Tom Watson MP to talk at cycling fringe event at Labour Party conference

The new lobbying group Labour Cycles and Cycling UK have arranged high-level speakers to talk at a fringe event at the Labour Party annual conference, which starts in Liverpool on Sunday. 

The cycling fringe event starts at 3pm and will hear from Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson MP, London’s deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander, Merseytravel chair Cllr Liam Robinson and shadow transport minister Rachael Maskell MP.

Watson has been in the news recently for a weight-loss programme that included healthy doses of cycling.

The event – open to all, not just conference delegates – will be discussing how to commit the Labour Party to pledge national funding for cycling of £30 per person per head in the UK, should Labour form the next government. 

"The story of Tom Watson’s success in bringing his Type II diabetes under control has received great coverage nationally," said a statement from Labour Cycles. 

"Active travel is just one element of Tom’s journey but he’s keen to support our work and is very focused on cross-departmental approaches to combating obesity and inactivity."

Labour Cycles was founded late last year and is a cycle-specific lobbying group aiming to get the Labour Party to include provision of protected cycleways into its next election manifesto. Other measures called for include ambitious targets to increase cycle use.

"A protected cycle lane is a statement of social justice; that a resident on a £100 bike is as valued as a resident in a £10,000 car," says a blurb on the Labour Cycles website.

Labour Cycles was created by Chris and Jono Kenyon with the support of former mayoral candidate and transport journalist Christian Wolmar and Hackney councillor Feryal Demerci.

Previously, the Kenyon brothers created Cycling Works, a London-based initiative bringing together business voices in support of cycling.

Chris Kenyon said Labour Cycles would be campaigning to ensure that the next Labour general election manifesto includes:

  • An increased share of the transport budget for cycling infrastructure
  • A commitment to space for cycling with protected tracks on major roads and modal filters as appropriate on quieter roads.
  • A fundamental change in UK road design and standards to enable cycling and walking
  • Ambitious national targets for UK cycling rates.
  • Bold political leadership to enable national, regional and local government to allow for modal shift.

He said: "Investing in high quality protected cycling infrastructure is not just a matter of pollution and congestion reduction, it lies at the heart of Labour’s commitment to social justice, equality and commitment to Britain’s health.

13,000 people will be at Labour’s annual conference. Labour Cycles will also have a stand in the conference exhibition area.

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