Views

Driverless cars and the sacred cow problem

John Adams - 17 August, 2016 - 17:55

The promoters of driverless cars have demonstrated remarkable progress in their ability to program their vehicles to respond with extreme deference to pedestrians, cyclists, and cars with human drivers. Such programming confers sacred cow status on all road users not in self-driving vehicles. The developers of autonomous vehicles acknowledge the need for new road safety rules to accommodate these revolutionary vehicles on public highways. But would-be regulators have yet to propose a set of rules that would allow these sacred cows to move about freely in dense urban areas without creating a state of deferential paralysis for those in autonomous vehicles.

Full essay here

Categories: Views

Institutional priorities

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 17 August, 2016 - 16:13

A few months ago I attended the Hackney Cycling Conference, and heard a presentation by Robin Lovelace, entitled Cycling and transport policy: embedding active travel in every stage of the planning process.

Unsurprisingly – given the title – there was an interesting section of the talk on how weakly embedded walking and cycling is within the Department for Transport. In particular, Robin focused on the board structure of the Department, showing precisely how small a priority these important modes of transport are within it. He used the equivalent of the chart below, which has of course changed following the cabinet reshuffle.

Click to embiggen

Out of all the people shown on this chart, just one civil servant – highlighted right at the bottom – has explicit responsibility for walking and cycling.

We can see this more clearly by zooming in on this bottom left section.

Tellingly, ‘Local Transport’ is itself embedded within the ‘Roads, Devolution and Motoring Group’, and even within ‘Local Transport’ walking and cycling comes right at the bottom – not even mentioned explicitly by name, instead bundled up as ‘sustainable accessible travel’. It really is the lowest of the low.

Given this structure, is it any surprise that walking and cycling garner so little attention and such low levels of investment, despite their fundamental importance?

"The structure of the institution [the DfT] is not designed to deal with the transport problems we are facing" @robinlovelace #ibikehackney

— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) June 10, 2016

The priorities of the Department for Transport also emerge from the imagery they use. This stock photo – spotted by @AlternativeDfT – appears frequently on their website.

@transportgovuk strikes again with their wonderful vision for UK roads. Note illegally stopped taxi at bottom! pic.twitter.com/7XOZFUb9

— The Alternative DfT (@AlternativeDfT) December 14, 2012

Amongst other things, it has been used for road safety announcements –

… and, amazingly, even for an announcement of Local Sustainable Transport Funding.

The junction shown in the photograph is Tower Gateway, right by the Tower of London. It is a particularly revealing choice, because while the photograph shows motor traffic smoothly flowing across the junction, it is a truly dreadful environment for walking and cycling.

To take just one example, let’s imagine we wanted to walk from the left of the photograph, to the right – from the north side of Mansell Street, to the Tower of London. You might imagine you could just cross the road in one go – the green arrow. But as it turns out travelling this short distance actually involves eight separate pedestrian crossings.

This is how pedestrians are expected to cross the road at a junction the Department for Transport has chosen to illustrate its role. Needless to say the cycling environment is, if anything, even worse – a vast expanse of tarmac, shared with HGVs and heavy traffic, somewhere only a small minority of people would even consider cycling in the first place. The east-west superhighway does now run across the top of this junction – with improved pedestrian crossings to the west – but that’s about it. Anyone cycling here has essentially been abandoned.

This isn’t just any junction; it’s a junction in the heart of our capital city, a place teeming with people. It’s somewhere that walking and cycling should be explicitly prioritised. But instead people walking and cycling here are treated with contempt – marginalised, and ignored. And this is the image of transport that the DfT is using.

The priorities that this junction embodies are an exact parallel of the board structure of the organisation. Cycling and walking as an afterthought, if that, the very bottom of the heap when it comes to consideration. And this is how the Department of Transport will continue to function, without institutional change. Still stuck in the past, still focused on prioritising motoring at the expense of sensible, space-efficient ways of making short trips, the kinds of trips that form the bulk of all the trips we make.


Categories: Views

The – almost finished – F59 from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Oss

BicycleDutch - 15 August, 2016 - 23:01
The fast cycle route between ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Oss will be officially opened next month. What is already finished today though, is impressive enough to show you now. The first part … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A visit to the Leeds-Bradford Cycle Superhighway

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 11 August, 2016 - 02:55

Last month I took the opportunity to cycle along the Leeds-Bradford cycle superhighway, kindly escorted by Martin Stanley of Leeds Cycling Campaign. While London’s cycling new infrastructure is hitting the headlines, there are other projects taking place elsewhere in the country, of which this is one of the more high profile (albeit for perhaps not all the right reasons).

Indeed, I did go with very low expectations – I’d seen the pictures being shared on social media and on blogs of what can only be described as very poor infrastructure. And it has to be said that the route between the two cities is not of a high quality, certainly nowhere near as high as the routes being built in London. Perhaps a lower level of quality might be expected given the lower level of expertise and investment, along with some ‘higher order’ problems we’ll come to in this post. But what was particularly frustrating for me wasn’t actually the low quality. It was the inconsistency. Some sections have been built and designed reasonably well. But other sections – dealing with identical problems – have been bodged, and bodged badly, which left me wondering why a more consistent level of quality couldn’t have been achieved.

We’ll come to these issues, and others, in the post, but all the same I did come away from the day cycling to Bradford and back feeling a little positive. This was, perhaps, just because the sun had come out in the afternoon, on what had started as a miserable day. But mainly I think it was because, despite all the flaws of this northern ‘superhighway’, I had managed to travel by bike between the two cities in some comfort, and with a reasonable degree of safety. Roads that I wouldn’t even have considered cycling on for pleasure, and would have struggled to justify cycling on for practical purposes – fast, busy roads – now have somewhere that it feels safe and comfortable to cycle, for the most part, and for all the flaws. That means cycling is a possibility, not just for more confident types like me, but for everyone else.

Despite the route only just having opened – and despite the bad weather earlier in the day – we did see people starting to use the cycling infrastructure. Not in huge numbers, admittedly, but enough to indicate that there is potential to shift and change behaviour, and the way people travel about.

 

So, the good news is that there is now a long route consisting almost entirely of protected infrastructure, that could open up cycling as a mode of transport for ordinary people.

The bad news, however, is that the quality is patchy, and in places actually quite dangerous. As I’ve mentioned already, the frustrating thing is the inconsistency, in that good design and build quality was interspersed with bad. I’m not sure why this was the case; it might be the inevitable consequence of having to build what amounts to quite a long route from A to B in a short space of time, with a fixed budget, starting essentially from a very low base in terms of experience, knowledge and expertise in building cycling infrastructure – a problem I suspect that is pervasive across Britain, just because there is so little good stuff, and so few people building it. It also seems to stem from what I have heard is a reluctance to impinge on driving in any way along this route, which means that compromises on quality will be inevitable.

The reluctance to give even an inch to cycling from motoring led in many places to quite comical outcomes.

The photograph shows that, alongside a six-lane road for motor traffic, not only will users have to swerve around traffic light posts right in the middle of the cycleway, they will then have to deal with a ‘door zone’ (indicated by the pale surfacing) created by new parking bays installed on the road – parking bays that didn’t exist before, and that, if in use, will actually block in people parking legitimately off the carriageway. In the context of such an enormous road this is very thin gruel indeed, especially when we consider that on the opposite side we have to put up with just a shared use footway.

The bus stop bypasses are definitely one of the more serious problems. Some of them are again just comically bad, absurdly narrow for one-way cycling, let alone two-way cycling.

Yes, that is a two-way cycleway

At one of these stops, I heard a couple of men waiting fora bus grumbling about how ‘they hate cyclists – they’re even on the pavement now’ as we rolled past, and it was easy to understand the source of their annoyance, given that we were almost trundling on their toes, by design.

In most of these cases, the failure to design a proper bus stop bypass, with adequate space for all users, seems to have flowed either from the aforementioned reluctance to take any space from motor traffic, or to spend any money adjusting kerb lines, or both – with, frankly, very silly results.

That’s just one lane of motor traffic on the right, heading away from the camera. The ‘bypass’ is at most 18 inches wide

The surfacing was also frustratingly bad. While very smooth in many places, other sections had a dreadful surface, that looked like it had been shovelled in and patted down – usually next to a beautifully smooth road surface.

The rain earlier in the day was at least helpful in showing up surface deficiencies

Why could some parts be surfaced well, and others not? Did some contractors just not care?

Another problem with inconsistency – and a more dangerous one – is the design of many of the side road treatments, where the cycleway (either in uni-directional, or bi-directional form) crosses side roads. This was where the inconsistency was particularly stark. Some were designed reasonably well, with at least some degree of visual continuity, and the kerbs only stopping at the junction, ensuring that the geometry for drivers is reasonably tight.

But far too many junctions appear to have adopted a design technique that involves simply stopping the kerbs some 20 or 30 metres before the junction, dumping you out onto a cycle lane, which felt horribly exposed.

This is, I suspect, the dead hand of LTN 2/08 informing design, with its recommendation that cyclists should be ‘reintroduced to the main road’ before a junction, passing the junction ‘on the carriageway’. Presumably the intention is to ‘reintegrate’ anyone cycling with motor traffic before the junction, but in reality no ‘reintegration’ or ‘reintroduction’ will take place. You are just left at the side of the road with no engineering or design to slow or modify the behaviour of drivers turning across your path. It’s bad, and dangerous, we simply shouldn’t be building junctions like this in 2016. We need continuity, clear priority, and design that slows drivers, and makes them careful. Not this.

There are other (admittedly less serious) problems with visual continuity at side roads. Treatments that could work well are undermined by markings that still suggest people cycling should yield, when they shouldn’t.

Double yellows, the green paint and the kerb line all remove any visual continuity and priority for cycling

The same problem again. Note that this is an exit-only side road

Other mistakes point to a lack of experience in how to design for cycling. One stood out for me, shown in the photograph below.

Here the cycleway (on the right) could merge into the cul-de-sac, a low traffic environment that could very easily form part of the route. Yet instead the designers have opted to continue the cycleway on a tiny, thin stretch of pavement on the right, sandwiched between parked cars and fast motor traffic only a few feet to the right.

Signs telling you where to go are helpful – but not when they are positioned right in the middle of where you actually want to cycle.

Again, this points to a lack of experience in considering the specific needs and requirements of cycling as mode of transport, along with designing a cycleway that bumps up and down for every single residential entrance, leaving a corrugated cycleway!

One final, major problem is the town centre of Stanningley, about halfway along the route. Here there simply isn’t room for cycling infrastructure, so in brute terms the town has a motor traffic problem. There’s too much motor traffic on the high street, especially given the town has a bypass.

This motor traffic problem hasn’t been resolved. Instead the road through the town has been given a nice new gravel-infused tarmac surface (tellingly, the smoothest tarmac of the entire Leeds-Bradford superhighway!).

And the junctions in the town have been replaced with some very superficial hints at ‘shared space’ in roundabout form, a design that offers very little comfort to anyone cycling or walking. We saw an elderly lady hesitantly and very nervously attempting to cross the road here. To my mind a series of zebra crossings on the desire lines at the junction would be much more useful, and more beneficial to cycling too than the current half-hearted markings that are something of a free-for-all.

But really the problem is one of an excess of motor traffic – putting down nice, village-ish markings on what remains a very busy road won’t turn your town into a nice village, nor will it actually help people trying to get about within it on foot, or by bike. That motor traffic needs to be diverted onto the bypass, with access retained for residents and people visiting shops and properties.

More broadly, this fudge hints at some of the underlying problems with creating a high profile ‘route’ between two cities in a short space of time, given the inevitable problems of experience and expertise, combined with constraints imposed by councils unwilling to adversely impact drivers to even the slightest degree.

I came away from my visit to Leeds and Bradford with very mixed feelings. Positively, the route demonstrates that things can happen in other towns and cities across Britain, away from London, which attracts so much attention. Infrastructure can be built that will open up cycling as a mode of transport to people who might never have considered it. And there is at least now something established on the ground along these roads, good in places, bad in others, but something that can be improved upon.

On the negative side, the Leeds-Bradford cycleway demonstrates to me the need for clear, strong leadership in design, investment and implementation, to ensure that money being spent on cycling isn’t wasted on poor (and even dangerous) designs that will inevitably have to be fixed at a later date, as I suspect is true for a good deal of the route. It also demonstrates the need for clear political leadership at a national and local level, leadership that makes the case for modal shift, is willing to make tough choices in favour of it, and to face up to objections.


Categories: Views

Three Design Elements for Safer Intersections

Copenhagenize - 10 August, 2016 - 09:16
Safety at the World's Busiest Cycle Intersection (Copenhagen) from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.


Our friend Clarence of Street Films fame was in town last week to further showcase what makes Copenhagen such a life-sized city. This wasn’t his first time. Just a couple years ago we showed him around, checking out the innovative infrastructure that treats bicycle riders with respect. And before that, we showed Street Films around for Cycling in Copenhagen, through North American Eyes.

This time around we thought we’d zoom in a little, taking a more detailed look at the unsung hero of any intuitive and reliable cycle network, the intersection. We met early Friday morning at Søtorvet, the world’s busiest bicycle intersection, with 42,600 bicycle riders every day. 86 percent of all traffic moving through Søtorvet is by bicycle! And don’t think this impressive split is just the status quo, or a fluke. Nope, the City of Copenhagen has made a series of strategic decisions over the past ten years, including widened cycle tracks, public transport investments, and traffic calming initiatives, to encourage the logical modes of transportation.

With such heavy traffic flows, it’s incredibly important to design an intersection that is logical, intuitive, and safe. And one of the simplest ways to insure safety, is to ensure bicycle riders are visible! Three simple design interventions, set back stop-lines, dedicated bicycle signals, and cycle crossing guides, are observed in many Copenhagen intersections and can go a long way in making all road users more comfortable.

Set back stop-lines - This simple design measure improves safety without making any impact on travel times for cars. Setting the stop line for cars five metres behind the cycle stop line ensures, at the very least, that cyclists will be out of the blind spots for a lorry waiting to turn right. Whatsmore, set back stop lines make pedestrians more visible as well.



Dedicated bicycle signals - By giving cyclists their own dedicated traffic signals, both bicycle riders and cars feel more secure travelling through an intersection. The signals are typically placed lower than those directed to cars, putting them directly in the line of sight of the typical cyclist, at least 1.5 metres from the cycle track.

A simple benefit of having dedicated signals is to get cyclists out into the intersection just a couple seconds before cars. This ensures that cyclists are out of any possible blind spots and highly visible. Once the dedicated signal for cyclists has finished, cars are then allowed a couple additional seconds to clear the intersection and complete turns. Like at Søtorvet, dedicated bicycle signals can also easily be combined with set back stop-lines to further improve safety and sense of security.



Blue cycle crossing guides - Once traffic is moving through the intersection, blue cycle crossings help maintain visibility, informing all modes where to expect bicycle traffic. As a colour choice, blue (unlike red for example) tends to age well, maintaining its vibrancy through its lifetime. Danish studies have shown that no more than two blue cycle crossings should be added to one intersection. Any more and the intersection becomes overly cluttered and, in turn, not as safe.



These three design elements are only a few of the simple, yet effective, design elements that go a long way in making a legitimate choice of transportation here in Copenhagen. Depending on the size, capacity, and speed of each intersection, there’s always a design oriented solution.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

New bicycle passage in Tilburg

BicycleDutch - 8 August, 2016 - 23:01
Tilburg is redeveloping its station area. Something that currently happens in many cities in the Netherlands. While the Dutch railways are modernising and restoring the 1960s Tilburg railway building, the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Speed Bumps are not effective "traffic calming" but an ineffective "Band-Aid" for poorly designed streets. Examples of more effective ways to calm traffic

A View from the Cycle Path - 5 August, 2016 - 12:11
A few days ago I tweeted about how speed bumps are used in the UK as a band-aid on streets which should have no through traffic. This perhaps requires a little more explanation. No-one likes speed bumps Speed bumps are unpopular everywhere. There are claims that they delay emergency services, even that they can injure some people transported by ambulance. Speed bumps cause damage to cars and David Hembrowhttps://plus.google.com/114578085331408050106noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2016/08/speed-bumps-are-not-effective-traffic.html
Categories: Views

Barriers to cycling mean doing more, not less

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 5 August, 2016 - 10:28

One of the most commonly heard myths about cycling and the Netherlands is that of ‘flatness’. Namely, that the reason cycling level are so high there – and so dismally low in Britain – is because the Netherlands is a flat country.

There are many reasons why this isn’t a very good explanation. In particular, it can’t account for why flat parts of Britain, areas just as flat as the Netherlands, have next to no cycling. Nor can it account for why hillier parts of the Netherlands have cycling levels far in excess of anywhere in Britain.

My bike and a hill, Wageningen, NL

Both these problems of explanation point to the fact that ‘hilliness’ and ‘flatness’ are not important factors behind why cycling is so regular, everyday and ordinary in the Netherlands, and so rare and exceptional in many parts of Britain.

What really matters – and what really explains the difference – is the quality of the cycling environment. The Netherlands has a dense cycling network, of nearly universal high quality, that allows everyone to make journeys from to A to B in safety, in comfort, and with ease, almost entirely free of interactions with motor traffic. Most of Great Britain has nothing like this; it therefore has very little cycling.

It might be flat, but you won’t see people cycling here.

There is, however, a crucial distinction to make here. In pointing out that ‘hills’ really aren’t the reason that cycling levels differ so wildly between the Netherlands and Britain, I am not arguing that hills make no difference at all. Hills are, of course, hard to cycle up. Cycling up a slope is more onerous than cycling on the flat.

So hills are a barrier, of a sort, to cycling. This is indisputable. They just aren’t a very important barrier, relative to the difference in the quality of the overall cycling environment between the Netherlands and Britain.

And much the same is true for other kinds of barriers to cycling. There are, undeniably, cultural barriers to cycling. Immigrants to the Netherlands cycle less than born there; they will often come from countries where cycling is much less normal, or even possible. It naturally takes time to adapt, to start using an unfamiliar mode of transport. Even so, immigrants to the Netherlands cycle a lot more than people from their countries of origin, and far more than people in Britain. (For instance, the cycling mode share for Moroccan immigrants to the Netherlands is 11%). So, again, it seems that this barrier isn’t particularly important, relative to the quality of the cycling environment.

Curiously, these issues are often approached from completely the wrong perspective, in that barriers to cycling are presented as reasons to do nothing. For instance, I’m sure we’ve all heard the argument that, because it’s too hilly in x town or city, people won’t cycle, and there’s therefore no point building any cycling infrastructure. Or, it’s too wet here. Or too hot. Or too cold. Some other people present different levels of cycling between ethnic groups as an argument against building cycling infrastructure – that because white people cycling more than those of ethnic minorities, cycling infrastructure cannot be that important.

By contrast, to my mind, these kinds of barriers mean we should do more, not less. In hilly areas, for instance, we should make sure that the cycling environment is even better; we should provide every assistance to people who want to cycle. If ‘hilliness’ is a problem, then it should be balanced out by a cycling environment of even higher quality.

Likewise, if there are cultural barriers to cycling, then we should strive for much higher quality cycling infrastructure in areas where these barriers exist. Painted lanes (or nothing at all) will be much less persuasive at encouraging ethnic minorities to cycle than comfortable, safe and attractive cycling environments.

Enabling cycling in Utrecht

When confronted with issues like underrepresentation of women in politics, or the way in which places at top universities are still disproportionately taken up by people from weather backgrounds, we don’t shrug our shoulders about alleged ‘cultural barriers’, and suggest that these ‘barriers’ are reasons in and of themselves to reduce the amount of action required. We should do everything we can to break down those barriers.

Precisely the same is true of barriers like weather, culture, and hilliness. If we think more cycling is desirable, but there are obstacles to participation, then those obstacles themselves should not be seized upon as reasons for inaction. On the contrary; they should compel us to adopt even higher standards, to make cycling as comfortable, safe and desirable a mode of transport as possible.


Categories: Views

Cycling on Haarlemmerplein, Amsterdam

BicycleDutch - 1 August, 2016 - 23:01
Every day, many people pass Haarlemmerplein in Amsterdam. Most are on their bicycle nowadays. The square was redesigned fairly recently, but you would never guess that this is a square … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The helmet on the handlebars

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 1 August, 2016 - 20:56

At the FreeCycle event in central London on Saturday, there were, of course, large numbers of people wearing helmets and hi-viz tabards – not least because the latter were, as always, being handed out to participants.

But as I cycled around the event during the course of the day, I began to notice a distinct phenomenon. Something dangling from people’s handlebars.




These were people who had set off from home with their cycle helmets, and then, on arriving in an environment which plainly felt very safe, decided those helmets weren’t necessary, and took them off (or perhaps didn’t even bother to don them at all).
Sometimes the helmet didn’t go on the handlebars. Those with practical baskets found a use for them.


Or the helmet was tucked onto a rack.
Even children could be seen cycling around with their helmets visibly discarded.

Including ones who were passengers.
This discarding of ‘safety equipment’ extended to the hi-viz bibs too, which were taken off and wrapped around handlebars…
… or pushed into baskets.



Or maybe not even worn in the first place.
By the end of the day, the amount of neon yellow in the crowds of people cycling around had noticeably diminished (at least, that was my impression).Maybe this shedding of helmets and bibs was, in part, due to Saturday being a reasonably warm summer’s day, the temperature prompting people to discard items that were making them hot.

But more importantly, all these people cycling around in an environment free of interactions with motor traffic felt safe enough to discard the safety equipment they had either been issued with, or brought themselves. They even felt safe enough to let their children do the same.

This is why I think focusing on what people are choosing to wear isn’t really an issue that cycle campaigners should get too exercised about. What they are wearing is a response to their environment.  If cycling feels unsafe, then it is not surprising that people will readily adopt items of clothing that make them feel safer, be it protection for their heads, or jackets that they think will make them more conspicuous and ‘visible’ to drivers. A sea of helmets and hi-viz is not a personal failing on the part of people wearing them; it’s a symptom of a failure to provide safe conditions for people to cycle in.

Concern that individuals are making cycling look dangerous through the clothing they’ve chosen to wear is therefore totally misplaced. Don’t blame these people. Blame the conditions they are responding to, quite rationally – those  conditions that they encounter on a daily basis, that make them feel that safety equipment is even necessary for what should be the simple activity of riding a bike.

When safe and comfortable conditions are provided – environments free from interactions with traffic danger – then safety equipment will start to naturally melt away. It happened in a few hours on Saturday; it will happen anywhere the same conditions are replicated for everyday journeys.


Categories: Views

The Bicycle Bridges of Copenhagen

Copenhagenize - 1 August, 2016 - 08:54



By Mia Riefkohl / Copenhagenize Design Company
The City of Copenhagen minds the gaps. Over the past decade, we have witnessed radical changes in the connectivity of Copenhagen, a city bisected by a harbour. We’ve watched as thirteen bridges have popped up (with four more on their way), connecting previously cut off neighbourhoods while facilitating a 13 km recreational path, the Harbour Circle. Mobility and bicycle user experience are both high priorities on the City’s agenda, and these bridges are only a part of a greater plan. But most notable of all, each and every one of these new bridges are off-limits to automobiles, saying loud and clear that this is a city for people. A Life-Sized City. To show how serious the city takes connectivity, we created a map showcasing the new and upcoming bicycle bridges of Copenhagen.
The map above is divided into three categories: the built, the temporary and the proposed. The ten already built are currently in use by those looking for a fast A to B. Bridges are the mobility link inside the urban toolbox that effortlessly solves the problem of crossing an obstacle. Done properly, a bridge is A-to-Bism at it’s finest. The significant number of  bridges is immediately noticeable on our map. While thirteen new bridges for bicycle users and pedestrians have opened since 2006, nine of of them were built in the last two years alone.

Overcoming the Harbour and Canals

Completed in 2006, Bryggebroen was the first new connection built over the Copenhagen harbour in centuries. Bryggebroen served to connect Havneholmen to Islands Brygge and beyond, giving Copenhageners a much needed connection over the harbour. However, crossing the bridge into the city, riders were forced to choose between two inconvenient options: to push their bicycle up  steep stairs, or take an inconvenient, indirect, detour weaving through pedestrians. This gap was filled with the addition of the Cykelslangen, (The Bicycle Snake), in 2014. Cykelslangen is an elevated, orange bike lane, elegantly connecting Bryggebroen to the neighbouring districts, along a dedicated, bicycle only pathway. Shortly after opening, Cykelslangen became an instant Copenhagen urban icon for it’s practical, elegant and functional Danish design. At last count, the two bridges accommodated 14,200 and 12,700 daily bicycle riders, respectively, far exceeding traffic flow predictions. These two bridges set a new standard, bicycle bridges are not only widely popular among residents and visitors alike, but an incredible investment.


Bryggebroen (upper) and Cykelslangen (lower) connecting neighbourhoods. Photo: Ole Malling.

In 2009, we wrote: “What the city needs is access across the harbour farther east, closer to the city centre on the Inner Harbour. Our new Opera and the former military area called Holmen, would benefit greatly from increased access. A network of bridges is needed.” The City took note of these gaps and seven years later the results are in. With four new bridges in the area, Holmen is now better integrated with the rest of the city in all directions. Urban acupuncture at it’s best.The Inderhavnsbro (AKA the Inner Harbour Bridge, AKA the kissing bridge, AKA the missing bridge), connecting Holmen to Nyhavn, Kongens Nytorv and beyond, opened just three weeks ago, with an already noticeable effect on pedestrian and bicycle flow on Holmen. In addition to the Inner Harbour Bridge, Trangravsbroen and Proviantbroen, have made it easier, faster and safer to move on foot and by bicycle across Holmen and Christianshavn.



The new Inderhavnsbro connects the city centre with Holmen and beyond.
Trangravsbroen conveniently connects three corners of the Holmen district.

Shorter bridges over 17th Century canals, such as Cirkelbroen (the Circle Bridge), and the Frederiksholm Canal bridge, help link almost the entire harbour. Designed by the Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, Cirkelbroen opened in 2015 and fixed a minor, but important gap in the mobility network of Copenhagen. This beautiful, but modest bridge connects Christiansbro with Applebys Plads and accommodates 2,200 bicycle users daily. Even smaller bridges, less decorated bridges, like Dyssegravenbroen and Laboratoriegravenbroen bridge in Christiania and the Lersoparken-Ryparken bridge also have a big, positive impact on A-to-Bism. The Dyssegraven and Laboratoriegraven bridges are new connections from eastern Amager into the city. While we were biking through Dyssegraven, we stopped and asked a local for his thoughts on the bridge: “It is part of something big. Copenhagen does a lot for cyclists and pedestrians to get around.” We couldn’t agree more.

Olafur Eliasson's Cirkelbroen, inspired by a harbour full of sail boats.


Laboratoriegravbroen in Christiania.

Bridging Urban Divides It’s easy to see the need for bridges in a maritime city like Copenhagen, but the City’s efforts to connect the urban fabric doesn’t end at the harbour’s edge. Bridges and tunnels also connect bicycle riders to areas previously cut off by busy roads, railways, and construction sites.  
The bridge between Lersoparken and Ryparken was completed in 2014, allowing for pedestrians and bicycle users to cross between two parks and neighborhoods while avoiding indirect and busy roads. Åbuen, opened in 2008, eliminated the challenge for bicycle users approaching and exiting the road bordering between Nørrebro and Frederiksberg. Folehaven Bridge will connect and ensure a safe passage between the Vigerslev park and the Folehave area over the rest of Valby. This bridge will help bicycle users avoid the major traffic barrier that is. The bridge will be located at the municipal boundary and with it’s design it will serve as a dramatic welcome to the city of Copenhagen, reminding automobiles that bicycles are above them.


Åbuen, crossing over Ågade

The city is currently developing two new metro lines, creating inconvenient detours to get around. Two temporary bridges symbolize the commitment of the city to cyclist mobility and not strictly on construction efforts. The Sorted Lake bridge is a new way of experiencing the picturesque lake through a floating shortcut, since the Metro expansion has reduced some of the regular gravel paths next to the lake’s shore. Once the expansion of the Metro is over in 2018, the paths will be back to normal and the floating bridge will be eliminated. Another temporary bridge over Frederiksholms canal was put in this year to give pedestrians and bicycle users the opportunity to bypass the construction of Blox, the future home of Realdania and the Danish Architecture Centre. Without this temporary bridge, one can be strolling down the southern Frederiksholms canal and end up at a dead end forced into relatively fast automobile traffic. If you are on the north side, you must return to the Prince's Bridge near Christiansborg Show Grounds.And lastly, we have a tunnel. The airy, well-lit Østerbro tunnel opened last year, addressing a major barrier separating residents and bicycle users from Nordhavn and the waterfront. For businesses and residents on Marmormolen, Amerika Plads, and in Århusgade, this tunnel cuts a significant portion of the transportation time welcoming 2,700 bicycle commuters each day.


The newly opened Østerbro tunnel


Bridges on the Horizon
The four proposed new bridges will all further develop the accessibility of the central part of the city and the harbour. Langebrogadebro will connect Vester Voldgade and Langebrogade in Amager and is expected to be completed in 2018 as part of Realdania’s Blox development. The bridge will become part of the green wave network or ‘Grøn Bølge’ that will relieve both car and bicycle congestion of Langebro and Knippelsbro.

As part of Realdania's BLOX development, the foundation has announced Langebrogadebroen, a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the harbour.

Bænkebro (The Bench Bridge) will connect Teglholmen and Enghave Brygge, in 2018. The residents of these two areas are currently forced to take a very busy and tedious detour along Vasbygade to commute to and from the city centre, which can easily diminish the desire to commute by bicycle. The new, upcoming Bænkebro will be a nice shortcut through the harbour with less noise and nicer scenery. Once finished, it will be easier to ride all the way down the south harbour connecting the newly developed area at Sluseholmen, and the upcoming commercial and residential area at Enghave Brygge, to the rest of the city.

And perhaps most fantastical of all, there’s the Nordhavn Tower Bridge incorporated into the Copenhagen Gate tower development. Taking the elevation into account, the bridge is hardly an A to B solution. Though initially meant to serve pedestrians and bicycle riders, the latest plans suggest the bicyclists will not be admitted onto the bridge. The bridge will lead from one tower to the other, one at Marmormolbyen and the other upon Langelinie. Each tower will carry its own cable-stay bridge between the two piers and due to the site geography, these bridges will meet at an angle. And we thought the kissing bridge idea was crazy…


The proposed Copenhagen GateCopenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Victorinox Cybertool 34 Review

Chester Cycling - 30 July, 2016 - 02:23

A while back I reviewed my Leatherman Surge multi-tool. I am a big fan of the Surge and there have been many times when I have been glad to have it with me (holiday in Cornwall, overseas work trips). However, as noted in my review of the Surge, the locking blades mean that the Surge is in a bit of a legal grey area; when carrying the Surge I need to have a “good reason” to do so if I wish to stay on the right side of our purposefully vague laws on such things. Similar laws also prevented me from taking the Surge on a work trip to Japan a few months ago. Because of this, at the end of last year I decided to supplement my Surge with a swiss army knife, as the relatively small, non-locking blades mean that I can enjoy the benefits of having it with me at all times without the requirement to have a “good reason.”

A few years ago I read about a swiss army knife designed specifically for people who work with PCs, which included a small bit driver for the various small phillips and torx screws used on motherboards and in laptops. When I started thinking about getting a swiss army knife, I remembered this and I was pleased to find that not only does it still exist, there are a few different versions available in the Victorinox Cybertool range. The bit driver is also available in some of the larger Swisschamp models too (XLT, XAVT).

For me the Cybertool 34 (CT34) offered the best range of tools within the size range I wanted, without having too much redundant overlap with the Surge. Both the CT34 and Surge have bot drivers, with some overlap in the supplied bits, but I would be much happier using the CT34 above the likes of a delivate motherboard than the Surge. Similarly, I prefer the Surge when working on things at a larger scale. The CT34 is available with translucent red or blue scales. I damaged the scales on mine (and never really liked the translucent scales either) so I decided to replace them with black.

The CT34 buts are 4mm hex, with a ball bearing on one side of the bit to retain them in the driver/holder. The holder only makes contact with the bits on two sides, so it is important to ensure one of these sides make contact with the ball bearing to prevent the bits falling out of the holder and the bit driver will also act as a 4/5mm nut spinner when empty. The Tork drivers will also happily work on recessed hexagon (Allen) head screws too.

The CT34 has a few features which the Surge lacks; the scales contain a surprisingly useful pressurised ballpoint pen, tweezers, toothpick and a pin, in addition to an eyeglass screwdriver which lives wound into the corkscrew.

Other tools unique to the CT34 are the corkscrew and hook.

Like the Surge, the CT34 also has two blades and pliers. Unlike the Surge, the blades are both non-locking and neither are serrated (the Surge has one straight and one serrated). The blades hold an edge very well, but because if this they require a bit more work to sharpen.

The pliers are sprung and much smaller than the Surge pliers; they are ideal for small detail work which makes them a good compliment to the Surge pliers, rather than redundant. They also include wire cutters and a crimper.

The remaining tools are duplicates of the tool selection available on the Surge, and include the following: A can opener (with small flat head driver) and a bottle opener (with large flat head driver/scraper/pryer & wire bender).

Scissors.

Sharp awl with eye for thread.

 

The main disadvantage for of the CT34 (and most swiss army knives) over the Leatherman is that most of the tools on swiss army knives require fairly long and substantial nails (or some sort of substitute) to get at, wheras the tools on the Leatherman are easily accessible without using nails. I get around this by using the tweezers from the scales to open the tools which have nail nicks, and the use of nail nicks does make for a much smaller overall package when compared to the likes of a Leatherman.

Whilst it is less capable than the Surge, after nearly eight months of carrying it with me almost every day I am very happy with my CT34. Paired with the Surge there are not many jobs which cannot be tackled. The CT34 is also a very capable tool in its own right, without being too bulky to carry around all/most of the time.


Categories: Views

Why they hate you

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 28 July, 2016 - 16:18

A consistent theme that you will encounter in campaigning circles – and indeed amongst the wider public – is that British people ‘hate cyclists’, or ‘hate cycling’. The explanation here must be that there is something genetic, something innate in the British character, that flares up at the sight of a bicycle, or someone riding one. That we’re culturally disposed to find a certain mode of transport annoying and irritating, along with its user.

But this is obviously a very superficial explanation. It doesn’t provide any account of the origins of that hatred and annoyance, instead, only asserts that it exists.

The reason people actually hate cyclists is, in fact, because we’re in the way. It’s that simple. Cycling is hated not for what it is, but because it causes inconvenience and hassle.

This man is hated not for who he is, or for his mode of transport, but because he is in the way.

All the other complaints flow from this central problem. ‘Cycling two abreast’, ‘cycling in the middle of the road’, ‘weaving’, and so on, are all manifestations of this root annoyance at being impeded.

I was reminded of this the other day when I spotted someone expressing annoyance about cyclists in pretty much the same way. 

Except, of course, that this person was himself using a bike! He was expressing frustration at being ‘held up’ by other Superhighway users in exactly the same way drivers express annoyance – the ‘casualness’ and the ‘non-helmet’ use are, as with driver complaints, merely a garnish, an attempt to reinforce the notion that people in the way are incompetent or irresponsible, and not ‘proper’ users of a road, or a cycleway, unlike the person being held up.

Nobody likes to be held up, whether they are walking along a footway that’s blocked by a crowd of people, or cycling on a cycleway where other users are getting in your way and not letting you get past, or driving a motor vehicle. It’s an innate, human characteristic.

So at root the problem of ‘cyclist hatred’ is really one of space. The reason it flares up so often, and appears to be so ubiquitous, is because cycling doesn’t have its own dedicated domain, and is consequently constantly rubbing against other incompatible modes of transport, with predictable results. This is equally true for cycling on footways, which is just as potent a source of annoyance as cycling in front of motor vehicles.

Take these people, and transfer them onto a system where they are not in the way of either motorists or pedestrians, and all the grounds for hatred disappear.

Likewise all these people here – cycling on Blackfriars Bridge – are on a separate system to drivers and pedestrians, and consequently all parties are benignly indifferent to each other in a way that would not be possible if they were pushed into the same space.And this kind of separated approach is of course universal in the Netherlands. The Dutch system of ensuring that roads without cycling infrastructure are only used by motorists for access purposes means that – even on these roads where cyclists aren’t physically separated – motorists aren’t held up, because there aren’t many other motorists to cause problems.

It is of course true that these kinds of design approaches also reduce frustration between motorists. In ensuring that these inappropriate residential streets cannot be used as through routes, we prevent rat-running and antagonism between drivers trying to battle their way, often against opposing motor traffic, on narrow streets.

So the solution to hostility between users of different modes – and indeed amongst users of the same mode – is not pleas for tolerance, or attempts to get us to ‘share the road’, or to ‘respect each other’, but one of design. We can’t engineer out basic human frustration. We can engineer streets and roads where that frustration doesn’t even materialise in the first place.


Categories: Views

Five years ago

Vole O'Speed - 28 July, 2016 - 02:40
Five years ago today the video below was issued by London Cycling Campaign as part of a consultation exercise with its members to find out what their preferred campaign might be for the 2012 London Mayoral election. In it, I argued that the key first step towards mass cycling is the provision of high-quality segregated cycle tracks on main roads. This overwhelming support this concept gained from the membership led directly to the Love London, Go Dutch campaign, the commitments secured from Boris Johnson, his Mayor's Vision for Cyclingand the system of quality segregated cycle tracks we now see starting to be developed on the main roads of London, so conspicuously enabling all-abilites, 'eight to eighty' cycling in places where this had not be dreamed of before. So I am proud of this.



This is not to decry the proposers of the other three possible campaigns mooted in the video. They all make excellent points. But it was a matter of what was the best, most effective strategy for us to pursue at the stage we were at (and largely still are) in our development of a utility cycling system and culture in London.

In the video, the first proposed theme, that of getting larger numbers of children cycling to school, was an objective, not a mechanism. There was no contradiction or competition with my proposal there because the one was necessary for the other. A very large number of schools are only accessed on major roads that would need segregated cycle infrastructure in order to get kids and parents cycling to them. Other schools in other places would require different treatments of the roads around them. But putting a social result of good cycling infrastructure forward to be the campaign itself was not quite logical. And one might be struck by the fact that for a demonstrator background to that bit of video, a temporary 'artificial' situation was used, of the FreeCycle (then called SkyRide) ride round London where children do indeed come out cycling in large numbers because the roads are closed for a few hours. In contrast, the background to my segment was the real, permanent situation created by the Torrington Place cycle track in Bloomsbury (which was doubled in capacity last year).

The third proposal, for 'unwinding urban gyratories,' also contained a fallacy: the idea that merely making these major roads two-way would be of great benefit to cyclists and pedestrians, would actually transform them into pleasant places to be, without measures to also reduce the total motor traffic. I've dealt with that one here, and I think we've moved beyond this concept in policy terms now. I pointed out long ago how, where in it was tried in practice, for example in Piccadilly, the simple unwinding of gyratory systems proved to be no good for pedestrians or cyclists.

Then the final proposal, Love thy neighbourhood, for a campaign for area-wide traffic motor removal schemes through modal filtering, did of course advocate a policy that is essential to creating a truly people-friendly city. But it can never be the primary solution for cycling on the road grid that we already have, because we can't get rid of all the motor traffic arteries that most real cycle trips will need to use for part of the journey. A comprehensive application of Love thy neighbourhood principles would, at best, lead to a series of separate small districts in which cycling was an attractive option, cut off from one another by still-hostile main roads.

Then, proposing this as the first step from where we were, also, I hold, badly underestimated the huge political challenge of creating these calmed neighbourhoods in a political climate where most people cannot imagine everyday transport by bicycle and believe in general that having all possible routes for motor vehicles open is a good thing. The  Quietway element of The Mayor's Vision hit precisely this snag. It turned out, as I expected, that it was actually poltically far easier to carve space for cycling out of main roads by physical segreagtion, than it was to create routes on minor roads by closing rat-runs. Those who depend on car transport typically only think their street should be quieted. The next one, and the next one... they should all be  rat-runs to allow them to get places fast. This is a fundamental problem. We have seen that there is not yet political consensus on the general desirability and practicality of low-traffic residential areas in London.

We've seen that again and again, in Lambeth (Loughborough Road area), Camden (West Kentish Town), Hackney (London Fields) and so on, where progressive proposals from boroughs for area-wide traffic reduction in residential districts have been defeated by opponents. But, judging from consultation results, and also conversations I have with politicians, we do have consensus that main roads should allow protected space for cycling. We need the calmed neighbourhoods as well, of course, for many reasons beyond cycling, but it looks like being a while still before that argument can be generally won. Then again, a main point about the 2012 campaign was we were trying to influence the Mayor, and he controlled not the neighbourhood roads, but the major ones. So it made sense for the campaign to be calling for stuff that he could bring about directly.

The point about the main road treatments is they really do generate new users, they get people out of their cars and off the buses and tubes, and start to build up the mass of influence we need to get the other, more difficult changes through. That's why attempting to start with the other stuff wouldn't be very effective. That's why I stressed in the video: This is the first step to generating a real, mass cycling culture. The propaganda power of the cycle track carved in granite out of what was previously space ruled by motors is huge, and immediately comprehended by those who have never thought about this subject before, in a way that filtered permeability just isn't. In other words, as Paul Gannon said to me back in the last century: people cycling on separate tracks on busy roads make other people think I could could do that too to a far greater extent than any other engineering measure or piece of promotion does.

The proof of all this seems to me to be amply demonstrated by what we see on the roads of Central London today. Mind you, I never expected to see the scene that was videoed by Wayne David last Saturday at the Embankment, site of the East-West Cycle Superhighway, the route for which I first suggested to Andrew Gilligan, the future Mayor's Cycling Commissioner, in 2012.

Hundreds of people on bikes just rode down Embankment in London! pic.twitter.com/sGtRjABrlq— WayneDavid (@WayneDavid81) July 23, 2016
Clearly this was not the normal usage of the Embankment even on a busy day for cycling. Bike Biz tried to get to the bottom of what it actually was: seemingly a semi-organised, semi-counter-cultural, semi-commercial youth street 'happening'. It attracted criticism, but I cannot but agree with one commentator on the BikBiz article, who wrote:
Looks like they've done a better job at getting young people on bikes than all of the government schemes put together...They may have been preparing for the RideLondon FreeCycle this Saturday. This annual mass ride around closed streets in Central London has existed for many years under various names and sponsors. It was first suggested to the then Mayor, Ken Livingstone, by LCC. I've been somewhat negative about this event in the past: of the 2011 event, then called Sky Ride, I wrote:
In this event, a seven mile circuit of central London streets is given over exclusively to bikes for a few hours once a year, cyclists are dressed up like yellow canaries for no apparent reason except to unwillingly advertise Sky Sports, and a huge number of obstructive barriers is erected around The Mall to prevent anybody from conveniently walking anywhere, enforced by a huge number of paid-for-the-day officious event staff who shout orders at you and tell you what a good time you are having.I saw it as  rather tokenistic and an excuse for the Mayor not taking decisive action to make cycling an everyday option for Londoners:
To expect Sky Ride to encourage more people to cycle under everyday London traffic conditions is like expecting the experience of taking a cross-channel ferry to encourage people to swim the channel. It unrealistic, as the conditions are so profoundly different.But from where I sit now, having seen the changes since then, I reckon I was a bit harsh. Perhaps these events, though demonstrating the suppressed demand, did contribute to generating the political pressure that brought our present infrastructure programme into being. And, strangely enough, I am quite looking forward to this weekend's event. It looks far better than ever before, with a route that does not use the same roads there and back, as in the past, but is a real loop round, with various interesting alternatives to explore, using in part the new East-West Superhighway, but closing a lot of other roads to motor traffic besides. And, of course, if you are lucky enough to come from an appropriate direction, you can use a Superhighway to get there.

Maybe I will see you there. Look out for the Vole!
Categories: Views

The Cycle Superhighway reaches Hyde Park

Vole O'Speed - 26 July, 2016 - 21:30
Construction of the East-West Cycle Superhighway (or CS3) in London has been continuing, and the sections on the roads in Hyde Park are nearly built, and to pleasing quality.

From the already-famous section on the Embankment, which opened on 6 May (the opening was Boris Johnson's last act as Mayor of London) the route is programmed to go via Bridge Street, Parliament Square and George Street (already constructed) via a new path on Birdcage Walk by St James's Park, a new bollard-segregated section past Buckingham Palace (mentioned in this post), and an upgraded path along the margin of Green Park in Constitution Hill, to the crossing of Hyde Park Corner, and thence along South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park. It will then turn sharply north on to West Carriage Drive (wrongly labelled as 'Exhibition Road' in TfL's own diagram, below) and exit the park at Lancaster Gate.


As I've pointed out before, this routing is not the most logical, and I expect most cyclists actually following the east-west route to connect from Apsley Gate at Hyde Park Corner to Lancaster Gate via the existing cycle path of the Broad Walk and the North Carriage Drive, which is more direct than the official route, which seems to have been chosen for political reasons between the Royal Parks Authority and Transport for London. I guess they did not want to 'encourage' more cyclists on to the already busy Broad Walk, full of pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders, which has painted-line segregation and a poor design which is not effective at keeping pedestrians and cyclists apart. (One foolishness is that the benches must be accessed from the footpath by crossing the cycle path – it would be better to use the benches as a barrier.)

Rather than change this poor design in Broad Walk, the authorities have chosen to built a new high-quality route along the South and West Carriage Drives (which already had cycle facilities, but poor ones). This is in many ways a good thing. It creates a high-quality, high-capacity motor-traffic-free connection from Hyde Park Corner to Kensington Gardens and South Kensington (Exhibition Road) to replace the far too narrow, existing line-segregated path along the south side of the park. At the same time it benefits walkers, taming the rat-run of South Carriage Drive and taking flows of cyclists on the east-west axis well away from flows of pedestrians. The work on West Carriage Drive is also, in itself, welcome and long-overdue, replacing the strange and illogical mixture on on and off-road 'facilities' on different sides of the road that existed before, and creating a top-quality cycle connection north-south across the park from Exhibition Road to Westbourne Terrace, linking South Kensington to the future western extension of the Superhighway.

Boris Johnson opens the first phase of the East-West Superhighway in MayTwo-way Superhighway on the west side of Bridge Street, heading for signals in Parliament SquareThe old cycle path on Broad Walk does not effectively keep pedestrians out at busy times, and is often closed for events.South Carriage Drive as it was: a wide, open fast rat run for cars with a painted cycle line that only hardened cyclists dared use, and space-wasting central islands that forced pedestrians to cross the road in two stagesBuilding work on South Carriage Drive in early July. A swathe of road on the park side is being segregated off for a 4m wide track. The old pedestrian islands are going, along with the old cycle lane, and the whole road is being moved southwards (to the right) slightly.A completed section of 4m segregation on South Carriage Drive near Hyde Park Corner. The old cycle lane markings are still present and the red surface is old. Presumably it will be resurfaced.  The track on the east side of the West Carriage Drive is largely complete and is 4m wide generally but widens to 6m at Alexandra Gate to allow for lanes for cyclists heading to and from Exhibition Road and cyclists following the Superhighway from and to South Carriage Drive.Charlie Fernandes (@Charliecycling) demonstrates the width of the track approaching Alexandra Gate (Exhibition Road). The pavement has been rebuilt and the old, poor on-pavement cycle track is gone. The track in West Carriage Drive gracefully allows cyclists to bypass the near-permanent traffic jam that has always made cycling here so unpleasant and inefficient in the pastA chamfered kerb has been used here, which is good practice, and in the distance a table runs across both cycle track and carriageway at a pedestrian crossing point.Detail of the speed table on the track. The ramp has cobble-ish stones but is fairly benign. I don't know why a zebra crossing was not used; are Royal Parks are antipathetic to these?The track becomes very wide again on the curve north of the Serpentine Bridge. This is very good design; there is something of a slope here and some cyclists will be going fast at the junction of the track with the car park entrance: the extra width here gives room for errors by both drivers and cyclists
The same viewed from the north. An odd thing has occurred her in the cycle track having a black machine-laid surface, but the carriageway being reddish, as is often Royal Park's practice. The colours are thus the reverse of the Dutch convention.When I viewed these facilities in early July they were not yet open, though of course cyclists were trying to use them. The building of the linkage through Lancaster Gate, a hitherto highly unpleasant racetrack gyratory and major blockage on the cycle network, had not started. I believe work in Westbourne Terrace, further north, has started, however. This is the last part of the Superhighway that is currently approved for construction. In April consultation took place on the next section, taking CS3 (and the Superhighways) firmly into West London, via the elevated Westway section of the A40. This idea, by Johnson's cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, was not universally welcomed by cycle campaigners, who generally would have preferred a more accessible and humane route on the surface, but I supported it, as, due to the obstructiveness of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, who seem to have a horror of the idea of cycle tracks on their roads, there was really no alternative for westwards continuation at that time. Transport for London have jurisdiction over the A40.

We await a decision by the new Mayor Sadiq Khan on the continuation of CS3 on the Westway, as well as the northward continuation of CS6, the North-South Superhighway, from Farringdon Road to Judd Street, and the commencement of works on CS11 from Portland Place to Swiss Cottage. All these were consulted on earlier this year, and, despite the vicious campaign against CS11 that I reported on, all secured a high level of public support. Khan must now start to make good his election promise to 'Make London a byword for cycling'. So far we have only heard generalities from him (except for a commitment to create a new walking and cycling bridge in East London and a commitment to pedestrianise Oxford Street, which may or may not work out well for cycling). He has also not yet appointed a successor to the highly-successful first Cycling Commissioner for London, Andrew Gilligan. Caroline Russell, Green London Assembly Member, has reported that this job, which is to be re-badged as 'Cycling and Walking Commissioner', is to be advertised soon. I am worried about this. 
The Cycling Commissioner post that Gilligan occupied under Johnson was a political post, as it needed to be. The job was not advertised because it needed to go to a political ally of the Mayor for the role to be effectively accomplished. In, Gilligan, an ally of Johnson, and indeed a friend, political heft was combined with diplomatic capability and  a great deal of knowledge about cycling in London, with a recognition of it as being generally dreadful, and a determination to knock political  and bureaucratic heads together in order to change things. A journalist, and thus an expert at publicity or propaganda, Gilligan was not a technical expert but understood enough technicalities to challenge experts when they stood in the way of progress, and was able to work with campaigners, if not always in complete harmony, then with a constructive friction; a kind of double-agent if you will.
Advertising the post of Cycling and Walking Commissioner suggests it is to be be downgraded to a technical role. A technician is likely to be ineffective in this highly political position. But we will have to see; I hope my worries on this are unfounded. They could be, with someone who is an expert in the post of Commissioner, but a strong driving force from the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Transport. I suppose Gilligan could re-apply for the job; he is clearly the most qualified person to do it. His report on the progress of the first three years of The Mayor's Vision for Cycling, Human Streets, is worth a read.

While the segregated Superhighways have been the massive success we knew they would be, they are still far from where most Londoners live and work. They only represent the bare beginnings of a functioning cycle network. It would be a crime for momentum to be lost and for the the expertise now built up within Transport for London in building high-quality, effective cycle infrastructure to be dissipated, which is what will occur if we do not rapidly have a plan for expansion of the network, in all directions, beyond Zone 1. Khan has popular, fully developed 'shovel-ready' schemes at his fingertips in CS3 as far as Wood Lane, CS6 as far as Euston Road and CS11 as far as Swiss Cottage. He needs to approve these now, get his Commissioner in place, and produce the detailed plan for the next four years.

He has been busy, of course, with the EU referendum, and, in the aftermath, with pressing the government for new powers to allow him to keep London as closely linked to Europe as possible; these were the right things for him to be doing, and the strategic and financing powers he is seeking, if he is successful, can only be good for continuation of the cycling programme and modernisation of the streets generally. In particular, he needs far more authority over the infrastructure currently controlled by the boroughs, the Corporation of the City of London, and the Royal Parks. The lack of this authority is pointed to in Gilligan's report as a major reason why progress  on the Mayor's Vision has not been faster. Nevertheless, Khan should not repeat Johnson's mistake of moving slowly, being in office for eight (or four) years, and scrambling to try to build a world-class cycle network in the last few months of that.
Categories: Views

Alternative cycle route in Utrecht

BicycleDutch - 25 July, 2016 - 23:01
There are usually more routes you can take for the same journey from A to B. In the Netherlands most of those routes will be suitable for cycling. The route … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Greening the city

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 22 July, 2016 - 00:36

One of the nicest things about cycling along the Embankment (apart from the new cycling infrastructure, of course) is… the greenery.

This is particularly obvious as you approach the Houses of Parliament from the north. As the bend of the river unwinds, the Palace of Westminster gradually reveals itself through a lovely forest of trees as you near Parliament Square. And you really notice the trees as this happens.

I have to say I wasn’t too aware of this on the few occasions I dared to cycle here before this cycling infrastructure had been built. Frankly, I was probably too busy worrying about drivers, and working out where the next potential hazard was going to come from, to properly engage with the scenery. Now, every time I cycle along here, I can relax and fully appreciate the difference these trees make to the urban environment. They are a softening, calming and sheltering presence that add greatly to the beauty of the city.

The Embankment is, unfortunately, something of a rarity for London though. Far too many roads and streets are not this well-endowed with trees, or indeed have no street trees at all. Blackfriars Road is also lovely to cycle on, thanks to a similar combination of cycling infrastructure and greenery.

But you don’t have to look very far in London to find streets and roads that are barren.

No trees on Victoria Street

Nor here, amongst the remains of Superhighway 7

They’re usually barren for a reason – most of the street width is being used to accommodate the flow of motor traffic. Trees literally don’t fit, not without some repurposing of street space.

But even roads and streets that have recently been rebuilt are devoid of trees.

No trees on the new Regent Street layout (and still a massive one-way road with no cycling infrastructure)

The new layout at Aldgate only seems to have managed to include a couple of trees

This is even true for roads that now have cycling infrastructure. For instance, it looks like a big opportunity has been missed to plant trees as part of the rebuild of Farringdon Street.

Much nicer, but couldn’t we have had some trees here too?

By contrast, it strikes me that trees are an integral part of new street layouts and roads in Dutch cities like Utrecht. They are planned for, and it just happens.

Tne new road layout on Vredenburg has come with new trees.

… As has the cycling infrastructure on St Jacobstraat

Indeed, reviewing my photographs of Utrecht, I’m struck by how universally green the city is. All of my photos have trees in them, without me even noticing at the time.

The city centre is full of trees.
New developments have trees in them.

New street arrangements carefully retain existing trees, and make a feature of them.

Older cycle paths are, of course, accompanied by street trees – you can usually date them by the age of the trees. A few decades old, in the examples below.

And, naturally, cycle paths in the countryside around Utrecht are framed with trees.

There’s a practical, pragmatic reason for much of this effort – trees help to shelter people walking and cycling from the elements, be it wind, or rain, or sun. A dense line of trees really does make a difference if you are battling a crosswind, and it can stop you getting sunburnt, as well as keeping the worst of the rain off you.

But within urban areas this greenery is vitally important for aesthetic reasons, to soften the urban environment, and to make it calmer, more pleasant and attractive. I’m wondering why opportunities to include them in new road layouts in London – and perhaps elsewhere – are still being missed. Is it cost? Is it an unwillingness to allocate street space away from motor traffic, for these purposes? Or is factoring in greenery something that simply doesn’t appear at the design stage?

We seem keen enough on greenery that we’re apparently willing to spend £180m putting trees on a bridge in the middle of the river – so why are we failing to incorporate greenery into new roads and street designs whenever the opportunity presents itself, as well failing to add it to existing roads and streets?


Categories: Views

Fiets4daagse - a Drents phenomena

A View from the Cycle Path - 20 July, 2016 - 17:54
Fietsvierdaagse start. Peter's bike and mine amongst thousands of others (mostly behind the people on the right ;-) A four day organised bicycle ride, the Fietsvierdaagse, is organised in Drenthe every year. It's a social event, not a race and around 15000 people take part each year. A variety of different length routes are available every day, varying from 25 km for the RollOn Route (aimed atDavid Hembrowhttps://plus.google.com/114578085331408050106noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2016/07/fiets4daagse-drents-phenomena.html
Categories: Views

Copenhagen Rolls out the Harbour Circle

Copenhagenize - 20 July, 2016 - 12:59
By Mark Werner / Copenhagenize Design Company
Copenhagen takes no time to rest when it comes to the bicycle, just months after officially kicking off Havneringen, the Harbour Circle project, the route is now complete upon the opening of Inderhavnesbroen, Copenhagen’s newest pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The Harbour Circle only further showcases the city’s commitment to innovative bicycle infrastructure investments. In fall of 2016 the Circle will officially open, a 13 km recreational cycling and pedestrian path lining Copenhagen’s scenic blue harbour and the natural greenery of the city's south side. In recent years Copenhagen has taken strides to connect the city by bridging points along the harbour. The Harbour Circle will serve as a channel for both tourists and locals alike to easily access some of the city’s most notable sites. Stop for ice cream along Nyhavn, swim and relax at Islands Brygge, or stroll through the lush greenery at Amager Fælled. The point of this path is to highlight and connect the many great things around Copenhagen, as it runs through 12 distinct areas of the city. Displaying the clear water of Europe’s cleanest harbour, and granting new access to both historic sites and new architectural gems.


Olafur Eliasson's Circle Bridge is a small, critical connection that helps makes the City's harbour accessible
Adopted by the city budget in 2014, the Harbour Circle project officially kicked off just months ago, in May 2016, complete with a bicycle parade, concerts, food, and kayaking in the harbour. Set for completion in late 2016, the Harbour Circle is part of a much larger goal to link the city with all parts of the harbour, independent from the car. Multiple bridges have been built in this recent effort, beginning in 2006 with Bryggebroen, the first new connection between the district of Amager and Copenhagen in centuries. Prior, only two bridges existed connecting the highly populated Christianshavn, and further to Amager. While some of the new bridges are to be funded by the municipality, Danish foundations are footing the bill for others. Newly created bridges are strictly for pedestrians and cyclists, in an effort to discourage the car and further improve the walkability and bikeability of the city.
The Harbour Circle leads through a diverse range of landscapes.


Funding for this 13 million kr. project comes from both the Copenhagen Municipality and the National Bicycle Group. The Harbour Circle project includes three main components, the most significant is to build infrastructure such as bike paths and a temporary bridge. Further funding is set to place signs throughout the route providing information about each site and to guide people on their journey. Lastly, efforts are made to establish partnerships to market the route to locals and tourists. The Harbour Circle project is another endeavor to create a vibrant, life-sized city that will attract people into the city, adding to the diversity and liveliness of the downtown. The creation of the Harbour Circle will tie the city closer and allow everyone access to many of the destinations Copenhagen has to offer, yet another effort to assure its claim to fame of Copenhagen as a bicycle destination.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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Bicycles for refugees

BicycleDutch - 18 July, 2016 - 23:01
Loud cheers and applause could be heard near the ʼs-Hertogenbosch cathedral last Saturday, every time someone arrived pushing a second bicycle. Clearly, that second bicycle was going to be donated … Continue reading →
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