I REALISE I SPEND A FAIR BIT OF TIME WRITING ABOUT URBAN CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE AND SO THIS WEEK I THOUGHT IT WAS TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE RURAL EXPERIENCE. I think there are three strands to this; cycling within villages, cycling between villages and towns (or other villages) and what to do with motor traffic. The UK has developed an extensive network of high speed roads with many bypassing towns and villages, but what we haven’t done, is to go back into those towns and villages to return the space to people and nor have we reconnected these places for cycling. So, we end up seeing both the main roads and the towns/ villages full of traffic.
We also have parts of the country which haven’t been so touched by high speed road building and so even relatively small roads are busy with fast moving motor traffic. The effect of this, together with poor bus services and a lack of rail, means that lots of people living in rural places have to drive if they want to get anywhere and if they have no access to a car, they are pretty much left high and dry or reliant on other people. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way if we copy the experience from the other side of the North Sea. The Dutch have grasped cycling provision for rural areas and like urban areas, they look to provide separate cycling and driving networks. Where they come close is along the regional roads which are similar to UK single-carriageway A-roads and which are still used for long-distance traffic.