In a statement issued on Monday, October 2, Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK chief executive, said: “When Beeching took an axe to local railways in the 1960s, we were robbed of the freedom to choose how we travel. The government’s reported ‘plan for the motorist’ feels like history repeating itself.
“We need a holistic plan for how people can travel – not a plan that zooms in on one particular mode of transport. A plan that gives us the freedom to choose how we travel, maximising our ability to opt for healthy, cheap and convenient options.
“Better public transport, and safer ways for people to cycle and walk are entirely compatible with driving. Focussing on one way of travelling is like trying to complete a jigsaw with half the pieces missing.”
The comments come off the back of an announcement last week by the Transport Secretary to protect drivers from “over-zealous traffic enforcement”.
The measures include reviewing guidance on 20mph speed limits in England to prevent their blanket use in areas where it’s not appropriate and amending guidance on low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) to focus on local consent.
As part of the ongoing review into LTNs, the government will consider measures for existing “anti-driver policies” that did not secure local consent.
The plans also aim to stop councils implementing so-called ‘15-minute cities’, by consulting on ways to prevent schemes which restrict where people can drive.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Too often the private car is vilified when it has been one of the most powerful forces for personal freedom and economic growth. That’s why the government is taking the long-term, necessary decision to back the motorists who keep our country moving.
“We’re introducing a plan to ensure drivers can enjoy smoother journeys, park more easily and no longer face unfair and oppressive traffic enforcement measures.
“Our plan will sit alongside our continued investment in public transport and active travel as part of a package of measures designed to help people travel in the best way that works for them.”
Mitchell disagrees and sees this latest announcement as an attempt to win support ahead of the next general election, scheduled to take place before January 2025.
She added: “No.10 seems intent on undermining some of the government’s most successful transport policies of recent years. Ministers should be proud of their achievements on walking and cycling rather than ditching them in an ill-fated attempt to win support in advance of the general election.”