I had to pop into Northampton the other day. It was a medical appointment, and as it is for orthapaedic issues I did not fancy cycling. Nothing worse than riding after being given a good thrashing by some dominatrix lady consultant.
I do own a car, a tiny, minimally polluting one. I also have a robust, and ever growing, environmental conscience, so as ‘green’ (cough) as it may be I use it as a last resort when there are no other options, not as the default lazy-ass option like most people do. People who then complain about global warming, pollution, gridlocked roads…
I was going to get a bus, but a friend of mine works about a mile and a half from the Hospital and he offered me a lift. Lazy-ass he may be, but whether I am on board or not he’s still making the journey. In any case, he’s a fellow Smart car owner, so we were not dragging around a half empty car behind our lazy-asses.
Once we got to my friends place of work I struck out on foot, and it was not long before I stumbled upon a cycle path scheme called Norbital. Northampton + Orbital, I guess. I cringe to think that someone paid from the public purse came up with that moniker.
In the main the Norbital crew have repurposed some footpaths and some of the wider footways to make shared use paths. On some of the newer areas they are installing new and purpose built tracks as the buildings go up.
One nice little touch that made me smile. At one point I stumbled across a trackside device, about the height of a man. There are sensors in the surface of the path and the impressive digital display shows how many cyclists have been past that day and the total for the week. It stood at 110 and 11,000 or so, so that’s a helluva lot of 4/5 empty cars not making journey. It was a lovely little touch, so I do hope it does mot succumb to vandalism.
Norbital seems far from perfect. Doubtless the budget was miniscule, and being a town cracking on for a thousand years old (some of the infra structure seems almost that old as well!) the Norbital people were both physically and financially constrained in what they could do. Still, it legitimises cycling on some footpaths where cyclists probably rode anyway, and as tiny as the contribution to transport and the environment is it’s far better than nothing at all.
I walked to the Hospital and for a short stretch Norbital took me alongside the A45. The litter was incredible, even the roadside grass seemed dirty and stained with diesel soot. Cars flashed by at ferocious speeds, virtually every one with 4 empty seats. I felt rather saddened at the thoughtless consumption and pollution taking place before my eyes, yet also a little cheered that someone, somewhere in authority had done something, no matter how tiny, to try and do something to reduce it.
I urge all councils and local authorities to do something. Even tiny efforts multiplied a thousand times over can become a significant entity.
But most importantly, I urge you dear reader do something. If you are reading this then most likely you are a cyclist, and all power too you, you are halfway there. If we each make tiny changes the effects will also be multiplied, and with that comes demand, and with demand comes the impetus for politicians to act. Then Chris Grayling, if he takes time out from dooring cyclists for a moment, can stop coming up with plans to cover the South East of England with tarmac and do something positive for a change.
And thus ends the tearful rant.