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British Cycling policy advisor claims it’s “not logical or sustainable” to continue to favour cars over other modes

Chris Boardman, policy advisor to British Cycling, says it’s “ridiculous” that the government is spending billions of pounds on building roads instead of making walking and cycling a priority.

In an interview with the Radio Times ahead of this weekend’s Prudential RideLondon, in which he is participating, the former world and Olympic champion said it was “not logical or sustainable” to continue to favour cars over other forms of transport.

He said: "Seeing something on the scale of RideLondon is an impetus for change. It puts pressure on politicians to make cycling more accessible.

"It infuriates me that it's so hard to get the government to fund and prioritise something that has no downsides. Instead we're building more roads while car traffic's dropping. It's ridiculous.

"The logical thing is to make cycling and walking your preferred transport. You make sure that streets prioritise people over vehicles. You legislate and fund accordingly.

He added: "Walking, cycling, public transport, taxis, private cars. In that order. At the moment it's almost totally the other way round. It's not logical or sustainable."

Boardman, who besides his world and Olympic titles also wore the leader’s yellow jersey in the Tour de France and held the UCI Hour record, also said that despite the high profile cycling currently enjoys due to Britain’s sporting success, his main aim was to get people to adopt bicycles as an everyday mode of transport.

Earlier this year, he was at the House of Commons to help launch British Cycling’s ten-point #ChooseCycling manifesto.

 

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.

77 comments

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keirik [35 posts] 1 year ago
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He's right, but until the cycle manufacturers can match the construction and motor industries in offering jollies, freebies and cushy jobs for ex MPs and civil servants nothing will change

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mrmo [2016 posts] 1 year ago
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vat on shoes, vat on cars, which makes more sense to promote if you want money? Then there Is VED, fuel duty, etc etc. Then throw in some more money for the construction industry and the vat they pay.

So what do pedestrians provide?

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Matt eaton [733 posts] 1 year ago
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CB always makes sense with these statements.

The other problem (aside from goverment policy being influenced by big business) if that society at large has been conditioned to accept the status quo. Tell the average person in the street (or in their car) that you've covered 30 miles on you bike by way of a daily commute and they'll look at you like you are mad. Come the colder/wetter months most people will be surpised that you've even taken the bike out of the shed.

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Mister Horse [5 posts] 1 year ago
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Can Chris be the next Mayor of London? A bit of a commute from the Wirral....

One day a week will do, he'll serve us better than Boris.

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HKCambridge [216 posts] 1 year ago
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mrmo wrote:

vat on shoes, vat on cars, which makes more sense to promote if you want money? Then there Is VED, fuel duty, etc etc. Then throw in some more money for the construction industry and the vat they pay.

So what do pedestrians provide?

Given the disposable income that not owning a car affords me, I am partial to throwing a few quid to the treasury via the intake of the occasional alcoholic beverage. Those free-loading teetotallers on the other hand...

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ronin [263 posts] 1 year ago
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It's great that Mr Boardman says things like this, but the question is, who is listening?

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shay cycles [315 posts] 1 year ago
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mrmo wrote:

vat on shoes, vat on cars, which makes more sense to promote if you want money? Then there Is VED, fuel duty, etc etc. Then throw in some more money for the construction industry and the vat they pay.

So what do pedestrians provide?

Actually the VAT on shoes makes more sense because in spite of the massive income from all the other taxation mentioned it amounts to a piffling amount alongside the total costs of the road network for motor vehicles (especially including health and environmental impacts).

At least those shoes don't incur more costs for the government than they would generate in taxation - so for a government wanting money then yes tax on shoes makes most sense (that and taking Chris Boardman's advice and stop throwing money they haven't really got on motor vehicle provision)

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jacknorell [942 posts] 1 year ago
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mrmo wrote:

vat on shoes, vat on cars, which makes more sense to promote if you want money? Then there Is VED, fuel duty, etc etc. Then throw in some more money for the construction industry and the vat they pay.

So what do pedestrians provide?

You do realise the subsidies on roads, parking, etc that cars require, not to mention ill health effects and injuries, are much more expensive than the tax take from all that?

The only people benefiting are the car manufacturers and road builders. The gov't does not make a 'profit' from car transport.

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IanW1968 [251 posts] 1 year ago
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No matter how strong the rationale, voices of reason even CB's are seen as a bit bonkers.

"The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. "Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does." They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”

Pretty difficult to compete with the car and finance marketing machinery telling you what you want is a car, you want it on finance and you want it now and anything else is abnormal especially when those industries have government in their pockets.

Good Luck Chris but I would prefer it he played his cards quietly and sought real power first.

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Nixster [255 posts] 1 year ago
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Getting a bit carried away here aren't we?

If we need to answer the question 'does the country benefit economically from having a road network' stop for a moment and think what our economy would look like without it. Points of reference would include those countries without one such as large parts of Africa, the less developed parts of Asia, etc etc.

Not many people there buying hipster fixies, dutch bikes or custom hand built 953 steel frames are there?

As it happens I agree with the sentiments of Sir Chris in respect of re-prioritising road space in urban areas but let's not go down the 'what have the Romans ever done for us' pathway with such enthusiasm. Although they did kick off the road network...

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dxp [3 posts] 1 year ago
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Boardman for Prime Minister!

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IanW1968 [251 posts] 1 year ago
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He's not arguing against road infrastructure or even motorised traffic - it doesn't have to be one or the other, although thats a frequently used argument by people running out of well reasoned ones.

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Critchio [163 posts] 1 year ago
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Another 10-15 years and over 50% of the population will be clinically obese. The government have the power to act and address this issue by funding and promoting cycling to make it safe and enjoyable for all. The government, like every one before it will never act until its too late, then they'll have to spend billions more trying to rectify their lack of action now.

I walked into my opticians for an eye check up a couple of weeks ago. It was busy. All 14 waiting chairs were occupied. Ages from a girl aged about 18 to a pensioner in his 60's. Every single one of them was horribly overweight, I kid you not.

That was shocking and its not until you see something like that that you realise this country has a big obesity problem. We see an overweight person so horribly fat that they can't walk and we chuck a mobility scooter at them rather than prescribing an exercise program and advice on portion control.

CB has it right.

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matttheaudit [69 posts] 1 year ago
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More sense from Mr Boardman. I hope it finds some sympathetic ears belonging to those who care more about the future then the car owning majority of the current electorate. Maybe something might happen on the other sideof the election...
Is the problem the DfT who continually trot out the same thing with different names?
And there's also the strange relationship/set up in traffic infrastructure in this country. There are two or three big private companies doing all this road building, etc all of which is commissioned by the public sector. Trouble is, they are now too big to fail. Maybe if the public sector did the whole thing there would be a bigger appetite for change.

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Cyclist [295 posts] 1 year ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

CB always makes sense with these statements.

The other problem (aside from goverment policy being influenced by big business) if that society at large has been conditioned to accept the status quo. Tell the average person in the street (or in their car) that you've covered 30 miles on you bike by way of a daily commute and they'll look at you like you are mad. Come the colder/wetter months most people will be surpised that you've even taken the bike out of the shed.

And that's when I reply with: 'that's why your a fat bastard'. Excuse the French, but that is genuinely my answer. I got rid of my car 5yrs Ago, not owned one since...and guess what, my life has not changed a dot. If I need one I hire one, much cheaper.
The government should be making good the roads we have and fixing them properly, before they even think about building others FFS. I was in Pompeii a few years ago and their roads were in better nick!!!!!!!!!

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Chickenlegs [8 posts] 1 year ago
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Less strain on the NHS cash guzzler due to healthier lifstyles perhaps?

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userfriendly [538 posts] 1 year ago
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People aren't really all that bothered about their health. Or about being made poor. Or about creating the congestion they all hate. As long as they don't have to listen to those crazy lycra louts going on and on and on about it, they really don't mind. Evidently.

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sean1 [175 posts] 1 year ago
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The British Medical Association (or Doctors to you and me) said exactly the same thing in their recent Healthy Transport Report ;

http://bma.org.uk/transport

"We would like to see strong government leadership to re-focus UK transport policy. The greatest health benefits would come from prioritising accessibility over mobility, reducing the demand and need to travel by car and making public transport the affordable, desirable option."

It needs a major initiative by the Government to push the country down the "Netherlands" route of high investment in walking and cycling (and public transport).

But it won't happen with this government.

No matter what obesity, health, congestion or pollution statistics are thrown at them.

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Suffolk Cycling [65 posts] 1 year ago
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I've got no problem at all with new roads. So long as there is accompanying infrastructure for everone else (bikes, pedestrians, puppies etc)

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gazza_d [451 posts] 1 year ago
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Mister Horse wrote:

Can Chris be the next Mayor of London? A bit of a commute from the Wirral....

One day a week will do, he'll serve us better than Boris.

Only if we can then declare all of England to be London.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 1 year ago
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He is absoluty right as usual

P.S. the SLS 9.4 Di2 is one hell of a bike.

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dazwan [320 posts] 1 year ago
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Matt eaton wrote:

...Tell the average person in the street (or in their car) that you've covered 30 miles on you bike by way of a daily commute and they'll look at you like you are mad...

I've only recently started to commute to work (I know, fair weather cyclist and all that  16 ) and initially had this and was constantly trying to justify it to people, until it dawned on me that other people should be the ones who should reallt have to justify why they need to drive to work.

I had the same with using the bus (e.g. "but you have a perfectly good car at home! why are you getting the bus?"). Same thing, I don't have a good enough reason not to!

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michophull [126 posts] 1 year ago
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If we must build more roads in the UK then let them be built over the bloody railways. They really are the most useless, anachronistic form of transport available to humanity.

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SteppenHerring [322 posts] 1 year ago
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He does make the point that road traffic is decreasing - which it is. For whatever reasons, people are just not driving as much as they used to. So why spend billions on new roads?

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seven [142 posts] 1 year ago
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Nixster wrote:

If we need to answer the question 'does the country benefit economically from having a road network' stop for a moment and think what our economy would look like without it.

Which would be an excellent point if anyone was actually arguing for getting rid of the road network, or saying that it's somehow economically ineffective. The problem isn't the roads, it's the excessive use of private motorised transport.

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seven [142 posts] 1 year ago
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michophull wrote:

If we must build more roads in the UK then let them be built over the bloody railways. They really are the most useless, anachronistic form of transport available to humanity.

 24

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Leodis [399 posts] 1 year ago
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The money myself and wife save from not driving (neither of us do btw) goes towards a couple of weeks away, usually in the Lakes and we use public transport for it all. The man is talking sense, in 20-30 years time we will wonder why these greedy self serving MP's didnt act quicker.

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mrmo [2016 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

If we must build more roads in the UK then let them be built over the bloody railways. They really are the most useless, anachronistic form of transport available to humanity.

unless you want to move large quantities of freight about the country. have a think how many 44tonne lorries you need to replicate a coal train, or one of the steel trains that run from south to north wales.

the only real solution is to ban the private car....

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honesty [51 posts] 1 year ago
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The solution would be to ban private car use for journeys less than 3 miles... but you work out a way to enforce that!

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fukawitribe [1430 posts] 1 year ago
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mrmo wrote:

the only real solution is to ban the private car....

Errrr - I agree about rail use but to what is this a solution ? If there were viable alternatives, it might have some merit, but they're most likely a long way off unfortunately.

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