How to get more people cycling
The Dec-Jan edition of 'cycle' – a magazine published by the CTC (the UK's national cyclists' organisation) – reports that the National Cycling Plan announced in June 2009 by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to promote cycling as a mainstream form of personal transport is unlikely to go to public consultation. So the CTC conducted its own survey with a questionnaire that received 1,800 responses, presumably from people who already cycle.
The results of the survey are what you'd expect, with priorities like 'better road design' and 'cycle to work' initiatives, none of which is going to make a sudden impact on the number of people who ride a bike. That's because these initiatives don't make someone who doesn't cycle start to want to cycle. What they should do is aim their campaigns at people who've never even thought about cycling as their means of personal transport. Campaigns aside, I can think of a few things that might encourage non-cyclists to get out on two wheels.
1 – A blockbuster cycle touring movie film
The handsome male superstars of this blockbuster cycling touring movie film would be Russell Crowe (left) and George Clooney, on a cycle tour of South America. It's a damsel in distress type of plot in which two beautiful female cycle tourists Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman get captured and held for ransom by drug barons in the forests of Colombia. They're rescued by Russell and George and the four then continue their cycle tour together. Russell and Kate fall in love, as do George and Nicole, and they all live happily ever after.
In the film, no-one wears a cycle helmet, Russell is a heavy smoker, and George drinks a lot (like normal people). A popular movie like this would help people realise how exciting it can be to go cycling for your holidays, instead of in a jet or car.
2 – A blockbuster cycle commuting movie film
Starring Hugh Grant and Jennifer Lopez (pictured), this film would be an out-and-out romantic cycling comedy, set in Doncaster, England. London might seem like the obvious location but there are already a lot of people cycling in the capital and it's high time going to work on a bicycle was thought of as normal in other towns as well. This time, the stars would be wearing their cycling helmets. Hugh would be riding a 'city bike' like they do in London and lovely J.Lo would have one of those Dutch-style cruisers with a big wicker basket on the front, for carrying organic vegetables and bottled French drinking water.
I'd keep the plot fairly simple. They're just an ordinary boy and girl whose paths happen to cross in the cycle lane on the way to the office. It's a 'feel good' type of movie: they discover they both share a passion for saving the planet.
3 – Boris Johnson becomes British Prime Minister
This isn't my idea. Apparently there are people who think this could really happen. If it did, it would be a good thing for UK cycling, as London Boris is a well known cyclist who is also well known for getting his own way. Plus he's a cycling celebrity, and celebrity endorsements are even better than laws, to persuade people to do things. But as Prime Minister of all Britain, Boris Johnson would also pass new laws that are good for cyclists throughout the land.
Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow is also a bit of a celebrity, and he's the President of the CTC, but with all due respect to Jon, Boris would probably get more done to promote cycling as a mainstream form of personal transport, and certainly a lot more than Gordon Brown will.