Build it and they will cycle

2015-07-29 11.08.11“Ba ba badda, ba ba badda! Take the Trans Pennine Trail at the speed of a snail…” I have to amuse myself on the long cycles somehow. Going from East to West from Penistone, the Trans Pennine Trail is well surfaced and only gently inclining as it is along the route of a closed railway line, it’s also very well used.

We often think of the Netherlands as being a biking heaven, yet it wasn’t always that way. In fact they had very high car use. It was only through changing government policy and building biking infrastructure that they turned it around.

Where routes are easy to cycle, safe, and going where people want to go, people will cycle. My memories of the Pennines had me dreading crossing it by bike but it was beautiful. Once you hit the beginning of the old railway tunnel however, you have to over the top and things get bumpy and steep but at least it’s mostly downhill. Unless you’re a masochist I wouldn’t go West to East from Manchester at the moment.

The story of the Netherlands shows how a transport system can be remodeled and people’s behaviour will then shift. The current government is investing heavily in new roads, which leads to increased car use and car ownership. If we want more sustainable transport, first we have to commit to it. Build it and they will cycle.

 

Vaccinating badgers

badgerA chance encounter with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust introduced me to their new project to vaccinate badgers in the local area. The government policy of badger culls to reduce TB in cattle has not been backed by scientific evidence, in fact it is understood to make matters worse by causing the remaining badger population to migrate. In areas surrounding TB infection, DEFRA is offering to fund half the cost of vaccination and the wildlife trust is trying to raise the other half.

“The Trust, which is opposed to culling as a means of controlling the bovine TB, believes badger vaccination can play a crucial role in preventing the spread of the disease in both badgers and cattle.”

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust does a huge amount of good, managing a large number of different reserves and works to protect habitat and wildlife. Like many conservation groups, some of the Trust’s funding comes from the government, putting them in a difficult situation when government measures are harmful to wildlife. You can find out more about the vaccination campaign from the Trust’s website.