Dear Mr King,
Many drivers are cyclists, including ABD members, but road space reallocation for cycling has collided with democracy and common sense.
The ABD is concerned about the widening gulf between the cycling lobby and drivers, which is being fomented by road space reallocation without proper consultation. It’s particularly disappointing that you have been justifying road narrowing and closures, which are negatively impacting the vast majority of people including the emergency services. This you have done by promoting a vague AA Populus survey of 20,000 people showing a minority of respondents (36%) claim that they intend to ‘cycle more’ after lockdown. ‘More’ is an undefined intention during lockdown where many people are being paid for not working. Basing a transport policy on an pandemic lockdown environment in fine weather which has encouraged leisure cycling is as silly as basing education policy on empty schools. Empty ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes show that there is no ‘cycling revolution.’
A new, more comprehensive survey of 23,427 drivers by Fair Fuel UK (FFUK) challenges the AA Populus survey: only 10.5% said they would increase their leisure cycling compared to the AA’s 36% and only 5.8% said they would now use their bicycles to travel to places of work/education (AA 36%).
You have proudly publicised your letter in The Times (Ref. 1 below) next to letters from cycling campaigners who you describe as ‘other luminaries.’ Describing residents who object to road closures without consultation as ‘Nimbys’ makes them a luminary, apparently.
ABD Chairman Ian Taylor said: “Mr King has mentioned the ‘unintended consequences’ of road space reallocation in press interviews (Ref. 2 below), but fails to recognise there’s nothing unintended about closing roads to all vehicles including fire engines and ambulances. Tacit agreement with cycling zealots who describe residents who have to make long detours to their homes as a result of potentially illegal road closures as Nimbys is not something to be proud of. Pictures of emergency vehicles struggling with the resultant congestion, dangerously time-wasting road closures and road narrowings are a sickening sight that no one should support. Extra congestion and detours actually increase vehicle emissions, not reduce them. Sadly, Covid-19 has been used as an excuse to attack motorised transport, which will inevitably delay any economic recovery. An urgent review of road space reallocation is needed before a someone dies as a result of an emergency vehicle being delayed.”
In summary, we suggest you need to pay more attention to the needs and views of vehicle owners which is what the AA was originally founded to do.
Ref 1: AA President on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAPresident/status/1285692434295422976
Ref 2: Campaign group says councils could face legal action for narrowing and closing roads to vehicles without consultation: