Election Special: UKIP's cycling policy sends "off your bike" message

Highlights include cyclists to dismount at dangerous junctions and proposals to explore compulsory insurance

by Simon_MacMichael   April 15, 2010  

UKIP logo.jpg

The swing-o-meter is being dusted off, ‘vote wotsisname’ signs are battling for the attention of passers-by alongside estate agents’ boards, and if you have a new arrival in the family you’re probably keeping the nipper indoors lest a passing politician tries to kiss the baby for a photo opportunity. Yes, it’s general election time, and over the next week or so, we will be running the road.cc rule over the various parties’ policies where cycling is concerned.

We could have started this series with a look at the current Labour government’s plans, should they be re-elected, or analysed the proposals of the power-hungry Tory party.

But alerted to its policies by Helen Pidd’s piece today for the Guardian Bike Blog, where else could we start than by looking at the sometimes bonkers, often troubling policies of the UK Independence Party (UKIP)?

Given its name and anti-EU stance, it’s perhaps not surprising that the party isn’t espousing a continental approach to cycling, as epitomised by blogs such as Copenhagenize and Amsterdamize. Although come to think of it, anti-Brusselsize would make a cracking name for a UKIP blog.

Even so, some of the proposals contained in the party’s Transport Policy, prepared by its Transport Policy Group, which includes an Alan Partridge among its members, show that the party is clear about where cyclists figure in the grand scheme of things – and it isn’t necessarily on the road.

Although UKIP says it “supports pedal cycles as a healthy means of personal transport,” examination of its policies suggests otherwise, a commitment to tackling bike theft being the high point from a cyclist’s point of view.

UKIP states that “there needs to be a better balance of rights and responsibilities for pedal cyclists,” although the focus seems to be very much on the latter, with the party claiming there is “too much aggressive abuse of red lights, pedestrian crossings and a lack of basic safety and road courtesy.”

While that’s a sentiment with which a great number of cyclists agree – in a poll earlier this year, road.cc readers cited anti-social cycling as the thing that irritates them most about their fellow cyclists – it does ignore the fact that all too often it is cyclists themselves who are victims of bad or aggressive driving, and that for them the consequences are likely to be more serious and sometimes fatal than for other road users.

One solution UKIP suggests is to “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.” In other words, compulsory third party insurance, and a bike registration scheme in all but name.

According to UKIP, “the Cycledisc should also carry clear identification details, which will help counter bicycle theft, and deter dangerous cyclist behaviour, and the party adds “we support provision of cycle parking at reasonable charges.” As opposed to the free cycle parking currently widely available throughout the UK’s towns and cities, presumably?

Furthermore, although UKIP says it “supports the campaign work of national cycling organizations,” it also says that it “believes that basic cycle and safety training should be made mandatory, and be funded in schools or via local authorities.” Mandatory for all, regardless of age and experience, presumably, which would perhaps give some lucky cyclists the opportunity of lining up next to Victoria Pendleton or Sir Chris Hoy at their Bikeability class.

UKIP maintains that “cycling on safe cycle routes, lanes, tracks and trails should be actively encouraged, particularly as a leisure pursuit,” which is encouraging. But, it adds, the party “believes off road dedicated lanes are preferable to a confusing maze of cycle lanes on unsuitable or dangerous roads, which is problematic for cyclists as well as other road users.” An idea shared by Adolf Hitler but also it has to be admitted, the Dutch.

UKIP leaves perhaps its most alarming – and detrimental cycling – proposal for last, saying “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.”

So, instead of tackling issues such as the disproportionate number of cyclist deaths, particularly among women in London, by left-turning lorries, for instance, the problem can be solved by getting cyclists off the road. And rather than addressing the issue of aggressive behaviour of some bus drivers, cyclists can simply be removed from bus lanes. Genius.

To be fair, some of UKIP’s other transport policies do give food for thought. Its opposition to EU proposals to raise the Gross Laden Weight for lorries to 60 tonnes and introduce Longer Heavier Vehicles of 25 metres may well attract agreement from anyone concerned about road safety, as do the proposed introduction of an offence of Vehicular Manslaughter and the use of US-style traffic schools for bad drivers.

However, those are tucked away among some rather more left-field proposals such as rolling back half a century of transport planning and restoring large chunks of the rail network to its pre-Beeching glory, and using the canal network to help shift the nation’s freight around – good news for breeders of shire horses at least.

Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator at National Cyclists' Organisation CTC, said: "UKIP are living up to their reputation with their cycling policy - it's classic anti-cyclist third-pint-in stuff: registration, compulsory third party insurance and forcing cyclists off the road. That being said, we do think their idea of a new offence 'vehicular manslaughter' and US style remedial driving schools might be worth fleshing out. So far just one of the UKIP candidates contacted has supported CTC's Vote Bike manifesto."

Of course, there’s little prospect of UKIP running the country any time soon, so its proposals for cycling will remain what they are - words in a party policy document. Mind you, a couple of seats going UKIP’s way in the election due to local protest votes and a hung parliament and who knows…?
 

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Ironic that UKIP are trying to reduce aggression and ill-feeling to your fellow man...

Find more of my rubbish here

mrgeesbigcircus's picture

posted by mrgeesbigcircus [12 posts]
15th April 2010 - 11:31

0 Likes

Why not get car drivers to 'dismount' and push at dangerous junctions? That would reduce their speed to safe levels. Makes about as much sense as this.

I presume UKIP today find themselves in the unusual position of welcoming a foreign import - the Icelandic ash that's temporarily closed the airports.

posted by bazzargh [144 posts]
15th April 2010 - 12:00

0 Likes

Cambridge Cycling Campaign asked UKIP about their transport policy wrt cycling last year - this unintentional hilarity was the result;

Q. Do you have any other general cycling-related comments or points?

A. “Provision for cyclists is already adequate. Please remember that motorists are the people who pay to use the roads whereas cyclists are “freeloaders”. They are entitled to use the roads but not disproportionately”.

“If everyone cycled, as you suggest, there would be no roads to ride on”.

(http://www.polaine.com/matt/?p=482 )

Hopefully they've learnt how the country's taxation system works since.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [422 posts]
15th April 2010 - 12:03

1 Like

Sounds like the Monster Raving UKIP to me

Darned if I do…

Mr Sock's picture

posted by Mr Sock [152 posts]
15th April 2010 - 12:47

0 Likes

Wasn't going to vote for the rabid nutters anyway.

posted by wild man [283 posts]
15th April 2010 - 13:45

0 Likes

bazzargh wrote:
Why not get car drivers to 'dismount' and push at dangerous junctions? That would reduce their speed to safe levels.

now that is a genius idea! Big Grin

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1082 posts]
15th April 2010 - 15:50

0 Likes

Odd that the Little Englander party should use the US spelling of "organization". Their opposition to wind power is equally hilarious.

Simon Mason, Kingston upon Hull

posted by swldxer [34 posts]
15th April 2010 - 20:08

0 Likes

swldxer wrote:
Odd that the Little Englander party should use the US spelling of "organization". Their opposition to wind power is equally hilarious.

I wondered about that, too.

Mind you, I watched re-run of an Inspector Morse episode the other week in which everyone thought a particular Oxford don couldn't have written a note because the "-ize" / "-ization" spelling was used.

Morse, clever old so-and-so that he was, pointed out that since the academic in question sat on the board of the OED, and the OED prefers "-ize" over "-ise" etc, that meant he had to have written the note Nerd

And I've just checked on the OED and what do you know, he's right...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8244 posts]
15th April 2010 - 22:30

0 Likes

UKIP is a joke.

Zaskar's picture

posted by Zaskar [137 posts]
15th April 2010 - 23:10

0 Likes

A twitter pal of mine pointed out that given that UKIP is as mad as a box of frogs, expecting rationality in their trasport policy is somewhat optimistic.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [422 posts]
16th April 2010 - 9:15

0 Likes

UKIP will not win many votes luckily. There are even crazier parties out there unfortunately.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2233 posts]
16th April 2010 - 9:55

0 Likes

John_the_Monkey wrote:
..given that UKIP is as mad as a box of frogs, expecting rationality in their transport policy is somewhat optimistic.

My experience leads me to believe that, if they were actually as mad as a box of Frogs, their attitude towards cyclists might be somewhat more amenable than that displayed by the average British driver.....
Wink

TiNuts's picture

posted by TiNuts [93 posts]
16th April 2010 - 14:53

0 Likes

TiNuts wrote:
John_the_Monkey wrote:
..given that UKIP is as mad as a box of frogs, expecting rationality in their transport policy is somewhat optimistic.

My experience leads me to believe that, if they were actually as mad as a box of Frogs, their attitude towards cyclists might be somewhat more amenable than that displayed by the average British driver.....
Wink

The avg British motorist - am I one? nope passed my ADT and ART and I cycle too - is surely as mad as a tin box of frogs. A subtle but important distinction. The tin drives them completely insane and thus they think the UKIP, the BNP, and the whole xenophobic bus queue have a valid place in our political system.

Meh!

Really, though?

posted by workhard [388 posts]
16th April 2010 - 15:44

0 Likes

Wonder what the BNP's policy on cycling is now you mention it?
I wouldn't want to even look at their website.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2233 posts]
16th April 2010 - 21:16

0 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
Wonder what the BNP's policy on cycling is now you mention it?
I wouldn't want to even look at their website.

A free bike for every migrant worker. And the Channel ports are thataway...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8244 posts]
16th April 2010 - 22:31

0 Likes