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.

 

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