Saturday 4 August 2012

Freewheeler has returned!

The People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire extends its black kevlar-backed glove towards Freewheeler, as Crap Walking and Cycling in Waltham Forest is back again!

Waltham Forest and S Gloucs. both represent "lost" areas in cycling -places where the cycling percentage has not undergone the (small but tangible) increase in cycling that the inner cities have undergone.

The reasons why they have not done so is different.

Waltham Forest has much of the inner city demographics, including large areas of urban deprivation. This would be ideal for encouraging cycling, except that the council actively works against this -the Cycle Superhighway Obstruction being the key example, something which has entered the national stage with the Olympics. With only TfL to provide some form of leadership, Waltham Forest council can get away with this.

S Gloucs doesn't have quite the poverty levels, though parts of bristol on the border do (Southmead, Brentry, L-dub). Instead it has a population that has embraced driving as the way to get to the shops and the city, and view the resulting congestion as an anti-car conspiracy by the council, high fuel prices as an attempt to rob motorists, and anything Bristol does to reduce car dependence as the war on motorists. Nobody appears to have correlated the increased in car use as a factor in congestion, fuel demand (hence increase market prices of crude oil), difficulties in parking in the city, and the need of the inner city to come up with alternative transport policies.

This puts S Gloucs and its sibling rural suburb to the south, North Somerset, into effective conflict with Bristol.

Bristol: a safe and healthy environment for its population. Pollution and speeding cars are obstacles to this.

S Gloucs and N Somerset: fast journeys to work, school and shops by car, with free parking at all destinations.

What these areas do have in common with Waltham Forest is

  1. A complete failure of leadership in the council
  2. An unwillingness to recognise that attempting to satisfy demands for driving through more roadbuilding will only create more demand. 
  3. A failure to recognise that adding more parking will not revitialise dying high streets
  4. A refusal to invest trivial amounts of money and political capital through funding quality dutch-standard cycle routes, so effecting tangible transport shift.
  5. Unquestioning adherence to the "war on motorists" bollocks pushed out by the daily mail and other press outlets.

Which is also something they hold in common with central government.


  1. Welcome back Freewheeler, we've fucking missed you!

  2. Ditto. Sorely.

    Freewheeler, if you're reading this, you're responsible for single-handedly starting the wave of blog-powered serious cycling change in the UK by sticking to your guns for all that time. So many people were inspired by what you did to take up critical arms themselves. It's marvellous to have you back.

    If you *are* reading this, would you consider creating an avenue for feedback in 2012? If not enabling comments on your blog - everyone knows you don't want that, so that's fine - maybe having an email address for people to send you questions or suggestions; or perhaps a Twitter account. That latter would be excellent; your voice would be a massively useful addition to the ongoing conversation.

  3. Yes, what Hex said.
    Feedback. Comments.
    Your writing is not always easy to understand, Freewheeler! Your mix of irony and opinion is often hard to disentangle. And when you make ad hominen attacks on hard-working cycle campaigners (people who may dare to hold a view that differs from your own) it would surely be polite, appropriate and fair to let them have their say, no?

  4. @Clive: are you complaining about Freewheeler, or us, the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire

  5. @PCFSG - I was talking to/about Freewheeler.

  6. @CFSG - About Freewheeler, not you.