Here are a few responses to some of the questions or concerns raised about mini-Hollands, inspired by Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign’s fantastic mini-Holland Q&A
£30 million is far too much money to be spent on cycling
Compared to the amount spent in Holland, where authorities spend over £400m a year on cycle lanes and facilities, it’s really not. And it makes good economic sense to increase the amount invested in cycling. Dutch analysts have studied the cost benefits of mass cycling in reducing traffic jams, pollution and road maintenance costs and boosting health. They found that the economy made a 35p profit for every mile travelled by bike instead of by car. Reindert Augustijn, a Dutch transport director, says: “In the Netherlands, we used to invest in cycling to reduce the number of accidents, but now we do it for economic and health reasons.”
There are hardly any cyclists in the mini-Holland boroughs – why are you spending so much time on them?
If the mini-Holland schemes are delivered to a high quality, much of the £30m spent in each borough will benefit local people irrespective of how they choose to travel. The schemes could bring wide ranging public realm improvements such as better road surfaces, more effective traffic calming, more street trees and planters, and quieter, less congested, less polluted residential streets. Those who walk (virtually everyone) will benefit from safer streets, improved pavement surfaces and better crossing facilities.
Even better, what the mini-Hollands could do, if they’re implemented to a high standard, is open up cycling to a huge number of new people. That means all-ages, all-abilities cycling – 8-80 and beyond, male and female, with people from all backgrounds feeling able to ride around on bikes and including disabled people. But in order to achieve that, we’ll need high quality safe and inviting space for cycling.
Won’t taking car parking away from high streets damage small businesses?
Time and time again it’s been demonstrated that boosting cycling in an area boosts business trade. When a protected cycle lane was installed on 9th Avenue in Manhattan, locally based businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. On Magnolia St in Fort Worth, Texas, restaurant revenues went up a combined total of 179% when two of its motor traffic lanes were replaced with cycle lanes.
And there are very clearly wider benefits to the economy: the European Cyclists’ Federation looked at the health benefits of cycling, congestion easing, fuel savings, reduced CO2 emissions, reduced air pollution and reduced noise pollution due to cycle use and estimated an annual economic benefit of cycling in the EU of at least 205bn euros (£157bn). The UK’s Department of Health has estimated that the benefit to cost ratio of investing in cycling/pedestrian infrastructure is 13:1.