So Cllr David Cunningham is quoted in the Surrey Comet as saying that the Mini Holland “is not a scheme to encourage cycling to the detriment of other road users”.
There are two parts to my response to him.
The original Portsmouth Road was not to the detriment of other road users. So it does not need to be watered down. Why remove the segregation when we started with two lanes for motor traffic and still had two with segregated cycle routes? Do drivers need those extra metres on each side of their car? The result of this tinkering is a mandatory cycle lane that will not attract new cyclists, while leaving space for cars to illegally block the cycle lane.
I would happily ride down a segregated cycle path with my children. I simply would not risk riding with them down a road with only a strip of paint to protect them. Subjectively, it’s unsafe with HGVs and cars passing close by. Objectively, there is a strong likelihood of having to move into the road owing to the actions of selfish drivers. It’s just not suitable for cycling, unless you’re already a confident cyclist.
And secondly, yes, on occasion this might be to the detriment of other road users. The current road system is almost entirely car centric. The mini Holland scheme is to redress the balance. It’s job is to ensure that the motor traffic hegemony is broken and the roads are fit for a thriving community, not a car-clogged community.
Pedestrians and cyclists have simply not been given a fair deal in the past. This scheme addresses that. It is therefore obvious that sometimes motor traffic will have to concede some of the roadspace over which it presently holds unfair dominance.
The image above is Kingston’s one-way system on a quiet day. It’s quite clear that motor traffic has received the bulk of road infrastructure investment over the years. The result has been a choking of our town with noisy, polluting traffic. It’s time to redress this balance, and properly fund more sustainable infrastructure.
“Areas once terra incognita for the bicycle will, over time, become every bit as cycle-friendly as their Dutch equivalents – places that suburbs and towns all over Britain will want to copy.”
If Kingston Council is unwilling to implement this, perhaps they should stop wasting everybody’s time and just hand the money back to somebody who will do the job properly.