Press Release

“Out of date” peers continue to suggest cycle lanes cause pollution

Houses of Parliament
London's air quality was debated in the House of Lords
Debate in House of Lords on air quality in London shows cross-party support on need to tackle air pollution

Following yesterday’s (Monday, 3 July) debate in the House of Lords on air quality in London, Cycling UK has criticised the continued belief of some Lords that cycle lanes cause pollution, calling such views “out of date”.

Taking place two days before a court hearing of the latest challenge to the Government’s most recent draft Air Quality Strategy by law firm Client Earth, the debate on Air Quality in London was called by Conservative Peer Lord Borwick. In his opening speech, Lord Borwick called on Government “to take even more steps to improve air quality.”

The debate revealed a clear cross-party consensus on the need for action to tackle air quality, but divergent views on how best to do this. Several peers called for a new Clean Air Act and for investment in cycling. It was also noteworthy that front bench spokespeople for the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Greens also urged the adoption of a wider aim of road traffic reduction. Others attacked cycle lanes, claiming they cause congestion and pollution while calling for more research on how best to tackle the problem.

Responding to the debate on behalf of the Government, Environment Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble defended cycle lanes, saying: “It is important that we encourage cycling and walking as an investment. It is not only healthy but important to well-being. Those who walk and cycle are avoiding shorter journeys by other means of transport and … in the long term, the more people we can get cycling responsibly and walking, the better.”  

Commenting on the debate, Roger Geffen, Cycling UK Policy Director said:

"The sort of attacks on cycle lanes we heard in the Lords is the same out of date criticisms that were directed at bus lanes 40 years ago.

"London and other cities are right to want to invest in more cycling lanes to make their streets cleaner, healthier and more efficient. To suggest they do the opposite is contrary to the available evidence and experience of other continental countries which have made long-term investments in cycling.

“Cycling UK is pleased and reassured to see the Government recognise that cycling is part of the solution for addressing our clean air problem. However, we urge them to listen to the experts and campaigners and accept the urgent need for a new Clean Air Act.”

Notes to Editors: 
  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org 
  2. The full debate can be read at: http://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2017-07-03/debates/235B584B-BB0B-413E...
  3. Lords supporting the reduction of motor traffic volumes included: Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green Party), Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Labour’s environment spokesperson in the Lords) and Baroness Randerson (Liberal Democrats).
  4. Cycle lanes were defended in the debate by Baroness Randerson, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch and Lord Berkeley (Labour, and a Vice-President of Cycling UK).
  5. Claiming cycle lanes cause pollution were Conservative Lords Blencathra, Higgins and Caithness (the latter also a former transport minister), and cross-bencher Baroness Valentine.
  6. Client Earth has successfully challenged the illegal inadequacies of the Government’s two previous drafts of their Air Quality Strategy.  Cycling UK, along with Client Earth and other partners in the Healthy Air Coalition, also believes the latest draft to be woefully inadequate https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/roger-geffen/third-time-still-unlucky-gov... .
  7. Cycling UK’s full policy on air quality is available at: https://www.cyclinguk.org/campaigning/views-and-briefings/air-quality 

 

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