Bad driving, bad cycling, lack of facilities, risk of accident, lack of momentum, the weather, etc. The list goes on. It's an easy list to compile. What is significantly more difficult is to list the answers, and yet, this is the holy grail. Remove the barriers, whilst at the same time showing people the benefits, and people will cycle. The more that cycle, the safer the roads become for everyone.
|Is this safety in numbers?|
So, what could be done to get more people cycling?
There are two completely different views on the overall approach to getting more people cycling. I'll call them intergrationists and separatists. The integrationists want cyclists to be accepted on the roads as they are. They see no need for cycle lanes, in fact they often see them as decisive. Cyclists should be accepted as traffic.
Then there are the separatists. They look to the continent and see Copenhagen and Amsterdam as shining examples of how money well spent (lots of money) can lead to well designed and well used separate cycling facilities. Cyclists are generally taken off the road and out the way of cars.
For those that read my blog regularly (thanks for reading!) you will probably see me slotting into the integrationists. You'd be right, certainly in the way I practice my cycling. However, I concede that in an ideal world separate cycling facilities if done correctly it would be.....well....ideal! So perhaps separatistism is the way for he future, but what about today? I am at heart, a pragmatist, and I realise that utopia is a long way off.
So what can we do now that can get more cyclists on the streets now which would not only make the roads safer, but perhaps give us a louder voice to help bring utopia about?
As I mentioned in a previous blog
1) We need to get drivers to realise that the more cyclists on the roads the better it is for them, and everyone else.
2)We need to get more drivers out of their cars and on to bikes.
So it's all about marketing. Marketing cyclists, showing that we are not the baddies and we don't go about in marauding hordes knocking down old grannies. At the same time we need to market cycling itself, as a viable, and surprisingly fun way of getting about our urban landscapes.
So, do I have any ideas on how to get there?
What about a campaign along the lines of 'Cyclist = Q-1'. That is each cyclist equals one less car in the queue. Thus the more cyclists there are, the less congestion there would be and the faster everyone would get to work. Yes, with more cyclists on the road maximum speeds might be reduced, but what would the effect on average speed be? Certainly in busy urban areas you might be surprised.
The suggestion of Bike Celebration Stations made by Alexwarrior is, I think, and excellent one. On busy commutes Celebration stations are set up when cyclists can pull into and get free breakfast, other goodies, vouchers etc, all in view of the drivers stuck in queues. This could become an annual or even more regular event, possibly moving around the city during the summer months.
These are just two ideas. What do you think? We need more ideas of course, so if you have any.....