Azara Blog: Cambridge MP wants the UK to throw vast amounts of money at cyclists

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Date published: 2012/02/24

The BBC says:

MPs have urged measures to make cycling safer, including more bike-only lanes, lower speed limits on roads and greater awareness of risks among drivers.
Lib Dem Julian Huppert said "lots of small changes" could improve safety without costing huge amounts.
"It's not just about spending large amounts of cash. There are lots of small changes that will improve things for cycling.

"Some of this costs money but not actually a huge amount. To get to European standards, you need about £10 per person per year."

10 pounds per person means 600 million pounds. This is in fact a "huge amount". So Huppert is being daft or disingenuous (almost certainly the latter, since he pretends to be a scientist so must have some minimal reasoning ability).

This kind of idiotic argument is the standard ploy of someone who is up to no good. So practically anything that anyone wants to throw money at can, with a similar standard of argument, be deemed to be "not a huge amount". This is one reason that the UK has a ridiculously massive budget deficit.

The UK should be spending its money wisely. In particular, the government should be focussing its spending on areas which will increase the wealth and economic productivity of the nation over the medium and long term, for example, on research and development.

To illustrate the fact that 600 million pounds is in fact a "huge amount", in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Cambridge University received around 130 million pounds from the UK government for research (and over 200 million for teaching). The UK government could choose to fund over four times what it currently spends on Cambridge, on research in universities, and improve the future economic chances of the country, or it could spend the same money on cyclists, and in effect throw most of it down a drain.

Well, probably this 600 million would not affect the UK research budget (but it might). It is more likely that the money will be taken away from other transport users, in particular drivers (who the Lib Dems hate). Cycling is a small minority activity, and no matter what sanctimonious middle class (i.e. rich) people like Mr. Huppert would like to pretend, it will always remain a small minority activity in the UK, unless the ruling elite manage to so impoverish the country (e.g. by following Lib Dem policies) that ordinary people can no longer afford to drive. It is crazy for anyone to even think to throw this vast amount of money at cycling.

Hopefully the government will treat Huppert's proposal with the derision it deserves.

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