Space for cycle lanes – it can be found!

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Whenever I tell people about my dream of having some decent cycling infrastructure in the UK, I am frequently met with the same point about there not being enough space on British roads. The general feeling is that roads are already too narrow, and that there simply isn’t any room to accommodate the type of segregated cycle lanes that work so well on the continent.

In opposition to this, I would like to present you with a group of photos taken from Google Streetview. In the left column you have shots of roads/junctions in the UK, and in the right column you have almost identical shots of places in The Netherlands. The point of the side-by-side comparison is to show how space is used differently, and how the Dutch so sensibly choose to separate pedestrians and cyclists from cars and HGVs. The streets are so similar that they could almost be before and after photos…

Road comparison 1Road comparison 2 Road comparison 3 Road comparison 4 Road comparison 5 Road comparison 6 Road comparison 7 Road comparison 8 Road comparison 9 Road comparison 10
In each case, the cycling provision in the UK is rubbish or non-existent, while that provided on a similar street in The Netherlands offers a far superior cycling experience. Of course, if cycle lanes were better then more people would cycle, and if more people were riding bikes then there would be fewer cars on the road and so less congestion and less pollution. Everyone benefits, right?

The following video explains how the Dutch got their cycle paths, and how their cities made the transition from being car-centric to being more bicycle friendly.

What the Dutch have achieved is truly remarkable, and this is why I always hold them up as the best example for the UK to follow. They are the only country in the world able to boast the fact that more than a quarter of all their journeys are made by bike, and it would be my dream come true if we could achieve this feat in the UK.


John Snow calls for improvements in cycling infrastructure

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Veteran journalist John Snow is also an avid cyclist.

He has commuted by bike both to and from work every day for the last 40-odd years, and he raises some valid points about the dangers of riding a bike and the inadequacy of cycle safety provisions.

He talks about the probability of ‘big rewards’ for the first politician to re-draw the urban map and prioritise cyclists and pedestrians. In terms of combating obesity, reducing pollution, and making our cities more pleasant places to live, I think I can see why such a measure would be well received.

He states that, as humans, we respond to our surroundings. On the issue of cyclists who flout the law, the point he makes is that good behaviour will come when there are good provisions to protect and facilitate cycling. At the moment, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there on the roads; as the underdogs, cyclists are therefore put in a position of vulnerability, and have to make the most of their situation. Snow doesn’t condone bad behaviour on the roads, but he can at least appreciate why it happens.

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