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Old adage that "a week is a long time in politics" still holds true in 2014...

Four days after Prime Minister David Cameron declared “this is a cycling nation” as he opened the latest section of the National Cycle Network, newly published data from the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal that the levels of cycling in England fell in the year to October 2013.

According to the DfT’s Local Area Walking and Cycling in England: 2012 to 2013 report, published today, the percentage of people cycling at least once a month for either leisure or utilitarian purposes was 14.7 per cent in the  year to mid-October 2013, down from 15.3 per cent in the preceding 12 months.

The DfT says that “although the change is small, the size of our national sample [162,882 people] means that we can be confident that this decrease exists in the whole of the English population.”

Cycling campaigners have greeted the news with dismay and are urging the government and local authorities to do more to encourage people to take to two wheels and make conditions safer for existing riders.

Chris Peck of CTC, which earlier this month helped launch the national Space For Cycling campaign ahead of May’s local elections, said: “Figures released by DfT earlier today very worryingly suggest that cycle use appears to be falling in many parts of England – which is likely to be a direct result of councils across the country failing to provide space for cycling.

“Thousands of people have already written to their councillors calling for space for cycling on main roads and reduced speeds and through traffic on residential streets.”

Claire Francis, head of policy at Sustrans, said: “It is a damning reflection on road safety in the UK that cycling levels have decreased over the last year; but the few areas where numbers have increased show when decision makers put their minds and resources into increasing cycling, real progress can be made.

“Whether women and children feel able to get on their bikes is a litmus test for how safe our roads really are for cycling; we must strive to reach a point where everyone, aged 8 to 80 and regardless of gender, feels safe enough to cycle on our roads.

“We urgently need dedicated investment in walking and cycling, to allow more people to make healthier everyday journeys by bike,” she added.

Last Friday, Mr Cameron had joined the sustainable transport charity's chief executiv, Malcolm Shepherd, in the village of Chadlington in his Witney constituency to officially open the Cotswold Line Cycle Route, running from Oxfordshire to Worcestershire via Gloucestershire.

He said: “This is a cycling nation and in the year we are hosting the Tour de France I’m delighted to be here opening this new cycle route between Hanborough and Honeybourne.

“The National Cycle Network is a national treasure. It’s great for the community, linking up towns and villages and it’s great for local business like the café here in the village which is already full of cyclists.

Mr Cameron added: “I’m going to be riding this route myself as soon as the weather brightens up.”

The data published today come from Sport England’s Active People Survey, with the DfT analysing the results since 2010/11 meaning that two-year comparisons can now be made, and local authority areas identified where there have been significant increases in the percentage of people cycling for any purpose.

Between 2010/11 and 2012/13, those were Bournemouth, Copeland (Cumbria), Dover (Kent), Eastbourne (East Sussex), Mansfield (Nottinghamshire), North East Lincolnshire, Oxford (Oxfordshire), St Edmundsbury (Suffolk), Shepway (Kent), Wealden (East Sussex) and the London boroughs of Hillingdon and Redbridge.

Significant decreases across the two-year period were registered in areas including the South East and East of England regions as a whole, the counties of Essex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

Specific local authority areas recording decreases between 2010/11 and 2012/13 included Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, South Gloucestershire, Windsor & Maidenhead, and the London boroughs of Havering, Hounslow and Newham.

The data reveal that in the year to mid-October 2013, some 6.5 per cent of people cycled at least once a month for utility purposes and 10.2 per cent for leisure, overlap between the two groups explaining the 14.7 per cent total.

Cambridge has the highest percentage of its population riding a bike at least once a month for any purpose at 58 per cent, followed by Oxford (43 per cent) and high levels were also found in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (34 per cent), York (27 per cent), South Cambridgeshire (27 per cent) and New Forest (26 per cent).

Only the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames ranks among the top eight local authorities for both utility and recreational cycling at least once a month – with respective levels of 22 and 19 per cent.

Once again, Cambridge (53 per cent) and Oxford (37 per cent) were top for utility cycling, while for leisure purposes, Winchester is highest with 20 per cent, with Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire third on 18 per cent, and the New Forest district of Hampshire next at 17 per cent.

That last statistic is worthy of note – for all the regular stories on road.cc about local opposition to mass participation cycling events there, among its residents New Forest does have some of the highest levels of at least monthly cycling both for recreational and all purposes in the whole of England.

Women make up around half of occasional cyclists – those who ride once a month – but the proportion declines as the frequency of riding a bike increases, while by age, riding a bike among adults is most prevalent among those aged 16-24 and 35-44.

While the government insists it is investing in cycling, many have been disappointed by actions such as the dissolution of Cycling England shortly after the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition was formed in 2010, as well as a tepid response to the Get Britain Cycling (APPCG) report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group last year.

That report called for a minimum investment of £10 per capita in cycling, something that transport minister Robert Goodwill claimed in March was happening, citing the Cycle City Ambition scheme, with local authorities such as Greater Manchester Greater Manchester (£20 million), West Yorkshire (£18.1 million) and Birmingham (£17 million) all receiving significant investment, which will be supplemented by local match funding.

Mr Goodwill was speaking at Portcullis House, Westminster, at a meeting arranged by the APPCG before an audience comprising members of the group, representatives of cycle campaign groups such as CTC and the London Cycling Campaign, and media including road.cc.

After the minister, who is responsible for cycling at the DfT, made his £10 per capita claim, CTC’s Roger Geffen pointed out to him that what the Get Britain Cycling report called for was that level of spend across the country as a whole and for a sustained period, rather than limiting it to specific areas and only for two years, as happens under the Cycle City Ambition initiative.

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.

53 comments

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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If all it costs is £10 each for decent infrastructure can someone please tell me where i can send my £10.

A pathetic amount of money (in the bigger scheme of things) which would yield huge benefits for the whole country.

Depressing

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HarrogateSpa [332 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm afraid Robert Goodwill is a disappointment. He seems to see his job as making excuses for his department not investing in cycling, and as citing misleading statistics given to him by his civil servants.

As often as possible, he goes on about the 'perceived dangers' on the roads, rather than the actual ones - no doubt because the actual ones are more expensive to fix.

He needs to pull his socks up, and start fighting for cyclists, or let someone else have a go.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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After all the overblown guff when Thatch finally carked it, I'd rather eat horse shit* than vote Tory so Dave Davey Dave " Call me Dave " Cameron can say what he wants.

*Although my dog did this last week so maybe it's not that bad. Eating horse shit that is, not voting Tory.

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djfleming22 [31 posts] 2 years ago
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Maybe if the fixed the roads and done it properly .. they might see more cyclists on the road .. maybe they don't want them what would they do for money all the tax from fuel ...

The roads around Glasgow and Paisley and Irvine are a disgrace all the local councillors should hang the heads in shame they have done nothing to help fixed the roads, no wonder people are scared to go out cycling on them

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simon.thornton [44 posts] 2 years ago
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The Department for Transport must know what it's doing, you'd think.
But, just out of interest, how are things looking around the U.K. year to Oct 2013 ?
I know it's quite unscientific, but based on my observations :

North Yorkshire - numbers of cyclists on the road : Well up !

other areas ?

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simon.thornton [44 posts] 2 years ago
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The Department for Transport must know what it's doing, you'd think.
But, just out of interest, how are things looking around the U.K. year to Oct 2013 ?
I know it's quite unscientific, but based on my observations :

North Yorkshire - numbers of cyclists on the road : Well up !

other areas ?

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jasecd [388 posts] 2 years ago
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More hot air from the Cameron the identikit corporate mouthpiece - I'd rather he was just honest and said he didn't give a shit about cycling. His party has been woefully lacking at increasing cycling levels and meanwhile the NHS creaks along as the nation grows more obese and pollution continues to rise.

He's a wanker just like the rest of the career politicians in Westminster. They'll continue to spend the bare minimum on cycling, whilst singing it's praises.

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felixcat [467 posts] 2 years ago
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djfleming22 wrote:

Maybe if the fixed the roads and done it properly .. they might see more cyclists on the road .. maybe they don't want them what would they do for money all the tax from fuel ...

The roads around Glasgow and Paisley and Irvine are a disgrace all the local councillors should hang the heads in shame they have done nothing to help fixed the roads, no wonder people are scared to go out cycling on them

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society. If you want I can post references to studies which show how much more a car costs society than the amount a motorist pays. So if there were fewer miles driven the government would make a saving, not a loss. Think how much accidents, obesity and pollution cost the NHS.

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 2 years ago
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simon.thornton wrote:

I know it's quite unscientific, but based on my observations :

North Yorkshire - numbers of cyclists on the road : Well up !

other areas ?

We've reported separately that there's been a huge increase in numbers of people riding in places on the TdF route such as parts of North Yorkshire.

Other thing to consider is that the changes in cycling levels are based on where the person lives, not where they ride.

So there could be a 100 per cent increase in the number of people riding in Wensleydale, for instance, but if they come from all roujnd the country, it wouldn't register.

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ChairRDRF [306 posts] 2 years ago
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Cameron said: “This is a cycling nation and in the year we are hosting the Tour de France..."

Oh puhlease...For an account of the government's reaction to Get Britain Cycling see http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/09/27/just-how-anti-cycling-is-this-government/

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Him Up North [235 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

After all the overblown guff when Thatch finally carked it, I'd rather eat horse shit* than vote Tory so Dave Davey Dave " Call me Dave " Cameron can say what he wants.

*Although my dog did this last week so maybe it's not that bad. Eating horse shit that is, not voting Tory.

There's plenty of horse shit on our local section of the National Cycle Network if you ever fancy a bite  31

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IanW1968 [267 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

Cars and motorcycles do kinda give people the opportunity to go for different / more satisfying / better paying jobs though as a contribution to society.

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Chuck [534 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:
IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

Cars and motorcycles do kinda give people the opportunity to go for different / more satisfying / better paying jobs though as a contribution to society.

I don't think anyone wants them to disappear. Maybe just for people to be a bit more selective about their use?

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:
IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

Cars and motorcycles do kinda give people the opportunity to go for different / more satisfying / better paying jobs though as a contribution to society.

And yet the average length of journeys is about 7 miles, 20% of journeys less than 1 mile and 66% less than 5 miles (National Travel Survey 2012). No need for a car for these distances, just good cycle infrastructure that is subjectively and actually safe all the way.

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oldstrath [574 posts] 2 years ago
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 35

Chuck wrote:
allez neg wrote:
IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

Cars and motorcycles do kinda give people the opportunity to go for different / more satisfying / better paying jobs though as a contribution to society.

I don't think anyone wants them to disappear. Maybe just for people to be a bit more selective about their use?

Not me. I think unfortunately they won't disappear, but I'd surely like them to.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Disappearing cars? Fk me, that would be dangerous!

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Yennings [237 posts] 2 years ago
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Classic Camoron. And yes, that's a deliberate typo.

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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As much as I want this to be a cycling nation it is not. While I'm still considered mad or not conforming to the norm to cycle to the shops let alone commute by bike this can not be classed as a cycling nation.
I hope this changes.

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:

Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

What you mean the manufacturers that employ hundreds of thousands of people, designing, testing and building vehicles and buy components that are designed tested and built by hundreds of other companies employing yet more people. The manufacturers that supply the vehicles that when bought require servicing and repair throughout their lifecycle. Servicing and repair supplied by yet more companies employing yet more people.

Or the oil companies that employ thousands of geologists, geophsicists surveyors, engineers, and others to find extract, transport, refine, and retail fuel, requiring a supply chain utilising and maintaining highly specialised equipment supplied by yet more companies employing yet more designers, engineers, fitters and others. Including shipping. Not to mention the off shoot industries like petrochemicals supplying a huge range of the materials and chemicals used in just about everything you take for granted in your modern life and which employ yet more people.

Or the financiers that aggregate and direct investment into the huge projects and supply chains that underpin these massive enterprises and which put the profits back into your savings or pension funds.

Or did you think it was just one posh bloke with a pile of cash doing all this stuff in his spare time?

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oozaveared [936 posts] 2 years ago
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Yennings wrote:

Classic Camoron. And yes, that's a deliberate typo.

I am not a Conservative supporter by any stretch of the imagination and I know this is a comment site and your are entitled to your opinion but I do think it's probaby better to make your case why you think someone is wrong rather than just say they are a moron (Camoron).

He may be wrong but he'snot a moron. Moron was once applied to people with an IQ of 51–70, better than "imbecile" (IQ of 26–50) and better still to "idiot" (IQ of 0–25).

Cameron passed 12 O-Levels and then three A-Levels. He obtained three 'A' grades. He got a '1' grade in the Scholarship Level exam in Economics and Politics. He passed the entrance exam for the University of Oxford, where he was offered an exhibition. That's a scholarship. That's awarded on merit. He graduated with a first-class honours degree (MA).

His Oxford professor Vernon Bogdanor (not a Conservative either) described Cameron as "one of the ablest" students he has taught.

Say why you think he is wrong by all means. But an MA from Oxford and on a scholarship award isn't easy to get. I would conclude he's smarter than the average bear.

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ct [158 posts] 2 years ago
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simon.thornton wrote:

I know it's quite unscientific, but based on my observations :

North Yorkshire - numbers of cyclists on the road : Well up !

In and around Cardiff: Well up

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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“I’m going to be riding this route myself as soon as the weather brightens up.”

This doesn't help. It reinforces the idea that
a) cycling is a leisure activity for sunny weekends
b) you might consider riding to work/the shops/school when the weather is nice.
c) if it's raining the car is the right choice

Cycling for transport is something that we can do every day in all but the most extreme weather conditions (and driving a car in often not a good idea at such times either). This comment is very telling in terms of Cameron's perception of cycling and probably the wider public perception of how/when bikes are used.

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Him Up North [235 posts] 2 years ago
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Skimming the spreadsheets with the report, the UK is becoming a SEDENTARY nation. Walking is unpopular too, despite pedestrians have a pretty good infrastructure already. They're called pavements.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Disappearing cars? Fk me, that would be dangerous!

It'd be just like the way cyclists can manage to "appear from nowhere".

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 2 years ago
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@Matt eaton: I agree in general, but am tempted (for the first time in my life) to cut DC a bit of slack because the rain was really pretty horrible that day. I was just out of shot on that picture and I was absolutely, thoroughly drenched!

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AWPeleton [3277 posts] 2 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:
Yennings wrote:

Classic Camoron. And yes, that's a deliberate typo.

I am not a Conservative supporter by any stretch of the imagination and I know this is a comment site and your are entitled to your opinion but I do think it's probaby better to make your case why you think someone is wrong rather than just say they are a moron (Camoron).

He may be wrong but he'snot a moron. Moron was once applied to people with an IQ of 51–70, better than "imbecile" (IQ of 26–50) and better still to "idiot" (IQ of 0–25).

Cameron passed 12 O-Levels and then three A-Levels. He obtained three 'A' grades. He got a '1' grade in the Scholarship Level exam in Economics and Politics. He passed the entrance exam for the University of Oxford, where he was offered an exhibition. That's a scholarship. That's awarded on merit. He graduated with a first-class honours degree (MA).

His Oxford professor Vernon Bogdanor (not a Conservative either) described Cameron as "one of the ablest" students he has taught.

Say why you think he is wrong by all means. But an MA from Oxford and on a scholarship award isn't easy to get. I would conclude he's smarter than the average bear.

Yep he is clever but he lacks probably zero commonsense and the complete lack of ability to listen to what the nation is crying out for and is more concerned about making the rich richer and the downtrodden more downtrodden. Personally i think he is an arrogant buffoon who has tried to mould himself around his idol, thatcher.

Regardless of that though its good to see more people on bikes in some areas its just a shame its not across the whole country.

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WolfieSmith [1317 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm all for quiet routes around the countryside but the National Cycle Network should primarily be on routes that encourage commuter cycling not leisure bimbling.

I often cross those disused railway cycle routes in Lancashire and Norfolk; cyclists plonked into a straight trench to keep them away from cars on the pretext that it all adds to the UK's wealth and productivity to separate slow from fast and allow tubbies to drive from farm shop to garden centre un-impeded to reward themselves with cake.

As for Cameron. Who was it who said he looks like a single buttock with eyes? And his enormous intellect? Ooza may be impressed but didn't Harold Wilson have a double first from Oxford from
more humble beginnings? That's truly impressive.

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djcritchley [181 posts] 2 years ago
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“this is a cycling nation”

 24

No, wait ...

 24

... hang on ...

 24

OK, I'm under control now. Look at the traffic, even where there are high levels of cycling, the predominant mode of transport is the car.

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IanW1968 [267 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

IanW1968 wrote:
Quote:
Tax from fuel, and other motoring taxes, does not anything like pay for the costs that motoring imposes on society

Nope but it moves wealth from lots of individuals to a few manufacturers, financiers and oil companies which trumps everything else.

What you mean the manufacturers that employ hundreds of thousands of people, designing, testing and building vehicles and buy components that are designed tested and built by hundreds of other companies employing yet more people. The manufacturers that supply the vehicles that when bought require servicing and repair throughout their lifecycle. Servicing and repair supplied by yet more companies employing yet more people.
Or the oil companies that employ thousands of geologists, geophsicists surveyors, engineers, and others to find extract, transport, refine, and retail fuel, requiring a supply chain utilising and maintaining highly specialised equipment supplied by yet more companies employing yet more designers, engineers, fitters and others. Including shipping. Not to mention the off shoot industries like petrochemicals supplying a huge range of the materials and chemicals used in just about everything you take for granted in your modern life and which employ yet more people.
Or the financiers that aggregate and direct investment into the huge projects and supply chains that underpin these massive enterprises and which put the profits back into your savings or pension funds.
Or did you think it was just one posh bloke with a pile of cash doing all this stuff in his spare time?

So you think the benefits of a dominant of motor industry are equally distributed amongst the people who pick up the costs of providing the infrastructure?

There are of course degrees within the argument, its not either/or but rather that the balance is too far in favour of the car on the road and the balance sheet when planning or regulating..

So yes I'm happy to lose a few quid off the pension fund for air thats not quite as poisonous to breath.

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