Politicians in tandem? It seems that all the political parties are now getting on their bike and pedalling together, on-message.
At their annual party conference this week, the Liberal Democrats voted in support of their “Cycling Reform” proposals to create a cycling budget of at least £10 per person per year and to insist that local authorities design safe cycling routes on their roads.
Only two weeks ago, Labour announced its “cycling manifesto”, which pledged to create “long-term funding” for cycling and to carry out Cycle Safety Assessments when new roads are being planned.
It’s no coincidence. When 100 MPs met in Parliament to debate measures proposed in the recent “Get Britain Cycling” report, the call was to “Let’s get the parties to compete to produce the best manifesto for cycling at the election.”
More investment needed...
Of course, all these “pro-cycling” plans, which are likely to be part of manifesto policies in the “run up” to the 2015 election do appear to follow quickly on the heels of the coalition government’s recently announced £94 million investment fund for cycling over the next three years.
Concerned cycle organisations said at the time that investment needed to be raised to £10 per head of population not just limited to the eight cities who all successfully bid for their share of the cycle infrastructure funding. According to the British Cycling group, “Around 2% of journeys people make in this country are by bike so we need to see 2% of the country’s transport spending allocated to cycling.”
Rise in cycling – and cyclist injuries...
The issue of cycling safety has been a long hard road travelled with far too many casualties and bicycle accident claims along the way. The number of people who have taken to commuting to work by bicycle has increased by 17% to more than 760,000 in the last ten years. However, in 2011 a Transport Committee report revealed that just in the last five years, the number of cyclist injuries doubled from 2,958 in 2006 to 4,497.
In June 2013, The Department of Transport (DfT) released new figures which show that cyclist fatalities rose by 10% from 107 in 2011 to 118 in 2012, and between 2012 and 2013 serious injuries increased for the eighth consecutive year, this time by 4% to 3,222.
Most cyclists, and other road users, are convinced that nothing less than a complete segregation of the cyclist from all other road traffic is the ultimate answer to reducing the rise in cyclist accidents and fatalities. To date, local authorities seem to do little more than paint white lines for a few hundred yards only down the side of the highway, which cause confusion among cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
Party political pledges to fund cycling safety need to translate to tracks on the ground – or will the pledges disappear as suddenly after the election as painted lines seem to do on the high street?