Jun 3 2011
The British paper The Guardian came out with an article today titled, “Britons unmoved by pro-cycling campaigns.”
It seems that after years of promotion, efforts to get more Britons to bicycle are falling flat.
Of course they’re falling flat. Just like in the U.S., people won’t start bicycling in large numbers until bicyclists get equal consideration from road builders.
I mean, come on. What choice do bikers have? We can ride in heavy traffic and get pancaked; or we can ride in glass-strewn bike paths that never get swept and that lead anywhere but where we want to go.
The only town I’ve bicycled in where bicycling was great was Davis, California. There, bicycling was taken seriously, with designated bikeways, tunnels, bridges, and paths that actually got you to decent places.
That was 3 decades ago, and every other town and city in the U.S. has had ample time to design bike-friendly roadways, but very few have.
The Guardian article pointed out some interesting observations, though.
It seems that Britons “ regard bicycles not as legitimate form of transport but as children’s toys or preserve of hobbyists,” or “a vehicle fit only for the poor and/or strange,” and that “for them, bicycling is a bit embarrassing.”
Certainly true: we’ve all seen the fat blokes in the super-tight spandex shorts pulling the Lance Armstrong act. It’s bad enough seeing them pedaling furiously on the road as we drive by (I always like to force them into ditches, deservedly so).
But they always seem to appear just ahead in line at the Starbucks, jostling and jiggling among the rest of us in a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-a-train-wreck kind of way.
But I’m too harsh, I’m sure.
Look, bicycling can work. It has a lot of pros and very few cons, IF we can solve the issue of getting car traffic out of the equation. Sharing the road just isn’t an option.