The following manifesto was agreed by Darlington Cycling Campaign in 2010, and has been adopted in turn by Darlovelo:
MAKE CYCLING MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN DRIVING
INSTALL CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE ON EVERY MAIN AND BUSY ROAD
The acid test of a cycling friendly town is how many women are using bicycles as an everyday means of transport. But Cycling Demonstration Town Darlington does not pass that test: 3% of all trips in Darlington are done on a bicycle. But whilst 5% of all men’s trips are on a bicycle this can only be said about 2% of women’s trips.
Why do women hardly cycle in Darlington? The answer is: Cycling is still treated as a 2nd-class-means-of-transport: An indicator is that most cycling infrastructure was installed in a way that it does not touch the space of motorists. And that is happening even though Darlington has received special grants to develop into a Cycling Demonstration Town since 2005. It is clear that most of the money has been spent on PR to promote Cycling, bicycle training, bicycle signs on remote roads and into the development of cycle routes away from main roads rather than into areas, where cycling infrastructure is really needed.
The greatest risk and danger on our roads are the vehicles. This can only be reduced by safe cycling infrastructure on main roads thus encouraging drivers to take care towards cyclists (and pedestrians).
In 2005 – when Darlington first became a Cycling Demonstration Town – Darlington Cycling Campaign was consulted about necessary measures to get people on bikes. We said very clearly that we need cycling infrastructure on every main and busy road. We know that most women (and men) do not want to cycle amongst speedy cars, they do not want to cycle on remote dangerous routes off the beaten track or to be forced to take time- and energy-eating deviations on their bikes when they go to work, to school or shopping. We are still waiting for work to commence on this infrastructure five years later.
Cycling has to be safe, convenient, fast and uninterrupted to make it more attractive than driving. And cycling infrastructure has to cater for cyclists from the age of 10. Bicycles have to get their own safe, dedicated space. Cycle routes need to be continuous, cyclists do not want to carry their bikes over barriers or to stop at side roads because of give-way signs on their (rare) cycle paths.
Roads are public spaces, a road is not a private asset for motorists, it is paid for by every tax payer, not just by car drivers. But these days most of the road space is allocated to motorised traffic. If we want to achieve growing numbers of sustainable transport we have to reallocate public space, to reallocate road space, which means taking space away from cars.
This is already strongly supported by the people of Darlington: Socialdata – employed by the Council – asked the citizens about their attitude towards cycling: A clear majority of 86% of respondents favoured improvements for cycling, even if these disadvantaged car users. And it was also stated that by favouring cycling and thus reducing car kilometres in Darlington, the town could reduce its CO2 emissions considerably.
Local Transport Plan 3, which will last until 2025, gives Darlington a chance to switch from the car to the bicycle. So at its core LTP3 should have new pro-cycling solutions that are highly visible thus inviting more and more people to get on their bicycles every day. And that includes the following minimum cycling infrastructure standards:
- High quality cycle paths or lanes beside or on any road with more than 2000 cars per day.
- Priority for cyclists at every junction and on round-abouts.
- No barriers at the entrances of cycle routes.
- Advanced stop lines at every traffic light.
- Traffic signals that are synchronised to a bicycle’s average speed of 12-15.
- Clear short-cuts for cyclists: counter-flow allowances for cyclists on every one-way road and signs at the beginning of all cul-de-sacs,that show whether this road is open for cyclists and pedestrians at its end.
- More cycle parking facilities in public areas and near private housing.
- A blanket 20mph speed limit in Darlington.
In short: We need to civilise our roads and our public space.