Part two can be viewed on youtube
It's a great film. I find it interesting to see that once-upon-a-time, British Rail bent over itself to make taking bicycles on trains easy even occasionally for large groups - this film was made by an organisation which existed specifically to make films like this.
Britain was a very different place when this film was made. It was normal to cycle. When that film was shot, in 1955, British people still each cycled an average of over 350 km per year, a figure very similar to modern day Germany, and about a third of that now in the Netherlands. This was a time when people travelled in total a lot less than they do now so these are significant figures. British people made these bicycle journeys over the very same landscape as where many people now make excuses about hills and the weather to explain the current low cycling rate in the UK: Many British people don't realise that even within their own lifetime, before motoring took over from everything else, it was quite normal for all sorts of people to ride bikes for everyday journeys.
Of course, the group in the film aren't entirely average. They're cycle-tourists, and have relatively fancy bikes. You can see that from the dropped handlebars (British touring bikes traditionally have dropped handlebars, usually set a little higher than most racers would have them) and from the derailleur gears which many of them have.
|Hills or headwind don't put me off,|
A Sturmey Archer hub gives wings to my bike.
The change in British attitudes regarding cycling took place over many years. Rather like the proverbial frog in a pan of boiling water, many people didn't notice what was taking place around them. Drivers in Britain, who have had the infrastructure of the entire country altered to suit them, now quite commonly believe that they are the victims of a "war on the motorist". Indeed, the government has just taken more steps to placate them.
Meanwhile, many British cycle campaigners have continued to campaign for the same thing as they always have. i.e. the "right to ride on the road", even though those roads have become a far more hostile place for cyclists than they used to be, and decades of campaigning on these same issues have not resulted in any progress. The reason is quite simple: the over-abundance of motor vehicles makes British roads an unpleasant place to be on a bike. This is now the main reason why people don't cycle.
It makes me very happy to see that there is at last a move in the UK now towards campaigning for the same sort of infrastructural change as prevented the Netherlands from suffering from the same fate as befell the UK. You can find examples of this here, here and here. It took time for the decline to occur, and it will take for cycling to grow back. However, there is enormous pent-up demand, as can be seen anywhere that something attractive to ride on exists.
A change in attitudes can come, but only due to a real change in how it feels to cycle. Go back and look at the people in that film again. There are no reflective vests and no helmets. In 1955 people felt safe on a bike on Britain. Remember what I said about pit canaries a while back ?
The chart appeared in a previous post, but I think it worth repeating in a different context. Another small point: Have you ever seen such a large group on a CTC ride ? Touring cycling thrives when more people cycle. All types of touring are popular over here.