Thursday 13 May 2010

Cycling group calls for European cycle infrastructure

At last! A cycle campaign group is finally asking for a non-British solution to hazardous cycling conditions. It’s a start. And it's happening in Edinburgh.

Is Princes Street now too dangerous for cyclists? One experienced local cyclist says so, after a potentially serious accident in which he fell from his bike into a busy bus lane.

Spokes' solution is to have a dedicated European-style cycle lane on one side of the tram line.

What they mean by ‘European-style’ isn’t defined and if they had Dutch infrastructure in mind they’d be calling for a cycle path, not a cycle lane. So perhaps they have the Copenhagen example in mind. Infinitely better than the crap British cyclists have to endure but why settle for Danish cycling when you can go for the superior Dutch variety?

And things are not quite as rosy in Denmark as they seem. I was startled to read this:

The paradigm shift in this nation is becoming more and more defined. Less bicycle-friendly. More car-centric.

At the very least, here are some bad examples that we all can learn from.
Now if only we had a cyclist organisation that could counter the constant attacks on our liveable cities and our bicycle culture. If only.

The same could be said in the far more backward UK.

I love the way a leading representative of the London Cycling Campaign recently asserted that

Reversing the trend of ever-increasing car ownership and use is not as difficult as it seems. If governments were to limit car advertising, as they did with alcohol and tobacco when the health impacts were recognised, people would take decisions about their mode of transport based on common sense rather than the promise of open highways, high speeds and glamorous locations. Common sense might well encourage cycling or walking for more journeys.

I mean, WTF. Reversing car dependency in Britain won’t be remotely easy, because it will require the re-allocation of highway space to cyclists. Quite centrally it will involve ridding our cities and towns of on-street car parking bays and replacing them with Dutch-style cycle paths. That will be a major political battle, fought street by street. At present Britain hasn’t even begun. There is not one street in the whole of Greater London which has cycling-friendly infrastructure which puts safe and convenient cycling above motor vehicle flow. And my local council is making cycling WORSE by building parking bays alongside cycle lanes and even increasing the speed limit from 30 mph to 40 mph on a major cycling route.

Only someone who has completely lost the plot could believe that stopping car advertising would make a blind bit of difference to car dependency, which is encouraged by infrastructure, not propaganda. People drive because it is convenient, cheap and attractive, just as most people don’t cycle because they perceive it as unsafe, unattractive and inconvenient. Those perceptions are not false.