Many cycles are now suitable for off road use, and many cyclists prefer off road cycling for recreation. This applies particularly to the young, the elderly and the disabled. SUSTRANS and other organisations have done a great deal to establish a network of quiet routes throughout Britain. In many cases, these routes, and countless others, could be greatly improved by the use of a short stretch of good wide track which they cannot include in their recommended route because it is designated as a footpath despite carrying occasional cars and land rovers without any problems. Surely, if it can carry a car it can cope with a bike!
In fairness to landowners, many raise no objection to cyclists in these circumstances, though some do. The greatest effect is on cyclists who wish to be law abiding, consult maps, and possible put themselves at risk by avoiding bits of track which they would have been much better using.
Successive governments urge us to cycle more for our heath and to improve the environment. Despite these protestations, they refuse to make decisive moves to increase the opportunities to cycle safely and effectively. By effectively, I mean, making it possible to commute rapidly and safely to school or work as a realistic alternative to motor journeys.
I am told that Germany put in 10 000 KM of cycle-track in 10 years. I have seen some of it, about 2 000 KM, and much of it is superb. We should spend money to promote real cycling, the best means of transport ever invented, and not putting up the odd velodrome, which just encourages the idea that cycling is an expensive and pointless pastime, like toboggan racing. The greatest cycling event in the world starts tomorrow, the "Tour de France", without a velodrome in sight.