This Monday morning at 11 am Radio 4 are broadcasting a 30 minute programme looking at Bristol’s Cycling City project, based on interviews with local cyclists, including this blogger. The BBC site actually refers to interviews with “a couple of cycling visionaries who sense that a better world is within our grasp” – I wonder if I’m one of them? The presenter and interviewer Miles Warde is a regular cyclist and asked some very pertinent questions so it should be informed and interesting.
I expect there will be positive and negative opinions expressed and, judging by this nicely written piece by producer Christine Hall, one of the more positive ones will relate to the subsidised cycle training being provided by LifeCycle.
This training is receiving hefty Cycling City subsidies, £25 for each first one hour session, leaving the trainee to pay just £5 for a session supposedly worth £30. However the existing subsidy budget (£25,000) allows for just 1,000 people (see * below) to receive the subsidised first training session. Not many in relation to the numbers who appear to need some educating about their cycling-in-traffic technique if my experience is anything to go by.
As is often the way with state subsidies this one tends to redistribute wealth in favour of the wealthy since the training sessions are disproportionately taken up by the relatively affluent middle classes. It’s also inefficient as most of the middle class beneficiaries are quite capable of getting much the same guidance on cycling techniques from books, magazines or the internet without the need for public subsidies. And as we see again and again with Cycling City the funds are channeled into schemes that just happen to create jobs for the boys and girls.
Radio 4 - Bristol: Cycling City - iplayer here and MP3 recording available here
Also this provocative blog post by Mike A, a former Bristol cycling campaigner, in response to the programme. He makes his points quite independently of me in case anyone suspects collusion.
And another blogger comments here.
* A comment made below corrects my figures. In fact £10,000 of Cycling City money provides £25 subsidies for the first training sessions of 400 people.