Saturday, 4 September 2010

Innovative ways to increase cycling

So, TFL have release some new videos showing young celebrities (and some "ordinary people") cycling, presumably with the intention of showing how cool cycling really is. Since, I didn't know most of the celebrities in the videos, I am willing to admit I am not part of the target demographic.

Now, the series of films cost £300k to make, around £50k per film.

Now one could be cynical about the whole exercise, but £300k is a mere drop in the ocean as far a TFL budget is concerned, so it isn't as if they are betting the farm on a few whimsical films. I could point out that none of the films appears to have found any traffic in London - a truly spectacular achievement. Although, I guess having Dermot and friends  dodging black cabs, white vans and red buses to then find the ASLs full of cars, and mopeds wouldn't really give the desired impression.

The concern I have with this type of cycle marketing fluff is not that it exists, but that it is really all that exists.

If it coincided with some real revolutionary cycle provision and infrastructure then one could forgive TfL for producing the marketing fluff. But all we get for infrastructure are some blue roads where it won't inconvenience motorists. TfL, along with a many organisations connected to transport (including  - to their shame - some large cycling organisations) believe that someday a magical "critical mass" of cyclists will appear in London, and the streets will be transformed into scenes reminiscent of Copenhagen, or Amsterdam, without any of the inconvenience or cost of actually investing in a similar cycling infrastructure to that enjoyed in these cities. 

They think that all they have to do is shut their eyes and wish very hard.

Of course, this "critical mass" argument is palpable nonsense when the modal share enjoyed by cycling is so low, and the main reason non-cyclists won't cycle is the perceived dangers generated by the poor infrastructure and lawless drivers.

Still, TfL may yet have a hand in increasing cycling. Between them and Bob Crow, next week may see many more people looking to the bicycle (and the cycle hire scheme) to get them to their offices around the city.  So maybe TfL, with not a little help from Bob Crow, may actually get more people on their bicycles after all.

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