Tuesday, June 18, 2013
(Monika Jones, master of ceremony, with Philippe Crist at Velo-City 2013)
"Cycling equals a pure unadulterated and enduring sense of freedom" - well Philippe Crist sure got that right!
As he did with his statement that "it is inconceivable that one mode of transport alone can do all the heavy lifting" and that "cars dominate the traffic scene so much today that most cities no longer see them."
That's right we don't see them at all - we don't see the pollution they churn out, the inconvenience they cause, the congestion they manufacture, and we don't notice the entire city space no longer available to the rest of us because cars have gobbled it all up.
It was refreshing to hear Philippe Crist state that "the return of urban space is better supported by cycling" and that "health improving benefits associated with cycling ought to be factored in because for too long transport authorities have only looked at the disadvantages of cycling." As far as Philippe is concerned, it just isn't good enough any longer that we only look at crash statistics.
Far more useful in his opinion is speed management, the most essential safety strategy employed, and he gave New York as an example with their 14 x 30km zones. Apparently with the right infrastructure, cycling can act as the city regenerator only it needs political will and community support...
...oh dear 2 great big hurdles for Australia that currently from here seem almost unsurpassable!
Also really interesting was hearing him ponder why the health argument associated with cycling isn't more successful when the monetised health benefits of cycling come out ahead against the monetised health costs.
Putting my 'helmet question' to him after his plenary session, Philippe reiterated that there should be an increased focus on the positive benefits of cycling rather than the current over-emphasis on the negative aspects.
He also mentioned to me that The Lancet and most doctors in the UK believe that it is far better to have increased cycling numbers without helmets than reduced cycling with helmets, and that current safety for cycling does not involve helmet laws.
Once again he stressed that bicycle safety comes back to speed management, high quality infrastructure and a return to urban space for everyone. He said that whilst helmets may reduce negative health outcomes with regards to crashes, they do not reduce crashes and therefore do not make cycling safer.
So now apart from my helmet question, I have a new one - I want to know why can't all these sensible experts be Australian and/or live in Australia and/or organise Australia?