JANET STREET-PORTER: Cycle-mad Boris’s war on motorists is making life hell
Our cycling-mad PM says he wants to save the planet – but he arrived in Cornwall for the G7 summit this week – 280 miles from London – by private jet.
Hardly surprising, given the double standards of so many eco-warriors. If you dare drive a car in modern Britain then (in the eyes of Boris) you must be punished with plenty of taxes and ludicrous charges for parking. Driving to some people is as repugnant as incest or granny-bashing.
When the Prime Minister was London Mayor he brought the capital’s traffic to a standstill by creating hugely expensive cycle lanes which took years to construct and are only busy in rush hour.
Years later, thanks to covid, even more cycle lanes are being built and traffic is reduced to a single lane on most of the main routes through the city. Not surprisingly a new study finds that British motorists spent 37 hours last year in traffic jams, rising to 69 hours in London.
Our cycling-mad PM says he wants to save the planet – but he arrived in Cornwall for the G7 summit this week – 280 miles from London – by private jet
Motorists are regarded as vermin by the green lobby, while getting on a bike places you nearer to god. (In the eyes of Bojo, anyway).
When covid struck at the start of 2020, driving became (temporarily) acceptable for sourcing essential supplies and medical visits.
Overall, though, we stayed at home and car usage dropped to the lowest levels for decades.
And in May last year, Boris- having recovered from a near-death experience- decided to give £250 millions of government money to fund ‘active travel and cycling’.
The lavish handout was justified as an emergency gesture to promote healthier living and hopefully help to avert a second wave of deaths.
If you dare drive a car in modern Britain then (in the eyes of Boris) you must be punished with plenty of taxes and ludicrous charges for parking, says Janet Street-Porter (pictured)
In case you’re wondering, it didn’t work. After covid came back with a vengeance deaths have now plummeted and traffic has returned to pre-covid levels.
Mainly because government messaging has left us too scared to get on public transport, so we go everywhere by car if we can.
Or order it online – hence the huge increase in delivery vans.
Active travel – which Boris was so keen to promote – is a fancy way of describing the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, ie, walking.
Walkers are brilliant and economical, they don’t need charging points or lycra clothes or special walking lanes, they just need pavements that aren’t full of holes and broken kerbs. They just need plenty of empty bins for litter and dog poo.
In short, walkers ask for little except councils to spend money mending pavements to prevent the elderly falling over and breaking limbs and burdening ‘our’ NHS.
Sadly for walkers, cyclists are well-organised, more militant and manage to attract larger funding.
They demand special treatment, believing everyone in the UK would prefer to cycle everywhere if they could – when the evidence simply does not bear that out.
Cyclists are routinely better-funded than motorists, even pensioners who depend on a car to enjoy any quality of life.
As a result of that emergency funding, councils all over the UK went even further than building more superfluous cycle lanes and rushed to flaunt their green credentials by implementing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, schemes which force traffic onto main roads.
These residential neighbourhoods are usually situated in quiet, tree-lined back streets – and some were being used as short cuts during rush-hours. They are where the middle classes live – many houses have parking spaces and front gardens.
Designating them LTNs involves blocking off through routes by installing ugly bollards or expensive planters, closing streets during school hours, and making others one-way with cameras and fines. In short, if you blunder into an LTN, you’ll be very lucky to get out in less than half an hour and without an expensive ticket. They are the origami of town planning, dreamt up by some eco-version of Rasputin.
When the Prime Minister was London Mayor he brought the capital’s traffic to a standstill by creating hugely expensive cycle lanes which took years to construct and are only busy in rush hour
In the first four months after the funds became available, over 200 schemes were proposed by local authorities all over the UK. The results have proved highly controversial.
Many have been installed and then ripped out at vast expense, after furious protests. Others are being challenged in the courts.
I live in one and, like many residents in other areas all over the UK, wasn’t consulted. Friends who visit now have to walk in, or come by public transport.
The police and other emergency services are furious because they cannot get to any callout in good time, and street crime was already a problem even before the LTN’s arrived.
The other night, a man was standing on my doorstep, threatening me through the letter box. By the time the police turned up- which was a commendable 10 minutes – he’d walked off.
In their car, they stood no chance. And what about the drug dealers and the violent gang culture that blights our inner cities? When anything kicks off, police are restricted by bollards and planters as the low-life whizzes off on their electric scooters, laughing their heads off.
To minimise contact during the second wave of covid, I reluctantly started driving to work. It involves negotiating a traffic-slowing hump every ten yards, road works every quarter mile, temporary traffic lights which change after 30 seconds, and the construction of a cycle lane in the only east-west route across North London.
LTN’s have completely failed to reduce pollution overall, because all traffic is funnelled onto main routes where the council flats are, where the lower income families can afford to live.
High streets are thick with fumes from gridlocked traffic. LTN’s give cyclists on expensive bikes priority over ordinary folk who shop locally, who don’t have a Waitrose order being delivered for the cleaning lady to take in.
Polling shows that LTN’s have divided neighbourhoods and caused huge resentment. Why should posh houses be treated better than big estates? And what about the elderly who need a car or a mobility vehicle to get around?
I want kids to be able to cycle to school, but all I see are anxious mums encouraging their kids to cycle on the pavement, even in my quiet street. I don’t blame them – because some cycle lanes are dominated by aggressive riders who sail through traffic lights and shout at motorists. In their eyes, we drivers are nothing but scum.
The real culprits are the feeble town planners in City Hall and local councils.
Why can’t they order all supermarkets and shops to accept deliveries between sunset and sunrise?
When fewer people are travelling on buses why are so many empty ones clogging up our main roads?
Does no-one back at the depot have the authority to cut services if there’s no demand? If the UK is so keen to lead the world in cutting emissions, why not pay us to use public transport?
And why not move cyclists onto our back streets and off main roads in rush hours? There’s not enough space for everyone.
Instead the demonisation of driving continues apace.
Now, an American academic has proposed a ban on turning right, claiming that drivers who cross over oncoming traffic cause queues, more fumes and accidents.
I’m sure the eco-warriors running the London Boroughs of Hackney and Islington will be taking up this nonsensical idea in the very near future. In the meantime, have you tried driving around Norwich lately?
Just in time for the holiday season, the city has decided to commence major road works on the southern bypass, bringing everything to a standstill.