Dr Richard Wellings — an author with a PhD in transport policy and a Twitter audience of more than 30,000 followers — has been accused of spreading conspiracy theories after claiming Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman’s appointment is part of the “Great Reset agenda to force ordinary people off the roads”.
The comments came in reference to an interview Boardman did with The Telegraph newspaper this weekend, in which he said reduced car usage is required and argued cars should not be used for journeys of less than a mile.
> Chris Boardman confirmed as permanent National Active Travel Commissioner
Dr Wellings tweeted: “This appointment is further evidence that our fake-conservative government is fully behind the Great Reset agenda to force ordinary people off the roads and out of their cars. They either don’t understand or don’t care about the economic costs.”
🚗 Cars should not be used for journeys less than a mile, Chris Boardman has said, as he takes up his post as Boris Johnson’s first National Active Travel Commissioner https://t.co/IaRTrDqiJZ
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) July 2, 2022
The Great Reset was the name of the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, held in June 2020, as well as the title of a book co-authored by the WEF’s chairman Klaus Schwab, in which addressing global warming in the aftermath of Covid-19 is discussed.
However, as per fact checking organisation Full Fact, the term has also “spawned a number of false and unsubstantiated claims which amount to the basis of a conspiracy theory. For example, since the initiative launched, it’s been claimed that the Great Reset is something that will restrict what you can eat or own.”
During his time as head of transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Dr Wellings co-authored a report arguing railway lines should be replaced by buses routes — but made no mention of cycling.
In 2016, a Dr Wellings authored IEA report recommending removal of traffic lights also claimed that cycle lanes have ‘unfortunate’ effects on motorists.
His latest anti-cycling comments came in response to a Boardman interview in which the newly-appointed permanent head of Active Travel England said: “We have to drive less. A lot less.”
In contrast to Dr Wellings’ comment about the “Great Reset” agenda “forcing ordinary people out their cars”, Boardman told The Telegraph: “People shouldn’t be forced out of their cars. People should be given a viable, attractive alternative.”
“Ultimately, we have to give people the choice. We don’t want to say: ‘Don’t drive’. Cars are great [but] we are just overusing them. We have to drive less. A lot less.”
Boardman also tackled critics of Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods, asking: “Who wants a high traffic neighbourhood?”
“If you think about it, there’s no such thing as a Low-Traffic Neighbourhood. It’s either a neighbourhood or there are cars coming through. Define a neighbourhood? We’ve allowed them to fill up so in the last 10 years alone, there are 20bn more miles being driven around homes. Because we’re overusing cars.”
Main image: Allan McKenzie / SWpix.com