In an interview in tonight’s London Evening Standard, Phillip Hammond, the new Transport Secretary, said:
“People feel, rightly, that our present roads are something they have already paid for with their taxes.”
This was to poo-poo the idea of road charging and, technically, is dead right. The mistake would be if the Minister had said “motoring taxes.”
But, in an email, Dr. Robert Davis, chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum, said:
“[Mr Hammond] doesn’t say that this is from VED or ‘road tax’, but it doesn’t help with the myth that motorists have ‘paid for the road’ while cyclists, implicitly, haven’t.”
Phillip Hammond is no Lord Adonis: no chance of him cycling to work, despite the Mayor of London’s tweet today pointing out that the Transport Secretary has agreed to go on a bike ride with Boris.
Hammond told the Evening Standard: “I’ve never actually cycled in London. I’d have to take a deep breath. I think you need to know what you are doing to cycle in London. Cyclists need to be more aware of the risks around them. It frightens me to death when I see them pull out around other cyclists, completely unaware there is a car behind. Maybe they need wing mirrors?”
Wing mirrors? He jests?
He is “not sure of the logic” of green bike-only boxes, ie advanced stop line reservoirs. He’s also in favour of separation: “We have to make [cycling] less risky. The more separation you can create between cyclists and motorists the better.”
One simple way to make cycling less risky – and, it’s free, something to be welcomed in the current age of austerity – is for the Minister to shout from the rooftops that ‘road tax’ does not exist; motorists do not pay for roads; and that cyclists have equal rights on roads.