Digging out the old bike?

Artist Karl Jilg for the Swedish Road Administration

Artist Karl Jilg for the Swedish Road Administration

I was reading this article today from BBC’s environment analyst and it got me thinking…

I’ve lived in my house for nearly 10 years. It’s on a quiet road on the outskirts of Seaford. I’ve never seen so many people cycling – and not just the regulars I see all the time. Young families, older people on 90’s mountain bikes, eBikers and even the odd cargo bike.

From speaking to friends it would seem that the lack of traffic is helping less confident cyclists to take to the road. I’ve been able to cross the normally dangerously fast and busy A259 with my children without the usual fear! My son HATES crossing the A259 at Bishopstone Road. He’s been so much happier when we go for family rides.

My question is what happens when we return to normal? Public transport usage is expected to drop until a vaccine is available – this is surely going to lead to a rise in individual car usage. An obvious answer is would be to make walking and cycling a safe and viable alternative to avoid extra pollution and gridlocked roads. But how?

One thing has been made very clear… our shared paths are simply not wide enough to social distance and we lack joined up cycling infrastructure. If we are to get people back on their bikes once the traffic increases then we really need to give novice and experienced cyclists alike safe places to ride. Bike riding shouldn’t be scary. You shouldn’t need to cycle defensively covered head to toe in high-viz. Popping to the shops for a pint of milk – the bike should be your first choice rather than the car.

The benefits are all to well known to us cyclists… health, well-being and environmental. We just need a strong grass-roots movement to ask for support to make this a reality.  We can’t do this on our own though. Support from local councils and government bodies will be required to make changes a reality.

I’ll be having conversations with the council over the coming months about the developing Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). I’ll make sure I keep everyone updated as I know more!

I’d be interested to know what you think… what could be done locally to get more people on their bikes?

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Guy Reynolds
Guy Reynolds (@guy-reynolds)
9th May 2020 10:10 pm

Simon, it is a BIG question. There are positives from this pandemic as you identify in your blog. Hopefully, the starting point for these changes will be the public’s desire to keep doing what they are doing now i.e. family bike rides, commuting by bike etc. If the voters push for it the politicians may just listen. You’ve probably seen this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52592421 It’s great news and a step in the right direction. Fingers crossed for… Read more »

Mick Cheek
Mick Cheek
8th May 2020 1:59 pm

Inspiring reading Simon. The best way to get more people on their bikes is to get more people off their cars. Make car ownership more expensive. But this issue is just one of a thousand issues which are all interrelated. Our current way of life is unsustainable and our planet is dying. For a future to be possible we cannot go back to normal. More people on their bikes will be a great start.