Sunday, 25 February 2018

One Of The Greenest People

It's a very short post this week, because I have very busy (more at the end), but I want to recount a conversation I had with a colleague earlier in the week.

We were having one of those "if I was in charge" discussions and inevitably, the subject of cycling came up. Both my colleague and I cycle to work and we are in agreement that an infrastructure-led approach is the only one which will enable everyone to cycle who wants to.

At one point, they commented that I was one of the greenest people they knew (because I cycle to work) which made be chuckle. I explained that in terms of getting to work, being green is way down the list after journey reliability and saving money. For me, it's probably even secondary to having some daily activity and just getting out in the fresh air!

It's funny how we always feel the need to slot people into pigeon holes, whereas people are obviously far more complex than their mode of travel, their politics, their beliefs and so on. Clever people have done lots of research into this and how we end up with the "othering" of minorities (depending on which pigeon hole is being used).

Active travel could be a great leveller in the UK. We could transfer so many local journeys to foot and cycle to the point where our urban places would be transformed. But all we seem to hear on an almost daily basis is the dissonance of new road schemes and people getting killed on our streets. This isn't about being green, it's about being rational, logical and practical; traits which have largely been abandoned in political and media discourse.

Anyhoo, ignore my ramblings, the important news from me this week is the release of the draft version of "Making Streets Better: The Joy Of Kerbs" over on my City Infinity website. Hopefully there is something in there to inspire you that change is possible. Perhaps if the skeleton of our streets could be changed to enable active travel, then we could all be green people!


  1. This post made me smile! I bike to work every day (8-10km each way depending on the route I take). People always comment on how "active" I am, whereas I see myself as one of the laziest people around... I'm sitting the whole way, riding super slow, just enjoying the sights around me. Nothing strenuous at all, but it's certainly not seen that way by someone who is driving.

    1. I get the impression that there are many like us, where cycling just makes sense!

  2. Part of the challenge of promoting cycling is maintaining the distinction between the reasons why we, as a society, want people to cycle e.g., less pollution, safer roads, public health, making more people-friendly cities; and the reasons why people actually choose to cycle e.g., cost, convenience, reliability, fun, exercise. There's not much point encouraging people to cycle for altruistic reasons when most people cycle for purely selfish ones (in a good way).

  3. One of my reasons for enjoying cycling is slowing drivers down. It's also one reason why I stubbornly stick to speed limits, or what I deem to be a safe speed for the conditions (whichever is lower) when driving.

    Of course it's not a primary reason, or a particularly good one, but I do get a bit of perverse pleasure when I know a following driver is getting frustrated out of all proportion to the delay I may cause them.

    The unfortunate flipside is the worry that their unnecessary frustration will encourage them to drive dangerously once they're no longer behind me.

    I'm an awkward sod. :o)



    PS: There are a couple of places on my (cycle) commute where I'll happily pull over to allow faster traffic to pass - I'm not a complete git.