Nick Clegg wants to turn Britain into a cycling nation – and earns praise from Chris Boardman

I found out about this not because it came in in a Google alert but because a family member, who has nothing to do with politics, shared it on Facebook. That family member lives in a  key Liberal Democrat seat so I hope he’s going to do the right thing and vote for Danny on Thursday. It’s the only thing to do in Inverness if you really don’t want an SNP MP as I know he doesn’t.

This family member is a really hardcore cyclist. Ten days ago he took part in the Mallorca 312. That’s where people cycle all the way round the island of Mallorca. The first thing they encounter is a flipping great mountain range that goes down almost the entire west coast. He did the whole thing in under 14 hors, too, which was incredible, especially when you think he’s even more middle aged (by 2 months and 13 days) than I am.

Anyway, suffice to say he was impressed with Nick’s plans as revealed in Cycling Weekly and praised by none other than Chris Boardman:

The network asked parties to allocate five per cent of Britain’s transport budget to cycling and set a target for cycling to account for 10 per cent of all trips.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to nail their colours to the mast and pledge to implement everything the network is asking for,” said Boardman, British Cycling’s policy advisor after Clegg confirmed he is ‘very keen’ to implement the recommendations.

It’s encouraging to hear that Nick Clegg is passionate about Britain becoming a cycling nation to rival our European neighbours.

The difference is that he is actually bold enough to put some numbers and targets against this aim with measures that could have a colossal impact on how people get around.

If the Liberal Democrats form part of a new coalition we will certainly be pressing them to ensure that these ambitions form a central part of the government’s transport strategy.”

Boardman had been less than impressed with the Tory response:

The Conservatives are full of rhetoric about building a stronger economy but they have failed to listen to business today by announcing plans to dedicate less than £1 per head to growing cycling,” he said in a statement. Either David Cameron believes the ‘cycling revolution’ he has already promised can be delivered with such a small amount of funding or he does not intend to honour his word.

And delving deeper on the site, I discovered this piece which says that cyclists are more likely to be a) emotionally stable and b) vote Lib Dem.

If cycling is one of your main form of exercise, the chances are you’re emotionally stable, laid back and unlikely to be affected by stress, according to research by the British Heart Foundation.

Cyclists are also most likely to vote for the Liberal Democrats, apparently.




* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • We have not got roads suitable for cycling lanes unless of course a vast amount of money is available? Having been caught behind two cyclists yesterday down a steep very winding country road with extreme bends for four miles I worry that it is used for cycling. This road links two rural towns and has many lorries using it quite often having to use the wrong side of the road, the warning signs are there. My stress levels were quite high as I am sure those of the driver of the very large lorry directly behind them were!

  • Jenny Barnes 5th May '15 - 8:33pm

    I’m not sure how much 5% of the transport budget comes out to. Holland spends about £40 a head on cycling, and has done for nearly 45 years. We need to make sure that any cycling money is spent on safe, dedicated cycling infrastructure, not vired away to do some motoring thing, not paint on the road, silly signs, ” education” (be nice to each other on the road”, nor training. All of which have been tried and failed to increase cycling modal share. I agree, up to a point, with Anne. Many country A roads are very unsafe for cyclists, mostly because some motorists think that cycles have no right to be on the road.
    Sounds like Anne was being tailgated by an HGV – imagine what that feels like on a cycle?
    Cycle infrastructure needs to be safe and usable from 8 to 80. If you wouldn’t let your child out on proposed infrastructure, it’s not good enough.

    Being nice to each other doesn’t work when some of the players have 2 tonnes of mass and 100 horsepower, even less when some have 50 tonnes and 500, and the others have their soft bodies and 0.5 hp at best.

  • I admire this, but it’s more an issue with local councils than central government, they are the ones who approve decisions on making roads more bike friendly, or not…

    It doesn’t matter how much money is available, making roads safer for cyclists requires compromises on road use by cars, and that’s difficult, not just because it’s politically unpopular, but because people often don’t have an alternative to using cars. It’s not a problem that just needs money thrown at it, it’s one of creating an integrated public transport network and that’s hard.

  • Anne
    Did you at any point consider that the road might be perfectly suitable for cyclists, but not for HGVs ?

  • Jenny Barnes 6th May '15 - 9:25am

    “people often don’t have an alternative to using cars.” But they can do. In Groningen, cycling modal share is 50%, while in the UK it’s 2%. That means that with the right infrastructure many people DO have an alternative, it’s just that it’s not seen to be safe to cycle. Getting to 10% would be quite possible. Of course there will always be journeys where the car is the only option, the trouble is that now we are in a situation where it’s the default for just about every journey, and it seems to have become a human right to store one’s car on the public highway.

  • Jenny Barnes 6th May '15 - 9:51am
  • I’m surprised no-one’s taken up this opportunity so let me get in first “We want Clegg on his bike on May 8th” 😀

  • Shaun Whitfield 6th May '15 - 10:29am

    Jenny Barnes: ” In Groningen, cycling modal share is 50%, while in the UK it’s 2%.”

    This is an incredibly false comparison. Topography influences cycle use as well. Groningen is flat (as is most of the Netherlands), whereas the UK includes many conurbations/cities in very hilly areas. A better comparison would be with, say, Cambridge or Hull. I don’t have the figures, but I am confident that the modal share in these places is more than 2%.

  • Jenny Barnes 6th May ’15 – 9:25am
    “people often don’t have an alternative to using cars.”

    Yes I agree with Jenny Barnes, people can have alternatives.

    I was reading something by Will Self in which he mentioned that in Thomas Hardy’s time most land journeys (more than 90%) were on foot.

    Civilisation before 1914 survived withotinted car and for a section of the population life without a car is perfectly normal.
    Nobody under the age of 18 drives a carthe public roads. Poor people cannot afford to drive cars. Many of the elderly have given up driving cars in the interests of their own and everyone else’s safety.
    I have not driven our car anywhere since May of last year. I do not feel especially unfortunate as a result.

    If NC wants to turn Britain into a cycling nation, that is good for all sorts of health and environmental reasons. If Chris Boardman endorses what he says, I am impressed.

  • Jenny Barnes 6th May '15 - 5:41pm

    This article discusses cycling in cambridge Briefly, most of the cycling modal share (20% ish) is down to the large student population who are not allowed cars.
    As to the “flatness” thing, cycles these days have gears, lots of them. If flatness were all it took, Norwich would be a cycling paradise which it is not.

    This is what we need.

    Keep cyclists away from cars absolutely as much as possible.
    Make all residential streets no-go areas for through traffic (preserving segregation of modes without cyclepaths).
    Provide bikes with more direct routes than cars.
    Remove cars from minor rural roads.
    Produce a high degree of subjective and social safety everywhere.

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