What is good cycle infrastructure?
Good cycling infrastructure makes it easy and safe for everyone to get around, regardless of the type of bike you’re on, whether it’s a slick-tyred road bike or a three-wheeled recumbent. It’s good for people who are focused on getting to work as well as slower-moving children and older users who might be more vulnerable to fast-moving traffic.
Good infrastructure for bikes usually comes in three forms. These might be:
- A physically protected space alongside a busy road, utilising barriers such as a high kerb or bollards.
- A street which is designed to allow less motor traffic and which has lower speed limits. These could be one-way systems or a ‘low-traffic neighbourhood’ with barriers in the road preventing motor vehicles from using the road.
- A traffic-free route which is completely separate from the road network. These would often be used for leisure purposes or by less confident cyclists. Shared-use routes through parks and canals or river paths are examples of these.
There are plenty of examples of bike infrastructure but we expect you’ve seen a few of those! If you need a reminder, you can see some here.
Why should we have good cycling infrastructure?
Designing cities and towns to accommodate cyclists has immense benefits. With more people cycling, fewer people will be using their cars. Therefore, roads would be quieter for those cyclists, making them safer, less congested and less polluted. The immediate benefits are obvious. More people on bikes also means less of an impact on climate change and better public health – both physically and mentally. It’s also said that having more people on bikes is of benefit to the local economy. The long-term effects are just as great.
So, how can you help improve cycling infrastructure?
1) Write to your local paper about it
Whether you have a really good piece of local infrastructure that wants shouting about or a group of local cyclists who would love to utilise a great cycle route on their grand tour of local cafes – write to your local newspaper about it.
There’s already enough bad press out there about cyclists, with divisive media causing further rifts between cyclists and drivers. So why not share a positive news story? Maybe families are out bonding over their bikes or local school children are arriving at school happier following a cycle-to-school commute. Test your literary skills and put pen to paper!
2) Encourage your workplace to become a cycle-friendly employer
Do you cycle to work? Is there a workplace cycle scheme in place? If not – ask for one! If you want to go a step further, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) created the Cycle-Friendly Employer Certification Framework, which establishes the European standard for bicycle-friendliness in the European workplace.
Having more people cycling to work makes cycling more accessible to those who aren’t quite as confident. The more cyclists there are, the numbers will only keep growing as those less confident see that they could cycle to work too. With more people cycling, the need for infrastructure increases. Of course, we would rather there be safe, accessible infrastructure first but to impact change, we might just have to make the first move occasionally.
3) Support your local cycling campaigners
There are organisations out there working to improve cycling infrastructure. Organisations like Cycling UK are actively campaigning as well as working with local authorities to enact real change on the ground. You can support these organisations in a number of ways:
- Give a one-off donation. Every little bit helps!
- Become a member. These organisations will often have a membership package, which could benefit you. Taking Cycling UK as an example, you could receive bike and accident insurance, as well as a monthly magazine for a monthly contribution.
- Volunteer. These organisations are just trying to get people out on their bikes. They do this in a variety of ways, and you could be involved. Whether carrying out bike maintenance, leading a ride or even being an admin on a local cycling Facebook page. These are all activities that will contribute to the bigger mission. By getting more people out on bikes, you’ll be able to impact cycling infrastructure indirectly.
4) Write to your local MP
Ultimately, decisions about cycling infrastructure come from local councils and where they choose to spend their money. Your local MP can have a say in this, so it helps to have them on your side. If they believe that local people want something, then they’re likely to communicate that higher up – that’s kind of their job!
You can usually find your MP’s contact details on the internet or you could try seeing if they’ve got a social media presence and contacting them that way.
Having great cycling infrastructure is great for everyone. Do your bit to make the world a little bit better today and then go and get out on your bike. Because in the end, that’s really what matters here.