Sunday, 20 March 2011
Beware the cyclists of Spring...
I'm sure many people in the Northern Hemisphere have noticed the number of extra cyclists who've appeared recently.
It's the same here in the Netherlands.
So what's the problem ?
However, there's a danger here for campaigners. Every year at about this time, people forget that they're looking at an annual trend and think there has been a genuine increase in the rate of cycling. It all looks so positive, so real. I've often wondered if the boost each spring is the reason why campaigners often seem convinced that cycling is "on the up" when year on year figures in many countries show it is reducing or stagnant. Human memory is fallible and easily fooled by a temporary boost which hides a long term trend.
Spring, or September, are both good times of year to make impressive sounding cycle counts. The numbers which result are far better than if you take an average over the entire year. However, accurate counts and accurate statistics about cycling result not from this but from mundane counting procedures.
At this time of year, it looks positive not just where you live, but everywhere. Enjoy it. Ride your bikes a lot. However, keep in the back of your mind that this doesn't necessarily mean that any progress has been made.
Campaigning has to carry on, based on facts and not just on how pleasant it is to ride on a sunny day. More people will cycle everywhere if subjective and sustainable safety are provided.
To achieve a high modal share and excellent degree of cyclists for cyclists of all ages, the Netherlands provides the best example to copy. However, even when looking to the Netherlands, campaigners need to vigilant as it is all too common for the whole point of things to be lost in translation when taken to another place.
Enjoy spring and summer, ride your bikes a lot, but keep your eyes on the prize.