Whilst in Oxford last week my stepdaughter had somewhat of an ‘epiphany’ with regards to bikes and cycling in general. She has refused to ride a bike for the last few years as apparently ‘she looks stupid’ and ‘it’s pointless’, this is not an issue as she currently gets ferried around by Nottingham City Transport and Dad’s taxi.
However, while walking and driving around Oxford she became aware of the fact that bikes were numerous and also appeared to be getting places much faster than we were in our car, or indeed the buses were. It was at this point that she made the memorable statement ‘”well I suppose if I do come here I will have to get a bike”.
Now this is an earth shattering statement, but it also highlights something – we are very poor at dealing with cycling access in this country. Oxford on the other hand as a city has embraced the bike – there are cycle paths everywhere and cyclists are protected from traffic wherever possible by extra curbs and similar devices. Consequently it is a much safer city to ride a bike in – something that is very rare in this country (but common on the continent).
So if a teenager who wouldn’t ‘be seen dead’ on a bike in Nottingham (and we have a fair number of cycle paths) would happily use one in Oxford, what does this tell us?
We are not working hard enough towards helping bike access in our cities, it is about time that we got them off the roads and onto a proper set of cycle routes (like in Holland) – it’s greener and it would also make us all healthier (saving money in the NHS?).
Time for some action by central government?