It's a nice day outside, I'm not sure why I'm flicking through the Blueprint for a Green Economy paper prepared by the party's Quality of Life Policy Group. Just one of the competing views within the party, obviously.
We believe that a Conservative government should seek to offer a genuine choice of transport more widely, whether by air, car, public transport, cycling or walking or virtual travel through telecoms. We envisage a transport system in which, wherever practicable, lower carbon modes become the first choice. This means that we have to challenge the ascendancy of the motor car, which continues to dominate much of the transport policy, planning and funding practised in Britain today.
Although LTPs offer a sensible framework, most local authorities are not performing well enough on congestion, public transport use, or cycling. Improving performance in these areas generally requires implementing demand management measures that are difficult to contemplate for political or practical reasons.
… projects to reduce car use or promote modal shift are held back by factors including lack of political will, poor sharing of best practice and shortage of appropriately skilled staff.
In this context, the formation of a new independent expert body, Cycling England, in 2005 to promote cycling is a positive development. The model of involving several stakeholder groups, including health, education and culture, is promising, as is the decision to work intensively with highway authorities to develop a number of Cycling Demonstration Towns which in turns can act as exemplars of best practice.
This leads us to propose that walking and cycling should be given higher priority in central government guidance to local authorities. Cycling England should be given a fair chance to achieve its objectives including the dedication of extra financial resources. Sustainable modes should be given specific funding priority.
Finally, for those who think cycling is a "state intervention into our choices", and cyclists "low value road users"…
In the past, modal shift has too often been promoted by its supporters with the fervour of a moral crusade. Hectoring people to give up their cars is neither constructive nor realistic. Sustainable transport policy is not about reducing individual freedoms, but offering greater choice in the way people connect elements of everyday life. A bus or bike has no greater or less intrinsic value than a car or plane in transport terms. Ultimately, any transport mode is merely a means of reaching the desired destination, although travel decisions are not just about connectivity; many more elements come into play, producing a range of subtle barriers to modal shift.