Friday, 21 December 2012

The End of the Road As We Know It (and we'll all feel better)

Now I know the World was supposed to end today, but thankfully we're all still here.

What a year it has been for cycling in the UK! The road, of course, is going to be with us for many centuries to come, but the road as we know it - i.e. the one built by car drivers for car drivers is starting to go through it's own revolution.

Here's just a few of the developments we've seen this year:

  1. Expansion of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund - more money for cycling than ever before, but still not growing at the rate needed to cater to latent demand.
  2. Huge British cycling success at the Olympics, and Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour De France - a first for the UK. This is hugely important, because it gets people talking about cycling, and it inspires young and old to get on their bikes. However, in order to capitalise on this success, the infrastructure has to be there as well.
  3. Recent attention drawn to need for tougher legal liability on the part of drivers (still a VERY long way to go on this one).
  4. Sunday Times "Cities Fit for Cycling" campaign.
  5. Adoption of "Go Dutch" cycling standards in London - in theory at least. Hopefully many more cities will follow in 2013 - conferences alone are a catalyst, but action needs to be taken.
  6. Long overdue recognition by NICE that cycling is beneficial to health, and that cycling infrastructure is an essential part of this.
  7. Proposals in Cambridge to provide 3,000 cycle parking spaces in the station and 1,000 at the Science Park station - hard to imagine this 5 years ago.
  8. Development of a high quality Danish standard cycling corridor in Brighton.
  9. Further expansion of the hire bikes scheme in London.
 In some quarters, there is still a great deal of antagonism, no doubt fuelled by the recent sensationalist "War on Britain's Roads" - yet the simple reality is that in countries where cycling is the norm, most cyclists are motorists, and most importantly, the opposite is true too.

Naturally, there is always going to be some space conflict, but here in Coventry, I find I am hindered just as much by bad cycle route design as I am by the prioritisation of the motorist over non-motorised users.

 So onward and upwards for 2013. Most importantly, let's never forget the fact that cycling brings about huge benefits in both physical and mental health, and that these far outweigh the risks. Here's to feeling, and continuing to feel fine in 2013.


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