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“Next you’ll be asking if drink driving laws are fair”: UK Government asks motorists “caught out” by cycle lanes if current traffic fines are “fair to drivers”, leaving cyclists baffled

The new consultation comes as part of Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Drivers’, and has been slammed by cyclists, many likening the move to asking for feedback from those on the receiving end of penalties for breaking the law

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consultation for seeking drivers’ opinions on whether current traffic fines are “fair” as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Drivers’, with a dubiously-worded social media post that has been slammed widely by cyclists.

The much-criticised ‘Plan for Drivers’ was announced in October, part of which hoped to “address concerns about councils generating surpluses from issuing penalty charge notices for contraventions of moving traffic restrictions”.

The decision was slammed by leading active travel groups in the UK as denying citizens of “their choice, health, and freedom”, with Cycling UK even accusing the prime minister and Conservative party of an “ill-fated attempt to win” votes with pro-motoring policies that were “undermining” active travel success.

> Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Motorists’ will “rob people of choice” and force them to drive, say cycling and walking campaigners

When announced, the government had indicated that it was going to order a review of the fines in a bid to make them “fair”, along with other tactics such as a “new guidance on low traffic neighbourhoods” and “stopping local authorities using so-called “15-minute cities” to police people’s lives”, as well as “addressing concerns about councils generating surpluses from issuing penalty charge notices for contraventions of moving traffic restrictions”.

Now, as part of the next step in its plan, the DfT is seeking views on how to “restrict the ability of local authorities to generate surplus funds from penalty charge notices”.

The contraventions include motorists driving through no entry, no left or right turn, or prohibited vehicle signs, or unlawfully entering box junctions, and driving in mandatory cycle lanes.

> No cycling! (or walking) but Jeremy Hunt’s budget delivers £5 billion giveaway to drivers

“These enforcement powers help free up police time while helping councils to reduce traffic congestion. However, enforcement should be undertaken proportionately and not used as a means to raise revenue,” the DfT says.

As a consequence, the government has launched a public call seeking to “gather evidence of current practice to inform possible policy proposals” and “explore options for restricting a local authority’s ability to generate surpluses from traffic contraventions”.

It was announced on DfT’s social media with the caption: “Caught out by driving in bus lanes or yellow box junctions? We want to hear from you on whether the current traffic enforcement measures are fair to drivers.”

The post has been slammed by cyclists and active travel campaigners on social media, with many likening this move as asking for feedback from those on the receiving end of penalties for breaking the law.

> Cycling charity accuses Conservatives of "ill-fated attempt to win" votes with pro-motoring policies "undermining" active travel success

“‘Caught out’? Are the huge signs and paint in the road not clear enough for you? Wouldn’t that count as driving without due care and attention?” asked Tom Staniford.

“Don’t complain. Hand your licence in. You don’t deserve the privilege of driving on public roads.”

“Caught out? What strange phrasing. What’s next, asking burglars if they think being caught out by the pesky police is fair to burglars?” added Tony.

“How about considering whether it’s fair to all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and those using public transport, rather than just one group?” wrote Chris.

“Break the law, face a fine. Why is this so difficult to understand?” said an exasperated Dan.

Meanwhile, Michael came up with his own alternative call for evidence: “Caught out shop-lifting? We are having a consultation on shop-lifting. Have you been caught shop-lifting? Do you think the current shop-lifting enforcement is fair to shop-lifters? Please get in touch.”

“I can't believe a government department has been corrupted like this,” said Greg. ”You're responsible for keeping ALL people who use the roads safe. Pandering to the dangerous road users will result in more families losing loved ones.”

“Next up, you’ll be asking drivers if drink-driving is a fair measure,” said Bob.

Drivers on C3 Cycleway, London (credit: John Sword)

Yesterday's blog would indicate that a fair few “caught out” drivers in London have in fact already made their minds up about the fairness of not being allowed to drive in cycle lanes, as in a bid to avoid the traffic rush, several drivers, including professional van driver, a cabbie, and even a driving instructor, took to the cycle lane on C3 Cycleway in Shadwell, London — refusing to even give way to cyclists.

> ‘How to beat the rush? Use the bike lane’: Motorists, including driving instructor and cab driver flood cycle path — and refuse to give way to cyclists

The Conservative government’s apparent pro-motorist agenda shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, with the prime minister claiming that he was on the “side of the drivers” last year — comments which were heavily criticised by many campaigners.

In March this year, it was revealed that an official report ordered by Rishi Sunak in an attempt to stop LTNs being installed by councils, concluded that the schemes are “effective in reducing traffic volumes within their zones while adverse impacts on boundary roads appear to be limited”, and was subsequently subject to an attempted cover-up by the Tory Government.

> Government continues “angry rhetoric” against low traffic neighbourhoods despite its own report showing more people support LTNs than oppose them

When the report was eventually published, London’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Will Norman attacked the government for continuing with its “load of angry rhetoric against LTNs, 20mph, and even bus lane cameras”, despite its own research proving the benefits.

The said rhetoric had come in the form of a new guidance from Department of Transport (DfT) under the government’s ‘Plan for Drivers’, titled ‘Crackdown on anti-driver road schemes and blanket 20mph limits to put local consent first’.

The guidance said that councils will only be able to implement LTNs if they have the support from locals. Failure to do so could see future funding withdrawn and the government could take control of an authority's roads.

Meanwhile, campaigners are challenging a decision in 2023 to cut more than £200m from the Department for Transport’s active travel budget for the following two years.

In a judicial review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, lawyers for Transport Action Network (Tan) argued that the cuts threatened a key plank of the UK’s carbon reduction strategy. However, the DfT told the court that none of the grounds has any substantive merit and that the claim should be dismissed.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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38 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 2 months ago
15 likes

I was originally of the opinion that Sunak wasn't too bad- for a super-rich Tory. However, all this subsidising and fawning over motorists, especially lawbreaking ones, has made it difficult to fail to despise him and his dodgy spiv government.

Avatar
stonojnr replied to wtjs | 2 months ago
0 likes

for all the talk he's made about being the friend of motorists, actually dont think theyve done a whole lot to justify that label, theyve just really kept on doing what they and countless governments did before

always judge politicians by their actions, not their words

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to stonojnr | 2 months ago
11 likes
stonojnr wrote:

for all the talk he's made about being the friend of motorists, actually dont think theyve done a whole lot to justify that label, theyve just really kept on doing what they and countless governments did before

always judge politicians by their actions, not their words

Well, Sunak's "Eat Out to Help Out" cost a whole bunch of money and ended up costing lives, so I stand by my "Conservatives are a death cult" statement.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-67163232

Dr Death, indeed.

Avatar
Clem Fandango | 2 months ago
12 likes

They'll be claiming people not voting Tory is unfair & banning it next... 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Clem Fandango | 2 months ago
10 likes
Clem Fandango wrote:

They'll be claiming people not voting Tory is unfair & banning it next... 

Wasn't that the main driving force behind bringing in the voter photo id?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
0 likes

He seems uncommonly trusting for a politician...

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
10 likes

Yep, same reason they changed the London Mayor elections to FPTP and fiddled with the constituency boundaries across the country in a way which will give them an estimated 14 extra seats. Absolute gerrymandering.

Avatar
Surreyrider replied to Clem Fandango | 2 months ago
6 likes

Let's hope that election comes soon then - anyone but them. 

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