Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Over the Games



Can we have Eastway back now?
It’s over. The 2012 Olympic Games is history.
So, Lord Coe, Sir, can we now have the Eastway cycle circuit back? Demolished to make way for the Olympic Park.
I enjoyed the Olympian feats tremendously, Britain’s huge success. Especially the bikies: Lizzie Armitstead, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny et al.
But also Bolt, Farah, Ennis, Murray – a smile on his face at last.
Most of all loved being part of the millions on the roadside to see the stars in road races and TTs.
And what a feast of gladiatorial combat in the velodrome. Wasn’t there of course. Couldn’t get tickets. 300,000 applicants for a 6000 seater!
But then, Oi…! I spot Prince William and  his Kate in the grandstand. Prince Harry, too!
There’s that Mayor of London, Boris – not so Super Cyclehighways – Boris. And Prime Minister
David Cameron – he’s backed The Times campaign for safer streets for cycling but done what exactly?
And I say to myself – those blighters have got my seats!
But, hey, mustn’t grumble. Our sport is now so popular the elite come to watch – free, probably.
The press has been euphoric about these Games, an historic best for Britain. But let’s keep the perspective. Time to put on the lead cycling shoes lest our feet float free from the pedals.
The $7bn fantasy is over. Back to reality.  Britain has the worst family poverty in Europe, the most teenage pregnancies, binge drinking on an Olympic scale, the most couch potatoes and crap road conditions for cycling.
Can we have Eastway back, now, please, Lord Coe, Sir?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Why The Times aren't changing


The Times, they aren’t a changing!
By Keith Bingham
WHEN The Times newspaper gave front page headlines to launch its historic “cyclists’ revolt” in January, to get government to improve cycling safety in towns and cities, it gave the campaign movement fresh impetus and claimed centre stage in Parliament – for a time.
But what have those artful dodgers in the Commons done about it? Besides falling over themselves to sweet talk a major daily newspaper, not much, if you ask me, writes Keith Bingham.
Despite The Times excellent campaign, there remain two big issues holding up real progress: insufficient funding and a lack of a national strategy to bring about the key changes in road infrastructure.
First, let’s do the maths.
According to one of the UK’s leading campaigners, Continental evidence says that when you spend at least £5 per head of population on cycling there is growth.
The Cycling Towns, under the direction of Cycling England – killed off by the government last year to save money - were spending a tenner and achieved an average of 27 per cent growth over 3 years.
This is consistent with a rate of doubling growth over 10 years.
However, to keep this in perspective, this is a doubling from nothing to very little….!
As it stands, in England, government spend on cycling equates to between £1 or £2 per head of population.  It’s higher in Scotland and in London.
In Denmark, Holland, it’s between £10 - £20 per head.
There are 49 million people living in England. So £1 to £2 per head equates to, at best, £98m being spent on cycling. That’s some £150m short of even the basic sum needed to make a difference.
To up this to £5 per head means the government must spend £245m per annum. But this is still half the percentage rate of spend in Holland and Denmark.
So what if the government do the decent thing and spend upwards of £300m per year on cycling?
How will they direct this? Answer, they won’t be able to, unless government takes direct control of Local Authority transport planning for cycling, as the Dutch did over 60 years ago.
This is important because virtually all the work to make the roads safer for cycling will fall under LA control. The Department for Transport has responsibility for the trunk road network which is only about 5 per cent of the road network, whereas the rest comes under LA control!
And government can only advise the LA’s, they cannot impose their will.

Here’s a recent example. The Times identified 100s of major junctions that need to be made safe for cyclists. Transport Minister Norman Baker responded by providing £15 million in funding. However, he can only encourage, not tell, Local authorities to bid for a slice of this cash to carry out the work.
It falls to The Times to ask us, the punters, to write to our local councillors and implore them to bid for funding!
Left to their own devices, the LA’s, who may not necessarily agree with government directives, have,
with very few exceptions, shown that nothing meaningful in cycling planning will ever be achieved. So, The Times faces a big struggle in a country which has shown it doesn’t do strategy.  When the National Cycling Strategy launched with great fanfare in 1996 it was largely meaningless because not only did it have no money before Cycling England were given a few bob in 2005, it couldn’t work in isolation, not without sister strategies for all other modes.
And there never has been a *national strategy for transport, from the canal age in the 1700s, through to the railways in the 1800s, followed by road and air.
*Transport in Britain, from Canal Lock to Gridlock, by Philip Bagwell and Peter Lyth.


Olympic road races explained


Heading: FOLLOW THE OLYMPIC ROAD RACE ACTION ON BOX HILL
By Keith Bingham.
The men will lap this testing 15.5-kilometre circuit nine times for a period of three hours.
They will cover a total of 140km on Box Hill - more than half the 250-kilometre full race.

The women will lap it twice (31km) to cover 130 kilometres in total.
Box Hill is certain to play a big part in deciding who wins Olympic gold on The Mall 40 kilometres away, and spectators are assured of plenty of action.
The riders will have covered 70 kilometres from the London start by the time they start their first ascent of the Zig Zag, when battle will commence. It is unlikely any of the favourites will have made a move before then.
In both races, the field is certain to split asunder after several ascents of The
Zig Zag road, which is followed by a false flat after the summit as far as the Smith and Western restaurant.
SPRINTERS  like Mark Cavendish, currently the fastest in the world in a bunch finish and easily recognisable in his world champion’s rainbow jersey – will want to control the field, as he did to win the test event last year.  
But back then he had both the services of the GB and England teams  setting a fast pace to keep his rivals under lock and key in the main bunch, enabling the Manx missile to unleash his deadly sprint from the pack in the final few hundred metres on The Mall.
However, the test race bears no comparison. It was 100 kilometres shorter for a start, because it included only two laps of Box Hill – not nine.
Another big difference is only a maximum of five riders per team is allowed in the Olympics, instead of the usual nine or 10 men as in most road races. This means teams may not have the same degree of control. In which case, the race is very likely to split up into smaller groups on this circuit.
And should a group succeed in getting clear without Cavendish, and Britain’s Geraint Thomas is with them, and then he could be a major challenger. 

LOOK out for the likes of last year’s Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of Australia, who will want to get ahead, leaving Cavendish behind before The Mall.
Also look out for Belgium’s big star Philippe Gilbert.  Gilbert is a good sprinter, but unable to match Cavendish’s explosive finish.  Should Evans or Gilbert escape in the closing kilometres they’ll be hard to catch.
So, too, will be Swiss star, the 2008 Olympic time trial champion, Fabian Cancellera.
And watch out for Tour de France revelation, the Slovak Peter Sagan, winner of three stages in the first week of the Tour this July.
Sadly, defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Spain who broke his hand in the Tour is now a doubtful starter.
Britain’s Nicole Cooke is the defending Olympic champion in the women’s race.
She will aim to stay near the front of the field, ready to join any escape that may go on Box Hill. But she is just as capable of winning the bunch sprint should the race regroup for the finish.
Lizzie Armitstead is another Brit to watch. Like Cooke, Armitstead is versatile, and can climb and sprint, and is also strong enough to sustain a lone attack in the closing kilometres.
Opposition will come in the form of Holland’s former world road champion Marianne Vos or Italy’s current world champion Giorgia Bronzini. Both are good in a mass finish, with Vos also capable of breaking clear. Another talent is Swedish champion Emma Johansson, silver medallist to Cooke in the Beijing 2008 Olympic road race.
HEADING:  HIGH SPEED CHESS
Team strategy in cycle road racing is often likened to chess, with moves aimed at outwitting rivals. It is the job of each team to do their leader’s bidding. Riders will be assigned duties, to pace the top man back after a mechanical problem, give up their own bike if necessary, or mark rivals.
They do this by chasing them down if they escape the pack. They may box them in or, in windy conditions, expose them to the elements by leaving gaps. If their leader gets clear, they will ride to disrupt the chase, infiltrating the line of chasing riders and “soft pedalling” as they get to the front of it, or just simply sitting on the back of the line like a dead weight, guaranteed to irritate the others. The whole point of the exersize is to make sure their goal scorers, like Cavendish or Cooke or Armitstead – to use a football analogy – conserve energy and are in the right position to finish the job.
Sometimes a teammate will join a leading group early on, specifically to be of assistance to his or her team leader should they escape the field and join up later.
Cavendish, for instance, may calculate on losing a little time to attackers on Box Hill, in the belief his team can help him catch up before the finish.
Heading: GETTING THE TIMING RIGHT
FIVE or four minutes. That’s the minimum advantage a breakaway group needs over the main field in the final 40 kilometres, if they are to stand any chance of staying ahead to the line.
SIX seconds a kilometre. Some 40 kilometres out, a bunch can close on a leading break at a rate of six seconds every kilometre - if sufficient number of teams commit to the chase.

FASTER than that with 10 kilometres to go. 10 kilometres out, the bunch will really start to move, and close down on the leaders at 10 seconds per kilometre.
However, these calculations apply to eight or nine-man teams, which is the norm. The Olympic road races allow only five-man teams. Cav's one of the five and he will want to save one man to act as a lead-out.  So that leaves only three men to chase. In the Olympics, the chasing is going to be much more complicated, more chaotic.
And the winding roads through London’s suburbs will play to a leading group’s advantage – out of sight, out of mind.


PACING can save a rider 20 per cent more energy. This is because the greater number of riders sharing the pace to break the air resistance can move faster than a few riders sharing the load.
The faster you go the harder it becomes to punch you way through this invisible but nevertheless solid air resistance, unless you have a howling tail wind!
A rider tucked in behind another rider can save 20 per cent more energy – if he’s not too knackered! And over the Olympic distance – longer by some 40 kilometres than the average road race - many riders will be found wanting. If Box Hill doesn’t kill them, the 35-40mph rush from there to The Mall will finish them off.

Heading: A TEAM SPORT WITH ONLY ONE WINNER!

Cycle road racing at top level is a sport for individuals ridden by teams!
Understandably, this puzzles newcomers to the sport who ask is it fair that one rider gets the glory when his teammates have done much of the donkey work to set him or her up for the finish.

This practice has its origins in the early days of long-distance European road racing when men took up the sport to earn better money than offered in the mines or dreary factory work.
There was far more money to be had from pro bike racing, to put meat on the table for their families. But it was risky. Clearly they couldn’t raise the effort to win or get in the top prizes every time. They’d be dead before they reached 30! But they could help others do so, for a share of the proceeds and a reasonably steady income.

In long-distance events of six hours and more, alliances are absolutely key to getting a good result. So teams are built around a breadwinner, the most talented rider able to finish the job.

Olympic road races explained

Sunday, 1 January 2012

How Britain has failed cycling


HOW BRITAIN HAS FAILED CYCLING
 ‘Institutionalised discrimination’ … ‘no political will’  two reasons why not one town has a decent cycle network. By Keith Bingham.




 We’ve been fooled. In the 40 years I have reported on the tortuous business of cycle campaigning,  no British town - with perhaps the  exception of the London Cycling Network – and that’s mostly on back streets -  has yet managed to build a half-decent cycle network worthy of the name.
Over this same period the Dutch have revolutionised cycling, reversing a decline in the 1960s, with a nationwide strategy which has resulted in 28 per cent of trips being made by bike today, compared to less than 2 per cent in Britain. But Britain has shunned Dutch expertise.

The Dutch authorities spend between £10 and £20 per head of population on cycling.
While less than £1 per head of population is spent on cycling in England, with only the Cycling Demonstration towns and London bucking the trend.
So much for all the government talk  about backing cycling to make the nation fitter, address the serious obesity problem and get fat people thin, reduce congestion, and so on, ad infinitum.
“There are none!” Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Director of the CTC, the national cyclists’ organisation, told me when I  asked him to name six towns which have built cycle networks linking places people need to go.
It was my hope he would reveal the first stirrings of the creation of a cycle network on the lines of the quality cycle networks they have in Holland or Scandinavia. How na├»ve could I be? 
Geffen told me he is not aware of any one town where they are getting it right! Bits and pieces are OK, but that’s it, he said.
The  London wide network, several hundred kilometres in the making and a work in progress for nigh on 30 years, struggled for a long time to get decent funding. It has painstakingly been developed with cross-borough co-operation under the auspices of the London Cycling Campaign. But it’s mostly on back roads, not along the main roads which still form a barrier in places.
Transport for London’s Superhighways are meant to address this.
They are a step in right direction. But don’t let all the PR shit about them lure you into a false sense of security. “Super”! Not really, there are no traffic lights with cycling phase at any of the major junctions.
London – good, but could do better, says Geffen
“London is at least putting significant investment into cycling,” says Geffen,
He describes their bike hire scheme as “phenomenally successful”.
  “Its pro-cycling advertising campaigns are models of best practice, and it does pretty well on other promotional activities too, e.g. cycle maps and cycle training. TfL is now also beginning to take the issue of lorry safety very seriously – and not before time either.”


He says, however there are still some serious political constraints which will need to be overcome if London is to make the fundamental transformation into a genuinely cycle-friendly city.

Geffen signalled out other cities doing good things.  “Leicester, Cambridge , Edinburgh , Bristol and Sheffield are all cities which are making serious efforts to boost cycle use, and are beginning to show positive results. 
“Cambridge of course is way ahead in terms of actual levels of cycle use, thanks to a long tradition of cycling there, together with a network of narrow streets and historic buildings which meant it never opened itself up to mass car use in the 1960s.  
“Yet Cambridge is still a long way short of the levels of cycle use in comparable Dutch cities (e.g. Groningen ).  As for the others, they have even bigger challenges.

“In short, even in Britain ’s most pro-cycling cities, we still have a long way to go.”

Crosshead: Fear of traffic the big issue
Although more and more people are taking up leisure cycling in the UK, the numbers commuting instead of using the car or other modes has hardly changed in 10 years, according the national statistics. And won’t  unless the roads are made safer.

 In 2010, only 1.5 % of all trips were made by bike…bad winter weather responsible for slight drop on 2009.
And of this 1.5 per cent, 3 or 4 per cent represent commuter or utility trips made by bike.
Not much different since 2001. Yes, London has seen big increases, but the capital is bucking the trend as people seek to avoid paying stupendously high public transport fares.
Problem, says CTC, is that putting in decent cycle lanes is seen as expensive,  some £800,000 per kilometre. The money available doesn’t come close.
“There are cheaper options,” says Chris Peck of the CTC, “for instance, speed reduction of traffic, traffic management, reduction in parking” – a highly controversial matter.
“Even so, cycling is growing, trade is booming, and the attitude towards cyclists has improved in the last few years,” he adds.
MPs suffer from ‘big projectitus’
But Peck agrees there is no getting away from the fact that the overall standard of build of cycle facilities falls well short of perfect.
It is fact that the pre-war cycle lanes of the 1930s and 40s are often better than those built today, and even  these early lanes had their faults, such as no right of way at junctions. Same today.
He says one of the big problems has been, still is, the lack of political will.
 I recall Philip Darnton, chair of the excellent Cycling England – the government body staffed by cycling experts which was killed off in the cuts this year – telling me he had encountered “institutionalised discrimination” against cyclists in his dealings with local authorities.

I recall transport minister Steven Norris was very fond of saying, MPs suffer from “big projectitus” – as he called it. In other words cycling issues were seen as too small to be associated with, compared to dreaming up say, headline projects like a satellite system to monitor your car’s mileage, or a new rail route.
And because cycling was seen as too small, the funding to make every town cycling friendly, though less than one per cent of the £bn transport budget and very good value indeed, was seen as too expensive.
I can think of only one of the many transport ministers I have interviewed – and all of them spoke eloquently of how important it was to create the right conditions for cycling  - only one of them ever personally got involved. This is Lord Adonis, who saw to it that Network Rail put cycle parking hubs in a few major stations.   Even so, 300 parking spaces at say, London Waterloo and Leeds, pales into insignificance alongside the 14,000 bike spaces provided at Utrecht station in Holland – and this is to be increased to 20,000 for a small town, a fraction the size of London.
The idea that a cycling strategy, properly applied could help  deliver the balanced and sustainable transport MPs witter on about, has been lost in the fog of government. 
When over a decade ago John Prescott proposed radical changes to introduce a sustainable transport policy it upset the motoring lobby he was taken off transport and his proposals binned.
Peck of CTC says transport minister Norman Baker, like Adonis, is a good guy, doing his best amid a raft of financial constraints.  
So, it seems fairly certain that the persistent low level of utility trips made by bike can be put down to a combination of fear of traffic and a lack of decent comprehensive cycle networks in the towns.

 Fools making decisions
What has brought us to this place?
Could it be that transport decisions are made by people still hard-wired to the post war image of the bike as working class, only to be begrudgingly accommodated with crap facilities as befits its station? Is it written in the Department of Transport Old Testament of the 1960s, when cyclists and pedestrians were designed out of road schemes,  “Thou shall not provide for cyclists”?
Former Transport Minister and petrol head Phillip Hammond joined the ranks of the stupid when he recently suggested raising the motorway speed limit to 80mph. He must know that will influence drivers to push it that bit faster off the motorway, too.
I mean, what’s all that about?
Well, I have it on good authority that Hammond did a deal with the Lib Dems. He’d lower the limit to 20mph on residential roads if they wouldn’t oppose him increasing m-way limit to 80 – to placate the motoring lobby!
And we wonder why so many people are still deterred from cycling. The recent – zillionth - cycling report on the matter, by a Professor Pooley, attempts to answer this question yet again. His epistle made quite a stir by suggesting planners ignore established cyclists when seeking views! It was this report which prompted me to review the issues.
Apparently, the report should have said, don’t only talk to enthusiasts.
But the report was clear, the main reason deterring a great many people from cycling is fear of traffic. So, nothing new there.  The report calls for segregated cycle lanes, which will be far more difficult  to deliver given that the authorities have made a pig’s ear of far simpler facilities.
Sadly, on the evidence of all the great many other reports government has paid only lip service to the prof. and his fellow academics might as well be pissing in the wind. What we really need is a report which examines why, in 40 years, government transport specialists - local and central and every single one  of the host of Transport Secretaries of State bar none - have managed to fail cycling so miserably.
Their legacy:   on-pavement cycling lanes with lampposts in them; telephone boxes and bus shelters in them; even trees!
As for cycle lanes on the roads, where they ought to be - with few notable exceptions – they  end abruptly, or run into parking bays, and generally don’t go anywhere useful.
Some 20 years ago, the Dutch, in their English version of their wonderful Bicycle Master Plan, wrote in the foreword: “First of all let it be said that the Dutch don’t have a problem with bicycles”.
It was a clear jibe, for the Dutch clearly knew that the Brits do have a problem with bicycles.
Whereas the Dutch would rip out junctions and build from scratch to incorporate cycling facilities, in Britain we get crap add-on facilities if we’re lucky.
The recent demonstrations over lack of planning for cyclists and walkers in the new road layout planned for Blackfriars Bridge in London is proof that prejudice is alive and well among those dinosaurs the transport engineers.
Problem is rooted in the British psych
It seems to me that this problem is deeply rooted in the British psych, and this is the major reason why it has proved so difficult to establish cyclists’ rights.

It ought to be quite simple.
Cut out frantic driving, cut the speed of traffic and we won’t need any special cycling facilities!
OK, that’s never going to happen, not with the mentality of most drivers who consider the road their own.
 We need cycle lanes down every major road in towns and cities, not the few sprinkled here and there, which end suddenly. London Cycling Campaign are to call for this in their “Go Dutch” campaign in 2012.
Advance stop lines are as good as it gets, but even these often have no cycling lane leading into them.
This lack of recognition of cyclists rights led John Grimshaw MBE, a civil engineer to form Sustrans (Sustainable Transport) and start building traffic-free paths for cycling and walking on disused railway lines. He’d hoped that his 1000-mile plus National Cycle Network now well established across the country, would be a catalyst for the creation of quality cycle networks within the towns the NCN passed through.
Surrey, he told me, proved to be one of the most difficult authority to reach agreement with. Even now, the NCN 22 through Headley near Box Hill includes a blind junction exposing cyclists to fast-moving traffic.
Britain has proved incapable of rising to the challenge.
The other network of merit is the National Byway, a signed route along quiet country lanes which when finished will be some 3000 miles long, linking sites of historical interest.
Crosshead: How Government cock-ups held back development
If we take a look back over the past 15 years we can see how cycling policy has endured fits and starts.
The creation of the government body, Cycling England in 2005, chaired by Philip Darnton, the ex Raleigh chief, and with the impressively forthright John Grimshaw, creator of the National Cycle Network, gave us hope.
But it was poorly funded. Nevertheless,  Cycling England launched their “Cycling Development Towns” which encouraged small projects and generated impressive increases in cycling use.
This was the proof of the pudding, but government failed to seize the initiative and substantially increase the budget. Instead,  transport minister Ruth Kelly served up £140m over three years. Although the most generous funding yet, it was still about a third less than the Dutch who are currently investing 100m Euros in new cycle highways every over the next two years. And then of course, the work stopped as Cycling England fell victim to government cut backs.
And yet cycling is in boom mode in recession hit UK, worth £3bn a year to the UK economy.
The pastime has never had it so good, with city centre mass rides on closed roads attracting upwards of 60,000 people of all ages – but they have to brave hostile roads to get there – and  charity rides abound.
As for the sport, the huge success of the track riders at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was followed this year with Britain topping the medal table at the World Road Championships in Copenhagen – crowned by Mark Cavendish’s historic victory of the Elite title.

Yet, despite all of this, despite impressive increase in cycling use in London -  up 91 per cent in 2007, compared with 2000, cycle use remains low compared to rest of the Europe.
London proudly declared that 500,000 journeys a day are made by bike in the capital, yet set this context and it still only 2 per cent of all journeys. Amsterdam racks up 37 per cent, Gronningham, a massive 57 per cent.
What is it with the British government, with civil servants? What is it that they just don’t get?
When we look back even further, to  the mid 1990s, we recall how the CTC declared the battle for minds won. The government at last agreed to take account of cyclists’ needs, to encourage people to take up cycling, to save the Nation’s Health, to cut congestion and therefore pollution.  Campaigners thought that at last, the cycling was to have its day.  But no.
Cycling strategy launched with no money!
It never happened, not even when the National Cycling Strategy was created under the Conservatives in 1996, and launched with a huge press conference in London. This was the first ever transport strategy, an historic moment.
A breakthrough, at last. But there was catch. There was no money for it!
I recall transport journalist Christian Wolmar demanding  Sir George Young, the Secretary of State for Transport, to tell us where the money was.
“Well, where is it?” said Wolmar.
“Where’s what?” replied Sir George, a life-time cyclist, by the way.
“The money, there’s no money,” countered Wolmar.
Sir George told us it didn’t need any money as such, because transport planners would be required to include cycling within the budget already provided for general transport development.
It never happened, not on a realistic scale.
In fact, when, to induce local authorities to apply for grants to build “integrated” transport facilities, such as for cycling, many of the LA’s syphoned the money off into ordinary road building schemes.
The government raised hopes yet again by endorsing a brilliant design guide, setting out how to build a cycling infrastructure into the road system. Turns out this is a close as it would get to emulating the best of what we see abroad.
So what happened next?
Nothing, that’s what happened next. Local Transport engineers took no notice of the guidelines!
And because the Department of Transport’s jurisdiction extends only to trunk routes, they have no say what happens with over 90 percent of the rest of the road infrastructure which remains the legal responsibility by each Local Authority. Government can only advise and recommend but not even they can
Tell LA’S what to do with their own roads. Not even the Secretary of State for Transport, if he had to mind .
Crosshead: How the Dutch got it right
Ironically, Holland was once governed in much the same way. But I learned  they changed the law to give government control over local authorities in order to implement the cycling infrastructure which ever since has been the benchmark to aspire to.
The wonderful design guide when made available to the local authorities went onto the shelf, never to be seen again.

When the CTC and other campaigners realised they had ridden up a blind alley, they had to start all over again, and work their magic on local mandarins to heed government advice on cycling.

 Now some were more persuaded than others and they had a genuine interest in making the roads safer for cycling. But they have been thwarted by bureaucracy, lack of joined up thinking between transport, health and education, and by bloody mindedness, by “institutionalised descrimation” against cycling.
Years went by before a greater enlightenment spread to the local authorities.  Then came another twist in the story. For the cycling movement had reckoned without each area’s transport chiefs, a breed of dingbat largely against giving up any part of their highway for bikes! Still are in most areas.
Local transport chiefs prefer not to follow official guidelines on how to build cycling infrastructure, saying they know best. Result, an adhoc load of mostly substandard facilities, which in some areas present more of a danger to cyclists than he or she faces on the road.

Remember the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, formed under the United Nations Framework for Climate Control?
This spawned the idea that much could be achieved at local level by local people getting involved, with ideas on how to reduce pollution. Cycling and walking groups were among those created.
The local authorities said they welcomed their input, would encourage them. But if my excellent local group is a typical example, they’re suggestions are ignored and like Hampsters  in a wheel, they are going around and around in bureaucratic circles, getting nowhere fast.

And  you know, I’ve met councillors, MP’s, who believe they are doing what’s right for cycling.
I recall a local councillor, nice bloke, declaring how proud he was of what his council had achieved – cycle lanes on pavements with lampposts stuck in them, and horribly surfaced.
They’ve no idea.


Most cycling networks are pinched, narrow, squeezed into the existing road infrastructure, unlike those in Holland, for instance, where at the design stage of a major road junction they will ask ‘how will the cyclist and moped rider cope’. In Holland they have ripped out junctions and built from scratch to put cycling facilities in place.
Infuriately, much of the UK’s hopeless cycle lanes have ended up where they were never intended to be, on the pavements, as so-called shared paths, as LA’s have done what comes easiest to them.
Today, the much admired Danish and Dutch models remain an elusive dream.
Will the UK ever develop anything remotely similar?
No chance. This is as good as it gets.