In a radical u-turn the Government is expected to soon announce that promised infrastructure building, designed to boost a flagging economy, will not include any projects which directly benefit motorists. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, has revealed the Cabinet plans to halt all car-based infrastructure projects until motorists stop "flouting the rules of the road."
Sir Malcolm revealed the plans in a local newspaper article. A front cover story in the Fulham Chronicle was headlined: "Let's encourage motorists who obey laws of the road."
The former Defence Secretary said the suspension of infrastructure building for motorists involved both major and minor projects. There will be no more road widenings until every single motorist in the UK adheres to the Highway Code, said Sir Malcolm who is also a former Foreign Secretary. Nor will there be any more building of tax-payer funded roads to the free car parks at out of town shopping centres. Sir Malcolm said this was linked to an "epidemic" of pavement parking.
"Why should we provide more and more amenities for motorists when so many of them flagrantly break the laws of the land?" asked Sir Malcolm, a former barrister.
"Until every single motorist adheres to speed limits, stops on red and no longer parks on pavements, we shan't be providing any more facilities for them."
The MP for Kensington also made this threat: "We might even start removing some amenities. It all depends on 100 percent compliance with the law."
The new get-tough rules start at the beginning of December, said Sir Malcolm:
"If just one motorist runs a red light, or if we catch just one motorist going 40mph in a 30mph zone after 1st December that will be enough to halt our £13bn roads programme. Motorists have to realise that the sins of just a minority will impact on all motorists. Some may say this is tarring all motorists with the same brush, but let's be very clear, road traffic laws are explicit and there's no excuse for breaking them. Once 100 percent of drivers are found to be compliant with the 'must' sections of the Highway Code we will release funds for the amenities too many motorists have so far taken for granted."
Sir Malcolm said the £120bn project to equip all city centre roads with safe facilities for cyclists would go ahead as planned.
"Clearly, cyclists are a special case. We're happy to turn a blind eye to their slight rule bending because cycling is to be encouraged. We won't be ceasing any cycle path building just because of a few black sheep. If cyclists can find room on pavements, dodging all the cars parked on them, they should be perfectly entitled to ride along them."
He added there should be no more 'them and us' when it comes to discussing infrastructure spend for cyclists and motorists.
"When the producers of radio phone-in shows are in need of a contentious subject that is guaranteed to generate a heated discussion, one trusty stalwart they can always depend upon is the ‘cyclists vs drivers’ debate. Without fail, calls come in from angry cyclists whose bike paintwork has been endangered by reckless drivers, and from angry drivers whose lives has been endangered by reckless cyclists. Both sides are at fault, of course, but we feel it's only right that we single out motorists as the real threat on our roads. Once they slow down, we'll think about providing for them again."
Sir Malcolm also revealed that the Government is evaluating whether to force car manufacturers to make sure all new cars are highly visible during daylight hours. He said hi-vis yellow paint could be made compulsory for all new cars and, if a study finds there are safety benefits for all road users, the hi-vis yellow paint requirement would be phased in for all of the UK's 23 million registered cars. The MP for Kensington wouldn't be drawn on whether the Government plans to make motorists wear motoring helmets but he did say "if only one life was saved, it might be worth looking at."