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Derek Hatton says Liverpool plan to scrap bus lanes will make cyclists less safe

Still militant, but former bête noire of Tories now runs cycle to work business

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.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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