As well as keeping this blog, I contribute stories to Worldwide Cycling Atlas, a website that profiles bike-related initiatives from around the world, and helps promote cycling advocacy in all its forms.
This week, I wrote a short piece on Get Britain Cycling – a multi-party enquiry tasked with accessing the measures needed to shift cycling into the mainstream in the UK. Namely, what it would take to make cycling an integral part of life at both transportation and social level. The findings of the report have just been published, detailing a series of 18 far reaching yet realistic recommendations. These include a suggested goal of a 10% cycling modal share by 2025 – which is to say, one in ten journeys to be made by bicycle, upping this to a fifth of the pie by 2050. Currently, world-leader Netherlands stands at 27%, with Denmark at 17% and Germany at 12%.
As a dad, one of my favourites is the recommendation to bring cycling into the national curriculum, by teaching school children bicycle handling skills – just as kids are taught to swim, they should be taught to ride a bike safely and confidently. Of course, a safe environment and bike-friendly communities are part of the jigsaw too, and there are detailed suggestions for more bicycle paths, and urban speed limit cuts for vehicles. Given cycling’s breadth of benefits – from transportation to health to a happier workplace – there’s some very pertinent ideas on how all this could be funded.
Now is the time to ensure that the political powers that be react to these findings. The Times newspaper has set up an e-petition to bring the report to Parliament: 60,000 people have signed up so far – another 40,000 are needed. As journalist, newsreader and CTC president Jon Snow recently underlined, “the lessons from Europe are that this takes strong political leadership, leadership from all parties.”
Please read the Worldwide Cycling Atlas post, sign the petition and pass the link on (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49196). It’s quick and easy to fill in. This is a very real chance to help initiate a monumental change within the UK, one that will help shape its transportation future over the next few decades – just as the Dutch did so progressively in the early 1970s. It’s inspiring and exciting stuff.
I’ve also now set up a While Out Riding Facebook page, where I hope to promote cycling advocacy issues as well as my own travels. Please ‘like’ it, if you feel so inclined!