Tuesday, June 06, 2006

From The Independent (UK)

Here are some excerpts from a UK newspaper highlighting their increase in cycling. It's worth reading the whole thing. I was surprised at the average travel speed being only 10 mph, and that it's actually 2 mph slower than it was a century ago!......Ed

Independent.co.uk Online Edition: Home

Revolution! Britain embraces the bicycle

By Cahal Milmo
Published: 07 June 2006

Britain is in the grip of a cycling revolution as clogged roads, concern at global warming caused by air pollution and the quest for improved fitness persuade millions to opt for pedal power.

After a decade of stagnation in the number of bicycle journeys, new figures show there has been a dramatic leap in commuters and leisure cyclists focused on Britain's cities and the burgeoning network of cycle routes. In London, trips by bike have increased by 50 per cent in five years to 450,000 per day while figures obtained by The Independent show use of the National Cycle Network, covering 10,000 miles of urban and rural pathways, rose last year by 15 per cent to 232 million journeys.
Experts said the boom was being driven by a mixture of factors, ranging from the "feel-good" influence of getting fit and reducing the impact on the environment to the practical reality that cycling is often a quicker, cheaper and more pleasant way to get around compared to private vehicles on jammed roads and overcrowded buses and trains. Traffic in London now travels at 10mph on average - 2mph slower than it did in 1906 - while satisfaction levels with public transport stand at 44 per cent for the Tube, 37 per cent for buses and 28 per cent for trains.

The growth has been led by London, where the July 7 bomb attacks generated a 20 per cent increase in cycling as commuters abandoned the Tube.

That "spike" has turned out to be a temporary blip, with most returning to public transport.
But amid burgeoning sales of bicycles and accessories (put at £500m per annum), campaigners insisted that the cycling revolution is far from comprehensive and is being starved of Government funding. Despite a pledge (quietly dropped in 2002) from Labour to quadruple the number of cyclists between 1996 and 2012, Britain spends just £1 per capita each year on cycling infrastructure and training. The European average is £5.
Adam Coffman, senior transport campaigner for CTC, the national cyclists' advocacy group, said: "Central government cannot take much credit for the growth in cycling because the money has not been put in. This has been a movement from the bottom up led from places like London. The growth is very encouraging but we still lack a cycling culture in Britain. There is a tendency to think you need to don special clothes and buy an expensive bike whereas cycling needs to be seen as part of normal activity - what you do to go to the shops, school or work."

Ed Lehmann, 58: 'You're safer than in a car'
Alex Crawford, 25: 'Freedom is big appeal'
Pauline Powlesland: 'I can get to the shops in minutes'


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Two words: Congestion pricing. There is a huge fight under the radar between da feds and da City of London about payin' up the millions owed by da feds for disregarding the congestion fines caused by US diplomatic vehicles. It doesn't sound real pretty pretty in Parliment. Why, they are liable to do a Boston Tea Party in reverse. Payback.

9:24 AM  
Blogger steve said...

It seems like the speed has gone up - when I was living in the UK and driving around London in the early 90's I'm sure the average daytime speed was something like 6mph. I daresay the congestion charge has had the desired impact and raised the average speed by around 4mph - so it's now about 2 and a half times walking speed!

9:58 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Cities that predate the automobile are the worst to drive in since the streets are often narrow and winding. But even a city like Tulsa, that's laid out on a grid system with wide arterials, has fairly slow average commuter speeds. I average about 15mph on my bike and about 25 mph in the car. Over a 7 mile commute, the difference is only about 10 minutes. Also, the census figures indicate that the average commuter here is 5 miles away from his workplace. That means for many of our local drivers, a bicycle is a viable alternative.

The truly tough part is weaning them from the gas pump.

11:46 AM  

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