific budget line dedicated to supporting active travel.
We want to see as many Welsh Assembly candidates as possible to back the cross party committee’s call for funding and see cycling in Wales take off subsequently. We will also ask candidates to support the Welsh Government’s recent call into adopting Scottish style open access laws, and backing our recommendations as outlined in our Trails for Wales campaign.
In many ways, the Police and Crime Commissioners elections in England and Wales are the poor cousins to the devolved nations elections. However, for the future of safer roads policing they are an important part of our ongoing Road Justice campaign.
Resource for roads policing, both funding and numbers, has been eroding for over a decade. There has been at least a 37% drop in overall police staff on our roads since 2003, while overall cuts to total police numbers over the same period have been 3.5%. Cycling UK sees a visible police presence as one of the best deterrents for illegal driving. Jon has therefore asked Police and Crime Commissioners to restore funding for roads policing, so as to improve road safety for everyone and ensure that those who create danger are brought to justice.
Next week, we will begin to publish the responses we receive as a result of Jon’s letters and also in the case for Wales and the PCC elections begin calling on our supporters to write to their candidates as well. Make sure to like us on Facebook or Twitter, sign up to Cycle Clips or check back at www.cyclinguk.org/votebike as we will be announcing further updates on how the campaigns are proceeding up till 5 May in all these fora.
With your support we are making cycling part of the UK election agenda!