Friday 2 September 2011

Wake up Britain, there's work to be done !

Two interesting items tonight. First of all, tomorrow is the Official Launch of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain.

At 11:30 AM, you are asked to show your support by turning up at the South side of Lambeth Bridge in London. There's a short tour of 500 metres in length which will include "London's worst bike lane" on the way to a celebratory picnic in Victoria Tower Gardens on the other side of the river.

Full details on the embassy website. Sadly, I won't be there. However, if I were in the UK, that's where I'd be tomorrow. This new group is perhaps the best hope that Britain has at the moment to ever achieve a mass cycling culture.

The second item in this post is included as an example of why the Embassy is so important. I've mentioned before how children in the UK are increasingly threatened by yet at the same time more dependent on cars. Now there's more bad news:

Peter Miller writes that "there will be no ‘travel mode’ question in the next school census". His suggestion is that the ministers involved are trying to bury bad news by simply not bothering to collect this data. The graphs on the right, of modes of school transport from 1995 to 2010, show why they might want to.

For both 5 - 10 year olds (top) and 11-16 year olds (underneath), cycling is the pink line, lurking at the bottom of the graph. Dark blue represents walking, still large, but dropping. The yellow line shows an upward trend. That's children being driven to school.

There's quite a contrast here. While Britain concentrates on the wrong solution, Dutch children on average travel independently to school from the age of 8.6. They do so safely in huge numbers, also making school trips and going to sporting events by bike. Dutch children are not only very safe on the roads, but they're also very happy. The reason for this happiness is known to adults as well as amongst the children themselves. Freedom makes a huge difference. When the BBC asked, one of the children answered that "the bike is actually really important".

Cycling starts with the young. The Dutch started the modern transformation of their cities by looking first at the welfare of the young. A good turnout of children at the embassy picnic tomorrow would be very good to see.

The good people of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain came on a study tour to see how the infrasturcture of the Netherlands changes cycling.

1 comment:

Jim Davis said...

Thanks for a wonderful post. It was a beautiful day (sadly the rain has returned for the London SkyRide). We had a very sunny ride from Westminster to the Royal Albert Hall summing up the complete lack of decent quality and coherent infrastructure beautifully. We were also proud to have representation from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands too and we talked during the picnic about making riding a bicycle a normal, everyday activity.

All in all, a very good day and now on to the Study Tour and beyond!

Best wishes