Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

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

“This is a plan that looks no further than one way of travelling and will make the roads worse for those occasions when people do need to drive”

Rishi Sunak’s so-called ‘Plan for Motorists’ – a package of measures expected to be announced at the upcoming Conservative Party conference which will curb the introduction of 20mph speed limits and allow drivers to use bus lanes more frequently – has been criticised by the UK’s leading cycling and walking organisations, who say the proposals will restrict people’s travel choices, “leaving many with one default option: to drive”.

The prime minister’s expected announcement, first reported by the Guardian, marks his latest contentious attempt to win votes by taking an explicit pro-motoring stance, a position first outlined over the summer when Sunak claimed he was “on the side” of drivers and underscored by last week’s highly divisive pledge to water down some of the government’s key net zero commitments, such as the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Sunak’s latest ‘Plan for Motorists’, which is expected to be announced at the Conservative conference on Monday, is reported to include proposals to limit the power of local authorities in England to place new 20mph speed limits on main roads.

Earlier this month, 20mph speed limits were implemented on almost 500km of roads in Wales, with initial analysis suggesting a “dramatic” change in traffic speeds, and a “far more pleasant” and safer environment for cyclists and walkers, while journey times for motorists in Cardiff and Wrexham have increased by 45 and 63 seconds, respectively.

> "Far more pleasant for walkers and cyclists": 20mph speed limit analysis hailed "astonishing", with drivers' journeys just 45 seconds longer

Aside from limiting the power of councils to introduce 20mph limits, the prime minister aims to restrict the number of hours a day that car traffic is banned from bus lanes, while also curbing the ability of local authorities to impose fines from traffic infractions caught by automatic number plate recognition cameras, and on the use of such cameras at box junctions.

Sunak is also expected to raise concerns about 15-minute cities, an urban planning concept devised to enable residents to easily walk or cycle to necessities such as shops, schools, or pharmacies, but which has come under fire in recent months from conspiracy theorists who believe the schemes are part of a plot to restrict movement and infringe upon individual freedoms.

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

A Department for Transport source, however, has described the policies as “speculation”.

Nevertheless, six of the UK’s leading active travel groups have claimed that the prime minister’s reported ‘Plan for Motorists’ will deny citizens “their choice, health, and freedom”.

According to the CEOs of Cycling UK, British Cycling, Bikeability Trust, Living Streets, Ramblers, and Sustrans, the proposals, instead of giving people real choice over how they live their lives, “ignore possibilities for cheap, reliable, and sustainable travel, leaving many with one default option: to drive”.

The Plan for Motorists, the organisations claim, “strips away opportunities” for families, currently in the midst of a cost of living crisis, to allow their children to walk or cycle to school safely, live healthy lives, and to travel to work or make short journeys cheaply, while also increasing congestion and pollution.

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

“When the government should be giving people more opportunities to live their lives responsibly, it’s robbing them of options,” a joint statement from the six groups says.

“When Ministers could be promoting public transport, cycling, and walking as cheap sustainable options in a cost of living and climate crisis, they’re entrenching congestion and reliance on driving for short, local journeys.

“When the government could respect people’s freedom to choose how they travel, it’s removing the alternatives. This is a plan that looks no further than one way of travelling and will make the roads worse for those occasions when people do need to drive.

“Having a reliable bus route to work, the freedom to cycle to the park, or to be able to let your children walk to school safely while breathing clean air should not be beyond us.

“This plan restricts people’s travel choices, setting the country on cruise control towards missed net zero targets and a worsening health and inactivity crisis, while denying our children of their independence and freedom to move around their local area safely.”

> Rishi Sunak’s watered-down net zero policies could “destroy any hopes of a cycle friendly future,” says Cycling UK

Last week, Cycling UK argued that Sunak’s “watering down” of the UK’s net zero commitments underlines the need for the public to show their support for green, healthy policies.

The prospect of active travel, as well as environmental, initiatives being dragged onto the campaign trail ahead of the next general election became increasingly likely over the summer, in the wake of the Conservatives’ win at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, a narrow victory credited to the Tory opposition to Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

Following that symbolic by-election, Sunak announced that was “on the side” of motorists and ordered the Department for Transport (DfT) to undertake a review of LTNs and traffic-calming measures, prompting Cycling UK to urge the prime minister to avoid sowing dissension between cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists by using the schemes as a “political football” during the election campaign.

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.

Add new comment

96 comments

Avatar
David9694 | 9 months ago
3 likes

I hear from the Tory Party conference that York is to be abolished 

Britain’s most walkable city is a ‘tremendous place’ - full list of staycation hotspots

https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/1747674/york-holiday-staycatio...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to David9694 | 9 months ago
3 likes

Nah, they're just considering removing the onerous requirement that historic walled cities dependent on tourism should have historic walls.  Or monuments.

For too long the previous government (chancellor - R. Sunak) tried to force this requirment on hard-working drivers (of cars, steam trains or indeed carts).  Radical Rishi the captain of change says - let's remove these restrictions to the free flow of traffic!  Vote Conservative to get rid of the Barbican and break free of the Bars!

The Conservatives - looking out for your heritage leafy cul-de-sacs rat run!

Avatar
brooksby replied to David9694 | 9 months ago
2 likes

David9694 wrote:

I hear from the Tory Party conference that York is to be abolished 

Britain’s most walkable city is a ‘tremendous place’ - full list of staycation hotspots

https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/1747674/york-holiday-staycatio...

When did the definition of "staycation" change from "spending vacation time at home, not going anywhere" to "not leaving the UK"?

Avatar
mark1a replied to brooksby | 9 months ago
2 likes

Around 2008 I believe.

Avatar
mattw | 9 months ago
2 likes

On 15 minute cities, please don't fall for "an urban planning concept devised to..." framing ... it's like LTNs having been planning policy since ~1960 and planning practice since at least 1930, but in the 15-M-C case that's just a new name for how cities have been since Ancient Rome or earlier.

Avatar
Hirsute | 9 months ago
1 like

brexit guru frost thinks you can get to manchester from london in 30 mins by flying.

What hope is there for any sensible road policy for *all* road users ?

Avatar
peted76 | 9 months ago
1 like

Rich'ol Sunak can 0121 as we say in the midlands, the tories in their current disgusting guise are finished and appear to be setting alight to the house on their way out.

It's depressing to think that I'm only 'marginally less disgusted' with the thought of the existing labour lot getting their hands on the controls.. but that thought is saved by the redeeming factor that surely no-one could do a worse job of running the country... could they...  

I would like to say that anyone with a feasible active travel plan would get my vote, but it seems that even that completly common sense based area of politics, this week has become a hot potato.. so that's another thing the Conserva-tits have messed up.. they are the absolute worst.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
4 likes

Quote:

...the prime minister aims to restrict the number of hours a day that car traffic is banned from bus lanes

As is the case now with bus lanes on all but the very busiest roads in London. Excellent work Rishi, introducing something that actually already exists; this can go alongside your banning of the non-existent meat tax and compulsory car sharing as a really productive way to move the country forward.

Avatar
Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
0 likes

Excellent work Rishi - some long overdue introductions to bring the motorist more on a par with the bike. 

The good thing is that all the good stuff done around active travel will continue while also supporting those who need their vehicles. 

Avatar
Jetmans Dad replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
9 likes

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Excellent work Rishi - some long overdue introductions to bring the motorist more on a par with the bike. 

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Oh, sorry, you were serious. Let me laugh even harder. 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Avatar
Cugel replied to Jetmans Dad | 9 months ago
2 likes

Jetmans Dad wrote:

Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Excellent work Rishi - some long overdue introductions to bring the motorist more on a par with the bike. 

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Oh, sorry, you were serious. Let me laugh even harder. 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Dishi Rishi is rather fishi, with nashty mashy of cyclist wishi. Upon our bikes he likes to pishi!

I too enjoy LifL-piffle, although its utterly simplistic .... but so is Sooty & Sweep and that Andy Pandy.  I enjoyed them too - when I was four years old, 286 years ago.

Loony LifL is coming to play, tra la lah la lah-lah.

But perhaps he is a woodentop, incarnate?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 9 months ago
0 likes

But what are they doing for fisherfolk?

Avatar
David9694 | 9 months ago
3 likes

Hundreds of people in Cambs call for legal driving age to be reduced to 15

The sea is right over that way.  

Thankfully, this genius idea isn't catching on in the comments.

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/hundreds-people-cam...

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to David9694 | 9 months ago
3 likes

With that kind of blue-sky lateral thinking, the sea may be coming to them, sooner than they think...

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to David9694 | 9 months ago
0 likes

Fixthebloodysite AKA David9694 wrote:

Hundreds of people in Cambs call for legal driving age to be reduced to 15

The sea is right over that way.  

Thankfully, this genius idea isn't catching on in the comments.

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/hundreds-people-cam...

Are they also calling for the legal age of responsibility to be reduced as well? I can just imagine rich teens (who will be the only ones that the insurance companies will allow) racing around the place, crashing into people and then not being able to be treated as an adult by any courts and that's assuming that the police would even bother trying to prosecute them.

Avatar
Karlt replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
2 likes

Point of order - legal age of criminal responsibility in E&W is 10.

Avatar
IanMK | 9 months ago
4 likes

A talking head driver was asked by the BBC news about 20mph. He basically said that if drivers stuck to the 30mph limit he didn't think there was a problem with the current arrangement. Fair enough I thought let's try that. Went out for a ride and clearly his plan wasn't working so there is still a problem. I wonder if he has another suggestion?

Avatar
levestane | 9 months ago
4 likes
Avatar
Jippily | 9 months ago
0 likes

Where I live the Labour MP will win in the next election anyway, mean tactically there's no reason to vote for them, so I'm just planning on voting for whichever party supports active travel the most. Any advice on which I should vote for?

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Jippily | 9 months ago
3 likes

Jippily wrote:

Where I live the Labour MP will win in the next election anyway, mean tactically there's no reason to vote for them, so I'm just planning on voting for whichever party supports active travel the most. Any advice on which I should vote for?

Vote Green to send a message

Avatar
wtjs replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
2 likes

Vote Green to send a message

I think I would do that, unless there was a real possibility that such action by numerous people could lead to The Dark Side not receiving the deserved trouncing. I once voted SDP when I thought that Labour was overdoing it with Michael Foot (great man, but not the man for leader)

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Jippily | 9 months ago
1 like

I'd just scrutinise (and ideally speak to) the local candidates. They may not win this rodeo but they tend to be back again. A bit of love for someone who's sticking their neck out politically can be important - politicians spend most of their lives fielding complaints and indeed abuse. And voicing support for active travel is still a brave thing in the UK. Never mind cycling or - Lord preserve us - questioning motor dominance!

Unless "independent" (check - sometimes this just means "Conservative, but left in a huff when they called me a fruitcake") they'll be limited by the main party organisation of course. However if sympathetic - or even interested - they can do things up to and including getting Member's bills tabled.

It's only the Greens at Westminster as far a I can see. If you're in a devolved region then maybe more choice? Welsh Labour have said they'll cut road building and have actually changed 30mph defaults to 20mph which are moves in the right direction. Scotland - SNP got a reasonable share of the transport budget slated for active travel although what that will actually go to funding is still a question. And they dropped the ball on replacing 30mph defaults with 20mph.

Avatar
Clem Fandango | 9 months ago
3 likes

https://youtu.be/7TKvmzYJHds?si=6d1muiztaqTSLpP7

Screw the Dafties. Vote for Ogmios.

Avatar
David9694 | 9 months ago
7 likes

There's nothing he can do to make drivers truly happy to make them support him. Whatever he - any political leader - does it's never going to be enough for drivers, it never can be. 

Avatar
eburtthebike | 9 months ago
15 likes

The tories have identified a wedge issue to divide, and they hope, to continue ruling.  They are taking their unexpected win in Uxbridge due to the mass disinformation campaign, as a reason to pretend to be in favour of drivers: they aren't really, they're just using them to try to get elected again.

The only problem being that if it worked in Uxbridge, it could work again.  I think I'll dash off another email to my MP, Mark Harper, for him to start ignoring immediately.

Avatar
ubercurmudgeon replied to eburtthebike | 9 months ago
6 likes

If think you're being very cynical. I'm sure Rishi Sunak has a lot of genuine empathy for hardworking drivers. After all, he takes the car himself whenever his helicopter is grounded with technical issues.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa replied to ubercurmudgeon | 9 months ago
2 likes

The biggest single purpose of car trips is leisure.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to HarrogateSpa | 9 months ago
4 likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:

The biggest single purpose of car trips is leisure.

Yes... but the issue with cars is that they're "good enough" for a multitude of tasks and once you have them it seems to be much cheaper per trip once you've paid for the fixed costs.

So we've two three problems:
1) Once you have a car, that's the default.  And if you start the day by driving, obviously you're more likely to keep using your car for other journeys, at least until you return home.
2) Other modes have to offer a clear advantage over the car and that's not easy after over a century of prioritising and subsidising driving.
3) If you try to rebalance the transport system at some point you will have to restrict driving in some way or make it more expensive / less convenient.  At which point you run up against a powerful psychological drive (loss aversion).  So you're stopping us doing things / attacking our freedoms / hitting the poorest hardest etc.

Oh, and because they're ubiquitous we judge what is "possible" (and then - once we've done it a few times - what is necessary) around the capabilities of the car.

Avatar
Backladder replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
3 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

 

So we've two three problems:
1) Once you have a car, that's the default.  And if you start the day by driving, obviously you're more likely to keep using your car for other journeys, at least until you return home.
2) Other modes have to offer a clear advantage over the car and that's not easy after over a century of prioritising and subsidising driving.
3) If you try to rebalance the transport system at some point you will have to restrict driving in some way or make it more expensive / less convenient.  At which point you run up against a powerful psychological drive (loss aversion).  So you're stopping us doing things / attacking our freedoms / hitting the poorest hardest etc.

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

Avatar
brooksby replied to ubercurmudgeon | 9 months ago
3 likes

ubercurmudgeon wrote:

If think you're being very cynical. I'm sure Rishi Sunak has a lot of genuine empathy for hardworking drivers. After all, he takes the car himself whenever his helicopter is grounded with technical issues.

I read an article which, in his defence, talked about how he always uses an SUV to get safely from buildings across the field to his waiting helicopter...

Pages

Latest Comments