I’d like to see more people riding bicycles in Britain.
I used to be a relentless optimist, holding the belief that cycling is just such a naturally brilliant way of getting around that, sooner or later, everyone else is going to realize it, and leap onto the bicycles that are gathering cobwebs in their garages. Maybe it would also take congestion getting worse, or the cost of motoring to increase, or a little bit of positive gloss about how cycling is wonderful, or just enough people taking up cycling to tip us over the edge, to create a presence on the road – but, in short, I thought it would happen all by itself.
I’ve changed my mind.
I think, more realistically, we should listen to the reasons people give when they say why they don’t cycle. Like the fact that it’s not often convenient to use a bicycle, compared to using a car. Like the fact it’s not really very safe, compared to a car.
People are not stupid. They will vote with their feet – or more accurately, wheels. The current rather pitiful modal share of the bicycle in Britain is a direct natural consequence of the relative attractiveness of cycling, compared to driving, as a way of getting about. It is not a consequence of ignorance about how wonderful cycling actually is. It’s time we faced up to reality.