UK General Election 2019 | Each party’s pledges for cycling

What do the Conservatives, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Brexit Party, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP offer for cyclists?

British Polling Station

Britain goes to the polls again tomorrow (Thursday 12 December) with Brexit and the NHS among the topics dominating the party manifestos and news agenda, and likely to sway votes.

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But what about cycling? Where do the main political parties stand when it comes to cycling, in terms of spending, planning and infrastructure?

We have taken a closer look at the pledges of the five main political parties ahead of the election – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Brexit – as well as the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales.

Here is an outline of their cycling plans, pledges and promises.

Conservative Party pledges for cycling

The Conservative Party has pledged to extend Bikeability
The Conservative Party has pledged to extend Bikeability.
Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg
  • Extend Bikeability cycling proficiency training to every child
  • New £350-million Cycling Infrastructure Fund
  • “Transport Revolution” plans also include widespread pothole-filling programme

Addressed under the wider topic of “A Transport Revolution”, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has pledged to extend Bikeability and also announced a new £350-million infrastructure fund.

It includes support for commuter cycling routes, “so that more people can cycle safely to work and more families can go out together” and mandatory design standards for new routes.

The latter should be taken in context, however – it falls short of the Walking and Cycling Alliance (WACA) spending ask of 10 per cent of the transport budget by 2025.

The majority of the ‘Transport Revolution’ focuses on public transport, though the “biggest ever pothole-filling programme” should also produce tangible benefits for cycling.

Labour Party pledges for cycling

Labour promises to improve cycling infrastructure in towns and cities
Labour promises to improve cycling infrastructure in towns and cities.
  • Increase funding available for cycling and walking
  • Build 5,000km of cycleways as part of ‘Healthy Streets Programme’
  • Universal affordable access to bicycles

Labour’s manifesto has very little when it comes to cycling directly, though it does pledge to “increase the funding available for cycling and walking”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party promises to: “Create towns and cities in which walking and cycling are the best choice: safe, accessible, healthy, efficient, economical and pollution-free.”

Labour added meat to the bones of that pledge with a more detailed outline of its proposals via the party website at the start of this month.

The ‘Healthy Streets Programme’ will borrow from the Danish, Dutch and German models.

Labour also promises to build 5,000km of cycleways, provide cycle training for all primary school children and their parents, deliver universal affordable access to bicycles and provide grants for electric bike purchases.

Liberal Democrats pledges for cycling

The Liberal Democrats have promised a big increase in spending for cycling
The Liberal Democrats have promised a big increase in spending for cycling.
Adrian Dennis / Getty
  • Increase walking and cycling spend to 10 per cent of transport budget
  • Create dedicated safe cycling lanes
  • Integration of rail, bus and cycle routes

The Liberal Democrats have promised a five-fold increase in spending on walking and cycling, in order to hit the WACA funding ask of 10 per cent of the transport budget.

It must be noted that the party does not give a timeline for when the budget would be increased, but does state that this would be used to create dedicated safe cycling lanes.

There is also a pledge under the “Fixing Britain’s Railways” banner to invest in commuter routes and “the integration of rail, bus and cycle routes”. Again, however, details are light.

Green Party of England and Wales pledges for cycling

The Green Party has promised massive spending on cycling infrastructure
The Green Party has promised massive spending on cycling infrastructure.
London Green Party
  • £2.5-billion per year on new cycleways and footpaths, built using sustainable materials
  • Rapid expansion of bike hire schemes
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to cut emissions 

The Green Party manifesto includes pledges that both, directly and indirectly, benefit cycling.

Its Green New Deal includes a £2.5-billion pledge per year on new cycleways and footpaths – the largest funding commitment of any of the parties.

It also includes the promise that these will be built using sustainable materials “such as woodchips and sawdust”.

Funded out of the £6.5-billion raised by Vehicle Excise Duty, there is also £1.5-billion set aside to maintain existing roads.

The Green Party also pledges to “rapidly expand bike hire schemes”, while the plan for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods should also benefit cyclists.

Brexit Party pledges for cycling

SANDWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Ukip leader Nigel Farage looks at bicycles that are repaired by veterans during a visit to 'Veterans At Future For Heroes UK' on April 15, 2015 in Sandwich, England. Farage is continuing to campaign ahead of the forthcoming general election. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
The Brexit Party makes no specific pledges for cycling.
Carl Court / Getty
  • No direct reference to cycling
  • Invest £50 billion in local road and rail schemes
  • Investing in the environment through “planting millions of trees”

The brief Brexit Party manifesto, which it has called a “Contract With The People”, does not explicitly mention cycling.

In fact, transport in general is only briefly covered – though it does promise to invest at least £50-billion in local road and rail schemes in “development-starved regions”.

Environmental pledges, which could have an impact on cycling, also include the planting of “millions of trees to capture CO2” and the promotion of a global environmental initiative at the UN.

Scottish National Party pledges for cycling

The SNP has pledged to reduce VAT on bicycles
The SNP has pledged to reduce VAT on bicycles.
Andy Buchanan / Getty
  • Plans to reduce VAT on bicycles

Transport budgets in Wales and Scotland are devolved, with the Welsh Assembly responsible in Wales and the Scottish Parliament north of the border. This means the majority of cycling policy decisions are made at a devolved level.

The Scottish National Party only has one reference to cycling in its manifesto, which is to reduce VAT on bicycles, thus reducing their overall cost.

As pointed out by British Cycling, it should be added that the Scottish National Party has a track record of investing in active travel while in power in Holyrood.

Plaid Cymru pledges for cycling

Senghennydd road proposed cycle path
Plaid Cymru has pledged to significantly improve cycling infrastructure in Wales, such as this proposed segregated cycle path in Cardiff.
Cardiff Council
  • Bicycle use reward scheme
  • Increased provision for bikes on trains
  • “Significant’ improvements to cycling infrastructure

For Plaid, it is committing to a reward scheme that pays participants “for every mile they cycle to work”.

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It has also promised increased spending on travel routes, promoting walking and cycling, and significant cycling infrastructure improvements. It has also pledged to increase bike space on trains.