Evil cycling lobby? ...

Follow the money not the exhausted campaigners.

Conspiracy theories abound regarding the heavily claimed influences of a small but allegedly highly powerful group of active travel campaign charities.>
>I’d like to take a moment to consider these claims as, for me it goes to the heart of why local councils up and down the land find themselves at the front line of a cultural war on several fronts from climate change mitigation and awareness,>
>to the urgent need for a move away from societally ingrained inactivity, to the recent and very noisy discussions about low traffic neighbourhoods and the spaces for people interventions we all see springing up in our cities across Scotland and the UK.>
> So, let’s start with climate.
Both the Uk and Scottish governments announced a climate emergency back in early 2019, amidst considerable societal pressure from climate awareness campaigners and the clear and urgent scientific proof of our world climates critical condition.>
> The argument over how much investment should be made to mitigate and adapt to the changes around our planet continues to rage, along with the unprecedented wildfires, the melting of mountain and polar ice, the intense and catastrophic weather events and rising drowning oceans.>
> The 2015 Paris agreement whilst falling woefully short in achieving the necessary targets in its signatories real progress, has nevertheless brought necessary momentum to the realisation of a need for more urgent action in lieu of COP26 this November here in Scotland.>
> Policy and investment is slowly but surely being re-routed amidst government realisation we need to be moving far far faster.

Better late than never I suppose.>
>Inactivity has also become a pandemic of the western world with the related costs to national health services being enormously crippling amidst, among other medical challenges, spiralling obesity across the land. >
> We humans were never built to be sedentary beings and yet, with the advent of technological wizardry, innovation and a far less land based connection to our surroundings as we move evermore online and travel ever-less ‘on the ground’ we now spend much less time that we need to>
> on our health and well-being - being active in one way or another seems to be low in our societal priority. >
> Travelling as we have been societally trained to, for decades now, by motor transport, we appear to have lost touch with the sense of local community our grand parents talk of fondly, we’ve lost the connection brought by being free and able to stop and chat on our busy streets>
>and lost the time to have any time for our neighbours, our community and often even ourselves.

Our communities are in a critical condition too. >
>Town centres die in a malay of charity shops and fast food restaurants. Out of town shopping Center promising “everything under one roof a short drive away, with parking!” have strip mined the heart out of our local high streets which have become through routes for city traffic>
>making them inhospitable to people on foot and cycles and dangerous for those with mobility challenges. No surprise then more of our time and money is spent out of town or online then.

It’s a vicious cycle.>
>Low traffic neighbourhoods are what many of us ‘of an age’ of greyer hair and lengthening teeth remember from our own childhoods. Indeed there’s good reason most new estates are modelled on residential traffic only design based on the vehicular ‘cul de sac’.>
> Neighbourhoods where we could learn to cycle freely without concern of being flattened, where kerby and hopscotch was regularly played without vehicular interruption,where street football was more about rescuing balls from neighbours gardens than avoiding expensive parked cars>
> where we stayed out to play until dusk or until our stomachs were growling for sustenance.
But apparently we don’t want this for our own children (or indeed, their own children). >
> The recent Spaces for people interventions brought about as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need for social distancing on our now often too narrow pavements and much too fast and dangerous road networks has certainly been welcomed>
> and widely supported by active travel campaign groups but to believe these groups are the sole (and somehow insidious) reason for these interventions is massively misplaced.>
> The truth is in following the money for all this, and the policy driving it(pardon the pun), comes fully from the top of government, both UK and Scottish. Only with this top down urgent push has this sudden change been brought about.>
>The covid pandemic, the climate emergency and the obesity epidemic are connected by our societal habits. Those habits urgently need to change.
The next decade, arguably, is our time of reckoning.
How fast we face & accept the necessary change will dictate our children’s future.

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