A few days ago I wrote about my experiences on a short visit to England. The vast majority of the British population do not use cycling as a means of transport. Many people simply don't understand it. They don't see cycling as having anything to do with them. Most British people never, ever cycle at all, not even once a year. 79% of women are in that category. The main reason why is that they are simply scared of the conditions which await them. I know I've mentioned it all before, but it's really the reason why cycling in Britain continues to flatline.
My country of birth has for a very long time done nothing of any real substance to encourage cycling.
And then, suddenly everything got worse...
"Cycling England," the organisation which was supposed to promote cycling in England, has been scrapped as part of measures to help Britain's struggling economy. So, "Cycling England" is soon to join the ranks of other abandoned initiatives. While the Dutch see cycling as partly a fiscal measure due to its many financial benefits, Britain still sees everything to do with cycling as being "too expensive."
I'm hoping for the best, but at the moment it's all rather sad to see. I'm not the only one to think so. Here are links to a few blog posts from the UK written by people who are trying to make sense of it. If you want to know what's going on there, please read these links:
What the government’s spending review means for transport and cycling
Goodbye ‘Cycling England’ – and the CfIT
Department for Transport – Spending Review 2010 Press Release
Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hammond?
The dog that barks the loudest gets the bone; is it time for a cycling lobby?
The photos are from Weston-super-Mare - a very nice seaside town, but British. It's not been picked out because it's particularly bad, but because I was there a couple of weeks back and could take photos, and because what I saw is quite normal for Britain: The town is unfriendly to cyclists. The pedestrianized shopping streets exclude cyclists and force them to take less direct, less pleasant detours. As a result, it doesn't really matter that there is little cycle parking, because there is little demand for what is there. I could also have taken photos of inadequate cycle lanes on busy roads, and unconvincing off-road shared use paths. Compare with the centre of Assen (before and after stills).