Imagine if family cycling was part of the EU referendum debate

Image a parallel universe where family cycling was being discussed by our politicians as part of the EU referendum campaigning.  I wonder if the press reports would read something like this…….

The Leave campaign has today been wooing voters with a promise that if Britain votes to leave the EU on Thursday 23rd June there will be additional money available to invest in cycling.  Michael Gove (Conservative) confirmed that spending will increase by £50.27.  “Being in the EU has seriously constrained our ability to invest in cycling. Even the Dutch only spend £24. A vote to leave in the EU referendum means a vote for more investment in cycling.  We predict that by exiting the EU there will be an additional £12.14 to spend on teaching kids to cycle, and a further £39.15 to provide well designed, cycling infrastructure near schools across the length and breadth of the UK.”

Gove was immediately accused by the Remain campaign of confusing voters by using inaccurate figures, and quoting a mix of total and per capita figures in the same example. “This is another example of Gove talking out of his bicycle pump. He’s throwing made up and unreliable statistics at an already confused public” said Chancellor George Osborne.

Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill also poured scorn on Gove’s claims that a further £50.27 would be available for cycle funding. “We all know that this government has a proud and reliable track record on cutting investment in cycling provision. Only last month it was confirmed that funding for cycling is set to fall by 70 percent within five years. Regardless of whether Britain stays or leaves the EU, this Conservative government will proudly continue to invest in road transportation over active travel.”

Remain campaigners from within British academia warned that should Britain vote to leave the EU, there would be a significant impact on the transfer of intellectual knowledge.  “We rely heavily on seeing what the Dutch and Danes are doing, trying to copy them but missing out some of the important safety bits. If we leave the EU, our transport planners will need to reinvent the cycle path, so to speak” said one University vice-chancellor.

Cycling with kids in Holland

Parents warned of increased costs of family cycling holidays if leave campaign win

In a separate move, David Cameron warned parents that by voting to leave the EU in Thursday’s  referendum, they risked adding £22.50 to each family cycling holiday in Holland. According to the Prime Minster, the growing number of parents taking their kids on family cycling holidays to Holland during the school holidays, where they can ride their bikes safely on great cycling infrastructure, will face additional queues as border controls are tightened. “As any parent knows, queuing is a nightmare when you have children. We predict that the need to buy magazines with crap plastic toys attached and high sugar snacks which send them loopy whilst boarding the ferry will add over £22 to the cost of an average family cycling holiday in Holland” the Prime Minister grimly warned supporters gathered at a “Vote Remain” party in Westminster.

Cycling with a cargo bike in Amsterdam

Boris Johnston retorted immediately by urging patriotic British parents to holiday in London rather then Holland, adding “During my time as Mayor of London I was incredibly proud to have made London just as good, if not better, than Amsterdam for cycling with young children.  I am confident that in the post-Brexit world we will see huge economic benefits, as international tourists flock to London for their cycling holidays.”

Impact of EU referendum on family cycling“EU referendum to cause chaos to family cycling economy”

Meanwhile, the Leave campaign fought to quell rumours that Brexit would lead to chaos within the family cycling economy.  Cargo bike stockists have written an open letter to the Times warning that should Britain leave the EU it would be increasingly difficult to keep up with demand for Dutch cargo bikes from London families keen to use the new Cycling Super Highway.

In a shock move yesterday lunchtime the German Chancellor, Angela Merkell, warned that Brexit could result in German Cube kids bikes no longer being exported to the UK.  The value of second hand Islabikes on Ebay rose 15% following this announcement, but had fallen back by 8% by the time markets closed.

Meanwhile, a nationwide shortage of Frog Bikes has been blamed on Brexit fearing cycle retailers. The possibility of Wales declaring independence and remaining in the EU, should the leave campaign win, has led to fears of excessive import taxes on Frog Bikes. The kids bike manufacturer recently moved manufacturing to South Wales, and industry insiders have warned a new Welsh export tax would spell disaster for independent bike shops.  Reports of 5 year old children leaving bike shops sobbing due to lack of stock of Frog Bikes were dismissed by the Leave campaign as a smear tactic by the Remain camp.

Finally, in the capital, cycle campaigners confirmed they are seeking legal advice on whether the Mini-Hollands will have to be renamed should the Leave campaign win.

Now back to real life……

You can trust Cycle Sprog to bring you great information on family cycling. Whether you’re looking for reviews of kids bikes and cycling accessories, or ideas for family cycling days out and holidays, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll still be here, regardless of the referendum results – honest!

And if you’ve enjoyed this blog, please share it with your friends…… thanks.



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2 Comments

  1. Rachel Cornish says:

    Enjoyed the spoof article – but why not consider the real impact of Brexit on cycling?

    The cost of cycling as a hobby is likely to go up considerably as bikes and accessories become more expensive. Most bikes or significant parts of their components are manufactured oversees. The largest bicycle manufacturer is currently Giant – based in Taiwan. Other high end bikes that are popular in the UK (as they are sold in the large UK shops) are mostly from the US (Cannondale, Trek, Specialized), Australia (Avanti) – i.e. from non EU countries. The trade deals with these countries are based on the EU and several countries (US, China) have stated they are not interested in bi-lateral trade agreements until any new UK-EU trade deal is sorted, which will take many years – a point that Politian’s have kept hidden. So cost to import these brands could rocket. One of the biggest bits of misinformation is that the UK could negotiate better trade deals on their own. The opposite is the case – the UK loses its attractiveness to the US, China etc by leaving the EU so will get a worse trade deal.
    Other brands such as Cube (Germany), Bianchi and De Rosa (Italian) will also suffer whilst revised trade agreements are put in place.

    UK manufacturers might gain as they will become more competitive, provided they are not sourcing components from other countries (most cheaper ones do). So we might see more British bikes being ridden.

    Clothing – another import – so impacted by re-negotiated trade deals – will also go up in price. Club printed clothing – those that are imported will be more expensive. Any made in the UK might remain the same. In theory UK wage costs could go down, or at least minimum wages not go up as fast, so some products based on a service might appear more affordable.

    Food and drink – for a few years the variety of imported high energy and specialist snacks could decrease, again whilst new trade deals are sorted out. And prices will go up.

    More potholes – the short term economic decline from Brexit will result in cuts in local authority spending. Highway maintenance will struggle even more and the roads deteriorate. Mountain biking might gain in popularity – both off and on (potholed) roads. Road cycling will be worse.

    Taking part in European sportives (such as the Marmotte) will become more expensive, mainly through increased insurance (uncertain or no agreements in place for while). Politicians quote a ‘2 year divorce period’ – an agreed timeframe for sorting out what happens for UK citizens needing healthcare in the EU. And the same for EU cyclists visiting the UK for UK sportives.

    For the really good cyclists wanting a place in a European training team or pro team this could be more complicated and hence reduce opportunities. But might give more opportunities within the UK based Sky team.
    There may be a reduction in cycling holidays run by UK nationals in warmer countries, as Brexit will impact UK nationals abroad as well as EU nationals in the UK. And pro cyclists wanting to setup home in a warmer climate this may get more awkward. Holidays should still be available – and the Spanish running them will speak good English, so main impact is health insurance mentioned above.

    Environmental initiatives and green initiatives that tend to help cycling will be reduced. All political energy for a few years will be on redefining new laws and legislation, with no time for ‘less important’ areas of policy. And this is even with cycling mad Boris in charge. His energy will be diverted away from bikes onto economic issues. A more general concern is if any short term reduction in environmentally friendly policies becomes the status quo – as this will be a very backwards steps for the environment.

    A similar argument extends to health campaigns. There is currently quite a lot of money spent on health awareness and keep fit initiatives that benefit cycling in general. Much of this could get channelled into advisors and non elected people revising the healthcare provision and rules on access. A big impact within the first two years as this must all be sorted within the 2 year deadline to avoid leaving people stranded with no healthcare. Maybe shares in healthcare insurance providers will go up as a new demand is created. Brexit will provide a perfect excuse for the privatisation of the NHS by the back door. Most new laws won’t get scrutinised and debated with unforeseen consequences. Free access to emergency healthcare is reassuring on sportives or races where accidents do happen. Brexit is likely to increase the rate of change towards a “pay before care” system as operated in some countries. Another unintended consequence.

    Fast tracking of legislation could have a negative impact on current initiatives that help cycling. The vast amount of new laws that will need writing are too many to be done and debated by the elected Parliament and will be done by non-elected Government ministers – so rather pot luck how some of the finer detail could turn out and most doing this will be non cyclists. Currently most (maybe all) laws made by the EU and adopted by the UK or made by the UK go before elected representatives before being passed. Paradoxically, by leaving the EU the UK law making will lose this, something I don’t like as it puts too much power in the hands of non-elected officials. This point is not being made – many say they are voting for Brexit for accountability reasons – but for this reason you should vote remain.

    The above is all suggesting Brexit is bad for cycling.
    Are there any benefits? House prices are likely to fall so for those looking to buy a house you might get a bigger house with better bike storage area. Although this is likely to vary regionally as some areas will see more of an impact.

    Summary.

    The economic, democratic, environmental, humanitarian arguments all suggest a vote for Remain.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Rachel for making the serious points about the referendum debate so much better than I ever could. It’s worrying how much could be affected, but sadly the debate seems to be focused around personalities and immigration. I had not thought the potholes round my way could get any worse – I’ll be retiring my road bike in favour of full suspension if Brexit win. Karen

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