Europe ‘way ahead’ of Britain for cyclists
Last updated at 12:49, Tuesday, 31 July 2012
A bike-mad pensioner who has cycled across Europe and America says Cumbria and Britain is lagging “hundreds of miles” behind other countries in being “cycle friendly” towards residents and visitors.
Retired engineer Ian Thwaite and wife Heather, both 78, have taken their bikes all over the world but say facilities and infrastructure at home are woeful.
Mr Thwaite, of Wigton, says his experiences in Germany, Belgium and Holland have put Cumbria and the UK in the shade.
“We are hundreds of miles behind. We haven’t even a cycle route from Maryport to Silloth. No-one wants to put any money into it. Even though Britain won the Tour de France and more people are cycling than ever, even smaller countries like Belgium with a population of eight million are further ahead than us.”
He cited an example of catching a train from Carlisle to Newcastle on their way to Holland when he said the pair were told tandems were not allowed on trains, a contrast to Berlin where a range of bikes are encouraged on public transport. Mr Thwaite said: “We had taken the wheels out and the chain and it was about half-a-wheel larger than an ordinary bike. We just don’t seem geared up for bikes in this country.”
Joselyn Rankin, public relations manager for Northern Rail, said: “Our trains can accommodate two bicycles and space is allocated on a first come, first served basis.
“Unfortunately, due to the wide variety of shapes and sizes and the potential obstruction they could cause in an emergency; we are unable to convey tandems, tricycles or motorised cycles. Northern Rail welcomes cyclists on-board all our services. We’re working hard with our industry partners to increase cycling provision across our network.
With increased storage facilities and a new bike hire scheme rolling out at 25 of our stations next year, we hope this helps us make an impact. .”
Mr Thwaite, who used to work at UCB in Wigton – now Innovia Films – is a familiar site on the roads around the area, but said he wouldn’t cycle on the main roads to Cockermouth, Keswick or Carlisle due to the volume and speed of traffic.
He said visitors on the cross-country Coast-to-Coast route also wouldn’t realise it was behind in Europe in not being a dedicated cycle path.
Matt Hemsley, of leading UK charity Sustrans, which encourages cycling, agreed with Mr Thwaite’s assessment.
Mr Hemsley said: “In Holland they spend £25 per head on cycling and in this country we spend £1. If government, nationally or locally, really wants to get people cycling it needs to do a lot more. Investment in cycling pays massive dividends on the national health service.”
Tim Knowles, the transport and environment portfolio holder for Cumbria County Council, said: “It’s absolutely true that cycle provision in this country is nowhere near as good as places like Holland or western Europe.
“I don’t think Cumbria is especially bad, in fact Cumbria is pretty good compared to many places. Cumbria is a large county and we are investing in cycle paths but there is a lack of funding from Government for the development of more cycle facilities.”
First published at 11:26, Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
I think its scandalous-the government's constantly telling us to be healthy but they won't put any money into facilities.With over Â£5 tax on a packet of cigarettes and god knows how much on a pint,you'd think they could put a bit back into helping people choose healthier alternatives.
Djr. I travel by car on both locality's and I believe you exaggerate a little against cyclists. It is not compulsory to use cyclelanes/paths and in fact many are akin to potholed roads with puddles to use, I myself do see cyclists on both pavements with cyclelanes, they do have allocated space for cycling along with exception... you mention Stanwix bank which does not have a cyclepath from the Cricket Ground junction on Edenbridge onwards north. I have been told by another cyclist that he was stopped by police as he believed that he could ride I assume speedily south down the steepbank towards Edenbridges, which incidentally has a lampost placed in the centre of the cyclepath, I'm not sure if speed is mentioned in Highwaycode for cyclists perhaps Bradley can answer but some do go far too fast on shared paths. Even with disc brakes, it can be scary walking. Mostly the many broken slabs in most instances on some city paths are shared by pedestrians and at certain times (ie, school pupils ganged together) they can be well blocked by other groups of people walking the full breadth of paths. I use the new and old not really nice slabbed city cyclepaths most for leisure purposes and where no paths I use the roads. The many obstacles a cyclist confronts on some Carlisle cyclepaths it is quicker using the roads but I only use when I feel safe sharing a tiny bit of road with vehicles. A new crux is those that use earphones whilst walking and are totally deaf to cycle bells. I'm also a motorist and very aware of the driver that unlawfully uses a mobile whilst driving in regard safety of other road users. Then of course their's Golden cyclists with Bradley Wiggins mentioning in a news comment on sad fatal accident of cyclist at the London Olympics that cyclists should'nt really be using ipods when cycling. Thankfully he also commented on road/cyclists safety etc....... Their is a lot of catching up with continental countries - the nybikeblog author adds, London is the only country, he knows that a cyclist has to share lanes with buses.
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