UK's different take on the cycling-motor vehicle divide: the mobility system favors motorists and government needs to lead
Last year, the UK "All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group" (a caucus) produced a report calling on a variety of measures to "Get Britain Cycling."
Can you imagine an actual report such as this produced by the US Congressional Bike Caucus? There's a caucus--160 members, but no reports..., and not enough positive movement on federal policy towards bicycling and sustainable transportation.
From the Get Britain Cycling report:
Some strong messages came from the enquiry:
- the need for vision, ambition and strong political leadership, including a national Cycling Champion;
- the Government needs to set out an action plan for more and safer cycling with support from the Prime Minister down;
- We need transformation of our towns, streets and communities, and to the way we think about cycling, whether as drivers or as people who might take up cycling ourselves;
- Our vision is for a dramatic increase in the number and diversity of people who cycle, because they see it as a safe and normal activity;
- We suggest that the long-term ambition should be to increase cycle use from less than 2% of journeys in 2011, to 10% of all journeys in 2025, and 25% by 2050.
I suppose you could argue that the 75% sustainable transportation trips goal in the DC Sustainability Plan is that kind of stretch goal.
But there is a big disconnect when it comes to actually rebalancing road space towards sustainable transportation--not just for cyclists, but also for transit (where are dedicated transitways, which were suggested in DC's 1950 Comprehensive Land Use Plan) and walking. And certainly the discussion still favors motorists.
Past blog entry:
- What should a US national bike strategy plan look like?
Yesterday, a report was released by the Transport Committee of the UK Parliament calling for more spending on cycling infrastructure.
From "UK taxpayer should foot cycling bill, says transport select committee: MPs call for cycling budget to be increased to £10 a head by 2020 in order to makes roads safer for cyclists across UK" in the Guardian:
Government spending on cycling should rise from £2 per person to £10 in the next six years, according to the transport select committee, which said a "cultural change" is needed to ease tensions between motorists and cyclists.
The committee said cyclists complained of aggressive driving, poorly designed junctions and a failure to enforce speed limits, which were contributing to quarrels between road users.
In its report examining how roads could be made safer for those on bicycles, the committee calls for all departments to work together to fund and facilitate support for cycling.
The report states there is "limited evidence of a widespread culture that is supportive of cyclists as road users", despite a call last year by the prime minister, David Cameron, for a "cycling revolution" following British successes in the Olympics, Paralympics and Tour de France.Clearly the report and its recommendation came from the perspective of cyclists, which is completely opposite of the tenor of the discussion in the US--not that the UK is doing significantly better than the US in terms of cycling take up as both have been particularly shaped by the vehicular cycling paradigm.
The entry in the Guardian Bike Blog says the report could be better but is an important step. From "MPs' report shows even the slightly inept can get it right on cycling: Their first evidence session was an embarrassing disaster, but the Commons transport committee has ended up producing a half-decent report about getting people on bikes":
So why the interest in this fairly unexceptional report? In short, because it shows that even utter cycling ignoramuses – and their first hearing did, I’m afraid, portray some of the MPs in that light – can, fairly quickly, understand what’s needed to get people on bikes.Achievement of critical mass within political leadership is key. And we're not there yet.
As we’ve argued before here it’s pretty basic stuff, and very well known. Consistent, predictable, increased spending. Proper bike infrastructure. Better awareness of cyclists among other road users. And, covering it all, some genuine political leadership on the issue. It’s the conclusion that more or less every report in recent years on the subject has come to.
The problem isn’t the knowledge, just the political commitment. The junior transport minister whose job takes in cycling, Robert Goodwill, talks a reasonable game about wanting to see more “everyday” cyclists on the roads but somehow thinks this will just happen, with no new money or planning.
But could things eventually change anyway? The transport committee’s report really tells us nothing new. But it does show us that 11 MPs from all three main parties have now, to an extent, got the message. Do this enough times – and God knows, we’ve had a few cycling inquiries – and you might end up with a critical mass of MPs.