Commenting on Warwickshire’s new active travel pages

Just a quick thing...

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Warwickshire County Council has revamped its active travel pages, and the Warwickshire Road Safety Education and Active Travel social media accounts have asked for comments – so, I had a look, and gave some feedback as follows:

Twitter/X post from Warwickshire County Council Road Safety Education and Active Travel: "Our Active Travel website has recently had a Spring clean, and we’d love to know your thoughts! Simply reply to this post with your feedback and suggestions for future improvements. Visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/activetravel to take a look around!" A graphic below the text shows the website displayed on a laptop screen, with accompanying text similar to the above.
WCC Road Safety Education and Active Travel

Looks nice, but it’s a shame your graphics aren’t inclusive. There’s the stereotypical male sporty cyclist, which is not the right message; in your header images, female cyclists are cut off on narrower displays; there are no accessible cycles shown anywhere. Where are the tandems, tricycles, hand-cycles, cargo bikes, trailers, tagalongs etc.? You should be normalising different types of cycle.

I don’t see anybody wheeling (no, that doesn’t mean skateboards and scooters – but wheelchairs etc.)

Your walking and wheeling page doesn’t read like integrating this into daily life, but specific hiking activities that require much more planning. For cycling, you do talk about incorporating into everyday routines. So, why is that fundamental aspect missing here?

For cycling, you’ve put an undue emphasis on helmets throughout – both in the tips and graphics. Don’t tell people to wear something optional and with dubious benefits. Show people riding in normal, everyday clothes with no helmet. If you want to suggest helmets, then make it a personal choice, e.g.: “If you choose to wear a helmet, make sure it is correctly fitted and conforms to current regulations.”

Your walking tips suggest people should wear reflective or bright clothing/accessories, and your “appropriate clothing” in cycling could be inferred to mean the same. If you really want active travel to be normalised, don’t tell people to dress up in special kit for active travel as part of everyday routines. It’s a barrier, a point of friction, no matter how small it might be. It suggests these activities are more dangerous than they are, and shifts responsibility for road danger away from the source to the potential victim.

Ultimately though, it’s very hard to take any of this seriously while the County Council more broadly is just not doing its job. It has long-term schemes on indefinite hiatus, continues road building for motor traffic without putting in good active travel measures, and implements inaccessible barriers that stop people from making direct journeys.

The comms is all well and good, but until journeys are properly ENABLED by a County Council that treats active travel as a top priority, rather than one that just pays lip-service to it through pointless encouragement, nothing is going to change.

Posted to Facebook (original) and Twitter/X (screenshot) in response.

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