The Future Of Cycling: When Government and Council Contradict One Another!
Two cycling stories have been doing the rounds this week, each one raising hopes here and eyebrows there. It seems like a beautiful contradiction between government directives and local council authorities have come to the foreground within days of each other. The first is a lovely bit of non-news from a local paper which compliments the second rather nicely. Read on to find out why!
Tucked away down in Devon is a small town called Brixham, a small town that has become the center of attention and the cause of much debate within the cycling community. The interesting thing about Brixham is the 24 hour blanket ban of bicycles along it’s high street, the same high street that offers full car access for 12 hours of the day and the same high street that will land you with a hefty £50 fine if you’re caught riding along it on two wheels.
According to a local police officer, the law isn’t new at all and it has always been against the law to cycle along Fore Street but because the council failed to provide appropriate signage in the past, the law was pretty much unenforceable. If the law has always been there then why is it newsworthy now? The signs have subsequently been changed and the law was quick to ensnare it’s first victim, needless to say the results were shared on Twitter.
Cycling campaigners from up and down the country have raised their opinions about what is essentially another daft law that pushes cyclists even further down the rungs of the traffic hierarchy. According to the Brixham Town Council the cycling ban was aimed at protecting it’s elderly residents who may be caught off-guard by cycling traffic, irrespective of the fact that cars (although they only have access between 10pm and 10am) are far more dangerous, polluting and congesting.
This story works perfectly with the government’s recent cycling directive.
According to the Department for Transport, from this week on the Department will be striving to double the amount of regular cyclists by 2025. The ‘Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan’ has promised to encourage local authorities to push the benefits of cycling and instill a pro-cycling mindset amongst it’s citizens. A statement from the Transport Office said that ‘the government’s vision is that cycling, alongside walking, becomes the natural choice for shorter journeys, regardless of age, gender, fitness or income’.
For the majority of cyclists, this is welcome news because the more cyclists there are on the roads, the safer we’ll all be – that goes without saying.
The downside is that for the government to reach it’s goals, it requires the help and support from local authorities to promote the idea and explore fund raising avenues; the main goal is to raise a minimum of £10 per cycling head each year between now and 2020 to help promote the benefits of cycling and to get more people on the pedals. So far, it seems like the governmental directives and local authorities aren’t pulling in the same direction and we’re only in the first week…
It seems like the desired minimum of £10 per head might be a bit of a tall order with one town council already shunning cycling altogether, although if it costs £50 a go to have a quick pedal along Fore Street, perhaps the good cyclists of Brixham will be footing the bill for all of us?
The Brixham police have said that they’ll bring this to the attention of the council but will they finally see sense? Only time will tell…