Friday, 2 March 2012

Cities Fit For Cycling: My MP's Response

Cycling has been higher up the political agenda than usual recently, thanks, in part, to The Times' "Cities Fit for Cycling" campaign, and also many others. It has promoted ideas and fostered debate on some key issues, for example: earmarking "£100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure", and that "20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes."

As with all all-encompassing campaigns there are some things which could be improved. For example, it calls for "world-class cycling infrastructure", but avoids the S-word, segregation, which even the Evening Standard managed to include back in 2007.

I was inspired to contact my MP (Sarah Teather, LibDem, Brent Central) and encourage her to attend a debate of Early Day Motion 2689 on 23rd February. The bill now has 111 signatures, although my MP's is not one of them, parliamentary protocol discourages / disallows signing of EDMs by Government ministers. She is, however, "delighted that the Motion has received so much support."

Here are some of the key points from her reply (my emphasis, scanned below):
  • "It is vital that our roads are safe and welcoming for cyclists"
  • A list of Coalition cycling policies, similar to those laid out in David Cameron's reply to the campaign.
  • "In London, the leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, Caroline Pigeon, has argued that too many road schemes are based first and foremost on serving the needs of motorists and have called on transport engineers to take the safety of cyclists and pedestrians seriously."
  • Reducing the numbers of gyratories which "are designed to move high volumes of traffic fast."
  • "Implementing more 20mph speed limits."
  • She has written to both Norman Baker and Boris Johnson about the campaign.
This sounds very promising. If "[calling] on transport engineers to take the safety of cyclists and pedestrians seriously" means calling for more, better cycling infrastructure, and making streets easier, not more difficult, to cross on foot, then the letter has my full support.

The following is a transcript of two emails I sent to my MP, and her reply (for the public record):

My first email:
                                               [Address Removed]

                                                Friday 3 February 2012

Dear Sarah Teather,

I am writing to urge you to support The Times' "Cities fit for Cycling" campaign. Encouraging active travel is key to The Prime Minister's aim to lead the "greenest Government ever". As Minister with responsibility for Children and Education you are perfectly placed to call for more, safe routes to school.

Your constituency includes some wonderful areas for cycling, including the beautiful Welsh Harp Reservoir. Sadly Brent is also home to some of London's worst cycling (and walking) facilities. Staples Corner and Neasden Junction are disastrous for cyclists and walkers alike, pushing more and more suburban Londoners to take to their cars [1].

Outer London's residential streets are perfectly placed to lead the way in the "Cycling Revolution", for example you could discuss with Brent Council following Islington's lead and making most roads 20mph. However, even as cycling in inner London rose in the 30 years to 2001 it fell in the outer London boroughs [2].

Along with other cycling proponents in Government, including Norman Baker and David Cameron, you could have a real impact on cycle safety. This may translate into other areas such as reducing obesity and making streets safer for children.

Therefore, please take the time to read The Times' articles and proposals [3], and I hope that you will encourage the Government to act on this key issue.

Yours sincerely,



My second email:
                                                 Friday 10 February 2012

Dear XXX [Addressed to Head of Office],

Thank you for your prompt reply.

As an addendum to my previous email I would like to urge Ms. Teather to attend the debate on Early Day Motion No. 2689, which is scheduled for 2.30pm - 5.30pm on Thursday 23rd February in Westminster Hall.

The motion, "The Times’ Cities Fit for Cycling Campaign, is relevant", proposed by Dr Julian Huppert MP (Lib Dem), is something the Government should be fully engaged with.

Thanks and regards,


My MP's reply (scanned and cropped):

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