Last year, the government created a new £148 million fund to improve cycling networks across Britain. With the intention of spending the money by 2015, it included £77 million to be split across some of the UK’s largest cities, and a further £17 million for national parks. But, not content with the pace of reform, left wing agitators are now threatening to use equalities legislation to force local councils to invest further in cycle networks, because “social justice”.
Writing in the Guardian, Peter Walker asks: “not a vast amount has happened in recent years to improve the lot of cyclists on British roads. Campaigns, pestering MPs, direct action – nothing seems to have worked. So how about just taking legal action under equalities legislation, forcing local authorities to provide proper cycle infrastructure?”
He has taken inspiration from Rachel Aldred, a sociologist and transport academic at the University of Westminster. Aldred makes the case that cycling is a “social justice issue” because poor people own fewer cars but are more likely to live in built up areas or by busy roads (presumably because proximity to a busy road tends to depress a property’s value). This is cited as a case of “environmental inequality”.
Furthermore, most cyclists tend to be white men. Aldred reveals that, of Burnley’s 397 regular cycle commuters, only 24 are women. “Similar statistics show older people, black and minority ethnic people and disabled people (more on the latter group below) are all more at risk to be, as Aldridge puts it, “excluded from cycling”,” notes Walker.
Happily for the lefties, all of these groups share “protected characteristics” under the Equalities Act of 2010, meaning that local authorities must take steps to meet their needs. It is on this basis that Aldred and Walker would like to see a test case brought before the British courts, demanding that local authorities be forced, under the Equalities Act, to put in place widespread cycle networks.
Oddly, although Walker seeks someone with “a big bank balance and a buccaneering spirit” to bring the test case, it does not appear to have occurred to him, or Aldred that they could simply ask financiers with deep pockets for the funds to build the cycle networks themselves, without calling on the taxpayer to finance their pet project. But then, that wouldn’t be social justice.