This post is a response to this post on the wonderfull Vole O’speed blog…
I like the critique of the Times campaign and I agree with most of your points. However, this post contains some incorrect notions regarding cycle training that I want to clarify.
“the Government is paying for lots of cycle training, so that’s all right then, isn’t it? Training for cyclists is what government wants to pay for when it doesn’t wish to challenge the basic hierarchy on the roads,”
Er… no it isn’t. A typical allocation for Cycle Training (CT) in a London borough is below £100000 and typically must pay for the cycling officer as well as administrative overhead. It it true that there is no stomach in government to challenge the status quo but that is not because of the pittance spent on training. There should be much more spent on training AND changes to the roads to favor cycling. The issue is about funding levels.
“Moreover, the cycle training that we use in this country, Bikeablity, concentrates on the development of an assertive riding style designed to minimise risks to the cyclist in a car-dominated cycling environment, that is quite irrelevant to cycling as it is practised in the bike-dominated cycling environments of the Netherlands and Denmark. “
As it happens, the Dutch are rather good at assertive cycling. I recently trained a 12 year old dutch boy who had moved to London. He has a really assertive riding style and had no problem taking on Old St roundabout and other similarly “hairy” junctions near his new school. I asked him where he learned to ride like that and he said that is how you have to ride in Holland where there are no cycle paths… Their great infrastructure gets them cycling young so I guess they develop the skills independently but to suggest these skills are “irrelevant” to Dutch or Danish cyclists is just wrong.
“It cannot be part of the long term solution to cycling, as the majority of the population will never have any interest in riding assertively (which really implies “fast” as well), in the way that Bikeablity seeks to teach them.”
To say that assertive equals fast is just wrong. That is not how the Bikeability syllabus is taught if it’s being done right. Going faster can help but it’s not necessary. I train lots of “slow” riders and they like their newfound assertive stylings! It is quite common for people with no direct experience of training to reduce it to “Primary Position” and “going fast” but that does it a great disservice. About two thirds of cycling casualties happen without the involvement of another vehicle… CT looks at that as well as MANY other aspects of the riders practice. My experience is that even very knowledgeable riders get something from training despite not expecting to. That was the case with me… ;-)
“ The other problem with Bikeability is that it can be regarded by its proponents (such as some of those working in the largely state-funded industry that delivers it) as the correct way to cycle, rather than as what it is, a stop-gap mitigating.”
No one is making a good living delivering cycle training David…. People do it because it calls to them. Giving someone else the freedom of the road that we take for granted, is an honor. There are only a handful of us in London and yet at every demo or action pushing for better infrastructure we are there in force, often as organizers or marshals. Pitching us as some sort of government stooges with a finantial interest in the status quo, is factually wrong and does us a great disservice. When I began work as a cycle trainer, a much more experienced colleague told me, “look mate, if we are successful then there will be no need for cycle training”. He was being ironic but the point is that we know it’s not something to do instead of building a network of lanes but right now it is helping people who want to ride to do so safely.
“Dutch cyclists do not need to assert themselves in front of streams of hostile traffic.”
Oh yes they do…. But not as much as us. The fact that so many more ride there has to help too.
“Cities fit for Cycling, not Cyclists fit for Cities. It has taken a long, long time for this realisation to become mainstream in the UK. A watershed has been passed.”
I certainly hope so. The need to change the road network to unlock that mass of non riders is clear to me but I do not see CT as being an obstacle. We make new riders… The cost of the infrastructure changes needed are several orders of magnitude greater than even the most generous CT budgets. CT is not consuming budget that could be spent on lanes. The money for cycle lanes is there in the roads budget. It’s just a matter of allocation/priorities.
David, it is clear to me that you have either not tried training or been exposed to some very poor practice. I propose offering you a free session. CTUK run good training in your borough or I would be happy to organize a session for you. At the very least it will be a chance for us to talk about Brent/Barnet things… You may even learn something new…. I did.