Saturday 26 November 2011

How many UK drivers cycle?

The question of how many drivers in Britain have the experience of regular road cycling interests me. It feeds straight into the 'us v them' debate. How divided are we? How common is relevant cycling experience with drivers?

Is our society really one where drivers exclusively drive, or does the majority have on-road cycling experience? Hence know what it feels like and hence understand how to behave around a person on a bicycle.

To find out, I needn't go far. A simple look at the Department of Transport's National Travel survey (NTS) does the trick. It's most recent issue (2011) released travel data for 2009. (If anyone knows why it takes two years to release data, please let me know!) 

In any case... let me tell you it's not looking rosy for the we-are-all-good-friends-we-share-the-same-experience camp.
NTS 2011 (data 2009)

Cycling makes up 2% of all trips. With around 1,000 trips per person per year, that makes 20 cycle trips per person per year. Equating to one bike trip in a fortnight. Oh, my! I would not call that regular cycling!

And it's getting worse when you start taking into account this...

1) To give more detail, consideration could be given to the distribution of cycle trips. Some people may cycle more (are dedicated cyclists or have even reduced or totally forgone car use altogether) that means that some drivers cycle even less.

2) The one cycled trip a fortnight does also not take into account whether it's on- or off-road. For all we know, it might well be a journey where you are free to choose your route, call it a leisure trip (as opposed to utility journey to work, shops etc). People would tend to stay off-road on traffic-free tracks then.

In conclusion to the question whether UK drivers have regular on-road cycling experience, the simple answer is "Nope, they damn well have not". 

Next time a drivers tells you he* is a keen cyclist too (and that some of his best friends are cyclists), ask him how much he uses his bike, when he's last clambered on it, and where he cycles. 

Sorry to break it to you like this: 

On our roads it really IS us v them. If we continue our chummy we-are-all-friends approach, we'll keep getting laughed at. It's never been a plain playing field. We are 'at war with the motorist' (as well as the status quo, oil corporations, the political and economic system).

Or she, for total inclusion. Fewer women than men cycle... a women driver therefore is rather unlikely to cycle, even less likely she cycles regularly, and on the road.

Some of my best friends are cyclists...

Thursday 10 November 2011

I made something!

I made something! I am so blinking pleased with myself. I even designed the rubber stamp myself! Yes. Yes and yes.




Possibly a bit subversive in the eye of the British.

Handmade card - cycling together
Fig.1 - Stamp (my design), embossing powder, patterned paper

Saturday 5 November 2011

Zombie kids

We are failing our children. Here's how.

Northeast of England 'sports' the most obese kids in our green and pleasant land. 

Roll yourself to school
Roll yourself to school

As a kid in the Northeast you have two options to go to school: 
Mum will fix it! She's got a car. Just evolve into a ball and roll next time, your legs are not required any more. 
Alternatively, get on your bike or walk. But, oh, it's your parents who don't let you, because there's too many cars? Pity.
Some stats...
UK childhood obesity on the up again and now the foie-gras children... stuffed livers 
The general UK population not faring any better.
We are Europe's unhealthy fatsos.
And for the Northeast England? Well, we are amongst the fattest adults and children in our country.
Prof Stephen Singleton, Director of Public Health in the Northeast and patron of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign:
"Without help, overweight children will become overweight or obese adults and will be at increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke."
Hey, kids! So what do we do?
We'll just keep incarcerating you indoors in houses and cars, because the notion of fresh air is too scary. No notion of independence, freedom, and growing up free-thinking individuals... we keep strangling you with apron strings. 
Polls show that 30% of you actually want to cycle to school... 
Undeterred, we are now bringing you up as Little Scardies who cannot face the world, are socially inept and not equipped to evaluate real risk. All because we deprived you of a chance to try things out and learn by doing. Packed in cotton wool. Bereft of essential life skills.
And so we continue to 'drive' you away where-ever when-ever we can. From a free range existence, from public spaces...

Fun Newcastle!
A sign. At Newcastle Civic Centre

When will the madness end... all the sugar & fat and game consoles have made you calm and obedient. Everyone's a winner. Sort of.

Fun North Tyneside!
A sign. Longbenton public green space
A new take on ageism.