Transport Minister 'terrified' of seeming to be 'waging a war on the motorist', says Cycling UK

Grant Schapps' government policy is to decarbonise without the need to "stop is driving", whilst Cycing UK and other experts say reducing car reliance is essential

Traffic on M25
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cycling UK has said that Minister for Transport Grant Schapps 'appears to be terrified of saying anything that might be interpreted as "waging a war on the motorist",' following Green Alliance research which shows that traffic on the roads in England and Wales is likely to 'double by the year 2050' when compared with 2015 figures. 

The research questions Schapps' Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP) which he says outlines "the opportunity to decarbonise transport without curtailing our freedoms. It won’t stop us driving." 

The Green Alliance research suggests that driving less is the best way to tackle climate change, and Cycling UK says that more cycling infrastructure is required to facilitate progression. 

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Green Alliance's research estimates that traffic on the England and Wales' roads will likely double by the year 2050 compared with 2015 levels.

Cycling UK argues that there is "clear evidence that this reluctance to tackle the relentless growth of motor traffic was incompatible with the government's 'net zero' climate targets," and also pointed out that the TDP itself "acknowledges the need to reduce road traffic, at least in urban areas," albeit this section is "buried mid-paragraph on page six."

The research that was published on Wednesday, December 8 shows the government's reluctance to tackle this huge grow in traffic will just not work with the 'Net Zero' target.

It shows that this target quite simply can not be reached by electric vehicles alone. EVs still have a long way to go for the UK market due to poor range and lack of heating.

In Green Alliance's publication, they used the government's projections as well as the 'in between' scenario they have come to the conclusion that the annual mileage of the average motorist needs to come down by 20 to 27 per cent by 2030.

This is where cycling comes in. Cycling UK, Green Alliance and other groups came together during COP26 in Glasgow to try and get cycling on the table as a key to fighting Climate Change.

Countless surveys have shown that a lack of infrastructure and fear of sharing the roads with traffic are key detractors preventing people from getting on their bikes. Cycling UK's stance was supported by an academic study, published in 2019, that concluded that reducing car dependence was more crucial to reaching targets than motorists swapping to electric vehicals. 

The Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) concluded: "‘Clean’ growth involves more than attending to the carbon implications; it means considering the combined effects of continued car dependency." 

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.