Sunday 2 December 2012

£20 million? You couldn't build a roundabout for that!

The government has somewhere in the trouser pockets of the transport secretary managed to find a few million pounds to stop the cyclists complaining.

They'll probably have to put off adding an extra lane on a motorway slip way for three months or something similar.

What does that 20 million quid say about britain today?
  1. It was portrayed as "for cyclists" and for "cycling', not "for the country"
  2. No range-rover driving CBI spokesman (it would be a man) turned up to say this would be a boost for the economy, the way they do for roads
  3. Claims that this would somehow make britain a better place to cycle were accepted by the press, rather than greeted with ridicule and laughter.

 This shows a key problem, cycling is viewed as "for others". CBI  businessmen believe that they and their employees need more roads to address congestion. Politicians view it as "for them" and not for the country. As for the press, they are either docile and naive or they saw through the bullshit but decided not to call them out on it.

If there is one thing to be grateful for: the daily mail didn't denounce it as a war-on-motorists action. No, they saved that vitriol for the NICE "walk, cycle or die" proposal (that's a good phrase -expect a followup article on it).

No doubt the people that will pick up on it will be the fuckwits who, to this day, comment on the Bristol paper's articles with anti cycling rants saying "£27 million wasted on lycra louts". Certainly, the portion of that spent in S gloucs was a waste -but some of the things they did in Bristol were good. It's just even there: nobody was prepared to take road space away from cars in the city centre; nobody prepared to to block off roads to motor traffic. And if they weren't prepared to do that in the city, well, S Gloucs was fucked from the outset.

Which shows problem #2 with the funding: you can do good things with money for cycling, or you can
  • Waste it on bluewash paint jobs, of which the London CS routes are the key example. 70 million for nothing.
  • Fritter it away on hi-viz giveways, leisure route maps and "personal journey consultants" who show you how it's easy to get to your destination by bike, -and you will probably reach it alive.
In the cycling world, that means there are two problems
  1. Getting the funding needed to make our cities and suburbs safe to cycle around.
  2. Getting cycle facilities designed that aren't so fucking useless that their sole purpose is to make the "cycling facility of the month" web page.
The CEoGB is pushing hard for #2, but you can see that TfL don't fully understand it. They need to really want to do good cycling facilities, rather than be a petrolhead who views bicycles as things that should be pushed to the side with pedestrians.

Funding? That's going to need all of us to stand up and say "you are taking the fucking piss".

Every few months, the fuel duty campaigners start their whining again, blackmailing politicians into giving them more than the cycle campaigners ever, ever see. We need to be as noisy, and we need to get listened to.

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