Wednesday, 26 January 2011

We need the people who don't cycle because they're too scared to stand up and say they'd like to use a bicycle in our cities

I like the bloke (blokess?) at the back. Happily wearing a
woollen hat and a coat. None of this fancy cycling kit.
Cycling needs to look more like him to become 'normal'.
According to Wandsworth council:

"One-sixteenth of all potentially cycled journeys are currently cycled and there is huge potential to increase the rate of cycling in South London". 

Cycling now accounts for 2% of all trips in the borough up from 1.5% in 2005.

Guess what the target is for 2013/4? A whopping 3.7%. With 7% reached after some of us will have dropped off the face of the planet, by 2031.

I don't know whether to groan in Wandsworth's direction for being so weak-willed. Or whether to congratulate Wandsworth for at least being realistic. Because, if you look at these two blog entries here and here, you'll see that for all Boris's talk of a 'cycling revolution', last week's Mayor's question time at the London Assembly revealed Jenny Jones questioning the Mayor to learn that there seems to be no strategy to increase cycling, nothing is happening on the roads themselves, the money that is being spent is going into pretty bicycle stands and some training, that there is seemingly no political will and that we have a Mayor who seems to think a sponsored Skyride once or twice a year will trigger mass cycle participation. 

Depressing really.

Cycling just doesn't seem to be much of a vote-winner at the moment. And I completely agree with this post here that cycling feels like something politicians can just ignore.

And part of me wonders if the problem is that not enough people who cycle or would like to cycle are raising their voices.

Just take a look at my post earlier this week about the plans for Moore Lane. 248 responses were submitted by residents and 'stakeholders'. And the response was overwhelmingly positive. I used to live on that very street at the time of the review. And I know my response at the time wasn't very positive. But I'm just one little bicycle rider. If we assume that even as many as 10% of the people who responded to that survey were cyclists, then that makes 90% who weren't cyclists and wouldn't have thought or cared about what it will be like to cycle here. No wonder there is no overwhelming support for an alternative that really caters for cycling as well as walking.

And that's worrying. Because the government is increasingly encouraging local communities to tell local government what they want. So, if 2% of people cycle, say, then what we'll get is 98% of money and time spent on cars and other modes and no real consideration to cycling.

However, if 48% people who would like to cycle but are too scared actually made some noise, you have to wonder how different things might be.