Photo: Justin Tallis Agence France-Presse
Since the implementation of bike paths in rapid and protected, you are talking about a 70% increase in the number of cyclists in some areas of the british capital.
The network’s london bike lanes fast is today the envy of the world. Portrayed first by some as being too ambitious and detrimental to economic activity, it has failed to be set aside by the municipal administration. It is ultimately thanks to a strong mobilization of the business world that he was able to take form.
“The bike network in london as we know it today was nearly never see the light of day,” says Chris Kenyon, one of the activists of CyclingWorks, a grassroots campaign launched in 2014 to support the implementation of bike paths in rapid and protected in the british capital. “When the mayor presented the plan of “bicycle highways” for the first time, some criticisms have been so vivid — one of which was the Chamber of commerce of London — that we said that we had to act, that it was necessary to provide a counterbalance convincing to ensure the survival of the project. “
On a visit to Montreal last Thursday at the invitation of Vélo Québec, the long-time activist describes with evident pride the important engagement that he and his colleagues have managed to put on foot. “Dissenting voices are often the ones we hear the most, he argues, dropping with a sigh. And in a city like London, when they claim that the bike and its infrastructure can have a negative impact on economic activity, I let you imagine what can happen in the heads of the politicians responsible for these records. “
This is the number of trips made by bike in London every day
Source : CyclingWorks London
From employee to employer
To reverse the trend, the business man and his colleagues decided to squarely apply to the companies, asking them to publicly support the right of their employees to cycle to work safely. Spread out over six weeks, the campaign has worked to raise awareness of the hundreds of workers cycling encountered directly in the streets of London in the rush hour in the morning. It is these latter who have then passed the message on to their boss.
“We said that, if it came from the inside, this would be more effective, ahead of Chris Kenyon. And it turned out to be ! In a month and a half, we have obtained the official support of nearly 200 ceos of businesses, including Microsoft UK, Deloitte and Coca-Cola Europe. We managed to convince the four major hospitals of the city, the national opera, banks, universities… Even some in the media who had been very critical at the beginning, as the Financial Times, have finally joined the movement. “
Four years later, the two main axes of the bikeway network fast presented in 2014 are now available. They allow each day to hundreds of thousands of cyclists from across the british capital from the north to the south and west to east, without worrying about automobile traffic.
In some sectors, there is talk of a 70% increase in the number of cyclists. This is the case, in particular, on the Blackfriars Bridge, which spans the Thames at the height of the City, the financial district in london. At peak hours, the workers to bike there are today far more numerous than those who travel by car or by public transport.
This is the number of” cycling highways ” that are currently in place in London. The other two should be completed by the end of 2018. Three other projects are currently the subject of public consultation.
Source : Transport for London
For Chris Kenyon, this strong mobilization of the business community can be explained quite simply. According to him, all companies — regardless of their profit margin and their payroll — earn what cities make more room for bikes in their streets. “It is a mode of transport that allows their employees to avoid traffic congestion and thus all the disadvantages which arise from it, says the businessman of 43 years. They are therefore less tired and less stressed. They are more punctual and generally have a better concentration. Some studies have even shown that people who commute to work by bike take less sick leave. “
These gains human, he adds, will have, ultimately, an impact on the productivity of the company, and they are practically at zero cost. “These are the public authorities who decide to dedicate part of their budget to the development of cycling infrastructure, notes the computer training. Companies, they, are only to reap the fruits of these changes in urban areas. “
The activist london, however, warned the public administrations — and the cyclists — who would like to see too much change too quickly. “It’s easy to do wrong things, but sometimes, it would be better to take the time and ensure that we put in place a network really secure. “
According to him, for example, it is preferable to wait a few more years to be able to build tracks in its own site or protected by a thin earth-full rather than opting for the simple painting. “It is a” easy solution “, which gives a sense of security, but in reality, it doesn’t matter. “
Thus, to ensure that positive impacts are quantifiable, he says, it is necessary that the facilities are safe enough for women, children and the elderly decide in their turn to choose the bicycle for their daily trips. “The secret is to think of our network for cyclists from 8 to 88 years old feel comfortable. If they pedal safely, we will have won our bet. “
Something to inspire Montreal and its surroundings ?
Although the criticism are generally less virulent in we, the bike would not lose really to change if more businesses recognize its fair value, points out the president-director general of Vélo Québec, Suzanne Lareau. “This mode of travel has a significant economic value that is, most of the time, under-estimated,” says the one who occupies his post since 2001. Traders should also be more aware of. “For the implementation of cycling infrastructure, safe and sustainable, the recent announcements of Montreal and Longueuil give him good hope. “It is always a good idea to do less if it is to do better, she said. At Vélo Québec, it’s been a long time as it is said, but be on the safe side, it is really the best way to convince those who are reluctant to take their bike to make the jump. ”