It is difficult to know whether to take Barbara Stewart-Newell’s letter seriously, or to laugh at a ham-fisted piece of Swiftian satire.
Does she seriously expect all bicycles to be fully licensed and checked each year, to be fitted with a speedometer, and to be fully insured? If so, she is proposing an expensive bureaucratic nightmare.
The Department for Transport supports the 20s Plenty campaign, subject to local consultation, as has West Sussex County Council in its bid for funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Moreover, the policy has already been adopted by 23 English local authorities, including our near neighbours, Brighton and Hove and Portsmouth. It is also being piloted by Bristol, Cambridge and Edinburgh. Even responsible motoring organisations, such as the Automobile Association and the Institute of Advanced Motorists, have cautiously recognised the value of introducing a 20mph limit in residential streets.
Everybody shares Barbara Newell-Smith’s desire for responsible and properly trained cyclists. This is why all schoolchildren in Chichester are being offered the opportunity to take bikeability lessons, in order to enhance their cycling proficiency in the 21st century. In addition, West Sussex County Council also facilitates cycling refresher lessons to those adults who wish to return to cycling.
It would be sad if the 20’s Plenty debate in Chichester deteriorates into an anti-cycling diatribe. Are not the issues of congestion, pollution and children’s independent travel too important for this? As a society we need to be more considerate, courteous and patient embracing all modes of transport.