Labour peer Lord Adonis has been recruited by Chancellor George Osborne to chair a National Infrastructure Commission. Adonis was Transport Secretary under Gordon Brown, and is both a cyclist and a supporter of cycling.
Adonis will become a crossbench peer in order to chair the newly formed commission. When Transport Secretary he started the ball rolling for HS2 and he has also voiced his support for cycling on many occasions.
In 2009, as Transport Secretary, he told the Labour party conference:
"Cycling [is] the greenest form of travel. For too long in this country we have hesitated to promote cycling as a mainstream form of transport."
He added: "More than half of all journeys are of five miles or less. If we made it easier and safer, more people would cycle. Just talk to the people already on their bikes. They love it. They sail past the traffic, they enjoy the exercise, they get a sense of freedom.
"In much of continental Europe, cycling is already mainstream. In Copenhagen … a staggering 40 per cent of journeys are now by bike.
"If we want a cycling revolution in this country, everyone should be able to join in.
During a ministerial visit to Copenhagen in 2009 to see the Danish city’s cycling infrastructure Adonis told his hosts: "I’m impressed. You have many helpful ideas. We have a lot to learn."
In 2013, Adonis said on Twitter:
"Cycling should be an essential factor in infrastructure planning – as I learned from cycling around Copenhagen."
A National Infrastructure Commission was originally a Labour policy.
The appointment of Adonis is designed to take the politics out of infrastructure projects. The new commission will be modelled on the independent fiscal watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility and will advise the government on which infrastructure projects should be prioritised.
In speech later today Adonis will say: “I am pleased to accept the chancellor’s invitation to establish the National Infrastructure Commission as an independent body able to advise government and parliament on priorities.
He will add: “I hope it will be possible to forge a wide measure of agreement, across society and politics, on key infrastructure requirements for the next 20 to 30 years, and the assessments which have underpinned them.”
Adonis knows a great deal about the potential dangers posed by motorists on Britain’s roads: in 2009 he was cycling with London Mayor Boris Johnson and Kulveer Ranger when a passing lorry’s back door sprang open, dragged a parked car into the path of the three cyclists and narrowly avoided wiping them out.