#29. ENABLING FREEDOM. As Jean Paul Sartre pointed out, human beings are always free, whatever the circumstances, to choose. Yet our circumstances influence the likely outcomes of our choices and therefore what we actually do choose.
Here’s an example: although most Londoners recognise that they are free choose to cycle to work each day, the typical outcomes of such a choice – either ending up in heavy traffic, or having to plan and memorise a complex route through the backstreets – put most people off. Irrespective of what regular cyclists may feel about the decision made by non-cyclists, the fact is most Londoners just don’t want to cycle in the present circumstances.
Human freedom can be extended when the obstacles to making certain choices are removed. We become not just able but enabled to choose certain behaviours.
A London Cycle Map would enable millions more Londoners to choose cycling. By signing the London Cycle Network in accordance with the long, straight coloured routes depicted on Simon Parker’s map, we would enable cyclists to get from virtually anywhere to anywhere in the capital on safer, quieter streets. Instead of having to remember hundreds of turn-rights and turn-lefts to avoid the traffic, cyclists could remember just a few coloured cycle routes.
The status quo in London makes cycling an undesirable choice for millions of would-be cyclists. In changing this, a London Cycle Map would extend the freedom of Londoners.