A book based on the Understanding Walking and Cycling project, on which I worked between 2008 and 2011, is published next week. It’s available to order now from the publisher, Policy Press. A short post I wrote about the book for the Policy Press blog is below.
Serious and sustained promotion of walking and cycling would transform our everyday lives. The streets where we live, the journeys we make, the places we go – all would become steadily more full of people and less full of cars. It’s a compelling vision, and an easily obtainable one – if policy and practice starts, then continues to prioritise walking and cycling above the car as means of making short trips in urban areas.
Many people like cycling but ride only when they consider it safe, easy and convenient. When urban space is re-organised away from the car and towards people, including people riding bicycles, people will walk and cycle far more of their short journeys, journeys which although they’d rather not, they often currently make by car. The scale of the changes required to achieve this revolution in everyday transport exceeds what’s being done in most places in most of the world so far, but there are places where walking and cycling have been made easier than driving, places which provide insight and inspiration.
Cities across the globe are pushing cars from their centres, creating space for people to walk and cycle and enhancing quality of life. And through serious, sustained investment in the bicycle as the best means of local transport, the Netherlands has become the world’s most cycle-friendly country. What’s been done there can be done everywhere; but it requires political vision and commitment. Everyday life based around bicycles instead of cars would build a happier, healthier society and benefit everyone, including those who don’t cycle.
Promoting Walking and Cycling: New Perspectives on Sustainable Travel explains why more people don’t make more of their journeys on foot and by cycle, and sets out what needs to change for them to do so. Many people want life less dominated by cars; this is how we get there.