Peter Walker Political correspondent
Thursday 12 January 2017 18.52 GMT
The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has been accused of showing “an astonishing lack of knowledge” of his brief after arguing in the House of Commons that cyclists do not count as road users.
Grayling, shown in a video last month knocking a rider off his bike by suddenly opening the door to his ministerial car outside Westminster, made the comment on Thursday morning.
Grayling was questioned by the Labour MP Daniel Zeichner about an interview he gave late last year warning that London’s new protected cycle lanes “perhaps cause too much of a problem for road users”. Were cyclists not also road users, Ziechner asked.
“What I would say to him, of course, is where you have cycle lanes, cyclists are the users of cycle lanes,” Grayling responded. “And there’s a road alongside – motorists are the road users, the users of the roads. It’s fairly straightforward, to be honest.”
The explanation prompted concern and bafflement from cycling groups and others, as well as Zeichner, who later retweeted a section of the 1888 Local Government Act, which formalised the status of “bicycle, tricycles, velocipedes and other similar machines” as what were then still known as “carriages”.
Chris Boardman, the former Olympic and Tour de France cyclist who is now British Cycling’s policy adviser, said he was amazed at the comments.
“The transport secretary’s comments demonstrate an astonishing lack of knowledge about how 7 million people regularly use the roads in this country,” he said. “I feel embarrassed for him. If he truly thinks the roads are not for cyclists then what am I paying my taxes for?”
Boardman pointed out that the government had committed to double cycling levels, but was still spending less than £1 per person per year on making it possible compared with more than £20 in bike-friendly nations such as the Netherlands and Denmark.
“If there was ever anyone who needed to actually get on a bike and hear about the true state of cycling infrastructure, it is Chris Grayling and I’d be delighted to go on a ride with him,” Boardman said.
A Department for Transport spokesman said Grayling had explained himself in parliament and the department had nothing to add to it.
he secretary of state has since been in contact with the cyclist and the matter is closed.”