Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: North Acton, West London, UK
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Originally Posted by Russ
Just got back from a two week vacation in Scotland (city of Ayr, relatively small community on West Coast). This was my first visit to Europe, and I expected to see cyclists everywhere. Not the case, however. I saw maybe 15 transportation cyclists the entire time - not much different from the US.
This is with gas running £1.10 per liter! On the other hand, the roads are amazingly narrow, with no shoulders, lots of cars, and everyone drives extremely fast. Not sure I'd ride on the road either.
I did see a few MUP's, but no bikes (lots of walkers and baby strollers though).
Cycling for transport in the UK is a rarity. Various organisations are trying to improve the situation but they've only just started encouraging children to ride to school. Given that their parents didn't either ride or walk to school and the incredible paranoia about stranger danger it's an almost impossible task though.
The petrol price has very little to do with it. Even with affordable electric cars available people still continue to buy petrol cars in either ever smaller more fuel efficient models or, more comonly, large and "safer" suvs. Single occupant vehicles are a widely recognised problem but, as ever, it's someone else's problem and voters don't generally re-elect politicians that take away their right to sit in grid locked traffic.
The one thing, at least in London, that did get more people cycling, temporarily, was the London bombings. Since then public transport is even more crowded than ever and cycling is only up marginally over all.
The mups are a complete joke as councils get funded by the meter so you'll quite often end up with paths that start and end in parked cars or walls or fences or trees - check out the Warrington cycle campaign facility of the month for more hilarious
examples. Basically, if you value your life you'll never use "cycle facilities".
Cycle training is good and focuses on vehicular cycling (Cyclecraft is the government approved and published VC manual). That said, there is always an effort by some judges, police and mps to try and get cyclists off the roads completely (even though sidewalk cycling is illegal) but fortunately the cycling lobbyists have managed to keep that out of the law books.
Finally just to add another headache to the mix cycling is seen as a rich peoples' method of transport, i.e., if you're not rich (this includes a large proportion of the middle classes as well) then you'll never ever ride a bicycle for transport if you can absolutely help it. Something to do with perceived social stigma even with numerous mps and "celebrities" cycling as good examples.
I know it's the daily wail but they're using http://www.statistics.gov.uk/
Sorry if this seems a little bitter, it's not meant to be. The situation is improving but it's very slow.