Guardian article: "Britons unmoved by pro-cycling campaigns"

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Guardian article: "Britons unmoved by pro-cycling campaigns"
Excellent article on the Guardian website about why all the pro-cycling campaigns thus far have failed to increase cycling numbers any great deal. - The article is in light of a study looking in detail at why people in four towns/cities around England (don’t) cycle. A few choice quotes: A key finding was that the small numbers of people who do try cycling tend to be intimidated by overwhelmingly car-oriented urban layouts. Even to experienced riders these often resemble "a dangerous obstacle course" […]. "The minority of people who cycle in English cities tend to do so despite, not because of, existing conditions. Some people try cycling, but are quickly put off." The […] study concludes that even training the young to ride safely achieves little while road conditions remain so unfriendly. The only way to bring in mass cycling, the researchers argue, would be a series of […] measures to reshape towns and cities. Chief among these would be to build well-made, continuous, segregated cycle routes on all major urban roads and encourage people out of cars by restricting traffic speeds and parking. It [is] vital […] that cycling advocates got behind the idea of segregated lanes: "The cycling world has in the past been divided over the best way of growing cycling. But if we want to achieve high levels of cycling across our cities, this has to change. "Perhaps above all, and probably most controversially, our research has made it very clear to us that in order to create a mass cycling culture in English cities we need to segregate cycling from motorised traffic along main roads. Combined with a range of other measures, very high quality segregated cycle routes could push English city cycling from its currently marginal status towards a mass phenomenon."

I see there’s the usual lively debate on the linked blog article as well

Dave Horton’s study and the other research will be worth following up – I hope this is a sign that the tide is turning, although I notice that the response from the CTC is to doubt that the will is there to do anything about it.

AKA TownMouse

darditti's picture

This is long but worth reading in full. I interpret this as a breakthrough, if this is really now the CTC policy, and Geffen is not about to be sacked or torn off a strip for inventing his own policy. Although it is still imbued with the kind of pessimism characteristic of CTC, it is the first time, in my reading, that they have clearly endorsed the quality segregated infrastructure approach and moved away from the Hierarchy of Provision and emphasis on training.

I think this is not just about the report mentioned in the article, but the advent of CEoGB, the many bloggers, and changing attitudes in LCC and other local cycling campaigns that have pushed CTC into this apparent about-turn.

OK he’s right, there is doubt about political will, but the political will starts with cyclists getting united about what they want. It’s not such a Catch 22 as he thinks.



I agree. I disagree with Geffen on the point about there not being any “Anti-Segregationists”, but then, they are a minority of a minority of a minority and thus cannot be considered to represent the view of (would be) cyclists any more than the Westboro Baptist Church represents mainstream Christianity.

The point is this – drivers like new motorways (which are segregated routes for fast motor traffic) because they are BIG and they can cruise at 80 mph and use a phone and get away with it without a bus stop getting in the way or a car reversing out of a driveway, and they are direct and have BIG BIG signs and don’t have parked cars everywhere. In effect, they represent the user experience that the most important cycle routes in and between cities should deliver. If the National Driving Network was a bunch of overgrown gravel tracks with loads of gates and random detours, with chicanes where caravans get stuck, do you think drivers would be enthused at the idea of being separated from other traffic?


I agree with David, there does indeed seem to be a little bit of change in the air.
Roger’s comments are pragmatic, and his pessimism about the ability to conjur up the political will to demand the necessary is exactly why we are all here and why the CEoGB exists.
His openness about the whole subject is interesting too – it hopefully shows that there is room at the table for us all and that we are all capable of talking like level-headed adults instead of descending in to a bit of a cyclists meltdown tiff.
Yesterday I received the LCC’s quarterly magazine in the post, in which the new Chief Executive writes that the LCC is ‘unequivocally’ in favour of segregation (where appropriate) – which is something they’ve never said before out loud. Now, I know this will come as a shock to one or two of the policy bods at the LCC so I take his comments with a pinch of salt and look forward to them putting their money where their mouth is. But, as with so many things, admitting something out loud is the first step to greater things, and at least a step in the right direction. We can but hope!

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