Promotion and disrespect

The Labour Party Manifesto famously promises: “We will support long-term investment in strategic roads, address the neglect of local roads, and promote cycling”

This is the typical stance of someone who doesn’t want to do anything to solve an issue. UK’s pitiful cycling modal share is not due to lack of promotion and yet despite

  • proven favourable ROI on money spent on cycling infrastructure
  • strong links between cycling infrastructure and other issues that the next Government has to tackle, such as air quality, health crisis and climate change

the Labour party is happy just to “promote” cycling and spend nothing on infrastructure.

We all know who the beneficiaries of promotions  are: consultants, printers, video makers.

Vision Zero was invited to speak this week at a workshop for organisations involved in European Mobility Week. Twenty years ago European cities started having Car Free Days on 22nd September; that evolved into Mobility Week, which seems designed as a gift for UKIP to show how your tax money is wasted on promoting activities that people are not keen in doing, because much more money is spent to convince them to do the very opposite.

The Conservative Party has pledged to spend £200,000,000 on cycling and £15,000,000,000 on motoring and £0 on walking. In other words, every year they plan to spend £0.62 per person on walking and cycling (and they have not specified if it is on infrastructure or on promotion) and £47 per person on motoring. This when the City of Copenhagen has shown that every km cycled benefits society, and every km driven places a cost on society.

Let’s assume that one attends an EMW event, visits a promotion merchant, and is convinced that next time she goes to the cinema, 2 km away, she will walk there with her boyfriend. They arrive at this junction, at the corner on the right and need to cross to the white building:

It will take them five minutes, twice corralled in the middle of the road, where pollution is highest, because the timing of the lights is programmed for the benefit of motorists, not pedestrians. A woman died here a few months ago, probably punished by a motorist for not waiting, i.e. for not knowing her place in society.

Here is another example, again site of a killing of a pedestrian:

The crossing in the foreground has no green man; motorists from the left (behind the trees) will turn right at speeds of 50kph. Sustrans, the quintessential promotion merchant, will tell you “Walk to school!” Well, the choice for your child are risking being killed, or going all the way around, which will take her more than four minutes. You think: “This is not right”, so you write to TfL, and they respond saying, “Sorry, nothing can be done, otherwise we inconvenience motorists [who as you know, are higher class than you – Know your station and wait]
Or take this crossing in front of Euston Station, where TfL expects you to wait one minute and twenty seconds to cross and is happy for bus drivers to kill you if you are impatient [66% of bus drivers break the speed limit here, one of them has killed a young man last year, but TfL has no intention to change things]

Every journey one takes on foot or by bicycle, one is reminded that the Government is treating you as a second class citizen. They may be promoting walking and cycling, but the way they use your money is sending you a clear message: if you drive, we will spend billions of pounds, if you walk, go to the back of the bus:

Black people in America had only one choice: rebel. People in the UK have a much easier choice: conform, get a car and join the rat race.

People in Venice need no promotion to walk. There is just one way to increase the number of walking and cycling trips: make them safe, convenient and pleasant; that means designing cities where Active Travel is prioritised; and then we will discover that there is plenty of space at the front for everyone.

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