The first “cycling city” has been announced as the Government attempts to get more of us back on our bikes.

The honour goes to Bristol, although several other areas will also benefit from the £100m scheme – including Stoke and Shrewsbury.

Bristol will match the Government’s £11.4m funding in a programme designed to double the number of cyclists in the city over the next three years through a variety of schemes, such as creating dedicated cycle lanes, better facilities for those wanting to cycle to work and more training for children.

The city will also introduce the UK’s first major bicycle rental network modelled on the successful Paris scheme.

All good news and encouragement for those who do want to get back on two wheels, including me. This is my new(ish) bike captured on a Holga camera by my wife:

I’m trying hard not be a born-again cyclist – although it gets tougher each time an inconsiderate motorist pulls out in front of me without warning causing me to swerve out of their path, or fails to indicate at junctions and islands leaving me stranded.

But I did find some of the viewer comments read out during BBC Breakfast’s coverage of the “cycling city” story depressingly typical of the attitude of a growing number of UK motorists.

Quite a few believe cyclists should start paying road tax – presumably because of the huge environmental impact they have and the amount of wear and tear they cause to the country’s pristine road network.

They also believe cyclists should have insurance – presumably because of the costs incurred by the inconsiderate and arrogant motorists who pull out in front of them or cause accidents by failing to follow basic rules of the road.

So many motorists these days claim the Government is obsessed with taxing them off the road – everything from fuel costs to speed cameras. The real obsession seems to lie with motorists themselves and there is little consideration for anyone or anything else once they climb inside their vehicle.

Motorists are feeling persecuted and their response is to point the finger at everyone else, or wail: “Its not fair” if they are asked to consider doing their bit to reduce congestion or lessen the environmental impact they have. It is everyone else’s responsibility, apparently, and should not impact on them or their cherished vehicle.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our car and still enjoy getting behind the wheel. But I don’t believe the world revolves around it or me.

Elsewhere today the list of the greenest cars available in the UK today has been released.

Top of the list is the Econetic version of the Ford Focus – one of the best-selling cars in the country – which possibly says a lot for the recent efforts of major manufacturers in going green. BMW, VW, Mini, Fiat and Toyota are all commended for various models, although it would be interesting to know how sales of the “green” variations of these marques compare to their less environmentally friendly models.

The list, compiled by WhatGreenCar, also highlights the worst offenders (not surprisingly the Hummer and Porsche Cayenne feature).

It is good to see the Government pushing greater use of the bike.

But it is also typical that the response of some motorists is to start pushing cyclists around.

3 responses »

  1. Ursula says:

    Cars and bikes do not mix.

    If you want to know about how to protect cyclists from cars look no further than, say, the Netherlands or Germany, Switzerland; cities like Amsterdam or Basel being a cyclist’s paradise with motorists being kept firmly out – or at least at bay.

    Felix has a phantastic bike but I actively discourage him to use it in town. I can’t count the number of times – when driving my car – a cyclist has freaked me out. They come out of nowhere, don’t indicate, weave in and out, ride side by side, WORST don’t have lights at the dead of night, and – I am sorry to say – largely ignore traffic rules.

    The thought of how easy it is to injure a cyclist is a constant nightmare to me; what chance does a cyclist have against a ton of metal? So yes, I’d be the first to sign anything to encourage safe cycle paths; and get road users – pedestrians, cyclists, motorists – out of each other’s hair.

    Meanwhile, Paul: Wear the helmet, use a front and a back light , cycle as if you had taken a driving test, be careful and beware of the unobservant distracted motorist (not that you wouldn’t).


  2. Paul Groves says:

    Ursula: I’m never without my helmet.

    You said: “They come out of nowhere, don’t indicate, weave in and out, ride side by side…and – I am sorry to say – largely ignore traffic rules.”

    Unfortunately, that tends to describe so many motorists too these days. Some even forget their lights too.

    There are good and bad cyclists. There are good and bad motorists. But while cyclists have to always be watchful in traffic, many motorists are unsafely locked inside their own little world. I’m speaking as both a driver and a cyclist.

  3. sir jorge says:

    I’m not a big fan of bikes, but I must admit, if the government is going to help, why not?

    I usually just walk everywhere.

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