Drop what you’re thinking

We all have long-held beliefs. Many of them are perfect conventional. The problem with long-held conventional beliefs is they’re often out of date. They’re based on information with a shelf life that has passed.

Take road engineers and their political masters with their 1950s vision of our transport future…

Wait. That’s very, very important. But…

Please let’s start closer to home: Do we, all of us who already ride, still believe we should be campaigning for better conditions for cyclists?

The average Joe or Jo doesn’t give a flying proverbial about cyclists. S/he doesn’t care about cycle lanes or cycle safety and would rather you didn’t keep harping on like you’re all that.

When we ask for investment in cycling, we get… as much money as anything that the general public holds no keen interest in.

So, what do people care about? What superordinate goals do we have in common?

There are plenty of noble and hot-button issues that unite us: freedom, equality, fairness, choice, quality of life, quality of neighbourhoods, greenery, child safety… Personally I believe the latter is paramount. The famed ‘Stop the Child Murder’ campaign in the Netherlands used this, and it is still powerful. Child safety is an issue that unites people, that can grab the attention of a large enough segment of a disillusioned and distracted public to make a difference. Think of Pudsey bear.

Our streets are massively unsafe for children. Traffic safety experts count how many people are killed or injured on our streets, but not how many children are using them. Not how many children are locked away inside for fear of being knocked down and killed in their own street. Short version: do we care more about our cars or our kids?

I’d suggest we’d do better to campaign for a wholesale ‘war on anti-child streets’ than to harp on selfishly about space for cyclists. We do no favours – to ourselves nor our children – if we don’t.

What’s your opinion?