Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Vole o'Speed: "The cycle of decline in outer London"

Link to a posting on the "Vole o'Speed" web site
(click on the heading there to see all posts)

"We live in the city of Boris Johnson's much-trumpeted Cycling Revolution. We are not on the outer edge of that city. Oh no, starting from here, there are about 3 more miles of suburbs, and one mile of green belt before you reach the border of Hertfordshire.

"What has happened in outer London ... is that a cycle of decline has been allowed to operate, whereby people have acquired more and more cars and been allowed to store them everywhere on the streets, so making those streets more and more difficult for walkers and cyclists. At the same time, of course, traffic levels have soared.

"The cyclists that there were in the 1970s, over time, have been squeezed-out, and given up, and then acquired cars themselves, which have been added to the pool, making things even worse. A couple of generations have grown up with no experience of cycling whatever, and so no understanding of what treatment cyclists on the road need, so they give them scant consideration when driving. That hostility has forced most of the few cyclists who were still on the roads off them. The culture of cycling has been wiped out almost entirely. 

"... It seems to me that we will not get much more cycling in the London suburbs until the typical street (Mollison Way) looks a lot more like the Dutch street (Vredeveldsweg). But how can we possibly get that? We can't just take all those cars away from people in a democracy. We can't tell them they can't own and use all those cars. No politician could say that; it would be electoral suicide, when people's whole current lifestyles are bound up so intimately with use of those cars. And we can't magic up more space. 

"People need a viable and attractive cycling alternative first, before we can start to reduce car use and car ownership. But it's the cars that are preventing people cycling. This seems like a chicken-and-egg situation. Where do we start?"

Hembrow web site: 
"How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure"

"How did the Dutch get their cycling infrastructure? This question keeps coming back because it is, of course, relevant to people who want what the Dutch have.

"Road building traditions go back a long way, and they are influenced by many factors. But the way Dutch streets and roads are built today is largely the result of deliberate political decisions in the 1970s, to turn away from the car-centric policies of the prosperous post-war era. 

"Changed ideas about mobility, safer and more livable cities and about the environment led to a new type of streets in the Netherlands."

Link to Hembrow web site.

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