Transport for London board member Brian Cooke, a member of TfL’s "Surface Transport" panel which deliberates over the body’s roads budget, has NOT suggested that motorists should pay directly for the many road improvements taking shaped in the capital, but by saying that cyclists ought to he is once again flagging his ignorance how roads are paid for.
Cooke loves digging holes for himself – prior to the last mayoral election he was sacked as the head of TravelWatch for pledging political allegience to Boris Johnson, last week he said a cyclist he disagreed with was a "rude lying cow", he threatened to sue another cyclist for "deformation", and despite being given an indepth schooling on roads funding via multiple Twitter messages he still insists that motorists pay for roads. [UPDATE: Cooke’s Twitter account has been suspended, for at least the second time.]
He has now tweeted that "to make it fairer" cyclists should "contribute to vast costs being spent on improvements."
Roads are paid for by local and national taxation, they are not paid for by taxation on motorists. The huge amounts of money raised by motoring taxation – like all taxation – goes into the "consolidated fund", the national coffers, and is spent on schools, education, welfare, roads, defence and so on.
Cooke is one of those on TfL’s "Surface Transport" panel, which oversees the £913m budget to be spent on cycling in the capital in the coming years. If he believes cyclists ought to contribute directly to this spending – something that motorists do not – do others on the panel also think like this? And if they do, might that colour their decisions on the type of cycle facilities that get built?
Cooke receives up to £24,000 a year for six meetings.
Last week Cooke tweeted his ignorance of how roads are funded and when his ignorance was pointed out to him he called one of his challengers, Mandy Hodgkinson, a "rude lying cow."
Hodgkinson – imaderbygirl on Twitter – had asked Transport for London what it thought about one of its board members having such poor knowledge of a transport subject.
Gareth Long, a customer services executive for Transport for London, replied:
"The tweets posted by Brian Cooke … were in a private capacity. Board Members of TfL are entitled to have their own views on issues and we do not consider that any of the content calls into question Mr. Cooke’s suitability as a TfL Board member."
And what about the "rude lying cow" comment?
Long said: "Mr Cooke has accepted that he should be more restrained in his exchanges, particularly if they have some relevance to his role as a TfL Board Member."
The many Twitter exchanges between a number of cyclists and Cooke last week were explicitly regarding his capacity as a TfL board member, and how somebody in his well-paid position could possibly not know how roads are funded. Cooke had tweeted they were paid for, in part, by the "road fund licence" even though the road fund was abolished in 1937.
Cooke had tweeted: "Cyclists as cyclists pay virtually nothing toward road funding." He subsequently suspended his Twitter account, although this was later reactivated. Those who point out that roads are not paid for by motorists are often called "liars" by Cooke and he blocks them on Twitter.
Many have pointed out to Cooke that "cyclists" and "motorists" are often the exact same people, a distinction he has to absorb. He has finally acknowleged that "roads paid by taxation" but he added "motorists contribute disproportional [sic] share of tax compared to cyclist [sic]."
A number of interests are represented on the TfL board, including rail, taxi and private car hire, but the board has no-one from cycling or pedestrian organisations.