We will ditch Boris Johnson over bike lanes, say 27 percent of Tory voters, as council pays ‘gatekeeper’ van to monitor road barely used by cyclists in Surrey
- One in four people who voted Conservative say they will not do so next time
- Public support lost amid anger over the cycle lanes introduced during pandemic
- Comes as council pay £200 a day to allow delivery vans access to closed road
Boris Johnson is haemorrhaging public support amid anger over the cycle lanes introduced during the pandemic, a poll reveals.
More than one in four people – 27 per cent – who voted Conservative in last year’s General Election say they will not do so next time due to the congestion and disruption caused in towns and cities across the country.
The survey of almost 11,000 drivers and cyclists will send shockwaves through Downing Street as it proceeds with a £2 billion green agenda to reduce car travel.
Ministers hope that putting in bike lanes and closing roads to cars will encourage more people to cycle to work.
Boris Johnson is haemorrhaging public support amid anger over the cycle lanes introduced during the pandemic, a poll revealed
But the survey found that only 14 per cent of motorists in favour of the new lanes are willing to leave their car at home and start cycling to work.
The online survey by motoring campaign group FairFuelUK was free to complete and open to all road users.
More than 2,000 people who answered the questions said they were cyclists.
The findings, which will make uncomfortable reading for No 10, revealed:
- Just three per cent of car drivers said they had taken part in a public consultation on the introduction of cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, compared to 34 per cent of cyclists;
- Only two per cent of cyclists said they should be made to adhere to the same road user rules that drivers must legally follow, including paying tax;
- Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of car drivers said the pandemic had been the wrong time to roll out hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes;
- Seventy-six per cent of cyclists said they had ‘no problem’ with unelected special advisers in No 10 influencing the roll-out of cycle lanes.
LONELY: A gatekeeper sits in a van in Weybridge town centre, waiting to remove the bollards for any delivery vans
Council pays ‘gatekeeper’ in a van to monitor road barely a single cyclist uses
By Abul Taher and Michael Powell
Council chiefs who closed off a shopping street to traffic are now employing a gatekeeper – on what is thought to be £200 per day – to allow lorries and vans in.
In order to create a cycle lane, bollards were placed in the middle of the road last August to stop vehicles entering, even though delivery drivers still needed to get in to access dozens of shops.
Now a gatekeeper has been hired to move the bollards for deliveries to Baker Street, in Weybridge town centre, Surrey. He sits in a van near the shops, sometimes appearing to be dozing off.
When The Mail on Sunday monitored the road last Monday, we did not see the gatekeeper letting in or out any vans or lorries, and observed only two cyclists using the road in more than five hours.
The cost of the bike lane and the wage for the gatekeeper has come from the £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund, set up by the Department for Transport to fund pop-up cycle lanes.
A spokesman for Surrey County Council said: ‘We have closed a narrow section of Baker Street for social distancing purposes to protect pedestrians and people on bikes. To support traders, a gatekeeper is in place to open the road when deliveries are made. This is a temporary scheme.’
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said: ‘They should not be spending taxpayers’ money on this at all.’
Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign, said: ‘Nowhere in the Tory Election manifesto was any mention of our already clogged urban roads being reduced in size for the benefit of so few.
‘The majority of road users, who contribute the fifth-largest income to the Treasury, have never been asked if dedicated cycle lanes should be built, eating into our roads.
‘Unless Boris Johnson recognises that the UK’s 37 million drivers should not be demonised any more, this £2 billion self-indulgent madness, under the dishonest guise of Covid emergency powers, will decimate his 80-seat majority.’
Conservative councillors across the country fear they will lose their seats in the local elections in May because of the backlash against the bike lanes.
Some Tory-run local authorities have ripped out the cycle lanes, including West Sussex County and Wandsworth and Kensington councils in London.
Sources say Tory council leaders have been sharing ‘incandescent’ messages on a WhatsApp group blaming No 10’s cycling tsar Andrew Gilligan for the row.
During a virtual meeting of London Conservative councillors in September, members from Hammersmith and Fulham said the policy risked shedding party votes.
One Tory councillor told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Covid is destroying the London economy, yet senior No 10 staff are spending all their time forcing these unpopular routes on to our already crowded roads.
‘If this continues we’re not going to be left with a single Tory-run council in Central London – it is bizarre.’