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