Pavements and cycle paths are critical infrastructure, not frills

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

cycle path londonIn the USA this does not seem to be understood by local, state, and federal government and the only thing that seem to count in their eyes are provisions for the motor car. But things are not much better in Britain, for instance.

Unfortunately, many pavements (sidewalks, as our American cousins would say) in Britain are in a bad state of repair as well, even though the maintenance of those is down to the local authorities, the councils. Lack of funding from central government and more cuts in the name of austerity certainly do take their toll, but some of them seem to have been lacking maintenance for a couple of decades at least and in some instance it would appear more than just a couple of decades.

As to cycle paths, their provision, in comparison to what is being done and has been done almost for ever in countries of mainland Europe, is absolutely derisory and the talk of government that it would like to encourage more people to cycle is laughable when one sees the provisions (not) made.

There is hardly, in Britain, a single cycle path that is continuous and virtually none that is actually physically separated from the motor traffic on the road, unlike a great many, if not the majority, of such paths in countries such as The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. According to the British government, an not just the current, it is not possible to do such things in this country. It can be done, the only thing lacking is the political will to do so.

If government is truly interested in getting people out of their cars and wanting them to walk and cycle to the shops, to school, and even to work, then provisions must me made so that people can feel safe and be safe to do so. What it boils down to is that the motoring lobby hands out fat donations and facilitation payments to the governments while, obviously, the lobby of cyclists and pedestrians does not and cannot do that. Hence more and more roads are being built instead of making provisions for alternative modes of transport, by creating the necessary infrastructure. But time and again there are plans for new roads, there is money found for new roads, and so on. Cycle paths and pavements, on the other hand, when it comes to them then there is no money to be found.

As I said, the majority of cycle paths would make our continental cousins, especially in Holland, Denmark and Germany, suffer a serious laughing attack. Not only are they not physically separated from the roads; nay, often they are just short strips on the road and then that is it. At other times, where there are long stretches of cycle paths that are part of the road cyclists will have to dodge the traffic anyway as the paths are full of parked cars, or cars are actually using those parts of the road that are dedicated to cycling, thus again the cyclist either has to avoid those stretches or is actually in danger of being hit. That is no way to encourage people to take to the bike instead of the car. In fact, it has rather the opposite effect. Thus it is hardly surprising that people, illegally, cycle on the pavements as no safe provisions are being made for them.

© 2017