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“It’s too dangerous to cycle on the roads”: Conservative councillor’s call for cycling infrastructure in new housing developments branded “pathetic” by fellow party members

A councillor opposed to the cycling plans said: “There is no way I would get on a bike… If you weren’t run over by a HGV being driven illegally through the village, a speeding car charging round the corner would get you”

A local highways boss’s call for cycling and walking infrastructure to be introduced in all new build developments has been scathingly dismissed as “pathetic” by his fellow Conservative councillors, who have claimed that riding a bike is too dangerous in rural communities where much of the new housing is being built.

David Brazier, Kent County Council’s cabinet member for roads and transport, published a report this week looking into the local authority’s “involvement in the highway aspects of planning applications”, Kent Online reports.

In the report, the Conservative councillor argued that, “where possible”, the highways department is not “looking to amend the network to accommodate more cars”.

He continued: “Instead, they are looking to see how people could travel more sustainably from new development sites and are asking developers to provide the infrastructure to make this happen.

“The hope is that in the future it will be more inviting and easier to walk and cycle short trips than to use the private car and that public transport will be more accessible with reliable journey times.”

> Plan to cut down 140 trees for cycle lane to new housing development sparks debate

However, Brazier’s call for active travel infrastructure to be introduced in new housing developments was dismissed as “pathetic” by a fellow Conservative councillor.

Discussing the report yesterday at cross-party transport board, Gill Fort, a borough and parish councillor for the village of Leeds, said: “The idea is fine if you live within a mile of the shops. But in rural areas, no way.

“There is no way I would get on a bike in Leeds as it’s too dangerous on the roads. If you weren’t run over by a HGV being driven illegally through the village, a speeding car charging round the corner would get you.”

Meanwhile, Harrietsham Parish Council chairman Eddie Powell added: “There are certain parts of the A20 which are a death trap with the amount HGVs on it. It’s a single-track road and cyclists mean less room.

“With new housing, the population of Harrietsham has nearly doubled in ten years but [there has been] no investment in the roads. I would not allow my children to cycle to school, that’s for sure.”

> Rishi Sunak is “on the side” of drivers – What happened to Britain’s “golden age for cycling”? 

Another Conservative on Maidstone Borough Council, Denis Spooner, also described the county council’s approach to road improvements as a “standing joke – nothing gets started, nothing gets done.”

However, Spooner was also distinctly noncommittal when it came to the need for active travel infrastructure, telling the meeting: “In fairness, it's the way the world is going – there is simply not the capacity to take all the cars. And it will take a massive sea change in public perception to make it happen.

“I support sustainable travel, but you cannot do the weekly shop at Tesco or pick the kids up from school on a bike.”

> Rishi Sunak accused of seeking to exploit division over LTNs as he orders review of schemes

However, not all members of the cross-party board were as critical of the councillor’s report.

Labour councillor Paul Harper, a member of the Maidstone Cycle Campaign Forum, said that the plans to introduce cycling infrastructure in new housing developments would only work alongside broader schemes which created “good public transport, cycle paths, and decent walkways for pedestrians”.

Meanwhile, Maidstone Green Party borough councillor Stuart Jeffery added: “There has to be a fundamental rethink of how we get around in the future.

“I broadly welcome David Brazier’s comments because I hope they will prompt a level of debate.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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45 comments

Avatar
HoarseMann | 9 months ago
4 likes

It's the conservative councillors driving you've got to worry about around our way...

https://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/crime/milton-keynes-tory-councillor-...

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hutchdaddy replied to HoarseMann | 9 months ago
2 likes

What a complete wanker.

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eburtthebike replied to HoarseMann | 9 months ago
4 likes

[/quote]"Cllr Balazs himself said in the statement: “I apologise for any upset and concern my actions may have caused. I feel that the issue is of sufficient severity and has placed enormous stress upon myself and my family that the only honourable option for me is to resign with immediate effect from my role as a Milton Keynes City Councillor”.

He added: “I also do not wish to inflict any reputational damage upon the local Conservative Party for which I have worked tirelessly over many years and for the residents of the Newport Pagnell South ward for which I have always endeavoured to offer commitment and service of the highest order’.

Cllr Hopkins said he was “deeply sorry” to see Cllr Balazs leave in such a manner."

".....only honourable option or me is to resign..."  A tory with honour, pull the other one.

"I also do not wish to inflict any reputational damage upon the local Conservative Party..... "  How can you damage the reputation of the biggest bunch of liars, cheats and hypocrites in the UK?

But Cllr Hopkins, tory leader, sums it up nicely, saying that he's deeply sorry to see him go in "such a manner."  Not that he's deeply sorry that his party colleague was breaking the law, seriously injured someone and devastated their business.

It's not just nationally that the tories are utter tossers, it's locally too.

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HoarseMann replied to eburtthebike | 9 months ago
2 likes

I guess he would argue it was a 'minor motoring offence'. The sort of criminal offence that is deemed socially acceptable:
https://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/people/disgraced-milton-keynes-counc...

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eburtthebike replied to HoarseMann | 9 months ago
3 likes

To a tory, lying is like breathing, only easier.

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OldRidgeback | 9 months ago
5 likes

This the sort of anti logic we've come to expect from the Tories. Don't build cycle lanes to make cycling safer because it's too dangerous to cycle at the moment because there are no cycle lanes.

I presume this buffoon did indeed cycle as a kid when the roads were much more dangerous. But in those good old bad old days, nobody noticed when someone was killed ina  road crash because it was so common. The peak year for road deaths in the UK was 1972 and there were 5x as many people killed on UK roads then as in 2022.

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Hirsute | 9 months ago
5 likes

“I support sustainable travel, but you cannot do the weekly shop at Tesco or pick the kids up from school on a bike.”

Never heard of a trailer or a cargo bike then Cllr.

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eburtthebike replied to Hirsute | 9 months ago
4 likes

Hirsute wrote:

“I support sustainable travel, but you cannot do the weekly shop at Tesco or pick the kids up from school on a bike.”

Never heard of a trailer or a cargo bike then Cllr.

For drivers, the blinkers aren't for indicating a change of direction, they're for the eyes.

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 9 months ago
14 likes

“I support sustainable travel, but you cannot do the weekly shop at Tesco or pick the kids up from school on a bike.”
 

oh yes you can. I will happily show you how it's done. (and so can thousands of others no doubt) 

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HKR | 9 months ago
0 likes

Kent County Council is not fit for purpose.  It's too large to care about local people, incapable of fixing its road infrastructure so we are plagued by mega-potholes and shocking surfaces.   The only answer to this that would result in proper decisions and action across the County is for the introduction of unitary authorities which are better value, more democratic and which deliver what people want.

A West Kent authority comprising of Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks would be a more appropriate sized authority.   Time for a change.

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wtjs replied to HKR | 9 months ago
0 likes

A West Kent authority comprising of Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks would be a more appropriate sized authority

Well, they've abolished former Cumbria by the same means

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David9694 replied to wtjs | 9 months ago
0 likes

Ah yes because all the problems vanish forever when you reorganise.

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NOtotheEU | 9 months ago
3 likes

They are much more forward thinking in Brazil;

'World's deadliest cycle lane' with no safety measures is removed after public outcry

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/worlds-deadliest-cycle-lane-no-...

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Cycle Happy | 9 months ago
5 likes

If only there was a fine system for councillors who make dumb comments and arguments like this. It would pay for the required infrastructure that they can't comprehend.

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chrisonabike replied to Cycle Happy | 9 months ago
1 like

Unfortunately they're still less likely to spend it on the good kind of infrastructure and more likely to spend it on ... this stuff.  It's slowly getting better, some places.

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ymm | 9 months ago
8 likes

Tory backward thinking leaders need to be roundly ignored for being stuck in an era that we will never return to. The continued fascination with old and outdated attitudes and behaviours is a huge barrier to our progress, both economically and societally. We should all just completely ignore these Tory luddites, and those who yearn for an unachievable past, who lack any capacity to move our country forward in a sustainable manner. It won't be long until we can progress towards a better existence once these calamitous fools leave govt.

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eburtthebike replied to ymm | 9 months ago
4 likes

ymm wrote:

Tory backward thinking leaders need to be roundly ignored for being stuck in an era that we will never return to.

No, not just ignored, they should be challenged, disproved and shown up for the out-of-touch reactionaries they are.  Trouble is, that applies to 99% of the tory party.

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mattw | 9 months ago
1 like

Hmmm.

Kent County Council already has a "Strategy for Vision Zero" in place, including "We will strive to follow LYN 1/20".

She's a bit late.

https://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/124521/Vision-Zero-S...

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Oldfatgit | 9 months ago
15 likes

So how do us, that live in rural communities, manage to do the weekly shop or the school run while on a bike?

Many of us seem to manage, and with ebikes increasing the ease in which you can ride cargo bikes or tow trailers, it's not the barrier that some seem to think it is.

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andystow replied to Oldfatgit | 9 months ago
19 likes

"I can't imagine doing it, so obviously nobody else can. Although I've never tried."

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chrisonabike replied to andystow | 9 months ago
4 likes

andystow wrote:

"I can't imagine doing it, so obviously nobody else can. Although I've never tried."

Excellent!  It's almost the generalisation of what lead to "quaxxing" - although I think the original carries a measure of disdain also.

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HoldTheWheel | 9 months ago
24 likes

So basically, "I wouldn't ride a bike on the road here because I might get run over by a car or lorry and I oppose the plans to introduce more cycle infrastructure which will make cycling safer because I'm an idiot that can't think logically".

They literally highlight the reason why cycling infrastructure is necessary as an argument for opposing building cycling infrastructure

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chrisonabike replied to HoldTheWheel | 9 months ago
9 likes

HoldTheWheel wrote:

They literally highlight the reason why cycling infrastructure is necessary as an argument for opposing building cycling infrastructure

They just forgot to add "...and I never see anyone cycling there so it's pointless making provision for cycling".

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jaymack replied to HoldTheWheel | 9 months ago
7 likes

Out yonder there is this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckons like a liberation...unless you're a Tory that is in which case it's a woke conspiracy to be defeated by laying tarmac upon tarmac and allowing the internal combustion engine to choke everything.

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mctrials23 | 9 months ago
11 likes

A new build estate near me has some bike lanes. They are great parking for the cars of the people that live there. They can park completely off the road with the bike lane. Its just the right width. I wonder why they do that eh?

I messaged the council and they said "not our problem". Apparently I need to talk to our local PCSO about it. 

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wtjs replied to mctrials23 | 9 months ago
8 likes

Apparently I need to talk to our local PCSO about it

That is disgraceful, dangerous talk! Won't somebody think of the people forced to die laughing?

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I love my bike | 9 months ago
5 likes

'And it will take a massive sea change in public politicians' perception to make it happen.'

Seems they're admitting to being incompetant & implying that motor vehicle number plates a driving licence are pointless.  At least they stopped short of complaining that cyclists go through red lights (as there're no traffic lights in Leeds).

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Trevor Anderson | 9 months ago
1 like

With all the road closures around Leeds for the next six months, cycling is probably the only option now!

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brooksby | 9 months ago
15 likes

Maybe riding a bike is too dangerous in rural communities but you know what, it's not some natural phenomenon like the weather or wild bears - it's dangerous because of the behaviour of the people who live there or who drive through there.

(I'm sure KYA can add to this - IIRC they are very knowledgeable about the leafy lanes of nearby Essex...).

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Carior replied to brooksby | 9 months ago
7 likes

Indeed - the idea that cycling infrastructure is unacceptable because motorist drive illegally is absolutely outrageous.  I do not comprehend how on Earth anyone with a single brain cell could possibly spew this kind of non-sensical rubbish.  I mean how about you know, ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THAT?

We can't have cycling infrastructure because cyclists do illegal things and are too dangerous and don't deserve to be on the roads. Now we can't have cycling infrastructure because motorists do illegal things and make it took dangerous for us to be on the roads. I mean I suppose we should be happy that this hapless fool has identified the problem and yet dismayed that their solution to the problem is to ignore it and tell cyclists to suck it up!

Jesus wept!

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