Why there is no hate for cyclists in other western European nations;
Interestingly, in more – what I would describe as ‘normal’ countries like Netherlands, Denmark etc. I read there is hardly any hatred towards cyclists. From what people believe (which sounds very logical) this is due to everyone knowing someone that cycles. And as most drivers have cycled themselves they can’t hate themselves & most of the population of their country. In these countries the word ‘cyclists’ has less of a negative connotation attached to it. From what I understand, it seen as a word just like ‘drivers’ or ‘pedestrians’ in Netherlands. 43% of the Dutch populace cycle every single day. I’ve read the UK is 3 – 4% on different websites.
Graph showing how often people cycle per nation in the EU (by percentage)
What can we learn from other European nations;
I think the answer for the UK therefore; is to get more people cycling and that means vastly improving the cycle infrastructure around the nation. This is agreed by many. Ensuring it is high quality, and particle as it is in the Netherlands. If you look at the Cambridge example in the UK. Then you may understand, Cambridge has a lot of good quality cycling infrastructure (been there twice)… so it is any surprise to anyone that this city has the highest percentage of people that commute to work by bicycle in the UK? I have looked into political parties that want to improve cycling infrastructure in the country. Maybe this is no surprise to anyone but the Green Party in the UK is the best party when it comes to this, UKIP being the worst. The second best is the Liberal democrats. Therefore if you want some change in the UK with regards to cycling. I believe one of the mentioned political parties is a good option.
I also want to stress. I really do not advocate for terrible cycling infrastructure. This might look like I’m complaining, but really there is more to it than just me being hard to please. Stevenage, Hertfordshire – a new town, that is situated in the same county as me… is a prime example of the not so great infrastructure that can be produced. Admittedly, it’s nice that there’s lots of shared used paths, that don’t go on the roads. Probably great for children and all. However, they are the most ugly looking paths I’ve ever seen in my life. They are often next to busy roads, and it just feels like you’re cycling through concrete mess, everywhere you go. I don’t think they are that convenient either,. Given all the segregated paths in Stevenage, it has a considerable lack of cyclists from what I’ve read. There are lots of further reasons why cycling infrastructure in Stevenage did not work – as can be read by the sensible comments, on the linked article. Now you may see the problem with poor infrastructure. It potentially prevents local councils, governments etc giving further capital to create paths etc, as they don’t see it as being effective.
Note: If you want to improve cyclist reputation. Not only would voting for one of these political parties be beneficial towards this, but also recommending cycling to as many people that you know, would in my view, help this cause. For the reason said above; the more people know cyclists like in Netherlands, the less someone can hate them and stereotype them. I try and recommend the sport to as many people as I can.
If more people get into cycling, the negative connotations surrounding the word “cyclist” will vanish, I believe. Cheers