Last weekend, just in case you were doing your best to avoid the news, Rishi Sunak promised the UK’s motorists that he was “on their side”, as the Prime Minister ordered a review of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in England.
The review – which led Cycling UK to accuse the Prime Minister of using LTNs as a “political football” – comes as the debate over green active travel policies continues to sharpen in the wake of the Conservative Party’s win at the recent Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election (called following the departure of the famously active travel-friendly PM Boris Johnson), a narrow victory credited to the Tory opposition to Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone.
Sunak’s opposition to ULEZ and LTNs, the latest strategic manoeuvre in the pre-general election battleground, isn’t the only move away from the green active travel policies held by his party in recent years, with the Prime Minister recently hinting at plans to push back the date that sales of new petrol and diesel-powered cars will be banned, while funding for cycling infrastructure – including the new government body Active Travel England – has also taken a hit during his tenure in charge.
In the second part of the latest episode of the road.cc Podcast, Jack, Simon, and Ryan sit round the table to discuss what Sunak’s latest pro-driver pledges mean for the next general election, how they represent a shift away from past Conservative policy on cycling, active travel, and climate change (led by Johnson), and what impact they could have on the future landscape of cycling in the UK.
But before we get to all that political chicanery, in part one of this episode Ryan chats with Bristol couple Anna and Mark Cordle, who recently made the headlines after they set up a parking space for their family cargo bike outside their home – which, a year after it was installed, has been the subject of threats by the local council to remove it… because it was taking up a car parking space.
In a really interesting discussion which touches on the differing perceptions and treatment of people who ride bikes to get around compared to those who use cars, Anna and Mark detail the reasons why they needed the space for their young family, how it was greeted by their neighbours, their current struggle against the council, and why planter-based bike parking spaces may provide an organic, cost-effective way forward for active travel in the UK’s cities.
As outlined in our original article, Bristol City Council is standing firm in its reasons for asking Anna and Mark to remove the heavy planters, claiming that placing them on the road is in breach of Section 149 of the Highways Act, and that they would be liable "if any person has an accident has a result of [your] planters being on the highway."
Are DIY cargo bike parking spaces the way to go, and if not, what are the alternatives? Anna notes during the discussion that she won’t be holding her breath for a dramatic policy shift just yet…
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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.