Sunday, 23 December 2012

Is this Cycletopia?

Below is a rather cutesy image produced by the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) of how they imagine a "Cycletopia" - which presumably is some form of fantasy cyclists' heaven, rather than a practical city which just happens to be well designed for people who ride bikes:

Frankly, I couldn't think of anything more nauseating. Of course, I want roads which are safe for me as a cyclist, and of course I want genuine segregated routes where these roads are either too fast, or where there is too much traffic to mix safely.

However, I also want a real city with real jobs, not some sort of fantasy land, where no-one does anything other than ride bikes all day (bikes are primarily for getting too places), and where all other forms of mobility, other than trains, which only ply very select routes, are banned.

That's not the vision I want. Real cities need to bring in real money, and that includes allowing trucks in to facilitate trades. Real cities allow all modes to take their allotted space, even if well planned cities keep the car well tamed, and don't just pander to it.

Much as though I relish any opportunity to have anything like the kind of infrastructure for cycling that are standard practice in Dutch cities like Groningen, these cities have cars, buses and pedestrians too.

More important than anything, modern cities look modern. They do not try and hark back to some olde worlde pastiche. Modern cities are proud of their modern architecture, and even a traditional city like York, on which the drawing is based, still has many fine modern buildings, especially around the University. The kind of back-to-the-past dystopia displayed in this image has far more in common with the very bland urban sprawl we are supposed to detest.


  1. I agree. What that cartoon says to me is that, unfortunately, CTC is not a very serious organisation: they are leisure bike riders playing at being a cycling campaign. It would seem like that to politicians and others of influence as well: it's miscalculated.

  2. Arditti bitching about the CTC again.

    The plain fact is that over most of the country the vast majority of people campaigning for better cycling conditions are members of the CTC.

  3. Clearly, both the CTC and Sustrans have a very major part to play in campaigning for better cycling facilities, but both are fully deserving of stern criticism where it is due.

    I just don't see how this imagery can send out the sort of message we want to get across as reasonable people who would like a much better environment in which to ride our bikes. Instead, this saccharine environment does everything to justify the "two-wheeled-taliban" mantra that Clarksonites love to throw at us.