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Banish cars from the road and make cities cycling-friendly, bus chief urges

“The question is: is the road dedicated mainly to cars? Or is it dedicated to bicycles, and public transport and buses?” asked the Go-Ahead Group’s chief executive Christian Schreyer

The British government should banish cars from urban roads and instead aspire to the Netherlands’ cyclist-friendly cities, according to the chief executive of the Go-Ahead Group, one of the UK’s largest public transport companies.

Christian Schreyer, who took over the reins at the Newcastle-based bus firm in November last year, has argued that cycling and public transport should be prioritised if the UK is to effectively tackle the climate crisis and clean the air in its cities.

The Telegraph reports that Schreyer also suggested that the British government should adopt policies used in European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands where, he says, travelling by bike or bus is regarded as the norm.

> Cycling levels dropped in England because “short-sighted councils pulled out protected lanes”

Schreyer pointed out that in the Netherlands, “all buses downtown are fully electric”, quiet and reliable.

He continued: “Next to the bus you have your bicycle lane and then you have pedestrians. No one complains anymore.

“For me, there's no alternative if you want to, on the one hand, achieve the climate targets and on the other hand, you want to make cities attractive again.”

The bus chief also emphasised that in order to prioritise public transport and active travel in cities, motor traffic needs to be drastically reduced. He noted that a bus can replace between 40 and 50 cars while a train can replace 400, while a reduction in car usage would enable more bus routes and therefore lower fares for passengers.

“The question is: is the road dedicated mainly to cars?” he asked. “Or is it dedicated to bicycles, and public transport and buses?

“If the UK wants to achieve its targets, if we want to have cities where we have a high standard of living where people like to live, we need to reduce the noise, we need to reduce emissions and we need to reduce car usage.”

> Bodmin council admits getting more people to cycle, walk and take public transport is 'unrealistic' - so decides to build another road instead

Earlier today we reported that leading cycling campaigners have called on the government and local councils to provide proper, sustained backing for cycling infrastructure, after figures emerged that showed that cycling levels have fallen in England to pre-pandemic levels.

“During the pandemic, when there were fewer cars on the road, the public took to their bikes,” said Sally Copley, the executive director of external affairs at active travel charity Sustrans.

“It’s sad to see this return to expensive and pollutant car-use, especially as the urgency for alternatives has only increased, alongside the cost of living.”

Cycling UK’s chief executive Sarah Mitchell blamed the drop in cycling numbers on the “short-sighted” decisions of local councils to remove temporary cycle lanes installed during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mitchell called on local authorities and Westminster to “learn last year’s lessons and focus on the new crisis: cost of living. More people are turning to cycling for shorter journeys to help make ends meet, but they need the safety that dedicated cycle lanes bring.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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Hirsute | 1 year ago

Related to this a tweet from Mark Hodson

Quick walk to the Co Op to post some parcels , 1 mile round trip mostly along the High Street, just the 31 driving offences spotted , 8 of which were phones.
One driver did stop to give way to me at a junction as per the HC rule change back in Jan, which was nice.
He is a police officer so more used to spotting offences.
If people are not going to be deterred from driving poorly then we end up stopping them driving in certain areas.


IanMSpencer | 1 year ago

Hands up who enjoys driving on a daily basis?

Most drivers don't seem that interested in driving, yet they defend their "right" to do it instead of having a pleasant alternative.

Having toured Germany extensively, the typical task on arriving in a city is getting a local travel card, sticking 8t in your wallet, then go where you please by train team bus or foot. I can't think of a German city which didn't have an integrated transport system, and travelling to local cities via DB was always reliable (even though some Germans don't think it's what it used to be).

Rich_cb | 1 year ago
1 like

Man who runs bus company thinks more people should travel by bus.

chrisonatrike replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago

True that - but I thought you'd appreciate the mention of electric buses.

At least until autonomous taxis are everywhere *, we are out-competed by our information systems or cock up and revert to a lower technology level I think the "bike to a bus" - or cycle [broad sense] to public transport - will be the way.

* I appreciate your interest in this idea and indeed it does exist now.  I'm still unsure how it will be a "game-changer" given human-driven taxis already exist and yet most people have cars.  Still, if the idea of the private motorcar / commuting / regular driving in general changes the landscape will be different.

iandusud replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago

Rich_cb wrote:

Man who runs bus company thinks more people should travel by bus.

He's right.  1

Oldfatgit replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago

And the other week was a man that runs an insurance company thinks cyclists should have mandatory insurance.

Of the two ... this one is far more palatable and beneficial

hawkinspeter | 1 year ago

Great idea if only we had a progressive government that took the climate more seriously than making a quick profit

iandusud replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago

hawkinspeter wrote:

Great idea if only we had a progressive government that took the climate more seriously than making a quick profit

Well we'll have a new prime minister next week so there's hope - I don't think!

hawkinspeter replied to iandusud | 1 year ago

iandusud wrote:

Well we'll have a new prime minister next week so there's hope - I don't think!

Looks like Truss is the front-runner and it looks like she'll be promoting safety and protecting our climate by ***checks notes*** removing motorway speed limits?

However, I've just seen this:

Cheap bus travel!

NOtotheEU | 1 year ago

Hear hear! 

75% of my route to work used to be a dual carriageway with a bus lane until they got rid of it. It was glorious passing miles of stationary traffic every time the M6 was closed and if I followed an express bus I didn't even have to stop at some of the red lights as the bus had a priority lane which turned green while all the others went to red.

No expensive seperate infra, made rush hour bus travel a real alternative to personal vehicles and I can't remember a single close pass in all the years it was in operation.

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