Saturday 30 January 2016

Local Politics in Cambridge: Them, and Us

I'd like to say that cycling is a unifying thing in Cambridge, that local councillors understand that short of bulldozing streets and widening roads and junctions, the only way we'll increase capacity into this city is by favouring walking, cycling and public transport over private cars. I'd like to say that. I can't though.

The truth is that treating any of our local parties as cycling friendly would be a mistake. Mostly, like local politicians across the country, they're effectively voted in because they're long standing members of the social clubs of whichever party is least hated nationally - it is quite literally the case that in Cambridge whoever is in government does progressively worse in local politics through their term (with a tendency for the Liberal Democrats to be less thoroughly crushed than they are elsewhere).

I know, I sound thoroughly defeatist here, but I've just seen too much crap from them. Here's the ex-mayor (Labour) having a right go at cyclists. Here's another Labour one who won't even give a straight answer to a question to cyclists 'like you' who simply want a road to be safer, a councillor who wants to give greater priority to storing cars on public land for free than cyclists not being endangered. Listen to how angrily she says 'not just cyclists like you!'. It ain't just the red rosettes though - here's a yellow one making extraordinary generalisations about cyclists jumping red lights somehow having a kind of entitlement to road space - sadly even councillors with good records on cycling like Ian Manning will close ranks around party pals like that and defend them - political affiliation is more valuable to them than principle. But we already knew that - sorry guys but my contempt for the local Liberal Democrat party knows no bounds. Even when you do the right thing, after Rosenstiel I cannot just assume you're doing it for the right reason.

And where you get red and yellow together? They tell us to go and play in the traffic or they'll set the cops on us. People not using a facility isn't, to them, evidence that the facility isn't safe. Its evidence that children should be forced to use it on fear of prosecution. Want to ride in a way that just means you stay alive? Thats antisocial

But heck, I want this blog post to be balanced. That's difficult as the Tories are extinct in the city so I've got to go to County Councillors. Here's a Tory being almost as yellow as a Liberal Democrat by floating the stupid idea of charging cyclists a congestion fee as if its some nameless advisers plan and not him channeling his inner Clarkson. And a gentle reminder that at County level the Tories leveraged hundreds of thousands from Cycling funds to spend on junctions for cars. Yes, that's when our 'cycling champion'  Councillor Curtis maintained they couldn't go 'all out for cyclists this time' - presumably he meant some form of target practice because there's definitely no other time the went 'all out' for our benefit.

Bluntly, local politicians in Cambridge are as crap for cycling as councillors are across most of the country - the main difference is they've got a kings ransom to spend on upgrading our city to keep it competitive. Ought we trust them to spend it on anything for us that isn't crap? Well, I don't. I can't. 

Far too many of them hate us, you can tell from the barbed comments and passive aggression aimed at us in the links above. And the rest? Well all we can do is make more noise and be a bigger pain in the arse than the blue rinsed, retired cyclist haters who've endless time to mob resident and council meetings. But don't put me in the 'hopeful' camp.

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