Most people who cycle into town do so because it makes the most sense given the various options of travel. When deciding how to travel, we examine:
- Relative Cost
- Enjoyment / fear of danger
- Time Taken
- Convenience (e.g. can we park near our destination) Do we have to carry waterproofs)
To encourage cycling, you need to tackle some or all of these.
Increasing Car Parking charges.
Effective for raising the relative cost of driving into city centres. A £3 parking charge makes a big difference to discouraging car use in city centres. My old landlord started cycling the 1 mile to work, exactly because his work no longer gave him a free car parking spot. (used to work for Oxford University). He said the first time he cycled the 1 mile to work his legs felt like jelly, but now he’s very enthusiastic about cycling the 2 miles every day.
I often wonder why Oxford has so many cyclists, when some facilities seem very inadequate. The biggest reason is probably students, but one important reason is that some key roads in city centre are either pedestrian or semi-pedestrian. When you get to these roads, it feels like a cyclist paradise. It really is enjoyable cycling without cars and buses breathing down your neck. It doesn’t last for too long, but, even small efforts to remove vehicles make a big difference. Also pedestrian areas and one way systems effectively increase the relative time taken for driving compared to cycling.
It is no surprise that Amsterdam’s boom in cycle use came after
- Imposing more one way systems
- Limiting car access in key areas
- Increasing parking charges.
A real cycle path is one that actually feels safe. It’s not a small line painted onto a narrow road, but one that offers some separation to other road users. This simply makes a big difference for ‘novice cycle users’ – The mum’s carrying kids on bike e.t.c.
Lower Speed Limits
Sometimes your negotiating a roundabout and a car overtakes at a seeming 30mph, it’s scary – no statistics about how cycling is relatively safe can change the fact cycling becomes stressful. Imposing 20mph zones (i.e traffic calming measures to reduce speed and enforce 20mph limits) make a huge difference. It’s also no chance that a car hitting someone at 20mph has only a 10% of fatality. At 30mph this increases to a 50% chance of fatality.
Good cycle stands. facilities at work to change.
Culture of Cycling
It is simply easier to encourage people to cycle when cyclists are more visible. In other words there can be a bandwagon effect, once more people cycle, this in itself encourages people to cycle. This is why cycle rates in cities can vary from 0.1% in Bradford to 20% in Cambridge (approx I remember these off the top of my head). Cycle campaigns which raise awareness and show how it is practical to cycle do make a difference in the long term.