UK Government Plans to Halt Creation of 15-Minute Cities
In an effort to support drivers and counter anti-car measures, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a plan to prevent councils in the UK from creating 15-minute cities. The scheme, outlined by UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper, is aimed at safeguarding drivers from excessive traffic enforcement and forms part of the government’s long-term plan to support motorists.
The plan’s objective is to prohibit councils from establishing 15-minute cities, which are areas where residents can access essential amenities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. The government intends to achieve this by consulting on measures to prevent aggressive restrictions on driving.
The plan also includes a review of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), which are initiatives that aim to reduce motor vehicle traffic in residential areas and encourage walking and cycling. It further aims to address existing anti-driver policies that were implemented without local consent.
Additionally, the government plans to review the guidance on the 20-miles-per-hour speed limit in England. These efforts are part of the UK government’s renewed emphasis on car drivers.
Sunak emphasized that the crackdown on drivers represents an intrusion into the daily lives of many people in the UK who rely on cars for work and family commitments. He announced that the government will unveil a long-term plan this week to support drivers by reversing anti-car measures across England, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing individuals who keep the country moving.
The government also plans to restrict local authorities’ ability to generate revenue from traffic offenses and excessive traffic enforcement. It will strengthen guidance on the use of bus lanes, allowing their use only when necessary. Additionally, the government will launch a consultation on allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes.
While acknowledging the criticism faced by private cars, the government maintains that it will continue to invest in public transport. Transport Secretary Harper stated that the private car is often unfairly criticized, despite its contribution to personal freedom and economic growth. The government’s plan acknowledges the importance of supporting car drivers while also investing in public transport and active travel.
Sunak’s latest plan follows controversy surrounding the postponement of the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars until 2035, as announced by the prime minister in his speech on achieving net zero. The concept of 15-minute cities, conceived by urbanist Carlos Moreno and awarded the prestigious Obel Award in 2021, has been the subject of viral conspiracy theories. However, these theories, which suggest that the concept is aimed at restricting people’s freedom and confining them to designated zones, have been widely debunked.
Critics, including UK Member of Parliament Nick Fletcher, argue that ultra-low emissions zones and subsequent measures will not only cause economic damage but also diminish personal freedoms. These concerns were raised during a debate in the House of Commons.
The UK government’s new plan reflects its commitment to supporting car drivers while ensuring a balanced approach that addresses environmental and transportation needs.
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