Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They're Starting to Notice Us

Some of the mainstream media channels have picked up on the fact that cycles are starting to outnumber motors at peak times on an increasing number of central London streets.

The Sunday Times had an article last Sunday, unfortunately behind the paywall but you can see the full text at Cyclists in the City.

On Monday's BBC News, Paraic O'Brien (himself a cyclist) reported from the City about the very large peak-time volumes of cycle traffic in London's centre. He quizzed town planner Brian Whitely, who I think is from the cycle-friendly borough of Newham (you know, the one that won't have a Cycle Superhighway). Whitely gave every impression that he was completely blindsided by the idea that there should be a fundamental shift in street planning to accomodate increasing numbers of cycles. "Planners are trying to give them priority where they can already", he waffled. As well as being patently untrue, it is oxymoronic. If you are trying to give priority to cycling where you can, it implies that where there's a conflict something else (let me guess, motor traffic) has a higher priority, and therefore cycling isn't the priority. And here is the attitudinal problem. Planners, highways engineers and politicians are trying to pass off anti-cycling choices as if they were imperatives. Cycling can be a priority, given the will.

The question now is whether changing attitudes in the media in response to what's happening on the streets will lead to changing attitudes from politicians. If that happens, will today's highways engineers and planners be able to cope with a prioritizing a transport mode that's been marginalized for decades? Is 'motor traffic flow' so entrenched in their mindset that they are incapable of leading the change?

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