‘Drivers benefit too if cycling infrastructure is improved’
OPPORTUNITIES to improve Guernsey’s cycling infrastructure were explored at an online conference yesterday.
Chris Bruntlett, Dutch Cycling Embassy marketing and communications manager, explained the Netherlands’ transport successes.
Mr Bruntlett said that regardless of age, class or ability, cycling is for everyone.
Investing in cycling infrastructure is a win-win situation for cyclists and motorists, he said.
‘A city that works for cycling also works for driving, which seems counter-intuitive, but building the best cycling conditions in the world inadvertently built the best driving conditions in the world.’
Dutch cycling networks span roughly 37,000km, half of which have been built in the past two decades.
‘Streets are not set in stone, just because they were a certain way for an number of years doesn’t mean they need to be that way forever.’
Dutch successes are a product of hard work and difficult political decisions.
Activism pushed city planners to not prioritise motor vehicles in the 1970s.
‘Sometimes it’s not sufficient to wait for politicians to do the right thing. Sometimes you have to run for office yourself.’
The Dutch government invests the equivalent of 30 euros per person annually to support cycling infrastructure, which has improved tourism and retail business as a result of initial investments. There is no direct tax or charge to use a bicycle in Holland.
Returns also include fewer car accident mortalities and improved wellbeing so lower healthcare expenditure.
‘We’ve taken it as collateral damage for modern society that getting in a car may end our lives at some point.
‘It’s not just about saving lives, but extending and preserving lives.’
Guernsey was advised to look on the map and connect the dots to create an appropriate cycling network.
‘There needs to be a vision of where you want to be in 20 years and thought gone into design.’
The talk was organised by Guernsey Bicycle Group and sponsored by Deloitte.
GBG chairman Sam Field said despite increased active travel during lockdown, road danger removes incentive to cycle leading to car-centric culture.
‘We need to give people an equal choice. Inevitably more people would choose to walk and cycle.’
A petition is running for the Revive & Thrive strategy to partly be used to create more cycle lanes over five years, costing £8 per person per year.
. The petition on Change.org is at https://bit.ly/3ih9cNQ.