Sunday, 4 March 2018

Highways England ban on cycling - still time to protest

FOLLOWING a huge outcry at Highways England’s controversial and ludicrous plan to ban cyclists from using the A63 at Hull – one of the fastest time trial courses in England (see previous blog)  - the government agency has extended the consultation period to March 12.

But in what appears to be a bid to discourage protests, they say they will only accept comments by post, not by email. It seems they have figured out that in this electronic age people no longer put pen to paper, nor do they necessarily know how to stick stamps on envelopes, still less what post boxes look like.

So to get around this Cycling UK, the national cyclists’ charity, is inviting people to comment via their website and they will forward the lot in writing to Highways England by snail mail, as required.

You may recall Highways England’s reasoning for their proposed ban on cycling on the A63 at Hull. It is they say, because “cyclists cannot keep pace with 65mph traffic!” and are therefore in danger. Doh!

Not even Sir Bradley Wiggins can do 65mph on the A63. And if he can’t no one can.

So it seems the blame is to be pinned on time triallists for simply not riding fast enough.

The extension to the consultation period probably won’t change anything.  According to the Devils Dictionary, the meaning of the word consult is “To seek another’s approval of a course already decided on”.

In which case history will record… “The glorious age of cycling, the first and oldest mechanical means of transport invented in the 19th century,  came to an inglorious end after 150 years  when  in 2018 the A63 at Hull was closed to cycling by the car lobby .  The idea rapidly caught on across the country as cycling was banned from thousands of miles of the trunk road network.” 

Or maybe not.

Cycling UK is riding to the rescue and is prepared to mount a robust legal case in defence of cyclists' rights if Highways England proceed with their daft ban. Because the issue here is not so much about protecting the right to time trial on this road, but the dangerous precedent a ban will set for ordinary cycling on any road.

The following is a statement on Cycling  UK’s website:

“It’s nonsensical to ban bikes from a road because they can’t keep up with the motor traffic,” said Cycling UK’s head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore, “Where does it stop if that’s accepted as a valid argument?

 “This is one of the main reasons Cycling UK is objecting to Highways England’s proposed ban of cycling on the A63,” continued Mr Dollimore “But also because it contravenes their own strategy and guidance.”

Cycling UK is encouraging everyone who cycles or intends to cycle in England to register their objections with Highways England. However, as the public body will only accept objections submitted as paper copies sent through the post, Cycling UK is urging people to register their complaints at, which the charity will then deliver in time for the March deadline.

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