Mark Wagenbuur, of Bicycle Dutch, has provided us with an excellent translation of a Dutch newspaper article from 1935 on cycle paths and their construction. It’s very much worth reading in full, but one of the arguments made in that article – written 77 years ago – is how cost-effective it is to construct cycle paths alongside new roads, or on roads that are being widened or reconfigured.
Here, for cyclists, the benefits will always outweigh the costs, because cycle paths can be constructed for a relatively low and justifiable increase in the costs, that has to be added to the costs for the construction of a new road.
By way of contrast, I have an extract from an article from The Times of the 1st August, 1934 – only about 6 months before the Dutch newspaper article appeared. It summarises a statement issued by the Cyclists’ Touring Club on ‘Road Safety’, and has this to say -
PATHS FOR CYCLISTS. The club cannot support the suggestion of special paths for cyclists, the cost of which would in any case be enormous, whether their use be compulsory or optional. Cyclists claim the right, which they have always enjoyed, to use the public highway.
The Dutch understood how the costs of cycle path construction were minimal when considered alongside the cost of the construction of new roads, and the repair and maintenance of existing roads. The Cyclists’ Touring Club didn’t (or – if one wishes to be cynical about their motives – chose to use this ‘cost’ argument against the construction of cycle paths while not fully believing it).
What is tremendously sad is that this argument hasn’t ever disappeared – the cost of construction of cycle paths has continued to be considered ‘enormous’ ever since, despite the vast expenditure on new roads, and road maintenance, after 1934.