I am writing to express my sadness and concern about the NPA’s decision to veto the New Forest Bike Scheme.
I use the word “veto” as it appears that the national and local media have picked up on and are reporting that there appeared to be a justifiable and solidly backed economic basis for the scheme, which appears to have been outmaneuvered by local vested interests.
The view that there wasn’t a strong support for the scheme is also slightly hindered by reported objections from locals who said they were “simply not listened to”, and who fear that they may loose out on a potential revenue stream as a result of lost trade.
It appears too that Mr Bright of B-Cycle was never asked to comment or address the concerns raised by your members either. This is truly lamentable, and I would think that the New forest NPA would need to demonstrate the steps taken to have as open and as a transparent decision process as possible, because at the moment it looks like the views of a few have dominated the views of many.
After interest from world famous sporting personalities such as Sir Chris Boardman and a petition of support from 800 + signatories “lack of support for the scheme” and a tight timescale look like poor reasons to justify closing down a scheme that was almost ready to go in framework terms.
I am aware that there are a number of local campaigners in the area who have showed an extreme opposition to cycling as a sport , a transport option and a pastime with high profile media reporting “tacks on the road” or “dumped slurry” episodes being used to derail public sporting events on public roads. These are criminal acts on public services and unfortunately have tarred the area with a “no cycling” brand which will certainly attract media interest and take some time to overcome , if ever.
Unfortunately I fear this will certainly hinder possible income generation from a larger portion of the population than you think.
Whether you like or loathe it, the cycling industry in the UK is a massive income earner in tourism terms, with Scotland alone highlighting that it earned around £239 million in tourism benefits from cycling as leisurely pursuit.
Government policy has highlighted the need to increase alternative transport means and world bodies are highlighting this need on a massive scale, with Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change reports calling on global Governments to prioritise infrastructure for pedestrians & non-motorised road users.
I’m not talking about super fast lycra clad speed junkies chasing a race here either, because the cycle hire scheme that has now been vetoed proposed bikes that are, in cycling terms, relatively robust and heavy, and that are designed for slower more ambling type cycling pursuits, precisely for the leisurely tourism and access to the spectacular views and scenery that the New Forest area is rightly famous for. It can’t really be argued that the availability of cycles to hire would automatically cause problems to livestock and farming either as they would be slow moving and relatively quiet, unlike the fast moving , clumsy, big and noisy motor vehicles that are the alternative, and which cause a lot of the traffic grid locking seen in the new forest area villages at peak tourist times. Motor vehicles also cause problems with space taken up by parking and pollution, which bikes wouldn’t. So who precisely is losing out here?
Sadly then, I see this a great opportunity missed, possible income for the area denied, and another anti bike message portrayed across the media.
Pity really, as I would have welcomed such a scheme in the area as a plus point for deciding to visit.