What have the parliamentary candidates got to say about cycling? Part 2: the Lib Dems.

Cycle Lewes contacted our local parliamentary candidates for their thoughts on cycling and cycling-related issuesca. We had a response from Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle last week, which you can find here.

We’ve still not had anything from the Tories, UKIP or – surprisingly – the Greens, but now, a day before the actual election, here’s a response from the Liberal Democrats’ Norman Baker, the current MP for Lewes.

“Thank you for contacting me asking for my views on various cycling subjects, and I apologise for the delay in replying.

As you know, cycling is a great form of transport, with many benefits that can help tackle road congestion, curb air pollution and strengthen our economy. Not only is it green, cheap and efficient, but cycling can encourage a healthier lifestyle too. That is why I have been working hard to improve conditions for cyclists on our roads, not least as a cyclist myself.

I am pleased to say that our Lib Dem Election Manifesto included a commitment if Lib Dems form part of the next Government, towards implementing the recommendations of the “Get Britain Cycling” report, which includes £10 a head annual public expenditure within existing budgets to allow for greater investment in cycle lanes, cycle safety measures and cycle parking areas. I also support our options for an intercity cycleway along the HS2 route, as part of the overall budget for the project.

We have introduced a new law that requires the Government to produce a cycling and walking investment strategy that will set out what goals we want to achieve and how much support the Government will provide. We also want to introduce to introduce a Green Transport Act, one of five new green laws, that will contain a measure to update planning laws to ensure that new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

Whist a Minister at the Department for Transport, cycling came within my portfolio, and I helped ensure that the Coalition spent more on cycling than the previous Government. Including match funding, we invested £375m into cycling between 2011 and 2015, compared with £200m under Labour from 2005-10. Our continued support for the Bikeability scheme will allow more school pupils to start cycling too.

I also secured £159m of cycling funding in February 2012 to help create better cycle links for communities, improve cycle facilities at railway stations, including a £225,000 grant to a project to improve local cycling and green travel at Lewes station incorporating a cycle hub for 200, as well as a more cycle-friendly layout at road junctions.

Whilst I was Transport minister, I created the Local Sustainable Transport Fund which allocated £1bn for new projects supporting walking and cycling, as well as bus, rail and other green transport infrastructure projects. You can find more information about the Local Sustainable Transport Fund here, and a list of the projects given funding from 2015 here. I want to see a further round of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund in the next Parliament, to help support the construction and improvement of things like on-and-off road cycle paths, junction and crossing improvements.

There is no doubt in my mind that improving our environment and increasing the number of people walking can provide significant benefits to our health. If we cut air pollution, we will have fewer problems with asthma and bronchitis. If we open up more sports facilities and encourage people to cycle or walk more, we can tackle obesity and reduce heart problems, so doing more on this makes sense.

I am pleased to say that it has been Lib Dem councillors who have been at the forefront of many successful campaigns to make residential streets 20mph zones within my constituency, however, I think we should go further. We want all new roads in residential developments to have a speed limit of 20mph.

We also want to encourage councils to give active consideration to introducing 20mph speed limits in residential areas where they are not already in place, and make a minister in the Department for Transport responsible for working with councils on the conversion to 20mph limits in residential zones, reporting annually on the progress made. I pushed for East Sussex County Council to implement a Cycling and Walking Strategy for the areas of Lewes, Newhaven and Seaford, and they are currently in the process of developing such a strategy, which will support the ESCC Local Transport Plan 2011-2026. Ensuring that everyone feels safe on our streets is clearly important. That is why I want to see the next Government take action and build upon the good work to support pedestrians and cyclists that I put in place whilst a Transport minister.

Finally, I have also attached a copy of a recent article from the Daily Telegraph which highlights our party policies on cycling, and mentions that I fought for cycling issues whilst a government minister at the Department for Transport, and I also signed up for the VoteBike PPC survey, giving my replies to their questions on cycling issues as well.”

Thanks Mr Baker.

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