Cycling on roads continues to polarise opinions
With recent growth in a huge variety of electric bikes, the reasons for not cycling are slowly being displaced. Distance concerns and uphill climbs become non-issues.
The priority on our roads should be reducing danger and risk, but we’re stuck in a groundhog day debate about what people think about cyclists, which has nothing to do with road safety,” says Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK.
The debate about sharing road space continues to rumble on. Priority sits firmly with cars and other vehicles according to the views of most road users, based on recent research about attitudes towards cyclists in the UK. (BBC Panorama).
The research highlights one third of drivers believe cyclists shouldn’t be on the road and should keep to cycle paths. One in four drivers admitted to driving too close to cyclists. However, this was a survey of people who drive…and drivers don’t make up the whole of the UK population.
So where do we go from here? Clearly, there are not enough cycle paths in any part of the UK. No government has ever backed a program to support cycling as a serious alternative mode of transport, unlike some other countries. This is partly influenced by the motoring lobby who continue to enjoy immense influence over our political masters.
And yet the growth in the use of bicycles for work and play has grown significantly over recent years. All the research suggests that if more cycle paths and safer spaces were made available, then many more people would choose to cycle, rather than drive, to go to work or go shopping.
With recent growth in a huge variety of electric bikes, the reasons for not cycling are slowly being displaced. Distance concerns and uphill climbs become non-issues. The ability to carry a heavier load or multiple children to school is now solved since the introduction of cargo bikes and their like.
So what’s missing?
Attitudes must change. Our roads have always been a shared space, for slow lorries, caravans, tractors, horses, cyclists or the many roadworks we suffer in the UK and there has always been a reason for delays. Yet cyclists seem to suffer more anger than the other groups.
The Government likes to talk about the benefits but rarely does anything constructive. For years their input has been nothing short of measly, piecemeal and erratic. Investing heavily into alternative modes of transport and publicly acknowledging that the combustion engine is approaching its useful end should become a political statement of intent for all political parties. With cheaper, more pleasurable and healthier alternatives, our message to Government needs to be: ‘Stop backing the polluters and start backing more environmentally credible alternatives’.
Additionally, local authorities need funding to provide secure, covered storage for our bikes when we get to our destinations. (Cheaper to build than a carpark!) Who would mind paying a small fee if their bike was properly locked away safely whilst visiting town?