25 Mar 2008

Britain fails on trains, bikes, buses, walking...

its worse than you think one of the oldest bit of cycle path in Britain is under threat, yes the local authority want to close the Bristol-Bath Cycle way and replace it with a bus lane.

Does the British government care about the environment...no they would rather sell nuclear power stations to developing countries...for a 'few dollars more' is the motto.

Nice to have this press release, send me good stuff like this and I will blog, health and time permitting

Britain's failure to build transport infrastructure for a sustainable future.
A Study Tour for transport professionals, politicians, campaigners and journalists
interested in sustainable transport.
There have been many words spoken about reducing CO2 emissions to tackle climate change, increasing the amount of exercise taken by the population to fight obesity and about our streets being made into places where people matter instead of motor vehicles. However, Britain still does not invest sufficiently in truly sustainable transport. In fact, new infrastructure is still designed very much like the old infrastructure, emphasizing flow of motorized traffic above all else, reducing opportunities to take exercise as a part of everyday life, and decreasing the freedom of people to make use of the space outside their home. As a result, Britain remains near the bottom in Europe so far as use of sustainable transport is concerned, obesity is growing and children are not given the freedom to get sufficient exercise.

Until now, Britain has produced far more words than it has action. Announcements of available money often sound substantial, but they're spread thinly and have low priority. Britain still spends just a tiny proportion of the transport budget on cycling and walking. Well under 1%. Along with the lack of money there is the problem of a lack of vision about what good quality design for cyclists and pedestrians actually means. Low quality infrastructure makes the use of alternatives to the car unattractive.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Having made different policy decisions over many decades, the Dutch now travel travel by bicycle more often than by car. There is universal well designed infrastructure which makes cycling an appealing option for most people. As a result, most people cycle. Cyclists feel safe and their journeys are efficient and direct. Virtually all children cycle to school daily, incidence of obesity is comparatively low and reliance on fossil fuels for travel is smaller than in the UK.

The Dutch success is real, not just hot air. Their success could and should be copied in the UK.
Quick Facts:
In Britain, under 2% of all journeys are made by bicycle. In the Netherlands the equivalent figure is around 30%.

In Britain, most journeys under 2 miles are made by car. In the Netherlands, more journeys under 5 miles are made by bicycle than by any other means.

In the Netherlands, older people are also mobile. Over 10% of cycle journeys are made by over 60s.

Virtually all Dutch school-children cycle to school.

Levels of public transport usage in the Netherlands are not much different to those in the UK. There is far greater potential for reduction in fossil fuel reliance by encouraging cycling than by subsidizing public transport. In addition it leads to a far greater cut in fuel usage and other benefits for society such as an increase in general health and a reduction in noise and fumes.

London recently announced its largest ever figure for walking and cycling: £500M. This sounds remarkable, and it's very welcome, but breaks down to a level of expenditure which is not particularly high by European standards. The sum is to be spread across several years. For instance, in 2008/2009, £62M is to be spent for both Walking and Cycling. Across London's 7.5M population this amounts to a little over £8 per person per year. Another European capital, Amsterdam, currently spends around €26 (approximately £20) per person per year on cycling alone. Walking has a separate budget. Unlike UK cities, Dutch cities are not starting from nowhere. They have been spending this much for decades.
Who are we ?
We are a British family who have lived and cycled in many parts of the UK including London, Cambridge, Somerset and Yorkshire. Our cycling experience includes commuting, shopping, tours with and without children, a little racing and even riding Land's End to John O'Groats.

We now live in the green city of Assen in the North of the Netherlands. Winters are cold here and headwinds are fierce, but the population of 63000 people nevertheless makes an average of 70000 cycle journeys per day. We make our share of those journeys.
What are we doing ?
We are organising Study Tours for all interested parties to show how much has been achieved in this country. We will be showing participants the result of design for people rather than for motorised vehicles. We will show the practical results of putting into action long term plans to achieve a more mobile and fitter society.

Over 3 full days we will show commuting routes, school routes, city centres, residential areas, links between villages and the design of new developments. All these were designed with cycling as a priority. We also have a presentation from local experts giving their rationale.

The cost of participating has been kept low in order that it will be accessible to as many people as possible.

Full details of the Study Tour, including photos and feedback from previous participants, can be found on our website:


The first Study Tour this year runs from the 13th to the 15th of May. This tour is now fully booked and has participants from Avon, Cambridge, London, Manchester and Southampton. We are now taking bookings for the second Study Tour which runs from the 20th to the 22nd of May and soon will be taking bookings for the third Study Tour which runs from the 10th to the 12th of June.
Articles in English about Dutch cycling policies:

Photos of Dutch cycling conditions including hi-resolution photos suitable for press use can be downloaded from here:


Contact details
Hembrow Family
Vechtstraat 19
9406 PM Assen
0031 592 854808


t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Just a quick note to say G'day Derek & thanks for your interest.

Novlangue said...

Actually the %age of journeys on bikes is about 23%. Good, but not a majority. And the real reason? Holland is FLAT. The reason most Londoners don't cycle is because of the hills. But to face that fact would be to admit that people are human, unlike the Marxist robots.

PS Why aren't you supporting Sian Berry?

S. Keita

Anonymous said...

Novlangue, you have a few things wrong.

The official figure is 27% of all journeys by bike.

The high rate of cycling in the Netherlands has little to do with the country being flat. Flat countries have stronger headwinds - which are worse for cyclists than hills.

In any case, most cities in the world are pretty near flat, including London.

The UK is doing very badly. It lags behind Switzerland in its rate of cycling. I assure you that Switzerland is somewhat hillier than London.

Doug Ford Jr has a message for Elizabeth May, Caroline Lucas and all the Greens!

Sat at a computer in the library, I am aware that the woman looking at the screen next to me is becoming increasingly agitated.  ...