Battle bikes at the ready! Green Party gears up for Tooting by-election with pedal power

The election battle bus is synonymous with British political campaigns, however in Tooting the Green Party has rejected the stereotype with their ‘Battle Bike’ ride.

On Sunday, by-election Green Party candidate Esther Obiri-Darko canvassed alongside fellow party members riding their ‘Battle Bikes’ to build support for the Tooting by-election on June 16.

Ms Obiri-Darko said: “It is about making people aware that we are here and that we are the third largest party in London.

“We ran a similar bike ride last year in the general election and it got the public involved and allowed us to speak about our values and policies.”

One of the key campaign messages that the cycle ride, from Tooting Broadway to Tooting Bec Common, promoted was the need to reduce air pollution both in the area and across London.

If elected, Ms Obiri-Darko, who first came to live in Tooting in 2005, said she hopes to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London to Tooting.

The zone, which will come into affect in September 2020, is currently proposed to cover the same area as the congestion charge zone in London.

The new zone will mean that vehicles must meet low emission standards or drivers will have to pay a daily charge.

As well as looking for a zone extension, the improvement of cycle networks is another important element to Ms Obiri-Darko’s campaign for cleaner air in Tooting.

The Green Party by-election candidate, who is also a secondary school teacher, spoke of the need to improve the cycle networks in London.

Ms Obiri-Darko said: “Cycling is a wonderful way to get around the city but obviously there are issues with air quality which we are looking to monitor and this is crucial.

“There are cities all over the world which are known for cycling and it is integrated into their town planning.

“I want to see segregated cycling lanes similar to those in France, Holland and Germany.

“So the purpose of the ‘Battle Bike’ ride is partly to highlight what needs to change in this area.

“Not only would new cycle lanes be safer but it would transform the look of the town and city.”

Ms Obiri-Darko will be competing for by-election votes against Labour Party candidate Rosena Chantelle Allin-Khan and the Conservative Party’s Dan Watkins.

Mr Watkins came second to former Tooting MP Sadiq Khan in the 2015 general election, losing by 2,842 votes.

Ms Obiri-Darko said: “I am really excited about it. By-elections don’t come around very often and it has opened up an opportunity for Tooting to vote differently.

“Voters do not have to think tactically but can vote for their values and what they believe in.

“In London, the Green values are part of who the people are.

“It isn’t a vote between two parties anymore. Vote for what you believe in and things will change.”

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