Each of the four participating groups had its own stall where the candidates could come to discuss their policies with them. Our top three manifesto points were concerned with safety of cyclists and therefore we decided to design our stall to suit that. The main feature of our stall was a ghost bike to draw attention to the killing and serious injury of cyclists by motor vehicles (visible in the background in the photo on left). To contrast with this we had a rainbow bike shown in the photo on the right. These photos and others can be seen on the
Transition Belsize website
The candidates Beatrix Cambell (Green), Ed Fordham (lib Dem), Glenda Jackson (Labour), Magnus Nielsen (UKIP, Tamsin Osmond (Commons) and Chris Philip (Cons) attended.
Soon after 7.30 the main session started with a showing of part of the film
In Transition. This was followed up by candidates telling us how they would react to peak oil and then how they would rate more economic growth against happiness. An account of this part of the event can be seen on
Transition Belsize website
The cycling section started with a showing of part of the film of the visit of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to the Netherlands in April 2009 with officials from British cycling organisations. This film was chosen because it explains how the presence of a different law of liability in Holland stopped the killing of cyclists.
Watch the film here
The candidates were then asked to answer questions on our top three manifesto points.
- Do you agree with strict liability for motor vehicle drivers, where a motorist that harms a cyclist or a pedestrian as a result of involvement in a collision is assumed liable.
- Do you agree to introduce a default 20mph speed limit for urban and residential streets accompanied by adequate enforcement.
- Do you agree that working vehicle related deaths and serious injuries on the road should be treated like deaths and serious injuries in the workplace with the HSE mandated to investigate.
We don’t yet have answers from Glenda Jackson because she left before the cycling section.
I have sent her the questions, but so far have no reply.
However, the Ham and High asked her our question one on our behalf and report that she said:
It all comes down to the assumption of liability which is difficult to prove. We would certainly increase penalties when serious injuries occur. But we see pedestrians stepping off the kerb all the time.
However, the other candidates reacted well to our questions.
Law of Liability Ed Fordham said “yes” – it works in Holland and cycling should be the norm, car drivers don’t share and we should make cycling safe; Beatrix Cambell said “yes” – asking what’s happened to British cities, London being the best to cycle in – we need to make cycling normal and Tamsin Osmond said it’s depressing this isn’t already the case, we need more cyclists and to make it safer to cycle. Chris Philip referred to an incident when he was a student in 1997 (he had cycled very fast into an opening car door) and still questions who was liable – he’s nervous about assuming guilt before proof, but supports penalties for bad driving, but he doesn’t support a change in the law. Magnus Nielsen said that he agrees with the others. Thus 4 out 5 agreed with a change in the law of liability.
20 mph default Beatrix Cambell said Greens want 20 mph as default, vehicles are lethal weapons public space should regulated. Magnus Nielsen asked about ambulances but said he broadly agrees.
Ed Fordham said that there is evidence that 20 mph works towards safety and we should follow it. He added that law should be changed so that planners need not accept the dominance of the motor vehicle (e.g. to keep traffic moving at all costs).
Chris Philip said that 20 mph should be a decision for local authorities.
Tamsin Osmond will encourage people to support this measure which she supports.
Thus we had 4 out of 5 in support of 20 mph as a dafault speed limit.
HSE to investigate working vehicle KSIs All of the candidates agreed with our third point.
Greenpeace came next with “Ask the Climate Question” – on the right is a photo from their website
. Watch an account of this part of the session
on the Greenpeace website
Organising this evening took at lot of effort. Credit for conceiving the green hustings, for getting the candidates to come along and for chairing the event is entirely due to Alexis Rowell. Stefano brought in all the drinks as well as the ghost bike and sandwich boards for our Camden Cyclists stand. He and Colleen then ran the bar. Greg Carson first suggested that we should have a hustings where we tried to get candidates to make commitments and also wrote the statement we sent to candidates as well as helping with the manifesto. Colleen provided and painted the ghost bike and Angela encouraged us to go properly rainbow with the other bike. Helen stayed at the stall and explained our manifesto to all comers. Jean wrote various drafts of the manifesto, liaised with the other groups and wrote to all the candidates ahead of the meeting.
Photos by Sarah Nicoll of Transition Belsize and George Coulouris