Monthly Archives: February 2014

How do people manage without bikes?

I mean it as a serious question. “How do people manage without bikes?” Take yesterday as a pretty typical day.

In the morning I went to a local primary school to take an assembly. The School car park is always overflowing and the nearby road always full. I wasn’t ready in time for a 15 minute fast walk there. I didn’t have time for a 15 minute walk home after. They have undercover bike parking just inside the gate. So a 3/4 mile ride each way is faster and more convenient than anything else.

Late morning I had a funeral followed by a thanksgiving service. I needed to do some preparation at the Church, where there is no parking. So a 1/2 mile cycle there carrying the stuff I needed is by far the most convenient. I left my bike in the back of the building while I got everything ready and then walked 100m down the road to get a lift with the local funeral director. At the end it had started to rain so my bike got me home faster than anything else (by car takes much longer due to traffic in the centre of town as you avoid the one way system. Oh plus I am home by bike by the time I would have walked to where I could have parked the car).

In the evening I had several errands. Delivering some paper to three locations, sorting out some cables for Sunday at Church, going shopping for some little bits and pieces. It was only 1.2 miles in total. But I could stop right outside each place which I could not have done by car. No hassles caused by traffic or parked up streets.

So a grand total of 3.5 miles which was around 20 minutes, faster and cheaper than a car. Much faster and less tiring than walking.

So I ask again. “How do people manage without bikes?”

Compare and contrast a US Safer Route to School with the Netherlands

I have just seen this post: Bike Lane SUCCESS! A Safer Route to Middle School | One woman. Many bicycles.

Go and read it, then come back and watch this 5 year old video of cycling to school in the Netherlands by David Hembrow

Note that it was -2 degrees Celsius when this video was recorded.

So which would you prefer your child to use as a “Safer route to School”?

David has written a long and detailed post critiquing rubbish design such as the “sharrows” praised in the first link which is well worth reading: A view from the cycle path: Ontario Traffic Manual “Bicycle Facilities” draft edition. How not to design for cycling.

Excluding views of cycling campaigners

After being asked by the County Council I recently suggested some items for the Leicestershire Cycle Liaison meeting agenda. I suggested 5 items:

  • parts of the TfL February Board meeting briefing paper (PDF) [focused on the need for segregation and the benefits of segregation]
  • a report from someone involved in transport strategy for new housing
  • plans of junctions that have been updated or are being designed now to review for cycle safety
  • a presentation from the Council on what requirements for cycling provision are included in all design briefs
  • an update on the Council’s policy on 20mph limits/zones given the changing national picture.

I fully recognise that I am pushing hard at Leicestershire County Council whose understanding of cycling provision is limited to education, signposting and shared use pavements.

However, I was disappointed to get this reaction from a Cycling Campaigner:

I have found in the past, that talking about highly charged issues, like you have sent for comments, can really only be done, to have any meaning, with a keen cyclist. do you fall into this category do you happily cycle at 28 to 33 kms per hour.If you do then it can be meaningful as anybody can cycle slower and fall in with the existing infrastructure, its the keen cyclist that has the problem.

So by this persons definition I am not a “keen cyclist” as I do not ride between 28 and 33kms per hour (that is 17.5 to 20.6mph) and because I am not a “keen cyclist” I should be happy with the existing infrastructure as I am not one of these “keen cyclists” who has the problem.

I was almost lost for words and it took sometime for my blood pressure to subside enough for a reasonably civil reply.

I campaign for cycling infrastructure to the latest Dutch standards because I am concerned about a variety of crises we face as a country:

  • deaths on the roads
  • obesity
  • congestion
  • air pollution
  • health costs
  • peak oil
  • CO2 emissions

While walking and use of public transport can also help with some of these crises nothing is more effective at tackling them all than switching lots and lots of journeys to ordinary people riding bikes. Not only that but switching people to riding bikes also happens to be great for the economy with shops, employers, home owners, health service, road maintenance, emergency services all benefiting.

I do not want to be associated with an attitude that defines only fast sports cyclists as “keen cyclists” and which does not consider the huge numbers of people who would like ride a bike but feel it is too dangerous.

So I am not a “keen cyclist” despite riding nearly every day and 3,500 to 5,500 miles a year! Moreover, my focus in Cycle Campaigning is not on “keen cyclists” by this definition (although my experience of cycling in the Netherlands shows that even “keen cyclists” benefit greatly from Dutch quality infrastructure.

[Update] I have now had a gracious response to my response from the person concerned confessing that they were being selfish.

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