This entry was posted on Saturday, October 26th, 2013 at 2:09 pm and is filed under Bicycle advocacy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
London Cycling Campaign’s current rallying cry - #space4cycling - is very clever, and on a national level, not just for London. No cyclist could possibly disagree with the slogan because the words can mean different things to different people. Those in favour of protected infrastructure can take it to mean ‘provision of dedicated separated bike paths’; those in favour of Hackney-style filtered permeability can take it to mean ‘installation of bollards to cut-out rat-runs’; and so-called ‘vehicular cyclists’ (a largely American term, its inventor, surprisingly, still getting mainstream media airtime) can take it to mean ’sharing the road with motor vehicles is easier when motorists treat cyclists as drivers of vehicles and give them space when overtaking’.
I’m a mix of all the above, and even more. (Vehicular cyclist? Yes, in the sense that, in the here and now, and probably long into the future, I’ll be cycling on roads with motor vehicles on them. This is not a desire, more a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. However, I dislike the term ‘driving a bicycle’ even though, historically, it isn’t motoring-specific: driving means herding cattle).
— Jack Thurston (@thebikeshow) October 25, 2013
— Londonneur (@Londonneur) October 25, 2013
There’s currently a fascinating debate on Twitter about the different meanings of #space4cycling, with some commentators believing #space4cycling means, by definition, taking space away from motorists to give to cyclists; and others believing no such land grab is necessary.
What’s not been mentioned yet, but can be sometimes spotted in comments on tweets and blogs where wide footways are pictured, is that some cycle campaigners wouldn’t be opposed to space being taken away from pedestrians and given to cyclists.
Some past, existing and future public highway designs give a lot of space to pedestrians, funnelling cyclists and motorists into narrow carriageways that are sometimes frustrating for all road users, but cities should give over lots of space to pedestrians.
Cycling campaigners and pedestrians ought to be on the same side here and that’s why #space4cycling might have been more inclusive, more powerful - and, eventually, more successful - if, instead, it had been billed as #space4people.
It still could be. There’s no reason why #space4people couldn’t run alongside #space4cycling. (BTW, I’m very much NOT proposing more shared footways-cum-cyclepaths).
Going back to the twitter debate above, can #space4cycling (or #space4people) be achieved without taking space from motorised vehicles? Without removing car parking spaces? And, if not, shouldn’t this be made explicit by campaigners?
Naturally, it wouldn’t go down well with the motorised majority and it’s something that you could imagine would make Eric Pickles froth at the mouth, but can ‘reallocation of roadspace’ and other forms of #space4cycling really be done without some winners and some losers?