#61: IT'S A NUDGE. No-one likes being told what to do by a nanny state. But people in positions of power still have a responsibility to influence the public to make good decisions.
In their famous book Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein proposed a policy of ‘liberal paternalism’, a subtle compromise position. The idea is that governers and policy makers should alter the ‘choice architecture’ of people’s daily lives, to make them more likely to choose behaviours which are conducive to health and well-being. A classic example is putting healthy lunch options in the school canteen in a position where kids are more likely to see and therefore buy them.
The London Cycle Map is a nudge: a comprehensive network of fully signed and mapped cycle routes would not force anyone to cycle (or force current cyclists onto those particular routes), but it would put all the right architecture in place to help non-cyclists to choose cycling. The simplicity of remembering just a few coloured routes – just like on the Tube – would make the option of cycling so much more appealing, and bring its health and well-being benefits to the wider public.