We want traffic bulletins for cyclists
By Richard MacKenzie
I was never going to be destined to be a cyclist. I was brought up to think that success was endlessly going around the car park with my folks in the car until space opened up right by the shop we were headed for so that we didn’t have to walk too far.
I also remember the disapproving smirks and giggles when hearing that the neighbour had been out on her regular pilgrimage on her folding shopper bike to friends and family in villages far away. For me, a life on four wheels was normal and those on two wheels were more than a little quirky or not quite right.
Something happened though. Something which changed my perception and my reality along with my waistline and the increased size of my wallet.
I took up cycling regularly about 10 years ago when we lived in Witney. My reason for doing this was not because the council had improved the infrastructure or were subsidising bikes. No, my reason for getting into cycling was because I started to see that it was a normal behaviour in people I knew, who were getting enjoyment from it as well as the health benefits and the financial savings of not having to pay for the fuel if they were driving.
I wasn’t the only person brought up this way. Still, people are willing to wait in long queues to pay high parking fees to park their vehicles, vehicles which, let’s face it, create toxic fumes that, according to new research from Kings College, restrict lung development of some of Oxfordshire’s children by up to 14%, causing untold damage. All this because, at the moment, travelling in a car is what is considered normal.
So, my ambition is to see cycling as a normal activity amongst friends as well as colleagues in the workplace, and yes – also in the media.
In an attempt to work towards normalising cycling here in Oxford, last month I launched a petition to back a simple idea. I wanted to ask one of our local radio stations, BBC Radio Oxford, to include average cycling times across the city and county when they were doing their traffic briefings throughout the day. This would not only show people that there is a faster alternative in and around Oxford, but it would also put cycling on the same par with motoring in these bulletins, which are heard by thousands each day.
When the petition was first launched, there was a brief moment when someone sitting in for the regular chap started to give average cycle times in exactly the way we were asking for, but for some reason, they only lasted for a couple of hours before they reverted back to just catering for the more damaging and heavily polluting segment of commuters in and around our beautiful city.
So we need to keep the pressure up! When the petition gets to 200, I will be taking it to BBC Radio Oxford to discuss with them ways that they can include cycling in their travel bulletins. We are nearly there. You can add your name here.