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Suggestions pour in - now we want to hear yours

The government released its vision for a low-carbon economy of the future, committing itself to a National Cycle Plan in which cyclist is viewed `as a mainstream form of personal transport.’

This plan comes from the transport section of Building Britain's Future, the policy document released as a draft for the next Queen's speech.

However, such ambitions face a long road ahead, not least when you consider that two per cent of all journeys in the UK are made by bicycle, compared to 27 per cent in the Netherlands.

Other than the title of the plan and its aim to get people to see the bike as a mainstream form of transport, there are no specifics about what the next Labour government – if, indeed, a Labour government is elected next time – will do to implement its plan, to be published in the autumn.

The Campaign for Better Transport welcomed the transport policies set out within the document. Executive director Stephen Joseph said: "The commitments for a new national cycling plan and a joint 'active travel' strategy with the Health Department are welcome, and we look forward to a rail electrification commitment with real funding attached. However, on the ground, many local councils continue to plan expensive and destructive road schemes and, in places like Manchester, are paying for them by cutting funds for cycling, walking and local safety projects."

He added: "The government is about to decide on regional funding bids which include almost £4bn for new roads. If ministers accept these bids and continue to widen motorways, cycling, public transport and active travel will continue to be undermined and starved of the funds needed."

Chris Peck, of the CTC, said “It is very encouraging that the Government has renewed its interest in cycling. However this should not be seen as a party political issue and we hope all parties will support the development of the new plans.

"Previous efforts suffered from over-ambitious targets which lacked the funding and wider policy support needed to meet them. This time we know what works. With the right incentives, policies and funding commitments in place, there is no reason why we can’t double cycle use and halve the risks of cycling within 10 years”.

Sustrans has also offered some suggestions of its own. Press and PR manager Gill Harrison jotted down these ideas for consideration:

• Consistent sustained funding for creating the right environment that will enable all those want to be cyclists to become cyclists. National Cycle Network to be extended into communities UK-wide so 100 per cent of the population have easy access.
• Including routes to stations that will better enable integrated transport options.
• Right environment created eg 20mph speed limits in urban areas and residential.
• Training for planners, developers etc on best practice in cycle route development to think about creating the space that they would like for themselves and their families to use, and then to plan schools, shops, health services close to where people live and make them accessible by bike.
• Free cycle training for everyone who wants it, particularly the young, to encourage habit forming behaviour, from an early age.
• A high profile campaign celebrating the cool of cycling to make it relevant to people's lives, and ministers across government leading by example - normalising bikes at the highest level.

But in the absence of detail, it’s down to the bloggers and posters to websites to have their say. An interesting discussion was started on The Guardian’s website, with a whole range of suggestions being put forward for consideration by whoever becomes the Cycling Tsar. Below are just a few:

• The workplace is the best distribution network to encourage cycling as this would hit the biggest target population.
• Ban driving to school. Boost school buses and bike parking and take the Cycling Proficiency Scheme seriously. Make it as obligatory for schools as other sports.
• Reduce VAT on bikes or exempting them altogether, maybe for a "stimulus" period.
• Make cycling a compulsory part of the progression to car licence qualification.
• Make it an offence to pass a bicycle with less than a 3 foot gap between you and it.
• Safe and secure cycle parking at all train stations, park and ride facilities and car parks.
• Cycle lanes, as opposed to routes, are often a dangerous compromise unless physically separated from the other traffic but a necessary evil in city centres. The law needs to favour cyclists to ensure that the lanes are respected.
• Positive images/promotional adverts of people in normal clothes sharing roads with drivers - without hi-viz and helmets

* What do you think of these suggestions? To they go far enough, or could we introduce even more radical measures? Post your ideas and let us know.
 

16 comments

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 7 years ago
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I think banning driving to school is unrealistic, as is introducing safer storage at train stations and so on. Making it an offence to overtake a bicycle with less than a 91.44cm gap is also unrealistic and unenforceable. Reducing or removing VAT on bike sales will do little or nothing to promote cycling.

Making cycling an obligatory sport at school may do a lot to help.

I don't know who came up with these suggestions but I don't think they live in the real world.

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cactuscat [284 posts] 7 years ago
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i'm with you (mostly) oldridgeback. there's no point banning driving to school, that's just a nonsense. enforced by whom? what we need are routes to schools – and just routes in general – that favour bikes over cars, and more education about bikes in general. And less time concentrating on how dangerous it is (not very) and trying to make us all wear gash-looking jackets and piss pots for the benefit of blind drivers.

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purplecup [217 posts] 7 years ago
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what do i think? all the words in the world won't make an atom of difference. investment in cycling infrastructure will. let's see if the government will put its money where its mouth is.

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Denzil Dexter [140 posts] 7 years ago
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Cycling as a compulsory part of the progression to having a driving licence might be worth looking at - although that then suggests that you'd need to have a license to ride a bike… which would be unenforceable.

I thinks a lot more cycle parking and safe places to leave your bikes at station would make a difference + changing planning law to force developers etc to include cycling in their transport and infrastructure planning - down to requiring all new business premises to have sufficient showers and parking spaces. They've had that in places like Holland and Germany for a generation. And before anyone says that would be unaffordable well, the Germans and the Dutch managed to afford it so why can't we. We can give £100 billion to the banks - imagine how that money could have been used to transform the infrastructure of this country.

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the-yorkshire-p... [173 posts] 7 years ago
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All cyclists have the right to bear arms and shoot anyone that pisses them off.

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Mr Sock [155 posts] 7 years ago
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the-yorkshire-pk-ripper wrote:

All cyclists have the right to bear arms and shoot anyone that pisses them off.

The law of unintended consequences suggests that this could also lead to a drop in the number of cyclists due to an upsurge in 'cyclist on cyclist' action  19 19

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richcc [62 posts] 7 years ago
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Not sure about the substance of the article but she needs a bit of air in that back tyre!

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 7 years ago
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perhaps she's running tubeless  1

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hammergonewest [105 posts] 7 years ago
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I dunno looks like a photo in a "What happened next?" competition

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 7 years ago
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Maybe it's not the tyre that's soft, maybe it's the road

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Simon E [2721 posts] 7 years ago
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Quote:

all the words in the world won't make an atom of difference. investment in cycling infrastructure will.

Even that won't be enough. There will have to be a complete change in attitude of this car-obsessed culture before a significant number of people will ride their bikes on a regular or daily basis. So many people are genuinely frightened of riding on the road, parents even more so for their children. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them it's really safe they believe otherwise. Having cycled since I was a youth some routes feel more threatening than ever, and that's almost entirely due to driver impatience and inattention, both of which are symptoms of a lack of respect.

Dedicated cycle provision (crap cycle lanes, shared ped/cyclist paths etc) is not an the answer. It's nice for young families and people wanting a traffic-free route or leisure ride but it is NOT going to work as a substitute for cyclists as part of the traffic.

For it to succeed there will have to be a seismic shift in attitudes towards cyclists riding on the road. I don't see any prospect of that in all this hot air. We all know the government will say all the right things then spend the money on bailing banks and car manufacturers or widening motorways.

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 7 years ago
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I had an interview with a local authority yesterday, one of their key objectives to developing a cycling culture is to target the elderly...getting old people (70+) cycling. Now, i dont know about you but my grandparents on bikes on roads worries me, imagine them being involved in an accident or merely falling off...we are talking broken hips, severe damage.

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 7 years ago
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Quote:

For it to succeed there will have to be a seismic shift in attitudes towards cyclists riding on the road

i agree, but i also agree with purplecup: that shift can only happen as a result of changes to the infrastructure and the subsequent uptake in cycling. it's not a chicken-and-egg situation: it HAS to begin with provision. look at cities like copenhagen and you'd assume that everyone's been cycling there forever, but in fact the policy changes 40 years ago that have brought about that culture were massively unpopular when they were introduced. if we want to genuinely increase cycling, we have to make those hard choices too. I'm not talking about crap cycle lanes, i'm talking about giving lanes back to cyclists and buses, closing roads, pedestrianising centres, removing car parks.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 7 years ago
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Given the way the UK Government is having to slash budgets to cope with the financial black hole it's now in, I think we can expect about 50p, two shiny buttons and a heap of old egg boxes to be available as funding for a National Cycle Routes Scheme. The DfT is having to cut £28 billion from its projected spending plans.

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 7 years ago
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Looking at that from a glass half full perspective though Old Ridgeback it's the big road projects that cost the serious money. The politicians could cut one big road, save the money and still invest a significant wodge into cycling infrastructure and claim that they are both being far-sighted and planning for a low carbon future while making hard choices for hard times etc etc

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Simon E [2721 posts] 7 years ago
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Quote:

it's not a chicken-and-egg situation: it HAS to begin with provision.

I see your point Dave.

Earlier this week I was talking with someone who had been cycling in Holland. He said they came off the ferry and straight onto a dedicated cycletrack all the way to Rotterdam. He said getting off at Dover when he returned was like going back to the Dark Ages.

In response to Tony's comment about road projects, I'm part of a campaign against Shrewsbury's North West Relief Road. Projected cost for this 4-mile stretch of single carriageway is currently at £100 million. There are so many other ways to improve transport options in and around the town (which already has a ring road AND a bypass!).