“If you go any slower Mister, you’ll be going backwards”. This jibe was thrown at me by a ten year old boy as I wearily cycled home from my office in the City. That was 20 years ago and in those days I would cycle to work every day. Why then, now that I live in the countryside do I go to work by car? I’ve often thought about it, but the fact is that the roads are too dangerous and the hills too steep. I’m still a keen cyclist and go out on my bike several times a week, but now only for pleasure and the exercise.
These thoughts came to mind when I picked up a brand new leaflet, aimed at the tourist trade, giving details of cycle rides in and around Kendal. The leaflet is a glossy affair and boasts that it’s funded by the “EU Regional Development Fund”. I’m sure that it will be welcomed, and appreciated by all, except perhaps those commercial operators who produce similar guides for profit, who won’t be able to compete with a free leaflet. It will be valuable for those government departments who need to show that they are doing something sustainable. This is just one of those initiatives relating to “sustainable transport”, for which a grant of £5m has recently been announced. Another is a scheme to provide charging points for electric cycles. Meanwhile the things that really matter to tourism in the Lakes, for which funding is desperately required, such as decent car parks and public toilets, are neglected or underfunded. When a visitor arrives in the Lakes there may be nowhere to park and nowhere to pee, but at least there’ll be somewhere to re-charge your electric bike.