Can Big Business Succeed with Political Leaders?


If you have ever asked a keen cyclist about the benefits of cycling, you probably got a lengthy answer: so many words at high speed, you could imagine they were clad in lycra. At first glance, it seems a strange alliance, but a number of the country’s biggest companies have now come out in favour of cycling as well, forming the Choose Cycling Network.

And these guys (and girls) are clad in grey suits rather than padded cycling shorts. Unusually for FTSE 100 companies, they have written to party leaders to ask that all parties sign up to committing 5% of the UK’s transport budget on cycling. The aim of that is to get 10% of all trips made by bike by 2025.

The business group, called the Choose Cycling Network, was born after British Cycling got their feathers ruffled when the Canary Wharf Group opposed London’s east to west “cycling superhighway”. British Cycling asked Chris Boardman to speak to companies to see if the could organise a business lobby to support cycling, and the Choose Cycling Network is the result.

Cycling legend Boardman was obviously successful, with some of the Blue Chips signed up including Santander, mobile network operator Orange, and pharma giant GSK, as well as National Grid and British Land.

Peter Walker, who writes the Guardian’s excellent bike blog quoted David Morley, senior partner at city law firm Allen & Overy

“My interest is both personal and from a business point of view. We think as a firm it’s good business having people cycle to work. It’s good for their health, it’s good for their motivation, their productivity, their outlook, and it’s good for the environment. There’s lots of reasons.”

Of the political parties, the Liberal Democrats are fully signed up to the recommendations of the “Get Britain Cycling” report. Labour and the Conservatives are supporting cycling as a principle but without putting money to it. Indeed, it was widely reported that Labour’s transport spokesman Michael Dugher was concerned about the “war on the motorist”, while Eric Pickles wants more town centre car parking, despite the letter from the Choose Cycling Network quoting the experience of New York, where retail sales have increased where cycling lanes have been implemented.


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