MPs must stop prioritising cars over people if we are to stand a chance of meeting climate goals
The UK is among the worst countries in Europe for cycling participation, and the government is predicted to achieve just a third of the 800m extra cycling trips by 2025 it had aimed for. What’s more, much of the growth so far has been restricted to London.
This is why Tuesday’s debate among MPs on government support for cycling and walking – or rather, the lack thereof – is so important.
Cyclists: Scourge of the Roads? isn’t just as bad as the title indicates – it’s irresponsible
On Wednesday morning, I’ll be a little bit more wary when I cycle into work. I’m always hugely careful, anyway – the trip involves sharing space with tonne-plus lumps of speeding metal – but this time I’ll be particularly on my guard. Why? Because Channel 5 are putting me, and others, at risk.
At 9.15pm on Tuesday, a reasonably sizeable number of people, the majority of whom probably drive motor vehicles, will sit down to watch what is undoubtedly the worst, most scaremongering, inaccurate, downright irresponsible programme on cycling I’ve ever seen.
Many motorists see cyclists as scum of the roads – speeding through crossings, riding where they shouldn’t, and generally hogging the roads.
For many drivers in the capital, cyclists have become public enemy number one.
What really winds motorists up is the feeling that cyclists are allowed to pedal outside of the law.
It’s not just in cities that some riders are on a right old rampage.
The pastoral dream – or it was until the cyclists came.
Cyclists sure can be a pain in the rear end, and some are a danger on the roads.
For all the (slight) progress in some UK cities over mass cycling, we are still at a stage where a leaflet from a local branch of the party of government (see below) will state falsehoods about bike lanes as if they were the undoubted truth.
Teams of women and girls are among numerous cycle groups increasingly to be seen on the streets of the frenetic Pakistan megacity
Early on Sunday morning in Karachi, a group of girls are riding loops around an empty stretch of road outside the colonial-era Custom House. At 6am they left the narrow alleys of the old neighbourhood of Lyari, branded a war zone by national and international media after a lengthy and brutal gang conflict. Two hours later they are still happily pedalling away, in ballet slippers and with headscarves tucked under helmets.
“I used to cycle alone,” says Gullu Badar, 15. “It’s nice to cycle here because there’s no danger, no cars. It feels good that there are other girls cycling with me too.”
The ego of our men is very fragile. If someone is trying something new they cannot tolerate it
“The writer counted, in the space of only four minutes, 93 native cyclists riding past the Astra theatre,” wrote a journalist for the Star newspaper in July 1940. Standing almost 80 years later on the same corner of Louis Botha Avenue at the same time and day of the week – 6.30pm on a Monday – it is hard to imagine. The theatre is long gone and not a single cyclist is to be seen on the car-choked thoroughfare.
What happened to Johannesburg’s once vibrant commuter cycling culture? The dominance of the automobile marginalised the bicycle in many cities around the world through the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s but that process was accelerated in South Africa by apartheid. When policies of spatial segregation forcibly moved black people to faraway townships at the periphery of the city, the distance between work and home increased dramatically and cycling collapsed as an everyday practice.
It may be said of the Johannesburg child that he learns to cycle before he can walk
Members of Johannesburg Amateur Bicycling Club, a white leisure cycling group, in the 1890s
Alexander Township residents ride bicycles in 1957 as part of a boycott of bus services in protest at high fares
Left: two men pose proudly with their bicycles in 1922. Right: 1890s Johannesburg
Workers from a white working-class neighbourhood cycle towards the then city centre
Left: white children’s bicycles at an airshow. Right: Alexandra Township residents discuss the 1957 bus boycott
In 2013 the Irish capital was ranked among the world’s top 20 bike-friendly cities, but only a small part of the promised cycle network was ever built
One sunny May afternoon in Dublin, as the Spice Girls prepared to kick off their Spice World 2019 tour at Croke Park stadium, the coaches bringing their fans unwittingly sparked another reunion – the city’s cycle activists.
It had been two years since the direct action group I Bike Dublin had mobilised to protect cycle tracks from car parking – uniting around twice a week under the hashtag #freethecyclelane – but as police officers directed coach drivers to park in the bike lane by Dublin Bay, blocking the track, the protesters were back.
We’ve lost our way with the private car over the last 50 years. I hope we find our way back
That public meeting was the closest thing to a lynch mob I have ever been in front of
What happened to Chris Boardman’s plans for the UK’s biggest cycle route network in Greater Manchester?
Almost exactly a year ago, Chris Boardman – the Olympic champion turned walking and cycling czar – revealed a bold vision: Greater Manchester was to turn itself into a Dutch-style cycling paradise by building a huge, joined-up 1,000-mile network of walking and biking routes called Beelines, after Manchester’s civic symbol, the worker bee.
A year on, the network has changed its name to the Bee Network after a rather embarrassing copyright infringement, and has now expanded to cover 1,800 miles. Yet so far, only only one tiny section – a bit of towpath in Wigan known as the “muddy mile” – has actually been started, and the first wodge of money has already gone.
Some cities feature spectacular bridges, bike paths and transport hubs designed with cyclists in mind, while others remain less than cycle-friendly. We want to see your examples, both good and bad
Some of the best and worst of examples of cycling infrastructure in cities have hit the headlines this week. On Monday, the Bicycle Architecture Biennale – which celebrates cutting edge designs from around the world – launched in Amsterdam. Schemes included a 8km bicycle skyway in Xiamen – China’s first suspended cycle path and the world’s longest aerial cycle lane, and projects from cities as far afield as Australia, the US and of course the Netherlands.