Thursday 27 July 2017

'Compromise' means cyclists always come off worst.

Short version - new, narrow cycle lane on Green End Road in Cambridge. During the planning process it had double yellow lines all along. When it was delivered, those double yellow lines were gone in places - and to object we were told to wait until we saw the TRO notice on lamp posts (because we're living in Dickensian Britain presumably?). And they've decided to go and tell us to fuck ourselves if we'd like safe facilities, the parked cars are staying because we're dirty hippies on bikes (I paraphrase. Slightly). So we've got to negotiate our way back out of the cycle lanes on a bend in front of some shops, which exposes us to angry drivers who believe we should somehow phase through the parked cars. This is a terrible cycling facility, its an act of violence against cyclists - but councilors see it as compromise. Risking our lives for some unspecified, largely theoretical (and certainly un-calculated) benefit to local businesses.

This isn't new, of course. Its the same story over and over again. Whether its an accusation that we're unbalanced in our analysis when all we're asking for is safe routes to ride. Or lanes that aren't really good enough (so kids use the pavement instead, and councillors direct the Police to make the kids go and play in traffic) but cycling campaign groups demand we must compromise. Or the outright mis-spending of vast chunks of cycling budget on traffic light upgrades for motorists. On every occasion what we're delivered is shoddy, bad cycle facilities which even at their best require taking bikes up stairs or which incorporate crossings that no one in their right mind would choose.

The problem is that each new scheme is just that - a new scheme, with competing self interests as each group seeks the best outcome. The result of this is that cyclists always come out losers - on every single occasion we're left with the dregs, and a promise that while planners care for our welfare the 'balanced' approach on this particular scheme is that we're not important so we can go and fuck ourselves. And the net result of this is that every single scheme is sub-par. We end up with a network of near deadly facilities designed to appease not us, but every other lobby group. You know. People who matter. We're the universal patsies in these consultations. Don't take my word for it - go and ride Green End Road and see.

Until planning and spending in cities like Cambridge is strategic rather than piecemeal and actually incorporates realistic models with cycling as a component (oh, you didn't hear? We're not modeled in road design here, we actually don't exist)  this piece-meal lack of provision where we inevitably lose out every single time will continue. Until our roads have strategy, not just case-by-case policy, we're screwed. 

Time to stop this niggling, piecemeal failure and demand better strategy. How though?

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