20 February 2009

My noble Lords...

According to the Hansard, the House of Lords debated walking and cycling on 16 Oct 2008. The starting question, put by Lord Krebs (a real name), was "What steps they are taking with local authorities to encourage walking and cycling in urban areas?".

I'm not being political here (not in the 'party' sense) but I'm left feeling we shouldn't put too much hope in this kind of debate producing much of use to real cyclists - or walkers.

Yes, it is good that cycling should be on the agenda and that Parliament should worry about 'cycling' and 'walking' levels in the UK being well.

Yes, one noble Lord did manage to correctly identify that not feeling safe when cycling is the main deterrent (the point David Hembrow is always making).

But it all seems to have fizzled out into statements that either reinforce prejudices or seem detached from reality - or at least, lacking in a holistic view of reality. Take this utterance:

"the big challenge for us is to see that children and adults alike feel confident in riding their bicycles on the streets and taking them out into those superb national parks and other areas of rural beauty and extremely healthful living that my noble friend highlighted"

So, it's not about cycling to work or cycling to school or to the shops - rather, it lumps cycling firmly on the leisure sector, as a pastime to be made enjoyable. Perhaps I exaggerate.

Then, a Baroness what's-her-name interjects with a spiteful-sounding

"My Lords, can the noble Lord tell us how many successful prosecutions have been brought against cyclists who have jumped red lights?"

Never mind that she's just been told the UK ranks very low in cycling levels in Europe! Let's focus on cycling as the problem, rather than the problems for cycling!

And although this quote is about walking, it surely gives a good picture of the level and relevance of the debate I'm referring to:

"My Lords, a lot has been said about cycling but not as much has been said about walking, although all the evidence shows that the amount of walking that people do is declining. I know what keeps me walking: it is my dog. Perhaps the Government should consider encouraging more people to keep dogs."
(Lord Hanningfield - own blog an'all!)

So there you have it, my noble Lords and Ladies: forget cycling, it's dog walking the nation needs.


WestfieldWanderers said...

An excellent demonstration of how utterly detached from reality that bunch of sanctimonious buffoons are. They're all of as much practical use to running a successful country as a chocolate teapot.

Come back Guy Fawkes. All is forgiven.

workbike said...

It's the 'Cyclist Dismount' syndrome: focus on cycling as a problem and avoid the issue.

Well, bless them, most of their riding involves horses and never leaves their own estate.