Any contemporary discussion about the environmental, health and social problems associated with mass car use will inevitably turn to electric vehicles (EVs). Plainly there may be some advantages to their use compared to that of current petrol or diesel (ICE) cars – but how much? More importantly, does the focus on EVs overall hold the potential for being a major diversion from where our concerns should be, rather than their use being some kind of step forward. Will EVs turn out to be a part of the problem rather than its solution?
This book is “…above all, a story of hope”. Those of us with a cynical mindset might be put off by such optimism and the extravagant claim of the title. But don’t be: Peter Walker is more or less spot on in each chapter of a book which clearly argues for cycling as a key solution to urban transport, health, social and environmental problems. Indeed, it should be read by all professionals – as well as campaigners and the general public – with an interest in transport policy, not just those who find themselves in a “cycling” niche. Continue reading
Vive Le Tour de France en Yorkshire!
First, a confession: I am a cycle sport nut. I used to be a keen racer (albeit to no significant effect in terms of results), have a much repeated link with England’s greatest ever road racing cyclist , and frequently take part in sportives and Audax events. I jointly runt he annual Hammersmith Cyclists Film Show for cycle sport fans. I watch all the main races and fret over the minutiae of transfers, alleged drug taking, fancy new equipment etc. on the sport web sites. I shall immerse myself in the magic as the Tour de France passes my east London vantage point.
I will happily use the occasion as a break from the world of car dependency and the social acceptance of road danger that we find unacceptable. And yes, I do know that the Tour de France is not supposed to usher in a world of mass cycling. The Tour de France is the Tour de France: nothing more, nothing less.
However, there is a view that The Tour de France and cycle sport generally are associated with a supposed big increase in everyday cycling: let’s just talk it all up and we’re on our way. I think there are issues about the difference between cycle sport and everyday cycling, about negative features of cycle sport and the image of “cycling” which we need to look at. So, when you take a break from the excitement, you may wish to consider the following: Continue reading
Although the image below is a bit difficult to make out (the original is here), we reproduce it and take some time to examine its message as delivered by the “South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership” (SYSRP) . It is typical of why official “road safety” – as opposed to the real road safety of road danger reduction – is part of the problem of danger on the roads and discrimination against cycling and sustainable transport.
Out yesterday, here are some first thoughts on this Government response which you can see here. Do read the “Get Britain Cycling” report and our comments on it when it came out, The ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report’s 18 recommendations are given below. I give comments on how the Government has responded: Continue reading
Today sees the launch of the Summary and Recommendations of the “Get Britain Cycling” report. Reporting on this on the front page of The Times we see “Cyclists are set to win revolution in road safety”. Is this so? Road Danger Reduction Forum President Lord Berkeley is one of the Panel members of The Get Britain Cycling Inquiry. I have a reputation for pessimism (or as I would say, healthy scepticism) and as RDRF Chair I give a detailed analysis of the Summary and Recommendations below.
Make no mistake, along with Mayor Johnson’s “Vision for Cycling”; the production of this report is a pivotal moment for the possibility of not just cycling, but sustainable transport as a whole in Britain. So: are cyclists – and all those of us interested in the development and implementation of sustainable transport policy indeed “set to win”? Continue reading
Summing it all Up:
If my analysis in these posts here seems more critical than that of some cycling bloggers and cycling groups, this may be because I have experience of the lack of positive effects of numerous talked-up cycling strategies, initiatives and “visions” from those in power over the past 25 years in the UK. Not a few of these were hailed at the time as “step-changes” or “sea-changes” in support for cycling. My justification for an in-depth analysis of this document is that unless we understand what is being incorrectly assessed and proposed, we won’t get it right this time either. The key point is to understand what opportunities are now open (or need to be pushed for afresh) in the current climate. Hopefully this analysis will allow for campaigners and practitioners alike to prepare accordingly. Continue reading
This is the biggest current story for anybody interested in sustainable transport policy. As the ever sensible Chris Boardman correctly commented: “This is the most ambitious cycling development and promotion plan in the UK in living memory, perhaps ever.” However, you don’t have to be a cynic for the excitement of first part of that sentence to be somewhat cooled by the “in the UK” part of it.
As a London cyclist of 35 years standing, campaigner for most of those years and transport professional in London for 25, here is my assessment of what the “Vision for Cycling” may – or may – not mean for London. Continue reading
First, the good news: another academic study using conventional cost-benefit analysis finds that motorists in the 27 EU countries have a net economic cost to society, with the UK second only to Germany in costs. Take a look at the nice short summary in the Guardian. It’s good to counteract what the Guardian correctly calls “The perennial complaint from drivers that they are excessively taxed”, not least the prejudice that cyclists are cheating by “not paying a tax”. The figure given for these external costs – £48 billion per annum, some £10 billion more than the total of motoring taxation revenue – looks pretty damning. However, it can be argued that the costs of motoring to society are considerably greater than those in the picture painted in the study, and that the report is inadequately critical of the status quo.
Let’s look at the report in a bit more detail. Continue reading
effects of cycle helmet wear – something which is rarely done. What this indicates is a remarkable lack of evidence of benefits. (This is apart from the diversionary – “red herring” – and the “dangerising “effects of helmet advocacy which are themselves worryingly negative.)
user. It would be quite possible for “road safety” professionals with a commitment to prohibiting certain behaviours to do so. The point is to show the absence of positive evidence and to open the Pandora’s Box of road user response to danger, as we do below… Continue reading