Before going into the details of the time Labour decided to do charity by cycling and drive home a point about their election manifesto pledges, it will be relevant to go into the background of why and how this concept came into being.
The 2010 Labour manifesto had no points on cycling. In 2012, The Times started a campaign that called for greater quantum of investment in ensuring that British roads were safe for cyclists by drawing up secure cycling routes. By default, it would mean more people taking up cycling that would in turn reduce traffic congestion, pollution, overcrowding and the burden of controlling traffic and its related logistics.
Quick on the uptake, there was immediate reaction from the Labour Party. A party spokesman said, “Labour wants to give everyone the choice to cycle and walk safely. This will help cut congestion and the cost of transport, deliver huge benefits for our environment and improve our nation’s health. A Labour government will deliver a long-term investment strategy to increase cycling and walking rates, with targets and clarity over funding. We will also create a high level cycling and walking advisory board, with ministers from across government that will help put cycling at the centre of policy making. […].We will cycle-proof new transport infrastructures, improve HGV safety, educate children in cycle safety and restore targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Labour has committed to end the stop-start on cycling, and make it a safe and easy option for all.”
Once this commitment was received officially, there were a lot of reactions from the platforms that mattered. John Torrance, policy director of Sustrans, the cycling and walking charity welcomed this pledge but added a note of caution that the , next Government’s transport policy should prioritise the production of an ambitious cycling and walking investment strategy.
The Labour Party has been traditionally known as a party of the masses and has been synonymous with the labour movement around the world, be it labour hire in Melbourne or social welfare measures in the UK. Thus it was not a surprise when they took up cycling for charity to showcase their agenda, an activity generally connected to the common man. At the party conference in Brighton, Wednesday 30 September 2015 the Labour Transport Team joined cycle campaigners for a cycle ride along the sea front to focus on their commitment to promote cycling.
The ride was meant for CTC, the national cycling charity and was joined by the bigwigs of the Party that included Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Lilian Greenwood MP, Daniel Zeichner MP, Shadow Minister for Cycling, and Becky Renolds of Bricycles. The course was the seafront cycle track opposite the Brighton Hilton Metropole Hotel, King’s Road, Brighton. It was a huge success and there was a festive air all round. Most importantly, by this one act, the Labour Party managed to showcase its assurance to endorse cycling and integrate it with the total transport system of the country.