Conservative Week continues. Having looked at the philosopher who represents the best of conservatism, we look at the party that represents the worst of it: UKIP. I argue that their policy on cycling is microcosm of their ugly worldview
Ummm…wouldn’t their policy on Europe be the key one?
Not really. It’s not the most salient issue for UKIP supporters by any stretch.
Ok but bikes certainly aren’t either
No but it’s a microcosm for their wider attitudes.
So what do they say about bikes?
Their 2010 manifesto had the following to say:
10.2 We believe that there needs to be a better balance of rights and responsibilities for pedal cyclists, with too much aggressive abuse of red lights, pedestrian crossings and a lack of basic safety and road courtesy.
10.6 UKIP would consult on the desirability of minimum third party liability insurance cover for cyclists – a simple annual flat rate registration ‘Cycledisc’, stuck to the bicycle frame, to cover damage to cars and others, which are currently unprotected. The Cycledisc should also carry clear identification details, which will help counter bicycle theft, and deter dangerous cyclist behaviour. We support provision of cycle parking at
10.7 UKIP believes that basic cycle and safety training should be made mandatory, and be funded in schools or via local authorities. UKIP supports the campaign work of national cycling organisations.
10.9 Local authorities should be given additional powers to enforce a ‘cyclists dismount’ or ‘no cycling’ regulation where there are safety concerns – such as on busy roundabouts, junctions or bus lanes, or where the road would be too narrowed by cycle lanes and cause
unacceptable delays to traffic
So they don’t like bikes?
Indeed one UKIP candidate accused cyclists of “thieving from paying road users” and of being “by far the most undisciplined road users” who were deserving of “more police attention.” By contrast “cars are not a danger to other road users.”
So what does this tell us about UKIP?
I’ve already argued on this blog that the Conservative party is essentially about defending the interests of “our people” and that UKIP is essentially the Tories on steroids. And cyclists are not UKIP’s people.
to be hostility to cycling is founded on misapprehensions.
They worry it’s dangerous but this looks at it the wrong way. The evidence is that far from being dangerous – the benefits of the extra exercise dwarf the risk of accidents.
Nor are cyclists a particular menace to others. Between 2001 and 2009, cyclists caused just 18 deaths, while drivers were responsible for
And the ‘road tax’ that cyclists supposedly avoid was abolished in 1937. Now roads are funded out of general taxation that cyclists pay just like everybody else.
In short, UKIP’s attacks on cyclists – like those on immigrants – represent the irrational anger and resentment of “their people” against everyone else.