Get Onya Bike  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Age has a cynical artcile about this week's "ride to work" day (which seemed reasonably popular here in Sydney) - Get onya bike, but don't let the road lobby 'greenwash' you.

Melbourne's 2009 Ride to Work Day has been pronounced a success. Despite the inclement weather, thousands of cyclists participated, assisted by hundreds of volunteers who showed their support for the environment by proudly wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the event's principal sponsor, the RACV.

So why is the road lobby so keen on cycling?

In the face of global warming and insecure oil supplies, everyone agrees that transport needs to become more environmentally sustainable. Governments, road lobbyists and greenies all agree on the ultimate goal, but not on the best way to get there.

One option is a radical change in transport priorities. Funding and road space would be redistributed, with an active bias in favour of walking, cycling and public transport delivered by efficient, accountable public agencies. Zurich exemplifies this: at the last census in 2000, only 19 per cent of those living and working in the Swiss city took private transport to work; only 2 per cent of students went to school or university in cars.

Change this radical is too much for the road lobby and many governments who say we can make car travel more attractive at the same time as we reduce its environmental impact. They have no models to cite, because nobody has been able to square the circle in this way. Instead, they focus on publicity stunts and ''behaviour change programs'' that put the onus on individuals, rather than governments.

Some unkind people call this ''greenwash''.

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