Backstepping just a touch.
The get Britain cycling parliamentary debate was well attended with estimates of a 100 or so MPs from all parties. the debate itself was largely positive with only a few mentions of helmet compulsion (which mostly got talked down quickly) and the usual crap about training, hi-viz.
But overall there was some very good points with everyone agreeing that investing time, effort and money into cycling as a transport mode is a very good thing for the UK.
Maria Eagle gave it both barrels as she laid out a cycling manifesto from Labour, and the Govt's response was underwhelming by comparison. I certainly wasn't expecting a massive U turn from the likes of Norman Baker but by spelling out what the Government are doing, really highlighted their lack of real commitment and progress.
So what next...
Actually to my eyes chucking a shedload of money at the problem as is, would be completely wrong.
What we need is:
- A proper long term plan and timetable for cycling. As many said other transport has such plans but cycling doesn't. That is the important thing that came out of yesterday. Which ever party Govt follows this one will carry on the work
- A review of legislation to that a lot of the facilities which currently would not be legal could be made legal
- A review of design guidelines to ensure that proper high quality facilities which are designed for the future planned growth and are more than a blue shared use sign on a 1metre path.
- Carefully (but speedily) updates to planning guidelines to ensure that provision for cycling is considered right from the very start of a project.
- Once we have the above two, they need to be mandatory for LAs and developers to follow.
Some of that appears to be happening, but it isn't transparent or public enough, and expert opinion AND best practice from the continent needs to be considered.
Then and only then is when people should start the actual digging and building.
In the meantime, there is stuff that can be done.
Public facilities like shops, schools, workplaces need to be forced to provide secure parking provision for bicycles as many don't currently, and implement other facilities such as showers and lockers etc.
For example, my workplace only has a few bikepods for secure bike parking which are all taken and does not plan any more or operate a waiting list. This is completely the wrong approach, is failing the people that want to cycle now and could be tackled immediately. They are not willing to so need to be forced.
Local Authorities, and large developments such as out of town supermarkets should be made to implement a "Cycling Suggestion Box" scheme, where small improvements which can be made relatively easily, such as the following examples
- Dropped kerb for access onto a route
- Removal of a barrier
- Where short contraflow or cycle bypasses to blocked off roads for increased permeability
LAs should be forced to examine and reply publicly back with either timetables for the work OR constructive explanations why it cannot happen. If it is sensible, then the change should be implemented. Like Freedom of information, there should be strict timetables set for consideration and replies, and also for any works needed.