Well, not quite.
More like losing my faith in the belief that cycling infrastructure here in the UK will ever improve. A report today from Cycling UK is headlined “Flatlining cycling numbers ‘failure by successive governments’” and it makes depressing reading. A few selected lowlights:
- In 1989 2% of journeys were by bike
- In 2016 the number of journeys by bike was… 2%
- There’s a continued decline in cyclists who are female, young or from a non-white background
- White men have maintained the 2% by an increase in their numbers
- 60% of adults consider cycling to be a dangerous activity
- The amount spent on cycling (and walking) in England in the next two years will decline to just 72 pence per person
…but one highlight:
- Greater Manchester and London are investing heavily; £17 per person and Scotland is doing likewise with £15 per person.
So, if you are white, male, live in Manchester, London or Scotland, life is OK. If you live elsewhere you are, apologies, fucked.
It’s a disgrace.
Here is an extract from the Department for Transport’s document entitled ‘Walking and Cycling Statistics, England: 2016‘:
There are a couple of positives in the report:
- The cycling trips made by bicycle are a bit longer; they’ve gone up by about 25% in length
- And there’s this chart which, well, despite revealing the horror that is the long-term decline, has a gradient in recent years that is positive although it wouldn’t cause you to change gear if you were cycling along it (and much of it is no doubt accounted for by that 25% increase in cycling journey lengths):
I’ve been lucky to travel widely in Europe over the past ten years and have seen some excellent examples of what we could be doing here in the UK. So why aren’t we doing it? Why can’t we take 10% of the £70bn that was announced this week to invest in transport across the north of England (over 30 years mind you) and invest it in cycling? It would be £230 million per year. Even if spread across the entire UK it would be five-fold increase on the 73 pence that is currently being spent.
I’m even losing faith at a local level. Earlier this week I attended the first public meeting resulting from the adoption of the Calderdale Cycling Strategy here in West Yorkshire. A laudable document but a meeting that descended into chaos as local residents (mainly white men) argued over whether anything would ever get done.
In Utrecht in The Netherlands, the council have just opened a cycling garage that cost €40 million.
I’m off to scream in a darkened room.