A UKIP parliamentary candidate in Newcastle upon Tyne says that cyclists are ‘the chosen people’, while motorists are simply ‘a cash cow’. In a leaflet entitled ‘Are cycle lanes paved with gold?’ Daniel Thompson makes a case for the council to simply not spend a £10m grant intended for improved cycle infrastructure.
Thompson, who is standing in Newcastle Central, also makes reference to licensing and insurance in the leaflet.
“Try walking across the Town Moor when a cyclist is silently whizzing along at 20mph, one move to the left or right could cause serious injuries to a pedestrian. Cyclists carry no number plates or insurance. If the Council is so concerned about public safety why don't they get cyclists to put bells on their bikes?”
While bike registration and compulsory third-party insurance were the party line five years ago – via “a simple annual flat rate registration Cycledisc” – neither features on their latest policy statement.
The party also professes to be in favour of improving cycle infrastructure.
“We wish to encourage cycling, and improve access and safety for cyclists. We would seek to introduce interurban cycle tracks by utilising the network of closed railway lines and, where possible, increase extra cycling lanes. These would be high quality paved surfaces, and lit at night.”
‘Where possible’ is arguably the key phrase there. Thompson takes issue with the £10 million grant Newcastle Council has received from the Government for new cycle lanes, arguing that the council has no idea how many cyclists use the present lanes and so “it could be costing at least £10,000 per cyclist.”
He even goes so far as to say that cycle funding is discriminatory.
“Cyclists are the chosen people. Motorists are simply a cash cow and have very few rights. How many elderly ladies will get on their bikes on a dark December night in Newcastle? Not many. Surely giving all the rights to cyclists, who are usually young people, is discrimination against the elderly and infirm?”
A better solution, apparently, is to do nothing. He says of the council: “Just because they receive a Government grant they don't have to spend it.”
As Newcastle resident Carlton Reid points out on BikeBiz, Thompson has been leading a campaign to prevent Newcastle City Council from installing double red lines outside his home on Gosforth High Street. Needless to say, a cycle lane is also planned.
Earlier this year, a a UKIP parliamentary candidate in Leicestershire said that cyclists should be forced to ride on the pavement rather than the road, where they should give way to pedestrians. A UKIP spokesperson said that the comments in the leaflet in question were not UKIP policies.
Last week, UKIP candidate for Ealing Southall, John Poynton, blamed immigrants for clogging up cycle lanes. Both he and Kevin Mahoney, councillor for Sully Ward in the Vale of Glamorgan, called for police crackdowns on cyclists, with Mahoney also suggesting that hi-vis and insurance for cyclists be made mandatory.