More MEPs from the UK than any other country voted on Tuesday against adopting new rules on lorry design partly aimed at making them safer for cyclists and pedestrians, road.cc can reveal. Among the 12 were UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage and his counterpart at the British National Party (BNP), Nick Griffin.
The new regulations, which were adopted overwhelmingly by the European Parliament which voted 606 to 54 to adopt them, with 12 abstentions, have been welcomed by cycling organisations and road safety campaigners alike, as we reported yesterday.
Half of the UK MEPs voting against the amendments to an existing directive regarding the length and weight of lorries belong to UKIP, which according to the latest polls is set to beat the Conservative Party into third place in next month’s European elections.
The party is likely to significantly improve on its 2009 result, when it secured 16.6 per cent of the vote, giving it 13 MEPs in Strasbourg, although six have since resigned, most recently Godfrey Bloom in September last year.
According to the independent website VoteWatch Europe, joining Farage in voting against adopting the revised rules on Tuesday were five of the six other remaining UKIP MEPs, John Agnew, Gerard Batten, Derek Clark, William Earl of Dartmouth and Roger Helmer.
Former UKIP MEPs now sitting as independents who also voted “no” were Trevor Colman, Mike Nattrass and Nikki Sinclaire. Diane Dodds, from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, also opposed it, as did the BNP’s Griffin.
The Conservative Marina Yannakoudakis voted against the amendment but subsequently entered an official note to say that she had actually intended to abstain.
Curiously, UKIP heads to next month’s local and European elections without a manifesto after Farage, speaking to London radio station LBC in January last year, denounced the one produced for the 2010 general election as “drivel.” He said a new manifesto would be drawn up after the European elections.
The transport section of that 2010 manifesto said that UKIP “supports pedal cycles as a healthy means of personal transport,” although much of the detail, such as a proposed requirement for owners of bikes to obtain third party insurance and display a “Cycledisc” on the frame, were seen by campaigners as being likely to deter people from cycling. Here are some highlights:
10.2 We believe that there needs to be a better balance of rights and responsibilities for pedal cyclists, with too much aggressive abuse of red lights, pedestrian crossings and a lack of basic safety and road courtesy.
10.6 UKIP would consult on the desirability of minimum third party liability insurance cover for cyclists - a simple annual flat rate registration ‘Cycledisc’, stuck to the bicycle frame, to cover damage to cars and others, which are currently unprotected. The Cycledisc should also carry clear identification details, which will help counter bicycle theft, and deter dangerous cyclist behaviour. We support provision of cycle parking at reasonable charges.
10.7 UKIP believes that basic cycle and safety training should be made mandatory, and be funded in schools or via local authorities. UKIP supports the campaign work of national cycling organisations.
10.9 Local authorities should be given additional powers to enforce a ‘cyclists dismount’ or ‘no cycling’ regulation where there are safety concerns – such as on busy roundabouts, junctions or bus lanes, or where the road would be too narrowed by cycle lanes and cause
unacceptable delays to traffic.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.