Cycling in Yorkshire & Beyond

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Irresponsible Sunak Wants More Dangerous Streets

20mph zone, by Jaggery, CC BY-SA 2.0
20mph zone, by Jaggery, CC BY-SA 2.0

Irresponsible Prime Minister Sunak wants English streets to be more dangerous, reports the BBC.

Apparently Sunak is against traffic-calming schemes and 20mph zones. He says he wants to end a fictional “war on motorists”.

In reality, drivers are given vast preference and privilege on England’s roads. (Luckily for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, they control their own roads policies).

Fear of motor vehicles puts 66% of people off cycling altogether.

It's too dangerous for me to cycle
It’s too dangerous for me to cycle

Posturing in the Tabloid Press

The original source of the information on the BBC website is an interview with Sunak in one of the right-wing tabloids.

Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20mph speed limits are sensible and popular measures which make places where people live safer and more pleasant.

Mr Sunak, though, called them “hare-brained schemes”.

This suggests that Mr Sunak himself is hare-brained.

He told the newspaper that 20mph zones make sense near schools, but not elsewhere. Presumably children should be instructed not to cross any roads away from schools; and those of us who are too old to go to school should consider it our duty to be run over in case a motorist feels hard-done-by.

Sunak’s comments are nothing more posturing in the tabloid press.

It is not the first time that the Conservatives have abandoned reason, good government and the public interest in the grubby pursuit of a few votes.

One of their insights is that you can appeal to people’s worst instincts and garner some votes that way. The problem is that – as with Brexit – bad policies which are against the public interest end up being revealed as bad policies which are against the public interest.

Then the immoral tactics come back to the bite the party employing them.

Blood on his Hands

The Welsh government has introduced a 20mph default speed limit on residential roads. They predict that this will save 100 lives and 20,000 casualties in the first decade.

If Sunak’s posturing results in more injuries and deaths on England’s roads, he will have blood on his hands.

When children are injured or killed on 30mph roads, he should be made to inform the parents and explain to them that he decided not to make the roads safer; that should sober him up pretty quickly.

Specific Measures

The specific measures proposed by Sunak and his Transport Secretary Harper are:

  • reviewing guidance on 20mph speed limits in England
  • amending guidance on LTNs to focus on local consent
  • stopping councils implementing 15 minute cities, where shops and other services are within a 15 minute walk. (Trying to ban 15 minute cities is outright bonkers)
  • Reducing the hours when cars are banned from bus lanes
  • Targeting “over-zealous” enforcement of parking. (What does that even mean?)


These policies give off the stench of desperation.

You would think that even Sunak would not have the chutzpah to try to dress it up as long-term decision-making – but you would be wrong.

Using traffic management techniques to tackle the pressing modern challenges of obesity, air pollution and global heating, and to improve people’s quality of life, is genuinely long-term decision-making. In Mr Sunak’s Alice in Wonderland world, though, it is short-term policy.

Mr Sunak is gaslighting us.

What next? More guns will make us safer? NHS staff discouraging hardworking Great British People from smoking their Great British Cigarettes should take the long-term decision to get more people hooked on nicotine?

How stupid does Sunak think we are?

Global Heating

Transport goals in the Routemap to Carbon Negative
Transport goals in the Routemap to Carbon Negative

In North Yorkshire, the pathway to Net Zero has been set out in the Routemap to Carbon Negative.

There must be a big reduction in private car usage in the near future. That is not going to be achieved by prioritising drivers even more.

Failing to decarbonise transport is incredibly irresponsible. Whether it’s floods in Libya, extreme temperatures across a swathe of European countries this Autumn, or record low sea ice in Antarctica, global heating is the most serious short-term, medium-term and long-term problem we face.

If Mr Sunak is remembered at all, it looks as though it will be as the Prime Minister who failed to address the challenge of global heating, and concentrated instead on the hours of operation of bus lanes.

He is sometimes said to be a capable technocrat – but he isn’t.

Extremism doesn’t always mean action. When there are pressing problems, those in power have a moral obligation to act to prevent the worst consequences. Failing to act, as Sunak is failing to act on global heating, is a dangerous form of extremism.

Transport Secretary Harper Endorses Conspiracy Theories

Meanwhile in his speech to the Tory party conference, Transport Secretary Mark Harper endorsed conspiracy theories related to 15 minute neighbourhoods.

‘What is different, what is sinister and what we shouldn’t tolerate is the idea that local councils can decide how often you go the shops, and that they ration who uses the road and when, and the police it all with CCTV.

transport secretary harper endorsing conspiracy theories

Some Sanity At Last

Let’s finish with a dose of sanity.

The Chief Executives of the Bikeability Trust, British Cycling, Cycling UK, Living Streets, Ramblers and Sustrans made a joint statement.

‘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.

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’.

chief executives of organisations including cycling uk
Irresponsible Sunak Wants More Dangerous Streets