Mythbusting

There are several myths around active travel that are often repeated as if gospel. Here we highlight some of the ways to counter these myths…

Bikelash! by Aaron Naparstek and Doug Gordon

How to prevent ‘bikelash’ in your community:

  • Build and support and healthy advocacy eco-system (both online through social media and offline through attending council/community meetings)
  • Develop your own media channels (for example, Doug Gordon set up Brooklyn Spoke; we have the WRGM blog)
  • Change the conversation through agreement – “Stop arguing with the people who disagree with you – they don’t disagree with you… they love their neighbourhoods too. They just are afraid of seeing it change…” We can bridge gaps to address people’s fears (don’t respond with ‘no, but…’; instead, respond with ‘yes, and…’)

View the full video here:

Cycling will be bad for my business…

Transport for London (TfL) has undertaken detailed research that shows the opposite is true: in fact, walking and cycling improvements can increase retail spend by up to 30%.

TfL walking and cycling spending data

Living Streets’ Pedestrian Pound study (2018) found similarly positive results.

The Healthy Streets: A Business View report, developed by the University of Westminster on our behalf, surveys London’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to understand the importance of the Healthy Streets Approach to business performance.

The research found that 85% of BIDs see cycling as important to business performance, and 95% of BIDs see walking as important to business performance.

Cycle lanes attract more business than car parking bays in a number of ways, as shown by multiple examples in this article.

In fact, research by Sustrans shows that retailers tend to significantly overestimate how many of their customers travel by car.

Furthermore, if you run a business, you should encourage your employees to cycle to work if you’d like them to be happier, healthier and more productive. As this study by Hendriksen et al (2010) shows, “Cycling to work is associated with less sickness absence. The more often people cycle to work and the longer the distance travelled, the less they report sick.”

Emergency services will be hindered…

The local authority’s team always consults with emergency services before installing a modal filter. They are generally quite supportive for several reasons, including:

1. Safer conditions on a street mean that there are fewer road traffic crashes requiring a response.

2. The reduction in motor traffic on filtered roads means that they are much emptier when the emergency vehicle arrives, making it easy to drive through.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods mean disabled people won’t be able to get around…

Local authorities have a duty under the Equality Act (2010) to make reasonable accommodation to ensure that people with disabilities do not experience any disadvantage compared to able-bodied persons, and that will continue to be the case.

It’s very important that these schemes also enable more people to walk or cycle, especially people who use hand-cycles, tricycles, various types of cycles adapted for disability, or mobility scooters, and that people with partial sight can safely navigate the temporary changes. Modal filters improve safety for all road users. People will find it much easier to walk, wheel or scoot along a road after a modal filter has been installed because of the greatly reduced amount of motor traffic.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are just for middle-class cyclists…

A wide range of people benefit from low traffic neighbourhoods, including disabled people, shop owners, emergency services – and even drivers. This is described further in these Twitter threads:

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods will clog up the surrounding streets…

Reallocating roadspace from general traffic, to improve conditions for pedestrians or cyclists or buses or on-street light rail or other high-occupancy vehicles, is often predicted to cause major traffic problems on neighbouring streets. This paper reports on two phases of research, resulting in the examination of over 70 case studies of roadspace reallocation from eleven countries, and the collation of opinions from over 200 transport professionals worldwide.

The findings suggest that predictions of traffic problems are often unnecessarily alarmist, and that, given appropriate local circumstances, significant reductions in overall traffic levels can occur, with people making a far wider range of behavioural responses than has traditionally been assumed. Follow-up work has also highlighted the importance of managing how schemes are perceived by the public and reported in the media, with various lessons for avoiding problems.

Finally, the findings highlight that well-designed schemes to reallocate roadspace can often contribute to a multiplicity of different policy aims and objectives.

For a more recent example, this study of the well-publicised prevention of through traffic across Hammersmith Bridge shows that around 9,500 car journeys per day across the Thames have ‘evaporated‘, as people take fewer car journeys and instead make alternative travel choices.

The evidence suggests that drivers begin to find new routes over time, and that navigation is a learning curve.

Cycling is just for Middle-Aged Men in Lycra (MAMILs)…

The Cycle Chic blogs are great resources for showing people from across broad demographics cycling in a wide range of clothing, from high heels to hiking boots; from anoraks to aviators; and from loafers to leather jackets. Initially set up as Copenhagen Cycle Chic by the Copenhagenize Design Studio founder Mikael Colville-Anderson, there are now Cycle Chic blogs based on the two-wheeled wardrobes of cities from Edinburgh to Vienna. To start a blog for your area, just follow the manifesto here.