Get on Your Bikes and Vote!

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 07:00 to 22:00

Push Bikes is not party political. We have worked with a partner organisations to write to, meet with and lobby candidates to commit to ambitious targets to enable better conditions for cycling and active travel during their three year term of office and beyond. We’ve also engaged with three hustings events to put relevant questions and hear what candidates have to say. We have also studied each candidates manifestos in depth.

Mayoral Election

Our main partners have been Action Vision Zero on road danger, Adam Tranter (Cycling Mayor Coventry), Friends of the Earth with their 10 point Climate Action Plan, as well as Sustrans, Cycling UK and Living Streets.

We wanted to see all candidates support active travel to ensure a degree of consensus amongst leading politicians of all parties. This is important because the newly elected West Midlands Mayor will have to work with colleagues from across the political spectrum and from the different the cities and boroughs that make up the region. We don’t want progress in creating better segregated cycle routes and safer neighbourhoods or in enforcing speed limits and traffic laws to be reversed in three years time.

The Good News is that three of the four Mayoral candidates from the major parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats) have pledged their support for a brilliant set of “Asks” pulled together by Adam Tranter Cycling Mayor of Coventry. Bizarrely, the Green candidate has not. He has stated that he wont sign any pledges, but that he does support the aims and believes he offers the best choice for cycling. You might think otherwise, and Push Bikes recommends you take a look yourself at the manifestos for each candidate (links below), and decide for yourself how strongly each supports active travel.

The Asks are:

  1. Pledge to meet the Government’s targets to double levels of cycling by 2025 and for 50% of all journeys in West Midlands towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030.
  2. Only commit funding to projects that provide high-quality active travel provision in line with LTN1/20 guidance. This provision should be assessed by an independent peer review board. Work with LAs to fund and create a comprehensive West Midlands LCWIP, updating the current high level version. Future funding should largely be allocated to achieve the LCWIPs (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans, as required by Department for Transport).
  3. Sign up to the Vision Zero ambition to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from the streets of the West Midlands.
  4. Support the local implementation of active neighbourhoods, enabling safe and more active communities. Launch a publicly-stated target and plan to reduce car dependency in the West Midlands.
  5. Appoint an Active Travel Commissioner to lead the West Midlands cycling and walking revolution; providing them with the political support and funding to achieve real change.

Meanwhile, our friends at Sustrans have produced this video of interviews with the main candidates. This is a great way in nine minutes to understand what each of them will do to enable the many people who would like to cycle or walk more for their local travel to do so safely in a pleasant environment.

Candidates’ manifestos are lengthy but well worth reading. They indicate the whole range of issues that the successful Mayor will need to take on and the abilities, experience and imagination they will bring to the task of building a green and just recovery from COVID with urgent improvements to air quality, carbon reduction, living conditions, jobs, inward investment, training, housing, development and the environment. All of them are worthy of your attention.

The Police and Crime Commissioner

The WMPCC election has been lower key than the Mayoral one and yet we have tried to make road policing and enforcement of traffic law a major issue. We want to see more investment in successful policing strategies like operation close pass, operation safe park, operation zig zag and to improve enforcement of speed limits in towns and residential areas and value third party reporting from bike cams and dash cams.

Achieving Action Vision Zero on road deaths and serious injuries requires close collaboration between the Mayor’s Office and the PCC.

We attended a hustings held by the Lunar Society on the 30th April but a question on Vision Zero and Road Policing didn’t make the cut. However, one candidate, Jon Hunt (Lib Dem), did refer to it fully in his summing up at the end which was gratifying. Similarly, Simon Foster the Labour Candidate has a good section in his Manifesto on road policing and vision zero on page 18.

As far as we can see the other candidates do not make it a priority.

Why voting matters

Please, please do turn out and vote. You will have to decide which candidate is more likely to deliver on these active travel commitments as well as the many other issues that may concern you. If you like what a candidate says please do email them or use Twitter to tell them so (links below). It is vital that candidates and their parties hear from voters and are thanked for responding positively to the ideas and initiatives from the active travel community. We know from opinion polls and surveys like Sustrans’ Bike Life Report that many more people would like to walk and cycle but politicians need to hear that there are votes in responding to this unmet demand.

In these elections you get a chance to support two candidates because of the supplementary voting system, a form of proportional representation. You can vote for both your first and second choices or your favourite candidate first and then the one you think you’d prefer to succeed on the second count between the main rivals.


Mayoral Candidates Manifestos

WMPCC Candidates Manifestos or links

Partner organisation manifestos and links re 2021 Elections