I have a dream…

28 Apr

I am well aware that the discrimination is absolutely nowhere near the scale and severity of the 1900 s America, but the fact is that many cyclists deal with threats to their lives on an almost daily basis (yes, I consider a tonne of metal being propelled just past me at 40mph, a threat) just because their method of transport is considered ‘abnormal’. The Government seems incapable of building infrastructure that isn’t so badly designed as to be downright –dangerous and as for the police and legal system, well the majority don’t seem to really care. Nevertheless, I have a dream…

While I would very much like to cycle on safer roads, I am one of those who would cycle even if the roads were paved with carpet tacks (don’t tell the gov I said that, it might give them ideas). What I really want is safer roads for all. I want to be able to tell my girlfriend/ mother/ siblings that it’s OK to cycle, that it’s perfectly safe to cycle to the shops. That they don’t have to worry about sharing the road with left turning lorries, impatient bus drivers or speeding motorists. I want to be able to put my hand on my heart and say “yes it’s safe go ahead and enjoy yourself”. There is always someone  who will point at the statistics and say “look cycling is safer than walking”. But these statistics invariably fail to take into account all the near misses and close calls that affect perceived safety. And are the statistics really any consolation to that one in a thousand cyclist who does get hit?

I have a dream… That my future children will grow up in a country where they can cycle, without hi-vis and in near-perfect safety, to a friend’s house, to play in the park, to visit the town center or even to school:

Source: http://www.youtube.com/user/markenlei
I am a strong believer in giving children freedom and independence to help them develop in true sensible, responsible and mature young adults, something that I feel is severely lacking in these times (but that’s a topic for a different blog). The fact is that children cannot, and never will be able to, drive a car. So unless a conscious effort is made to put alternative methods of transport such as walking or cycling on the same level of priority as that of motoring, and an effort is made to reduce the danger that cars pose, children will forever be reduced to being ferried around by their parents.

To be clear I am not advocating  the complete removal of cars from the roads. I, like many other cyclists, am a regular motorist, yes I do cycle more than I drive but there is no denying the convenience of car for some types of journey (a business trip to a town 20 miles away is a reasonable reason to drive). And I understand if people don’t fancy cycling at -3C* or in gale force winds, but the heyday of car only travel is passing. If you look at other famous cycling countries such as the Netherlands or Denmark you will realise that there are still people that drive, the situation is not in fact completely reversed. People cycle because it is simply more convenient, not because they will be labelled as second class citizens or threatened on a daily basis if they choose to drive.

The big question is; what sort of country do you want your children or children’s children to grow up in? A country based around the motor car, to which so many are unknowingly prisoners of? A country which is based around the people, and no person’s transport choice actively endangers another’s? How many lives is your right to drive everywhere worth?

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