All entries for September 2006

September 06, 2006

Another anti–cycling rant from a motoring journo

This time it’s Sean O’Grady in the Independent

No bike can beat a car, even in heavy traffic.

Where does O’Grady live? Clearly not in a major city. Last February’s “commuter challenge” saw Chris May cycle from central Leamington to campus in 25 minutes, while Irina Motovilova took 38 minutes in her Mercedes C180 Kompressor. That’s where there is the opportunity to use a trunk road, in heavily built-up areas it’s easy for a cyclist to beat a motorist.

In inner London average car speeds during peak periods have been below 12 mph for years. It got below 10 mph in central London before the congestion charge. Link

I suppose Mr O’Grady lives in car-advert land, where all the roads are empty and there’s a Road Fund Licence. He rants that cyclists don’t pay it, neglecting to point out nor does anyone else. It was abolished in the 1950’s. It’s true that some cyclists (those who don’t own cars) don’t pay Vehicle Excise Duty – but petrol-driven cars which emit less than 100 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometer are exempt as well. Except for trunk roads, road repairs are paid out of local authorities’ budgets – which come from Council Tax. Where that leaves car-obessed students is an interesting question.

He also thinks cycling is dangerous. Yet the health benefits from regular exercise far outweigh the remote possiblity of a crash. A point to be considered as the obese waddle from the sofa in front of the TV to their 4×4’s.

The fact that third party insurance is about twenty times higher for motorists than cyclists gives some indication of the relative danger to other road uses of the two modes of transport.

O’Grady’s believes that government shouldn’t promote cycling. Yet many car trips are less than five miles. If people cycled such distances, many of the problems of congestion, pollution and injuries just wouldn’t occur. A massive saving for the taxpayer.

Behind it all I suspect is that O’Grady is scared that the promotion of cycling might be effective. That a turn away from pretending that painting white lines on pavements and carriageways provide cycling facilities towards an attempt to change people’s misconceptions about cycling (and O’Grady provides plenty of examples) just might work.

In York 12% of trips to work are cycled, four times the regional average – great improvements are possible.

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