There was a long piece about cycling in Darlington in the Guardian yesterday. It’s available in text-only form online: Making tracks . I’m getting a copy of the paper to see if there are any photos.
In some parts of Europe, a quarter of all journeys are made by bike. In Britain the figure is 2%. Can anything persuade us to leave our cars and get pedalling? Perhaps the unlikeliest of towns – Darlington – holds the key.
Darlington is no more than four miles wide on its longest axis (east-west) – you could cycle end to end in 15 minutes. From the outskirts to the inner pedestrian precinct could never be more than a couple of miles, but 80% of car trips are into the city centre. The transport unit’s research shows that 34% of car journeys could, theoretically, be done by bike (short trips with no passengers or loads).
They’ve got an uphill struggle: I’ve been cycling to work for the last 11 months and people think I’m mad for doing so; since September, I’ve been cycling to Hurworth for work one afternoon per week and that’s seen as insane – it’s only 4.5 miles!
The tragic deaths of four cyclists in Wales last weekend has made people percieve cycling as even more dangerous, despite the fact you’re statistically more likely to die playing bowls than while cycling.