Tag Archives: altered images

More Dutch cycling scenes in a British context

Sorry for the long intro, it just happened by accident. Click here to jump straight to the pictures!

Over two years ago I posted this article featuring images where I’d cut out people from photos of the Netherlands, and placed them in typical British urban scenes.

They were well-received and seem to have been shared widely. My favourite response was from this guy who described how you can tell by the shadows – the shadows! – that the toddler isn’t really cycling around the Elephant and Castle gyratory.

The intention was to show that to make cycling an accessible transport choice for anyone in Britain, we need to change the roads. Training and encouragement just won’t work. The vast majority of people don’t want to cycle amongst motor vehicles – well driven or otherwise – and huge sections of society simply wouldn’t be physically able to.

Satire versus propaganda

Funnily enough, I was recently reading some old posts on the much-missed Crap Waltham Forest blog and came across the image below, created by training company CTUK, used to promote their services some years ago.

A photoshopped image of a smiling young woman cycling in the outside lane across the notoriously horrible Waterloo Bridge in London, while a van and a car can be seen behind her.

Don’t worry about the driver that’s about to undertake you – you’ve had training!

How I laughed! That’s Waterloo Bridge in London she’s supposedly riding on (ignore the cut-and-pasted St. Paul’s cathedral dome), and I can assure you that few people experience such carefree joy while riding across there. Photoshop to the rescue.

The idea that cycle training will make you smile with glee whilst riding in the outside lane amongst speeding motor traffic towards the terrifying maelstrom of taxis that is the Waterloo Imax roundabout is just pitiful.

But what I found funniest of all was that this image could easily have been on that previous post of mine. It’s a ridiculous juxtaposition of what cycling should be like and what cycling in the UK is actually like.

But while my images were designed to show how ridiculous it is to expect people to cycle amongst heavy motor traffic, this image was being presented as a positive vision to promote cycle training!

I can see now why the guy on the Birmingham forum thought that this was a pro-VC image, as my satire was only one step removed from the propaganda released by vehicular cycling advocates themselves.

Vehicular cycling flat-Earthers will clutch at any straws to suggest cycling amongst motor vehicles is preferable to Dutch-style cycleways, whether it’s misrepresenting reports and statistics, or presenting rare, stage-managed occurrences as normal.

Unfortunately, while vehicular cycling training may indeed help a small number of individuals, it simply isn’t a route to mass cycling – though the training industry won’t say this, as they presumably don’t want to offend their friends with the chequebook at the (real) Department for Transport.

Now, the pictures…

Anyway, if there are any vehicular cycling supremacists out there that want to keep making ridiculously grandiose claims, here’s some more images they might like to employ. (Click on any image for larger version.)

A photo of two girls on bikes outside their primary school in the Netherlands has been cut out and pasted onto a photo of a horrible road in Hackney

Such confidence – Bikeability can achieve so much! (Click here to see the girls safely back in Assen. UK photo by Rossi)

A photo of a late-middle-aged woman riding a bike in the Netherlands has been cut out and pasted into a London traffic scene, scarily close to a bus

Remember, you don’t need speed to practice vehicular cycling techniques. Just maintain eye contact with the driver, all will be well. (Here she is back on home ground. UK photo by Rossi)

A photo of five young girls cycling in the Netherlands, mixed with the horrible bus-choked reality at Hackney Central

Remember to take the lane through the junction, girls – especially you at the back! (NL photo by David Hembrow, UK photo by Hackney Cyclist)

A group of commuters in Utrecht, cut out and pasted into a photo of Euston Road in London, complete with thundering HGV and black cab.

Cycling is for everyone, a great way to get fit too! (But not really in the UK.)

A photo-montage of a Dutch family (mothers, several children) on an outing by bike, pasted into London's busy and dangerous Kings Cross

The whole family can enjoy days out by bike – just remember to clearly signal your intentions to the tipper truck driver! (Here they are not having to worry about tipper trucks.)

(Yes, the last two are repeats from the 2012 post, but much improved over the originals!)


Epilogue: I shouldn’t have to say this again, but here it is anyway: I’m not against cycle training per sé – if someone wants to ride a bike bike in the UK today and they want advice on how to do it, then fair enough. Nor am I against vehicular cycling as a method of coping with Britain’s awful roads.

But to suggest that vehicular cycling training can have anything more than a miniscule effect on the number of people cycling is nonsense. Cycle training is not a route to mass cycling. Even some of cycle training’s biggest names admit that cycle training just isn’t reaching the masses.

And after yet another cycling death involving someone with plenty of cycling experience, how much skill do we expect the average person to possess in order to cope with riding a bike amongst motor vehicles?



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Dutch scenes in a British context

2015 update: I made some more photos like these, you can find them here.

I’m sure you’ve all read my guest blog post for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain by now (and if not, why not?), and most people seem to agree with most or all of the message.

But one comment by ‘DonM’ – a perfectly nice, well-written comment, by the way, I’m not having a go at the writer here! – suggested that more encouragement is required, as it’s cheaper than tarmac and concrete. (These ‘encouragement’ campaigns may be cheap, but as they have all failed to achieve anything, the millions spent on them over the years has been wasted.) But Don’s comment got me thinking, as I keep seeing this sort of thing time and time again.

There are people who haven’t seen Dutch conditions, who don’t understand the scale of it. (Most of the UK has no concept of it whatsoever, of course. I’m talking about people interested in promoting cycling, here.)

Anybody who has studied cycling in the Netherlands and then suggests that the UK can achieve the same results without proper infrastructure is barmy. The idea of all those children and grandmas riding on the roads sounds as sensible as saying people should have free access to the rail network to use their own handcar.

So with the intention of demonstrating why riding on the roads is not an option, I took some photos of Dutch cyclists and dropped them into London scenes. I hope they will help any infrastructure doubters to see why Cyclecraft is not the way forward for cycling.

A photo-montage which juxtaposes a young boy riding a bike with his dog running alongside, with the fast, dangerous conditions on Euston Road in London.

More training?

A photo of a Dutch woman riding a bike with shopping on it, juxtaposed with fast and dangerous on-road conditions in London.

Strict liability?

A photo of an elderly man calmly riding a bike in the Netherlands, juxtaposed with heavy traffic in London.

Keep your wits about you, Grandad!

A photograph of a young girl on a bike in the Netherlands, juxtaposed with one of London's most deadly road junctions.

Take the lane!

A photograph of a family out riding bikes together in the Netherlands, juxtaposed with a photograph of heavy traffic at Kings Cross in London.

Assert yourselves!

A photograph of people on bikes at rush hour in Utrecht, Netherlands, juxtaposed with rush hour on Euston Road in London.

Smoothing traffic flow?

(The final two are in a different style because I couldn’t be bothered cutting groups of people out.) (Though two years later I finally did!)



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