Senedd election candidates share vision to 'normalise' cycling and walking
- Cross party support for a more active Wales
- Event was organised by charities Cycling UK and Living Streets
- Cycling UK and Living Streets call on public to use online forms to show their support for active travel
- Recording available to watch below
Candidates for the Welsh Senedd elections on 6 May demonstrated a cross-party commitment to active travel in Wales at an online hustings last night.
The event, organised by Cycling UK and Living Streets, was chaired by BBC journalist Mark Hutchings, allowed campaigners and members of the public to ask the candidates about their plans to promote and facilitate cycling and walking if elected.
The candidates taking part were:
Helen Mary Jones MS, Plaid Cymru, Llanelli
Mia Rees, Conservatives, Cynon Valley
Lee Waters MS, Labour Party, Llanelli
David Wilkins, Liberal Democrats, Clwyd West
Anthony Slaughter, Green Party, South Wales Central, was unfortunately unable to attend.
While the parties’ plans differ in detail, all the candidates agreed on the importance of normalising active modes of travel if they are to become more widespread across Wales.
In his closing comments, David Wilkins said that there is a view that if you do not have a car “you are looked down on as a member of society. That’s where we need to focus our energy: on making cycling not ‘eccentric’, and making walking ‘everyday’.”
Lee Waters agreed, and highlighted the danger of active travel being “dragged into culture wars”, with cyclists and walkers being “othered”. “That’s why we have to make it a normal mainstream agenda,” he said.
Helen Mary Jones added that cycling and walking “should be normal modes of transport, and we have got to the point where they are not for many people.”
Mia Rees said that this change “doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and there does need to be an attitudinal shift, and I think once cycling is genuinely for everybody and walking is genuinely safe, then people are more likely to do it”.
Cycling UK and Living Streets both recently published Welsh election manifestos, laying out their vision for a Wales where people feel safer cycling, wheeling and walking, the air is cleaner, and more of the population chooses active travel for essential journeys to school and work. Both charities are calling on the public to complete online petitions to show their support for these manifestos (Cycling UK action; Living Streets action).
We welcome the candidates’ support of active travel at tonight’s event, and we’re asking the next Senedd to commit to delivering the aspirations of the Active Travel (Wales) Act and ensure that cycling is a viable option in both rural and urban communities
Gwenda Owen, engagement office for Wales, Cycling UK
Gwenda Owen, engagement officer for Wales, Cycling UK, said “At Cycling UK we believe that everyone has the right to cycle, to access safe routes, and to be given the skills to cycle with confidence. We know that increasing cycling and walking can improve health, help the environment and bring huge benefits to all our lives.
“We welcome the candidates’ support of active travel at tonight’s event, and we’re asking the next Senedd to commit to delivering the aspirations of the Active Travel (Wales) Act and ensure that cycling is a viable option in both rural and urban communities. “We were especially pleased to see the Plaid Cymru candidate commit to our manifesto target of allocating 10% of the transport budget to active travel, and would call on the other parties to follow suit.”
Rhiannon Hardiman, manager, Living Streets Cymru, said: “Walking has been a lifeline during the pandemic, helping people stay active, healthy and connected. In the run up to the Senedd 2021 election, we need politicians to commit to creating walkable neighbourhoods, reducing car dependency, tackling loneliness, improving air quality and getting more people walking. This, in turn, can lead to safer, happier and healthier communities.
“The next Welsh Government needs to ensure that investment in walking is prioritised so that people are encouraged to walk more on streets that are safer, cleaner and less congested and we welcome the commitments made by candidates at tonight's event to ensure that as many people as possible can choose walking as an everyday activity."
Notes to editors
- Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often: www.cyclinguk.org
- Cycling UK Cymru’s vision is for a Wales where more everyday journeys involve active travel, our countryside is more accessible, the air is cleaner, and our health and wellbeing are prioritised. See https://www.cyclinguk.org/paragraphs/senedd-cymru-election-vision-cycling-nation.
- Living Streets Cymru is part of the UK charity for everyday walking. We want to create a nation where walking is the natural choice for everyday, local journeys; free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illnesses and social isolation. See https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/about-us/wales.
- Cycling UK Cymru’s online action to support the manifesto is available in English (https://action.cyclinguk.org/page/76658/petition/1) and Welsh (https://action.cyclinguk.org/page/76715/petition/1).
- Living Streets’ online action is available in English and Welsh at https://e-activist.com/page/78801/action/1
Press contact information
For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Rob Kingston on 07880 424 912 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713 or email email@example.com