Over on We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote, we have been looking forward to 2017 – considering the changes we’d like to see happen in 2017.
There’s lots of particular things I’d like to change locally, just for my own sake: I’d like the white lines removed down the middle of the too-narrow-to-realistically-pass-a-bike-when-there’s-something-coming-the-other-way road that I have to ride on to get home now (I’d also like the hill flattened out, but that’s possibly a wish too far …). And there’s things I’d like to see happen locally, like a safe route to school for every child, and a route to the new hospital for cyclists that doesn’t involve crossing a road that leaves you feeling you might end up in the hospital by another, more painful, route.
But I tell you what I really want, and that’s to not to have to fight for all of these things all of the time. One of the things that was most impressive about our latest visit to Amsterdam was the way the infrastructure was just *everywhere* – not always perfect, not always very showy, but it was clear that when the Dutch built something, one of the first questions they asked was ‘what shall we do about the bikes?’ Nobody has to monitor all of the planning applications and make sure cycling isn’t at least going to be made worse if something new is going up, nobody has to jump up and down because a local transport summit is being organised which doesn’t even mention cycling, nobody has to go through a planning diagram with a fine-tooth comb to try and work out whether there is going to be a cycle path and if so is it going to be wider than, say, the width of a bike’s handlebars. It just happens. Well, I imagine so, or Dutch cycle campaigners must be the busiest and most effective people on the planet.
So here’s what I’m hoping for for 2017. I’m hoping that the new Cycling By Design guidelines will be as good as the Dutch cycle design manuals AND they will pretty much be compulsory when any new road gets built or upgraded – not just on the designated ‘bike routes’ but any street or road that goes anywhere. I’m hoping that the Scottish government (and all local authorities) will realise that if you want 10% of journeys to be by a particular mode of transport, then it’s only fair to spend 10% of the transport budget on that mode. And I’m hoping that I can stop having to read policy documents and go through budgets and write emails and ask questions and try and figure out how the Scottish government works, just to try and make some tiny percentage of this happen, and get on with doing the things I want to do like gardening and riding my bike and writing books again.
I’m not expecting any of this to happen, mind you. But I can hope.