Cyclists’ manifesto urges political parties to adopt environmental promises before Senedd election

A cycling charity is calling on Welsh political parties to adopt a set of environmental commitments ahead of the Senedd election this May.

Cycling UK Cymru has joined other organisations, such as Living Streets, in claiming that more needs to be done by the next Welsh Government to tackle air pollution and encourage active travel across Wales.

In their ‘Moving up the gears – a manifesto for cycling’, the charity asked every political party to commit to spending at least 10% of the next Welsh Government’s travel budget on promoting active travel, such as walking or cycling.

It also sets out that parties should agree to invest in providing free cycling training for all ages, bike hire schemes and e-bikes. As well as this, Cycling UK Cymru says political parties should promise to deliver a Clean Air Act within the first 100 days of the election and set up clean air zones around schools.

Air pollution contributes to between 1000 and 1,400 deaths across Wales every year, according to data published by the Welsh Government.

Clare James, Group Coordinator for Cardiff Greenpeace, said: “We would definitely want to see more done there and there’s absolutely no reason why more of that budget can’t go towards active travel. [That budget] would reduce inequalities between people, it would increase the number of 20-minute neighbourhoods that exist and it would really boost the economy.”

James also agreed with Cycling UK that “it’s really important that we seize this moment whilst people are happy to walk and cycle and they’re seeing the benefits from it and they’re seeing the benefits from less traffic on the road. So, we need to build back better and not let this slip by.”

But Chris Groves, a regular cyclist from Cardiff said there needs to be more focus on ensuring everyone is safe on the roads.

Though pleased to hear the call for free cycling lessons for all, Chris said, “I don’t think I feel particularly safe on Cardiff’s roads, in particular, because the frequency with which these incidents happen. And even less so in some rural locations, when cycling outside the cities. So, you know, there is a long way to go before I think cycling and cyclists feel safe.”

The Welsh Government has defended its record on the active travel and a spokesperson told CJS News that the Labour administration has a “strong track record in responding to the climate emergency and investing in alternatives to car transport.

“We have increased our investment in active travel and public transport, including the development of new metro systems. We have published our new transport strategy, Llwybr Newydd, which commits to major reductions in emissions, shaping investment towards green travel and creating a transport system with convenient alternatives to the car. We have also set out our commitment to delivering a Clean Air Act.”

Despite calls for politicians to commit to environmental targets, none of the major parties have currently published their 2021 Senedd election manifestos.