The Ranty Highwayman)
SATURDAY, 3 JUNE 2017
It’s a scalable question I guess, but in applying it to streets for people I think it is something we should ask ourselves on a regular basis.
As we move into summer we see plenty of campaigns to “encourage” people to walk and cycle. We might have a week of action, a special day, a distance or step challenge – you know the sort of thing. This type of activity is part of what are otherwise known as “soft” measures. They don’t cost a great deal to lay on, but nor do they address the structural issue with how our streets are designed, built and managed.
I wonder why walking and cycling get this type of approach as we don’t seem to have “bus to work week”, “how many miles can you drive day” or “train on Tuesday”. Walking has been taken for granted to a certain extent given that in urban areas at least, we have dense walking networks. Cycling has been forgotten for decades in all but a few places and so I guess people don’t know where to start with getting it to be a normal and accepted travel mode. What works – encouragement or building the stuff which is proven to be effective the planet over?
What about the politically feeble concept of “balancing the needs of all road users”? I suppose the use of “road” is telling; those using the term generally mean “those driving on the roads” and the use of the word “balancing” means there is no intention to address the structural issue. If we were serious, then we would be using “rebalancing”; that is positively discriminating in favour of engineering measures which actually enable people to have a choice to travel actively. “Balancing” is tiptoeing around the real issues.