Over the past couple of years I've almost gotten used to being constantly referred to as a cycling "zealot" but I have to admit it still grates a little. After all, I also drive and walk but that doesn't make me a motoring or walking zealot. Even the consistent use of the term "cycling advocate" during the Island Bay cycleway debate feels like the deliberate use of language to marginalise the views of ordinary people living in Island Bay who just happen to support the cycleway.
What got me thinking about this again was the arrival of the latest issue of the Automobile Association's Directions magazine in my letterbox this week. Yes, it's true, I'm a card carrying member of the AA! I only started riding a bike to work five years ago but I've been a member of the AA for the past 30 years - pretty much since I started driving (although this may have been interrupted for a period during the 1990's when I lived overseas). I drive, I bike, I walk and I occasionally take public transport. I like to choose the most convenient, efficient and cost-effective transport mode available to me at the time for whatever the purpose of my travel is. The most important thing is that I like to have transport choices. That's just common sense isn't it?
Apparently I'm not alone. The new issue of AA Directions magazine says that over 17% of AA members identify themselves as cyclists:
"Motorists and cyclists are regularly portrayed as being at war on the country's roads. However, in our regular survey of our AA members, over 17% identify themselves as cyclists; the majority tell us they would like cycling to be encouraged and want more safe cycling facilities to be provided. The Government is investing in developing safer cycling infrastructure and road users will increasingly see more cycle lanes and more specific cycle markings on urban streets"
It's really noticeable that the AA is paying more and more attention to cycling. For example, in the new issue of Directions there are two good articles about cycling and that's becoming increasing common. One of the best pieces they've published in recent times related specifically to city cycling and made the case that the more commuters get out of cars and public transport and onto bikes, the better it is for everyone:
"The cost of cyclists riding to work is around four cents per rider per kilometre. That’s less than a tenth of the cost of them driving an average new car. The cost to those taking a train is 15 cents per rider per kilometre – but motorists and ratepayers pay another 37 cents per passenger per kilometre in operational subsidies, and another 50 cents again for the carriages, track and signalling. Thus, the more cyclists there are in a city, the less it costs everyone"
You can read the full article here: City Cycling