In a speech at the Labour party conference, shadow transport minister Maria Eagle put a little more flesh on the bones of a transport policy from any future Labour Government. Urging smarter investment on the trains and on buses, Eagle also spent time talking up cycling and walking.
She told delegates that two-thirds of all journeys in the UK are under five miles so Labour would "make alternatives to driving, not just a possibility, but an attractive choice."
She stressed the safety of cyclists would be a priority of a Labour Government:
"In a year when we’ve seen a 12 per cent increase in pedestrians killed on our roads and the appalling tragedy of eighty-eight cyclists losing their lives, we must have a renewed focus on safety."
She praised The Times' Cities Fit for Cyclists campaign, urging that the current Government should implement the campaign’s manifesto for change in full.Article continues below
This would involve "Separated cycle-ways; redesigned junctions; advance green lights for cyclists," said Ms Eagle. And this would require "setting aside a proportion of the roads budget to make it happen."
Ms Eagle did not state how much this would cost or how much a future Labour Government would apportion to building such infrastructure.
Ms Eagle also promised more support for local authorities to extend 20mph speed limits in residential areas, and better cycling facilities at train stations and on trains, and safe routes to schools.
Cycling and walking would be a "genuine priority," she promised.
Sustrans' policy adviser Joe Williams welcomed the committment:
"To hear walking and cycling mentioned so prominently by the Shadow Transport Secretary is very encouraging. The promised investment in safe cycling routes makes economic sense and would help tackle our obesity crisis.
"At the moment we spend only a tiny percentage of our transport budget on cycling. If we are to make it a normal and easy way to travel we need to match the spending levels of countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.
"Slower speeds on our streets will make the biggest difference to getting more of us out walking and cycling. It was great to hear Maria Eagle support 20mph limits but Labour should go further and support a change to the national default speed limit."