Derek Hatton, the Liverpool politician who shot to fame in the 1980s as a member of the Miltant group in the Labour Party, has criticised Liverpool council plans to remove bus lanes because the change could put cyclists at risk.
Mr Hatton is a director of cycle to work scheme provider Bike 2 Work Scheme, but is famous as the deputy leader of Liverpool Council during the Thatcher years.
Now a keen cyclist himself, he was talking to Marc Waddington of the Liverpool Daily Post about the city council’s decision to approve a nine-month trial suspension of Liverpool’s bus lanes.
He said: “One of the biggest concerns we hear from employers on Merseyside is cyclists’ safety.
“This decision is going to do absolutely nothing for their safety.
“Evidence has come out of London that shows it’s not buses but lorries and cars that cause the biggest problems.
“Bikes are safe in bus lanes because they’re nowhere near lorries.
“All the evidence will show that this is a retrograde step.”
Council cabinet member for transport Tim Moore claimed the city was looking out for cyclists. He said: “The city is doing a number of things, investing in cycle lanes and cycle infrastructure.”
But Mr Hatton said he does not believe cyclists are a priority. “Here’s somewhere that’s already safe for cyclists and he’s getting rid of them,” he said.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said that bus use was declining and the bus lanes were increasing congestion. Scrapping the lanes would cost the city £700,000 in fines, but “was the right thing to do”.
He said: “We’ve monitored them for six months and they’re going to be monitored for another nine months and if at the end of the review people say they need to be reinstated we’ll do that.”
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.