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

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One thought on “Considerate Cycling 52: A letter to my MP about Space for Cycling

  1. Today I had a reply and here it is:
    Dear friend,

    Thank you for contacting me recently regarding investment in cycling and walking.

    I agree that there are huge transport and health benefits that encouraging cycling and walking would tap into. They are good for public health and reducing congestion and the Government needs to back them to capitalise upon these benefits. Cycling and walking need to be consistently promoted across the country.

    As a lifelong cyclist, I have been disappointed by the Government’s record on cycling over the past five years. For example, the Government scrapped Cycling England with its long-term £60 million annual budget and last year it was reported that half of all local councils have had to cut spending on walking and cycling since 2010.

    In the recent Spending Review the Government made cuts to the Department for Transport’s operating budget of 37 per cent. Following substantial pressure from Living Streets, Sustrans and others the Local Sustainable Transport Fund survived the cuts, however dedicated cycling funding has been cut by over 50%.

    It’s incredibly disappointing that it is now apparent that the Government does not have a plan to meet its aim to increase spending on cycling to £10 per person each year.

    I am also concerned by the figures highlighted by Living Streets which show an increase in the proportion of primary school aged children being driven to school at the expense of walking. The opposition front bench previously pressured the Government to amend the Infrastructure Bill to commit Ministers to producing a long-term funding plan for walking and cycling, but following their failure to address the issue in the Spending Review, this commitment is now in doubt.

    I am disappointed by the Government’s slow progress on the long awaited Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. I will continue to holding the Government to their promise to produce a meaningful strategy that sets out clear, long term funding – as well as pressing the case for restoring national safety targets.

    Thank you once again for writing to me and sharing your views. I hope this letter outlines my strong commitment to cycling and walking. If you would like to stay up to date with my work as your MP, please see my blog.

    Yours sincerely,

    Thangam Debbonaire, MP

    Member of Parliament for Bristol West

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