Seeing as how most of the media will be crammed with the last hysterical cries of the opposing parties, we figured we’d best provide you with the information that you really want to make sure your ‘X’ hits the right spot.
The big suprise of our tireless investigation are the results from the Labour party. After several pages of the same old “we must avoid a CYCLE of boom and bust” qoutes we found a small mention of cycling in a very vague statement about investing 60 billion in trams and buses (though they’re investing 119 billion in trunk roads, trains and other schemes). The only glimmer of hope are their plans to introduce road tolls, and business parking charges in inner city areas to reduce traffic – the “congestion tax” as the tories call it.
Absolutely nothing appeared when we searched for “mountain biking” though, and there’s no hint of recreation and diversification being any part of their agricultural policy.
The Tories however are straight into the lead with cycling being listed as part of their “100 day unclog Britain transport scheme”. Alright we’re at the end of the list but hey at least the following sounds like they’ve done some thinking;
“Get Britain cycling
The last Conservative government supported and encouraged cycling as an environmentally-friendly and healthy transport alternative to the car. We launched the National Cycling Strategy and encouraged local authorities to make cycling safer and more attractive.
Labour, by contrast, have only paid lip service to cycling. Their integrated transport policy and the ten year transport plan contains little constructive policy. They have even abandoned the Conservative target to double the amount of cycling by 2002, despite endorsing it in 1998.
A new Conservative government will again listen to cyclists and introduce innovative new policies to get Britain cycling again.
In our first 100 days we shall meet with cycling organisations and representatives of local Government and draw up a timetable for implementing our pro-cyclist policies. These include:
– Encouraging local authorities to impose strict fines on people who park in bus or cycle lanes.
– Better information on cycle routes and local cycle provision
– ‘Cycle charter marks’ for authorities, schools and voluntary organisations who make good provision for cycling.”
There are also a fair few pro cycling speeches from Shadow transport minister Bernard Jenkin – who is a cyclist himself. “‘We will also encourage ways of segregating cycles from traffic and educating all road users in awareness of the dangers that cyclists face. And we will clamp down with strict fines or even impoundment of vehicles which park in a cycle or bus lane.” Now there won’t be many disagreeing with that even if you’re normally out selling Socialist worker.
As well as their transport man, Mr Jenkin, Matthew Wilson (Sheffield Brightside) and Andrew Robathan (ex – All party cycling group chairman) list cycling among their key interests, while Pamela Singleton (Pontefract), Debbie Lewis (Birmingham Hodge Hill) and Tim Mack (Brentford) even admit to being mountain bikers.
The Liberal democrats might suffer the same “generally ignored” plight as us riders, but they too list cycling on their priorities;
Their environment minister starts the ball rolling; “Liberal Democrats will deliver the policies to quadruple cycling by 2010. We will also introduce measures to increase the number of journeys made by foot, and reduce the number of short journeys made by car.
“Cycling is environmentally friendly, sustainable and an inexpensive mode of transport. But it has been all but ignored by the Government. Labour has backtracked on its target of doubling cycling by 2002 and has allowed investment in cycling to wither away.”
Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow DETR Secretary, said: “Liberal Democrats will introduce new planning policy guidance so that proposals for development must include cycle routes. We will require local authorities to include strategies for cycling and walking in Local Transport Plans.
“We will also require local authorities to develop School Travel Plans, to encourage children to cycle or walk to school in safety. A national programme of safe routes to school will underpin these plans.
Cyclists and walkers have had a raw deal from successive governments. Liberal Democrats will reverse this trend.
Dr Jenny Tonge MP said: “Measures must be introduced to make cycling and walking safe in cities and towns. Liberal Democrats will introduce a range of measures, including Home Zones in residential areas, to reduce road casualties by 40% by 2010.
“In rural areas, we will promote Quiet Lanes to reduce vehicle speeds and give priority to pedestrians and cyclists.” Again sounds like the recipe for a better biking future if, by some miracle, they ever get to power.
Those wanting to vote a rider into power, should put down their mark for Lewisham candidate
Richard Thomas who “is a keen photographer and cyclist. He is a member of Friends of the Earth, the London Cycle Campaign, Transport and General Workers Union and Charter 88.” while Nicola Davies (Edgbaston) “enjoys swimming, mountain biking and horse riding and has been an active rock climber and caver”. Phil Hobson (Manchester central) and Dave Willis (Sheffield Heeley) are also keen mountain bikers when they’re not being politico’s.
As you’d expect, the Green party site was full of cycling initiatives of a beard and sandal kind but failed to cough up anything wholeseome when we trawled about looking for mountain biking. Probably all that nasty erosion and daisy crushing we do.
Dissapointingly the “Crazeeeee, Whacky, Timmy Mallet world” of the Monster Raving Loony Party revealed nothing more than the political equivalent of a “you don’t have to be mad to work here…..” sign.
Socialist Worker weren’t forthcoming either though we suspect their cycling policy would revolve around compulsory ownership of a big red chinese bike, with nothing more than a utilitarian but totally functional 3 speed hub. Actually comrade, that sounds a bit bourgoise, better make it a singlespeed – the ultimate expression of mans struggle against the capitalist gravity oppressors.
What was most suprising is the level of detail the Independence party have put into their anti European mountain biking manifesto. Handlebars under 22″ and shock pressures that result in less than 20% sag would be made a treasonable offence. Riders caught in old euro roadie jerseys would be hung. Peugeot’s, Bianchi’s, Rotwild’s and all those Italian road bikes ending in ‘O’ would be handed in for replacement, with bikes from Pace, Dave Yates, Chas Roberts and a resurrected Raleigh, while all foreign transmission and brake components would have to be exchanged for Middleburn and Hope kit. Huge grants will also be offered to anyone who can make a decent rear mech, shifters and rims, as you can never get them British made anymore. Finally Brooks saddles would be compulsory.
OK, maybe that’s not all quite true.
So there you have it, who you vote for is none of our business and how much you believe that any of the pro cycling stuff would happen depends on your cycniciam / innocence balance, but that’s what they say.
All we suggest is riding to the ballot booth is probably the most effective political statement you’ll make today.