A councillor has waded into a celebration of cycling in Shrewsbury, responding to posts about the family event from an organiser and fellow local politician by claiming "the car is the most important mode of transport" in rural areas.
Cllr Richard Marshall — a Conservative councillor for Worfield and also, notably, a portfolio holder for highways and regulatory services at Shropshire Council — decided to reply to organiser and Liberal Democrat councillor Rob Wilson's posts about the event, questioning the popularity of the day and defending the car's role as "most important".
"Kidical Shrews was amazing," Cllr Wilson, who organised the event alongside residents, said, sharing pictures of the group including families and children enjoying the cycle.
"Over 250 people riding together, demonstrating the urgent need for Shropshire councillors of all colours to back changes to our streets to make them safe for all ages and abilities to walk, wheel and cycle. We cannot wait for the tragedy to act."
[Cllr Rob Wilson/Twitter]
In a series of replies, Cllr Marshall could not help but ask: "Hmm 250 out of how many residents?"
Before minutes later arguing: "Let's not forget however important it is to keep the roads safe for all users, in a rural county the car is the most used and most important mode of transport."
Let’s not forget however important it is to keep the roads safe for all users, in a rural county the car is the most used and most important mode of transport
— Cllr Richard Marshall (@RPMarshallCllr) July 2, 2023
One final reply to someone, suggesting his argument in fact highlights why in a rural town it is even more important to offer active travel options, came a day later: "Agreed but I'm for people having the choice to do those journeys in whichever way they want to, so long as it's legal. That's the key, choice.
"I support the aims totally of having roads safer for all users but I also respect and support the rights of each individual to choose their mode of transport without being harassed by those that disagree. I will always stand up for personal choice."
Active travel options galore then? Cllr Wilson said the last comment "really concerns me" as "it seems to suggest that he believes that 'personal choice' is more important than safety? I hope I am wrong. One impacts directly on the other. He is the cabinet member for highways in Shropshire."
One participant called on the choice-protecting councillor to join the crowds at the next event and "share the joy". "It was a wonderful family friendly event. Many children were able to ride on the road for the first time," they added.
The event was a follow-up to the town's first Kidical Mass event in May, and follows in the footsteps of other events in some of the UK's biggest cities, promoting a vision of everyone, including children, being able to cycle safely in their hometown.
Speaking to the Shropshire Star, Cllr Wilson said: "It was great fun! We had scores of riders of all ages enjoying the freedom of pedalling on two wheels.
"There were cargo bikes, tandems, trailers, and even some bidding cyclists on balance bikes. It was such a great success that we're already planning the next event. We hope to make it a regular fixture in the town."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.