In the first part of this post I outlined some of the developments that will be needed to cater for increasing numbers of cyclists if present trends continue, as seems likely.
We are also going to need good bicycle parking facilities in high visibility locations in shopping areas, near banks, surgeries, hospitals, public libraries etc. The banks and building societies in particular, and also the larger retailers, might be persuaded to sponsor these parking facilities. Five or six bicycles could be parked in racks in about the same space as occupied by one car parking space, and this could provide at least a partial solution in narrow urban roads in which car parking is allowed along at least one side but the narrow pavements offer no scope for bicycle parking – and when such streets are full of small businesses, they have neither the space nor the resources to make their own arrangements and may even be hard pressed to do much for their own cycling employees. Large organisations, whether in city centres or out of town business parks, may well be capable of providing secure parking, changing rooms, showers, clothes driers etc.
What about the leisure and holiday applications of cycling? There is plenty of scope for improvement here too for the benefit of both cyclists and the businesses who rise to the challenge with a bit of imagination. More hotels and guest houses will be needed by cyclists on touring holidays and secure overnight storage will be needed for the bikes. More cafes and restaurants could provide secure bike parking – this doesn’t need to be cycle racks so long as bikes can be locked to something immovable.
Bookshops and bike shops might consider whether they could do better for all those cycling novices. I visited all the main bookshops in the centre of Cardiff last week without finding a single copy of “Cyclecraft” which is surely the nearest thing we have in the UK to an official cycling manual – and the Highway Code wasn’t widely available either. Our large local Halfords (major national UK cycle retailer) had one copy each of a couple of workshop manuals but nothing else. Am I being fussy or should the managers in these firms be raising their game.
It seems to me that every day there is a new development somewhere as a result of the growing popularity of cycling. I have read that a police force (in Devon and Cornwall?) has ordered a lot of bicycles in an attempt to cut their petrol expenses. Indeed I hope that police forces all over the counry follow this example, not only so that they can patrol cycle paths and tracks and prevent muggings etc. but also so that their presence on ordinary roads will encourage drivers and cyclists to observe the rules and behave correctly towards each other.
Muggings? Yes. Apparently, cyclists on the Bristol-Bath cycle trail were attacked recently. I hope the local constabulary have put a stop to this sort of thing before it has a chance to continue and spreads elsewhere. There is a sharp lesson to be learnt here. Police and local authorities should know by now that some criminal elements are very good at exploiting new developments in society. It is about time that the authorities showed a bit of initiative by getting in first.