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Only two per cent of people in Bodmin currently cycle or take the bus

Bodmin Town Council has said that it doesn’t think the town would be able to shift significantly to walking, cycling and public transport.

Although it has said this would be desirable, revitalising town centre trading and improving air quality, the council has said it is ‘unrealistic’.

According to This is Cornwall, the council is now exploring ‘other solutions’, including creating a northern relief road to bypass the town.

One commenter on the article wrote: “About time someone in authority admitted that once you've bought a car and are spending hundreds of pounds a month on VED, insurance, servicing, and most of all depreciation, you're not going to leave it at home and stand at a bus stop for 10 mins to spend another £2.50 per day getting to work.”

In the council’s Town Plan for Bodmin, published in October last year, it noted:

Currently Bodmin has a higher proportion of people walking to work than national averages, yet has a much lower proportion of people cycling to work (only 1% of journeys being made by bike). Hills, lack of suitable cycle infrastructure and busy roads are the likely causes for this low figure.

Currently only 1.25% of all trips in Bodmin are made by bus. This is set against a national average of 8%. However, this low usage in Bodmin can be attributed, in part, to the fact that there is a limited town service, which currently doesn’t visit all key areas of housing and employment.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

44 comments

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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not in the least surprised, in any rural area buses are almost pointless. Frequency, cost, etc just make them unusable by most people, particularly if they have another means of transport available.

As for the use of bikes, the biggest deterent is cars, so what do you expect when everyone is using cars. Also if the average journey length is short enough why bother cycling when you can walk instead?

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RedfishUK [130 posts] 2 years ago
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Another example of just how difficult it is to change the mindset...a logical conclusion would obviously be
"We have tried and tried for the last 70 years to solve our transport problems by building roads, but congestion is getting worse...we need to seriously look at some alternatives"

Now I imagine the bus service in a rural area is pants, but people will use decent public transport. When I moved to Leeds from London 15 years ago everyone thought we were odd for only looking at suburbs with railways stations, as the services were poor and under used..now the trains are modern, there are more of them and the main issue is overcrowding...

We know what doesn't work, we need to have some faith in other solutions and give them money AND time.

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bambergbike [89 posts] 2 years ago
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If they haven't got the resources for improved public transport (this may not be true, but let's assume it is), they need to make the most of their existing services by integrating them much better with cycling. If people find secure parking for their bikes at the points from where they get buses, or if they can take bikes with them on public transport, it becomes realistic to make 10 mile journeys by bus even if people have to cycle 2 miles to get to the bus stop and maybe another mile or so to get from the nearest bus stop to their final destinations. Or at least, it would become realistic if the area had a cycling network that made trips by bike subjectively safe, quick and convenient - they probably need to work on that.

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oldstrath [614 posts] 2 years ago
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So the council believes that the proportion cycling to work is low because of hills, lack of infrastructure and too many cars. The hills excuse is fairly pathetic - even for those unable to do the hills by themselves, ebikes would make them possible. The other two are works of the council, not acts of god. They could make roads and parking too uncomfortable and expensive for cars, and convert some roads to cycle paths. Political will is needed, so it's easier simply to shrug and pretend that all the problems are inevitable.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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So they can afford to build more "roads" for "cars" but come up with the usual nonsense when it comes to walking, riding etc....heard it all before, excuses, excuses.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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I blame Dr Beeching.
And Thatcher.

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userfriendly [562 posts] 2 years ago
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Raise petrol costs. Raise VED. And lo and behold, more people will take to bicycles.

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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RedfishUK wrote:

Now I imagine the bus service in a rural area is pants, but people will use decent public transport. When I moved to Leeds from London 15 years ago everyone thought we were odd for only looking at suburbs with railways stations.

Are you trying to equate Leeds with Bodmin! one a fairly large city the other little more than a village! Leeds has a population of c500,000 and Bodmin town less than 20,000!

I wonder why one might be able to support a decent public transport system and the other isn't!

Although i could mention the per capita subsidy for public transport. Unsurprisingly London has the highest and the west country the lowest!

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RedfishUK [130 posts] 2 years ago
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Are you trying to equate Leeds with Bodmin! one a fairly large city the other little more than a village! Leeds has a population of c500,000 and Bodmin town less than 20,000!

no i was saying that people will shun poor public transport, but will use reliable, frequent public transport...and by extension as we have no real cycling infrastructure, if it existed people would use it.

(Also my experience is only of a limited area of Leeds, the train line only serves a few towns and villages, nearer 20,000 of Bodmin than the 500K of the whole Leeds Unitary area)

What Bodmin council seem to be saying is that there is no point investing in other solutions because at the minute no one is using that mode of transport.

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RedfishUK [130 posts] 2 years ago
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userfriendly wrote:

Raise petrol costs. Raise VED. And lo and behold, more people will take to bicycles.

Charge people for "Free Parking" in out of town business parks and shopping areas

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clayfit [80 posts] 2 years ago
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Increase the cost of petrol and car tax. Charge supermarkets a tax on parking spaces. Use the money raised to make public transport free or minimal cost, as well as frequent and integrated. How hard can it be?

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bambergbike [89 posts] 2 years ago
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There must be loads of roads in Bodmin that aren't essential for through traffic. It ought to be possible to create large chunks of a coherent cycling network purely by making those Access Only (Bicycles excepted) and signposting proper bike routes that take them in. A few bollards could be deployed intelligently and one-way restrictions (again, bicycles excepted) imposed to make the use of those routes unattractive to motorists who have no real business there. The network design could initially be implemented very cheaply on a temporary and experimental basis, tweaked a bit, and then installed properly once it had proven itself and people were happy with it.

In a sense, not having much of a cycling network to begin with is not the worst place to be starting from. Places that started building cycle infrastructure many decades ago often struggle a bit now with legacy infrastructure that no longer meets current design standards or their current needs. I read an article about Freiburg in south-west Germany yesterday. Freiburg has a modal share of 27% and is aiming for 35%. Now, that's not a bad position to be in. But it is interesting that one of the big problems they have is with narrow bike paths that are just about usable in winter (when fewer people cycle) and become hazardous in summer, when they are operating beyond capacity and commuters in a mad rush to the office skim past parents trundling along with pre-schoolers in trailers.

Taking a long, hard look at the roads network and allocating certain streets (or at least lanes on certain streets) more or less entirely to bikes results in generously-dimensioned cycle infrastructure that doesn't have to be rebuilt on safety grounds every time cycling's modal share climbs by another few percentage points.

Simply giving cyclists existing roads rather than building "stuff" for them by the sides of roads makes even more sense in hilly areas, since it keeps speedy downhill cyclists away from pedestrians and street furniture.

The real problem here is an abject failure of imagination. With a bit of vision, some courage and a map, solutions could be found within weeks and implemented (on a temporary basis) within months.

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Rob Simmonds [251 posts] 2 years ago
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Building a new road won't be in the gift of the town council - Cornwall County Council are the highway authority. The Town Plan will be a mixture of stuff the town council can deliver on themselves (which won't be very much) and aspirational stuff that they will have to lobby other authorities for.

Oh and I love the way someone upthread airily dismissed the hills because ebikes exist. Seriously? If you're not a fairly committed cyclist then hills (and Cornwall specialises in the short, sharp nasty sort) are a big deterrent. Waving people towards expensive, niche things like ebikes is up there with Marie Antoinette pointing the peasants towards the nearest patisserie.

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oldstrath [614 posts] 2 years ago
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Rob Simmonds wrote:

Building a new road won't be in the gift of the town council - Cornwall County Council are the highway authority. The Town Plan will be a mixture of stuff the town council can deliver on themselves (which won't be very much) and aspirational stuff that they will have to lobby other authorities for.

Oh and I love the way someone upthread airily dismissed the hills because ebikes exist. Seriously? If you're not a fairly committed cyclist then hills (and Cornwall specialises in the short, sharp nasty sort) are a big deterrent. Waving people towards expensive, niche things like ebikes is up there with Marie Antoinette pointing the peasants towards the nearest patisserie.

Expensive? Maybe a thousand pounds. Bet most people who couldn't possibly afford that spend a lot more owning and running a car.

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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oldstrath wrote:

Expensive? Maybe a thousand pounds. Bet most people who couldn't possibly afford that spend a lot more owning and running a car.

http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Workers-Cornwall-pay-table/story-16594398-detail/story.html#axzz2tTVtdoBH

£1000 is a lot when you don't earn much, you can get a car for a few hundred pounds, and it is far more flexible. Yes a car has running costs, but even so they aren't that much, and if the car needs a couple hundred spent on it, trade it in and get a new banger.

The solution needs central government, local councils can't solve any of this. They just have to pick up the pieces of the mess we are in.

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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bambergbike wrote:

There must be loads of roads in Bodmin that aren't essential for through traffic. It ought to be possible to create large chunks of a coherent cycling network purely by making those Access Only (Bicycles excepted) and signposting proper bike routes that take them in. A few bollards could be deployed intelligently and one-way restrictions (again, bicycles excepted) imposed to make the use of those routes unattractive to motorists who have no real business there. The network design could initially be implemented very cheaply on a temporary and experimental basis, tweaked a bit, and then installed properly once it had proven itself and people were happy with it.

How big do you think Bodmin is? how many "spare" roads do you think it has?

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=207441&y=66746&z=120&sv=bodmin&st=3...

small towns tend to use almost all the roads because they give access to the wider region, roads aren't their for the benefit of residents in the same way they are in a housing estate on the edge of a large town or city.

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Paul J [884 posts] 2 years ago
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"Yes a car has running costs, but even so they aren't that much,"

Eh? While I grant that the current reality is that most people seem to want to run a car, that cars' running costs "aren't that much" definitely isn't why. Cars are amazingly expensive. You're looking at easily £70 (MOT + the minor work to make it pass that older cars nearly *always* need) + £125 to £200 VED (older cars tend to be worse for CO₂, for same CC) + insurance (£200 to £400, assuming you're 30+ and full NCB). That's ~£400 to £670 *before* you've even driven the car! If you drive 10,000 miles and average 40 mpg (not bad for an older car, esp in urban/commuting type traffic), you're going to spend a tenner shy of £1500 on petrol, if you can get it for £1.31 / litre!

So that's £1900 to £2170 per year, or £158 to £181 per month. That's not "not much", at least to me!

Further, that's assuming the car, despite being older, won't need anything other than minor maintenance - which I think is unrealistic. Personally, from experience with a 10+-year old car, I think you need to factor in at least £200, if not closer to £400, of preventative servicing and repair work per annum, on average, if you want it to be reliable and not dump you at the side of the road. Usually at the most inopportune moment!

Then there's all the time cars suck. From the time you waste at garages getting exhausts fixed, MOTs, etc.. to the time you waste sitting in traffic, your stress levels rising cause of the jams & the bastard in the expensive car who feels entitled to go down the hard-shoulder then cut-in in front of everyone else, your arteries slowly clogging up, from sitting on your arse for 1.5 hours every day instead of cycling!  1 You can't quantify how much this costs!  1

For not-that-old people, or those without 3 years of NCB, the insurance costs can easily be double the £400 above, if not more. With £800 of insurance, the monthly costs are over £200!

I think a lot of people are in denial about just how expensive cars are to run, and what awful consequences they have for your quality of life, as well as others!

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levermonkey [664 posts] 2 years ago
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Speaking as someone who grew up in the countryside this is already depressingly familiar.

Step 1. House prices rise beyond local wages. The only people who can afford to buy a house work in a larger town or city and commute.
Step 2. These people get their shopping at the big out-of- town megamarket on their way home [Cheaper, more convenient than the local shops and free parking!]. High street starts to die.
Step 3. Relief road is built to speed people past town as there is nothing to draw people in. Last shop closes. Town is dead.

Note to Some Fella
Beeching may be a villain; but the real baddie in all this was Buchanan. Beeching destroyed all hope of transport inter-modality; Buchanan made the car God.

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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@paul j,

not saying cars are cheap, but the alternatives are? bus service, there isn't one, so how do you do the shop? taxi? not exactly cheap. bike?, hills put most off that one. e bike? expensive and not as flexible as a car.

Problem is in rural areas cars become a necessity very quickly, how do you get to work, you drive, how do you get to the shops you drive. The shops will be on a retail park on the outskirts of a local town, the jobs, assuming you are lucky to have a non seasonal tourist related one, are on some commercial site. If your lucky the shops are near work.

Other things, your saying in urban traffic, it won't be, it's rural back roads, probably little motorway and not stop start. so economy goes up, most people i know drive old diesels if the mileage demands or small petrol hatchbacks, had an old diesel Octavia that when i scrapped it was still doing 60mpg. now in a small petrol polo that does c50.

VED isn't that cheap but you only pay half every 6 months and the government changing it to monthly will help.

MOT find one of the chains and they'll do it cheap, back street or mates for repairs. As for insurance, your too high i am not on full no claims and am down sub £200 in a less desirable area of a town.

The problem is simply the alternatives. In an urban area bikes can work almost all the time. In a rural area, a bike can work some of the time. To make it work at all will need government money and a lot of it. All the talk about cycling appears to me to be about London, there is plenty of money there already, as i mentioned earlier subsidy levels to the south west for public transport are pathetic, yet population density means it has to be high for there to be any chance of it working. Money can only really come from the centre as locally not enough exists.

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Rob Simmonds [251 posts] 2 years ago
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oldstrath wrote:

Expensive? Maybe a thousand pounds. Bet most people who couldn't possibly afford that spend a lot more owning and running a car.

If you want to get the masses on bikes in any given town or city, it has to be possible for them to get about on cheap clunkers that can be picked up for a couple of hundred quid or less. That's what bikes as mass transport means, not directing people towards expensive niche machines ('leccy bikes are around £500+). Also, yes many of those people *will* have cars too, because they need them.

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doubledex [32 posts] 2 years ago
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Being someone who commutes to Bodmin (mostly by car, sometimes by bike) and works there, it is not surprising this has happened. It is very hilly, and it does rain quite a lot (high up place, and in Cornwall!). There are a host of complex social, economic and health problems in Bodmin too (it reminds me of some of the poorer parts of Liverpool where I went to college). Of course, it would probably be brilliant if people could get more exercise through cycling as it would improve peoples health, but it is a big ask. Not having a go at Bodmin Town Council, but it is not exactly bristling with dynamic leadership. There is absolutely NO culture of cycling in Bodmin at all. In order to really sort it out, there would need to be comprehensive plan of engagement with the local community to see if they see would see the benefits of getting on their bikes - they would also come up with any viable, less hilly routes. Only then, would it be worthwhile investing a lot of money in it - if the town council did so I think they would be lambasted for wasting money in what is a very poor town. It is quite ironic as there has just been a big investment in a decent mountain bike track in nearby Cardninham Woods (Forestry Commission) and the National Trust are just completing a really big off road cycling centre in equally nearby Lanhydrock. If it wanted to, Bodmin could be a real centre for cycling (with the Camel Trail also starting in the town).

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doubledex [32 posts] 2 years ago
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Spot on! Also, those of us that do have a go at commuting by bike in rural areas are open to some new dangers in that rural drivers are not so used to seeing cyclists on the road. They are used to completing their drive in set time - cyclists, tractors, horses, etc are a pain for them. As a father, I tend not to bother as I feel it is a bit irresponsible to cycle during the rush hour in rural areas - very fast cars around!!

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Neil753 [447 posts] 2 years ago
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I recently read a book about Bletchley Park, the home of code breaking during the war, and how thousands of workers stationed there cycled the lanes of Buckinghamshire on their days off.

The thing is, most of these workers would probably have gone on to own a car after the war, because they could afford it. And we're now seeing things start to move the other way, through a recorded reduction in miles driven, the first time this has happened.

Any economist worth their salt will tell you that a 5 percent supply deficit in an inelastic commodity (like oil) results in a price rise of 400 percent. We haven't seen this phenomenon yet, because of the global recession, but we're competing with new wealth in India and China, and literally millions of new car owners who all want to live like us, so we're likely to see a dramatic fall in car useage in the future, possibly within the time it takes to get round to building yet another bypass in fact.

Bodmin cycle useage may only be 2 percent at the moment, but people without access to cars have tended to get on their bikes en masse in the past, and will no doubt do so again as the cost of motoring rises inexhorbably beyond the point of affordability for huge numbers.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

I recently read a book about Bletchley Park, the home of code breaking during the war, and how thousands of workers stationed there cycled the lanes of Buckinghamshire on their days off.

The thing is, most of these workers would probably have gone on to own a car after the war, because they could afford it. And we're now seeing things start to move the other way, through a recorded reduction in miles driven, the first time this has happened.

Any economist worth their salt will tell you that a 5 percent supply deficit in an inelastic commodity (like oil) results in a price rise of 400 percent. We haven't seen this phenomenon yet, because of the global recession, but we're competing with new wealth in India and China, and literally millions of new car owners who all want to live like us, so we're likely to see a dramatic fall in car useage in the future, possibly within the time it takes to get round to building yet another bypass in fact.

Bodmin cycle useage may only be 2 percent at the moment, but people without access to cars have tended to get on their bikes en masse in the past, and will no doubt do so again as the cost of motoring rises inexhorbably beyond the point of affordability for huge numbers.

Was it a book by Sinclair McKay? He's written couple, both fascinating.

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horizontal dropout [270 posts] 2 years ago
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Something that can help reduce car use is to separate ownership and use. If you own the car and are already paying for the fixed costs then it's a no-brainer to pay the relatively small amount extra to use it.

Car sharing schemes like street car and zip car can be a huge help here.

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Paul J [884 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo, "in rural areas cars become a necessity very quickly". I just don't buy this at all, this framing of cars as a necessity. Mass-produced cars have been around for only 90 years, and mass car ownership is maybe only a thing of the last 50 to 60 years. Did no one live in rural areas prior to 60 to 90 years ago? I don't think so.

So how did they survive? I suspect they walked, used carts and many used the cheap and efficient *bicycle* - including cargo-bicycles.

Go to the more rural, remote parts of the Netherlands (though, no where is really 'remote'), there are some kids who cycle 10 to 20 km a day to get to school. Ditto in rural China, at least until recently (there's been an explosion in car use in China the last 10 odd years though, esp the last 5).

The issue is that people *prefer* cars, but a car is not a necessity.

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mattsccm [330 posts] 2 years ago
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I dare bet that those who want fuel and parking charges raised don't live in the countryside. It doesn't matter though because the rural minority are only of interest when the world wants to see some floods.
My parents would suffer as would many of the elderly. I can't see me cycling the 25 miles each way to work either. I would like to but I don't have the hours in the day.
Another ill informed comment. I see your point but it doesn't work. Bang the costs up in the cities maybe.
I know. Lets have a tax on domestic on street parking. Say a grand a year. That would free up all those cycle lanes people park in and stop urban dwellers having vehicles that they don't need for their 5 mile commute.
As my dad says, "don't have a sheep if you haven't got a field."
good idea? It's as good as anything else here.

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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Paul J wrote:

mrmo, "in rural areas cars become a necessity very quickly". I just don't buy this at all, if you frame cars as a necessity. Mass-produced cars have been around for only 90, and mass car ownership is maybe only a thing of the last 50 to 60 years. Did no one live in rural areas prior to 60 years ago? I don't think so.

And what has changed in the last few decades, and we are talking decades? there was a time when you lived where you worked, that is no longer the case. Farms don't need the staff so you have more contracting across a number of farms and needing to move kit around. You have far more urban commuters relocating to the country, which in turn has destroyed local shops so you need to travel to get to the shops. Local village schools have been merged so either drive the kids or use the bus, or as i see everyday, drive the kid to the bus stop which may be a couple of miles on country lanes. Not really nice places for kids to be walking or cycling. Then you have the issue of many rural buses running very stupid times, once a week, first bus 11am, completely pointless for anyone other than the retired.
If you want a job you take what you can get that may or may have a huge amount of choice, this isn't London, there aren't many employers.

All to often riding lanes you have idiots thinking that 60mph is fine, even on blind corners, which just makes it less appealing, i know sections of NCN which are on "quiet" roads, yes they may not have much traffic, but the traffic they have!!!

I live in a reasonably large town in a rural area, i have the luxury of shops on my doorstep, if you live in any of the outlying small towns, you have basic shops, but clothing, unless it is some boutique aimed at the "country set" out of luck. As for other items unless you like antiques forget it. In smaller villages, the post offices have as a general rule gone and with it another local shop. Bus services get worse as subsidies get cut.

Jobs, well they simply don't exist, the odd labourer, farrier, hunt yards, farms and the like but rural areas only really function today because of cars.

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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horizontal dropout wrote:

Something that can help reduce car use is to separate ownership and use. If you own the car and are already paying for the fixed costs then it's a no-brainer to pay the relatively small amount extra to use it.

Car sharing schemes like street car and zip car can be a huge help here.

only if enough people are going in the same direction at the same time, remember small town small numbers of people, commuting in all sorts of directions.

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Paul J [884 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo,

I like your last comment, and don't disagree with you. Those are all issues in the short-term. However, you paint a picture of a world shaped by cars to suit cars, and then conclude this makes cars a necessity. That's a somewhat self-fulfilling argument though, isn't it?

And I still don't completely buy it. Even in rural Scotland, there's often still a village or even town within 5 km. That's a 20 to 30 minute cycle at a relaxed pace that even the young and old could manage. There was a time when people used to regularly *walk* those distances, and a time after that when cycling those distances was quite normal (and still is in parts of the world, including developed Europe - e.g. NL).

So I still don't buy it. People *choose* to drive, in large part cause they're lazy (useful evolutionary trait) and driving is cheap enough. If they couldn't afford it, they'd find other ways. Many would be well *capable* of cycling, with a month or two of adjustment perhaps for some, including the elderly.

Things like road safety would improve with more cyclists!

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