Barriers to cycling

Chris the Sheep
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby Chris the Sheep » 17 Dec 2010, 1:37pm

As an example of how blinkered we can be and the inertia we can experience:
Ten years ago I drove everywhere, hated 'lycra louts' and resented all the cycle lanes and paths that I was paying for but nobody used.
Six years ago it looked like my job would move to somewhere 20 miles away, with insufficient car parking. Rather than moan I got a motorcycle licence.

That bike licence started to open my eyes - in particular, it revealed to me that the car gave me a SENSE of freedom, but in reality the congestion and need to park conspire against experiencing freedom.

Then I stepped off the car ownership treadmill, and just kept the bike (wife runs a car, so it's available for carrying large loads and shopping).

Suddenly the whole car thing seemed ridiculous - the status symbol, sitting in traffic jams, advertising campaigns. I could get where I wanted much more quickly, park for free, usually nearer my destination, and provided I wore the right kit I wouldn't be too cold or wet.

The move from there to cycling was then a progressive one - realising I was too fat and started getting some exercise, then deciding to give the ride to work a go. Getting over the hurdle of being so unfit it hurt.

What I'm saying is the responses I would have given to this survey ten years ago would have been very different indeed. Even the very fact that the government was campaigning to get us cycling, and the whole helmet thing, were perceived by me as reasons NOT to cycle - sheer bloody-mindedness!

Would I have made the switch directly from car to cycling? Probably not. Motorcycling had already made me 'different', for long enough to realise that conforming to the behaviour of the majority was a waste of time. Absolutely NO logical argument would have got me out of my car.

The survey doesn't seem to mention much about getting and keeping fit yet that is now for me the main motivator. I was horribly unfit just two years ago, and a one-mile cycle ride was an effort. It takes years to get into that state, and more years to realise you need to do something about it.

Sorry this is all a bit rambling!!

(PS I still think most cycle lanes are a waste of time and many do more harm than good.....) [EDIT: Based on my experiences in Blackpool!]
Last edited by Chris the Sheep on 18 Dec 2010, 8:22am, edited 1 time in total.

thirdcrank
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Dec 2010, 1:48pm

Chris the Sheep wrote:... (PS I still think most cycle lanes are a waste of time and many do more harm than good.....)


Sooner or later you will be putting 'nearly all' instead of 'most' :wink:

iviehoff
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby iviehoff » 17 Dec 2010, 3:23pm

I once did some research, in connection with my main line of work, on modelling of cycling behaviour in the UK. I discovered that there is no evidence that British people are notably different from Dutch or Swiss people (for example) when it comes to their underlying propensity to ride bicycles. Rather we respond more or less just as they do to just the same factors. It is entirely down to the environment within which we cycle in our respective countries. There, the infrastructure, both public and private (ie, what is at your work or school premises) exists and here, despite recent efforts, it largely doesn't.

People are not going to ride bicycles to any great extent just because they want to feel environmentally friendly. They will ride bicycles if we make it much safer and more convenient for them to do so.

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essexman
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby essexman » 17 Dec 2010, 4:17pm

iviehoff wrote:People are not going to ride bicycles to any great extent just because they want to feel environmentally friendly. They will ride bicycles if we make it much safer and more convenient for them to do so.


Yes i agree. I think in the UK there is also a knowledge\expertise barrier. I think in the cycling england trials, the success of door-stopping people and explaining to them how and where they could ride proved effective. I'm sure there was somewhere that showed a big rise using this tactic alone. In contrast, somewhere like London or cambridge lack of expertise isnt a problem and the convenience and cost benefits are blatantly high.
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CJ
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby CJ » 17 Dec 2010, 4:19pm

Edwards wrote:Then it is said about the Netherlands and their wonderful cycle path system.

Indeed they are wonderful. I've been there, often, and enjoyed using their wonderful facilities. But when Britain builds a bicycle path, it isn't anything like those paths in the Netherlands. And when Dutch (or German, Danish, Swiss etc.) cyclists come here they are not slow to tell us so!

It's interesting the 2/3 of those who try cycling to work give it up. No doubt at least one of those two was encouraged to try it by the construction of what apppeared to be a useful cycling facility (I use the word "construction" in the broadest sense, to include painting) in their neighbourhood.

Until we can make British motorists really scared of running into a cyclist (because it will be assumed to be their fault, as it is over there) it will not be possible for British cyclepaths to be given right of way over side roads and drives, or for on-highway cycle lanes, advanced stop lines etc. to be respected by drivers. And so long as that continues to be the case, cycling will be such a poor way of getting around that only a tiny number of people will use those rubbish paths and lanes etc.

We are stuck in a circle of poor provision, in which bad paths attract too few users to justify anything better. British politics being more of a popularity contest than an exercise in leadership, our best hope of breaking that circle seems to be some kind of catastrophe, either economic or environmental, or most likely a combination of both. This crisis needs to leave most people with no other way of getting about, so that our "leaders" are obliged to protect the cycling masses from any carelessness on the part of the few who can still afford to run motor vehicles - like they failed to do in the 20s or 30s, when they still could've. Until the political will exists to genuinely improve things, the best we can do is to limit the damage.
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reohn2
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby reohn2 » 17 Dec 2010, 6:29pm

I went for a ride today,first time in almost three weeks, due to weather conditions (freezing cold/black ice,etc,etc) and illness(nothing serious,a heavy cold followed by a chesty cough).It was cold 0deg C but sunny and dry,I chose a short route (24miles) some on the road some cycle "facilities" some bridleways through a wood, some towpath.
Before I set off a thought ran through my mind "shall I give it a miss as its vladi cold" which I dismissed of course.
First section, on roads, I had two close overtakes on wide(ish) roads with light traffic levels,which where completely unecessery but are pare for the course.When I got onto the cyclepath,of which the first 1/2mile is a compacted dirt path, horses had been galloped on it so was a little rough in parts,which I accept as its a shared path.
The next section of cyclepath is tarmac and hasn't been swept since the last time I used it over a month ago,considering Autumn has been and gone,it looked just like it did last time I rode it ie strewn with twigs and carpeted with leaves.Perhaps the council is due to sweep it tomorrow,but experience tells me otherwise.
Next section was the bridleway through the wood,excellent! good path,no complaints.
Back on the road,two more close overtakes,wide carriageway no need to squeeze me but a car and a coach thought otherwise.
Next section,a tarmac road through a beautiful country park and wood(council owned) again twig strewn leaf carpeted,as it was the last time I rode through over six weeks ago.
Next section,on road only a couple of miles, a very considerate motorist who gave way to me when he needn't,but a mile of it has a car parking spaces painted on the road with a cycle lane painted alongside them,right in the door zone,obviously I ride well clear in the traffic,whilst all the time wondering if motorists(who've probably never cycled)would understand why I'd do that instead of using the cycle "farcility" provided.
My next section is six miles of a lovely cyclepath/towpath by the side of the Leeds&Liverpool canal,lovely that is if it weren't for the antimotorcycle barriers every halfmile or so,though unfortunately they're needed.The other thing about this cyclepath,and I don't wish to imply that I'm whinging here as its wonderful but the whole length that I ride is 2mto2.4m wide concrete ,which I welcome, but why did the council deem it necessary to have the path cobble effect imprinted concrete!(I know the cost of this stuff and it ain't cheap!) when simply tamped concrete would have done the same job!
After the up market towpath I'm back on the road for the final four miles,no incidents.

Thats typical and if I weren't used to cycling I may think twice about doing it more than once,let alone first thing in a morning to work and after a days graft.

What would improve that ride would be some respect from motorists,which only strict liability could provide.
Maintaining the facilities that are provided and not painting silly lines in dangerous places.

Also if the towpath had just tamped concrete instead of the ludicruosly expensive imprinted surface,I estimate another four to six miles of towpath could have been surfaced!

There should be and needs to be a higher standard of protection and provision IMHO for cyclists,thats indeed if the powers that be want to promote it.

The words lip and service spring immediately to mind where cycling is concerned.
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I cycle therefore I am.

snibgo
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby snibgo » 17 Dec 2010, 6:34pm

On the 2/3 of wannabe cyclists giving it up:

When I returned to serious cycling early this year I discovered I was very unfit and wasn't capable of cycling to the supermarket without exhausting myself. As I had once been fitter, I guessed that perseverance would pay off, and it did. Someone starting cycling from scratch could easily be discouraged. They might cycle to work once or twice, discover it's harder work than they expected, and give up.

They might also discover that they don't know how to cycle in traffic so it seems dangerous, and that many places are designed to be friendly to cars and hostile to cycles.

Frankly, I'm not surprised that 2/3 give up.

thirdcrank
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Dec 2010, 7:35pm

iviehoff wrote:... They will ride bicycles if we make it much safer and more convenient for them to do so.

While I can easily believe that is true, the implication that it's just a question of providing facilities seems to me to be something of an over-simplification largely because IMO it confuses cause and effect. Let's imagine some grandiose reality television programme that involved whole populations swapping countries. Setting aside some obvious things like the population of the UK being something like four times greater than that of the Netherlands, does anybody seriously think that such a swap would make us a nation of utility cyclists? :?: We'll never know but I'm pretty confident that in no time at all, most of the capacity currently allocated for cycling in the Netherlands would be in the process of being used to widen carriageways etc., and those bits of road currently used by Dutch cyclists with some confidence that they are safe in the presence of motor traffic would be 'too dangerous' for cycling.

CJ wrote:[.... British politics being more of a popularity contest than an exercise in leadership, ....
This is it in a nutshell - I have been composing something about this but much less succinct :oops: to post on the Philip Hammond thread (something about the characteristics of British politicians in general.) Unfortunately, British politicians know that leadership is just a quick way into the history books in this country:
On the night of the tenth of May, at the outset of this mighty battle, I acquired the chief power of the state, which henceforth I wielded in ever-growing measure for five years and three months of world war, at the end of which time, all our enemies having surrendered unconditionally or being about to do so, I was immediately dismissed by the British electorate from all further conduct of their affairs. Winston Churchill 1948

He did get another go in 1951 after he had written this but that's not the point.

ozzage
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby ozzage » 17 Dec 2010, 8:24pm

thirdcrank wrote:While I can easily believe that is true, the implication that it's just a question of providing facilities seems to me to be something of an over-simplification largely because IMO it confuses cause and effect. Let's imagine some grandiose reality television programme that involved whole populations swapping countries. Setting aside some obvious things like the population of the UK being something like four times greater than that of the Netherlands, does anybody seriously think that such a swap would make us a nation of utility cyclists?


With a background of having moved from Australia to Amsterdam (as a 30ish year old) before moving a few years later here to the UK, and growing up in Oz in what if anything was an even more car-focused environment than the UK (my friends and I being completely obsessed with cars - wasted all my money on them, spent weekends working on them, drove like a complete fool etc...)

I would say "obviously not immediately, but potentially!" Cycling in the Netherlands is PLEASANT! And RELAXED! If you cycle there (as I'm sure many here have) you realise it's really practical and efficient and most of the time faster than driving or public transport because of the relative facilities dedicated to each, even without lycra and road bikes. And whatever the facts about safety might be, cycling on main roads through London (I can't speak of other places) is mostly not PLEASANT. At least not to me. And while sometimes it's faster, it's often not, especially if you don't like main roads with buses, lorries etc on them so take quieter routes. In Holland the direct routes ARE the bike paths, whether alongside main roads or elsewhere.

Facilities make, to me, a massive difference. Obviously we wouldn't have 40% modal share in a year if your population transplant took place, but I would bet a LOT that the numbers would increase massively.

snibgo
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby snibgo » 17 Dec 2010, 8:27pm

I suspect TC's hypothetical population swap would also reveal that cycling in UK urban areas was possible, and suddenly popular.

However, I have noticed that cycling culture within communities is extremely local. One town has no cyclists; an adjacent town has lots but they stick to pavements; another has many more and they dominate the roads.

thirdcrank
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby thirdcrank » 17 Dec 2010, 8:46pm

snibgo wrote: ...However, I have noticed that cycling culture within communities is extremely local. ...


In the 1950's and 1960's, there was a massive amount of utility cycling in Hull. (There may still be - it's somewhere I no longer have reason to visit.) Cycling in Hull at certain times of the day was like being carried along by a tide of cyclists. At the same time, my memory is that there was relatively little utility cycling in Leeds, where thare was a strong tradition of public transport. People didn't flood out of the many factory gates on bikes. Leeds is a bit hillier than Hull but it's not the Dolomites. There was, of course, a pretty big tradition of club cycling in Leeds and a couple of the country's leading 'lightweight' builders are still thriving here.

snibgo
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby snibgo » 18 Dec 2010, 6:22am

I applaud the Dutch generally, but not always:

Image

(http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pete.meg/w ... ry2009.htm)

OldGreyBeard
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby OldGreyBeard » 31 Dec 2010, 2:19pm

Most people who I've spoken to about cycling tell me it's too dangerous and they want more cyclepaths. But the CTC and committed cyclists seem rather opposed to them and the DfT is opposed to anything that isn't for motorised vehicles.

The thing I have a problem with is the CTC's and DfT's Hierarchy of Provision which makes no allowance for the type of cyclists likely to use a proposed route.

In the end too many people are put off by the cars and too many parents will not let their children cycle on the roads which leads to pavement cycling and clashes with pedestrians.

I think the only things that will break this stalemate are more cyclepaths, of a sensible quality, or a significant reduction in the number of cars on the roads. Given that fuel will be going up to over £1.30/Litre tomorrow, the latter may be achieved rather sooner than anyone thinks.

I do agree that many cyclepaths are not adequate but many are pretty good and certainly good enough for most potential cyclists. The problems seem to come when rejoining the roads and where space is limited.

Finally, I think that to increase the number of cyclists requires more than changes to infrastructure, motorists behaviour and so on. Us cyclists have to change too and accept that not everyone wants a constant battle with motorists or to be seen to be "making a statement", that many are quite happy to pootle along cyclepaths and that most potential new cyclists want a bike as vehicle rather than a toy or piece of sports kit. I would guess that most just want to cycle because it's cheap, convenient, healthy and fun as they do in Denmark, Germany, etc etc
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One of the most important days of my life was when I learned to ride a bicycle - Michael Palin

OldGreyBeard
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby OldGreyBeard » 31 Dec 2010, 4:35pm

Chris the Sheep wrote:As an example of how blinkered we can be and the inertia we can experience:
Ten years ago I drove everywhere, hated 'lycra louts' and resented all the cycle lanes and paths that I was paying for but nobody used.
Six years ago it looked like my job would move to somewhere 20 miles away, with insufficient car parking. Rather than moan I got a motorcycle licence.

That bike licence started to open my eyes - in particular, it revealed to me that the car gave me a SENSE of freedom, but in reality the congestion and need to park conspire against experiencing freedom.

Then I stepped off the car ownership treadmill, and just kept the bike (wife runs a car, so it's available for carrying large loads and shopping).

Suddenly the whole car thing seemed ridiculous - the status symbol, sitting in traffic jams, advertising campaigns. I could get where I wanted much more quickly, park for free, usually nearer my destination, and provided I wore the right kit I wouldn't be too cold or wet.

The move from there to cycling was then a progressive one - realising I was too fat and started getting some exercise, then deciding to give the ride to work a go. Getting over the hurdle of being so unfit it hurt.

What I'm saying is the responses I would have given to this survey ten years ago would have been very different indeed. Even the very fact that the government was campaigning to get us cycling, and the whole helmet thing, were perceived by me as reasons NOT to cycle - sheer bloody-mindedness!

Would I have made the switch directly from car to cycling? Probably not. Motorcycling had already made me 'different', for long enough to realise that conforming to the behaviour of the majority was a waste of time. Absolutely NO logical argument would have got me out of my car.

The survey doesn't seem to mention much about getting and keeping fit yet that is now for me the main motivator. I was horribly unfit just two years ago, and a one-mile cycle ride was an effort. It takes years to get into that state, and more years to realise you need to do something about it.

Sorry this is all a bit rambling!!

(PS I still think most cycle lanes are a waste of time and many do more harm than good.....) [EDIT: Based on my experiences in Blackpool!]



A very honest and believable description. It just goes to show that it's factors close to home that are the trigger to change. The factors that have made me change to cycling are mostly that I'm fedup with driving and I no longer need to travel long distances everyday, do I don't!
Dawes Galaxy 1982; Raleigh 3 speed 2007; Brompton M6R 2006
One of the most important days of my life was when I learned to ride a bicycle - Michael Palin

snibgo
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Re: Barriers to cycling

Postby snibgo » 31 Dec 2010, 6:00pm

OldGreyBeard wrote:Most people who I've spoken to about cycling tell me it's too dangerous and they want more cyclepaths. But the CTC and committed cyclists seem rather opposed to them and the DfT is opposed to anything that isn't for motorised vehicles.

I've often read that the CTC is opposed to cyclepaths, but that's not what the CTC actually says, for example in http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4928

CTC wrote:This does not mean that we are opposed to cycle tracks. If properly designed and in the right location, they can sometimes provide useful routes through green open space etc, which can be quicker and more direct for cyclists, as well as obviously being safer and pleasanter for the less confident or more leisurely-minded cyclist. Also, in such cases as high-speed, dual carriageways (where reducing traffic speed and volume is not a realistic option), a well-designed cycle track may still be the solution of choice. But in all cases where off-carriageway tracks are built, they should be designed to have sufficient width and visibility to allow safe and comfortable use by the number of pedestrians and cyclists who use (or are expected to use) the route in question.