According to the Government CO2 Calculator, mine is 1.06 tonnes per year (compared to a national average of 4.48 tonnes per year).
October 15 is Blog Action Day, and the theme this year is the environment. If you have a blog and want to join in, all you have to do is use that day to post something related to the environment, in whatever way, shape, or form you prefer. You can pick an environmental issue that has meaning for you and let us know why it’s important. Organize a beach or neighborhood cleanup and tell us about it. If you’re into fiction writing, give us a story with an environmental theme. Have a podcast, videoblog, or photoblog? Join the fun! The idea here is to have a mass effect on public awareness by sharing as many ideas in as many ways as possible.
If you’re game for participating, go register your blog with the 7,000+ other blogs (with 5 million readers!) that are already signed up. Also, see the Blog Action Day blog for more on how bloggers can change the world.
That’s next Monday. I’ll try to post something here. If you have a Darlington- or bike-based blog and are going to take part, leave a link in the comments and I’ll compile a list in a later post.
The Magnificent Revolutionary Cycling Cinema is a travelling cinema which is powered and transported using only bicycles.
The Magnificent Revolutionary Cycling Cinema is the only UK touring bicycle-powered cinema, uniting art, education and sustainability by:
* Screening D.I.Y films, independents and small productions
* Demonstrating how to generate power locally and independently of fossil fuels
* Engaging people in idea of sustainability
* Cycling the cinema from place to place
Throw in top hats, 50’s usherettes and a touch of the circus weird… and you’ve arrived at The Magnificent Revolutionary Cycling Cinema!
So there it is, cycling in the Netherlands and Germany can be just as variable in quality as in any other country – although the standards by which quality gets judged tend to be much higher than those in the UK.
What really puzzles me is this. Is traffic engineering in the 21st century really a science, or is it just a political football? I ask this honestly of the traffic enginners of Darlington, and of the politicians who rule them.
This trip clearly demonstrated that, when planning for cycling (as, we are told, Darlington, Cycling Demonstration Town, is doing) a raft of traffic measures is at the disposal of traffic engineers to consider, whenever a new scheme is developed. These include – all of which have been clearly illustrated on this blog:
*priority to cyclists at crossings with side roads
*cycle rings around roundabouts
*scrapping of centre lines on narrow roads to enable cycle paths to be created
*shared space projects
*cycle paths that use both road space and pavement space at different times, depending on space availability
*making car driving in urban areas more difficult, to get people out of their cars
*one way streets for motor vehicles that are two-way for cyclists
I genuinely ask – do these traffic engineering tools ever get considered in a town like Darlington, or are we victims of car-induced brain death in this department? Would it not be useful to at least have a traffic planning process that required engineers and politicians to explain why they have rejected such solutions, rather than never even having to consider them?
What this variation in cycling provision also suggests is that a grading of cycling provision – independent of country – is both appropriate and possible. The cyclist priority roundabout in Ijmuiden would get 5 stars, the cycle paths on country roads in Friesland only 2 or 3.
Similarly, our (current) right to cycle through Darlington’s town centre feels something like a 4 star hotel, with no dangerous vehicles, plenty of space, and only the sudden changes in direction, and ongoing obliviousness, of pedestrians to consider. The ring road, on the other hand, could be classified as the equivalent of a whorehouse, with cyclists the unpaid prostitutes.
Just as houses are now subject to an eco-grading when they are sold (well, at least 4-bedroom houses at the mo), maybe we should introduce the same scheme for roads.
Ah well, back to the joys of the little island.
After the overnight in Sneek, a wet morning’s cycling to the town of Drachten, comparable in size with Bishop Auckland, and with a Shared Space project on its inner ring road. Ten miles out from Drachten, the road – and cycle path – are closed for road works. What do we get instead? This specially constructed, temporary diversion for cyclists. This was in a small village, and it even had a nice lady at the end of it to stop traffic so that we could cross a busy road.
The Shared Space concept is one that is gaining increasing support across Europe. In Drachten, the project is based on the removal of traffic lights on the busy inner ring road, and their replacement with roundabouts, and junctions like the one in this video.
A bit like a zebra crossing for cyclists and pedestrians, but without the beacons! We used the crossings ourselves without a hitch, but what we noticed was that a routine was established by cyclists whereby they signalled their intention to cross with a wave of the appropriate arm, and local car drivers were waiting for the signal. In other words, local customs had developed to deal with uncertainty.
The one car that failed to stop was a Polish-registered vehicle. The cyclist in question, however, was alert to the possibility and probably stopped in time when he registered that the Polish driver was dreaming rather than looking. This, we conclude, is the hub of the problem. Like Poles, most British car drivers also currently dream in these situations, safe in the assumption that they have absolute right of way.
How can we change such behaviour to something more appropriate to urban driving? After so many years of motor dominance in our urban spaces, we are still trying to develop cycle routes in towns like Darlington on the assumption that the motorist should not be disturbed. Yet in contradiction, there is now said to be a hierarchy of traffic modes that puts the disabled, pedestrians and cyclists above motorists in terms of priority.
This theoretical commitment now needs practical application to tackle the major barrier to urban sustainable transport development – British car driver behaviour. Rather than run away from the issue, we badly need politicians, local and national, who will show leadership, and start the long haul towards more considerate – and aware – urban driving.