Nobody lives in remote places

In Cycling in Middle England, Mark mentioned that the transport minister responded to a question about policy outside of major cities by waffling about remote places where distances are impractical for cycling. If we’re not living in big cities, apparently we’re living in remote places.

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Except of course, by definition, nobody lives there.

Mark points out that most people in West Sussex live in the many sizeable towns. But even those who don’t aren’t remote. Yes there are some properly rural and remote places in Britain but by definition very few Britons live in properly rural and remote places. There is a reason why they’re so often overlooked by policy. They are a small number of weird outliers (literally).

I once saw this image used on twitter as an argument for why government’s focus should be on making driving easier and cheaper, rather than catering for the metropolitan elite with commuter trains and cycleways:

Bgn6wg0CUAAl3EvBecause look: London is such a small area compared to rural Britain.

But even leaving aside the fact that 440 times as many people are in that small area, even most of the people in the rural north are not in remote areas. Some parts of that school catchment area are extremely remote.

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But people by definition don’t live in those remote areas. They live in the more clustered collection of towns and villages where, surprisingly enough, the school and the transport infrastructure is. Their everyday journeys to school and to the shops aren’t covering heroic distances.

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So please stop citing the existence of remote undeveloped places against the transport policies we need. Yes, not everybody lives in London. But almost nobody lives in Kielder Forest.

Have any sense of just how rural northern England is? For most of its rural population, it looks something like this:

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Dense clusters of villages never all that far from the towns. Places where there should be no excuse for condemning people to a life of car dependence.

Update: for the avoidance of any doubt, and for the one or two people who seem to be having trouble, statements like “nobody lives there” and “people don’t live there” are rhetorical exaggeration. Yes, a few people live in Kielder Forest. Yes, a few people live on isolated crofts in the Highlands. No, 99.99% of the population don’t live in isolated places like that. No, the existence of those isolated dwellings isn’t an excuse to throw out transport policy for the rest of us.

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