by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Cycling is one of the fastest growing modes of transport in Britain. It is clean, healthy and good for the environment. But the government is still lagging behind those of other EU countries in providing a proper safe cycling infrastructure for British cyclists.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has created a “vision for cycling”, but then he is a cyclist and understands, for an unbroken network of cycle routes in London. And while there are many things that one could disagree with with Mr. Johnson this is not one of them.
However, we need more than just an unbroken network of lanes, as they are today, even though very fragmented, as they are not safe for cyclists. The lanes must be, as they are in most countries of Europe, physically separated from the motor traffic.
Mayor Johnson has also stated that he wants to “de-Lycrafy” cycling and bring it to the masses and this is indeed something that must be done if we want to have a sustainable low- to zero-carbon transportation future.
This vision in which many of us who use bicycles to get around, some as primary mode of transport even, share with the Mayor of London can only come true if we keep knocking at the right doors by demanding that proper, separated, bicycle lanes get created in the same way of those that can be found on the European mainland, whether in the Netherlands, in Germany or in Denmark.
Cycling is becoming, and it is evident in the new faces one can see on a daily basis using the bike for commuting, to go to the shops or to visit friends, more popular than it has been for many decades and many young people shun the car, in fact, in favor of the bike.
One of the main fact, aside from environmental consciousness and wishing to become fit or fitter, for cycling being the fastest growing mode of transportation in Britain today is the ever increasing cost of fuel and motoring per se, for insurance and road tax also pay part in this.
Motorists are always fuming about the fact that cyclists need not to pay the road fund license and neither have to have insurance but no one forces those people that moan to use their cars. They too could use a bike. In addition to that they seem to forget that the bicycle was here before the car, as were pedestrians.
Britain has been, and still is, sadly lacking behind other countries in Europe as to provisions for cyclists and if one sees the cycle lanes in places such as the Netherlands – yes, OK, more people use bikes than cars there – and in Germany, which go from about everywhere to everywhere one can but dream and hope to get something like that in the UK too (one day).
Unfortunately, presently, Britain has the worst provisions for cycling and cyclist of all the EU countries and this is, despite the increase in cycling as mode of transportation presently, still preventing many people from getting on their bike instead of into their car, especially for shorter journeys. This must change for our health and for that, especially, of the Planet.