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Conservative MP claims cycling infrastructure is "rarely used" and "takes away from drivers and pedestrians"

In February, Nick Fletcher was criticised after using a known conspiracy theory in Parliament to attack the concept of 15-minute cities

Conservative MP Nick Fletcher has once again spoken out criticising active travel provision, this time in a letter to a road.cc reader in which he claimed cycling infrastructure in his Doncaster constituency is "rarely used" and "takes away from drivers and pedestrians".

In the letter, seen by road.cc, our reader was told the MP "would have to disagree that the cycling needs of the residents of Doncaster are being ignored" and that the city centre is "filled" with infrastructure that is not used and "takes away" from other road users.

The reply came after a road.cc reader had sent Mr Fletcher one of Cycling UK's pre-written letters regarding funding for local cycling infrastructure.

"I am a disabled veteran," the reader told road.cc. "Previously, in 2022, I had written to Mr Fletcher regarding problems with disabled scooter and wheelchair access to certain parks and recreational grounds in the village where I live. A letter which Mr Fletcher simply chose to ignore.

"This time Mr Fletcher found the time to reply to my letter. Please note that Mr Fletcher has never been seen riding a bicycle anywhere in the district and doesn't give any evidence supporting in his reply!"

In full, Mr Fletcher wrote back:

 Thank you for your email in which you expressed your concern over the cycling infrastructure of Doncaster and your request to meet with me.

I am afraid I would have to disagree with you that the cycling needs of the residents of Doncaster are being ignored. Doncaster, particularly the city centre, is filled with cycling infrastructure that, quite frankly, is rarely used. In addition to rarely being used, this infrastructure takes away from pedestrians and drivers in Doncaster.

Thank you again for writing to me. 

 In February, Mr Fletcher, the first Tory MP to represent Don Valley in Doncaster, used known conspiracy theories about 15-minute cities while speaking in Parliament. He demanded a debate on the "international socialist concept of so-called 15-minute cities", and said that the schemes could "take away our personal freedom".

> Tory MP attacks 15-minute city concept with known conspiracy theory

"Sheffield is already on this journey and I do not want Doncaster, which is also a Labour-run socialist council, to do the same," he added to laughs and jeers in the House of Commons, but was backed by Penny Mordaunt who said concerns about these kind of policies are legitimate.

Mr Fletcher also penned a thread on Twitter, which was fact checked by Reuters' Nick Hardinges who noted that in the case of Oxford there would not be any physical barriers in the six proposed trial zones.

The MP had claimed "Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in their present format do untold economic damage to any city", with the second step 15-minute cities taking away "personal freedoms".

Proposed by Professor Carlos Moreno, an urbanist who won the Orbel Award in 2021 for the contribution, 15-minute city plans are currently set to begin trial in Oxford in 2024 and are being considered by many councils in the UK, in places such as Birmingham, Bristol, Canterbury, and Sheffield.

These policies sometimes use traffic filters, such as planters or bollards to reduce through-traffic and improve conditions for walking and cycling, creating a 'low-traffic neighbourhood', or LTN. In short, enabling residents to access shops and all necessary amenities within 15 minutes via active travel routes.

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.

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12 comments

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon | 11 months ago
14 likes

It's on every Tory MP's list of things to do before most of them are booted out at the next general election:

  • Get a protected bike lane ripped out.
  • Fix a relative or friend up with a juicy government contract.
  • Obtain a few paid consultancies for themselves, receving double the average annual salary of their constituents for just a few days work per year.
  • Run down a hospital so they can complain about how bad things are in the NHS a fortnight after Labour take over.
  • Pass legislation to inch the country even closer to being an authoritarian state.
  • Hold the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch at a royal ceremony, thus securing themselves in the hearts of the union-jack-tea-towel brigade.
Avatar
60kg lean keen ... replied to ubercurmudgeon | 11 months ago
4 likes
ubercurmudgeon wrote:

It's on every Tory MP's list of things to do before most of them are booted out at the next general election:

  • Get a protected bike lane ripped out.
  • Fix a relative or friend up with a juicy government contract.
  • Obtain a few paid consultancies for themselves, receving double the average annual salary of their constituents for just a few days work per year.
  • Run down a hospital so they can complain about how bad things are in the NHS a fortnight after Labour take over.
  • Pass legislation to inch the country even closer to being an authoritarian state.
  • Hold the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch at a royal ceremony, thus securing themselves in the hearts of the union-jack-tea-towel brigade.

On September 17th Wales will introuduce defalt 20 MPH speed limits in urban areas.  Watch this space, as the Welsh Torys make that the go to "war on the poor working car dirver" campain,  look away, ignore every thing else like being able to pay the bills, hospitals and docs not working properly ect.  Its is highly likley and predicable that a large secion of a certain demographic will fall for it, based on past events that begin with the big B word. Yes Labour have been in power for years but the funding is given by Westminster who have strarved Wales dry so as to give the Welsh Torys the ammo to fire at them and claim that they can fix the problems made by their conterparts in London, Rant over! 

Avatar
Doctor Darabuka | 11 months ago
3 likes

I do wish folk wouldn't conflate the '15 Minute City' with LTNs, CAZs, ULEZs etc.

I've lived in a 15 Minute City for decades and enjoy having parks, public transport, a health centre, shops, schools and work within a short distance of my home.

LTNs and CAZs are not a pre-requisite to 15 Minute Cities; you can have any one of the these structures without the other.  It's the conflation of which I disapprove, not the individual concepts.

PS: Yes, yet another English as a second language poster - it's amazing how many of us there are.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Doctor Darabuka | 11 months ago
11 likes
Doctor Darabuka wrote:

I do wish folk wouldn't conflate the '15 Minute City' with LTNs, CAZs, ULEZs etc.

I've lived in a 15 Minute City for decades and enjoy having parks, public transport, a health centre, shops, schools and work within a short distance of my home.

LTNs and CAZs are not a pre-requisite to 15 Minute Cities; you can have any one of the these structures without the other.  It's the conflation of which I disapprove, not the individual concepts.

PS: Yes, yet another English as a second language poster - it's amazing how many of us there are.

To be fair, MP Nick Fletcher is not one for accuracy, facts or reality.

Avatar
David9694 | 11 months ago
2 likes

"...this infrastructure takes away from pedestrians and drivers in Doncaster."

as regards drivers - your point? 

Avatar
brooksby replied to David9694 | 11 months ago
9 likes

And yet they're always fine with taking space away from pedestrians cyclists horsists trees wildlife ancient monuments etc etc etc to mak3 space for drivers surprise

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 11 months ago
2 likes

Democracy and the free market, is it not? Given the people what they want!

Of course the reason we "want" this is due to several generations of political support of particular commercial interests - setting in action a complex of feedback loops.

That's not quite academic; while I'm not aware of any sizeable places that have "turned against" the motor vehicle several have taken steps to tame its dominance somewhat.

Avatar
bikes | 11 months ago
3 likes

Hmm, I wonder why they're hardly used?

Avatar
chrisonabike | 11 months ago
8 likes

Meanwhile ... at least 50 years in the future, in a country not far, far away at all... with the most cycling and walking infra anywhere, personal freedoms are still in place (except being able to park everywhere by default) and it's remarkably pleasant for drivers:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d8RRE2rDw4k

Avatar
eburtthebike | 11 months ago
7 likes

Well, it's difficult for idiots to change, even when the majority say they want more and better cycle facilities, you can't have them because of delusional idiots like this.

Can't wait for the next election when we can get rid of them.

Avatar
chrisonabike | 11 months ago
6 likes

In a way I hope he's right about it "taking away" from drivers. Look at the alternatives: somehow finding vacant space in the busiest areas / main travel arteries (unlikely - we already "took away" the space from everything else and gave it to drivers). Doing what we often do, sticking paint and signs on the footway and putting active travel modes in conflict, fighting over scraps. Doing nothing on the ground but "encouraging active travel" (over 25 years of that, achieving if anything a decline in active travel).

The only proven way to change things* is to make space for cycling, walking and public transport by taking space from driving. That's not enough alone. At least in the UK we desperately need a driving diet in many places and while it's still the default, the most convenient for most trips - nothing will change.

* Assuming we want change to our transport, towns and cities. The major UK parties really don't. The SNP is maybe slightly more positive, I'm not familiar with the other regional parties.

Avatar
tom72 | 11 months ago
11 likes

Oh ffs - Bell....end. 

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