Yesterday at the Bristol Cycling Summit, where a further £214m was provided for cycling in eight English cities, the minister for roads said "some motorists think roads belong to them – we need to change that,” and now Michael Dugher, the new shadow transport secretary, has gone even further and pledged to create a genuine revolution for cycling in the UK. He committed that a Labour government would fund cycling over the long-term not just with cash windfalls. He also said Labour would force safety changes on the haulage industry and would boost "road justice."
Dugher made the pledges in this week’s edition of Local Transport Today. He wrote that his changes would be real, compared to the false promises of David Cameron’s "cycling revolution”.
"What we need is real action now to ensure that the country benefits from safer roads, increased levels of cycling and effective road sharing for all types of road traffic. Where this Government has refused to act, a future Labour government will deliver for cyclists."
Dugher stressed that "more people cycling every day is not only good for public health, it’s good for the environment and the economy. And it’s also good for other road users too. It frees up the roads for motorists, which results in less congestion, safer roads and better air quality."
He made eight pledges, including committing to a "proper long-term plan with clarity over funding sources."
Labour will also be "ambitious in promoting active travel. Rather than waiting for over four years to produce a half-hearted ‘draft plan’ for cycling, we will act fast and ensure that our strategy delivers clear targets and has cross-departmental support. Over half of all car journeys are shorter than five miles and one fifth are under a mile. We want cycling and walking to be made the easy and safe option for most short journeys."
His third pledge will ensure that the "needs of cyclists are assessed at the design stage for major transport projects and maintenance schemes. Active travel was not a consideration when much of our current transport infrastructure was planned, but this is no longer an excuse. We will put pedestrians and cyclists at the centre of our roads policy."
A Labour government would also "follow what the Labour Government in Wales has achieved through their Active Travel Act."
Dugher’s fifth pledge would be to introduce a "powerful HGV Safety Charter, which will call on all HGVs to be fitted with safety kit, including rear-view cameras, rear warning signs for cyclists and flashing light beacons. HGVs are involved in nearly 20 per cent of all cycling fatalities, but make up only 6 per cent of road traffic. This cannot continue.
"By 2017, we want all HGVs fitted with audible warning systems for drivers and side-guards and blind-spot elimination devices. We believe these changes are paramount and, if necessary, we are prepared to legislate to ensure that they are brought forward."
The sixth pledge is to restore national targets to cut deaths and serious injuries alongside clear goals to increase the number of people walking and cycling.
"Seventh, we need to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done in cases where collisions lead to cyclist deaths and serious injuries.
"And finally, we understand the need for sustained and certain support for cycling education. That’s why we have committed to providing funding for ‘Bikeability’, which will ensure all children are trained in cycle safety from a young age."
Dugher promised "Labour will implement real changes," adding "it’s easy for politicians to talk about their support for cycling and promise a “cycling revolution”. But people can see through the hype. What is needed is real action and a long-term strategic effort to promote cycling from both national and local government. And this is what we will set out to deliver in 2015."
Pic shows CTC’s chair Dr David Cox with Michael Dugher.