PM should use his majority to push for investments, but he may lack the political bravery
Peter WalkerWed 18 Dec 2019 07.30 GMT
The election is over, Boris Johnson has an 80-strong majority to wield, and many are now wondering what the prime minister will do with all this power over the next five years. So here’s an idea: let’s look at what he plans for everyday cycling.
Cycling? Yes, cycling. In political terms it’s not exactly Brexit or the NHS, and if you were to list the average voter’s national concerns it would probably struggle make the top 100. But I’d argue that for Johnson it is a bellwether issue, one that will point to whether he plans to use his majority boldly or complacently.
Let’s start with the basics. You’d struggle to find a UK politician who would sincerely argue that more everyday cycling for transport would be anything other than very good. That argument is over.
The benefits are vast, well-proven and ones I’ve detailed many times before, so I won’t get into the details. But in brief, if you could magically switch, say, 20% of car trips to bikes you would instantly have a country that was considerably healthier, more equitable, safer, less noisy, notably less polluted and with considerably lower emissions.
The other point is that getting more people on bikes is not magic, or an issue of culture, weather hills or anything else like that. It’s about years, if not decades, of concerted action. Again, I won’t re-state the much-proved, but it’s a question of making riding a bike convenient and not only safe, but obviously, visibly safe.
That leaves one barrier: the political will and bravery to push ahead with something because it is the right thing to do.
Now, Johnson has done this before. During his second term as London mayor (2012 to 2016) he oversaw the construction of some genuinely good, separated cycling infrastructure, notably the north-to-south and east-to-west cycle “superhighways”, as they were branded at the time.
Sure, much more could have been built, and London was initially subjected to Johnson’s first, pointless wave of blue-paint-only bike routes. But building the first separated routes took genuine gumption.
What will Boris Johnson do for cyclists? | The Guardian
PM should use his majority to push for investments, but he may lack the political bravery Peter WalkerWed 18 Dec 2019 07.30 GMT The election is over, Boris Johnson has an 80-strong majority to wield, and many are now wondering what the prime minister will do with all this power over the next five years…. [Read More]