Space for Cycling: six months on from the local elections

Earlier this year almost half of all Councillors elected in the London-wide council elections supported our Space for Cycling campaign. But since then some have disappeared into the woodwork, or are even backtracking on their promises.

In October 2014, we asked councillors to give us an update on their progress. Only 179 responded, and of those, only 19 indicated that they would be delivering space for cycling in the next 12 months. Find out more below and check to see if your Councillor responded with a progress update here.

Don't forget to Sign our petition, calling on Borough Councils to uphold their promises and prioritise Space for Cycling.

The Campaign

2014 has been the year of our award winning, and biggest ever campaign - Space for Cycling.

 Immediately following local elections in May 2014, we celebrated the fact that 43% of newly elected Councillors, across all major parties, and all London boroughs, had promised to work towards a specific local cycling improvement in their electoral ward. Since then, more have come forward, meaning that 47% of all London’s Councillors support Space for Cycling. 

The improvements or ‘ward asks’ that Councillors agreed to support; decided by our local borough groups, ranged from:

All in all, we built a bank of 629 improvements, one per electoral ward, that Councillors were asked to support. 

You can view these improvements are on our Space for Cycling map.

 

Why did we list so many improvements?

The ‘ward asks’ are all designed to do one thing – make our streets, all across London, safe and inviting for cycling, so that people of all ages and abilities who want to cycle, can cycle.  But not only that, by making these improvements, and encouraging more people to cycle, our city can become a healthier, cleaner, nicer place for everyone. Win – win, surely?  

What support did we get?

Our first phase is complete. We have commitments from over 850 Councillors, 862 at the time of writing to be exact. Whilst we’ve seen whole parties offer their support, we’ve also seen large swathes of councillors who are just not interested.  

Many have expressed their support for ‘cycling’, but have not been willing to commit to making concrete improvements. Others have agreed in principle with our aims, but believe there are other improvements to be made so won’t commit to making the ones we’ve suggested.  

The support has also varied hugely across all boroughs, from a measly 4 supportive councillors in Bexley and a sad 11 in Wandsworth, to a huge 62 in Ealing and a full slate of 57 in Hackney (the only borough to have 100% support).  

People Power

The one thing we have noticed is that the boroughs where we saw large numbers of people writing to their councillors, asking them to support the campaign between April and May 2014, saw the highest number of councillors supporting us. People power works, and Councillors do listen to the people they represent.  

But, we need to make sure that cycling stays a top priority for local councillors, and we need to make sure that their promises to improve local cycling conditions are kept. 

We'll rely on our members and supporters to help us do this. You are the ones who have the power to hold your councillors to account. This is why we’re launching a new Space for Cycling petition at end of the month, urging Councils to prioritise cycling and make sure the promises from Councillors are kept.  

Have we made any progress so far? 

We recently contacted the Councillors who pledged their support for Space for Cycling. We asked them to fill in a very short survey to tell us about any progress they have made. We wanted to get a picture of where we are, 6 months after the local elections.

So far, we’ve had just 179 responses. Considering all 862 so enthusiastically supported us just a few months ago, and were eager to pledge their support for Space for Cycling before the election, we expected more. 

One councillor told us he “didn’t fill in surveys” and went on to say he thought “cyclists should pay road tax”. Another emailed to say that he had more important things to be dealing with and was fed up of getting emails about the campaign. In the time he took to write and complain I’m sure he could have filled in our short survey! 

12 councillors told us they didn’t know what progress had been made, and two even said that it wasn’t a priority for them right now. Many others either didn’t find the time to respond, or didn’t want to. 

This is why it’s so important for people to sign our upcoming petition. We need to demonstrate to Council Leaders that local people expect the promises from Councillors to be kept. We’re tired of people saying the rights things, but not actually doing anything. 

Not all bad news

Despite some disappointing responses, it’s not all bad news. Many Councillors were happy to take part in the survey, and some sent a response on behalf of their borough parties.  

  • 68 Councillors told us they have raised Space for Cycling and the local ‘ward ask’ with their political party
  • 49 told us they have been discussing the ‘ward ask’ with local residents 
  • 43 have been in touch with their Local LCC Group our local groups about it 
  • 106 Councillors have raised Space for Cycling with relevant Council Officers  
  • 26 have Space for Cycling plans in their programme for the year 
  • 22 Councillors have budget allocated in this year or for next year, dedicated to the ‘ward ask’  
  • 44 are already consulting with local residents to assess the feasibility of implementing it.  
  • 78 said they were ‘working hard’ to make progress on cycling and  
  • 19 said they expected their local improvement to be realised in the next 12 months. 

Overall, based on their official responses, some 118 councillors have made significant progress in achieving the ‘ward ask’, 39 have made some progress and 23 have yet to make any progress.

We also know that since the elections, many of our local groups have had meetings with councillors and have built up some positive and helpful relationships with politicians who were previously not engaged with cycling. So, some Council’s are taking their commitments very seriously. 

See if your Councillor responded and check out the progress being made in your ward

So what next?

We need to make sure that cycling stays a top priority for those councillors who promised to support Space for Cycling. We also need to encourage more councillors to pledge their support. Whilst our local groups are working hard to meet and engage with councillors, we need a lot more of our members and supporters to add their voice to our campaign. 

It’s easy to do so! Sign our Space for Cycling petition in your borough calling on Council Leaders to ensure their councillors are supporting cycling and that they are supporting the efforts of those councillors who are trying to implement local improvements for cycling.  

We must demonstrate to our Borough Councils that cycling is important to local residents. We must keep the pressure on to make sure cycling stays a priority! 

Get involved with your Local Group

Want to help out with the Space for Cycling campaign in your area? Why not go and say hello to your nearest local group and find out how you can get involved!  

 Find your nearest local group

Find out about upcoming local group meetings