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British Cycling's policy champion slaps down "negligent lack of research and understanding"...

British Cycling policy adviser Chris Boardman has hit out at the MPs on the government’s Transport Select Committee who yesterday held a two-hour session to investigate the recent spate of deaths on London’s roads, but instead discussed helmets, 'road tax' and cycling registration.

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Update: According to a tweet on Tuesday evening from Press Association Transport and Travel Correspondent Peter Woodman, the chair of the committee, Louise Ellman, has invited Boardman to give evidence to the inquiry. On Wednesday, the committee is due to hear from minister for cycling, Robert Goodwill.

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The session, Boardman says, was meant to be about why six people died riding bicycles on London’s roads in the space of two weeks but “the MPs demonstrated that they didn’t even know the most basic of facts. Evidence and statistics were bypassed in favour of opinions and anecdotes on sideline topics.”

He said that the MPs “should be embarrassed by their performance.” According to the Guardian’s Peter Walker, the discussion included Labour MP Sarah Champion wondering if helmets could be made compulsory; Conservative Martin Vickers asking if the panel thought cyclists should “contribute” to the upkeep of the roads; and Labour's Jim Dobbin asking if a solution would be to force all cyclists to be registered, tested, and to put their bikes through a sort of MoT test.

Observers were puzzled by the digressions. There’s no evidence that a helmet would have saved the lives of any of the six riders killed on London’s roads in November or the 10 who died elsewhere in the country last month. Nobody in the UK has paid directly for the upkeep of the roads via a ‘road tax’ since it was abolished in 1937. Instead roads are funded out of general taxation.

Jurisdictions that have tried compulsory registration of cyclists have almost always quickly dropped it because it almost impossible to enforce, expensive and has the main effect of suppressing cycling.

Boardman said: “Such a clear demonstration of lack of research and understanding at this level of seniority would, in any other business, be classed as negligent.”

Here’s the full statement from Chris Boardman, issued by British Cycling:

"The MPs that sit on the transport select committee should be embarrassed by their performance yesterday in an inquiry that was meant to be about why six people died riding bicycles on London’s roads in the space of two weeks.

“In front of them sat experts from campaigning bodies, transport research and the police – all ready to get into a proper discussion - and yet the MPs demonstrated that they didn’t even know the most basic of facts. Evidence and statistics were bypassed in favour of opinions and anecdotes on sideline topics.

“Such a clear demonstration of lack of research and understanding at this level of seniority would, in any other business, be classed as negligent.

“This was an opportunity to discuss how we can make our roads fit for people to get around by bicycle, improving our nation’s health, the environment and cutting emissions. This will deliver benefits for everyone, not just cyclists, and to do it we need to transform infrastructure, tackle dangerous junctions and encourage people to use bikes to get around.

“I’d like to see a proper, fruitful evidence session, rather than opinion-based discussion, on how to protect and encourage cycling as a mode of transport. To that end I am going to write to the MPs on the committee asking them to meet with British Cycling representatives to get to work discussing the real issues that can lead to the transformation of not just cycling, but the environments that we live in.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

74 comments

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mrmo [2094 posts] 3 years ago
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When MPs are merely lobby fodder for their respective whips, why would an MP bother learning or researching anything. Well paid job, subsidised housing, plenty of expenses, decent pension and if you loose a few directorships.

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Claud And I [20 posts] 3 years ago
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My favourite thing about this article is the caption under the photo.

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John Stevenson [299 posts] 3 years ago
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I do have one of Chris pulling a face, but he made me promise I'd never use it.

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Matt eaton [741 posts] 3 years ago
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Great response from Boardman.

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MadDog Madill [9 posts] 3 years ago
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If cyclists who use this site are represented by any of these MP's, they should probably think about writing them a letter asking why they failed to do their job in representing their constituants.

Just an idea.

Mrs Louise Ellman (Chair)
Sarah Champion
Jim Dobbin
Jim Fitzpatrick
Karen Lumley
Jason McCartney
Karl McCartney
Mr Adrian Sanders
Chloe Smith
Graham Stringer
Martin Vickers

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Martin Thomas [384 posts] 3 years ago
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'...Conservative Martin Vickers asking if the panel thought cyclists should “contribute” to the upkeep of the road'

WTF?! Honestly they should be ashamed of themselves.

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arfa [852 posts] 3 years ago
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As I've said elsewhere, Chris Boardman, your country needs you.

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antonio [1167 posts] 3 years ago
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MP's are just members of talking shops talking to others who are also out of touch, they only know what secretaries tell them about numbers and figures. They talk to high profile media people who are just as out of touch as they are. It's time for working class MP's, Tory, Liberal and Labour again, or any other regardless of party persuasion. Chris frightens them with his 'common sense' and consequently will be avoided if possible.

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belgravedave [274 posts] 3 years ago
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Think I might email each one asking for an explanation for their complete lack of any knowledge concerning the issues.

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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Mrs Louise Ellman (Chair) - Liverpool Riverside - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/mrs-louise-ellman/484

Sarah Champion - Rotherham - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/sarah-champion/4267

Jim Dobbin - Heywood & Middleton - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/jim-dobbin/446

Jim Fitzpatrick - Poplar and Limehouse - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/jim-fitzpatrick/197

Karen Lumley -Redditch - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/karen-lumley/4023

Jason McCartney - Colne Valley - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/jason-mccartney/3953

Karl McCartney - Lincoln - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/karl-mccartney/4028

Mr Adrian Sanders - Torbay - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/mr-adrian-sanders/237

Chloe Smith - Norwich North - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/chloe-smith/1609

Graham Stringer - Blackley and Broughton - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/graham-stringer/449

Martin Vickers - Cleethorpes - http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/martin-vickers/3957

Good list Mad Dog, I've just updated it with links to contacts.

Let's get hammering them - This lot want crucifying for this.

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sfichele [140 posts] 3 years ago
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How poor of Jim Dobbin, when he supposedly backs the APPG on cycling, and had received letters from constituents about making cycling safer and creating more infrastructure.

http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/mobile/news-full?ID=67789&cat=35

"It’s my job to listen to their concerns...."

I'd be surprised if any cyclists wrote to him asking for pointless draconian measures such as registration  10

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Sudor [189 posts] 3 years ago
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Graham Stringer has been a member of the Transport Ctte since 2002 - he's obviously had the opportunity to learn a lot but complacency in those sitting in superannuated, solid party seats is a sad fact of our parliamentary system.

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MadDog Madill [9 posts] 3 years ago
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Nice one Farrell!

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Wolfshade [200 posts] 3 years ago
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The "debate" can be found here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14361
I believe the term "omni-shambles" would suffice. I decided to watch the whole session to see if it was just reporting bias, alas, it was not.
The MPs showed themselves to be completely out of touch of the realities of the situation. Trotting out the same old lines.
One of my favourite lines, a panel was questioned about the compulsory use of helmets and said something along the lines of "there is nothing that is going to save you if you are crushed under the back wheels of an HGV".
My second favourite, a panelist was asked if cyclists should pay for the road upkeep, the person questioned answered with an emphatic "They do!".
But it was trite we had the whole lot of them: headphones, hi-viz, helmets, licence, tax, registration, insurance. None of those things would have prevented any of the deaths on the road. In the same way in car collisions having any of those things do not prevent fatalaties.
A waste of time, money and opportunity.

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durrin [30 posts] 3 years ago
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The more I've heard from Boardman over the past few years, the more I like the guy!

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koko56 [330 posts] 3 years ago
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Not to be unnecessarily divergent but so many cases where it's just akin to racism.

Cyclist dead - yeah, but you know, he's a cyclist so don't worry too much.

Endangering life by shit driving and deciding to not admit mistakes and turn it around on the cyclist.. yeah sure not a problem - it's only a cyclist.

The general ignorance of some people is shameful. They simply have no clue at all of how their driving can potentially impact things around them and this is not the first time that MPs etc have shown just how pathetic their attempts at cycling discussion are - worse than some 7 year old trying to wiggle out of not doing homework and that's without mentioning the recent deaths. This is absolute ignorance and lack of any engagement or morality.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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That would be climate change denier Graham Stringer then?

http://www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/News/Climate-Change-Received-Wis...

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OldRidgeback [2799 posts] 3 years ago
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Wow, Chris Boardman didn't spare them his opinion. I agree with everything he said. None of this shower is my MP, but there's no harm in writing to them anyway. If that's the best they can do, they clearly aren't fit for purpose and need to be replaced with others who understand the basic issues and are prepared to listen to expert opinion, which this all-party bunch of duffers clearly aren't.

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MadDog Madill [9 posts] 3 years ago
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Have tweeted Cloe

https://twitter.com/ChloeSmithMP (apparently a good discussion

Go on.

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mlimburn [29 posts] 3 years ago
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I was disgusted as i listened into this. I would complain to my MP, but when i contacted her after appearing on local tv saying she wouldn't cycle in Plymouth, i never heard anything back. must contact her next rival to see where he stands on cycling!

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kitkat [471 posts] 3 years ago
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From the BBC article:

Quote:

Committee chair and Labour MP Louise Ellman said: "Yesterday's evidence session was only the start of an inquiry into cycling safety, at the end of which the committee will be seeking to produce a balanced report. Tomorrow we are taking oral evidence from the minister, Robert Goodwin."

The saying "start as you mean to go on" may have some relevance here, rambling ministers give their 2 pence worth.

The MPs have an opportunity to deliver a report that really could save lives directly and indirectly as well as save the country a fortune in healthcare. I hope they can see that and not focus on their trivial personal observations.

Thank you to Chris for flagging this, I hope the profile of this case remains high with Road.cc reporting through out and that enough media attention is garnered to let MPs feel the pressure of delivering something that will help cyclists.

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Leviathan [2776 posts] 3 years ago
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Claud And I wrote:

My favourite thing about this article is the caption under the photo.

Just thought, Chris looks like he could be Tom Daley's dad. Keep smiling, guys.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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Some good, hard hitting comments from Mr. Boardman, and rightly so. Truly excellent, in fact, and a great cycling "czar" he would make, in my opinion.

But if he himself wants to avoid demonstrating, er, "a lack of research and understanding", then he should avoid calling for a peak time lorry ban, the considerable and numerous adverse effects of which he has hitherto appeared to comprehend.

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joemmo [1164 posts] 3 years ago
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Boardman said: “Such a clear demonstration of lack of research and understanding at this level of seniority would, in any other business, be classed as negligent.”

Absolutely. Most of these people couldn't hold down a job in the real, fact based world.

If you are being employed at the public's expense and as part of that job are expected to make decisions based on facts, statistics and evidence then you ought have to pass a test of competency proving you are able to do this. Politics, however seems to place greater weight on opinions, beliefs and 'the narrative' so we shouldnt be surprised when they just revisit the narrow range of issues being churned over and over in the media.

The problem is that 'the narrative' is now well established and it's overwhelmingly negative and divisive (road tax, helmets, RLJ etc.). People are comfortable with it because it gives them excuses not to really think about the issues. What is needed is for someone to create a new narrative that offers some compromise and a way forward and the bravery to push it. Until then we're going to be going over and over the same old shit forever

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belgravedave [274 posts] 3 years ago
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Cheers for that.

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Mart [110 posts] 3 years ago
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I watched this debacle and I was cringing. These people run our country and they couldn't even do some background investigation beforehand. How can they not know about how VED works?
Feels like they are just going through the motion of caring about the loss of life on British roads but ultimately they just want to make sure their commute is not disrupted. I was shocked at the cost of blue paint, £1 million per km is disgusting. That was just for the painting.
It was an opportunity for some progress and understanding, but ultimately wasted.
I can only hope they take a long look at themselves and do some basic research in future. But I doubt it as many think they are infallible.

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Argos74 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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Dunno which scares me more. That they're making decisions that affect our daily lives (or, er, deaths), or that we're paying for these clueless halfwits.

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jollygoodvelo [1669 posts] 3 years ago
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If I turned up to an important meeting - a project steering committee say - and led it off on time wasting tangents, spouted uninformed babble that demonstrated I didn't know anything about the project, and generally failed to achieve the stated aims, I would be removed from it sharpish, replaced, and probably under threat for my job come next review time.

And people wonder why the City runs rings around Government.

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Dizzy [68 posts] 3 years ago
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I recently attended a meeting of Worthing council, as there was a discussion/vote on local cycling facilities - Pretty much the same happened here.
Sat in the public gallery How I refrained from shouting out I have no idea - I'm not normally known for my restraint

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