Blog: What would make our towns better for cyclists?

The Westmorland Gazette: Cycling has never been so popular in Britain Cycling has never been so popular in Britain

As cycling become ever more popular and petrol becomes ever more expensive, more and more people are choosing to go to work by bike.

But despite the growing popularity of the sport, Britain still isn’t the cycling paradise it should be. The roads are potholed, cycle lanes are often more dangerous than the roads and many drivers aren’t afraid to show that they don’t appreciate our presence.

Britain’s success in competitive cycling in 2012 has led to a huge increase in people who have been inspired to ride their bikes, both for transport and for pleasure.

I’ve been riding bikes seriously since 1995, and I’ve never known it so popular – it’s nice to be fashionable for once. When first I took up mountain biking it was thought of as a weird minority sport.

Now, there’s a trail centre springing up in every forest and a huge number of people have at least had a go – many becoming hooked and spending a fortune on complicated bikes and fancy clothing.

And in the last couple of years, largely due to the impressive feats of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, road cycling has taken off too. Even on the grimmest days of the Lancashire winter I’ve seen dozens of riders out braving the cold and wet this year.

This huge rise in the public awareness of cycling has created a new breed of cycle commuter too. Thousands of people all over the country have seen the advantages of riding a bike for transport as well as pleasure.

The benefits are obvious – commuting by bike keeps you fit, helps beat stress, dodges traffic jams, saves money, reduces road congestion and is better for the environment.

There are downsides of course. You might arrive a work a bit sweaty. There might be nowhere safe to lock your bike. Many workplaces don’t offer decent changing facilities. And many drivers get very annoyed if a cyclist delays their arrival at the next traffic jam.

Fortunately, those in high office have realised that more can be done to make cycle commuting more attractive and safer for Britain’s bike riders.

The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group has launched an inquiry called Get Britain Cycling, aimed at finding out what’s stopping even more people from getting on their bikes.

As the group points out, only two per cent of journeys in Britain are made by bike, compared to 27 per cent in the Netherlands.

Are you a cyclist? What would inspire you to ride more, to commute, and make you feel safer on our roads?

Are you an aspiring cyclist? What barriers currently exist to stop you getting out on two wheels?

With its beautiful scenery, challenging hills and miles of quiet roads and bridleways, the North West is one of the country’s best cycling destinations. What could make it even better?

Comments (5)

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1:17pm Wed 13 Feb 13

vicn1956 says...

Don't get me wrong- cycling is great. I prefer canal paths or cycle trails in woods etc.
What is annoying is councils spending ££££££££ on special paths and no-one using them. For eg. the path near St.Thomas school blackburn. It cost a lot and in over 10 years I haven't seen 1 cyclist use it! Or at the top of the hill onThe junction of Roman Road and Observatory Road near KFC where they made a cycle lane- I jest not 2 YES 2 metres long and cost over £20,000!
Just 2 examples- I can name lots more.
Don't get me wrong- cycling is great. I prefer canal paths or cycle trails in woods etc. What is annoying is councils spending ££££££££ on special paths and no-one using them. For eg. the path near St.Thomas school blackburn. It cost a lot and in over 10 years I haven't seen 1 cyclist use it! Or at the top of the hill onThe junction of Roman Road and Observatory Road near KFC where they made a cycle lane- I jest not 2 YES 2 metres long and cost over £20,000! Just 2 examples- I can name lots more. vicn1956

11:19am Thu 14 Feb 13

Guanajuato says...

Drivers realising that they don't absolutely HAVE to get past the cyclist would be a help, particularly when the cyclist is keeping up with the traffic. Often, coming along Milnthorpe Rd, a couple of car lengths behind the vehicle in front, yet the car behind will squeeze by, cut across right to the kerb and slam brakes on when they realise they're about to drive into the car in front.
I just give them a cheerful 'wave' as I then overtake them.

Also, the realisation that overtaking on a blind bend with double-white lines is not only dangerous, its illegal.

And the sooner cycle lanes are designed by people who actually cycle, the better. What kind of idiot thinks sending the cycle route across a main road at both ends of stramongate bridge, narrowing to a very tight bend with strategically placed posts into the free-for-all that is new road? And to compound the matter, it crosses back over the traffic flow to a lane 20 yards long that take you to a no cycling path (that's a bit of a shortcut for council vehicles).
Had a prat in a range rover drive along the cycle lane at me the other day by new road. Then have a go at me for getting in his way. What a Richard.
Drivers realising that they don't absolutely HAVE to get past the cyclist would be a help, particularly when the cyclist is keeping up with the traffic. Often, coming along Milnthorpe Rd, a couple of car lengths behind the vehicle in front, yet the car behind will squeeze by, cut across right to the kerb and slam brakes on when they realise they're about to drive into the car in front. I just give them a cheerful 'wave' as I then overtake them. Also, the realisation that overtaking on a blind bend with double-white lines is not only dangerous, its illegal. And the sooner cycle lanes are designed by people who actually cycle, the better. What kind of idiot thinks sending the cycle route across a main road at both ends of stramongate bridge, narrowing to a very tight bend with strategically placed posts into the free-for-all that is new road? And to compound the matter, it crosses back over the traffic flow to a lane 20 yards long that take you to a no cycling path (that's a bit of a shortcut for council vehicles). Had a prat in a range rover drive along the cycle lane at me the other day by new road. Then have a go at me for getting in his way. What a Richard. Guanajuato

1:23pm Tue 26 Feb 13

happycyclist says...

I think the biggest single difference would be to make the presumption of guilt for any collision between a cyclist and a car, on the motorist. The cyclist is the vulnerable user and this should be reflected in the courts, with the onus on the motorist to prove that they were the innocent party. At the moment, killing a cyclist with a car is literally the easiest way to get away with murder. We need a MASSIVE change of attitude on our roads.
I think the biggest single difference would be to make the presumption of guilt for any collision between a cyclist and a car, on the motorist. The cyclist is the vulnerable user and this should be reflected in the courts, with the onus on the motorist to prove that they were the innocent party. At the moment, killing a cyclist with a car is literally the easiest way to get away with murder. We need a MASSIVE change of attitude on our roads. happycyclist

1:25pm Tue 26 Feb 13

happycyclist says...

Oh, and get rid of all cycle lanes EXCEPT at pinch points in the road, and this should be made very clear on the road with extra-wide cycle lanes, like you see in Scotland.
Oh, and get rid of all cycle lanes EXCEPT at pinch points in the road, and this should be made very clear on the road with extra-wide cycle lanes, like you see in Scotland. happycyclist

1:28pm Tue 26 Feb 13

happycyclist says...

And ALL employers to have secure storage for cycles. Motorists get money spent on them in the way of car park spaces, so why not a secure area for cycles?
And ALL employers to have secure storage for cycles. Motorists get money spent on them in the way of car park spaces, so why not a secure area for cycles? happycyclist

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