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Labour will put cyclists and pedestrians "at top table of transport policy"

Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher outlines his party's plans for cycling...

Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher says that if Labour returns to power following May’s general election, it will create a cross-departmental Cyclist and Pedestrian Advisory Board to put people who get around by bike or on foot “at the top table of transport policy.”

The board would comprise ministers and civil servants from a number of government departments, among them Transport, Health, Communities & Local Government and Education, as well as members of organisations representing cyclists and pedestrians.

In a speech at an event hosted in London by the Campaign for Better Transport, Mr Dugher said that “to show the importance of cycling and walking to a Labour Department for Transport the Secretary of State will chair the board meetings.”

He said: “Over the last five years, this Tory-Lib Dem Government has ignored the interests of pedestrians and failed to deliver on the promise of a ‘cycling revolution’.

“Boosting cycling and walking is a big priority for Labour – it's good for our transport system, for public health and crucially for our environment. That's why we have an ambitious package to promote active travel in government.

"Only by listening and learning from cyclists and pedestrians themselves, and inviting them to sit at the top table, will we be able to deliver the big changes we need across the country.”

He said a Labour Government would “set out a clear, and distinct, long-term active travel budget to give councils the certainty they need to invest effectively.

“For our strategic road network, we will commit to spending £250 million on cycling infrastructure, safety and integration, and we will match the Government’s commitment to spend £114 million on cycling in our cities across the country.”

He also said that since the Coalition Government’s decision in 2010 to scrap Cycling England, “it has been impossible to have a clear idea of where and how money is being spent.

“The lack of certainty and stop-start funding has resulted in an absence of expertise within local authorities, who are unable to plan and invest for long-term, effective change.

As a result, he said Labour would “commit to an in-depth review of how all government departments, agencies, local government, LEPs and the private sector are currently investing in walking and cycling.

“This will help determine the scale, sources and distribution of per capita funding we need for the future.”

The Barnsley East MP promised “ambitious targets” would be set for participation in cycling and walking as well as for road safety.

Local authorities, while having more power over transport issues, would be expected to follow national policy for active travel, while under Bikeability, “every child” would have the chance to learn to cycle.

A Labour Government would also “introduce a powerful HGV Safety Charter, which will call on all HGVs to be fitted with safety kit, including rear-view cameras, rear warning signs for cyclists and flashing light beacons.”

Mr Dugher said there would be an improvement in how the law deals with cases in which vulnerable road users are the victim, saying, “We need to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done in cases where collisions lead to cyclist deaths and serious injuries.”

He said he wanted to "move cycling and walking from the margins to the mainstream – not only swelling the ranks of people cycling and walking to work, but giving people from all walks of life the confidence to ride a bike.

“We will ensure that we change how our streets our designed, improve traffic management and enforcement, and encourage people to change their travel behaviours."

Mr Dugher outlined his belief that “we all need to start looking at transport more in terms of networks rather than isolated or even competing modes.

He went on: “Too often we see organisations pitching themselves against one another, even though their aims are not always mutually exclusive.

“Some people in the transport world have a tendency to forget, or just ignore, the fact that the travelling public use a network and more than just one form of transport to get around.

“We are often presented with a false choice between different types of people who use different modes of transport.

“But to move forward in a sensible way, we must reject the politics of pitching one transport mode against another.

“This is the view that if you are pro-cyclist, you must somehow be anti-car, rather than everyone identifying as road users.

“As we all know, the truth is people are not either just a cyclist or just a motorist. Or just a train commuter or just a bus user.”

“When developing transport policy, we can’t be in denial about peoples’ transport realities,” he added.

Mr Dugher went into greater depth in some of his views on transport in an interview published last month in Politics Today in which, among other things, he shared his view of the currently suspended BBC Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, whom he described as “basically an idiot,” and “not remotely representative of motorists.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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