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Best Cycling City of the Netherlands – recap

BicycleDutch - 8 April, 2014 - 23:01
My series of the nominees of the election to become best cycling city of the Netherlands in 2014 is complete. But the five nominated municipalities were also portrayed by the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Best Cycling City of the Netherlands – recap

BicycleDutch - 8 April, 2014 - 23:01
My series of the nominees of the election to become best cycling city of the Netherlands in 2014 is complete. But the five nominated municipalities were also portrayed by the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The bad bits

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 April, 2014 - 12:30

I’m just back from a week-long tour of the Netherlands, cycling between (and across) a number of cities and towns I hadn’t visited before. I travelled around 300 miles, across the entire country. I will obviously come to the good bits in due course, but I thought I would start by writing about the bad bits, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they demonstrate that the Netherlands has not had perfect infrastructure magically parachuted in from the sky. The country had (and in many places still has) a very British-looking road network, that has been improved and adapted over recent decades. The bad bits I encountered are either old – streets and roads where nothing has been done (or the bare minimum has been done) – or simply places where compromised designs have been put in place, because the Netherlands has exactly the same conflicts for space between motor vehicles and cycling as Britain does.

Secondly, these are the parts of my journey that actually really jumped out at me. I could cycle for four to five hours a day, completely relaxed, apart from at these locations, where I suddenly had to concentrate, and start worrying. As well shall see, many of these examples actually look pretty good from a British perspective; but in the Netherlands, they were the places were I felt most stressed, and the least relaxed.

Starting at the beginning. On my way from the Hook of Holland to Delft, a good cycle path alongside a major road just stops, and switches to being bi-directional on the other side of the road.

Oranjesluisweg, De Lier

Not a huge problem, but quite jarring to suddenly have to deal with crossing two lanes of motor traffic, without any assistance. This was early on a Saturday morning, and I can imagine this road being much busier.

Further on, and as I approached the city of Delft, another good cycle path just tapered down to nothing, dumping me on the road on the approach to a busy junction.

Woudseweg, Delft

In Gouda I came across this ‘always stop’ junction for cyclists.

Spoorstraat, Gouda

The cycle track under the railway line meets a stop line, where cyclists are held while motor traffic progresses from their left, up to and through the junction (the green signal in the distance).

Then, the motor traffic is held, and cyclists get a green light, to move up to the stop line at the junction.

Quite safe, but this arrangement, combined with long waits (well over a minute) at the junction itself, made for a bad situation for cycling. Plenty of people were jumping the lights here, frustrated at having to wait for so long.

The town of Vlijmen, in the municipality of Heusden, was very poor, with no infrastructure at all to speak of, on quite busy roads and streets. It felt uncomfortable, even on a Sunday afternoon. But normal for Britain.

Mommersteeg, Vlijmen

While Nijmegen was in general very good for cycling, it did have a number of roads and streets which were inadequate, and indeed poor. Some examples.

A British-looking ASL at a major junction

A three-lane, one-way road, with no contraflow for cycling, and only a ‘feeder’ cycle lane in the middle of the road

An old street which has not been improved (although it looks like it will be, with development at the other end)

Nijmegen was the city I felt the least comfortable on my trip; but it vastly outstrips anywhere I have cycled in Britain. And remember; these are just the bad bits I am showing here.

In rural areas, my most uncomfortable cycling was on roads with ‘advisory’ cycle lanes at the sides of the road, and with no centre line.

Near Veenendaal

Generally I encountered very little motor traffic on these roads (certainly by British standards), so these pictures are unrepresentative of my trip as a whole. But I was travelling in the middle of the day, not at peak times, and situations like those pictured here could, I suspect, be quite common.

Access road near Breukelen

Quite often ‘bunching’ of motor traffic occurs, and (in my experience) Dutch drivers tend to give you very little passing distance on these kinds of roads, on the assumption that you know what you are doing.

It was unpleasant to have to start worrying about whether drivers would give you enough passing distance, or whether they were going to attempt a stupid overtake – compared to the serenity of the rest of my trip. And in some places these treatments are very obviously inappropriate.

The N836, Wageningenstraat, just south of the A15 motorway

This is an ‘N’ category road, the equivalent of our ‘A’ roads, only a kilometre or so from a motorway junction. This just didn’t cut it, as far as comfort was concerned, with large lorries and tractors passing in both directions. It was a relief to get back on the cycle tracks that ran along this road for the rest of its length. Why this section has not been upgraded yet, I don’t know.

Other ‘N’ category roads were interesting, in that for the most part they had extraordinarily good provision running alongside them, but sometimes, in towns, they just gave up. In particular Doorn, near Utrecht, was exceptionally bad.

‘No space for cycling’ at this junction in Doorn

The same problem British towns and cities face – multiple queuing lanes for vehicles means there’s not much space left over for proper cycling provision (or indeed for walking). Further on in the town -

‘Watch out for bikes!’

Here an (old) cycle track simply peters out, spitting you out onto a trunk road through the town, carrying heavy traffic. That is a lady carrying her family by cargo bike.

And because there is no cycle track in the opposite direction, you get children doing this – ‘salmoning’ up the road to get to the safety of the cycle track.

Hostile

Cycle lanes like this on this kind of road would, I think, be considered quite good in Britain, but this was definitely the most exposed I felt on my entire trip.

Leaving Doorn, and glad that military convoy is going the other way

Even very wide cycle lanes could suddenly create a feeling of discomfort. Here in Nijmegen this exceptional (by British standards) cycle lane was unsettling, compared to the cycle track I had been on moments before, as traffic came past me.

Good by British standards, but not very good compared to what is around it

And there were problems in Utrecht too. This cycle lane has been put on the wrong side of the parked vehicles. The parking and the cycle provision should obviously be switched.

A fantastic superhighway from Breukelen into Utrecht sends you into an industrial park, where you have to fend for yourself amongst HGV movements, on tiny cycle lanes.

This wasn’t much fun

And some junctions in the centre of the city are in desperate need of an upgrade, like here at Nachtegaalstraat, where huge numbers of people are squashed into an inadequate central queuing lane which separates bus traffic from private motor traffic, only able to turn right. By British standards, entirely comfortable, but not really good enough in the context of the rest of Utrecht.

Not good enough

So by no means is it perfect everywhere. The Dutch have plenty of old roads and streets that need to be upgraded; they just haven’t got around to doing them yet. And in other places it looks like battles still need to be fought to get proper provision installed, at the expense of motor traffic.

But I should stress that these examples – in total about twenty or thirty places – are the only times I felt uncomfortable, or inconvenienced, on my entire trip of around 300 miles. The vast, vast majority of my trip was gloriously pleasant, easy and safe. More of that to come.


Categories: Views

The bad bits

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 April, 2014 - 12:30

I’m just back from a week-long tour of the Netherlands, cycling between (and across) a number of cities and towns I hadn’t visited before. I travelled around 300 miles, across the entire country. I will obviously come to the good bits in due course, but I thought I would start by writing about the bad bits, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they demonstrate that the Netherlands has not had perfect infrastructure magically parachuted in from the sky. The country had (and in many places still has) a very British-looking road network, that has been improved and adapted over recent decades. The bad bits I encountered are either old – streets and roads where nothing has been done (or the bare minimum has been done) – or simply places where compromised designs have been put in place, because the Netherlands has exactly the same conflicts for space between motor vehicles and cycling as Britain does.

Secondly, these are the parts of my journey that actually really jumped out at me. I could cycle for four to five hours a day, completely relaxed, apart from at these locations, where I suddenly had to concentrate, and start worrying. As well shall see, many of these examples actually look pretty good from a British perspective; but in the Netherlands, they were the places were I felt most stressed, and the least relaxed.

Starting at the beginning. On my way from the Hook of Holland to Delft, a good cycle path alongside a major road just stops, and switches to being bi-directional on the other side of the road.

Oranjesluisweg, De Lier

Not a huge problem, but quite jarring to suddenly have to deal with crossing two lanes of motor traffic, without any assistance. This was early on a Saturday morning, and I can imagine this road being much busier.

Further on, and as I approached the city of Delft, another good cycle path just tapered down to nothing, dumping me on the road on the approach to a busy junction.

Woudseweg, Delft

In Gouda I came across this ‘always stop’ junction for cyclists.

Spoorstraat, Gouda

The cycle track under the railway line meets a stop line, where cyclists are held while motor traffic progresses from their left, up to and through the junction (the green signal in the distance).

Then, the motor traffic is held, and cyclists get a green light, to move up to the stop line at the junction.

Quite safe, but this arrangement, combined with long waits (well over a minute) at the junction itself, made for a bad situation for cycling. Plenty of people were jumping the lights here, frustrated at having to wait for so long.

The town of Vlijmen, in the municipality of Heusden, was very poor, with no infrastructure at all to speak of, on quite busy roads and streets. It felt uncomfortable, even on a Sunday afternoon. But normal for Britain.

Mommersteeg, Vlijmen

While Nijmegen was in general very good for cycling, it did have a number of roads and streets which were inadequate, and indeed poor. Some examples.

A British-looking ASL at a major junction

A three-lane, one-way road, with no contraflow for cycling, and only a ‘feeder’ cycle lane in the middle of the road

An old street which has not been improved (although it looks like it will be, with development at the other end)

Nijmegen was the city I felt the least comfortable on my trip; but it vastly outstrips anywhere I have cycled in Britain. And remember; these are just the bad bits I am showing here.

In rural areas, my most uncomfortable cycling was on roads with ‘advisory’ cycle lanes at the sides of the road, and with no centre line.

Near Veenendaal

Generally I encountered very little motor traffic on these roads (certainly by British standards), so these pictures are unrepresentative of my trip as a whole. But I was travelling in the middle of the day, not at peak times, and situations like those pictured here could, I suspect, be quite common.

Access road near Breukelen

Quite often ‘bunching’ of motor traffic occurs, and (in my experience) Dutch drivers tend to give you very little passing distance on these kinds of roads, on the assumption that you know what you are doing.

It was unpleasant to have to start worrying about whether drivers would give you enough passing distance, or whether they were going to attempt a stupid overtake – compared to the serenity of the rest of my trip. And in some places these treatments are very obviously inappropriate.

The N836, Wageningenstraat, just south of the A15 motorway

This is an ‘N’ category road, the equivalent of our ‘A’ roads, only a kilometre or so from a motorway junction. This just didn’t cut it, as far as comfort was concerned, with large lorries and tractors passing in both directions. It was a relief to get back on the cycle tracks that ran along this road for the rest of its length. Why this section has not been upgraded yet, I don’t know.

Other ‘N’ category roads were interesting, in that for the most part they had extraordinarily good provision running alongside them, but sometimes, in towns, they just gave up. In particular Doorn, near Utrecht, was exceptionally bad.

‘No space for cycling’ at this junction in Doorn

The same problem British towns and cities face – multiple queuing lanes for vehicles means there’s not much space left over for proper cycling provision (or indeed for walking). Further on in the town -

‘Watch out for bikes!’

Here an (old) cycle track simply peters out, spitting you out onto a trunk road through the town, carrying heavy traffic. That is a lady carrying her family by cargo bike.

And because there is no cycle track in the opposite direction, you get children doing this – ‘salmoning’ up the road to get to the safety of the cycle track.

Hostile

Cycle lanes like this on this kind of road would, I think, be considered quite good in Britain, but this was definitely the most exposed I felt on my entire trip.

Leaving Doorn, and glad that military convoy is going the other way

Even very wide cycle lanes could suddenly create a feeling of discomfort. Here in Nijmegen this exceptional (by British standards) cycle lane was unsettling, compared to the cycle track I had been on moments before, as traffic came past me.

Good by British standards, but not very good compared to what is around it

And there were problems in Utrecht too. This cycle lane has been put on the wrong side of the parked vehicles. The parking and the cycle provision should obviously be switched.

A fantastic superhighway from Breukelen into Utrecht sends you into an industrial park, where you have to fend for yourself amongst HGV movements, on tiny cycle lanes.

This wasn’t much fun

And some junctions in the centre of the city are in desperate need of an upgrade, like here at Nachtegaalstraat, where huge numbers of people are squashed into an inadequate central queuing lane which separates bus traffic from private motor traffic, only able to turn right. By British standards, entirely comfortable, but not really good enough in the context of the rest of Utrecht.

Not good enough

So by no means is it perfect everywhere. The Dutch have plenty of old roads and streets that need to be upgraded; they just haven’t got around to doing them yet. And in other places it looks like battles still need to be fought to get proper provision installed, at the expense of motor traffic.

But I should stress that these examples – in total about twenty or thirty places – are the only times I felt uncomfortable, or inconvenienced, on my entire trip of around 300 miles. The vast, vast majority of my trip was gloriously pleasant, easy and safe. More of that to come.

 

 


Categories: Views

Where the crashes are: Shared Space and other bad junction designs lead to crashes and injuries

A View from the Cycle Path - 7 April, 2014 - 11:02
A useful website shows where all crashes have occurred on Dutch roads. I've used it below to demonstrate the relative safety of different roads and cycle-paths in this country. Is Shared Space safe ? The Laweiplein Shared Space "squareabout" in Drachten has been the subject of much hype. Many claims have been made for a low accident rate here but the evidence does not support this. Drachten David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/where-crashes-are-shared-space-and.html
Categories: Views

“Road danger reduction and road safety are not the same”

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 6 April, 2014 - 23:29

Photo from Local Transport Today 644 (4th April 2014)

Below is the text of a letter published in Local Transport Today  644 in response to a long letter from Professor Oliver Carsten in the previous issue  showing how the UK’s “road safety record” is presented in an undeservedly “sunny” light. I state that the way he points this out is welcome, but needs to go a lot further…Oliver Carsten’s demolition of “our” “road safety performance” (Letters, LTT 643) is a welcome first step by a senior academic to catch up with what the Road Danger Reduction (RDR) movement has been saying for decades. But stating the very obvious should be just that only – a first step.

 

Carsten makes the obvious point that some people (the “vulnerable road users”, so called because – like most travelers on the planet – they happen to be outside motor vehicles) are more prone to being hurt when collisions occur. He could have included elderly people and then children, but let’s go one small step at a time.

 

 

So let’s suggest some further steps for Professor Carsten and others who may be interested in a civilised approach to the subject to consider in a civilised assessment of safety on the road.
The basic strategy is to get the language right: do try and speak English and not “roadsafetyese”. A good way of introducing the English language into the discussion is with this word “danger”. Generally “road safety” (RS) professionals use this word intransitively – with regard to danger being done to somebody. So an elderly pedestrian is doing something “dangerous” whereas the Volvo driver threatening him and others on the road is “safe”. The RDR movement thinks we need to invert this, and concentrate on seeing those with more lethal potential – essentially the motorised of various types – as being the “DRUs” (dangerous road users).

 

 

To take another language example from the letter, it is not “our” road safety record. Some people have chosen modes of transport more potentially lethal than others. Some people are more careful than others. Some people reduce the chances of their children being hurt by not allowing them to walk or cycle (while having a far higher chance of premature death because, as Carsten says, of the morbidity and mortality associated with non-active travel), etc. I don’t think that “we” should all be lumped in it together in terms of responsibility for “our” record.

 

 

Here’s another one: sometimes there are few pedestrian or cyclist casualties at a location – such as a rural road with high speed motor traffic or a busy gyratory system – precisely because there is high amount of danger from motor traffic. These locations (or to be more precise, since we are talking about the importance of language, those responsible for the motor vehicles involved) are more dangerous, not less.

 

 

Try some thought exercises: Professor Carsten says that “travel on foot or by bicycle is far more dangerous than travel in a car”. As explained above, if we take a more civilised approach which concentrates on responsibility towards others, we should base our approach on the fact that walking and cycling pose far less of a threat than using a car does. Working out how to use the words properly can help turn road safety into road danger reduction, moving from accepting danger on the road with its attendant victim blaming into a more civilised approach to safety on the road. Luckily, for most professionals this can be easy as it will often be a case of simply inverting previous thought.

 

 

The last misuse of a word I will look at now is “road safety performance”. As he suggests, the official way of assessing this is deeply flawed. I described similar points, restricted to cycling and walking but more extensively, in my LTT 635 (15th November 2013) Comment piece on how to measure safety on the road.

 

 

Now it becomes a bit harder. Everyone knows that adaptive behaviour to perceptions of risk (risk compensation) is a fact of life. This will be hard for RS practitioners unwilling to accept that increased crashworthiness of vehicles and more forgiving highway environments has reduced care taken by drivers. Ultimately the move towards RDR from RS means having to accept the evidence and that your profession has had – at the very least – a flawed approach.

 

 

Finally, there is of course a sense in which looking at aggregated road traffic fatalities over time does make a lot of sense. This is the work done by John Adams in interpreting Reuben Smeed’s descriptions of deaths in different countries related to levels of car ownership: it shows changes which occur irrespective of road safety interventions occurring.

 

 

In other words, RS professionals have to consider that apparently positive changes may actually conceal (enforced) reduction in more benign mode use – and they also have to consider that what positive changes that have happened may well have happened anyway. Insofar as official interventions have a responsibility for change, improvement could have occurred by following the central aim of the RDR movement. This is reducing danger at source – from the ways in which motor traffic is used – for the benefit of all road users and as part of a sustainable transport policy. This will be emotionally hard for traditional practitioners in this area. Are they up to it?

Robert Davis
Chair
Road Danger Reduction Forum
LONDON NW10


Categories: Views

Copenhagen - Is Cycling Up or Down or What?

Copenhagenize - 5 April, 2014 - 10:50

It's all so confusing. Numbers indicating rise and falls in cycling levels. Although perhaps not as much as we think.

Firstly, back in 2009 I made a bet with anyone who would take it. Cycling levels in Copenhagen had been stagnant for many years. In 2008, a whole new kind of stupid showed up in Denmark. The Danish Road Safety Council (Rådet for Sikker Trafik - or Rodet for Sikker Panik if you like) decided to expand their ideological campaigns by promoting bicycle helmets. They convinced the Danish Cyclists Federation (DCF) to join the parade. To this day, the DCF remain one of the few national cycling organisations in all of Europe who support promotion of bicycle helmets.

Anyway, hardcore emotional propaganda hit the streets of Denmark in January 2008. As usual with such organisations, there was little science involved. An unsuspecting population were subjected to a one-sided view on helmets and not offered any balanced, scientific perspective. The Culture of Fear is powerful when applied correctly. Now, 17% of Copenhageners wear helmets on average. They are usually the ones involuntarily performing Risk Compensation studies. Keep a careful eye when cycling out there with them.

In this article from 2009 - Cycling is booming - just not in Denmark - I predicted that the rash of bicycle helmet promotion would not cause cycling levels to increase - despite the massive political will at the time. As I wrote:

Here's my bet. Because of the intense bicycle helmet propanganda in 2008:
- the percentage of cyclists in Copenhagen - 37% - will not rise. It will either fall or remain unchanged.


Few colleagues believed it. What happened?

Copenhagen cycling levels fell from 37% to 35% by 2010. That's a lot of people who hopped off the bicycle. The people who made that happen have blood on their hands.

In order to explain the drop, the usual suspects will tell you that it was because there were two hard winters in Copenhagen. So we looked at all the different factors involved, including the weather, and compared it all with Amsterdam. Amsterdam, and the rest of the Netherlands, suffered EXACTLY the same hard winters in the same period. Amount of snow, temperatures, you name it.

Cycling levels didn't fall in Amsterdam. They remained steady. Fewer people drove because of the winters, but cycling wasn't affected.

The emotional propaganda onslaught faded away and, as one would expect, cycling levels started to recover. We're now at 36% modal share of people arriving at work of education in the city and have lingered there for a few years.

The news today in Copenhagen is of a massive increase in cycling in Copenhagen. Numbers from travel survey data from Danish Technical University show the following:

- The average trip length for Copenhageners increase by a whopping 1 km since 2012.
- Copenhageners ride 2,006,313 km a day, compared to 1.3 million in 2012.
- Car trips are down 12%.
- Public transport also increased its modal share from 28% to 32% since 2007.

One of the newspapers in Denmark that is arguably the most anti-cycling - Politiken - try to wrap their pretty heads around why there has been an increase in this article, in Danish. They ask all manner of academics who offer up their opinions.

The journalists claim that the City of Copenhagen's focus on infrastructure is a reason for it. They mention, among other things, the bicycle bridges over the harbour but fail to notice that they aren't even finished being built yet. So that doesn't work. There have been infrastructure improvements on certain streets, sure, but nothing on a large enough scale to boost cycling levels this much.

It's all very simple if you want it to be.



Right here, in all its simplicity.

Copenhagen is one massive building site. 17 new Metro stations are under construction all at once. Last year, work was finally completed on the huge network of pipes providing central heating to most of the city centre, which only contributed to the chaotic construction in the city. In the above article, the DCF - to my delight - recognised this as the reason for the current increase.

If you want to encourage cycling and public transport, make driving a pain in the ass. It is the only way forward and the only way we know to get motorists to change their behaviour.

Trip lengths by bicycle are up in Copenhagen - and car trips are down - simply because it's a pain to drive in the city because of all the construction at the moment. That's it and that's that.

If the City wants to maintain these cycling levels, keep the current chaos, albeit in a nicer form, when the Metro construction is finished.

The new numbers are nice today, but if everything just reverts to the car-centric status quo when construction is finished (and remember that the Metro expansion is already projected to reduce cycling levels by 3%), the honeymoon will be over and it will be abrupt and shocking when it happens.
Mark my words.

It's all so easy if you want it to be.
Don't promote helmets.
Make driving difficult, complicated, expensive.
Duh.

The homo sapiens of a city will always figure out the fastest A to B. We call it A2Bism. We are all like rivers, finding the easiest route. Make that the bicycle or public transport and you are halfway there.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

What do Victor Veilig and Benni Brems say about Subjective Safety ?

A View from the Cycle Path - 5 April, 2014 - 08:17
Over the last few years in the Netherlands, small yellow boys, 80 cm tall, have become a more common sight on the streets. Victor Veilig ("Safe Victor") and his older German cousin Benni Brems ("Benni Brakes") are claimed by the manufacturers and distributors to remind drivers to slow down. Victor and Benni are light in weight and parents are told that they should place him outdoors when their David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/what-do-victor-veilig-and-benni-brems.html
Categories: Views

Fun-loving singles

John Adams - 4 April, 2014 - 21:59

I recently discovered (thanks Jim) that my website had acquired a sideline in the form of a service for fun-loving singles wearing not very much, and keen to get in touch with others similarly attired. Although many of the postings might be said to have had a risk theme I have decided to focus, for the moment, on less exciting issues such as seatbelt laws and ISO 31000.

Apologies to all disappointed users of the alternative service.

Best wishes

John

Categories: Views

Bikes Beat Metro in Copenhagen

Copenhagenize - 4 April, 2014 - 10:24

Like anyone interested in city life, we at Copenhagenize Design Co. like to keep our eyes on the street life of our city. Currently however, the City of Copenhagen is planning to take some away from the street, by forcing  people underground, with the 'Cityringen' expansion of the Metro. Instead of investing in the reestablishment of our tram network - so rudely removed by the ironically-named mayor Urban Hansen in the 1970s - like cities all over Europe, Copenhagen seems keen to get people off the street.
This doesn’t come cheap: 3 billion Euros gets you an additional 17 stations added to the existing Metro network. In a nice circle shape. Perhaps some of the cost can be explained by the fact that It is not easy to build a Metro in Copenhagen, a city that is on the whole scarcely above sea level, and with a dense urban fabric too.  It's due for completion in 2018, but that's later than the initial estimate and with the date still some way off who knows whether it will actually be ready by then - just ask the planners in Amsterdam, where a new metro line has been under construction since 2002 and is still not finished, although it was supposed to have been operating for several years by now. As well as that, Amsterdam's costs more than doubled from initial estimates.
But this article is not only about the Metro extension in Copenhagen; it deals with the question of which kinds of transportation are needed to support cities in becoming more liveable. We realise that we won't be stopping the Metro, but we are keen to highlight - even years before it's finished - that it ain't "all that".

The projections for the Metro also have an alarming statistic buried in the paperwork. Cycling levels in Copenhagen are expected to drop by an estimated 2.8%. That is a lot of cyclists we'll be losing. 
We know what people want. We want to move fast, safe and cheap from A to B. Also, the transportation system has to be sustainable, namely environmentally friendly, at a reasonable cost to society and it should not exclude anyone.
Since we are hands-on people here at Copenhagenize, we decided to just test it ourselves. We were curious how the different transport modes score compared to each other and especially how the bike performs against trains, buses and the new Metro.
What we did was simple. For some days we tracked all our journeys from our homes to the Copenhagenize office (and vice versa) or other routes with the GPS-based App Endomondo. A great app - also because it includes Cycling - Transport as an option. Not surprisingly, it's a Danish app. Sometimes we came by public transport, sometimes, as normal, by bike.
As the new metro is not operating yet, we had to be a bit creative when comparing it to the bike. We built scenarios to challenge the totally unrealistic times which are published on the project website of the Metro extension. If false advertising is a thing, the Metro are guility of it. "7 minutes from Nørrebro Runddel to Enghave Plads!", they declare, without anyone bothering to check if it's true. Until now.
To be clear about that point: It is probably very realistic that the time you will need to spend on the metro carriage itself between the future stations Nørrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads is seven minutes. The unrealistic part about that is that nobody lives or works in those stations.

To have a realistic Home to Work scenario with which we could compare travel times with the bicycle, we took addresses in potential residential areas in a range of less than one kilometre to a future Metro station and tracked the time it takes to walk from the address to the future station. We then added the two minutes that it takes to get down to the train and wait for it. (We actually timed this at a number of stations and worked out an average. We like details.)

And then comes the time you actually spend in the train, followed by the fact that it will take another minute (again, on average based on our timings) to get off the Metro and reach the street level again. Lastly we added the walking time from the station to an address in a potential working area, again in a range of less than one kilometre to the Metro station. As you can imagine, a trip incorporating the journey from Nørrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads doesn't take seven minutes any more.

Here you can see the results of our Bike vs. Metro study.  For the bike trips we assumed that we were travelling at an average speed of 16kph, which is the average pace people cycle in Copenhagen. Very relaxed, without having to sweat, and doable for all cyclists. We also added two minutes to unlock, park and lock the bike. The results are impressive: in three out of five scenarios the bike is faster door to door than the Cityringen line will ever be.

In one scenario there is a tie between Metro and bike and in only one instance is the Metro slightly faster. The longer you have to walk to and from the station (last mile) the higher are the chances that the bike will be faster. From our data we see that 700m can be seen as a threshold: if you take the metro to work and have to walk more than 700m (about 10 minutes) on the way from door to door, you almost certainly would have been faster by bike.
We're asking why the City of Copenhagen and the Danish government put so much money into something which does not bring a significant advantage to the people in the city? We're not saying that a Metro never makes sense. There are cities where the Metro is an indispensable element in the transportation system, carrying millions of people a day, like in London, Paris or New York. But does it make sense in cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where you can reach almost everything in the centre within 20 minutes on a bike?
Of course, we understand that not everybody is able to ride a bike. And we definitely want a transport system which does not exclude anybody.
So, where is your tram, Copenhagen?
Imagine what a fantastic tram network we could have for €3 billion. Look at France, where new tram systems are popping up like mushrooms. Also, there would be plenty of money left to further improve the cycling infrastructure within the city. What we get now is a new line with 17 stations which runs in a circle and only connects to other lines at two points. It doesn't seem like the main effect of this project will be to make Copenhagen more liveable. The City of Copenhagen is clearly afraid of reducing car traffic. Despite the goodness in the city, they still are intent on maintaining the car-centric status quo.
Back to the competition: What about our commuting trips we tracked? Also in those cases the bicycle is highly competitive as you can see in the graphics below.  
On trips less than ten kilometres the bike is usually the fastest option. The longer the trips are, for example from Frederiksberg to the Airport at Kastrup or from Glostrup to the new Copenhagenize office on Papirøen (Paper Island on the Harbour), the better public transport scores. That makes sense and it is also in line with the fact that cycling drops significantly for trips longer than eight kilometres.
But we also have to mention that we set the average speed for cyclists even on the longer commuter trips to 16kph. It can be assumed however, that commuters who cycle everyday between 10 and 15 kilometres to work are faster than that. The bicycle superhighway network for greater Copenhagen for instance is designed for an average speed of 20kph. And then, the bicycle is even very competitive up to distances around 15 kilometres.
So, what’s the message of our short study about getting from A to B in Copenhagen? First: there's no obvious need to invest billions in mega projects if the effect is as small as in Copenhagen’s current Metro extension project. Secondly: Invest the money instead in cycling infrastructure.

Our little experiment has shown again that the bicycle is the best mean of transport to get from A to B in a city. And thirdly: Invest in public transport solutions which cover a larger geographical area at a lower cost. Like trams or light rail.

And lastly, you might wonder why we did not include the car in our comparison. Well, because a car wouldn't make sense at all for daily trips in a city and because only 14% of Copenhageners transport themselves by car each day. 


Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

A bakfiets compilation

BicycleDutch - 2 April, 2014 - 23:01
The English term cargo bike has a strong and obvious connection to freight, with that word cargo. The Dutch word bakfiets is more neutral and literally means ‘box bike’. That … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A bakfiets compilation

BicycleDutch - 2 April, 2014 - 23:01
The English term cargo bike has a strong and obvious connection to freight, with that word cargo. The Dutch word bakfiets is more neutral and literally means ‘box bike’. That … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

ISO 31000: an update

John Adams - 30 March, 2014 - 22:40

For those new to ISO 31000  – Risk management – Principles and Guidelines – published by the International Standards Organization – my profoundly negative view of it can be found in earlier postings .

ISO 31000 has spawned, at the moment of writing, 2.9 million Google hits. I cannot say that none of them addresses the concerns raised in my earlier postings – only that I have not seen them addressed. ISO seems to be simply a flag that people run up the pole before getting off their chest whatever is currently bothering them about risk management – without making meaningful connection with ISO 31000 itself. Since it costs CHF 116 it is possible that many have never read it.

This post however addresses a different problem. In an attempt to monitor what was going on in the ISO 31000 world I joined a linked in website called G31000 . It is run by Alex Dali, possibly ISO 31000’s most enthusiastic promoter. He is the owner of an entity called G31000 that describes itself as “The Global Platform for ISO 31000”.  He has a website- and  claims  that his company –  The Global Institute for Risk Management Standards – has 10,001+ employees. So, I thought, a useful portal into the world of ISO 31000. Google maps helpfully provides a view of its headquarters at 6 Residence la Sabotte, Marly-le-Roi, Paris, France.


 It is not clear whether these are the homes of some of the 10,001+ employees, nor exactly where in this complex the office of the owner is to be found.

Monsieur Dali’s Linkedin site  purports to be a forum for exchanging ideas about ISO 31000.

I say “purports”. I have been a contributor to this forum in the past, but not recently – but I have kept a watching brief. A recent post by a regular contributor, Ian Dalling captured my interest: “Allen [Allen Gluck  vice-president of G31000], this news is very welcome. The incident [the temporary shutting down of the G31000 Linkedin website] has shaken people’s confidence – it would be good if you or Alex could elaborate further on what caused the incident and positively state that there was no truth in any of the accusations?”

And a follow-on post from Dalling: “given the web gossip may I ask the current status of Madeline Le Blanc within this LinkedIn Group?”

Why Madeleine LeBlanc might feature in web gossip damaging to G31000 is explained here . Her profile claims that she currently works for JLP Events. I phoned the only JLP Events that I could find on Google and they denied knowing anyone of this name. We know that she has been trading under a false photograph. Does she exist? This is not a trivial question. Madeleine.LeBlanc@G31000.org was the email address used in various exercises in the past soliciting significant amounts of money, e.g. http://www.slideshare.net/dali1010/toronto-conference-booking-form-4-16.

At this point I joined the discussion with a post of my own: And at the same time might we have some information about Formascope. I can find lots about this Formascope - http://www.societe.com/societe/formascope-443194733.html - but almost none about this Formascope - http://www.verif.com/comptes-annuels/DALI-ALEXIS-490167905/ - except that it hasn’t filed any accounts of which this website is aware [A notre connaissance, cette société n'a pas déposé ses comptes annuels].”

This appears to have been a sensitive inquiry. Formascope is a company listed on M. Dali’s profile so, I thought, a legitimate subject of inquiry in  the light of the “web gossip” about which Dalling was seeking reassurance. My post appeared briefly before being removed without explanation. And shortly thereafter the Comment Box was removed, ending the discussion – without either of Ian Dalling’s questions receiving an answer.

The message then became clearer:

There is nothing that pricks my curiosity more than being dropped into the Orwellian Memory Hole. So I took a closer look at the G31000 website – starting with Formascope.    It features in his profile under the heading “Managing Partner” where it is described as a “Training company specialized in global risk management”. If you click on “Managing Partner” you get taken to a list of 100 people who all have “managing partner” in their job titles. Their connection with G31000, if any, is not made clear.

If you click on Formascope here you get an even more intriguing response. You are taken to a page that introduces you to five people without names – two of whom do not even have faces. Certainly they have impressive job titles. Three are “Chefs d’entreprise”, one is “Directeur” and the other “Président”, a position I thought reserved for M. Dali himself . This impressive list of leaders sits uncomfortably alongside the only information I could glean from a Google search: http://www.verif.com/societe/DALI-ALEXIS-490167905/ – namely that Formascope, a company with 10,001+ employees, has not filed any accounts.

If you click your way through the rest of Alex’s Profile you are rewarded with other interesting information. Click on “President” and you get another list of 100 people, all called President. If you click on Global Institute for Risk Management Standards - “The Global Platform for ISO 31000” – you get further confirmation of the fact that he is president of a company with 10,001+ employees!

Clicking on “Managing Director” Atlascope brings up another 100 people all called “Managing Director” but no information about Atlascope.

Click on …. Well perhaps you get the idea.

Perhaps there are simple answers to Ian Dalling’s questions that M. Dali has not yet had time to provide, and explanations for the questions raised by my amateur Internet sleuthing. If so I will be happy to publish them.

Although I have been highly critical of ISO 31000, it makes one point in its introduction with which I am in full agreement: the effective management of risk, it says, will “improve stakeholder confidence and trust.” My brief perusal of the G31000 website and experience of  (and blocking from) one of its associated discussion forums has inspired neither.

Another, more energetic and wide-ranging, inquiry into the activities of G31000 is being conducted by Christopher Paris of Oxebridge. See:

http://www.oxebridge.com/emma/?p=2870 , http://www.oxebridge.com/emma/?p=2668 , http://www.oxebridge.com/emma/?p=2628, and

http://www.oxebridge.com/emma/?p=3086

Categories: Views

Friday throwback: the 100 year old bike race line up

ibikelondon - 28 March, 2014 - 09:04



With spare inner tubes slung across their chests and bobble hats at the ready (note the lack of non-compulsory helmets back then) these Australian cyclists are lining up for a great day's racing in Goulborn, New South Wales.  It's the start of the Goulborn to Sydney Dunlop Road Race, and this photograph was taken in the 1930s.  I love the small crowd assembled in the background to see the race off, including the official starter clutching his flag wearing what appears to be a pith helmet and plus fours...

Remarkably the 100th edition of the Goulborn to Sydney should have been run last year, but concerns about road safety by professional teams meant the event was canned.  Whether the race will return in 2014 remains to be seen.  This article on Cycling Tips has some great links and photographs, and a full history of this fascinating event and its recent demise.

This week's Friday Throwback features a photograph from the State Library of New South Wales archives and is one in a continuing series here on ibikelondon exploring old and interesting cycling photos on the Flickr Commons.

Have a great weekend, enjoy your ride, and why not connect with ibikelondon online?  Catch up with all our latest posts on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @markbikeslondon

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Categories: Views

SPIN London rolls in to town this weekend

ibikelondon - 27 March, 2014 - 10:01

I'm just checking in with a brief blog post to let you all know that SPIN London - London's alternative bicycle show - rolls back in to town at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane this weekend.


Because everyone should consider buying a neon hot pink bike with no brakes at least once in their life... (Photo via BikeBiz)
If the super slick offering of the larger, shinier London Bike Show (held at Excel in February) is not quite your cup of tea,  SPIN promises to have something that will rouse your interest.

Shifting from last year's focus on frame builders, 2014's event has been re-positioned to encompass all things "cycling culture".  There's still an extensive frame builders exhibition space, but in addition there's a host of bicycle accoutrement specialists like Brooks Saddles, IBIKELDN and Milltag.  You can also check out some interesting innovations where safety and security meet style; exhibitors HipLock have created a wearable bike lock whilst Hovding, the Scandinavian inflatable bicycle helmet creators will also be there.

The Handlebards in action.  My kingdom for a horse bike! (Photo via the Handlebards website)
In addition to all this there are bars, food stalls, talks, coffee, cyclist's yoga classes, DJs and even a Shakespeare play acted out on bikes by a rolling troop of actors wittily named The Handlebards (yes you did just read that right!) so there's something for everyone, whatever your cycling interest.

If you really want to make a day of it, our friends at IBIKELDN apparel are running one of their fun and friendly bike rides around town, ending at the event in the afternoon.  Meet Victoria Park Pavilion Cafe on Saturday 29th March at 11AM.  Dress super.

Spin LDN: The Urban Cycle Show is on March 28-30, Old Truman Brewery, 15 Hanbury Place, E1 6QR. Tickets are £10 on the door or cheaper in advance if booked online here. Follow @spinLDN

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As if we didn’t already know, a cycling revolution won’t happen by itself

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 27 March, 2014 - 00:55

There is a curious opinion that often manifests itself in government and in councils – that a serious commitment to cycling as a mode of transport in its own right can’t be made, precisely because very few journeys are currently made by bike in Britain.*

One of the latest examples of this kind of thinking comes from Reading, where councillor Tony Page has recently argued

We have to balance the interests of all road users and I particularly draw colleagues’ attention to figures which indicate the huge reliance on buses for journeys into the town centre. At the moment, cyclists only constitute three per cent and even if you double that it’s still only six per cent. The dominant and most popular mode of transport is our public transport.

That is – we can’t justify doing anything to improve cycling, because it is a deeply unpopular minority mode of transport, and anyway doing so would probably impinge on much more popular modes of transport.

The problem is that these kinds of opinions are predicated on an assumption that the people of Reading – or wherever – have a free choice about what mode of transport they wish to use. That cycling in Reading is just as ‘available’ to its citizens as bus travel, and the relatively high demand for buses compared to cycling just reflects the fact that people prefer ‘busing’ to ‘cycling’.

But there is of course another way of looking at this situation. It is entirely possible – in fact it is quite likely – that the ‘huge reliance’ on buses for journeys in Reading simply reflects the uncomfortable reality that the form of cycling on offer in the town is very unattractive – unpalatable – to the vast majority of people.

Indeed, it’s a bit like serving mouldy food, and when people decline it, assuming they prefer to go hungry, rather than eat.

We found that nobody wanted to eat this. So obviously people prefer going hungry, to eating bread.

The town of Reading is offering crap cycling, and when people choose a less worse alternative, its councillors appear to be assuming that means people don’t like to cycle, full stop.

Yet we know that people do like to cycle, and that there is enormous suppressed demand for it – demand suppressed largely by traffic danger and road conditions.

British people enjoy cycling in huge numbers when the conditions are right.

Waiting for cycling to materialise out of nowhere before you actually decide to start catering for it is, frankly, idiotic.

There is no clearer demonstration of this than the latest Office for National Statistics analysis of cycling to work patterns in the 2011 census, released yesterday [pdf]. It shows that cycling in Britain is largely stagnant or declining, except for increases in a small number of places (mostly cities) where small steps have been taken to improve conditions.

Before taking a look at that ONS analysis, it’s worth remembering that these are figures only for cycling to work, which will almost certainly paint a better picture than figures for cycling as a whole, for a number of reasons. Children are not included in cycling to work figures; we know that cycling rates amongst British children are lower than average. Likewise, the elderly are largely not included in cycling to work figures, and again cycling rates for this age group are below average. Both these age groups are much less likely to cycle than people of commuting age.

Equally, as Rachel Aldred has recently explained, even unpleasant cycling routes to work can be tolerated, or accepted, more than equivalent conditions for other kinds of trips – because these routes become familiar, and dangers can be anticipated and mitigated.

It seems like people are fussier about cycling environments when they’re not commuting. This makes intuitive sense if you think about it. When I’m riding to work, I know my route extremely well as I ride it most working days. I’m travelling on my own, so I only have to worry about my own safety, not that of any companions. I know where the dodgy bits are, where I need to concentrate super hard. I know the timing of the traffic lights – whether I have lots of time to get through or not. I know the hidden cut-throughs I can take to make the journey nicer. As I’m travelling with the peak commuting flows there’s often plenty of other cyclists around, creating a greater sense of subjective safety.

This certainly rings true for my commute across Westminster that I used to make for several years – I knew what kind of traffic to expect on which sections of the route, what kind of driving I was likely to encounter, where I needed to position myself on the road to avoid hazardous situations, and so on. My route got refined over time, and I became conditioned to dealing with what were initially very intimidating roads and junctions.So the picture for cycling as a whole is likely to be far, far worse than these census figures for commuting. (Indeed, we already know that cycling to work rates far outstrip modal share figures in London boroughs, usually being about three times higher).

The ONS tells us that

In 2011, 741,000 working residents aged 16 to 74 cycled to work in England and Wales. This was an increase of 90,000 compared with 2001. As a proportion of working residents, the share cycling to work was unchanged at 2.8%.

The small increase in the number of people cycling to work in England and Wales was matched by the increase in the number of people working, meaning that there was no proportional change in cycling to work since between 2001 and 2011.

The number of all trips being made to work increased by around 14% between 2001 and 2011, yet for England and Wales (excluding London) the number of trips to work being cycled increased by only 2.2%. That means that cycling to work levels outside of London have fallen from 2.8% to 2.6% over this period. The increase in London masks decline in cycling across the rest of England and Wales.

 The picture is just as gloomy when we look at a local authority level -

Of the 348 local authorities in England and Wales, 146 had an absolute increase in the number of people cycling to work between 2001 and 2011. As a proportion of resident workers in the local authority, however, only 87 of the 348 local authorities witnessed an increase.

That means 261 out of 348 local authorities – 75% – saw a proportional decline in cycling to work levels over this period. Cycling to work (reminder – much more resilient than other types of cycling) actually went backwards in most areas in Britain. And these are almost all areas that had next to no cycling in the first place. Bleak in the extreme.

Even places where there was a non-negligible amount of cycling to work went backwards too – among the most striking is (flat) north Norfolk, which had 4.8% of workers cycling to work in 2001. This fell dramatically to 2.8% in 2011. Indeed, it is quite extraordinary how the areas seeing the largest percentage points decline are grouped together in the flattish areas of eastern England.

The flatness problem – cycling going backwards in East Anglia and Lincolnshire

And the same areas show up among those where short cycling to work trips (less than 2km) have declined the most.

No, not that Holland. The Holland in Lincolnshire.

Plainly, no ‘cycling revolution’ is happening in England and Wales. Sporting glory is not persuading people to cycle for everyday trips; nor is marketing – advice, bike breakfasts, or exhortation about how fantastically green and good for your health cycling can be.

Cycling will not grow all by itself, and most likely it will continue to disappear in those areas where it is not being catered for. The idea that these trends can be bucked by expecting people to choose to cycle under current conditions, before we then start to take cycling seriously as a mode of transport, is nonsensical. The investment – serious investment – has to come first, along with proper design guidance to ensure that money is not poured down the drain on inadequate schemes of negligible benefit.

Without this kind of long-term strategic thinking, talk of cycling ‘booming’ in the UK will continue to ring hollow.

 

*A variant is that the Netherlands and Denmark only spend so much money on cycling because they have to cater for so many people cycling.


Categories: Views

As if we didn’t already know, a cycling revolution won’t happen by itself

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 27 March, 2014 - 00:55

There is a curious opinion that often manifests itself in government and in councils – that a serious commitment to cycling as a mode of transport in its own right can’t be made, precisely because very few journeys are currently made by bike in Britain.*

One of the latest examples of this kind of thinking comes from Reading, where councillor Tony Page has recently argued

We have to balance the interests of all road users and I particularly draw colleagues’ attention to figures which indicate the huge reliance on buses for journeys into the town centre. At the moment, cyclists only constitute three per cent and even if you double that it’s still only six per cent. The dominant and most popular mode of transport is our public transport.

That is – we can’t justify doing anything to improve cycling, because it is a deeply unpopular minority mode of transport, and anyway doing so would probably impinge on much more popular modes of transport.

The problem is that these kinds of opinions are predicated on an assumption that the people of Reading – or wherever – have a free choice about what mode of transport they wish to use. That cycling in Reading is just as ‘available’ to its citizens as bus travel, and the relatively high demand for buses compared to cycling just reflects the fact that people prefer ‘busing’ to ‘cycling’.

But there is of course another way of looking at this situation. It is entirely possible – in fact it is quite likely – that the ’huge reliance’ on buses for journeys in Reading simply reflects the uncomfortable reality that the form of cycling on offer in the town is very unattractive – unpalatable – to the vast majority of people.

Indeed, it’s a bit like serving mouldy food, and when people decline it, assuming they prefer to go hungry, rather than eat.

We found that nobody wanted to eat this. So obviously people prefer going hungry, to eating bread.

The town of Reading is offering crap cycling, and when people choose a less worse alternative, its councillors appear to be assuming that means people don’t like to cycle, full stop.

Yet we know that people do like to cycle, and that there is enormous suppressed demand for it – demand suppressed largely by traffic danger and road conditions.

British people enjoy cycling in huge numbers when the conditions are right.

Waiting for cycling to materialise out of nowhere before you actually decide to start catering for it is, frankly, idiotic.

There is no clearer demonstration of this than the latest Office for National Statistics analysis of cycling to work patterns in the 2011 census, released yesterday [pdf]. It shows that cycling in Britain is largely stagnant or declining, except for increases in a small number of places (mostly cities) where small steps have been taken to improve conditions.

Before taking a look at that ONS analysis, it’s worth remembering that these are figures only for cycling to work, which will almost certainly paint a better picture than figures for cycling as a whole, for a number of reasons. Children are not included in cycling to work figures; we know that cycling rates amongst British children are lower than average. Likewise, the elderly are largely not included in cycling to work figures, and again cycling rates for this age group are below average. Both these age groups are much less likely to cycle than people of commuting age.

Equally, as Rachel Aldred has recently explained, even unpleasant cycling routes to work can be tolerated, or accepted, more than equivalent conditions for other kinds of trips – because these routes become familiar, and dangers can be anticipated and mitigated.

It seems like people are fussier about cycling environments when they’re not commuting. This makes intuitive sense if you think about it. When I’m riding to work, I know my route extremely well as I ride it most working days. I’m travelling on my own, so I only have to worry about my own safety, not that of any companions. I know where the dodgy bits are, where I need to concentrate super hard. I know the timing of the traffic lights – whether I have lots of time to get through or not. I know the hidden cut-throughs I can take to make the journey nicer. As I’m travelling with the peak commuting flows there’s often plenty of other cyclists around, creating a greater sense of subjective safety.

This certainly rings true for my commute across Westminster that I used to make for several years – I knew what kind of traffic to expect on which sections of the route, what kind of driving I was likely to encounter, where I needed to position myself on the road to avoid hazardous situations, and so on. My route got refined over time, and I became conditioned to dealing with what were initially very intimidating roads and junctions.So the picture for cycling as a whole is likely to be far, far worse than these census figures for commuting. (Indeed, we already know that cycling to work rates far outstrip modal share figures in London boroughs, usually being about three times higher).

The ONS tells us that

In 2011, 741,000 working residents aged 16 to 74 cycled to work in England and Wales. This was an increase of 90,000 compared with 2001. As a proportion of working residents, the share cycling to work was unchanged at 2.8%.

The small increase in the number of people cycling to work in England and Wales was matched by the increase in the number of people working, meaning that there was no proportional change in cycling to work since between 2001 and 2011.

The number of all trips being made to work increased by around 14% between 2001 and 2011, yet for England and Wales (excluding London) the number of trips to work being cycled increased by only 2.2%. That means that cycling to work levels outside of London have fallen from 2.8% to 2.6% over this period. The increase in London masks decline in cycling across the rest of England and Wales.

 The picture is just as gloomy when we look at a local authority level -

Of the 348 local authorities in England and Wales, 146 had an absolute increase in the number of people cycling to work between 2001 and 2011. As a proportion of resident workers in the local authority, however, only 87 of the 348 local authorities witnessed an increase.

That means 261 out of 348 local authorities – 75% – saw a proportional decline in cycling to work levels over this period. Cycling to work (reminder – much more resilient than other types of cycling) actually went backwards in most areas in Britain. And these are almost all areas that had next to no cycling in the first place. Bleak in the extreme.

Even places where there was a non-negligible amount of cycling to work went backwards too – among the most striking is (flat) north Norfolk, which had 4.8% of workers cycling to work in 2001. This fell dramatically to 2.8% in 2001. Indeed, it is quite extraordinary how the areas seeing the largest percentage points decline are grouped together in the flattish areas of eastern England.

The flatness problem – cycling going backwards in East Anglia and Lincolnshire

And the same areas show up among those where short cycling to work trips (less than 2km) have declined the most.

No, not that Holland. The Holland in Lincolnshire.

Plainly, no ‘cycling revolution’ is happening in England and Wales. Sporting glory is not persuading people to cycle for everyday trips; nor is marketing – advice, bike breakfasts, or exhortation about how fantastically green and good for your health cycling can be.

Cycling will not grow all by itself, and most likely it will continue to disappear in those areas where it is not being catered for. The idea that these trends can be bucked by expecting people to choose to cycle under current conditions, before we then start to take cycling seriously as a mode of transport, is nonsensical. The investment – serious investment – has to come first, along with proper design guidance to ensure that money is not poured down the drain on inadequate schemes of negligible benefit.

Without this kind of long-term strategic thinking, talk of cycling ‘booming’ in the UK will continue to ring hollow.

 

*A variant is that the Netherlands and Denmark only spend so much money on cycling because they have to cater for so many people cycling.


Categories: Views

First day of Spring cycling

BicycleDutch - 26 March, 2014 - 23:01
It’s spring! And the first day of spring (on 20th of March this year) was a record-breaking beautiful day, with temperatures of over 21 degrees Celsius. That was great, despite … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

First day of Spring cycling

BicycleDutch - 26 March, 2014 - 23:01
It’s spring! And the first day of spring (on 20th of March this year) was a record-breaking beautiful day, with temperatures of over 21 degrees Celsius. That was great, despite … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Why Kings Cross plans shows Transport for London MUST try harder

ibikelondon - 24 March, 2014 - 08:30

There isn't a cyclist in London who would describe riding around Kings Cross as a pleasurable experience.  The scene of numerous collisions, it's a mini-gyratory where the heaving traffic of the A501 north circular is squeezed round the smaller roads surrounding Kings Cross station.  Harried passengers dash for space, taxi drivers chase fares blasting their horns, buses splutter and fume as construction traffic roars through, heading for the massive redevelopment area behind the station.  It's long overdue for an overhaul and safety improvements, but plans from Transport for London fall far short of providing safe space for cycling.

A ghost bike at the sport where Min Joo Lee was killed.
It was here in 2011 that 24 year old student Min Joo Lee was struck and killed by a construction lorry whilst riding to college, in front of horrified rush hour onlookers.  Three female cyclists - Madeleine Rosie Wright, 27, Wendy Gray, 42, and Min Joo Lee, 24, were all killed by lorries within a few hundred metres of one another over the space of 5 years on this stretch of the A501.  A 4th cyclists, Emma Foa, was killed by a left turning cement mixer just up the road in 2006.  All of these deaths share similar tragically predictable elements; a lack of safe space for cyclists interacting with very large vehicles, whose drivers are unable to see vulnerable road users all around them.

Last year, at an inquest in to Min Joo Lee's death, the Coroner heard how a report commissioned by TfL in 2007 described future casualties on this site as "inevitable".  In another report, transport engineers Colin Buchanan noted that cyclists made up 20% of casualties on the site but specifically excluded pedal cyclists from their modelling of the junction at the request from Transport for London, in order to assure the smooth flow of traffic.

Speaking in 2011 and referring specifically to the death of Min Joo Lee, TfL's Leon Daniels said "Any fatal road collision is one too many. The Mayor and TfL will work night and day to reduce that number."

 TfL's plans - hardly exemplary
But the latest plans for the Kings Cross area fall far short of being either safe or inviting for cyclists.

Dribbling a chain of minor improvements in to the existing roads, TfL's plans do include some wider and mandatory cycle lanes, and a little protected space.  However, there is much more which is wrong with their ideas.  This is where their proposed "north - south" cycle superhighway will intersect with the North Circular, bringing thousands of additional riders to the area, yet there are no protected cycle lanes or safe passage through the junction in every direction.  There's also considerable risk of left or right "hooks" from turning vehicles - especially lorries - risking repeat deaths like those of the cyclists who have already been killed there.  Their plans also include putting cyclists on pavements (rather than ceding any road space to them) in some of the busiest pedestrian space in central London, yet the entire surface of all the carriageways in the redevelopment area will be resurfaced - all on the back of the cycling budget.  That is to say, you might find yourself on a terrible pavement cycle lane soon, whilst motorists glide smoothly past on beautiful new tarmac paid for with money set aside to supposedly make you safer.  

You couldn't make it up.  As London Cycling Campaign point out "it will not possible to go through the junction in any direction without being exposed to unacceptable levels of danger. Some sections do not even meet the old cycle design standards set out a decade ago."  Indeed, Twitter has been awash with reports of how a 17 year old Sixth Form student from Kent has done a better job than TfL's engineers with his own proposals for Kings Cross (follow @maidstoneonbike, check out his plans, and maybe chuck him a few quid for his RideLondon plans to say "Chapeau!")

The consultation on these "improvements" closes today (Monday 24th March) and the LCC are encouraging everyone to write to TfL to tell them to go back to the drawing board.  I'd urge you to do the same, even if you miss the consultation deadline by a few hours.  Maybe then the people whose job it is to design streets that are supposed to keep us safe will be made aware of just how badly they are failing.

I think the designs at Kings Cross open wider and more worrying questions about the pace of the Mayor's so-called cycling revolution programme.  We've all been enticed by the images of protected cycle lanes and the mock ups of cycle tracks yet to be built, but when it comes to proposing actual work this is what we are met with.  The plans for Kings Cross are so bad at first I assumed the 1st of April had come early, but the safety of riders in this area is no laughing matter.  It's time for Transport for London to start listening to the Cycling Commissioner, and to cyclists themselves, and to start proposing plans that really make a difference.  

Click here to go to the Transport for London King's Cross consultation page.

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