There are obvious economic reasons for what’s happening here. Cars are far more expensive to buy and run than bikes. With rising fuel costs and wide spread economic hardship, bikes are an obvious way of saving money. Why spend on a gym subscription when you can cycle to work and save money on both? For anyone interested in improving their health and fitness, swapping a stressful short commute a bike ride is an obvious choice.
There are other practical reasons though. While cars sit in congestion, bikes can slip through, taking advantage of cycle paths and bike lanes, towpaths and other shortcuts. You don’t need to find a car sized space to leave your bike in, and usually you won’t pay to chain it up somewhere, either.
Cycling gives you a liberty that cars just can’t provide any more. The road is not a place of freedom or delight, and is often stressful, while the cycle path tends to be a quiet, enjoyable and safer space. Stroud has a lot of good cycle paths and the towpath, making cycling or walking a lot more fun than sitting in a queue.
Many people are turning to bikes for environmental reasons, too. Bikes do not create noise pollution or on-going air pollution. You don’t need to tarmac over vast expanses of countryside for cyclists. Bikes and pedestrians make for much friendlier urban spaces than an endless stream of cars do. On a bike, you get to be sociable. The personal advantages of both walking and cycling, are huge.
In London, Green Peer Jenny Jones is calling for 20mph speed limits to make roads safer for cyclists. https://www.london.gov.uk/media/assembly-member-press-releases/green-party/2013/12/news-from-jenny-jones-am-one-in-five-cyclists-have-abandoned We’re ahead here in Stroud, with 20mph limits in Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe. Now plans are underway to get 20mph limits into more of Stroud – further information here. http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/extra/article/115270/Stroud-20mph-Speed-Limit-Proposal
It’s great that more people are cycling. However, for that to work, we have to support cyclists by making sure they are safe. Cyclists are really exposed compared to vehicle drivers, and recent tragic deaths in London demonstrate that it’s not enough to encourage people onto bikes. We need some political effort to make sure cycling is a safe, and therefore viable choice, right across the country.