Space for Cycling 2015 – Political party statements

This is part of the Space for Cycling initiative. Read more here.

We have requested from each of the following parties who have registered a candidate for one of the Newcastle constituencies their vision for cycling in Newcastle.

We will post their replies as and when they arrive.

Labour Party
Liberal Democrats
Northern Communists
The Green Party

Awaiting replies:
Northeast Party
The Conservatives
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition


Labour Party

Our vision is to make Newcastle Fit for Cycling by delivering a transformational change to our infrastructure. The Labour Council aims to make Newcastle a place that is safe and pleasant to cycle in, a place where reaching for your bike instead of your car keys becomes a natural and normal thing to do.

We want to enable the people in this city, of all ages and abilities to feel safe and empowered to consider cycling to be a realistic choice for them to get out and about. Since leading the City Council Labour have set targets to significantly increase cycling for everyday trips and for this to happen we recognise that providing space for cycling is key to achieving our ambition.  The Labour Council supports the principles of the local and national campaigns around this and recognises that delivering improvements for cycling starts with better and safer infrastructure. Through our Re-Newcastle programme and the investment we have made in our infrastructure we are beginning to see the delivery of a more cycle friendly City.  However we are only just beginning in this transformation and the Labour Council does recognise that there is more needed to be done. We are working to deliver ambitious new cycle infrastructure schemes through the £15m Cycle City Ambition Grant we have won.

Many people will be aware of the plan to transform John Dobson Street from a four lane road carrying through traffic to a single lane road that maintains access to shops and services. This scheme, at its heart, will provide improved areas for people and importantly, dedicated segregated cycle facilities.  These type of schemes that manage traffic more intelligently and create safe space for cycling and walking will become a feature of how the Labour Council plan to develop our city over the next few years. We believe it will help to achieve our commitment to making Newcastle one of the safest and easiest cities to get around.

Safe and accommodating infrastructure is crucial and Labour’s plans are not solely focused on the city centre. We aim to expand and enhance pedestrian and cycle networks between the city centre and surrounding residential areas as well as linking to neighbouring authorities. We will work to improve all elements of people’s door-to-door journeys and to ensure their neighbourhoods are decent, where cycling is safe and seen as an everyday activity.

Labour Councillors want Newcastle to be the best place it can be and its people to have access to opportunities. We want to make sure parents and carers feel safe letting their kids cycle to school – and that young people want to cycle to school. We want to ensure that older people feel confident enough to cycle and are able to do so on safe and well planned routes.

We believe that if we design infrastructure that works for the youngest and the oldest, it will work for everyone else too. That is the type of design philosophy used in other European cities that are places for people and it is the design philosophy we are embedding in our designs for our great city.  In addition to our plans for infrastructure improvement, we recognise the importance of giving people the confidence they need to make cycling a normal and easy choice. Whether it is training, organised and guided rides, or even big events that give people the confidence to cycle they all have their place and we will continue to support them.

It is Labour’s view that cycling can make a significant contribution to delivering the Council’s four priorities which guide our focus , efforts and resources to make a positive difference to the city. These are:

A Fit for Purpose Council – a council which leads by enabling others to achieve.

In February 2012 the Council adopted its cycle strategy; the overarching aim of this is to develop a cycling culture in our city. It also identifies our major strategic and key routes that will be developed as well as setting ambitious targets to increase the levels of cycling in the city.  The Council has also recently adopted its Local Plan that will guide decisions on development until 2030. This sets out the spatial planning framework to deliver economic prosperity and create lifetime neighbourhoods. The document sets out that we will manage and develop our transport system to support growth and provide sustainable access for all and the policies promote the protection and enhancement of our cycle networks.

Alongside our plans and policies, Newcastle City Council has secured over £15m in Cycle City Ambition funding from the Department of Transport to begin the implementation of our strategy.

Working City – creating good quality jobs and helping local people develop the skills to do them.

Cycling is an important form of transport and its promotion will help achieve more sustainable patterns of living and make our communities thriving and attractive places to live and work. It will contribute to the economic growth of the city by cutting congestion and giving people more reliable and predictable journeys to work, and improving the accessibility of key employment areas.

A key element of our future work is based around routes to and from work by improving the quality of strategic routes to Newcastle City Centre, the region’s most significant employment hub. This will provide direct links from the surrounding areas, particularly areas with high levels of commuters to the major centers of Newcastle and Gateshead. A key feature of the strategic routes will be the amount of road space that will be given over to create convenient, attractive and safe cycling routes in and around the City.

Decent neighbourhoods – working with local communities to look after each other and the environment.

A decent neighbourhood is one that has a clean, green and safe environment.   A key element of our work in the next few years will be focused on the area around the home. By starting at home and improving the immediate surroundings, it makes the prospect of cycling or walking to local amenities and facilities more attractive.  This includes us engaging with communities to enable people to have the chance to work with us to change the way the place they live works and feels. We have done some of these projects in areas such as South and West Jesmond, Heaton, Heaton Park Road, Ouseburn and Fenham and intend to do more.

Tackling Inequality – tackling discrimination and inequalities which prevent people from fulfilling their true potential.

Cycling has a key role to play in increasing people’s physical activity and improving the health of the local population. It can help to ensure everyone has the opportunity to choose a healthy lifestyle.  Both phases of our Cycle City Ambition have a strong emphasis on working with public health and developing programmes that target older people, ethnic minority communities and other hard to reach groups.

Alongside the Cycle City Ambition Funding, Newcastle City Council has allocated £776,000 of public health funding to a behaviour change programme.  A marketing programme, ‘Cycling in the City’ has recently been launched and as part of this initiative we offer cycle training, maintenance sessions and training, led rides and a development programme to recruit and train cycle champions.

Nationally the Labour Party has given its commitment with Labour’s cycling plans.

  • Tough new rules for HGVs.
  • A Cycle Safety Assessment of all new road schemes.
  • Give local authorities greater responsibility to support cycling.
  • End the stop-start approach to supporting cycling infrastructure.
  • Encourage more people to commute to work by bike.
  • Ensure that children and young people have every opportunity to cycle safely.
  • Restore national targets to cut deaths and serious injuries and a new target to increase levels of cycling.
  • Review of justice system and how it protects vulnerable road users.

Like the sound of this? Then help us make it happen.

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Liberal Democrats

Our commitment builds on our excellent record of action on cycling. Liberal Democrats have always been enthusiastic supporters of cycling, and have made significant strides to boost this green, cheap and healthy form of transport. Liberal Democrats have spent almost twice as much money over four years supporting cycling as Labour did in their last five years in office. We are spending an average of £94m per year, including match funding, making a total of £375m by 2015. By contrast, Labour only spent an average of £40m per year between 2005 and 2010.

In February 2012, we also secured an extra £159m of funding to create better cycle links for communities, improve cycle facilities at railway stations, and a more cycle-friendly layout at road junctions. We have also continued to support the Bikeability scheme, which will help more school pupils to start cycling too.

We want to see us go further still in our support for cycling and sustainable transport more generally. That’s why we want to see a Green Transport Act introduced, one of five new green laws Lib Dems will pass if we are back in Government after the election. This Bill will contain a measure to update planning laws so that all new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

We are committed to seeing our road network properly cycle-proofed. Making our roads as safe as possible for cyclists is vital and we 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.

Liberal Democrats are committed to:

  • Measures to increase levels of cycling to 10% of trips by 2025 and 25% by 2050;
  • Measures to support an average government spend of at least £10 per person per year on cycling;
  • Action to create consistently high design standards for cycling in all highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned road maintenance work;
  • Measures to improve cycle safety by strengthening road traffic law and its enforcement and revising the Highway Code;
  • Support the positive promotion of cycling, including cycle skills training, for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

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Northern Communists

The Communist Party, broadly supports Newcastle Cycling Campaign’s position statement but we note that it is directed at Newcastle City Council rather than the Westminster Parliament, and that the Council would need resources to implement the points. This in turn requires a change from austerity in central government policies.

The Communist Party favours bringing public transport back into public ownership, to ensure that its pricing and investment policies are planned to meet the needs of users, workers, the economy and the environment – not those of big corporate shareholders. Publicly owned rail, Metro and bus transport will allow fares to be set to encourage a massive shift from private to public transport – with long-term savings for health and the environment, as well as making road usage safer for cyclists.

We need hardly add that we have keen cyclists anong our members.

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The Green Party

Newcastle faces some big and difficult problems; unemployment, air-quality, climate change, housing, health and social care, social cohesion. Cycling can’t solve all of those problems, but it can certainly contribute and is very much a part of a sustainable and liveable city. Neighbourhoods designed around people, not cars, are safer, cleaner, quieter, and more pleasant places to live. Cyclists are more likely to visit local shops and spend money in their neighbourhoods instead of out-of-town supermarkets, thus creating more jobs and contributing to the local economy. Cycles don’t emit CO2 or NOX or particulates or carbon monoxide. Being able to cycle and walk enables people to live an active life, reducing the burden on the NHS from problems like obesity and heart disease.

We firmly believe that the age of the motor car in cities is over, and that it’s now time to radically re-think the design of our cities for the first time in decades. Our cities were rebuilt in the 1960s to benefit the motor car, cutting off communities, destroying the urban environment, and polluting our air.

Now it’s time to take back the streets, take back our space; to create a radical shift away from the motor car and towards walking, cycling, and public transport. We must stop spending huge amounts of money on road-building projects and start building safe infrastructure for cycling and walking, and start investing in our public transport system again. 50 cyclists, 50 pedestrians, or 50 passengers on a bus take up a tiny fraction of the road space that 50 motorists require, leaving more room for people, for greenspace, and for living. Those who choose to travel by bike, the least damaging form of transport to the environment, are sadly most likely to be killed or injured whilst doing so.  But this can’t be done in isolation however. This isn’t only a transport issue. The Core Strategy passed by the council last month is a planning strategy that envisages more reliance on the car; out-of-town developments, communities cut off from the rest of the city unless they drive, low-density sprawl. What we need is an integrated vision of the future, with high-density urban living, transport systems that actively favour less damaging modes of transport, making journeys easier on foot, by bike or public transport, and harder by car. Yes, we risk a backlash from those who see no option but to drive. But we must be bold and we must have vision. We must not see this as a battle between cyclists and motorists, or pitting pedestrians against those on bikes. This is a battle for people, for all.

Transport is central to economic prosperity, to harmonious societies, to a healthy environment. Not everyone can cycle, we recognise that. But if those who want to cycle feel safe doing so, if our urban environment is designed to make their journeys smooth and easy, if employers provide facilities for cyclists to use, then taking those journeys out of the car will benefit everyone. Our air will be cleaner, our roads less congested leaving more room for public transport users and those who genuinely need to drive, our pedestrians will feel less at risk from confrontations with cyclists, and we will vastly reduce our CO2 emissions (40% of which are from transport) in the fight against climate change.

This all requires investment, but investment that will pay off in the long run. The cost to society for someone to commute by bike is less than one-tenth of the cost to commute by car. There is evidence from across the world that cities that cycle are cities that prosper, are healthy, are clean, and are inclusive. Building cycling infrastructure allows new cycling technologies to prosper; electric bikes can assist those who aren’t fit enough to jump on a bike straight away, and can even help businesses (speedy pizza deliveries by electric bike!).
Provision for cycling isn’t just about building cycle lanes. It is about fostering a society and an urban environment that helps people to get on their bikes. Where cycling is a cheap, healthy, and sustainable option that doesn’t pollute or cause CO2 emissions. Where bikes can be carried on buses or Metros, greatly increasing the catchment areas of public transport systems. Cycling is part of a wider vision for a city of the future, and what better place to start than Newcastle, a city that has been at the forefront of technological development and urban renewal for centuries?

A message to our council from the Green Party: build it, and they will come. And they will come sustainably, happily, healthily, and prosperously!

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North East Party – requested, awaiting reply

 The Conservatives – requested, awaiting reply

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – requested, awaiting reply

UKIP – requested, awaiting reply