UK elections a warning we shouldn’t get too caught up in demands of loud voices against cleaner air, cycle lanes and climate action

Tory party London mayoral candidate Susan Hall promised it all to a group of people who can be called “the antis” — anti-Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), anti-Low Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs), and anti-cycle paths. Some of the media would have us all believe that these are sure-fire vote winners, but Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has just won what is being described widely as a historic third term in City Hall.

One of Hall’s main election promises was to “scrap the ULEZ expansion on Day 1” if she was elected. She also said she would review cycle lanes, that some segregated cycle paths were “virtue signalling,” and that she wanted 20mph (32km/h) speed limits on main roads removed.

Hall said she based her policies on listening to what Londoners said to her on the doorsteps when canvassing.

Simon MacMichael, community editor at, wrote yesterday that: “A vote for the Conservative candidate Susan Hall in tomorrow’s London Mayoral election would be a vote against active travel including cycling, threatening to undo more than two decades of efforts to make the capital safer and easier to navigate for those of us who choose to get around its streets by bike, as well as reversing progress made in improving road safety and tackling air pollution that benefit all who live and work in the city.”

When pro-cleaner air, pro-LTN, and pro-cycling candidates were previously re-elected in London, some (including Irish antis) claimed it was because they weren’t Tories and it really wasn’t their main focus. But this time around, Susan Hall made her mayoral race a referendum against cleaner air and cycle lanes, and the media indulged in the idea that cleaner and safer streets were not popular.

Some of the UK-based anties continue to go to great lengths to imply that some main roads in London are now choked due to cycle lanes and LTNs when the city has always been choked with traffic. This even happens when some of the anti-LTN campaigners have tweets still online complaining about chronic traffic on the same roads before the LTNs were installed.

The Guardian’s election live blog highlights how Chris Skidmore, a Conservative MP and the former energy minister who signed net zero into law, said listing to the “extreme fringe was a strategic disaster.”

Skidmore said: “These elections have shown pro-environment parties and mayors who made net zero central to their campaigns made significant gains. Reform [a right-wing populist party] have won 2 council seats out of 2500.

He added: “Time to recognise the net zero row back and kowtowing to an extreme fringe was a strategic disaster.”

A recent Economist article described Reform as a party that “does not exist.” “But it is all the more powerful as a result.”

“As a result a party with few candidates, an absent leader and a voting base conjured up by incessant polling is still able to panic the Conservatives. Reform UK may not exist but it will still shape politics,” said the article.

This sounds all too familiar regarding how sustainable transport and safer streets are being treated by some in the media and some politicians in Ireland.


  1. The ‘antis’, unfortunately, are extremely entertaining, and catnip to the media, both in the UK and here. Loudness, unfortunately, is conflated with actual popularity.


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