The number of deaths and injuries resulting from motorised traffic over the last decade in the UK stands at 2,400,000 people - the combined populations of Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff!
Stop Killing Cyclists, the radical cycling campaign group founded after the spike in terrible cycle killings in November 2013, is staging a national protest tomorrow - Saturday 11th of February - outside HM Treasury HQ at 1 Horse Guards Road, London at 2pm.
They are protesting the Treasury's refusal to fund a national protected cycling infrastructure and the UK government's lethal complicity in the shocking UK death toll from traffic pollution, with scientists estimating that up to 50,000 people a year are now dying from air-pollution in the UK every year.
It is time to end our government's enslavement by the hugely rich roads lobby. Rather than taking the urgent action needed to increase safety for people cycling on our roads, and to reduce the massive air pollution death toll, our Treasury and government have actually made the pollution worse. For example, they have
- Increased taxes on cleaner cars;
- Reduced taxes on more polluting cars;
- Department for Transport proposed the closure of local street pollution monitoring;
- UK government lobbied EU to weaken pollution testing standards after VW scandal;
- Despite taxi numbers in London soaring above 100,000, government refusing to allow UK cities to regulate taxi numbers or Uber;
- Treasury slashed the UK's already derisory cycling investments to a tiny pathetic 6% of what Dutch are spending, whilst allocating billions more to road-building;
- Treasury has cut fuel duty at every single budget, despite oil prices having fallen by over a third, since 2012;
- Government banned use of camera vehicles by local councils to enforce parking restrictions;
- They refused to reduce speed limits to 60 mph on M1 and M3 help reduce frequency of EU pollution levels being breached;
- They proposed raising speed limit on motorways to 80 mph;
- UK government has been breaking EU roadside pollution safety limits since 2010;
- Government found guilty of breaking EU pollution directive by the UK High Court not once but twice, in 2015 and 2016;
- Government plans for London to continue to break EU pollution limits until 2025;
- Government plans for other major UK cities to continue to break EU pollution limits until 2030 e.g. Birmingham & Leeds;
- Government lobbied EU to dilute the road pollution laws that it is breaking;
- Chancellor extended first MOT requirement from three to four years, thus enabling faulty polluting vehicles to be undetected on the roads for another year.
This shocking support by the UK Treasury for the lethal road lobby is not only resulting in a nationwide transport pollution epidemic but is also bankrupting the NHS, as the Treasury is refusing to fund it properly, as it cuts corporation and fuel-duty taxes by tens of billions of pounds.
In 2016, the Royal College of Physicians report on transport pollution said it was costing the NHS £20 billion a year. This equates to 16% of the total NHS budget.
Added to this, are the additional costs to the NHS of treating a whole range of inactivity diseases caused by lack of exercise, due to public's fear of cycling without protected cycle lanes. These range from diabetes to a plethora of heart, lung and brain diseases, including cancers, asthma, diabetes and Alzheimer's.
The Treasury investment in a national protected cycling infrastructure is a key part of solution to cutting this pollution and inactivity carnage.
Protest and demand!
But it is not enough for people to protest. There have to be clear demands and these are what Stop Killing Cyclists are demanding from the Philip Hammond's Treasury:
- Urgent increase in clean-air protected cycling infrastructure:
- Invest £15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network and walking over the next 5 years. This is calculated by doubling the amount the Dutch currently spend per person, to enable the UK to catch up on forty years of failure to invest.
- Invest 5% of the Department of Transport budget by 2018, as demanded by Olympic cyclists
- Invest 10% of the budget by 2020 in protected cycling infrastructure and walking.
- Invest UN recommended minimum of 20% of the transport budget in cycling and walking by 2025.
- Ban all non-zero emission private cars from cities on days where pollution levels are predicted to rise above EU safety levels.
- Ban all diesel-powered vehicles in city centres within 5 years.
- Ban all fossil-fuel powered vehicles within city centres within 10 years.
- Instigate a programme of regular car-free days in England's major cities, along the model of Paris.
- Stop the killing of children by setting up a national multi-billion pound programme to convert residential communities across Britain into living-street Home Zones with an end to dangerous polluting through rat runs.
- Stop the killing of pedestrians by establishing a national programme to fund pedestrianisation / cyclisation of our city, borough and town centres.
- Allow local authorities to limit the total number of private hire vehicles in their cities and promote the usage of zero emissions pedicabs with legal pedicab stands etc.
The UK road network is not fit for purpose
We need to end the culture of acceptance which surrounds traffic-violence / pollution and unite road users of all kinds from across the country to create positive human-friendly roads and public spaces in Britain.
The staggering number of deaths and injuries resulting from motorised traffic over the last decade in the UK stands at 2,400,000 people. This equates to the combined populations of Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff! Hundreds of thousands more are suffering life-impairing terrible diseases.
Globally 1.2 million people are killed by cars every year and a staggering 7 million die from fossil fuel pollution.
The protest will include children trying to play with gas masks on, in front of Philip Hammond's Treasury HW and the Stop Killing Cyclists signature peaceful die-in for people on bikes and pedestrians.
These will symbolise not only the death toll but the fact that research has shown children living or going to school in highly polluted areas, risk having stunted lung growth for life.
Action: The protest assembles from 1pm at National Gallery for a procession to HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guard Road, London, SW1A 2HQ for rally/protest/die-in at 2pm.
More information on Facebook Event Page.
Donnachadh McCarthy, FRSA is co-founder of Stop Killing Cyclists and author of The Prostitute State - How Britain's Democracy Has Been Bought.
- Guardian article re 50,000 deaths from air-pollution: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/27/uk-air-pollution-public-health-emergency-crisis-diesel-cars
- Stop Killing Cyclists website: http://stopkillingcyclists.org/2017/01/31/hm-treasury-10-2020-stop-killing-cyclists-protest/
- Royal College of Physicians report on transport pollution: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/every-breath-we-take-lifelong-impact-air-pollution
- UN call for 20% transport budget for walking and cycling: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55350#.WJhqqH8-Y7Q