Thursday, 25 October 2012

Gilbert Road Revisited

My recent post on the CTC and Gilbert Road has provoked an interesting response from a local Cambridge cyclist.

In its wider ramifications it strikes a chord, because it gets to the heart of where UK cycle campaigning currently is. Do you settle for minor improvements for existing vehicular cyclists (which is pretty much the history of UK cycle campaigning) or do you dig your heels in and demand the kind of Dutch infrastructure that really will bring about a massive rise in cycling’s modal share? (Of course a swathe of UK cycling opinion doesn’t accept that equation, which is itself another difficulty.)

This issue is pertinent to York, where cycling is stagnating, and to Bristol, and to Brent, and to Waltham Forest, and to everywhere else in the UK.

If radical change ever comes it may well come first in London but even though the ‘Go Dutch’ agenda commands wide support it appears that Transport for London has no serious intention of embracing it, as the examples of Blackfriars Bridge, the Bow roundabout, the Lambeth Bridge roundabout, Kings Cross, and now the Imax roundabout by Waterloo Station all demonstrate. It is too early to judge where the LCC’s ‘Go Dutch’ campaign is going but to my mind the signs don’t look good. And let’s also not forget the Vauxhall gyratory

Back to Gilbert Road and the Cambridge cycling blogger:

Lets put this into context. We're not a minority. Half of the populace ride a bike regularly, we account for upwards of a fifth of all journeys. We're mainstream. But we're also flatlining - stats for cycling in Cambridge have been similar since at least the '90s. So despite Gilbert Road cycle lanes, extended bike parks underneath City Centre car parks and cycle lanes on many roads, we're going nowhere. It is demonstrably true that cycling is making no advances in Cambridge, no matter how often Cambridge Cycling Campaign and the County Council smugly pat each other on the back because 22% or so of journeys are made by bike. Success such as would be measured by increasing share has not happened.

So I think we should ask a very obvious question. Who is the investment in cycling infrastructure for, and why do we make that investment? Is it for those who are already cycling, or is it for those who are not?