Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Come on kids, you've got to learn to share

There is much talk in the cycling press of how segregated cycle paths are the way forward and up to a point I largely agree with the idea. I would however like to point out, as an example, a couple of things we might need to get right in the first place before we are to be trusted to “segregate” traffic.

No private vehicle is more important than another. If bicycles get their own lane, does that mean the road becomes cars only? Buses have a lane to prioritise them over car users. Bicycles get a lane to protect them from cars. Emergency vehicles have sirens to inform cars of their presence. Cars are the common centre of all these policies, but that is just habit and current policy. Cars rule at the moment.

Is it too much to ask that we all learn to share?

This isn’t car bashing.

Part of my morning commute involves shared bike/car roads both with and without bike/bus lanes. Other parts involve shared pedestrian/cycle paths. In both instances there is a problem sharing.

  1. ·         Cars park in the bus and cycle lanes,
  2. ·         Priority cycle boxes are ignored,
  3. ·         Cyclists overtake on the inside
  4. ·         Pedestrians and cyclists walk, or ride, on the wrong bit of the dual use tarmac.

Before we start to segregate to protect, shouldn’t we learn to share?

A few years ago I shared a flat with a Swedish man called Johan. We had watched a programme together about Dutch recycling and I had indicated my approval of the idea of multi compartmented bins for organising recycling. Johan laughed.

“The English need to learn to use one bin before they can use lots of bins” He said indicating the litter outside our front door.

He was right. If we couldn’t use a simple bin for all rubbish, how could we be expected to learn which can/bottle/wrapper went in which bin? How can we build a second infrastructure when we can’t use the one we’ve got.

When car usage took, off the government built more roads (I know they were for cyclists originally), then motorways, then widened the roads and motorways. Yet the motorway is full of drivers in the middlelane.

Maybe we need to learn to use what we've got and only adapt it where necessary.

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