Spike to School Day

OuseburnSnow 4 - Version 2

We live in an urban country park in Newcastle upon Tyne. Jesmond Dene is beautiful year round (if you can block out the white noise from the Cradlewell bypass bridge) but it’s a steep valley and a bugger to get out of when it’s icy.

This morning’s snow flummoxed a few rat-runners in their 4x4s but the bicycle version of this all-wheel traction saw us safely to school. My 13-year old lad went one way to his secondary school (past the ‘road closed’ sign above) and I accompanied my 11-year old daughters on the tough ride up Benton Bank to their primary school.

We got up no problems. All our bikes are now fitted with studded tyres. I have Nokian spike tyres, my kids have 24-inch spike tyres from Schwalbe. Lower the pressure and you can climb up sheet ice (which is what we’ll be doing tomorrow when the snow and slush freezes).

OuseburnSnow 31 - Version 2

We left for school early to get to badminton club at 8am. It was cancelled: the teacher was snowbound and stuck in traffic. Maybe she could get herself a more reliable form of winter transport?

OuseburnSnow 29 - Version 2

Could car schemes get some of the Government’s new bus/bike/ped fund?

Very, very possibly.

Local authorities are feeling squeezed and will look to pitch to any fund for cash. The Local Sustainable Transport Fund was ostensibly set up for bus, walking and cycling schemes. (Cycling England was scrapped because of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund). Some local authorities may submit road schemes for cash from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund; schemes that will mostly benefit motorists.

Fantasy? No, it’s already happening. The Manchester Evening News reports that:

Transport leaders [in Manchester] are looking for new ways to fund £500m of projects ditched by the government. They are waiting to see if they can apply for money from two new Whitehall cash pots totalling nearly £2bn.

The M.E.N has revealed how the axed schemes include a £290m bypass connecting the A6 near Stockport to the M56 at Manchester Airport.

The £100m proposal to replace the shelved Mottram-Tintwistle bypass – the so-called Longdendale integrated transport strategy – has also been scrapped. So has a £32m plan for 18 new park-and-ride sites across the region, a £30m inner relief road for Wigan and a £50m package of railway station improvements.

But the region’s transport bosses are seeing if cash can be sourced from the new £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund and the £560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Will the Government stamp down on such behaviour? We’ll have to wait and see. Hoverboard Hammond has yet to release guidelines for local authorities. Let’s hope the Local Sustainable Transport Fund isn’t ambushed for other purposes, and that the scoring for bids is high for genuine sustainable transport and low for ‘congestion reducing’ schemes that are, in fact, a smokescreen for pro-car projects.

Hoverboard Hammond doesn’t inspire confidence. Watch this video from yesterday in Parliament where the Commons Transport Committee quizzed the Transport Minister on the impact of the Comprehensive Spending review. Yawn, much of the quizzing was about airport security but skip forward to 16:26:50 as transport chair Louise Ellman asks Hoverboard Hammond about what criteria the Department for Motorised Transport (DMT) will be using when evaluating which projects to support from the Local Sustainable Transport Scheme.

Hammond said the scheme had two headline objectives: “To support economic growth and to reduce carbon output but there are also clear objectives road safety, promoting walking and cycling, improving the urban environment and improving congestion.”

It’s these last two that could be used by local authorities to help pay for pro-motoring schemes. We’ll have to keep a beady eye on what local authorities bid for. As Hammond says in the video, there are no guidelines for local authorities yet so we have no idea how applications will be scored. We’ll have to crawl over the guidelines when they do come out to make sure cycling and walking get the bulk of the cash.

Skip to 16:34:00 if you want to watch Hammond talk about how the Government had nothing to do with local authorities switching off speed cameras…

Beatles on bikes in the Bahamas


OK, so yesterday’s announcement that iTunes would henceforth stock the Beatles back-catalogue wasn’t exactly earth-shattering but at least a great pic of the Beatles on bikes is now more widely available.


The still is from the 1965 film ‘Help’, released in the same year as the album with the same name. The bike scene – shot in the Bahamas – shows the mop-top four aboard rod-brake roadsters, riding red-eyed from too much pot.

More recently, Sir Macca has been pictured riding a bike in the Hamptons, near New York, and, in London, jumping up and down like an angry elf when a fixietwat nearly rode into him.

He also takes his daughter Beatrice for bike rides in a trailer.

Does Hoverboard Hammond live in fear of Monty Python?

philip hammond ministry of silly walks

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will be appearing on Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ next week. If you live in Surrey and want to put a petrolhead minister on the spot now could be your chance.

The event will be on 19th November at Wallington High School for Girls, Woodcote Road, Wallington, Surrey SM6 0PH.

Free tickets for Friday’s event are available from tel: 020 8254 9324, or jandrews1@suttonlea.org

Hammond is the transport secretary who, as part of his first public statement, said he had “ended the war on the motorist”. He also choked off the cash for Cycling England, replacing it with…nothing. He’s pouring billions of pounds into motorway widening and has an open cheque-book policy on electric car infrastructure, but this is where his interest in transport ends.

He’s happier spending time in other Government departments, advising them on where and how to cut, rather than be briefed on topics in his own department. He didn’t want the transport role, he wanted to be bean counter number two. And doesn’t it show? Time spent in departments other than his own means he hardly sees his own team: road safety minister Mike Penning has seen his boss so few times he now jokes about it in private.

And whenever Norman ‘once-a-lion-now-a-poodle’ Baker gets a face to face with Hammond it consists of a one way conversation, and is invariably about which part of the sustainable transport budget will be chopped next.

Transport ministers of all creeds have one big fear. If they start talking about walking or cycling – or anything that’s not deemed MSM-sexy such as aviation or electric sportscars or high speed rail – they worry the redtops will picture them as being in charge of the Ministry of Silly Walks. Monty Python has done more damage to our nation’s health than you might think.

Torched speed camera

So, it’s against this background that it might be a good idea to get in the audience for ‘Any Questions’. Hammond is incredibly weak on transport topics that don’t involve asphalt and Jaguars, and a few questions lobbed his way could expose this weakness.

Does he really think electric cars will cure congestion? How will 8000 electric cars (the estimate for numbers sold by 2013) curb either carbon or congestion? Why is the British Government giving rich car owners cash to buy even more cars: why do well-heeled folks need £5000 subsidies to buy electric cars? And how come this slush fund starts in January but the pitifully small Local Sustainable Transport Fund doesn’t start paying out until October? If electric cars can get a state handout, why not electric bikes? What is his definition of “war” (are speed cameras used in Iraq and Afganistan?) How can he justify abolishing Cycling England which costs £200,000 a year to run, which is about the cost of five metres of motorway? With UK car ownership now at 31 million and rising, at what level of ownership will gridlock kick in? If he doesn’t know, why not?

There are so many questions that can be asked of Hoverboard Hammond. I wish I lived in Surrey. If you do, get in that audience…

Do Transport Ministers dream of electric sheep?

From January onwards, thanks to a £43m gift from UK taxpayers, UK consumers will be eligible for £5000 grants to go get themselves electric cars. By definition these early adopters will be well-heeled. On the whole, electric cars will be sold as urban runabouts to rich folks who already own petrol-engine cars and who, because of e-car ‘range anxiety’, will keep their gas guzzlers for longer journeys.

Hoverboard Hammond – the Transport Secretary who, earlier this year, and at great risk to himself, single-handedly ended the war on the motorist – believes £28,000 e-cars will curb both emissions and congestion. Neither positions are true: emissions will just be shunted someplace else* and it’s patently obvious that e-cars, being the same size as standard cars, will not make a jot of difference to congestion.

So, why is the UK Government – in this supposed age of austerity – happy to subsidise motoring yet radically reduce the cash and support for cycling?

Last month the Government said it was going to scrap Cycling England. Per year, Cycling England cost £200,000 to run. As the M6 road widening project is weighing in at £1000 an inch, the running of Cycling England can be estimated to have cost about five metres of motorway per year. Not five miles, five metres.

But it’s politically easy to take cash away from cycling: cyclists don’t tend to blockade motorways.

ecar ebike spot the difference

While cyclists whistle in the wind for bicycle infrastructure, £400m worth of recharging infrastructure has been “mandated” for electric cars (yet more public subsidy for cars and not very many cars at that, perhaps just 8600 sold next year, believes the DfT), and billions are being spent on widening motorways.

The UK Government is stumping up just £560m over four years for its new Local Sustainable Transport Fund. So, all cycling, bus and pedestrian projects will be fighting it out over a pot that’s not a great deal more than been given to 8000 or so rich motorists. And this is the age of austerity? We all have to suffer together? Not if you want an electric runabout for town from January onwards.

The first annual payment of £140m from the £560m fund for buses, bikes and pedestrians won’t be released until October 2011.

Why is the UK Government – which bills itself as the ‘greenest Government ever’ – so incredibly short-sighted and mean when it comes to cycling?

By all means “invest” in electric cars but why spend so little on cycling? It was the last Government which created the £400m Plugged In Places scheme and the £5000 Plug-In Car Grant, but at least Labour spent cash on cycling, too.

If coal-powered electric cars can get big fat grants, why can’t coal-powered electric bicycles plug into the same slush fund?

Of course, better still, shouldn’t those who ride standard bicycles get paid for reducing the amount of cars on the road and emitting nothing more noxious than hot-air? Does anybody have a link for the application form for the £5000 grant for riding my bike every day?

* Most of the electricity produced in the UK is generated from burning coal. Nuclear energy is in the mix too, and that has its obvious downsides. Even if all our electricity was generated by green means (hydro, wind, wave, and solar) that still doesn’t get round the fact it’s daft to transport a ten stone human in a one-ton car for short distances.

Yes, an electric car produces less CO2 emissions than an ICE car. And we definitely want less spewing of carbon monoxide, benzene, particulates and NO2. But bicycles don’t produce any of those either.

But electric cars – and to a much lesser degree, electric bicycles – are no angels. Millions of e-cars will consume waaaay too much lithium. This is mostly mined in Latin America, in countries with sometimes unstable and suspect regimes.

Instead of focussing on a petrol car substitute, Governments around the world should be evaluating alternatives to the car.

My despicable stance on segregationism


Cambridge King's College

Where do I stand on the issue of segregated cycle facilities? You could say I’m middle of the road.

But not in the wishy-washy sense. I love roads. I want to keep riding on them. And I want others to join me, and ride in safety by doing so.

Where’s this angst coming from? Myself, and the CTC, are getting a mauling over on ibikelondon for daring to suggest it’s pie-in-the-sky to demand segregated cycle routes from a car-fixated Government that is representative of a car-fixated society.

SHORT VERSION: Shy bairns get nowt so why don’t I shout from the roof-tops my view that cities would be more civilised places if they were friendlier to cyclists? I do shout that, but is the ‘we ought to have Dutch-style cycle infrastructure, and we ought to have it now’ vision ever going to work in the UK? My view is that such a stance is necessary, but easily ignored as “visionary” and therefore “unachievable”. Push for it, by all means, but also push for lots of little achievable goals, which will eventually coalesce, and by which time we might actually have a society less in thrall to the car.

LONG VERSION: read on…

CTC Gazette, 1934

Sorry to prick bubbles, but we ain’t gonna get, any time soon, the sort of cycle infrastructure we’d all love. For a start, we all want different kinds of segregated routes (wouldn’t it be great if pedestrians stayed in their bits of turf, too?) and we only want quality segregated routes but what you and I think are routes fit for use don’t usually get built: instead we’re too often fobbed off with second-rate infrastructure that’s sometimes worse than useless, but we’re expected to use it regardless.

In such a car-centric society as the UK it is politically naive to believe meaningful space will be taken away from cars without a massive and democratic reaction against such a move. As is made clear in October’s National Infrastructure Plan [PDF], there’s no will from national leaders for such a revolution nor is there any cash.

At the local level it’s just as bad, perhaps even worse. Local highways departments have been car-centric for many years. A council may have one lonely cycling officer, but these positions rarely carry power, and are being chopped anyway. The majority of local councillors – with a normal windscreen perspective, and one eye on the ballot box – are pro-motoring; some are actively anti-cycling.

Motormyopia is endemic. Mad, bad and sad, but true. In the meantime, we have to build alliances with other active travel and true road safety organisations, not be single issue campaigners. A number of prominent bloggers have recently had Cyclepath to Damascus conversions and now insist that cycling won’t grow in the UK without Dutch-style cycling facilities. But, in the car-centric UK, ‘infrastructure or nothing’ is a position doomed to failure.

Videos like the one above show what can be done when there’s the political will to make radical changes, and I’m all for provision of the routes such as the ones featured.

But, depressing though it is, we have to recognise we’re not going to get anything good for cycling from the present administration. Hoverboard Hammond is a lost cause. Norman Baker, the minister in charge of cycling and walking, and who was a lion in opposition, is now Hammond’s poodle and talks about his pride at the part he’s playing in “ending the war on the motorist.”

But even if, by some happy fluke, Hammond was jettisoned and a sensible, progressive Transport Secretary materialised – one who realised cities are more livable when King Car is tamed – this non-motorised Messiah would still have to fight to effect change in the car-centred Department for Transport. And, locally, there’s an awful lot of opposition from powerful figures, and from the majority of voters, to anything that smacks of taking space and ‘rights’ away from motorists.

Cycle campaigners can dream all they like but there’s got to be a realisation there’s an existing cycle network: roads. Roads go everywhere; segregated cycle facilities in the UK never do, and probably never would. They don’t in the Netherlands or Copenhagen, either. Check out the video of Dutch cyclists merging on to roads below, or go there (I have): yes, there are some wonderful segregated facilities but there are also lots of places when cyclists have to mix it with other traffic. I’ve seen this in even the most bicycle-friendly parts of the Netherlands.

Good infrastructure design is key but, also, a huge difference in the Netherlands is driver attitudes to cyclists, backed up with legislation should a driver dare to use the fatally-flawed ‘I didn’t see you’ excuse.

And in Freiburg, Copenhagen, and other bike-friendly places, motorised traffic is more mindful of cyclists. This doesn’t yet happen in the the UK because there’s scant legal protection for cyclists, and there are not enough of us. It’s chicken and egg, of course, but fantasising about a utopia where segregated cycle facilities cure all carries the very real risk of marginalising cycling (think Milton Keynes).

Naturally, it’s a good negotiating technique to shoot for the moon, never say never, but dreamers make for poor deal-makers. Visionaries can dream the future, can push for the future, but it’s deal-makers who build the future.

The fantastic cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands took many years to develop and cycling was given both cash and clout.

Such infrastructure, when built to world-class standards, would be welcome but let’s not lose sight of the fact we need to make the best of what we’ve got. As roads go everywhere, we need to keep access to those roads for the current crop of cyclists and for future generations. Roads are not dangerous; it’s the bad drivers on them that are dangerous.

Those vividly in favour of segregation above all else say we will only get a mass cycling culture in this country if we build protected cycle lanes. Think of the children! Think of grannies! Think of teenage girls! None of those would ever want to cycle next to thundering lorries or ‘claim their lane’ in Forester-style heroics. Thing is, such people are being attracted to cycling, despite the often cruddy conditions out there.

But, then again, why would hesitant cyclists ride on busy roads? Far better to stick to the side roads, where there’s less chance of meeting juggernauts. Standard advice for newbies is find quieter routes, something that can now be done online or via the iPhone journey planning app I created for the Bike Hub levy fund.

Don’t talk segregation; talk short-cuts. Campaign for closing off road entrances.

In central London, there are an amazing amount of new cyclists appearing. On the roads. And they are not all ‘cyclists’; most of the newbies are ‘people on bikes’. Sure, protected cycle lanes on every road would encourage even more newbies to hop on bikes but such a radical redesign of the country flies in the face of British history. For 100 years, our roads have been modified to suit the motorcar. 1930s trunk roads which were built with adjoining protected cycle lanes were long ago changed into race-tracks for cars. This was wrong and uncivilised but motormyopia is so virulent in the UK it’s going to take a miracle to reverse a century of short-sightedness.

Waiting for a miracle can lead to inaction in the here and now. One of the problems with aiming for the sky is it’s an awfully long way away and it’s easy to get discouraged when you’re hardly off the ground, never mind making it into the troposphere. Yet there are many, many things that can improve the lot of cyclists at local and national levels: the aggregation of marginal gains is a concept from sport cycling but can be just as easily applied to cycle campaigning.

To get more people to use bikes requires much more than just infrastructure. Build it and they will come is true only in part. The UK Government is willing to spend millions of pounds creating an ‘electric vehicle recharging infrastructure’ but isn’t relying on that alone, it is also going to bribe early adopters with fat grants. (Now you could argue that the Government ought to do that for cycling, too. It would be fair and sensible to do so, but the windscreen perspective of this Government and all previous ones, too, is too entrenched).

The rise in cycling in recent years might be just a trickle compared to 31 million cars on the roads but all snowballs start small.

Yes, modal share is still pitifully low, but it’s definitely growing (DfT Excel stats). And it’s growing without widespread segregation. At some major junctions in rush-hour London, 30 or 40 cyclists are at the head of queues. Cars and trucks can’t get past. A major modal share shift won’t happen overnight but – with Government support of cycling or not – it’s coming. Gridlock, Peak Oil, piss-poor public transport and other factors, will see to that.

On many stretches of road, segregated facilities make sense and I’d be first in line calling for their introduction, but to have as your chief aim the demand for an infrastructure spend of billions when cycling isn’t even getting millions right now means your aim can be dismissed as fantasy by the powers-that-be. We need many smaller aims, not just one big one.

We have to share the road, we have to live in the real world.

I, too, hate, and campaign against, dangerous driving; but partition – easier said than done – is not the only answer. It may not even be the best answer.

I’m a multi-discipline cyclist, mostly I ride a cargo bike in civvies but now and then switch to roadie mode when I ride my full-carbon race machine. I’m male, fit and fast, but I don’t consider myself just a so-called ‘vehicular cyclist’. I use and mightily approve of segregated facilities, when they’re worthwhile, but no UK Government is going to build a perfect cycle network from my house to every single destination I ever want to get to.

However, there’s an imperfect road system that does this and I want to keep the right to ride on roads. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying all cyclists should use dual carriageways in order to maintain cycle use on those highways but I want to make my own route decisions, I don’t want to be channelled.

In the Netherlands, use of some cycle paths is obligatory. Cyclists are forbidden from roads where this is the case. Imagine, if you will, some crappy segregated route local to you that you had to use even though you knew the road route was quicker, cleaner, better; perhaps even safer. You’d want to use that, but couldn’t. Segregation has the potential to bite back.

We need to campaign to curb idiot motorists; we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking partition is a panacea.

It’s worth remembering the desire for partition isn’t unique to cyclists. Segregation is something motorists have campaigned for since the early days of motoring. With cyclists off the road, motorists assume they’ll be able to drive faster (they won’t, of course, it’s the hundreds of cars in front of them holding them up, not cyclists).

Motorways were the result of this desire for obstruction-free driving. We really don’t want more and more public highways to be turned over to motorised traffic only. Be careful what you wish for.

I am not advocating martyrdom. I don’t ride on roads as an act of defiance. I don’t allow my kids to cycle to school on roads as a form of protest. It’s all to do with practicality. Roads go everywhere so, as the Reid family is a cycling family, we accept that the majority of our riding will be on roads. Yes, we get bullied and buzzed by ignorant, uncaring motorists – which irks me no end – but segregated routes without a sea-change in driver attitudes, and stiff penalties for infractions, bring their own potential problems, such as turn zone crashes and other nasties.

Bikeability cycle training has the same ‘real world’ aim. It doesn’t teach kids how to ride on segregated cycle facilities, it teaches them how to cycle on roads. One of the weaknesses of ‘cycle proficiency’ was cycling lessons in playgrounds, not on roads.

We must not buckle when bullied. We should stand up for our rights. The UK road network does not belong to motorists, as I bang on about on iPayRoadTax.com and RoadsWereNotBuiltForCars.com, it belongs to us all. We must not cede rights in return for a few slivers of narrow tarmac bounded by kerbs.

I’m not against quality, NL-style bicycle infrastructure. Far from it. I’d love to see lots of extra facilities, it’s just I don’t want anything taken away. I want the cycle path and the road: I don’t want any cycling group to sign away my right to ride on roads.

A council could one day wrest an agreement from a local cycle group to cede rights on a certain road in return for a cycle facility close by. But will this facility be as useful as the existing road? Will cyclists get priority at junctions, or will they be bought off with fancy promises but then the actual facility adds time to commutes, fills with debris, and is eventually forgotten by the council? “Hey, we gave you bolshy cyclists your cycle facility, now stay off the rest of the local road network.”

If the current Government feels it can easily turn off cycling’s money, yet give £5000 sweeteners to rich buyers of electric cars, and spend billions on trunk roads and motorways in our supposed ‘age of austerity’, we’re not going to get very far by demanding infrastructure and pointing to countries where such infrastructure is either in place already or where it’s being installed. It’s easy for politicians to say ‘ah, yes, but that’s Amsterdam/New York City/Bogota, that won’t work here.’ Of course, it would work here – something Cycling England’s Cycling Demonstration Towns prove – but if this Government is happy to scrap the cheap-as-chips Cycling England and put nothing in its place, we’re up against an immovable foe. So, don’t fight this beast head-on, or alone. We have to be more subtle, more multi-faceted, more willing to align with other groups – such as pedestrian orgs – who also want to tame car speeds.

There are 245,000 miles of roads in the UK. Are those in favour of widespread segregation expecting 245,000 miles of segregated routes? That would cost billions upon billions.

No? Are pro-segregationists therefore asking for some lesser mileage of segregation? Yes? Me too. But at the same time we need to change motorists’ behaviour, not just lobby for miles and miles of raised kerbs and bollards. Without such a legally-enforced change in driver attitudes we wouldn’t get very far. Literally.

Of course, given that the current Transport Secretary believes he’s on a pro-motorist crusade, reining in drivers is also pretty much a pipe-dream but let’s keep our campaigning widely focussed, not fixated on a single issue such as segregation over all else. A good start would be to clamour for slower speed limits, curtailment of pavement parking (pavements can be considered segregated infrastructure for pedestrians, but that doesn’t stop motorists encroaching on this infrastructure), and the introduction of ‘strict liability’, which would shift the insurance-related presumption for blame in car v bike incidents to motorists. Roadpeace and CTC are hot on this topic.

These measures, along with segregation, is what makes the Netherlands such a strong cycling country.

Segregation – which, I’ll stress again is a good thing…when done to a high standard – is merely one part of a much bigger picture. And part of that bigger picture is trying to work with the present administration. Sadly, Hammond is pro-car, pro-motorway and will splash just the barest minimum of cash on sustainable travel. No amount of starry-eyed optimism or we-can-make-it-happen-if-only-we-thought-big will change that. The political will for a radical rethink of urban transport in this country is just not there.

Building cycle infrastructure – like building any infrastructure – is a costly, long-term project. It needs politicians with a 20-50 year perspective but the great majority are short-termist, always looking at the quick fix, something that might get them elected next time round.

There’s no Ken Livingstone style figure waiting in the wings, ready to roll out cycle infrastructure if only he/she was given the chance. No mainstream political party in the UK is progressive enough to be truly pro-bicycle.

This doesn’t mean we should give up, but it does mean we have to be clever about what we push for. And we need to think strategically, rather than fixate on just one goal.

The 6th Century Chinese military leader Sun Tzu stressed the importance of positioning in strategy, and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment. In ‘The Art of War’ he wrote that strategic thinking requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions.

Cycle advocates need to have lots of weapons in their arsenal, not just one. Sun Tzu’s probable view of the ‘segregation or nothing’ strategy? Easily defeated because not flexible enough.

Instead, how about pushing for lots of smaller goals? This is a stealth tactic that can work. For instance, in your locality, campaign for a certain road to be closed to traffic with bollards. Just one road. Not much to ask for. But then, after this success, pick another road and work hard on getting that closed to cars, too. Do this lots of times and, eventually, there will be a permeable network for cyclists.

By asking for too much, too soon, we don’t come over as pragmatic or sensible. But even our best arguments, our best weapons, won’t work on central Government as it stands: to propel the active travel agenda we have to stop pushing against the pricks. We’ll have to see the back of Hoverboard Hammond before any real progress can be made, and it will probably need a whole new administration before our arguments are genuinely heard again.

Caroline Lucas for transport secretary! Julian Huppert for minister in charge of cycling! Steven Norris and Lord Adonis as ‘special advisors’! See, I can be a dreamer, too.

Take a look at this video I shot as part of an all-party parliamentary fact-finding visit to the Netherlands. It shows why ‘strict liability’ is one of the, ahem, driving forces for better road manners. But it also shows Dutch cyclists aren’t all on fancy-schmancy segregated routes: much of the cycling portrayed is on roads. You know, with cars.

Study finds that e-cars take up same roadspace as normal cars

Scientists at CCLU of London have discovered that cars, buses and other vehicles powered by batteries (EVs) take up the same road space as vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines (ICE vehicles).

Philip Hammond, lead researcher in the Electric Vehicle Studies Department, part of the Tooth Fairy Faculty at Cloud Cuckoo Land University in Westminister, said he was baffled by the results but didn’t feel the findings would make a jot of difference to policy makers around the world.

“As we all know we’re running out of oil and suffocating in a funk of transport-related carbon emissions so the only hope for motorists is the electric vehicle. Governments around the world are pinning their hopes on EVs taking the place of ICE vees.

“Decarbonising transport is an important goal but we all assumed EVs would also cure congestion. Our study has found this not to be the case.”

Professor Hammond’s report ‘Cars Are Magic, Aren’t They?’ includes photographs of a test track in the Midlands which was filled with standard ICE vehicles and was then later filled with electric vehicles.

The CCLU research team was surprised to find that the two sets of vehicles took up exactly the same road space.



“We were shocked at first,” said Professor Hammond (nicknamed ‘Hoverboard’ by associates).

“But then we realised drivers in whatever vehicle – EV or ICE – were quite happy sitting in the queue, no matter how long we kept them there.

“As cars of the future will regularly face gridlock because we all want to drive everywhere, no matter how short the journey, our study’s final recommendation is for EVs to come factory-fitted with duvets, pillows, DVD players and other entertainment devices, and other home comforts.

“Oh, and texting ought to be allowed in the cars of the future. Won’t be much else to do, will there? After all, with 31 million cars on the UK’s already congested roads, ten million more – of which just a smidgen will be EVs – will lead to end to end traffic jams.”

Professor Hammond’s report also mentions an anti-gridlock iPhone app that could help motorists of the future.

Professor Hammond’s views on how electric cars (all 8500 of them, and all subsidised by the UK taxpayer to the tune of £5000 each) will de-carbonise the whole of the UK’s transport system by 2013 – and cure congestion at the same time – can be found in this seminar, given to the Cloud Cuckoo Land University governing body earlier this year.