Whenever you hear safety-in-numbers statement you may like to cross-check with the location’s infrastructure provision too. Safety figures are one thing. It is also important to link the safety discussion back to its environmental root causes, the enabling factors and the needs people have, so that ultimately “more people cycle, more safely, more often” (to use one of the popular UK slogans). In the widely accepted socio-ecological model for transport (decision-making, design and ) the built environment plays a key role in people’s (inter)action with their city.
When asked to describe the environmental influence of the socio-ecological model, I tend to put it like this: if the house does not have a set of stairs, an elevator, a lift or ladder it’d be unlikely you’d find people on the upper floors. If the city has no cycle infrastructure, disjointed provision, ie no cycle network to speak of, cycling will not be a proposition to many, and people will (have to) find other ways of getting around. Moreover, the urban built environment is created by people (well, institutions, authorities, expert systems, political beliefs, contractors and developers desires’ and other invisible pressure – but ultimately: people). And so the a fateful circle closes once more. Getting involved in decisions about urban space is vitally important. Getting fair representation of the full cross-section of users is crucial to inclusive urban design. I am thinking along the lines of women, disability and age groups.
With this importance of infrastructure in mind, I had a quick look at maps for Bremen and NewcastleGateshead (my two research locations). I also included Groningen as it’s Newcastle’s twin city (and world-renowned as a Cycle City).