Government transport decisions are made by non-motorists, believes Michael Dugher, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. He made the startling claim in an interview in the parliamentary magazineThe House.
The Barnsley East MP made light of inferences he might not be very sensitive to the safety and infrastructure requests from cycle campaign groups: “The idea that I should be cycling from Westminster to Barnsley to show that I’m not anti-cyclist, it’s just bollocks!”
Dugher is very pro-motorist and believes policy decisions have been made by this and previous governments that haven’t taken motoring into consideration (and I’m not making this up): “We’re sat in the middle of Westminster. So many of the politicians and the journalists and the civil servants, we all work in central London. Their personal experience of the transport network is not representative of the rest of the country. So it’s a collective failure. Why wouldn’t you talk to people about how they choose to travel most of the time?”
He added: “The vast majority of people, their daily journey is by road. Given that most people spend most of their time travelling by road, I’ve felt for a long, long time – and this is a criticism of all governments – that politicians spend most of their time talking to the minority of people who don’t. And that just seems a very odd approach.”
Looking on the bright side, Dugher seems to want less transport tribalism: “There is too much ‘either/or’ in transport. Which is nonsense. Most people have a car, and use their car a lot. They’re not ‘motorists’. They’re people who have a car."
Motoring said the would-be transport secretary is "how most of us move around most of the time."
He added that motorists feel the market “doesn’t work for them" but they can rest assured that "I’m going to focus as much on their concerns as everybody else’s."
He makes a case for urging people to “use their cars less” but just as quickly removes the very idea:
“Quite a number of journeys that people make are less than a mile. There is a lot of evidence that if people switched a proportion of their journeys you’d have a huge influence in terms of environmental benefits.
"But there’s a whole bunch of reasons why people in those circumstances choose to use their cars. There’s got to be viable alternatives. You’re only going to do that if you’ve got a bus network market that isn’t broken, as it is at the moment. You’ll only cycle to the station if, when you leave your bike there, there is a reasonable expectation that it will be still there when you return."
That’s right, Britain’s hostile roads (strictly speaking it’s not the roads that are hostile) aren’t to blame for cycling’s low modal share it’s the lack of Sheffield stands.
"The guy is basically an idiot." According to The House that’s what Dugher said about Jeremy Clarkson.