So we painted a cycle lane to encourage kids to cycle. It fell foul of the motorists and faded into memory. So we let the children use the pavements. They fall foul of public budget cuts, overgrow and subsume. So we let the parents drive the kids to school. We all fall foul of the clogged roads, pollution and the future healthcare burden.
It’s a microcosm, but this school journey seems to be metaphor for disinterested public policy. We’re regular cyclists and hardy, committed types prepared to use the road, but not all are like us. The cycle lane has entirely disappeared, so I ride defensively on our 1 mile journey to school. When the bike needs to be left behind – an after school commitment perhaps – the scooter is employed. As the image indicates, foliage and brambles embrace the pavement to such an extent that you wade through them like a bushman. It’s little wonder that parents follow the path of least resistance. Each year we point it out to the council. Action is promised and the foliage may eventually be cut (experience suggests during the summer holidays).
So a short appeal to councils up and down the land; the big schemes and headline grabbing ‘superhighways’ are lovely, super, great. But please pay close attention to school routes, looking at them, assessing them, embedding good practise and providing better cycle/scoot/walk provision. If we want the commuters of 2030 to be fit, healthy and self sufficent, future change relies on the behavioural actions, assumptions and experiences of the children of today.