Nik Butler: A cycle of words

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

Among the more than thirty three thousand words which make up the Horsham District Planning Framework the word cycling is mentioned 8 times; which is the same number as the occurrences for pedestrian.

Meanwhile transport has at least five times more frequency. When I use my bike to head up Rusper Road, down Kings road and over towards the town centre I have become one less person to take up a car parking space.

When I walk into town I am one less person causing that queue outside the Tesco Express pumps which always tails back onto Redkiln way and the roundabout.

When I choose to take transport other than the car I am effectively reducing congestion, and pollution, I am improving air quality and the only negative impact I can see in my actions is that I don’t add to Horsham District Council’s coffers by way of parking tickets and parking fines. When we teach our children to cross the roads, and to do it safely, we stress the dangers of vehicles; we encourage them to respect and acknowledge cars and lorries. Can it be any wonder that from childhood to adulthood the desire to be respected and acknowledged becomes reflected in the need for car ownership.

I try to imagine a world where car owners had to fear, acknowledge, and respect the pedestrian, the cyclist, and the horse rider; where it was the cars, not the pedestrians, that had to stop and wait to allow the other to cross a road. Just look to the impatient nudges of vehicles at a pedestrian crossings to see how little patience a driver can display. The framework document talks of Home zones where priority is given to cyclists and pedestrians but it makes no reference to how those zones are connected to retail zones or work zones.

Can I assume that as ever the belief is that cycling and walking are “past time” activity and that every day activities revolve around leaving your front door, climbing into your car, driving to a car park, and entering a shopping mall. It does seem that if you own a car you are given the privilege of simple routes between destinations.

Maybe in the first year of the next council sitting the members should have to walk and cycle to attend meetings; perhaps then more words could be spent on genuine improvements to Horsham.