As Darlington approaches the end of the 6 month trial period for cycling in the Pedestrian Heart, and the final year of Cycling Demonstration Town funding, there are some crucial decisions about to be made about the future of cycling in the town.
Small town (UK) thinking (of which there is much here and around the country) says that cyclists are not popular, dangerous, anti-disabled etc etc. National thinking, leading experts in the field, and best European practice says that cycling in the Pedestrian Heart should only be a first step towards less car access to the town centre, and much much more public transport, cycling and walking access.
Copenhagen urban planner Jan Gehl confronted similar problems 40 years ago – before today’s best practice was developed. Indeed, many argue that he has been personally responsible for much of today’s progressive transport/urban planning thinking.
He has advised London, and even Wakefield and Castleford, in the past. Surely it is time for him to come to Darlington. Can I suggest that, should the Cycle Demo Town monies not run to bringing him here, and we get a silly decision on Ped Heart cycling, we invite him to join a mass protest ride through the town – along with members of Cycling England, who have so generously funded cycling in Darlo?
Thanks to John Wetmore from across the pond for directing us to this interview he carried out with Jan Gehl in London. John is a great pedestrian advocate – and friend of cyclists. You can see more of his american public broadcast videos here.