“Try taking up cycling, not just for leisure purposes but as a regular means of transport. If you are a reader in Germany, Holland or Denmark you will likely live in cities where cycling is very common
or even the predominant mode of transport. This applies to some cities in the UK such as York and Cambridge, and Portland in the US. We strongly recommend that you don’t just buy a bike, jump on
it and set off into traffic. In many towns and cities there are groups set up that will take you out and show you how to ride safely in an urban environment.”
I have posted before that cycling is not the answer to peak oil. Or at least the magic bullet, but then we think there is no magic bullet.
I cycle to church every week but have not cycled to work for some years, principally since I have not had work to cycle to. When I cycled to the university where I did my doctorate I cycled along a canal 90% of the way. So it is more years than I remember than I fought my way through Edinburgh’s traffic at rush hour. Ironically in a previous job I cycled almost half my current route. This gives me an opportunity to compare traffic and cycling conditions and see how much they have changed.
Almost all my route is on road, some of this is on road cycle lanes- but these are little help. I use one off road stretch which is a short cut. There are couple of other short stretches of off road lanes, one of which is useless and the other, essentially pavement, takes me round a a roundabout under the bypass. This letter very useful stretch is a cycle lane (though not marked as one) since there is a twocan. As far as cycling provision very little has changed since I first cycled out this way. There are advanced markings at all the junctions, but I’m pretty certain they were (just) there when I last cycled out this way.
The big change cycling to work is in the volume of traffic. Remember I was partly cycling to work this way before. I’m not doing a scientific survey but my overwhelming impression is that road traffic has fallen dramatically. I’m cycling out of town against the main volume of traffic but this makes it easier to see how many cars are going into town. Since I last cycled to work this way the oil price has soared and along with it the price of petrol and diesel. People in my view must be using their cars less. I’ve been trying to decide whether our road (one of the main routes into town) is quieter since 2008 and I think it must be. Another indication of change is that I’ve seen little change in the volume of traffic in the school holidays. There used to be a huge drop when the schools, especially the private schools were off. Less traffic makes cycling to work a far more pleasurable experience. The motorists for the most part seem more bike aware than in previous years.
Since I’m going out of town the number of other cyclists I see going my way are few. I know traffic surveys have shown that the number of people cycling to work is growing in Edinburgh, but its nothing like the increase in London. The way I go I see few other cyclists. Usually their backside as they burn past me. The only incident so far I have had was a collision with another cyclist (my fault). Lastly, in the last kilometre there is a very short stretch of downhill road with a radar gun and a speed indicator. When there are no cars (which there usually aren’t) I try to beat my record. So far 31mph with the LED flashing at me!
PS. Any of you that run a blog know about the battle with spam comments. I have installed a new anti-spam plugin to count how much of our visits are genuine. It seems the great majority so far, which is good. Its extremely effective at blocking. If you cannot comment though let me know via the books FB page (link on the right).