Views

Bikes no enemy of London's night-time economy as theatres flock to support Cycle Superhighways

ibikelondon - 30 October, 2014 - 08:30
In a clear sign that the West End's thriving night-time economy and cycling can go hand in hand, the Mayor of London’s plans to build new Cycle Superhighways are finding support in the theatre industry.


Support grows for Space4Cycling in London
The Royal Opera House recently joined Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and the Young Vic in pledging their support for the ambitious cycling plans, which have come under attack from some corporate groups.

In addition, scenery constructors Factory Settings Ltd and theatrical lighting suppliers White Light Ltd have also backed the proposals.

The two superhighways will join up existing and planned routes to create the longest substantially-segregated urban cycleway in Europe, running 18 miles from Barking to Acton.

They will have the capacity to move 6,000 people each hour, the equivalent of 20 extra Tube trains or 82 additional London buses.

Proposals to introduce night time parking charges across the West End in 2011 caused consternation for theatres and evening entertainment venues, but the opposite seems to be the case for the Mayor's bold cycling plans.

Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, Alex Beard CBE, said in a statement:

“Like many organisations in London, a growing number of our 1,000 employees cycle to work. I am sure that an even larger proportion of our team would cycle if they felt comfortable and safe on the roads. It is also clear that cycling is used by an increasing number of visitors to the Covent Garden area and indeed our audience members

“We value employee satisfaction, health, and freedom and that’s why we endorse the plans outlined by TfL to create new segregated routes through the heart of the city. The proposed north–south and east–west routes will help us attract and retain the employees our business needs to continue to thrive. They will make London a more attractive city in which we can build and run our operations.”


Riders calling on the Mayor to build safe space for cycling pass through London's West End on a recent bicycle demonstration.
In November 2012 dancer Sofoklis Kostoulas, 31, was killed in a collision with a tipper lorry whilst cycling on the Bethnal Green Road, east London. He had recently performed in the London 2012 Olympic festival. Twenty-year-old actor and model David Poblet was killed whilst cycling on Tooley Street, south London, in March 2011 just days after completing his auditions at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to study a BA in acting. Fourteen cyclists were killed in London in 2013, six in a two-week period last November.

CyclingWorks.London is a group coordinating business responses to the cycling proposals. Their spokesperson Chris Kenyon said:

“We’re thrilled to have the support of some of the biggest names in London’s theatre industry for these game-changing cycling proposals. If built, the Cycle Superhighways will allow many more Londoners to get to and from theatres, restaurants and the West End in a safe, sustainable and enjoyable manner

“More and more businesses recognise the importance of these plans in helping to keep their employees safe, their businesses attractive, and in helping to make London a smoothly-running global city.

“I would urge other theatres to join the Young Vic, the Globe and the Royal Opera House in supporting these plans.” 

Transport for London’s consultation on the Cycle Superhighways run until Sunday, November 9th 2014.

Business can add their support via the CyclingWorks.London website whilst individuals can join 5,000 others and sign this LCC petition.
Share |

Categories: Views

Toucan Play That Game – Let’s not make the mistake of continuing to lump pedestrians and cyclists together

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 29 October, 2014 - 23:33

A new style ‘zebra’ crossing with a cycle crossing bolted onto it is in place in Bexley.

Picture courtesy of Phil Jones

This is a trial version of this new type of crossing, which is proposed in the Department for Transport’s consultation on TSRGD 2015 [pdf] -

Some people (including me!) have been a wee bit sceptical about this crossing, and so I think it’s worth setting out why, in long form.

Before I get started, it’s obviously worth stating that priority crossings for bikes are plainly a very good idea in principle, and it’s great that the DfT are open to new ideas, and that this kind of crossing (which could work well, in the right circumstances) is being trialled, on street. I am an optimist, and this does represent progress.

However, there are grounds for concern. Mainly, it’s that this design remains a pedestrian-specific piece of infrastructure, that has had some cycle provision bolted onto it.

Walking and cycling are different modes of transport, with different design requirements, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to lump them in together, on the same crossing.

This is why I made comments voicing concern about this crossing actually being given a name, because doing so legitimises treating walking and cycling the same way. As we shall see, the Dutch don’t name walking and cycling crossings that happen to be next to each other, for the obvious reason that they are entirely separate things.

Toucan

There is, of course, an existing British crossing that lumps pedestrians and cyclists in together, that has a name – the Toucan.

Toucan crossing, Hyde Park Corner, London. Note how cyclists and pedestrians mingle with each other, despite their different speeds and requirements.

I think it’s fair to say that Toucans are a pedestrian-specific piece of infrastructure that have had cycling bodged into them. They are pedestrian crossings that simply allow cycling, and for that reason they are sub-optimal.

They tend to treat people who are cycling as pedestrians, rather than giving them their own clear distinct routes across junctions. It makes cycling slower and more inconvenient. It’s bad for people cycling, and it’s also bad for people walking, as it creates confusion and unnecessary hazards.

Toucans are obviously not worse than having no cycle crossing at all, but they are worse than crossings that treat pedestrians and cyclists separately. Finally, toucan crossings can provide an incentive to create ‘sharing’ areas away from the crossings – shared used pavements, and so on – because the crossings themselves are shared.

A Toucan at Stratford, with shared use footways on either side

Flexibility, and designing separately

Now it is possible to delineate Toucan crossings, providing separate walking and cycling routes across a junction, as in this example from Jitensha Oni -

Courtesy of Jitensha Oni

But we don’t have to do this – it’s perfectly possible to provide a cycle crossing that is entirely separate from a pedestrian one, with their own respective signals, rather than one set of ‘Toucan’ signals.

Tavistock Place cycle track, with signals, running parallel to separate pedestrian crossing

And this is, unsurprisingly, how the Dutch design. They treat walking and cycling as different modes, and provide separate signals, and crossing paths, rather than lumping the modes in together, like a Toucan would.

Besides the crossing routes keeping the two modes separate, there are good reasons for doing this. Pedestrians and cyclists will take different amounts of time to cross a road, and the signals can be adjusted accordingly, with pedestrians given more time. If there are no pedestrians waiting to cross, the ‘green time’ can be shorter.

Of course, the kind of crossing pictured above doesn’t have a name – it’s, well, a bike crossing that happens to be near to a crossing for pedestrians.

And much the same is true of the way the Dutch treat unsignalised crossings. The pedestrian crossing (zebra or otherwise) is a separate element from the cycling crossing, which may or may not have priority. Sometimes the two ‘bits’ are close to each other, sometimes they are not – but at no point are they the same ‘thing’.

This means the Dutch have a great deal of flexibility in how they design crossings. They can, for instance, put a (two-stage) bicycle crossing, without priority, next to a zebra, if that makes sense. Pedestrians have priority on the zebra, but cyclists don’t have priority.

Of course, you could have the same arrangement, but with cycling priority. The key point is flexibility, and treating the two modes separately, at all times.

However, this flexibility is not available with the DfT’s proposed new ‘combined’ zebra crossing, which, to repeat, is a cycle crossing tacked onto a pedestrian crossing. It’s worth quoting here what the Cycling Embassy had to say about this ‘cycle zebra’ -

We are concerned that the proposed ‘cycle zebra’ is simply repeating the mistakes of shared use paths and toucan crossings – namely, that cyclists are simply ‘botched in’ to an existing design, without concern for the needs of cyclists.

We are particularly concerned that there is insufficient difference between the proposed ‘cycle zebra’ and an ordinary zebra crossing, and that drivers may not appreciate the need to yield to (faster) approaching cyclists…

We also note that there is potential for great ambiguity (and hence danger) in the existing rules for zebra crossings, whereby drivers must give way only once pedestrians are on the crossing itself. The dangers of this ambiguity are intensified with faster moving cyclists.

We also feel that the regulations with respect to crossings do not give sufficient flexibility to allow for appropriate crossings to be designed in many circumstances, particularly in the vicinity of road junctions. (For instance, the use of elephants’ footprint markings, with give markings, to indicate cycle track crossings across junctions).

Consequently we suggest that controlled area ‘zig-zag’ markings, zebra crossing markings, and elephants’ footprints cycle crossing markings should be prescribed separately as ‘building blocks’, and that it should be the responsibility of the designer to identify how or if these should be combined in each particular instance, including allowing for combinations with stop and give way lines at junctions.

There are practical problems with cyclists using zebra crossings in this way, because of priority rules that only give priority to pedestrians once they are actually on the crossing. This is really quite unhelpful (and potentially dangerous) for cyclists, who will obviously usually be arriving at crossings at a greater speed than pedestrians.

People cycling would really benefit, instead, from a much more straightforward cycle-specific priority crossing, that can simply be placed adjacent to a pedestrian-specific zebra.

Cycle zebra?

Once this new ‘cycle zebra’ crossing has a name, I fear it will encourage – just as the Toucan crossing has – the employment of shared use footways, and general ambiguity in the areas surrounding crossings, because that’s the easiest way out for designers who don’t have a great deal of interest in doing things properly.

As the Embassy response argues, it would be far better if we could employ priority cycling crossings (something we can already provide!) in the vicinity of zebras, while continuing to treat the two crossings as distinct, separate elements, rather than putting an ambiguous cycle crossing onto the zebra itself.

This ‘building block’ technique, as employed by the Dutch, gives much greater flexibility to designers and engineers – they can decide where to place crossings, how to mark them up, and whether or not to give priority to pedestrians and/or cyclists.

It’s laudable that the DfT are (finally!) open to new ideas, but I worry that this minor ‘cycle zebra’ concession may lead us down an unhelpful path, already trodden by the Toucan, and actually inhibit the development of the more useful and practical ‘building block’ approach – which would also require some stripping away of the (often needless) requirements for zebra crossings.

Time will tell.


Categories: Views

Road diet XXL for an intersection in Den Bosch

BicycleDutch - 29 October, 2014 - 23:01
To improve traffic situations for pedestrians and people cycling, road managers can decide to build extravagant infrastructure. Most of the time, however, it is much easier and much more effective … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Why do cyclists fear being banned from busy roads ? Is it faster to cycle on roads than cycle-paths ? What really makes cycling safe and convenient for everyone ?

A View from the Cycle Path - 28 October, 2014 - 12:07
Assen's cycle-racing circuit a few daysago. All types of cycle racing are extra- ordinarily popular in the Netherlands, hence even many smaller cities have specially built cycling circuits on which people ride extremely quickly. A fear which is often expressed, especially in the UK but also in other countries with little cycling, is that adoption of Dutch style cycling infrastructure will David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/10/why-do-cyclists-fear-being-banned-from.html
Categories: Views

Who will steal Laura Trotts' crown as Queen of the Track? My race report from London's spectacular velodrome

ibikelondon - 28 October, 2014 - 08:30



A tremendous season of track cycling got underway at the Lee Valley Velodrome this weekend, when the first round of the Revolution Series returned to London.  With headline names, explosive races and the world's longest track stand competition, there was plenty to keep the crowds entertained.  And with five more rounds of the Revolution Series across the country coming up, and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup coming back to London in December there were plenty of riders ready to show us - and each other - just what the are made of.





In addition to the banks of seating surrounding the track, lucky ticket holders (and this lucky blogger) were entertained from the track centre where a bar had been built especially for the event, just metres from the athletes warming up and within touching distance of the track where riders rushed past.  It's here you really appreciate the pitch of that famous Siberian pine, and the pace these riders push themselves to.  Welshman Lewis Oliva of Team USN pedalled past the 40MPH mark to win the UCI Sprint over visitor Juan Peralta from Spain, showing just what London's incredible velodrome is capable of.

The warm up zone feels like a great, whirling beehive.  Athletes zip in and out on their bikes, toing and froing from the track. Others go wild on the rollers, thrashing them so hard they look fit to break.  Excited media buzz about looking to synch an interview with double Olympic champion Laura Trott as she prepares for her showdown with Dutch star Marianne Vos.  Meanwhile, riders preparing to race stare in to the distance; thinking about their opponents, thinking about their tactics, thinking about winning.  Lights glare and music booms.





I've often wondered what track cyclists think about as they warm up for their races.  There's nowhere to hide in a track centre, with 4,000 pairs of eyes watching your every move expectantly.  There's more than just a little touch of theatre about velodromes.  For all of the bravado of the preparation, no matter how much you rehearse, once you're on the track itself it is time for you to deliver.  No time for mistakes, no second chances.  And plenty of potential for a really fast, really high screw up.





The showdown between Laura Trott and the indefatigable Marianne Vos had been the big draw card for the crowds, but in the end Trott aced it wining six out of a potential six wins in the Women's Omnium.  At the end of the day, her specialisation in track gave her the upper hand over the more generalist competition.  It was the same for Germany's Christian Grasmann and Marcel Kalz from track experts Maloja Pushbikers (formerly Rudy Project RT).  Last year's Revolution Series-winning team came in strong from the start, leading the field by the end of the two day's racing.  The Germans dominated each of their events (and seemed to enter all of them!), and look to be in fine form for the December World Cup.





"The fastest track in the world" lived up to its name, with speeds delivered in excess of 40MPH on the home straight, to the delight of the crowds.  The Hopkins-designed velodrome continues to excel as the most beautiful in Britain and the best for spectating.  With seating stretching all the way round the track, the roars of the crowd follow each rider as they spin round and around, pushed along by a pulsating wall of shouts and cheers.





Maldon-born Alex Dowsett was a popular addition to proceedings, with perhaps the biggest cheer of the night reserved for when he lapped the field in the Madison Time Trial.  And the HOY Future  Stars - the up and coming talent of Britain's younger track cyclists - made up for their lack of experience with a bucketful of guts, delivering edge-of-your-seat races which belied the rider's young age.





But all told, the night belonged to Maloja Pushbikers.  Keen to capitalise on their elite series win in 2013, they are the team to beat for this year's Revolution rounds.  Will newcomers Orica Green Edge or seasoned hands Sky be able to keep up?  And in the women's field, can anyone face up to steal Laura Trott's crown as queen of the track?  It's going to be an exciting season of track cycling ahead.



The UCI Track Cycling World Cup is hosted by London at the Lee Valley Velodrome from 5th to the 7th of December - tickets are still available for some sessions, but are selling out fast.

The Revolution Series returns to London in February for two more days of high octane action.  Tickets - including exclusive track centre passes - are on sale now.

You can catch the highlights of this weekend's Revolution Series Round 1 on Channel 4 on Saturday morning at 7AM and afterwards on 4OD.

Share |
Categories: Views

Welkom op de Nederland

Pedestrianise London - 27 October, 2014 - 22:05

It’s been all quiet on Pedestrianise London for far too long, and for that I can only apologise. Over the last 3 years since I started this blog, the cycling climate in London has changed and the beginnings of change are starting to be seen.

So why the radio silence? Over the last 6 months I’ve been busy moving my family and my life out of London and to the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I think there comes a time for most non-native Londoners when you know you have to leave before the city completely consumes you. With my wife being from Rotterdam, my young daughter being of pre-school age and thus immune to large lifestyle disruptions, and family living nearby, this feels like the sensible move for us.

I hope to continue to write stuff here, but hopefully with more of a lean on how things are done in Holland’s 2nd city (and beyond).

"But", I hear you say, "I don’t know anything about Rotterdam", well, it’s the 2nd largest city in the Netherlands (after Amsterdam) and the largest port in the Europe. It’s situated in the province of South Holland at the south end of the Randstad economic area, has a population of 600,000 people, 1.6 million in the greater Rijnmond area, oh, and it was bombed completely flat in the 2nd World War and was thus totally rebuilt in the 1950’s, as such it’s renowned for it’s crazy architecture.

Oh, and of course, bicycles.

Categories: Views

How to make public space dull – fill it with cars

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 27 October, 2014 - 13:51

The visualisations Transport for London have been producing recently for the Superhighways – and for the Oval junction redesign – have attracted some comment from naysayers, about how little motor traffic is shown.

By implication, TfL have wished motor traffic out of existence, not showing the horrendous congestion that, it is alleged, will result following the reallocation of roadspace.

There’s undoubtedly an element of truth to this. The purpose of a visualisation is to sell the scheme being proposed, and showing congestion isn’t a great selling point.

But I don’t think there’s any grand conspiracy here – any visualisation of a new road or street scheme will tend to show very little motor traffic, Exhibition Road being a fairly typical example.

However, the reason for this is probably much more mundane than any attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes, regarding potential congestion. It’s that filling a visualisation with cars doesn’t make the space you are presenting very attractive. Who wants to look at hundreds of fairly anonymous metal boxes, when you could instead show human beings, smiling, walking, interacting with each other?

Indeed, more generally, cars are very dull things to fill public space with.

Don’t get me wrong - some cars are attractive, and nice to look at. But plonking large numbers of average-looking cars on roads and streets makes those spaces much, much less interesting than if they were filled with people.

Who wants to look at this?

Or this?

Pretty uninteresting. By contrast, public space filled with human beings…

… is much more diverting.

That’s why visualisations tend not to include large numbers of motor vehicles – even if that’s unrealistic.


Categories: Views

Copenhagenizing Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport Cycle Track

Copenhagenize - 25 October, 2014 - 08:30


A team from Copenhagenize Design Company recently returned from Bangkok where we had the pleasure of working on an exciting project. It is fantastic to be surprised. Thailand's second largest bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), have constructed a 23.5 km long cycle track around Bangkok International Airport - Suvarnabhumi. The beginning of one of the most impressive CSR projects we've ever seen and we are excited to be a part of it. It's not every day projects on this scale see the light of day and we had a fantastic site visit with our partners from SCB, King Power and Superjeew Event.

Copenhagenize Design Company have been hired to take the basic idea and simply make it World-Class. It's a brilliant combination of placemaking, infrastructure, planning and communication for a destination for cyclists and Citizen Cyclists alike. Basically developing what could be one of the most interesting bicycle destinations in the world.


copenhagenize@suvarnabhumi bike track from Viwat Wongphattarathiti on Vimeo.
Copenhagenize Rides the Suvarnabhumi Track

Bascially, SCB, together with Airports of Thailand (AOT) who own the land, took an access road along the perimeter of the airport and resurfaced it in a bright, green colour - 4 m wide - to create a one-way cycle track for recreational/sport cycling. The road is inside the airport's moat designed for flood protection and outside of the fence leading to the runways and airport's operational area.

For obvious security reasons, there is only one access point and the cycle track is one-way along the entire 23.5 km length.

Mie, Anina and Mikael from Copenhagenize Design Company on the site-visit.

At the moment, the airport cycle track is in a basic form. The cycle track loops around the airport but there are no facilities. It is open from 06:00-18:00 each day. On the Sunday morning that we visited for our site visit, we arrived at 07:30. The security team at the entrance informed us that 6000 people had already entered the track. Six thousand! An astonishing number. On average, there are 3000 people a day on a weekday using it - primarily in the morning and afternoon before and after work but also because the temperature is cooler.

Riding along the 23.5 km length, we never really felt that it was crowded with 6000 cyclists. They all spread out nicely along the track, what with differing speeds.


There was a great variety of cyclists on the track. The vast majority were kitted out in cyclist clothes and riding racing bikes in a wide spectrum of skill levels. There were groups of riders muscling past at speed and there were couples, friends and individuals enjoying some exercise.

There were a few kids out on the track, too. Copenhagenize rocked the track on three Bromptons provided by our hosts.


At the start area, a short 1 km track has been added so that kids - or less-experienced cyclists - can go for a spin as well.


At this stage, Copenhagenize Design Company is in the midst of the consultation process so we'll have to wait with writing about our catalogue of ideas for how to take this fantastic facility and make it truly world-class.

Until then we are amazed that it even exists.

Bangkok is not exactly known for being a bicycle-friendly city. While Copenhagenize Design Company primarily works with cities on transport infrastructure, this project is too amazing to resist for us. We are convinced that making it into a world-class destination will have a powerful knock-on effect for improving conditions for cyclists in the city itself, where bicycle advocates are fighting an inspired fight.


Like getting this separated bicycle facility put into place on one street in Bangkok.

The airport cycle track may be a roundabout way of doing it, but the local advocates are doing great work so it will all go hand in hand. The Prime Minister of Thailand helped us all out by announcing, on the day before we arrived in Thailand, that he wants Thai cities to focus on bicycles as transport in Thai cities. So thanks, Mr Prayuth Chan-ocha, for that.

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

Kerbside activity

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 24 October, 2014 - 13:36

The issue of ‘kerbside activity’ and cycling infrastructure comes up intermittently.

In plain language, this is loading, and dropping off/setting down, and how it works with cycle tracks between the loading/drop-off point, and the footway. Just last month, the Freight Transport Association responded to Transport for London’s detailed proposals for the N-S and E-W Superhighways in London, with a particular focus on this point.

FTA’s message to Boris Johnson is that whilst it supports the development of infrastructure which improves safety for cyclists, the association is also asking him to remember that the people of London depend on goods being delivered and collected.

Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London said:

“FTA supports the development of new cyclist infrastructure which is targeted on improving safety for cyclists, and believes it can provide real benefits. But cyclists are only one user of the road and the needs of all must be considered – Londoners depend on the goods our members supply every hour of every day. It is important that these schemes are carried out in such a way that they do not unduly disrupt traffic flow or prevent kerbside access for deliveries to businesses and homes.”

FTA added that it must be recognised that delivery and servicing activity does not only take place in high street locations but on many different street types including residential streets, therefore full segregation in these locations may hinder access for deliveries. In such areas, FTA favours the use of other measures such as ‘armadillos’ or giant cat’s eyes, which provide partial segregation stronger than painted white lines, but at the same time enable vehicles to access the kerbside. [my emphasis]

My understanding of this passage is that the Freight Transport Association favours the kind of cycling infrastructure that HGVs and vans can park on, obstructing it, so they can park right next to the kerb. In other words – cycling infrastructure that, while nice in theory, is functionally useless, if it’s going to be used as a parking bay.

Armadillos, and ‘kerbside activity’. Picture by @the_moodster

Similar reasoning appeared recently from Hackney councillor Vincent Stops, who argues that cycle tracks are not appropriate where there is kerbside activity.

Likewise the British Beer and Pub Association had this to say in response to the House of Commons Transport Committee on Cycling Safety -

Segregated cycle lanes already cause particular issues for pub deliveries. Manual handling of bulk beer containers such as kegs and casks (as specified in current Health & Safety Regulations) ideally requires the delivery vehicle to be sited at the kerb-side outside the premises. Physically segregated lanes prevent this access

Given that loading and parking has to occur pretty much everywhere on main roads – where cycle tracks will almost always be necessary – then if we take these objections at face value, continuous cycling infrastructure, separated physically form motor traffic, is an impossibility.

But is this really true? How does the Netherlands manage to cope? Deliveries and loading still take place on their main roads, as well as people parking, and dropping off passengers – and these are roads that will often have cycle tracks.

Well, it’s not really that hard. HGVs and vans park in marked bays outside the cycle track, and then load across it, and the footway.

You can see this happening in this recent picture from Mark Wagenbuur -

Courtesy of Mark Wagenbuur

The delivery driver has put a home made ‘watch out’ sign on the cycle track as an extra (albeit slightly obstructive) precaution. But it’s clear that loading across a cycle track is hardly an insurmountable problem – it’s not really any more difficult than loading across a footway, provided that the cycle track is well-designed, with low level, mountable kerbing between it and the footway, as in both these Dutch examples.

I suspect the objections from these groups are based partly on assumptions about existing patterns of cycling behaviour in places like London – cyclists are perceived as fast and silent car-like objects, whizzing around like vehicles, rather than as the more sedate mode of transport it is in places where cycle tracks are commonplace in the urban realm. It’s easier to imagine loading  across a cycle track with these kinds of people moving along it -

… than one with people clad in lycra, riding on racing bikes, in cycle-specific clothing. That’s not to criticise this latter group – it’s just that perceptions can be skewed, because the existing environment tends to exclude other types of cycling.

Their objections are probably also based on their understanding of existing UK segregated infrastructure, which will often  present loading issues, due to the use of unforgiving, high kerbing, which is an additional obstacle for drivers to load objects across.

A poor example in Camden, with high kerbs that are difficult to load across – as well as being bad for cycling

But this is poor design – cycle tracks shouldn’t be constructed like this, not least because it’s bad for cycling, as well as for people loading. Cycle tracks can and should fit seamlessly into the urban realm, allowing easy loading across them. It can be done – just look at best practice, across the North Sea.


Categories: Views

New York Journalist Covers Cycling in Denmark and Scandinavia

Copenhagenize - 23 October, 2014 - 09:32
This just in... hot off the presses. As always, Copenhagenize has its finger on the pulse of breaking news.

A roving New York reporter covers cycling in Scandinavia.

"If for nothing else the bicycle is blessed in Scandinavia because it saves time."

"No other country has done more for the pleasure and comfort of its wheelmen than Denmark..."

"The construction of pavements takes in consideration what best can serve the interests of cyclists, and cycle paths are provided near all cities, in some instances leading miles away from town into the country."

"...ride to market on their bicycles with baskets strapped to their backs, and other baskets dangling from the handle-bars of the wheel. ... they seldom come to grief, and manage to keep their equilibrium to their journey's end."

From the New York Sun. 19 February 1897. 42,979 days ago (based on today's date)
(The Sun was a New York newspaper that was published from 1833 until 1950. It was considered a serious paper, like the city's two more successful broadsheets The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune. The Sun was the most politically conservative of the three.)

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

The case for minimum standards

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 23 October, 2014 - 08:52

blogged for the Cycling Embassy last week about the value of new audit tools, from TfL, and in the Welsh Active Travel Design Guidance.

These tools allow professionals and cycle campaigners to objectively assess the quality of cycling provision, scoring routes out of 100, and 50, respectively. If a route scores less than 35 out of 50 under the Welsh Guidance, it should not be classified as a ‘route’, or be included as part of a cycle network.

I was reminded of the potential uses of these tools by some discussion on Sunday about the National Cycle Network, and how, while some bits of it are genuinely excellent, the Network as a whole is diminished by the inclusion of sections that simply aren’t up to scratch.

Take the National Cycle Network around Bath. Some of it is genuinely high quality, like the traffic-free Two Tunnels Route 244.

Wide, direct, smooth surface, no interactions with motor traffic. Perfect.

But some bits of it aren’t, like this section of NCN 4, which runs into the centre of Bath on a very busy road, with a significant proportion of the motor traffic composed of HGVs.

Not the sort of environment most people are going to feel comfortable cycling in.

A signed part of the National Cycle Network.

This is actually Bath’s inner ring road, the A36. This stretch would almost certainly fail to meet the minimum standards set out in the Audit Tool. There’s just too much motor traffic, it’s too fast, and there are too many additional hazards, like car parking and junctions where there are turning conflicts.

Yet looking at the map, this section (circled) is included in the network, as part of NCN 4.

I would assume that this is for reasons of continuity – it makes no sense to have a route that has breaks in it. But there are downsides to this approach.

First of all, it means people can have little confidence in the quality of the network. If parts of it are this bad, how are they to know how much of it is equally bad? What are the criteria for including bits of roads as parts of a ‘Cycle Network’? Having low-quality, or even hostile, sections included downgrades the ‘brand’ of the National Cycle Network, as Joe Dunckley argued.

Secondly, it suggests that a ‘network’ actually exists, when, in reality, there isn’t much of a network, at all, if parts of it are difficult to negotiate, or actively hostile. It suggests that the job has been completed, that journeys can easily be made from A to B on the ‘National Cycle Network’ – politicians can even boast about it.

Sadly even Sustrans themselves fall into this trap, claiming that ‘The National Cycle Network passes within a mile of almost 60% of the population’ – by implication, we have a functioning network already, rather than a bits-and-pieces affair of highly variable quality, that quite often doesn’t really go anywhere near where people live and work.

By contrast, if only the parts of the network that actually met minimum standards were included, we would have a truer picture of state of the network, and of inclusive conditions for cycling more generally. Marking up ‘networks’ that simply don’t work for most people gets us nowhere, and in fact lets politicians and councils off the hook.

The council where I live drew up what can only be described as a farcical ‘network’ map, composed of sections that sometimes link up (but sometimes don’t), and even sections that are ‘proposed’ (we’re still waiting!).

This map has, however, quietly been withdrawn, once the council discovered that cycling in some areas of the town centre (as marked on the map) wasn’t technically allowed. Rather than changing TROs to make cycling legal… it was easier to make the map disappear.

I recently assessed the best part of this ‘network’ with the Welsh Active Travel Guidance tool – it scored 24.5 out of 50, well below the minimum threshold of 35. So in truth Horsham doesn’t have a cycle network, at all, when even the best parts of it are so far below a minimum standard. It’s for the best the map has vanished.

This kind of objective quality control would also mean that councils could no longer get away with boasting about how many miles of cycle lane they’ve put in, if the ‘network’ they produce doesn’t meet minimum standards. If a route composed of painted lanes doesn’t score over 35 out of 50, it’s not fit for purpose.

A ‘cycle lane’, included in Horsham’s network map. This would fail objective standards for inclusion.

For all these reasons, I think a ‘downgrading’ across the country to a much smaller cycle network, composed of the bits that are actually of a suitably high standard, would be beneficial. It would be an accurate reflection of where Britain’s cycling provision actually stands, and would act as a spur for genuine improvement.


Categories: Views

Biking to buy: how campaigners in Whitechapel are using the money in their pocket to lobby for change

ibikelondon - 23 October, 2014 - 08:30

There's a sudden glut of cycle schemes on the cards in London, and the stakes couldn't be higher.  We've been monitoring how businesses and residents are rallying behind plans for central London's "Crossrail for Bikes", and yesterday we looked at top tips for campaigning for change in bike-lite outer London.  Today it's the turn of my home borough, Tower Hamlets, where campaigners are having to take a different tack to muster support from their neighbouring community.

When the original Cycle Superhighways were laid out in Boris Johnson's first term as Mayor, not all Cycle Superhighways were made equal.  Some - like CS3 along Cable Street - were very good.  Others - like CS2 along the Whitechapel Road - were very bad.  Stretching from Aldgate to Bow Roundabout it was little more than blue paint splashed across the existing narrow carriageways in most places, with no actual protection for people on bikes.

 The existing CS2 (it's that blue bit under the taxi, by the parked market lorry) Picture by As Easy As Riding a Bike blog, with thanks.
Despite the lack of safety, cycling numbers climbed 32% after the introduction of CS2.  However, a series of shocking and high profile deaths - in particular that of Philippine De Gerin-Ricard at Aldgate and Brian Dorling at Bow roundabout - led to a spate of protest rides and pushes for safety improvements.  A coroner looking in to the deaths of both was particularly damning of the unprotected blue paint, with an expert witness stating that it "lulled cyclists in to a false sense of security."

Responding to criticisms of their previous designs and keen to make the route as safe as possible, Transport for London recently published proposals to upgrade the entire CS2 route from Aldgate to Bow.  At Bow Roundabout the upgrade will connect with the river Lee towpath, the Jubilee Greenway, the Olympic Park and a further stretch of separated Cycle Superhighway (CS2Ex) from Bow to Stratford which looks like this, thus creating an extensive network of connected traffic-free bike routes across the borough.

Transport for London's new plans for the upgraded CS2, seen here passing Whitechapel Market towards the City.
The plans will create some delays for other road users, including bus passengers, described in detail in this useful blog by East London Lines.  Additionally, the new Cycle Superhighway will pass directly past Whitechapel High Street market, the power base of Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman and the focus of many of his supporters.  Traders there are so concerned that restrictions on curb-side loading will damage their businesses that the Mayor has written in very strong terms to Boris Johnson, stating "This proposed design will place delivery vehicles outside the cycle lane, in the bus lane. It will disrupt bus services and bring cumbersome delivery movements involving heavy goods, waste, and pedestrians across the cycle lane, causing frequent obstruction to cyclists."  

But politics also play a part here. Rahman and the Cycling Commissioner for London Andrew Gilligan (who has spearheaded the delivery of these plans) have a long history of animosity between each other.  As a Telegraph journalist Gilligan has described Rahman as "extremist linked" and has even published a 30-item long list of serious accusations against his conduct.  As you can imagine, the idea that Gilligan the commissioner might now be taking out traffic lanes and pushing bike tracks through the heart of Rahman's support base is considered to be more than a little affront.


A "bus stop bypass" under construction on CS2ex in Stratford in 2013.
Local cycle group Tower Hamlets Wheelers, the borough branch of London Cycling Campaign, are keen to extend the olive branch to their neighbours.  Fully aware of the political background to the issue, they want to re-focus attention on the fact that this scheme has been devised to increase safety on a route where 6 cyclists have been killed in recent years.  And they want to show that people on bikes - of which over 2,000 a day currently pass the market by - are also good economic partners for the concerned market traders.

This Saturday they'll be leading a ride from Mile End ecology park bridge to the Whitechapel market to stage a "buy in"; a positive opportunity for cyclists to exercise their purchasing power directly with the traders, to understand some of their concerns, and to show that the market and Cycle Superhighway plans can peacefully exist together.

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Wheelers said: "Bring every possible pannier, saddlebag and basket to fill with your delicious market goodies.  Together, we can show that improving cycling infrastructure can improve local business."


Bikes and people at the centre of economic activity - here at Amsterdam's historic market in the working class De Pijp neighbourhood.
In order to earn all of the proposed changes to streets across London we are going to have to win an awful lot of hearts and minds along the way.  I like the plan to hold a "buy in" to show that, because of the power in our pockets, inviting cyclists in to your neighbourhood can only be a good thing.

Why not join the Wheelers for their ride this Saturday?  

Meet beneath the Mile End green bridge (just south of Mile End tube station) on the 25th October at 11AM before a short ride along the existing CS2 to bustling Whitechapel Market where there will be the opportunity to talk to local traders, buy fresh produce from their stalls and explore this fascinating and bustling corner of diverse London.  Afterwards the ride will roll on to a tea and cake stop.  Full details can be found here.

Can't make the ride?  

Be sure to add your e-support to the plans by responding to the consultation using this easy to use form, and to say "yes" to plans to make Tower Hamlets a 20MPH borough here.

You can check out the full plans for the CS2 upgrade on the TfL website here.

Share |
Categories: Views

Why cycle alone, when you can do it together?

BicycleDutch - 22 October, 2014 - 23:01
After all the recent serious posts it is time for a light hearted look at people cycling again. What better place to look for people on their bicycles than the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Anniversary of the Modern Copenhagen Cycle Track

Copenhagenize - 22 October, 2014 - 19:15

I made the above graphic back in 2008 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the return of Copenhagen's separated cycle tracks.

Now it's 31 years on, but the anniversary is timeless.

It was in June 1983 that the Copenhagen cycle track returned to Copenhagen. Meaning cycle tracks separated from cars on one side and pedestrians on the other by curbs.

For the record, there were cycle tracks prior to this. Historically, separated cycle tracks criss-crossed Copenhagen but many were removed during the brain fart that was the 50s and 60s where planners decided the car was a good horse to back.


Here are the first bike lanes being marked out back in... 1915.


Here is a cycle track being constructed back in ... 1930.

But the return of the physically-separated cycle track in the modern era is a landmark. The City of Copenhagen made a visonary choice in implementing them. Cycling levels plummeted through the 50s and 60s from a peak in the late 1940s. By the late 60s, the modal share hit 9% after a high of 55%. Due... you guessed it... to infrastructure being removed to make space for cars.

Through the 1970s, the focus returned to the bicycle as a solution to transport problems. In 1983, the foundation was laid - in stone - for a return to rationality. Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, head of the traffic department (and later Lord Mayor) was responsible for the paradigm shift. A shift which continued unabated until today, where 41% of people arriving in the City of Copenhagen at work or education do so on bicycles. Of the citizens of Copenhagen municipality, the number is 55% who cycle every day. Only 12% drive cars.

On June 4, 1983 the Danish Cyclists' Union, at a large bicycle demonstration, gave a "Cyclist Award" to Mikkelsen in the form of a two metre long curb to symbolise the physical separation from traffic.

The cycle track was placed on the bike lane on Amagerbrogade at the corner of Hollænderdybet - just after Amagerboulevard - a sacred shrine for bike culture if anyone wants to start a'pilgrimage-ing.


The photo features the Cyclist Award and the two chaps who made it - stone mason Uffe Mohr [right] and his apprentice Egon Albertsen [left].

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

Fighting for "Mini-Hollands" in outer London; 5 things we can learn from Walthamstow

ibikelondon - 22 October, 2014 - 08:30
Recently on ibikelondon we've been focusing on the fight to ensure London's "Crossrail for Bikes" get built.  But these are not the only important plans for London cyclists currently under consideration.  Later in the week we will look at some of the issues surrounding other Cycle Superhighways; today we hear about Walthamstow's "Mini-Holland" proposals, and what the struggle to get them implemented can teach other campaigners.

Walthamstow resident Ruth Standing has been out on the streets trying to drum up support for the proposals to stop rat running through the borough and to create a more inviting environment for pedestrians and cyclists. (For the full bid document, click here)  Here, in a special guest post, Ruth takes us through her experience of 'being the change she wants to see' and helping to set the agenda where she lives:


Taking the online fight to the streets of E17, in 5 simple stages:

Stage 1: Despondency
 
My journey began with a deep sense of despondency. Whatever my mood when I left the house, my daily cycle commute down Lea Bridge Road from Walthamstow to Hackney left me glum. As I dodged opening car doors and speeding drivers with their eyes glued to their mobile phones I wondered how a civilised society could create such an uncivilised transport system. Other cyclists I saw on route looked just as beaten down as me. Worst of all, I saw no political will for change amongst my elected politicians at either a national or local level.
 
Stage 2: A glimmer of hope!

I then heard that Waltham Forest council was bidding for a large chunk of government money to improve cycling infrastructure in Walthamstow. Plans were mooted for a segregated cycle lane down Lea Bridge Road and road closures in Walthamstow Village to prevent rat-running. But I was cynical. 
"I’ll believe it when it happens." And then it did happen! 
The first phase of Walthamstow’s Mini-Holland trial started just over two weeks ago. Orford Road, a narrow traffic choked strip of shops at the heart of the Village was blocked to traffic. And the transformation was incredible. The street filled with bikes, children playing, people hanging out and drinking coffee, actually talking to their neighbours. Seeing a workable alternative before my eyes made me feel well, rather emotional! I felt, for one of the first times in my life, proud of the politicians I had elected to represent me. 

 Day 1 of the trial road closure. Photo via @rosslydall with thanks.

Stage 3: Step away from the computer!

But then came the backlash from residents, annoyed that they could no longer drive exactly where they wanted. Angry petitions began to circulate both the internet and the streets.  This felt like a call to action, but just ranting on twitter to those who already shared my opinions didn’t feel like it would cut it. So I put down my phone and went to hang out on my newly reclaimed local street. Within minutes I met Jakob, a local resident armed with a clip-board and a huge smile, collecting signatures in favour of the scheme. I immediately thought"I want to help you!"
 
Stage 4: Empowerment!

Over the next two weeks I helped Jakob collect over 700 signatures (although he collected many more than me). I talked to more people from my community than I had in the previous 5 years of living in the borough. I felt empowered and buzzing with positivity and my perception of my neighbours began to shift radically. In an atomised car-sick society, you simply don’t meet your neighbours, treating each other with annoyance and suspicion. In my case, my neighbours were those who bullied me on the road whilst I was cycling. But here I was discovering that actually many of them were just like me and shared my despondency about the way our public space was being used.



Orford Rd after the street re-opened after the conclusion of the Mini-Holland trial.  Video via @rosslydall with thanks.
Stage 5: Keeping up the slog!
 
Now the job was to keep going and keep up the fight. We collected more signatures. I contacted our local paper, angry about their negative and biased coverage of the scheme. They agreed to post a short comment piece on their website. It attracted a lot of negative comments from people accusing me of being a naïve ‘newcomer.’  But at least that meant that people had read it. And last Thursday, we went to Waltham Forest Town Hall to present our petition to the Mayor.

All in all, I hope that I’ve made some small difference to the future of my borough.  It sure felt good to step away from the keyboard, stop moaning and do a little bit of local campaigning. I’d recommend it to you all.

A huge thanks to Ruth for sharing her thoughts on campaigning for this trial.  Here's a write up of a visitor's perception to the trial, by Cycling Weekly's Laura Laker.  What tips would you share with fellow campaigners?

Share |
Categories: Views

As another Londoner is seriously injured on a bike, how DARE the Canary Wharf group talk of "damage to growth"

ibikelondon - 20 October, 2014 - 08:30
A steady stream of London businesses have been pledging their support for the Mayor's ambitious new Cycle Superhighway plans - from the smallest of start ups to behemoths of the City - one after another they've come forward with comments like "build it", "great for London" and "keep our employees safe".

Last week the Evening Standard revealed the massive support among London residents for keeping our cyclists safe; 64% of those polled support the Cycle Superhighway plans as they currently stand, the majority back building segregated cycle infrastructure even if it means taking road space from other traffic and - perhaps most tellingly -  a massive 71% of those polled (who came from all economic and political backgrounds) NEVER drive in central London.  

"Brave new world", you might think, but when looking around my own office that's a simple reflection of reality.  Our Head of Investment catches the bus to work when he is staying in his London home. Our company cook rides a bike across Vauxhall Bridge every day, and loves talking about cycling with one of our most senior lawyers who has a fleet of gorgeous bicycles at her disposal.  Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Peter Anderson is the Finance Director from Canary Wharf Group.  He's also Chair of Transport for London's finance and policy committee and a member of their board.  On one hand he makes critical decisions about what sort of public transportation infrastructure does - and does not - get built. On the other hand he's one of the most senior employees of a company which has received billions of pounds of direct public support in the shape of transport connections; train lines, road tunnels, Underground routes, Crossrail.  I can remember when Canary Wharf was little more than a destitute shell on London's outskirts.  Now it is a financial powerhouse, employing thousands of people, the majority of whom come and go every day on those very trains and tubes and light railways built with public funds. (Fun fact: the majority of Canary Wharf employees live in inner London, of which only 5% drive or are driven to work - almost the same amount as arrive by bicycle according to this GLA Intelligence report)

 TfL and Canary Wharf Group's Peter Anderson
But being in receipt of billions of pounds of public investment is clearly no cause for humility in the Canary Wharf Group.  Far from it.  Their Chief Exec might tell the newspapers “As a company you have to be a good citizen and do what’s right”, but behind the scenes it seems to be another story altogether...  

The Canarf Wharf Group have admitted (to Guardian journalist Peter Walker) that an anonymous briefing paper against the Cycle Superhighway plans had come from them, and that they had been lobbying against the proposals, even sending a lobbyist stuffed with misinformation to party political conferences.  It clearly had an effect; local MP Jim Fitzpatrick has been spouting some dubious and drip-fed figures in Parliament whilst the Guardian's Dave Hill - usually a voice for cycling - has adopted a "calm down dears" attitude


On Thursday the 16th October Canary Wharf Group told the London Evening Standard "[we] believe that certain elements of the proposed east-west cycle superhighway could be improved to ensure not only that better and safer provision is made for cyclists, but that there is no damage to the growth and day-to-day operation of London."

The following day, Friday the 17th October, the same newspaper reported how a female cyclist went in to cardiac arrest on Ludgate Circus after she and her bicycle were crushed beneath the wheels of a left turning tipper lorry.  Her crash took place just a few metres from the spot where earlier this year another cyclist, Victor Rodriguez, was killed when his bicycle disappeared beneath a truck.  At least 7 cyclists have been killed or seriously injured on this one spot alone since 2008.  


The scene of Friday's crash on Ludgate Circus, Photo via @craigshepheard on Twitter with thanks.
Fourteen London cyclists were killed in 2013, six in a single two-week period alone last November.  Each one had a valuable role to play in our city: from students to eminent Doctors, from hospital porters to famous architects.  It is not just the friends and family of each of these cyclists who notice their loss, but the wider city too.  And on a purely logistical basis, each time one of these terrible tragedies occur the emergency services are scrambled, road crash investigators are roused, the roads on which they take place are closed for many hours.

How DARE the Canary Wharf Group talk about damage to the growth of London, when it is London's own who are being killed in such great numbers on our roads.  How DARE they go about briefing against these plans, seemingly more concerned about the speed of a handful of car trips vs the safety of people on bikes, when the very people who drive our city forwards are being killed on its streets. The suggestion that cyclists are somehow detrimental as oppose to central to London's economic success is a fallacy.

Olympic champion Chris Boardman described those who are briefing against these plans as "old men in limos".  But I know that the sort of people who are driven around London are fond of hard figures, not existential ideas about road justice. 
So here's some hard figures...
The two new Cycle Superhighways will carry 6,000 people on bikes every hour: that's the same as 20 Underground trains or 84 new London buses.  They will cost about the same as 0.0002% of the colossal budget allocated to build Crossrail.  They have the support of the majority of Londoners according to the latest polls, and the support of hundreds of businesses - including Deloitte, Unilever and Argent - companies hardly in the habit of being breathless about aspirational cycling projects.  600,000 journeys take place in London every day by bicycle, or 22% of the amount of journeys conducted by Tube.  This is against a backdrop of decreasing car use in central London.  In Westminster, where Mr Anderson lives, traffic volumes have fallen by approximately 25% since 2000 according to the Department for Transport.  

Assuming that something odd happens and traffic volumes don't continue to fall, and taking in to account the impact of all other proposed road schemes, and assuming that the new cycle routes will not lead to people changing their travel habits and traffic evaporation occurring, once built the average journey time in a car from the City to Whitehall will increase by a negligible 19 seconds. 

In short, bicycle transport in our city is now a big deal, a good thing, and it is not going to go away.  It's time we started to keep all of those cyclists - all of those Londoners - safe, rather than pushing for faster journey times for company directors in chauffeur driven cars.


Decline in motor traffic on major roads in Westminster '00 - '13
And here's another fact that is worth pointing out: the north / south Cycle Superhighway currently being proposed crosses the exact spot on Ludgate Hill where the cyclist was crushed on Friday and where another cyclist was killed in April.  If these plans which the Canary Wharf Group are briefing against do go ahead, cyclists will be separated in space and time at this junction from other traffic.  That is to say, there is a possibility to make safe a known problem junction where people on bikes being killed or seriously injured has become an alarming statistical probability.  Why would anyone want to brief against that?

I agree with Danny Williams at Cyclists in the City blog.  It is imperative that Peter Anderson from Canary Wharf Group has nothing to do with the funding decision for the Cycle Superhighway plans at the finance committee in November.  Furthermore, if he is to retain his positions at Transport for London he must declare his interests and disclose exactly the extent of the Canary Wharf Group's lobbying to their tenants, to journalists, to business groups and to politicians at party conferences against the Cycle Superhighway plans.

The sort of people who rise to become Financial Directors at companies like the Canary Wharf Group have an intrinsic understanding of how gambling works.  In this instance, they've played their hand, but I think they've lost.  It's time they threw in their cards.
  • For more facts on the Cycle Superhighways and their likely impact, The Guardian have churned the data to bring us this Reality Check: will Crossrail for bikes bring gridlock to central London?  
  • To find out more about the businesses pledging their support for the Cycle Superhighway plans visit CyclingWorks.London
  • To make your own contribution to the Transport for London consultation (every voice counts!) visit the proposal's designated page here.

Share |
Categories: Views

Perne Road – what’s gone wrong, and what could have been done instead?

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 20 October, 2014 - 00:55

A bit of a follow-up to last week’s post about the Perne Road roundabout, looking at the potential issues, and what could have been done instead.

This roundabout has now hit the headlines because a child has been injured while cycling on the roundabout, on Wednesday evening. I don’t think it’s massively helpful to leap to conclusions on the basis of one incident, but it’s certainly worth looking at the general design flaws with this roundabout, and the alternative ways in which it could have been designed.

For me, the central problem is that cycling has not being designed for explicitly. Instead, it has been bodged into pedestrian-specific design, and into motor vehicle-specific design, simultaneously. Almost all the potential issues flow from this failure. The roundabout design expects people on bikes to behave like pedestrians, or like cars; something genuine Dutch design would never do.

For a start, the ‘shared use’ paths around the edge are quite obviously footways, on which it is permissible to cycle. They are not cycle tracks, with clearly defined routes. The result is cycling in a pedestrian-specific environment, and this, coupled with a lack of clarity, presents a number of problems.

With ‘shared footways’, drivers will have less certainty over where a cyclist might be heading. Take the scenario below, with the path of a cyclist represented by the blue arrow.

Where is that cyclist going? Across the crossing? Or away from the crossing, along the road?

The driver doesn’t know if the cyclist is, or isn’t, going to use the crossing. The cyclist is travelling across an expanse of tarmac, and their intentions aren’t clear. The driver may assume wrongly.

Contrast this with a Dutch roundabout (in Assen) -

It’s much more obvious to drivers, at an earlier stage, where cyclists are heading, and they can respond accordingly. (Note that on this roundabout, cyclists don’t have priority.)

And the same is true from the perspective of people cycling. They have more time to assess which direction a driver is taking – staying on the roundabout, or leaving it – and therefore will have more opportunities to cross, more safely. Again, this is without cycle priority -

The Cambridge roundabout does not have this cycle-friendly feature. Because the crossing points are not set back any distance from the roundabout, there’s little time in which to assess which way drivers might be heading. In many instances, it may be too ambiguous to take a chance.

Placing the (pedestrian) crossings at these locations close to the roundabout also means they are blocked by drivers queueing to enter the roundabout, rather than left clear, as on a Dutch roundabout, by setting the crossing points back from the perimeter.

Funnily enough, although I’ve criticised the Poynton scheme, this ‘setting back’ of the crossings has been done correctly there, approximately one car length back from the ’roundabouts’.

 

 

This means people can cross behind stationary vehicles, rather than trying to cross in front of a vehicle that might be about to jump into the roundabout.

This ‘set back’ design approach also allows drivers to deal with crossing cyclists/pedestrians, and entering/exiting the roundabout, in two separate stages.

To compound these issues of uncertainly about where people are going, drivers have to contend with people cycling on the road, and on the footway, simultaneously, as they enter and exit the roundabout, rather than dealing with cyclists at one clear crossing point, on defined paths. This is a point John Stevenson makes here -

Drivers don’t know where cyclists are going to be. Because cyclists can either use the main carriageway or the shared-use, off-carriageway paths, drivers are expected to look for cyclists in a number of places at each arm of the roundabout, instead of just one.

Unnecessary complication has been added by putting people cycling on two different forms of route across the roundabout.

Another issue John identifies – having visited the site – is that a shared-use footway, by definition, involves mixing up pedestrians and cyclists together, rather than separating them, and that can be an uncomfortable experience for pedestrians, particularly in areas with high levels of footway cycling. Again, this problem is not one that should have been created.

What effect might the narrowed carriageway might have on people who continue to cycle on it? John thinks it might make collisions more likely, as people cycling will be closer to motor vehicles (and there also might be a temptation to squeeze through). That said, the geometry has been tightened, which should lead to lower vehicle speeds – so the collisions would probably on balance be less serious. Swings and roundabouts, although it is obviously far too early to make definitive judgements. In any case, a roundabout with this volume of motor traffic shouldn’t – in principle – be designed with the expectation people will be cycling on the carriageway.

Finally, there has been an awful lot of discussion about whether or not a genuine Dutch-inspired roundabout design would offer cyclists priority over motor traffic, or not. To me, that’s not a particularly pressing issue, compared to the overall design problems set out here. A Dutch roundabout with priority would look very similar to a Dutch roundabout without priority. Cyclists would have clear routes, separated from pedestrians – routes which would make it obvious to drivers what they are doing. Likewise the paths that drivers are taking would be clear, and the roundabout would be designed to maximise crossing opportunity. This roundabout achieves none of those outcomes.

My personal inclination – and I’ve been persuaded on this point – is not to offer cyclists priority, for the main reason that it is safer (remember, this is an entirely new kind of treatment for British drivers), and also because the loss of convenience is marginal, if the roundabout is designed properly. We should remember that no Dutch roundabout offered Dutch cyclists priority, at all, until the 1990s, by law. It was only for reasons of convenience – not safety – that his law was changed, and priority was switched in urban areas.

Priorities can be changed easily – bad design can’t.


Categories: Views

Sustainable city logistics in ʼs-Hertogenbosch

BicycleDutch - 19 October, 2014 - 23:01
Every year the proud 140,000 inhabitants of ʼs-Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch) welcome around 5 million visitors. Every week 5,000 lorries and vans enter the city centre to get all the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

While focus is on the Mayor's Superhighways, Camden plans to double its length of segregated track

Vole O'Speed - 19 October, 2014 - 21:35
I wrote a post about two years ago entitled While Boris so far fails to 'Go Dutch', Camden quietly gets on with it. This is something of a 'second round' of that. Today, there is somewhat more sign of Boris Johnson trying to make a permanent mark on London before his mayoral term ends in May 2016 by building some good-quality cycle routes. Though what he will have achieved still looks likely to fall well short of the commitments he made before the 2012 election in response to London Cycling Campaign's Love London, Go Dutch campaign, in particular, he will not have completed the Cycle Superhighway programme to an adequate 'Dutch' standard on all its routes (nowhere near, in fact), the plans for the East-West and North-South superhighways are a substantial advance and have generally been welcomed by campaigners, business, the public and the media, while plans for Cycle Superhighway 5 in south-west London and the long-demanded upgrade to Cycle Superhighway 2 in east London look pretty good as well.

I'm planning to make a more general assessment of where the Mayor's Cycling Vision has got to, 18 months after it was announced, in another post, although attempts to write that keep getting overtaken by relevant events. However, I will to draw your attention here to the fact that, as coverage has been concentrated on the plans above, the Borough of Camden, pioneers of the on-street segregated or semi-segregated cycle track in London, have been continuing to 'get on with it' in a manner that, though it is not above criticism, must be said is not being replicated by any other borough.

When the rebuild of the Royal College Street cycle track was announced in 2012, replacing the two-way track on one side of the street, which had had an intractable collision problem at two junctions, with two two-way tracks, I supported the scheme because it was linked to a commitment to extend the track northwards to Kentish Town Road, making it go from 'somewhere to somewhere', to adapt the words of Jon Snow when he opened the track in 2000. Since then, this has developed into a plan to extend the route southwards as well, down Pancras Road and Midland road, forming a more main road and direct alternative route to the Kings Cross area than the existing back-strteet Somers Town Route (one of the oldest cycle routes in London, dating from Ken Livingstone's GLC era, before 1986).

The consultation on the northern extension closed earlier this month, and the response from Camden Cycling Campaign can be seen here. The gist of the scheme is that Royal College street will become two-way for bikes all the way, the bike space generally protected by rubber armadillos, and in places by car parking on the east side as well. The cycle tracks bypass bus stops and loading bays on the inside. The southbound approach to the Camden Road junction is not protected, and this is a concern, though the northbound is protected.

The southern extension to the route is now being consulted on. The consultation runs to 14 november, and I encourage people to respond. This will be an enormously important pice of infrastructure, linking residential areas in Camden with the big employment growth areas around Kings Cross and St Pancras, with the new Google headquarters, the Francis Crick Institute opening in 2015, and much else. Argent, the developers of Kings Cross Central, say that their site will eventually be home to some 30,000 office workers, 5,000 students and 7,000 residents. It looks as if, at last, we have some cycle route planning in London that is coming at exactly the right time. This route will link southwards into the existing east-west Seven Stations Link segregated cycle route across Bloomsbury   (which itself needs major improvement of course, to cope with the high number of cyclists it already attracts), and that will link to the Mayor's North-South Superhighway at Clerkenwell. We will have the beginnings of a functioning, continuous segregated or semi-segregated network on the streets of central and north London.

It is of credit to officers at Camden that they are conceiving part of this Royal College Street route extension also as the beginning of an east-west route across Camden Town. Ultimately this should run along Crowndale Road to Oakley Square and Hampstead Road. It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that the stage after that should be the construction cycle tracks on Hampstead Road to connect with Tottenham Court Road. This is consistent with the overall Central London Cycle Grid plan.

The part of the Pancras Road plan that would also form the beginnings of the East-West Camden Town route. I would oppose the advance stop areas, which suggest confused thinking about where cyclists should be on the road. I also think it would be better if the north/west-bound route was on Goldington Crescent, merged with the Somers Town Route, approaching Royal College street via the existing bicycle signals.More southerly section of Pancras Road scheme. The bus stop bypass looks a bit substandard, and having been set back behind the stop, the cycle track would be better continuing its setback across the Chenies Place junction.The overall network is being developed in stages, and the current consultation goes down south to the Pancras Road / Midland road junction (the tunnel under the railway lines). This junction was consulted on in August, along with a plan for a 2m wide kerb-segregated cycle track on Midland Road northbound (in the contraflow direction), from Brill Place. This plan showed southbound cycling on Midland Road with taxis segregated to the left (there are lots of these serving St Pancras) but only a painted advisory cycle lane separating cyclists from the general (heavy) traffic flow. The Camden Cycling Campaign response called rightly for this design to be improved.

Curious proposal for Midland Road: the caption misleadingly suggests there are 'kerb segregated cycle lanes' on both sides, but the two sides are actually the opposite of one another. Also the central cycle lane on Pancras Road (section under the bridge) is a poor solution. (North is to the left)The plans for Pancras Road, currently being consulted on, are for armadillo-separated lanes on both sides, which will be 2m wide for most of their length (actually 2.5m wide for 105m, 2m wide for 375m, 1.5–2m wide for 34m, and 1.5m wide for 30m). There is no parking on this stretch, but there will be bypasses for the bus stops.

The existing Royal College Street cycle tracks seem to be popular and working well, except that the planters have in many cases been bashed out of shape by motor vehicles colliding with them. Camden are looking to find out specifically why this occurs. There are no planters planned in the future schemes. Camden quote, from their surveys, a doubling of cycle traffic on Royal College Street since the rebuild of last year.

If all goes well, by the end of this year Camden should have almost doubled its length of segregated or semi-segregated cycle track compared to 2012, and that means they will have increased the total length of on-street cycle track in London by a considerable fraction, as the other boroughs have little. This is being done for very small sums of money compared to what will be absorbed by the Superhighways – hundreds of thousands of pounds rather than millions. It will be paid for out of the TfL's Quietways funding for the Central London Grid.

Whatever detailed comments and criticisms of Camden's current plans may be made, and I am making a few as you can see, and whether the schemes meet the optimum Go Dutch standard, which they probably do not, it needs to be strongly noted that of all the boroughs involved in the Central London Grid, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Lambeth Southwark and the City, only Camden is making clear and rapid progress towards realising its section of the Grid to any useful standard at all, genuinely planning for broad-demographic 'eight to eighty' cycling on a grid of major and semi-major roads. For this, Camden councillors and officers deserve credit. I urge you to write in support of the Pancras Road scheme.

TfL's indicative map of Central London Cycle Grid routes, Camden section
Categories: Views

Our streets are too narrow for cycle paths

A View from the Cycle Path - 18 October, 2014 - 11:56
I've lost count of how often people have tried to convince me that their city's streets are too narrow to have cycling infrastructure. The three words "not enough space" are repeated as if they are a mantra. It is often genuinely believed that Dutch towns were built with wider streets and that there is therefore more space here than in other countries. Of course, that's not true at all. If you David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/10/our-streets-are-too-narrow-for-cycle.html
Categories: Views

Pages

Subscribe to Cycling Embassy of Great Britain aggregator - Views