Plans are awheel

Posted for Ted Liddle

Plans are awheel to improve cycling in and around parts of Hexham to encourage more people to cycle more often for more reasons – there will be more about this in 2014. But how does Hexham and the UK compare with other places.

Some countries are doing exceptionally well, others not,” says Kevin Mayne of the Brussels-based European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF). “Where things are going well, you see cycle-specific infrastructure, car-free city centres, cyclists and pedestrians prioritized.”
“But there’s no single ‘Europe,’” he adds. “You have to win the political argument in each city, region and country. Our biggest task now is to keep councils and governments focused on the value of cycling investment”.

Some 35 million people use bicycles as their preferred form of transportation in mainland Europe every day but that’s only 7% of the population. The ECF wants to double 7% by 2020 partly by encouraging governments to spend at least 10% of their transportation budgets on cycling initiatives.

In countries such as Denmark and Holland, entire road systems have been long since been designed around cyclists and pedestrians. Public bike-share programmes operate in dozens of cities across the continent and one is being talked about for Hexham. Supporters say adopting such schemes is key to revolutionizing the bicycle culture of towns and cities.
In Northumberland we must persuade our sustainable transport officers to spend their budget for cycling measures wisely and start to include Tynedale in their plans. Its good to think Tynedale has started to plan to be more cycle-friendly but its far too soon to be anything other than cautiously optimistic.

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