CTC strategies, the parliamentary enquiry, The Times, going Dutch etc

Making Britain better for bikes (latest CTC Cycle magazine), Making Cities fit for Cycling (The Times Manifesto), 'promote the use of bicycles as a mode of transport' (All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group), MPs launch a cross party inquiry into cycling (Press release) and the CTC Strategy 2013-20 are just a few of the things now happening since Wiggo won Le Tour and Olympic gold. Also worth a mention: the London Cycling Campaign Love London, Go Dutch.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is 'creating a better place' generally, not just for cyclists but for people whose homes and businesses were recently flooded several feet deep in rain water and lost all their possessions. Together with local authorities and internal drainage boards (I'd never heard of these boards before) the Environment Agency has a programme of flood and coastal risk management schemes which they cannot really afford – I know that because they said so the other day on Radio 4.

floods

North Wales, November 2012

During the Radio 4 interview the Environment Agency's representative explained how they have all these schemes to prevent flooding but because there isn't enough money they 'manage' the floods or work with their partners to mitigate them – something like that. The cost of protecting all British properties from floods would be even more enormous than 'going Dutch' on cycling infrastructure across the UK. One irony is that the Dutch are also the world's best at holding back water. It's a question of political priorities although, to be fair, cycling and dams in that country are not a new thing. Anyway, after the interview I wondered what level of priority the promotion of cycling really has in the mind of the British public, compared to protecting homes and businesses from going under, so to speak. I wondered if the huffing and puffing by the CTC, The Times, cross-party MPs, Boris and all the other cycling campaigners is nothing but reading material spewed out by a machine that no-one can switch off.

Public opinion can be a force for harm. It seems that Greece has run out of dosh and, together with various other cash-strapped nations, will not be taking part in next year's Eurovision Song Contest. The cost would be a drop in the ocean and it might cheer them up if they won, but this is Political (is anything more Political than the Eurovision Song Contest?) After years working in a local authority with elected representatives I know there is no such thing as 'no money' – but there are priorities, most of which relate to their concerns over re-election. The song contest is probably not a vote winner and nor, I suspect, is infrastructure budgets diverted to cycle paths and fancy road junctions for cyclists when thousands of British homes are being ruined by floods. That the increasing frequency of heavy rain storms might somehow be related to long-term polution from motor vehicles won't 'cut ice' in short-term politics.

I've seen some fine examples of places designed for cyclists in the UK but they are few and far between, and in circumstances more favourable than my home town, and probably most other towns. When I ride in the local streets and imagine how they might be 'made dutch' (or even just Borissed) a sense of reality kicks in. I simply can't see it, but then I'm a segregation sceptic* so lucky for me I don't feel a need. :)

7 comments on “CTC strategies, the parliamentary enquiry, The Times, going Dutch etc”

  1. Keith Edwards wrote:

    All those words that are in all the reports are just that Words. They only have one point and that is to employ people in offices to produce more words.
    If the amount of money that was spent on those words was actualy used to get those people to do something. Then maybe we would be better off.
    The only problem is that the people in the offices might just get wet in the rain or even worse their hands dirty.

  2. Patrick wrote:

    CTC member groups (Sunday rides etc) are very worthwhile, as far as I can tell. They actually get people out on bikes – the local club ethos. But I agree that many of the "we wills" in the Strategy 2013-20 might be wishful thinking.

  3. Hilary wrote:

    Hmmm... There's no doubt that homes that don't flood are more appealing to the vast majority of people than a cycling infrastructure.

    I generally prefer to keep clear of cycling politics. People who want to cycle will do so. I often wonder just how much the people who say they would like to cycle if only.... would actually cycle if they ever got this cycletopia or whether it would just remain a vague idea of something they might do sometime.

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Hilary wrote: people who say they would like to cycle if only...

    I completely agree Hilary. The case for segregation often rests on the number of would-be cyclists who say: "I'd ride a bike if only it was safer." I reckon it's often just a convenient reply.

    [Update] From today's Autumn Statement:

    The Government will make a £42 million investment in the Sustainable Transport Fund in cycling infrastructure, including cycling safety.

    The Government will allocate an additional £120 million over the Spending Review period to building new flood defences.

  5. Hilary wrote:

    Talking of flooding, this is the Newport to Sandown cycle path which is currently undergoing extensive work to prevent flooding!

    Cycle path flood

    This is not my pic. Its been doing the rounds of local cyclists but apparently came originally from the Daily Telegraph web site.

  6. Patrick wrote:

    LOL... good pic!

  7. Chris wrote:

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that any Catholic, especially it seems a dead one, should be referred to as a devout Roman Catholic; that when receiving 'A' level results any reports should be illustrated with conventionally attractive teenage girls celebrating their grades; and when there is a flood there will be some daft cyclist trying to ride through it.

    All the interested parties claim that 'something' must be done about cycling in this country. Can they agree on what? Will much happen? I am reminded of attempts to reform the highly unphonetic English spelling system. G B Shaw despaired of "this Semitic alphabet" and others before and since have suggested how to change it. Nothing has happened, and I can't see that anything will. (Not that I, personally, want to change our alphabet.) Still, it's something to think about when the weather keeps you from cycling.

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