115. What the Hell is Happening In the UK?

By December 5, 2023 Uncategorized

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak smiling behind the wheel of a car.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has declared it’s time to end what he calls “the war on motorists.” First, the Conservative Party leader announced he was delaying the UK’s commitment to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars. He followed that with what he called his “plan for motorists,” which would severely restrict local efforts to implement low-traffic neighborhoods, 20 mph speed limits, bus-only lanes, and other policies intended to benefit people walking, cycling, and taking transit. Finally, he scrapped a major portion of HS2, a high-speed rail line linking some of the UK’s biggest cities. 

So… what the hell is happening in the UK? With similar setbacks in Berlin, Madrid, New York and elsewhere, is this part of a broader global backsliding? Are we losing the The War on Cars or is the prime minister just grasping at culture-war straws? The Guardian’s Peter Walker returns to the podcast to help us figure it all out.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.


“Sunak ‘backs drivers,’ announces scaling back of HS2, and delays the UK’s ban on gas-powered vehicles by five years. (Peter Walker & colleagues, The Guardian)

Rishi Sunak says he’s “slamming the brakes on the war on motorists.” (The Sun)

King Charles III makes his first “King’s Speech.” (YouTube)

British Transport Secretary Mark Harper on “sinister” 15-minute-city plans. (The Independent)

Hear Peter Walker discuss his book, The Miracle Pill, on this Patreon bonus episode of The War on Cars.

Pick up Peter Walker’s  How Cycling Can Save the World  at our official Bookshop.org page.

See The War on Cars LIVE at Caveat on NYC on Wednesday, January 31st. Tickets are going fast!

Register for the Winter Cycling Congress, February 22-24 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We will be there!

Buy official War on Cars merch at our store

Find us on Bluesky, Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook and Threads.

Follow and review us on Apple Podcasts