Cyclists should be forced to ride on the pavement rather than the road, says a UKIP parliamentary candidate. Lynton Yates also says that benefits claimants should not be allowed to drive and their licences should be taken away from them. UKIP says the remarks do not reflect party policy.
Mr Yates is the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservative seat of Charnwood, Leicestershire and made his remarks in a leaflet distributed locally, with a picture of it posted to Twitter by @atosmiraclesfb.
Under the heading ‘UKIP response’ on the subject of traffic congestion, Mr Yates says in the leaflet: "As much as I applaud cycling as a form of exercise and past-time [sic] the already congested roads cannot cope with both bus lanes AND cyclists.
"Cycles should go back to the pavements yet give priority to pedestrians."
Mr Yates, a councillor who sits on Leicestershire County Council’s transport committee, told The Mirror: "John Major made it unlawful to ride on the pavement. Since then the roads are twice as congested. It seems ludicrous to me."
As Bikehub’s Cycling and the Law article highlights, cycling on the footway has been illegal for rather longer than that; the relevant statute is Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, as amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888.
Since 1988 – when Margaret Thatcher, not Mr Major, was Prime Minister – riding on the footway has been punishable by a fixed penalty notice, although official guidance reiterated last year by transport minister Robert Goodwill is for police officers to exercise their discretion.
In his leaflet, Mr Yates also says: "We could likely remove six million cars from the roads if benefits claimants were not driving. Why do they have the privilege to spend the tax payers' hard earned money on a car, when those in work are struggling to keep their own car on the road? These people really could catch a bus."
The latter seems aimed at the unemployed, although with around two million people claiming jobseekers’ allowance, by no means all of own a car, it’s unclear where that figure of six million comes from.
In terms of money spent by the government on benefits, unemployment ranks well behind those related pensions, family, disability and housing according to 2013 research from the Joseph Rowntree foundation.
A UKIP spokesperson told The Mirror that the comments in the leaflet "are not UKIP policies and they will not form part of the UKIP manifesto."
Despite that denial, Mr Yates told the newspaper that requiring unemployed people to surrender their driving licences was a “possibility.”
He said: "I'm sure people will say 'what if they've got a job interview'. Well I'm sure if you had nothing to do you could leave a bit earlier and get a bus."
Maybe the jobless could follow the example of Norman Tebbitt’s father, as recounted by the former cabinet minister in 1981, and get on their bikes instead? But only if they ride on the pavement, of course…
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.