We need paths to Sustainability, not hoops to jump through
It’s half term here, so yesterday I took the kids and our bikes up to Druridge Bay for a 9 mile ride along the coastal path. It was a beautiful day, but I made the mistake of checking the wind direction at home, rather than what was going on up the coast, and the poor wee fellows had to grind into a 20mph headwind for 4 miles to get back to the car. Bad Dad (hee, hee, hee).
The reason why I went to all the bother of loading up the car with 4 bikes was partly because I love Druridge Bay, and partly because there are limited traffic free routes here in the city and we’ve flogged them all to death. Things are slowly getting better, though, and every time a new segregated lane opens up, it gives the family much more scope for riding as part of our daily routine.
I saw on TV recently that Sustrans design their routes to be used by an unaccompanied 12 year old and I think this is bang on. The old thinking of painting a lane by the side of the road with a few advanced stopping zones are OK for me in my lycra warrior/MAMIL mode, but no good for the average person who doesn’t cycle yet. Give us segregation – even light segregation such as orcas which keep motor vehicle from encroaching – and we will ride.
Which is a general principle of Sustainability. You cannot expect people to take Sustainable options unless they are safe, convenient and attractive. Don’t create hoops for people to jump through – this is not an exercise in measuring ideological purity, but a way of changing behaviour. Make the Sustainable path better/easier than business as usual and people will start using them.