Richard Armitage CMILT chairs CILT's Cycling Forum, which regularly discusses cycling with colleagues in other CILT Professional Sectors, especially supply chain, transport planning, active travel & travel planning and bus & coach. Current themes include vocational drivers' health, cycle logistics, and on-road cycling as part of driver CPC courses. Richard has run his own sustainable travel and accessible transport consultancy since 1990 and is non-executive chairman of The TAS Partnership, the public transport consultancy.
Can we get Britain cycling, and what has been happening to make cycling more likely? Well, the Commons has given its backing to targets for the proportion of all journeys by bike rising from the present 2% to 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2050. The CILT cycling forum made a 6-page submission to the Commons inquiry, and four members gave oral evidence.
With such a political consensus what we need now are confidence in cycling investment, reallocation of road space, promotion of the public health agenda to promote active travel in the fight against obesity and the emergence of professionals equipped to deliver successful cycling projects. In 1970s Netherlands a campaign to "stop killing our children" led to cities like Groningen committing with all-party support 40% of all transport investment in cycling.
Seen here as a vote-loser for decades by politicians addicted to tape-cutting, cycling still suffers from claims that funds are not available, yet the north-west is now seeing the new £300M A6-Manchester Airport link-road. However some previously unlikely cities like Derby and Peterborough are now embracing cycling, while Brighton is a success-story and Mayors Livingstone and Johnson's encouragement has led to 15-20% of all journeys in Camden being by bike.
Before its regrettable abolition Cycling England had found that pro-cycling policies had to be implemented across the board, in the face of attitudes like those of Tony Blair who throughout his premiership ran scared of the motorist and transport secretary Philip Hammond declared the Coalition's ending of the war on the motorist.
At London 2012 and the Glasgow Games many venues were made not fully accessible by car, excessive dependence on which can increase risk of disabilities, cancer and mental health issues, hence the presence now of the director of public health on the management teams of English Councils.
Transport operators and specifiers, health and education professionals and property developers all have a role in delivering cycling development, which is seen by young people as a convivial means of avoiding the need to go to the gym.
In Denmark and the Netherlands there is a tradition of the cyclist living with the motor vehicle, but Britain's more extreme inheritance may require segregation - indeed the situation here currently is so much in favour of the motorised transport that Richard is completely relaxed about whatever may be proposed to redress the balance while having no opinion on whether cyclists should wear helmets.
At Houten south-east of Utrecht cycling is so built into the town's fabric that for trips under 7.5km 42% are by bike with a further 21% on foot - cycling being the fastest mode, there is no school run, and the school is unfenced.
Lorry and bus drivers must be taught cycle awareness so as to recognise their blind spot. Cargo bikes can facilitate parcels operators' flexibility over the crucial last mile, and Spar Austria have even come up with one for cycling down supermarket aisles. With a quarter of cycling casualties involving freight vehicles, better management of roadspace can help both safety and business efficiency.
Following the recent publication of Freight Planning to 2035, CILT UK has proposed: "Planning for urban hubs should be made a priority under the national guidelines and local authorities given powers to purchase land and determine its use for such schemes. This would provide necessary consolidation and relieve congestion in our cities and major towns."
Click here to download a copy of Richard Armitage's presentation (PDF format (5Mb)
Report and photograph by John Yellowlees.
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