Mid-Bedfordshire candidates share their thoughts on road safety
Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, is urging all the political parties to prioritise safer streets in the upcoming election. It has released ‘A Manifesto for Walking’, today (18 November), which is also the start of Road Safety Week (18 – 24 November).
It wants politicians to commit long-term funding for walking and back stronger laws to create cleaner, safer and less congested streets.
The road safety pioneers celebrate their 90th anniversary this year and its early campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossings and speed limits.
The charity says that 26,000 people are killed or seriously injured on our roads each year and 36,000 premature deaths a year are attributable to air pollution. It adds that physical inactivity is costing the NHS £1.1 billion a year. Living Streets believes a better walking environment can be part of the solution.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets says:
“If over 25,000 people were killed or seriously injured each year in any other sphere there would be an outcry, but these casualties on our roads seem to be tolerated.
“We have unacceptable road danger, a climate change emergency, toxic levels of air pollution and a crisis in public health due to our sedentary lifestyle. Walking more and driving less is part of the solution – and that requires safer streets. By committing to prioritise walking, candidates will help to tackle these challenges and create safer, happier and healthier communities.
“Transforming routes to school, passing consistent laws on pavement parking, and revising the Highway Code are some of the steps the next UK government needs to take to make it safer and easier for people to walk more of their everyday journeys.”
Mid Bedfordshire candidates respond to ‘A Manifesto for Walking’
Raise long-term investment in walking and cycling to at least 10% of transport spending
The Labour Party says that its policy is to encourage less reliance on cars with more walking and more cycling. It says that there should be more accessible and affordable public transport. Candidate Rhiannon Meades said:
“In a rural constituency like Mid-Bedfordshire we have to recognise that many people have to rely on cars. Our aim is that all new cars will be electric by the end of the next decade.”
Ann Kelly, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party that around 30% of transport funds should be ring fenced.
“There should be a campaign to inform the public that walking is fun and can be more time effective than waiting for buses, scraping ice off cars etc.”
The Green Party says it would prioritise walking and cycling and increase funding from £6.50 to £30 per head.
Transform routes to school with at least 55% of primary pupils walking to school by 2025
Labour said that Rhiannon supports the principle that this should be for schools to determine in conjunction with the local authority. It added that this would vary between schools because of different locations and catchment areas. It would not legislate on such a matter.
Ann Kelly said that where possible all students should walk to school:
“If they can’t, dedicated transport should be laid on and stop all these school runs. I would say a year from the announcement of this new policy. Adults that breach this would be given penalty notices.”
Alan Victor, Independent, said that walking to school is a good thing as long as children live close enough and parents are assured it is safe for them to do so.
Gareth Ellis, Green Party said:
“I do not believe it is fair to set targets for schools with regard to walking percentages. Each schools circumstance is different. However the Green Party would prioritise safe walking routes to schools and encourage walking buses.”
Tackle pavement parking across the UK, building on progress in Scotland
The Labour Party said that this is illegal and the law should be enforced by the police and local authority.
Ann Kelly said that every vehicle on a kerb should received a penalty notice and that repeat offenders would be prosecuted.
Alan Victor supports fines for kerb parking and wants the revenues to provide improvements to the number of parking spaces.
Gareth Ellis would extend the current ban on pavement parking in London to the rest of the country. He said that pedestrian access must have priority over parking for cars.
Make 20mph the default limit in built-up areas
The Labour Party says it is committed to introduce 20mph speed limits in all residential and retail areas and that this was in its manifesto for the Central Bedfordshire elections earlier this year.
Ann Kelly said that there should be a 20mph limit in all built up areas and should be enforced by speed cameras.
Alan Victor said he supports speed limits to save lives:
“Speed limits for driving in residential areas should be low enough to virtually eliminate injuries, especially children.”
The Green Party policy is to extend 20 mph speed limits to all built up areas including villages. These would be enforced using average speed cameras where possible. In rural areas non trunk roads would have a speed limit of 40 mph.
The Lib Dems claim that they are the only major party seriously talking about tackling the climate emergency. Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor, Ed Davey, said:
“If we’re going to build a better future for our children, we must decarbonise capitalism. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, I’ll authorise £100 billion of spending to fight the climate crisis.
“We’ll spend this smartly, too. This money includes a £10 billion Renewable Power Fund to generate an extra £100 billion of private sector investment. This will catapult Britain to the forefront of clean energy generation. It’ll make us a world leader in not just off-shore wind, but tidal power.
“Not only that, we’ll invest £15 billion in greener heating. We want to end fuel poverty by 2030. We’ll invest in insulation, cutting energy usage and bills, and ensuring everyone can live in a properly heated home.”
Lib Dem candidate for Mid Bedfordshire, Rachel McGann, said:
“The Liberal Democrats across the county have been taking on dangerous and inconsiderate parking. Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson has invested in cameras to catch people parking illegally around schools in the area and local campaigners in Mid Bedfordshire have been campaigning for safer parking around schools.”
The Conservative Party was also approached, but did not respond.