Saturday 13 March 2010

Blandness is all

It’s a cycling Manifesto.

And Peter Walker wants

An obligation for all schools to provide secure bike parking and encouragement for pupils to ride to school. Teachers who spread scare stories about cycling would be politely reprimanded.

Ah, yes, “encouragement.” Everything except safe and convenient cycling infrastructure.

The hope is that it becomes a virtuous spiral – as more and more people cycle, more children will be encouraged to take it up," said Phillip Darnton, the chairman of Cycling England.

In your dreams, Phillip. The overwhelming majority of parents perceive the roads as far too dangerous to cycle to school on, and they are right to think that.

At present, he said, well under 1% of primary school pupils ride to work with about 2% doing so in secondary schools, figures Darnton concedes is "pathetic".

But Darnton and his crap organisation are part of the reason why. Because Cycling England is part of the problem, not the solution. Because it’s the infrastructure, stupid.

His organisation has warned the government that without official intervention there could be a "lost generation" who never experience cycling: "If you look at parents who are, say, aged 22 to 35, many of them haven't really ridden bikes. If their child has a bike they don't know how to mend a puncture, or adjust the brakes, they don't know the right height for a saddle."

Hilarious. I don’t know the right height for a saddle and never have. But it’s never stopped me cycling. And bicycle maintenance has got nothing at all to do with what is suppressing cycling.

Meanwhile in Denmark:

"It's completely normal, everybody does it. There are bike lanes everywhere. If I look out of my window now I can see maybe 100 cyclists."

His children, like all others in Denmark, will receive comprehensive bike safety training before leaving primary school. "It's in the curriculum and it's in the culture, and it has been for many years."

Cycling England's Darnton, however, fears that comparisons with such countries is "not terribly helpful" due to the amount of work still needed in the UK.

That necessary work hasn’t even started, and one reason why it hasn’t even started is that Britain’s two main cycling organisations, the CTC and the LCC, are run by quietly fanatical ideologues committed to vehicular cycling. But vehicular cycling has failed. It’s going nowhere. And until that simple truth is recognised and we start asking for the most successful cycling infrastructure in the world, i.e. the Dutch, British cycling will remain restricted to hardcore commuter cyclists in the age range 25-45, not the broad mass of ordinary people.