Croydon Central Election Candidates Respond to Questions on Cycling

The CTC has been helping cyclists question their election candidates ahead of the 2015 general election. In Croydon Central, responses have been received by Sarah Jones of the Labour Party, James Robert Fearnley of the Liberal Democrats, Gavin Barwell of the Conservative Party and April Ashley of TUSC. No responses have at present been received for Green party or UKIP

Sarah Jones – Labour
I love cycling and it’s something everyone should be able to enjoy safely.

I believe ‘active travel’ can and should be the default option for short journeys, but I agree we need ambition and political leadership to make this happen and increase cycling levels. That is why the Labour Party has committed to making it easier and safer for people in Britain to cycle. This will also deliver significant benefits for congestion, the environment, our economy, and for people’s health and quality of life too.

I’ve been disappointed with the Government’s record over the past five years. Upon entering office in 2010 they axed ambitious targets to reduce road deaths and serious injuries for cyclists and pedestrians, scrapped Cycling England with its long term £60 million annual budget, and have increased HGV speed limits on rural roads. In August 2013 David Cameron promised a ‘cycling revolution’ but it took over a year for his Government to publish Cycling Delivery Plan and it contained no meaningful targets or long term funding.

This Government’s stop-start funding announcements have failed to help local areas plan ahead and invest in cycling infrastructure for the future. Half of all local councils have had to cut spending on cycling since 2010, and under the current Government’s plans funding for cycling schemes is set to fall off a cliff after 2016. Ending this short-term approach is crucial and that’s why Labour’s Shadow Roads Minister tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill at Committee Stage to require the Secretary of State for Transport to set a long-term commitment and funding settlement to increase rates of both walking and cycling.

The Government voted against our amendment for a cycling and walking strategy, but after concerted pressure and a successful campaign from cycling, transport and health organisations I am pleased that they finally amended the Infrastructure Bill to include it.

I also wanted to let you know that Labour has set out a number of measures to deliver safer streets. That includes learning the lessons from Labour Government’s Active Travel Legislation in Wales – to ensure we work with local authorities to improve the walking and cycling environment in all communities – and restoring targets to cut deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Labour has also committed to devolving significant powers and funding for transport to strong city and country regions to enable them to deliver better transport options for local people, including safer cycling and walking.

James Robert Fearnley – Liberal Democrats
I have responded to the Vote Bike’s survey and was happy to support all of the measures they are calling for.

I am determined that Britain becomes a cycling nation that can rival our European neighbours and I am proud of the Liberal Democrat record in Government on cycling.

Since 2010, we have invested £588m in cycling, including match funding, almost trebling the investment the last Labour Government made in the previous Parliament. We spent a further £159m in 2012 to create better cycle links for communities, improve cycle facilities at railway stations and create more cycle-friendly layouts at road junctions.

We also introduced a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy to ensure there is a clear plan to support cycling and walking schemes and spell out how they will be paid for. It will also build on the £1.5m we made available to support the Active Travel Consortium to build capacity in local government to deliver local cycling and walking strategies.

Making our roads as safe as possible for cyclists is vital and I want to see more done on road safety and a greater roll-out of Trixi mirrors at busy junctions (which this Government has started), so that more people can be encouraged to ride on our roads with confidence.

Going forward, Liberal Democrats want to implement the measures contained in the Get Britain Cycling report; update planning laws so that all new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport; and increase the amount spent per head on cycling to £10 per head within existing budgets.

Gavin Barwell – Conservatives
Cycling means better health, less pollution, and less congestion, so we want it to be the natural choice for shorter journeys. Our aim is to double cycling by 2025.

That’s why we’ve been working through our long-term economic plan, cutting the deficit whilst also making the investment needed, with investment in cycling quadrupled in this Parliament. When we came to office in 2010, spending on cycling was £2 per person, it is now £6 per person and we have already stated in the cycling delivery plan that we want spending to be £10 per person each year.

We want more people travelling by bike to realise our ambition to make the UK truly a cycling nation – something we can only afford if we keep a strong economy.

We have a delivery plan to double cycling by 2025. The delivery plan sets out action to improve local leadership, funding, infrastructure, planning and safety so that we can promote cycling and address the concerns and problems that are stopping more people from cycling. By 2020/21 we want cycle funding worth £10 per person each year, building on the additional investment that has been made in this Parliament.

Investment in cycling has quadrupled this Parliament. From 2010/11 to 2014/15 £438 million is being invested in cycling, compared to £105 million from 2005/06 to 2009/10. This investment includes £63 million to Cycling England, £94 million for the Cycling Cities and National Parks fund and £35 million for the cycle safety fund.

Increasing training available. Bikeability is the new name for the Cycling Proficiency Scheme. This year more children will enjoy Bikeability training than ever before, and almost three-quarters of a million more will get training over the next two years, with funding committed to in 2015/16.

Changing the rules for signs and road markings so that roads can be made safer for cyclists. We have cut red-tape to give local authorities more flexibility to make sure signs and road markings are safer for cyclists. We are trialling new dedicated cycle streets which would allow councils to put cyclists and motorists on an equal footing on popular cycle routes by banning overtaking.

Funding cycling infrastructure at stations. We are providing £15 million for cycling facilities at train stations so that people know they can park at stations securely.

For your information, I recently went out with the Croydon Cycling Campaign to look at the quality of cycling provision in the town centre.

April Ashley – TUSC
I am keenly aware of the need to properly invest in measures
to improve cycling safety and to encourage people of all ages to
consider greater use of cycling and other means of sustainable
transport over inefficient and environmentally¬ damaging individual car

I live in London and I know there are real dangers to cyclists
from the lack of investment in genuine traffic- free cycle lanes,
particularly at busy junctions and, as cuts to council services
continue, from deteriorating road surfaces and potholes too. Training
for cyclists and drivers alike, as well as expansion of secure storage
facilities, e.g at rail stations and on trains themselves, would all
also encourage cycle use. All of us who have cycled in, say, Belgium or
the Netherlands, know how far behind we are in providing these kind of

These developments need to be part of a plan for an
integrated public transport system across the capital with much-reduced
fares and increased capacity to encourage drivers to switch from cars
to other forms of transport.

Of course, all this requires resources.
However, CTC’s hope that Local Authorities, health bodies and schools
might help in encouraging increased cycle use comes up against the fact
that all of these organisations face budget cuts, cuts that all of the
main parties are committed to continuing with if they are elected to
Government after May 7. It needs more than fine words to support
cycling, it needs a genuine commitment to stop cuts and to start
investing in our future.

TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist
Coalition, is proud to make that commitment. We know that there is
plenty of wealth available to meet needs, including the development of
greater cycle use. Parties wedded to the 1% who hold that wealth are
not going to deliver for the 99%. TUSC will.