Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lack of Political Will

Good piece from Freewheeler on how there's actually plenty of space on a lot of roads to allow segregated cycle paths to be created.

So why don't councils do it?

I've suggested previously that local councillors, even if they understand the arguments, don't see votes in cycling, in fact quite the opposite. They believe cycle facilities will play badly with local residents, particularly if the facilities in any way restrict the way they drive or park their cars. I've also suggested that local authorities don't have enough staff that understand cycling; that highways departments are hampered by a car-centric culture, and even where there is a cycling officer, his/her influence extends about as far as a mole can see.

But you don't have to take the word of deranged cycle bloggers: TfL's official report into cycling in outer London makes exactly this point. In the section "Barriers to cycling in Outer London", it lists

"Lack of political support – especially where cycling levels are low – not perceived as a mainstream solution".

It elaborates further:

"Lack of political support to prioritise cycling measures is the number one barrier to borough delivery cited in research interviews for this report. Promoting cycling and re-allocating road space to cyclists is not generally considered to be a vote winner. The prevalence of car use in Outer London makes the promotion of cycling above other modes of transport politically difficult in many boroughs. Lack of support is a theme that runs through a number of barriers to the delivery of effective cycling initiatives and so makes it a significant barrier to overcome. Without political support it is difficult to prioritise cycling schemes or develop a coherent cycling strategy and this limits the funding and staff resources directed towards cycling initiatives."

It then goes on to say that there is a  "Lack of adequately trained, experienced and   motivated staff to implement effective schemes in the borough"

And yet Norman Baker together with the rest of the Coalition think that 'localism' is the way to deliver cycling: they are going to delegate the decisionmaking to boroughs that have, in TfL's words, a "lack of political support" for cycling and a "lack of adequately trained, experienced and motivated staff". It's rather like delegating responsibility for race relations to the BNP.

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