05 August 2009

Obstacles to persuading people to cycle

I was at a very convivial meeting last night - thanks Andy and our sponsors, who plied us with free drink. Everyone there was a blogger, or at least pretending to be, so they were a wide range of ages and types. Strikingly, pretty much everyone was either (a) already a keen cyclist or (b) keen on being a keen cyclist but put off by the safety thing.

I did my proselytising thing to the (b) people, repeating all the things I'd celebrated with the (a) people: that cycling is fast, fun and free...ish. That you actually look forward to your commute because it makes you feel good. That it enables you to do twice as many things in a day because you can whizz around at your own schedule and pace without waiting for buses or being stuck on a stationary train. That it's just the best way of enjoying London, and all that.

I did my best, but it's not always easy. Obviously, I admitted, London's cycle facilities aren't, er, always, um, quite up to Netherlands standards. Look at the state of one of our 'showcase cycle lanes', in Torrington Place, for instance (top right). The roadworks force you out into one-way traffic coming the other way. It's been like this weeks with little sign of progress.

And some road users don't make it easy either. On the way home I stopped at a Chinese takeaway on Baylis Rd, near Waterloo. I had to: this car had parked blocking the lane (right). They must have been waiting for the beansprouts to grow because they were there ages.

So long, in fact, that another car arrived and parked right next to it, blocking the lane even more (below right).

Blimey, this takeaway must be good. Spring Orchid, it's called, if you're interested. As always, by an amazing coincidence, the number plates of both cars were entirely appropriate.

Still, we do know a sure-fire way of getting people to agree that cycling's great. Get them in a social situation and put them with a charismatic, persuasive advocate.

Or, failing the charisma, ply them with free drink.


  1. I've been meaning to take a picture of the cycle route that I take on my way home (here on Google maps: http://tinyurl.com/memdeo).

    A cycle route runs down the middle of a wide pavement, connecting two roads. The council (or somebody) has pulled up the paving stones for half of the pavement, and has placed the barriers (blocking people from wandering into the gaping hole) on half of the bike route. So what do they do?

    Instead of signposting an alternate bike route for the 15-20 feet past these barriers, they've placed large signs on the remaining lane of cycle track saying "cycle route closed. Please dismount"

    When was the last time you saw road works marked with a "road closed. Please push your car" sign?

  2. Josh, if you take a photo you can post it with stroppy comments at www.cyclestreets.net