The culture shift of Election Cycle 2016

A third of candidates running for election to the Stormont Assembly have endorsed a call for long-term funding for cycling and active travel in Northern Ireland.

With just two weeks until the election on 5 May, a joint campaign by Cycling UK (formerly CTC), Sustrans NI, NI Greenways and Bikefast has received a ringing endorsement from Assembly candidates who back at least a £10 per head investment in cycling.

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94% of those candidates who have responded have backed the call for at least £10 per head of population to be spent annually on cycling, with some candidates asking for up to £25 per head. 96% of responding candidates back the introduction of an Active Travel Act based on the model in Wales.

So far Election Cycle 2016 has seen Jon Snow, Channel 4 Presenter and Cycling UK President, write to all the Northern Ireland election candidates on behalf of the groups asking three questions on cycling and active travel in a major pre-election survey.

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The questions focus not just on cycling in urban areas but rural with the development of traffic-free greenways where there is huge potential for tourism and regeneration. The Northern Ireland Greenways vision has been endorsed by 99% of candidates who have responded to date.

Cycling UK President, Jon Snow, said:

“Cycling’s benefits in terms of health, environmental and economic benefits are well known. I therefore urge all MLA candidates to respond to our three simple questions and let the electorate know you support the vision of a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous Northern Ireland.”

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Gordon Clarke, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director said:

“We are pleased to see so many candidates standing in this May’s election being supportive of active travel and sustainable transport.

“We know that cycling is an easy way to incorporate exercise into our daily life, it is emissions free and for every pound invested in cycling, the economy gets five back.”

Comment

The response rate alone with two weeks to the election indicates how important politicians of all stripes see active travel and cycling investment. With 94% of candidates so far backing at least £10 per head of population to be invested annually in cycling, this is the strongest possible endorsement of the Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland.

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Election Cycle 2016 has moved from being a typical pre-election survey to something much more interesting – we are observing in real time a culture shift of an entire political class. Cycling levels have risen remarkably over the last decade in Belfast and Northern Ireland – it seems politicians are now rising to meet that challenge laid down by the public.

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