Why the Local Elections matter for cyclists

In this blog post I’ll attempt to persuade you that it’s vitally important for anyone who rides a bike to vote in their local elections

On May 6th 2021, there are local elections across the UK. These will elect local and county Councillors who will represent the neighbourhoods and local communities that we all live in.

Local elections typically have low voter turnout in the UK, around 30% or 3 in 10 registered voters but if you want better conditions and safer roads for cycling these are the elections that matter.

The people who are standing and get voted in via local elections are the people you will rely on to help you get potholes repaired or get road changes made to create safer cycling conditions – for up to the next 4 years (depending on where you live).

As funding comes available from central government these are the people who will make key decisions that will affect yours, your families and your neighbour’s safety on local roads.

Central government doesn’t make the decisions for your street or on your favourite cycling loop, it’s local councillors who do this and you can’t assume they will share your passion for bikes and active travel. You need to make sure you choose people who will help.

This includes things like Pump Tracks in local parks too or leisure routes through the countryside, if you’d like things like this you need to choose candidates who want to help people be active, want to support people moving around your community with out needing a car etc.

If you are in any way unhappy with the road conditions where you live – you need to find someone who is up for changing this and vote for them. Not only that you need to encourage everyone you know who rides bikes or wants to ride bikes to find local candidate who will support road changes in your community.

If you have issues with potholes, poor road layouts, poor cycle tracks or paths or gaps in your network or a lack of cycle parking – you need to vote for people who will help fix this.

This might take an hour or two or research but it is critical if you want improvements.

If you have a local cycling campaign group – check if they have information on the elections and the individual candidates.

For disclosure, I am the chair of my local campaign group and we’ve written to every candidate to ask about their support for the key interventions that will enable more people to cycle in safety. Our group is updating the list each day with new responses to help people choose a candidate that will help us all make cycling safer and attractive to all:

If you don’t have local campaign group you can ask, organisations like Cycling UK have resources you can turn to as well: https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycling-for-everyone

In the UK, things have changed for active travel, we have a government that at the national level is bringing what may be a major change for good for our collective future (See the Gear Change report here) and there are updates coming to the Highway Code to help make cycling safer too.

However many local Councils are behind and still need to catch up – so your vote matters more than you think it does. Where I live there are Councillors who do everything they can to stop improvements for cycling. You might well have some of them where you live too, so vote for candidates with the best chance of beating them or nothing will change even when government policy (and their own party policy) is asking them to deliver improvements for walking and cycling.

If you’ve ever moaned about potholes or local conditions for cycling, it’s critical that you vote this May.

This terrific illustration from Dave Walker via Cycling UK also shows why it matters

Thanks for reading