Thursday, 9 December 2010

A complete cycle path

The social sciences rarely have yes/no answers. Yesterday's blog should have been a yes/no sort of problem. Should we have a roundabout which follows the Highway Code? Somebody decided that there should be a variation allowing for a complex change to the usual road markings.

A much more complex decision has to be made over the planning of a new cycle path in Morecambe. The problem is that the path, as well as a bus lane, will cause the destruction of a very mature hawthorn hedge as well as producing much more tarmac. What sort of influences are there on the decision makers? How long would it take to adequately replace the hawthorn hedge? Would this stretch of cycle path increase the number of cyclists when there is another path fairly near? Would the additional bus lane put more bums on bus seats?

Each of these questions may lead to more and more complex answers.

Of course, the destruction of a mature hawthorn hedge is a bad thing. Producing much more tarmac when we already have more than enough is also a bad thing. Both these unfortunate consequences are pretty much guaranteed if the developments go ahead as planned. This much is simple to see. The gains are much harder to predict or quantify, but one is that the cycle path might make it easier for cyclists to escape the all-pervasive tarmac and find hawthorn hedges elsewhere.

I'm all for cycle paths in general, but not every proposal for one should necessarily be accepted. Because this is such a complicated issue, I asked my brother what he thought. I think he came out in favour of the proposals. "Only a complete cycle path would justify the destruction of a very mature hawthorn hedge as well as producing much more tarmac" were his exact words. At least, I think that's what he said. Personally, I would have to make sure that there was a replacement screen for visible traffic as well as for noise pollution.

Change the world.

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