Bike Week 2015 launched on 10 June with the now customary MPs’ bike ride to Parliament. I was honoured to receive an invitation, along with committee member Jim Chisholm, and we braved an early start cycling through London’s morning peak-hour traffic to represent Cambridge Cycling Campaign at the event. Also representing Cambridge were Patrick Joyce, cycling officer for the county council, and Hugh Salt from Dutch Bikes/the School Run Centre.
Of course, an MPs’ bike ride would not be complete without the presence of the MP for the UK’s greatest cycling city and it was great to see our own new MP, Daniel Zeichner, attending the event. This was further enhanced by his recent announcement that he had joined the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG).
The ride started at the Dutch Embassy where 100 attendees, including MPs, peers, campaigners, business people and other relevant parties, mingled over a hearty Dutch-style breakfast and listened to a range of speeches. Of particular note was the inspiring speech from the Dutch ambassador, Laetitia van den Assum, who pointed out that ‘cycling is the great equaliser’, and that ‘from our long experience, we know that challenges sometimes seem unsurmountable, but they can be overcome’.
Her Excellency was followed by Robert Goodwill MP whose positive announcement that there was funding for cycling was met with a degree of scepticism following recent cuts to the Cycling Cities grants.
We also heard from Ian Austin, the co-chair of the APPCG (with our Julian Huppert) in the last parliament, who reiterated the group’s plans to work in the next parliament to push for cycling to become 10% of all journeys by 2025.
Following the speeches, we rode at a leisurely pace past several landmarks including the Albert Memorial where we stopped for a group photo. There was clearly quite a number of cyclists as we had a job just getting everyone to fit in the frame. Of course, during our journey there were still some drivers who insisted on beeping horns and making it difficult for cyclists to travel safely. Clearly these drivers were not aware that they were beeping at MPs, lords, ambassadors and plainclothes police officers!
The ride finished at College Green in front of Parliament, where attendees remained chatting and taking photos together long after the event had officially ended. It was a great event with a positive atmosphere and a feeling that we could work together to really make a difference to cycling, across the UK.
Roxanne De Beaux