Tuesday 26 October 2010

Cycling England and cycling statistics

Velorution mourns the death of Cycling England, including a link to the DfT’s claim that
Results from the first three years of the Cycling Demonstration Towns programme show that it has been a major success, with

An average increase in cycling across all six towns of 27%

Impressive stuff. But sadly one local blogger from a Cycling Demonstration Town – Lancaster - is unimpressed:

“I start from a position of complete distrust towards the monitoring and evaluation methods for two reasons. Firstly, Cycling England is understandably hell-bent on proving that the CDTs work, because if they can’t prove this, the Department for Transport will cut off their funding. Secondly, there’s lip service paid to qualitative judgements about improvements in cycling, but otherwise the monitoring is quantitative, which is limited because cycle counts are really difficult at a time when you’re expanding the cycle infrastructure.

Lancashire County Council is seriously contemplating spending £136 million on one short stretch of road through our local countryside (the Heysham-M6 link – 3 miles of road), and yet we’re meant to show an improvement in cycling levels with £1.5 million spread over three years. And this is where I’m with the City Council really……you look at the amount of money that is devoted to cycling in the transport budget for the UK, and it’s absolutely nothing. We’re meant to be grateful for getting a few million here and there, and then to demonstrate what a massive difference it makes. I’m sorry, but that is not how you get half the population on bikes for half of their journeys, which is what I’m aiming for, and it’s what everyone should be aiming for.”

And this is where our cycling blogger comes to the heart of the problem and touches on the real reason why Cycling England, along with the London Cycling Campaign and the Cyclists Touring Club have always been obstacles to mass cycling, not enablers:

We’ve got a cycling promotion industry in the UK which refuses to contemplate the act of deterring driving. It’s always promoting cycling around the edges, not seeking to dismantle the central system of mobility in the UK, which is the car. It shouldn’t be called ‘Cycling England’, it should be called ‘Stop Driving England’, because that’s the only way you can get people cycling. For as long as you’re building roads, you’re supporting the car economy. You’re supporting people driving, and you’re not going to get them to change their transport habits. …..So we don’t need a bypass. What we need is £135 million spent on promoting walking and cycling in Lancaster, and we could have 50% of journeys in Lancaster and Morecambe by bike within a decade. It’s just so obvious.