Sunday, 7 February 2010

The WATM Podcast Episode 7

Bit of a gap before this, but don't worry, this week's podcast is a cracker. We tackle the media and its coverage of technology, the United Nations Human Rights Council, Bicycle hire schemes and the final stage of the Ukrainian presidential election. We cram in a cocktail and some jabbering - enjoy!

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1 comment:

David said...

The cycling superhighways seem an almost entirely pointless idea. As far as I can tell they're effectively blue cycle lanes. The routes they'll be on are mostly major roads so probably already have bus lanes along most of their length, so I fail to see the advantage of adding another a bit of blue paint on top of the red. If they take the opportunity to redesign some of the junctions/road layout on the routes to make them more usable for bikes that would certainly be positive but the lanes themselves seem to be far more about marketing than any real improvement in the road conditions.

Clearly London simply doesn't have the room to implement a system of segregated paths on the scale of somewhere like Copenhagen but there's plenty that can be done to adapt our existing road network to make it more cycle friendly. Slowing cars, removing one-way systems, better designed junctions, improving the road surface all help. Sadly a lot of the existing cycle lanes are at best useless and at worst potentially lethal. They frequently lead the nervous or inexperienced cyclist onto the most dangerous parts of the road and increase friction with motorists.

Ultimately though, the single biggest factor in reducing cycling causalities is increasing the number of cyclists. As cycling has increased over the last few years the number of deaths has dropped, both in proportional terms and, I think, actual numbers, which is why I'm cautiously optimistic about the bike hire scheme. It will certainly launch with too few bikes and too few stations, but I think it's another step towards normalising cycling and making more people consider it an utterly routine everyday activity. Not something you have to dress up in silly clothes and funny shoes to do, but just a practical way of getting about and getting your shopping home, and more bikes on the road reduces the risk for everyone.

London's roads aren't particularly dangerous to cycle on, much less than people assume, I think it really is much more about people lacking the confidence to do so. Some London Boroughs offer free cycle training which seems to be an excellent way to increase a persons confidence and ensure they have the basic skills and knowledge to ride safely. Cycling probably isn't for everyone, but I think as the numbers grow far more people will be willing to consider it as a viable transport option.

If you ever want to go for a little ride I'd be more than happy to join you.