At the successful launch of British Cycling’s #ChooseCycling manifesto on 10 February, the government’s minister for cycling, Robert Goodwill, and shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, were both in attendance to lend their support for British Cycling’s plans to turn the UK into a cycling nation to rival Denmark and Holland.
With a general election just around the corner in 2015, British Cycling has long called for strong political leadership to help the cause of making cycling safer on the roads and for cycling to be a key part of all of the parties election manifestos. The comments from both parties represented at the manifesto launch were extremely encouraging.
Speaking first, Robert Goodwill thanked Chris Boardman for his tireless commitment and support for cycling in this country, before setting out plans to improve HGV safety. He said:
“You might have heard the suggestion that we are blocking efforts by the EU to improve safety. That is not quite right. We have recently launched the Industrial HGV Task Force in London. Police and DVSA inspectors are targeting the worst cases and will take co-ordinated action. We want regulation that will improve the driver’s view around their HGV and we want these to be implemented from June this year.
“Last month, we issued a document to start a discussion on improving highways maintenance funding, including for cycling and walking. We asked whether around £50 million a year should be held back to encourage better cycleway and footpath maintenance.”
Goodwill also announced that work will shortly commence on a number of cycle proofing schemes and confirmed that work would start on that day to cycle proof the A30 in Ashford.
He was followed to the stage by shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, who, after talking about her own experiences of riding her bike with her children, set out what the next Labour government would do to encourage cycling. She said:
“We would encourage dedicated separate safe cycling routes. We would also introduce a new Cycle Safety Assessment to cycle-proof new road schemes. Road engineers will have to include cycling at the design stage, not as an afterthought.
“Your manifesto calls for more political leadership. A Labour government would restore national targets to cut deaths and serious injuries. Alongside this we would set clear goals to increase the numbers of people cycling. We would set out clear duties on local authorities to support cycling and walking. The Labour government in Wales has already done this.
“Educating children and young people to cycle safely leads to more experienced and confident cyclists on the road later on, so Labour would support schemes like Bikeability to give children every opportunity to learn to cycle.”
Creagh also spoke about the action that is needed to improve the safety of HGVs:
“Making our roads safer for cyclists also requires action on heavy goods vehicles. Despite making up just six per cent of traffic, they are involved in around 20% of all cycling fatalities. This cannot continue. Labour’s HGV Safety Charter calls on operators to fit all new and existing HGVs with safety measures – including rear-view camers, rear warning signs for cyclists and flashing lights and beacons by the end of next year. By the end of 2017 we want all HGVs fitted with audible warning systems for drivers, sideguards and blind-spot elimination devices.”As the 2015 general election draws closer, British Cycling will continue to lobby all political parties to ensure that cycling is adequately addressed in party manifestos.