Sunday, 19 February 2012

MP implies people who use a bicycle to get to work 'not essential to the economy'. Here's an update on how MPs are responding to The Times's 'cities fit for cycling' campaign. Flashride to Parliament Wednesday night. Join in.

I put it to Angie Bray MP that the people parking their bicycles in this office in the City of London are just as 'essential to the economy' as the people driving motor vehicles on London's roads. I'm not sure she realises that.

Last night I posted details of the many MPs who have responded to their constituents asking them to support The Times's #cyclesafe campaign and to make our cities fit for anyone to cycle in. You can see what your MP has to say if you live in Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster, the City or in the Prime Minister's constituency by looking here. A number of Conservative MPs have sent a cut and paste response which you can see on this link here. However, Andrew Jones (Con) MP for Harrogate and PPS to Justine Greening has confirmed he will attend the debate and has indicated support for making our cities places where people can cycle as a matter of habit.

This morning I realised that I should collect a list of the MPs who haven't yet responded. Now, I don't want to get too hard on these MPs. Perhaps some of them are on holiday for the Parliamentary break. Some, however, are known to be fairly anti the idea of people getting about on bikes as a normal mode of transport. Angie Bray, Conservative MP for Ealing Central, made some fairly illuminating comments on twitter earlier this month which show where she thinks the priorities lie:

"@AngieBrayMP I certainly back safer cycling and segregated lanes surely help.But roadspace has to be shared so not always easy on busy roads"

"@AngieBrayMP I think the change in numbers probably marginal and it is mainly commercial traffic which is of course essential to the economy."

"@AngieBrayMP yes of course but we have to find a way of protecting the vulnerable while accommodating what is necessary."

"@AngieBrayMP they are carrying goods/tools/supplies etc which clearly can't fit on a bike"

Good that she sees the point of safe space to cycle. Bad that she doesn't realise the lack of this safe space is why the 'change in numbers probably marginal'. Equally bad that she doesn't understand someone on a bicycle might be just as 'essential to the economy' as someone driving.

I'm building a list of MPs who have failed to respond to constituents. If yours is ignoring the cyclesafe motion, please let me know and I'll add them to the list.

List of MPs who have failed to write back to their correspondents' letters about making our cities fit for cycling include:

Stephen Dorrell (Con) Charnwood, Leicestershire
Glenda Jackson (Lab), Hampstead & Kilburn
Joan Ruddock (Lab), Lewisham & Deptford - Has since responded with a positive message.
Eleanor Laing (Con), Epping Forest
John Cryer (Lab) Leyton & Wanstead
Frank Dobson (Lab) Holborn & St Pancras
Barry Gardiner (Lab) Brent North
Malcolm Wicks (Lab), Croydon North
Lyn Brown (Lab), West Ham
Vince Cable (LibDem), Twickenham
Nick Raynsford (Lab) Greenwich & Woolwich
Angie Bray (Con) Central Ealing & Acton and Richard Ottaway (Con) Croydon South - neither has responded to constituents directly but both have signed up to the template letter you can see here.

Meanwhile, if you regularly use the incredibly popular, segregated cycle track that runs east-west through Bloomsbury, you might like to see how Frank Dobson MP tried very hard indeed to prevent that cycle track from being built in the first place by reading this excellent review here.

If your MP is on this list, then write to them before Thursday's debate asking them to attend by clicking here and sending an email directly to them.

Just in case the point still isn't clear enough, do some
MPs think these people cycling to work in London
aren't doing their bit for the economy?
Some additional responses from other MPs
You can see how Kate Hoey (Lab) Vauxhall responded here and Mark Field (Con) Cities of London & Westminster here. Emily Thornberry (Lab) Islington South & Finsbury - has been in touch saying she can't participate in Early Day Motions but is inclined to support.

The senior Labour team involved in transport has been very clear and come up with a three point plan that contains many of the right issues. You can see those details on a previous post here. 

Simon Hughes (LibDem) Southwark & Bermondsey has shown real understanding of cycling issues and been a prominent supporter. You can see his latest update on his website here.

I've seen positive reports from Zac Goldsmith (Con) Richmond and from Mike Freer (Con), Finchley & Golders Green. Freer's response to a constituent was generally sympathetic and talked about the fact that he cycles to work but contained the magical line that 'the roads are rarely wide enough to carve out a dedicated and segregated cycle lanes'. Firstly, that slightly misses the point. Segregation is one of several tools in the road kit. Also, it's not true. I asked one UK-based Danish diplomat to respond to Freer's email on twitter and this is what she said: "seems unambitious, when comparing LDN w my native CPH then seems there is room on streets & in heads for more #cyclesafety :)"

Exactly right: The 'lack of space on our streets for safe cycling' is actually about the lack of room in our heads. There's plenty of space, we just need to think about our neighbourhoods differently.

Mark Lazarowicz, (Labour-Cooperative), Edinburgh North & Leith said: "The potential danger presented by motorists driving at speed in urban areas can put many people off cycling. Cyclists are inherently more vulnerable than motorists and drivers should be more aware of the need of cyclists, especially when they are turning right or at junctions."

Jonathan Evans (Welsh Conservatives) Cardiff North: "I welcome the current campaign launched by The Times, which aims to improve safety. However, it is also important to improve through improving the proficiency of cyclists and by enforcing proper compliance with the Highway Code. I am disturbed by evidence that a major number of cyclists routinely ignore traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. I was struck by such a cyclist myself in London recently who told me he did not consider that compliance with lights and pedestrian crossings applied to cyclists. I also believe that it is important to promote the wearing of helmets by cyclists as part of this safety campaign..."

Bring a bike and join our ride to Parliament to ask MPs to make cycling a serious transport choice. Join us Wednesday 22nd February. Meet at the Duke of York steps, The Mall, 6.15pm. 

More details on ibikelondon blog here and on the London Cycling Campaign page here. You can even register for the ride (but you don't need to) on the Londoners on Bikes website here. I'm also delighted that both Brompton bicycles and Evans Cycles have committed to support the Flashride. It would be lovely to see some other big cycling names get behind the ride as well.