The Bicycle Vote – Who Promises What?

The UK election takes place on the 7th May, so if you’re registered, you need to get down to your local polling station (or in my case by proxy) and make yourself heard.

In this article I will try to provide the most balanced viewpoint on cycling policies from each of the ‘major’ parties, based primarily on what is in their manifesto.

There are also some other great resources you can check out if you want more information:

2015 UK General Election

My stance: In the name of transparency, I should at this point reveal my political alliance.

Ever since I have been eligible to vote, I have always marked my slip with a cross next to LibDem. Simply put, I agree with most of their policies, principles and core values. However, I was ferociously disappointed with how they sold out on almost all of their policies as part of the coalition simply to gain a referendum on the AV – which was poorly campaigned for once they got it. They were in a position of supreme power, with an unprecedented opportunity… and they bottled it. I – like many others – cannot forgive easily for this and I certainly can’t lend further support for Nick Clegg now, whom I was a firm supporter of going into 2010. Plus, there’s no way they will win my constituency, so it would just prove a wasted vote

This Suit for Bike Commuters Won a WORLD RECORD 👉 FIND OUT HOW

So, who do I now support? It’s more a case of who I don’t support. I don’t agree with the core of Tory philosophy, while I find UKIP laughable and terrifying in equal measure. I resonate with many of Green’s policies, but I don’t necessarily agree with their left wing leanings, including a rather anti-Capitalist stance, nor do I find Natalie Bennett a convincing leader.

Therefore, my default vote this year will be for Ed Miliband’s Labour, largely due to the fact that my constituency (West Wirral) is one of the key battlegrounds between Labour and Conservatives. But that’s just me.

David Cameron Cycling


Manifesto Cycling Pledges:

  • “We will make motoring greener and promote cycling, to protect your environment”
  • “Our aim is for almost every car and van to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050 – and we will invest £500 million over the next five years to achieve it. We want to double the number of journeys made by bicycle and will invest over £200 million to make cycling safer, so we reduce the number of cyclists and other road users killed or injured on our roads every year.”

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem too bad from the Tories, they do after all want to “promote cycling”. However, to put their £200 million pledge to make “cycling safer” into context, they say they’ll invest £15 billion over the same period on roads. Essentially it’s just a drop in the ocean.

Read the full Conservative Manifesto here

Bicycle Vote Appeal: 20%



Manifesto Cycling Pledges:

  • “We will embark on the biggest devolution of power to our English city and county regions in a hundred years with an English Devolution Act …. This will include control over local transport systems so that in future, local bodies can integrate trains, buses, trams and cycling into a single network. We will enable city and county regions to retain 100 per cent of additional business rates raised from growth in their area.”
  • “We will support long-term investment in strategic roads, address the neglect of local roads, and promote cycling.”

This term “promote cycling” has popped up again with little to back it up. Like the Tories, Labour make some of the right noises while remaining remarkably vague at the same time.

Read the full Labour Manifesto here

Bicycle Vote Appeal: 20%


Liberal Democrats

Manifesto Cycling Pledges:

  • “New incentives for local schemes that cut transport-related pollution, and encourage walking and cycling”
  • “Implement the recommendations of the Get Britain Cycling report, including steps to deliver a £10 a head annual public expenditure on cycling within existing budgets. This will allow greater investment in cycling including bike lanes, high-volume secure bike parking, and road safety measures to keep cyclists safe”
  • “Update planning law to introduce the concept of ‘landscape scale planning’ and ensure new developments promote walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport and improve rather than diminish access to green spaces.”

Okay, things start sounding a lot better for those wanting to cycle here. Implementing recommendations from the Get Britain Cycling report certainly shows they have focus, while the £10 a head investment on cycling is three times higher than the Conservative offering.

Lib Dem were also the only party kind enough to respond to my Tweets asking for information. Isn’t that nice?

@discerningcyc Hi there, our plans for a Green Transport Bill includes implementing ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report = £10 per head on cycling

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) April 28, 2015

Read the full Liberal Democrat Manifesto here

Bicycle Vote Appeal: 80%



Manifesto Cycling Pledges: N/A

I really don’t know where to start with these guys.

Let’s go with UKIP candidates blaming ‘immigrants clogging up bike lanes’ (yep, they actually said that).

UKIP also believe that insurance, fluorescent jackets and proficiency tests should be mandatory for cyclists. Despite this, they do apparently still want to “encourage cycling”…

Oh, and this from Newcastle’s UKIP candidate…

UKIP Cycling

Read the full UKIP Manifesto here



Manifesto Cycling Pledges:

  • “Cut emissions by providing cheaper public transport and encouraging cycling and walking.”
  • “Imagine being able to leave your car in the garage – or not needing one at all… because reliable, affordable public transport, coupled with safe, clean, welcoming streets for walking and cycling, meets your transport needs.”
  • “Reduce the distances travelled, reduce the number of journeys made by car and switch as many journeys as possible to walking, cycling and public transport.”
  • “Green Party transport policy prioritises in this order, building from the bottom up:
    • walking and disabled access to all other forms of transport;
    • cycling;
    • public transport (trains, light rail/trams, buses and ferries) and rail- and water-borne freight;
    • light goods vehicles, taxis and low-powered motor cycles;
    • private motorised transport (cars and high-powered motor cycles);
    • heavy goods vehicles;
    • aircraft”
  • “For trains to play their part in the total journey experience, they need to connect seamlessly with buses and convenient walking and cycling routes to local centres of habitation.”
  • “Support walking and cycling. In particular, we would ensure that pedestrians and cyclists get their fare share of road space and would spend at least £30 per head on them over every year of the Parliament. Funding should be allocated flexibly to make safe, convenient routes that address the needs of pedestrians and cyclists while reducing any risk of conflict between them.”
  • “Car parking is expensive to provide, can obstruct pedestrians and people with disabilities if it takes place on pavements, and takes up valuable road space that could be reallocated to pedestrians and cyclists”

It’s hard to argue that that is some pledge list from the Green Party – unsurprising though given their eco-friendly stance.

The Greens have also made some good contributions since being in power in Brighton, and I for one hope they’ll maintain at least one seat to stay in parliament (I’m sounding worryingly similar to Russell Brand here). However, they stand little chance of gaining many, if any, seats.

Read the full Green Manifesto here

Bicycle Vote Appeal: 90%


Labour and the Conservatives said as little as possible about bicycles in their manifesto, simply that they want to “promote cycling” – whatever that is. So, with these two, don’t expect any change from the status quo.

If Lib Dem or Green Party managed to get into some kind of power, i.e. via another coalition, you’d hope that they can apply some bicycle pressure on the other parties. However, Lib Dem have a lot to prove to the nation after the last time they had a taste of power.

If you’re in an area where Lib Dem or Green have a shot at winning, then a vote for them could well be a vote for cycling. However, don’t expect too much from either Labour or the Tories, or the other numpties.

The bicycle vote belongs to Green or LibDem.

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Coffee funds may be converted into beers funds on Fridays.