Considerate Cycling 52: A letter to my MP about Space for Cycling

Cycling in Bristol

I have just sent off an email to my MP, the Labour Member for Clifton West in Bristol. I used the template from a CTC mailout to make my own case:

To: Ms Thangam Debbonaire, MP Bristol West
Subject: Please back Funding for Cycling

Dear Thangam,

I am a member of Bristol Cycling Campaign and of the CTC, whose members are being asked to send you an email about funds for cycling that will fall to local authorities to provide out of steadily diminishing resources.

I have used the CTC’s campaign letter as a basis for what I would like to say, but I have tried to add some things that reflect the situation I am in and leave out lots of things that I’m sure you will already  be seeing in other emails.

Firstly,  I would urge you to back a call from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) for annual funding of at least £10 per person for cycling, rising as quickly as possible to £20 or more. Adrian Davis, who has done a lot of work for public health in Bristol has published summaries of the work that has been done to show how the cost benefits of spending on shifts towards more cycling have disproportionate benefits in other spending areas – reducing the costs of ill-health and casualties (for example) by more than the amounts spent on cycling. (http://travelwest.info/project/ee-30-cost-benefit-analysis-of-walking-and-cycle-track-network)

Prime Minister David Cameron and cycling minister Robert Goodwill MP both backed spending of at least £10 per person during this year’s general election campaign.  Yet the media reports that even this minimal investment may still not be forthcoming. This really should be challenged.

As a retired person, living in a block of retirement flats in Clifton I have the advantage of a bicycle and plenty of places within easy reach so I don’t need a car. I can visit family in Easton and Lockleaze, 3 miles away, without difficulty.

But I am an experienced cyclist who is still in good health.

I would like my granddaughter to be able to cycle over to see me and her Granny as soon as she is old enough (at about 10)  – perhaps bringing her Mum, Dad or Uncle with her. As I will be into my 70s by then I would still like to cycle the journey myself sometimes. The hills are no problem (I will go more slowly or possibly add electric assistance) but the way the roads are laid out and managed at present give so much privilege to the rapid movement of motor vehicles and so little support to cycling that I can see a time not far off when the conflict will seem too much of a hazard.

Children and older people really should be able to cycle across our compact city without competing so much with motor vehicles. Even on quiet 20mph streets motor traffic can still  be very hostile (as Bristol’s casualty data make clear) .The cost of rearranging things will not be anywhere near as high as past expenditures on road building so I would see it as not a “luxury we can’t afford” but a “necessity that can help us survive better in the future”

As your constituent I would therefore urge you to support the APPCG’s letter and call for a proper degree of funding for cycling (and, indeed for walking).

Your support will help ensure we have safer streets, cleaner air, a healthier population and more funds in the public coffers. I hope I can count on your support for cycling, a means of transport which is one of the biggest and most worthwhile projects of all.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Saunders