Cycling

A Tale Of Three Cities: A ‘Nice’ Idea, Implemented in Bologna, Ignored In Halifax?

An interesting report from NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – entitled “Physical activity: encouraging activity in the general population“. It’s the kind-of report that will make the average consumer of the Daily Mail / Top Gear foam at the mouth. In my opinion, that makes it so much better… The consultation document is divided into five ‘quality statements’:

Statement 1 Local authorities and healthcare commissioners have physical activity champions to oversee the development and implementation of local strategies, policies and plans.

Statement 2 Local authorities develop and maintain connected travel routes that prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and people who use public transport.

Statement 3 Local authorities involve community and voluntary groups in designing and managing public open spaces.

Statement 4 Workplaces have a physical activity programme to encourage employees to move more and be more physically active.

Statement 5 Schools and early years settings monitor and update travel plans annually to increase active travel.

…and it’s statement 2 which particularly draws the eye. Isn’t this what we cyclists have been clamouring for for many years?

My own local authority – Calderdale in West Yorkshire – is currently in the process of ‘upgrading’ one of the major routes into the borough’s main town, Halifax. It also happens to be the route that I take when travelling into town. They have done a good job; the road has been widened, the surface is now and smooth and, over the next couple of years, the ‘improvements’ will be extended all the way to the nearby M62 motorway. Great. But have they prioritised pedestrians, public transport and cyclists? Of course they haven’t. The car remains king and is the greatest factor that has influenced the design of the refurbished roads. The reduction in journey times (i.e. how quickly you can drive your car from the motorway to the town centre) is the key statistic that the council are aiming to address. Other, less speedy, aspirations – health, well-being, pollution – seem to take second place. Yes, there is better provision for cyclists in that there are clearly marked lanes on the road… but nothing is segregated and the use of shared pedestrian-cycling space is often the preferred option. Where the road has been widened, it is not for the exclusive benefit of public transport users but simply to provide more space for all motorised traffic. And, inevitably, where there is a conflict between the parking of cars and cycle lanes or bus lanes, it is the parked car that takes precedence.

I’ll remind you:

Statement 2 Local authorities develop and maintain connected travel routes that prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and people who use public transport.

Mmm…

Now I’m no saint; I drive a car but I am not wedded to my car, far from it. There are often times – far too often perhaps – that I seem to have no alternative but to drive to my destination. I occasionally park my car using one of the parking apps that allows payment to be made without the need for a pocketful of change. Yesterday, one of those parking apps sent me a Happy New Year message. It included the following graphic:

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Happy New Year from Just Park

Isn’t that a bit like a shoplifter trying to get the police officer to give him/her credit for choosing to steal the cheaper bottle of whisky?

Calderdale is about to introduce a new parking app for use in the borough.

I’ll remind you / them again:

Statement 2 Local authorities develop and maintain connected travel routes that prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and people who use public transport.

Here’s an idea Calderdale: perhaps you should be investing in the kind of technology in use in Bologna, Italy. Here’s a report – ‘The city that gives you free beer for cycling’ – from BBC World Hacks:

So how about that Calderdale? Just in case you’ve forgotten:

Statement 2 Local authorities develop and maintain connected travel routes that prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and people who use public transport.

Here’s the man you need to contact for details:

screenshot 2019-01-04 at 06.46.52

And while you are at it, this remains an issue as well…

Header image credit: Ormina Tours

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