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Just another London cyclist... Ted Baker joins the peloton, and looks fantastic!

ibikelondon - 11 August, 2014 - 11:57

There are some things which are seen as ubiquitous to London, and as demonstrated over the incredible Ride London weekend the humble bicycle is gradually becoming one of them

So is a unique sense of sartorial style and clothes which are cut to perfection, blending functionality with a bit of flair.  Which is why I was excited to hear that London fashion house Ted Baker had been so inspired by the re-emergence of the bike that they've created their own special range of super stylish cycling togs.  


One of the reasons I love cycling so much is because it allows you to be part of the city whilst enjoying the city - the streets are like theatres where we all play a role, which is why I like to look my best when on my bike.

Ted Baker are based in St Pancras, their offices wedged between the Royal College Street bike track and the Regent's Canal.  Looking out their window they saw cyclists of all shapes and sizes rolling past every day and knew there was a place for a new range of clothing for on and off the bike.  As they explain on their blog: "We concluded that the only thing for it was to design a cycle-friendly collection that would survive even the most strenuous commute and still look freshly pressed on the dismount."  
The name of the collection?  Raising the Handlebars by #TedBiker.

So having designed a range of clothes for London cyclists, they needed a cyclist from London to take them for a test ride, and I was more than pleased to oblige...



The collection features a wide range of cycling apparel; from long sleeve zip through jerseys in navy blue and burgundy with track detailing, to a beautiful blazer in anti-bacterial treated premium cotton to ensure you're smart and fresh on your bike or in the boardroom.  Test riding the collection gave me first hand experience of how it handles when you're riding around frenetic old London, and I loved the Dipstic printer collar polo which has a cute bicycle chain motif, and the trim chinos which were so comfortable to ride in and will last a life time with their quality tailoring.


Of course, cycling clothes are dime a dozen these days with some more elegant and practical than others, but what I particularly like is how Ted Baker have really paid attention to detail with their cycling range.  The chinos have secret zip up pockets to squirrel away your Boris Bike key, or something to eat for a longer ride.  The buttons on the blazer are embossed with tiny bicycle wheels., whilst the collars on the jerseys lift up to reveal a simple safety feature; a reflective stripe for those late night rides home.  Greasy bike chains can be a pain, but the trouser legs fold up and can be pinned in to place with a cleverly concealed fastener, whilst the rear pockets can be turned out to show off a reflective trim.  Both the shorts and trousers have reinforced seats to ensure longevity in the saddle.. the list of little cycle-friendly touches goes on.


Riding around Camden with a film crew and photographer in tow, dressed up on a beautiful British-built bicycle was such a fun experience, we had a great time putting the film together showing off these fantastic London cycling clothes.  If I look like I'm concentrating really, really hard in the film above it's because I was focused on riding without ending up in the back of a filming truck which the cameraman, sound crew and director were hanging out the back of...  just another typical London bike ride, right?

You can check out the entire collection exclusively on the Ted Baker website here, whilst their blog explains how they were inspired to create a cycling rangeThis interview on their site features more photos and looks at my favourite places to ride in London and why I love it so much, do have a look around and see you looking smart rolling on the roads soon!

This is a sponsored blog post.

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On the buses

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 August, 2014 - 08:46

A hot topic at the moment is potential conflict between London’s bus network, and an expanding cycle network – one suitable for all potential users.

It’s becoming a prominent issue, I suspect, because in the places where cycle provision is being installed, or proposed, space is – in some instances – being taken from the bus network. The Superhighway 2 extension along Stratford High Street has taken a lane away, in each direction, from a six lane road. However, that road did, in the recent past, have (intermittent) bus lanes in each direction – bus lanes that aren’t there now.

Likewise the new proposals for Superhighway 5 show that the cycle tracks on Vauxhall Bridge will come at the expense of one of the two bus lanes, rather than at the expense of a general traffic lane.

Six lanes down to five, but a bus lane has gone missing.

The West End Project in Camden is also being presented by some as a ‘conflict’ between bus priority and cycle priority, although it is not clear to me that the parties who are demanding a much higher standard of cycle provision in the scheme are suggesting that bus priority should be watered down. Importantly, there is no reason – in principle – why a good bus network, equivalent or better to the bus provision currently running north-south through this area of Camden – cannot work alongside a cycle network of a high standard.

The problem, I think, is that Transport for London see the bus network as the easiest thing to erode, when it comes to installing cycle-specifc provision. Bus lanes are already the ‘domain’ of Transport for London; there isn’t a large, vocal group standing up for them, apart from the bus companies, who are themselves contracted by TfL. It’s probably much easier for Transport for London to put cycling provision in place of a bus lane than it is in place of a general traffic lane, and they are taking the path of least resistance.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. Vauxhall Bridge could have excellent cycling provision, and two bus lanes in each direction. Those four lanes of private motor traffic could come down to three, with bus priority maintained. As I’ve said above, there is no necessary conflict between bus provision and cycle provision.

Space for cycling should come first from private motor traffic, then from the bus network, if necessary, and if that can be achieved without eroding the quality of the bus network as a whole. Indeed, this is how Dutch cities, in my experience, function. Space for walking and cycling comes first, then space for a bus or public transport network, and space for private motor traffic then has to fit in around that. This ordering means that many ‘main roads’ in Dutch cities aren’t open to private motor traffic at all, except for access. In Haarlem -

Courtesy of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain

Or in Utrecht -

Potterstraat – a bus- and cycle-only main road

You can find numerous examples of where private motor traffic has been squeezed out, to make space for a good public transport network, alongside comfortable, attractive conditions for cycling and walking.

So to that extent, any ‘battle’ between public transport and cycling in London is most likely a reflection of a failure to take space away from private motor traffic, or to reduce it to the extent that buses are not impeded. This is, I think, the strategy for the ‘Clerkenwell Boulevard’ – to maintain bus and cycle priority along the length of the route, while allowing private motor traffic to use the bus lanes, but for access only.

And in Camden, there is again no reason why – in theory – priority bus routes cannot exist alongside high quality cycling infrastructure in the West End Project, although I appreciate that politically and strategically this is very difficult.

The biggest part of that political and strategic difficulty lies with the fact that cycling remains very much a minority mode of transport in London. It is a huge ask to demand space for it, in its own right, when it still forms a small percentage of trips in the city, compared to driving and public transport.

And yet… This is all very circular. People do not cycle in large numbers in London primarily because space has not been allocated for cycling. Cycling has not been prioritised, or given the space necessary to make it a comfortable, safe and attractive mode of transport, suitable for more people than the small minority who cycle now.

What is needed is a strategic vision about the future of London, and other British towns and cities, built around the way we would like people to be making trips, and certainly not one built around maintaining existing mode share. A central part of this strategy should involve opening up cycling as a genuine choice for all, alongside walking, driving, or taking public transport. That choice does not exist, at present. It is clear that people drive or take public transport for trips that would actually be more convenient by bike. They are forced into driving or taking the bus because conditions for cycling are sufficiently hostile to remove ‘choice’ altogether. The Alternative Department for Transport has written a very good blog about precisely this point.

The table below (courtesy of Transport for London) gives some indication of the problem.

66% of all bus stages in London are under 3km, and nearly 90% are under 5km – about 3 miles (with the caveat this data is ‘as the crow flies’, i.e. a direct line from bus stop to bus stop).

Now of course many of these trips are ones that are inconvenient, or impossible, to cycle – they might be connecting trips on public transport, or a bus genuinely is the best option for the trip in question. Likewise many people making these trips won’t be able to cycle – they might be too infirm, or carrying too heavy a load, or it might just be raining, or too cold. This is what transport choice is all about! But surely a considerable proportion of these trips could be cycled, and more importantly the people making them might prefer to cycle them if we had Dutch-equivalent conditions in London.

This is fun! Why would you take the bus, if you could do this instead?

Going by these TfL figures, on average something like 4 million bus journeys are made by London residents every day (and I’ve heard figures of 6.5 million trips per day, in total), but we haven’t arrived at this position spontaneously. Such a large number of bus trips has arisen out of the bus network being developed and prioritised, and made an easy and obvious choice for ordinary people.

To argue that cycling is for fit young men, while (by implication) bus travel is for ‘everyone’, a universal mode of transport, is to spectacularly miss the point. Cycling isn’t for everyone precisely because it hasn’t received the care and attention that bus travel has received. Humane, civilised cities offer people a genuine choice between bus travel, cycling, and walking; they don’t pretend that the fact ‘everyone’ takes the bus while ‘cyclists’ (fit, young and male) continue to cycle is a natural state of affairs.

Does this look like an environment where people have a free choice between cycling, and taking the bus?

Cycling and public transport co-existing; a genuine choice between the two.

So the respective modal share for buses and cycling in London isn’t in any way ‘natural’, or spontaneous. We should think carefully about what London can and should look like if cycling was an available choice for everyone, and the benefits that would bring, rather than tying ourselves to defending existing levels of public transport use (and, even worse, existing levels of driving). 

Indeed, there are many good reasons why we should be prioritising cycling ahead of public transport; reasons that no doubt explain why many London boroughs, including Hackney and Camden, continue to place cycling ahead of public transport in their road user hierarchies. (Although in practice this does not happen – presumably because of the weight of numbers of people using buses, compared to the numbers cycling).

Cycling offers public health benefits that are harder to achieve with public transport. Cycling involves being physically active; taking the bus does not, at least not to the same extent. If we are serious about public health, and reducing the burden on the NHS, then walking and cycling should obviously be prioritised ahead of public transport.

Buses present danger. They are much better for cities than private motor traffic, but the fact remains that they are large heavy objects that travel quite fast, carrying considerable momentum. They can, and do, kill and seriously injure people on a regular basis – 2000 people have been killed or seriously injured by TfL buses since 2008, nearly one a day.

Although emissions technology is improving, and much more progress can be made, buses pollute - here’s just one example. More people cycling means fewer buses are needed, and cleaner air.

While children and the elderly go free on London buses, most people have to pay to use a bus. £1.45 for a single trip, while a bicycle – once you have one, of course – remains free at the point of use.

Buses are slow. This might come as a surprise to most people, who would never dream of cycling on the roads in London, but a journey by bus is typically much, much slower than one by bike, especially when the fact you have wait for a bus is accounted for. (To take just one example, a trip I used to make from Kentish town to Old Street on the 214 typically took 30 minutes, to cover 3 miles. This is one of the reasons I started cycling in London; most people are not as confident or as happy as me cycling on roads busy with motor traffic, and not have the choice I did).

Buses are indirect. Quite obviously, buses don’t go from door-to-door. You will have to walk to the bus stop at the start of the journey, and away from it at the end, and very often this will involve travelling indirectly – away from the most direct route. Cycling, by contrast, offers a door-to-door journey. You go where you want to go (at least, this is something you should be able to do).

And finally buses are antisocial. They disconnect you from the street, and the people on it. If you see someone you know when you are cycling, you can stop and talk to them. If you see someone you know when you are on a bus, you’ve probably missed that opportunity.

It should be emphasised again that these are merely reasons why cycling should be prioritised ahead of public transport, and definitely not reasons against public transport per se. Public transport is vital, and important, and should be strongly defended ahead of private motor traffic, and taxis. We should have space for cycling, and space for public transport. But in recognising that importance, and acknowledging the huge part buses play in transporting Londoners, we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for failing to make cycling a viable for mode of transport, for all.


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It's London's big bike weekend! Are you ready to RideLondon?

ibikelondon - 8 August, 2014 - 08:30
Bicycles will take over the streets of London this weekend, and there's something for riders of all abilities and backgrounds with a packed calendar for the second annual cycling extravaganza.  Here's ibikelondon's top tips for the next two days of two-wheeled fun:



SATURDAY 9th AUGUST

RideLondon Freecycle

10 miles of traffic free central London roads wait to welcome cyclists of all ages at this family-friendly cycling fun day.  You're sure to see some of our city's finest sites along the way, from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, and the Tower of London in the east, riding along the banks of the river Thames in the company of 60,000 or so other cyclists.  It's not fast, it's not furious, but it is a lot of fun.



New for 2014:  you can get off the busy main route and explore a host of the City of London's back streets totally traffic free as the Square Mile is given over to the "explore zone"; a network of roads linking festival sites at the stunning Leadenhall Market and in the Guildhall Square.  Be sure to check out the bike bell ringing world record attempt at the Guildhall at 9AM.


Nervous about getting to and from central London?  Those wonderful folks at the London Cycling Campaign are hosting a plethora of guided bike rides in and out of London to help families ride from their home boroughs.  It's a lovely way to get safely to the centre, and to meet your neighbours! See if there's a guided ride from your home borough here



Refresh, rest and enjoy bike-based activities - from a street velodrome to BMX stunt displays - in the Festival Zones at Green Park, St Paul's Churchyard, Guildhall yard, Leadenhall Market (covered) and Tower Hill.  Here's the full list of all activities.  The timetable of events - including Penny Farthing Bike Polo - is here.

RideLondon Grand Prix

Britain's pro female cyclists take over the streets around St James' Park at 5PM, in the rip roaring RideLondon Grand Prix.  This event is fast and furious (last year's race hospitalised Olympic champ Jo Rowsell) and the best women awheel will be battling it out for a place on the podium once again. 



Fresh from the Commonwealth Games in Scotland Laura Trott OBE will be pushing hard to retain her title against field leaders Marrianne Vos, Lizzie Armitstead and Hannah Barnes.  London's Matrix Vulpine cycling team will also race.  The event is being broadcast live on BBC2 so line the streets to band the boards, get your mug on the TV and show the rest of the UK that London loves women's bike racing.


SUNDAY 10th AUGUST 2014

RideLondon 100

Think the "London Marathon on bikes" and you'll have an idea of just how epic the RideLondon 100 is going to be.  20,000 enthusiastic amateur cyclists will set out from east London's Olympic Park, tearing through central London before heading out to the hills of Surrey to cycle the route taken by the 2012 Olympic road cyclists.  Leith and Box Hills (which is harder? You decide!) will punish riders, before they race back in to London crossing the finish line on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace - just like the riders in this years Tour de France.



If you're in the pack and riding, look out for a certain bike blogger (me!) handing out bananas on the feeding station at Hampton Court - don't forget to say hello and fuel up!

The riders are set to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities from across the country with sponsorship money, so why not cheer them on?  They'll pass through Kingston twice - the only place on the course to do so - and the town is putting on a fantastic day of sea-side themed activities, so it is sure to be one of the best places to watch.

Hand cyclists will pass through the town from 8:30AM onwards, with the amateur cyclists passing from approximately 7AM on their way out, and from 9.30AM onwards on their way back (some will be later than others!)  Kingston will be car-free for the day, lending the town centre a festival atmosphere with special events being put on by local shops, pop up cafes and bars, a Helter Skelter and Punch'n'Judy show and deck chairs to relax in.  Some of the world's best pro cyclists will follow the amateur riders in the London - Surrey Classic from 1PM to 6PM, which brings us to... 

London - Surrey Classic

Loved the Tour de France Grand Depart in London?  Still have fond memories of the Olympic Road Race? Now's your chance to relive the moment, when some of the world's best pro riders return to our streets to race for the finish line on the Mall.  

Following the same course as the amateur cyclists (and no doubt overtaking a few) the likes of Russ Downing, Simon Yates, Team Sky's Ben Swift and Luke Rowe will all be hoping to scalp 2012 medallist and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins who confirmed his participation in the race on Thursday morning, in a coup for the organisers.  Scotland's David Millar will race for the last time in London, prior to his retirement.


Leith Hill and Box Hill will be phenomenal spots from which to spectate, but expect to encounter very busy trains and to have to walk up the hill (don't even think of coming by car!)  Once again, Kingston town centre will give you two opportunities to spot your favourite riders, whilst the Mall will be packed for the sprint finish.  The race will be broadcast live on BBC1.  See here for a preliminary start list.  All the spectator information that's fit to print can be downloaded here, so why not pack a picnic and find a spot from which to waive them on?

If that's not nearly enough bike-based activity for you, there's also a Cycle Show today and on Saturday at the Excel Exhibition Centre, which should be more than enough cycling stimulation for anyone.  Phew!  Enjoy your RideLondon weekend!

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Bicycle parking at Rotterdam Central Station

BicycleDutch - 6 August, 2014 - 23:01
It was built in 22 months, the underground bicycle parking facility at Rotterdam’s new Central Railway Station. It was opened in November 2013 and it has parking spaces for 5,190 … Continue reading →
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The Green Waves of Copenhagen

Copenhagenize - 5 August, 2014 - 09:46


The City of Copenhagen established the first Green Wave for cyclists back in 2007 on Nørrebrogade and, since then, the concept has spread to other major arteries in the city. The idea is simple. Coordinate the traffic lights for cyclists so that if they ride at a speed of 20 km/h, they will hit green lights all the way into the city in the morning rush hour. The wave is reversed in the afternoon so bicycle users can flow smoothly home, too.

20 km/h was decided upon as the speed in order to improve the traffic flow of bicycles. The average speed of bicycle users in Copenhagen is about 16 km/h. A wave of 20 km/h encourges some to go a bit faster but it also encourages the faster cyclists to slow down in order to benefit from the green lights. The rush hour on the cycle tracks is intense in Copenhagen and speed demons do more harm than good regarding safety and, almost more importantly, perception of safety.

As it is now, the Green Wave is in place on Nørrebrogade, Amagerbrogade, parts of Østerbrogade and along Farimagsgade.

The City is currently testing a pilot project involving a detection system on Østerbrogade. Green Wave 2.0. It will detect bicycle users approaching an intersection. If there are five or more cycling citizens roughly cycling together, the light will stay green up ahead until they pass.

Given the mainstream nature of cycling in Copenhagen, you rarely see cycling computers on bikes. Nor do people have any idea of how far they ride or how fast they go. Most people know how long it takes to get from their A to their B. You don't need an on board tech solution to hit the Green Wave. If you cycle the same route everyday, you quickly learn the rhythm of the lights and, regarding the Green Wave, you learn intuitively how fast you should be going. In the rush hour there is the added benefit of herd psychology. A whole bunch of people are heading in the same direction and the speed needed to hit the green lights is seemingly communicated subliminally.

There are, however, some interesting solutions for guiding bicycle users along certain stretches of the Green Wave. As a rule they are along longer stretches without intersections. On these stretches, the herd spreads out based on the varying speeds of the individuals. It's easy to lose the sense of the necessary 20 km/h required to keep surfing the wave.

Clarence from Streetfilms was in town recently and he made this film of the recent innovations on Copenhagen's bicycle landscape. In it you can see a clip about the LED lights used to help nudge users to hit the light up ahead.

Journey Around Copenhagen's Latest Bicycle Innovations! from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.


In the Frederiksberg, these countdown signals are in place along sections of the Bicycle Superhighway. While there is no Green Wave present, they serve the same function. They count down to every light change. If the light is red, it is counting down to green and vice versa. Meaning you can speed up a bit or apply your foot brake a bit in order to maintain your flow. While easily 90% of bikes in Copenhagen have foot or coaster brakes, people with sporty hand brakes can obviously do the same.

There are also a few digital radar signs on longer stretches. For cars they tend to be warnings of speeding but on the cycle tracks they are friendly reminders about the 20 km/h Green Wave flow.

This is unrelated to the Green Wave but bear with us. It is a simple countdown at traffic lights to help curb bicycle user impatience by letting them see how long it will be until the light changes.


The Green Wave also has its own signage on the cycle tracks and on signs.



Copenhagenize Design Co. made this episode about the Green Wave in our series of Top Ten Design Elements that make Copenhagen a Bicycle Friendly City.



In this film we made back in 2009 you can see what it's like to surf the Green Wave at 08:15 in the morning.

The Green Wave is only in place on major arteries where volume and flow is important so not everyone gets a piece of it. About 80,000 people will ride it each day in Copenhagen, which is roughly 26% of the bicycle users entering the city centre. Nevertheless, it is important, visionary and contributes to the re-creation of a truly liveable city where pedestrians, bicycle users and public transport users are prioritised.

You can bang on about the tech aspects of these solutions but at the core lies Plato: "Necessity is the Mother of Invention". Tech solutions are only useful if they actually make sense and serve a purpose. The Green Wave does exactly that.


And while there may be days where 20 km/h in the morning rush hour may be optimistic, like above, the herd forms it's own flow in adverse conditions until the cycle tracks are cleared of snow. Which doesn't take very long in Copenhagen.


Other improvements go hand in hand with the Green Wave. On Nørrebrogade, with over 35,000 bicycle users a day, there is a need for wider cycle tracks. Above you can see how wide the one way track is across Queen Louise's Bridge. Bicycle traffic has increased by 15% on this stretch since the Green Wave was first implemented. Creating more space for bicycle users is important.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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Want safer lorries in London? Say Yes to this consultation

ibikelondon - 5 August, 2014 - 09:43

London's streets seem to be managed by an endless carousel of consultations - some of which seem to resonate with Transport for London's powers that be more than others.  But we have to work within the system we have, and that means getting involved from the outset.

The very serious threat that lorries pose to cyclists in London is well known and has been documented in depth on ibikelondon here, and here all the way back in 2010.  Last year, HGVs were involved in 9 out of 13 cyclist fatalities on London's roads.

Following years of campaigning by bloggers, activists and the London Cycling Campaign, TfL now plan to introduce a "safer lorry zone" where all lorries over 3.5 tonnes - including, most importantly, skip lorries and construction lorries - must have side guards, class V mirrors and class VI mirrors.  The area will be the same as the Low Emission Zone - roughly the boundary of greater London.  Trucks that don't have the right safety kit will effectively be banned.  By their calculations TfL estimate an additional 2,500 to 7,500 vehicles will be fitted with side guards as a consequence of the scheme.



For too long in London poorly run construction firms have argued that their trucks need ground clearance higher than the height of a man merely in order to access unpaved building sites.  This has been a foil to avoid spending money on much needed side guards, which save cyclists lives.  I'm exceptionally pleased that TfL, directed by the Mayor, no longer intend to tolerate this.  The more progressive corners of the freight industry should welcome these moves too.




However, those same construction companies who have so steadfastly refused to clean up their act will now be responding to this consultation to try and have the good work undone.  The Freight Trade Association have been terrifyingly wide of the mark in the past as well, so who knows how they will respond.  Policy is shaped by those who input, which is why I'm responding to the consultation positively, and would encourage you to do so too.  It is vital that the voices commending this proposal outweigh those who would seek to distract from its benefits.

You have until September 22nd to respond, and can use my response below as a template if you want. 


Not sure how to cycle around an HGV safely?  This post is for you.


consultations@tfl.gov.uk 
Re:  Safer Lorries Proposals

Dear TfL,

I write a popular cycling website, and am emailing to respond to your Safer Lorry Proposals.

The proposal by TfL to implement a safe lorry zone across Greater London is to be highly commended.  As the shocking fatality statistics for HGVs show it is much needed, and none too soon.

It is crucial that any attempt to lobby for exemptions from the fitting of side guards - particularly for skip, concrete and construction lorries is discredited.  HGVs kill a disproportionately high number of other road users, and within this minority road user group, construction industry vehicles are even more frequently involved.  Any argument that these vehicles might need extraordinarily high ground clearance which cannot be accommodated via the fitting of side guards must be demonstrated with statistical evidence.

I fully support the safer lorry proposals, and would welcome their implementation on our roads.  

To enable further complimentary safety measures, I would strongly urge TfL to consider revising the London Lorry Control scheme (the "night ban") which currently encourages the most dangerous vehicles to come on to our streets exactly as the AM peak is occurring.  A simply adaption to this legislation would also save lives, as discussed in the following article; http://ibikelondon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/im-with-chris-boardman-control-lorries.html

Kind regards,

Mark Ames
Editor, i b i k e l o n d o n blog 

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A difference between Horsham and Farnham

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 4 August, 2014 - 23:58

Horsham and Farnham are ostensibly quite similar. Two prosperous towns in the south of England, about 25 miles apart, as the crow flies. Farnham has a population of about 40,000 people; Horsham is slightly larger with a population of 55,000.

Although, beyond these main similarities, there are presumably many differences, one noticeable difference one stands out. The number of pedestrians who are being seriously injured in their town centres.

Looking at Horsham first – just four pedestrians have been seriously injured in the town centre in the last ten years.

From Crashmap.

Noticeably, every single one of these casualties occurred on the inner ring road; a dual carriageway with a 30mph speed limit. All occurred at crossing points into the town centre. There were no serious casualties, at all, within the inner ring road.

The town centre of Farnham, at the same scale -

From Crashmap.

Rather different. 18 pedestrian KSIs over the same period, including one fatality. Four of these occurred on the A31 Farnham bypass, which has to be crossed to get into the town from the station. 13 pedestrians have been seriously injured in the centre of Farnham in ten years. News reports on two of these incidents are here and here. (The data doesn’t include last year, and so does not include this incident).

Why might this be? Why is nobody being seriously injured in the centre of Horsham, while a pedestrian is being seriously injured in the centre of Farnham at a rate greater than one a year?

Horsham is a far from brilliant place to walk and cycle around, but the town centre itself has largely been civilised. Much of it is pedestrianised, and there is very little motor traffic travelling through it. What traffic that is moving through is generally travelling at a low speed, thanks to a 20mph zone (zone, not limit) with tight corners, humps, and cobbled surfaces.

The only route through Horsham town centre.

Farnham, by contrast, is not so much a ‘town centre’, more a funnel for motor traffic.

It really is this bad.

A one-way system dominates the shopping streets in the centre, motor traffic travelling at 30mph, with tiny pavements on either side (see for yourself).

The price of this arrangement – beyond how awful it is, as a place – is a pedestrian seriously injured, at least once a year. Somehow Horsham manages not to do this to people visiting its town centre.

Interestingly enough it appears that the problem has been recognised – proposals from Jeremy Hunt (yes, that Jeremy Hunt!) for pedestrianization of some of the problematic streets in Farnham has just been narrowly endorsed. Worth keeping an eye on.


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Innovative Elevated Cycle Track in Copenhagen

Copenhagenize - 4 August, 2014 - 11:05

Bryggerampen - the new elevated cycle track in Copenhagen.

UPDATE: 04 AUGUST 2014

New Streetfilm about The Bicycle Snake!

UPDATE: JUNE 16, 2014. IT'S ALMOST FINISHED!



UPDATE: Now they're calling it Cykelslangen - The Bicycle Snake. Construction starts in Sept. 2012 and it will be open for use in late 2012/early 2013.

Unique locations require unique solutions, whatever the city. Construction starts in February on a fantastic and innovative solution to fix an important missing link in the Copenhagen bicycle infrastructure network - Bryggerampen.

Bryggebroen - bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Copenhagen Harbour.

In 2006, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge - Bryggebroen - was opened across the harbour in Copenhagen, connecting the Vesterbro neighbourhood with Islands Brygge on the other side. It was the first fixed link over Copenhagen harbour for a few centuries. It was an immediate success. Bicycle users from not only Vesterbro but the rest of Copenhagen were given a faster connection to the island of Amager. Easy access not only to Islands Brygge but also to the universities, Danish Broadcasting and the whole new urban development of Ørestad - as well as bicycle users commuting in the opposite direction.

There are currently 8000 bicycle users crossing the bridge each day. That number is estimated to be almost double if it weren't for an irritating missing link on the north side of the harbour. Two options are currently available. You can walk your bicycle down the stairs, using the ramp, to get to the harbourside and on to the bridge or you can cycle a detour around the Fisketorvet shopping centre. Both are a pain. Especially for cargo bike users.

Harbour bath on the harbourfront and the Bryggebroen cyclist and pedestrian bridge.

In the summer, there is a lot of pedestrian activity on the harbour in this area, with a harbour bath, boat rental, kayak sport and shopping centre customers milling about on the quay. There is no clear division between bicycle users and pedestrians and it is an exercise in weaving to get through to the bridge. In addition, the route involves a couple of sharp corners with limited visibility. All in all, while 9000 people still cycle across the bridge, there were many things to be fixed in order to reach the full potential. Many people ride their bike to the harbour activities, sure, but the majority are just interested in getting from A to B and cycling past this location.

Enter the Danish architect firm Dissing+Weitling - who are also the architects behind Bryggebroen and the bicycle bridge Åbuen. They have designed an elevated cycle track that is, in effect, a 235 metre long bicycle ramp with a gentle slope that will allow bicycle users to travel directly from the bridge at Dybbølsbro to the harbour bridge - Bryggebroen. Separated from cars, of course, but also pedestrians. Below the ramp, people can mill about the harbourfront at their leisure. On the ramp, it'll be A2Bism at it's best.

A solution that is typical for Copenhagen. Elegantly designed, practical, incredibly innovative and with bicycle users at the forefront of the concept. The City sent out a call for ideas and had 20 million kroner for the project. They liked this idea so much that they found an extra 18 million in order to finance it. 38 million kroner in all. That's about $6.6 million or €5.1 million.

Here are some of the renderings from Dissing+Weitling. Bryggebroen is at the bottom right and, at top left, is the upper level at the end of Dybbøls Bridge. Here is the Google Map link of this location. It isn't updated so all the new architectural pearls on the triangular Haveholmen aren't on the satellite map.

235 metres in length, with the columns spaced at 17 metres apart. Lightweight - it's only bicycles who are going to use it - and relatively easy to construct. It is planned to be finished in December 2012. It will be bi-directional - not always an intelligent choice for streets - but at 4 metres wide, there will be ample space for bicycles and cargo bikes.

An aerial view of how the elevated bicycle ramp will skirt past the shopping centre, above the bustling harbourfront.

A gentle slope down to the ground before reaching the start of the Bryggebroen bridge.

View from below. A little bit optimistic, because there will still be bicycles along the harbour, but hey.

We're looking forward to the completion of the ramp and a doubling in the number of bicycle users crossing the harbour at this point. While it's tecnically a ramp, let's chuck it into the bridge category - along with the many other bridges that are under construction over Copenhagen's harbour like these ones.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Legacy ? What legacy ? Sporting events _don't_ change peoples' behaviour. But proper cycling infrastructure certainly leads to more cycling.

A View from the Cycle Path - 1 August, 2014 - 18:18
It's become popular for there to be claims that sporting events will be followed by a "legacy" of changed behaviour. Somehow, the public are expected to behave differently after seeing other people exercise. London's Olympics were supposed to have inspired a generation to take up sport and to improve the population's health. Similarly, the Tour de France starting in Britain this year is supposed David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/08/legacy-what-legacy-sporting-events-dont.html
Categories: Views

‘Culture’

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 1 August, 2014 - 08:29

Over the course of the last few years, an area of Horsham – East Street and Market Square – has seen the gradual removal of motor traffic. Five years ago East Street was a conventional ‘road’, with narrow pavements, and, with Market Square, was open to motor traffic, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

East Street was given a ‘shared surface’ treatment back in 2010, and this was combined with the banning of the use of the street by motorists, except for loading and deliveries, and blue badge parking in a handful of bays. Subsequent to that change, the council went further, and removed motor traffic completely from the street, with temporary bollards, between 10:30am and 4:30pm. Deliveries take place before and after these times. Market Square – which can only be accessed legally from East Street – effectively became pedestrianised too, as a result of these changes.

There was some chuntering about these developments from many locals. The changes the council made were driven in large part by the numerous cafes and restaurants on East Street and Market Square, who wanted to put tables and chairs out on the street and on the square. This wouldn’t be possible without removing the motor traffic.

The grumbling – presumably from people who still wanted to drive down the street, during the day – focused on how Britain doesn’t really have a ‘cafe culture’, and that it would be silly to put table and chairs on the street. That’s just not for us Britons, the argument implied -we don’t really ‘do’ that sort of thing. People on the continent, maybe, but not us.

Well, of course, the tables and chairs did go out on the street, and, lo and behold, it turns out that we do have a cafe culture!

Market Square – full of tables and chairs, with people using them

The truth is that ‘culture’ was a pretty empty causal explanation for why Britons – and people in Horsham in particular – didn’t eat and drink out and the street. Compare the above picture of Market Square with how it used to look in 2009 (from the opposite direction) -

The old Market Square. (Picture from here).

Nobody was sitting outside here, because, frankly, it was a bit shit. Essentially a car park.

And precisely the same was true of East Street. Compare today -

East Street today. People eating and drinking, on the street.

with the previous arrangement -

The old East Street. Nobody eating and drinking on the street.

It wasn’t our ‘culture’ that stopped us from sitting on the street. It was the physical environment. As soon as that was good enough, then our ‘cafe culture’ suddenly appeared.

I think there are important lessons here for anyone who mistakenly tries to attribute the differences in the amount of cycling between Britain and the Netherlands to ‘culture’. Yes, of course, the Dutch do have a ‘bicycle culture’, but that doesn’t explain why they cycle so much. Perhaps by a combination of historical accident, good fortune, strong campaigning and bold political leadership, they’ve ended up with an environment that allows cycling. What ‘cycling culture’ they have flows from that environment. Impose British-style conditions on the Netherlands and that ‘culture’ would rapidly evaporate.

Likewise it would be absurd to attribute Britain’s low cycling levels to any lack of ‘bicycle culture’. People don’t cycle here because – again through a combination of historical misfortune, poor planning, and poor political leadership – the environment for cycling is dreadful. Where conditions for cycling are – even temporarily – made good, then suddenly our ‘bicycle culture’ materialises.

Sky Ride, London 2013 – mass cycling for one day of the year, on roads that suppress cycling for the remaining 364

That’s why this quote, from Charles Rubenacker -

The Dutch have created the safest and most complete bicycling network in the world, but we need to look beyond infrastructure and into their collective souls to better understand why riding a bike is so normal in the Netherlands.

is so baffling. The true explanation is grasped in the first half of the sentence, before being discarded for an explanation that is not so much genetic, as mystical.

Do we Britons need to ‘look into our collective souls’ to understand why we don’t ride bicycles? We could do, but I don’t think it would get us very far.

‘Culture’ is an empty explanation. It asserts that the way things are is due to things being that way. Arguing that the Dutch have high cycling levels because of ‘cycling culture’ is akin to arguing that Britons don’t eat out on the street because we don’t have a cafe culture – we don’t have a culture because we don’t have a culture. It’s circular and meaningless.


Categories: Views

Cycling in the Utrecht Science Park

BicycleDutch - 30 July, 2014 - 23:01
The Utrecht University Area (or Utrecht Science Park) lies to the east of the city of Utrecht. It measures about 2 kilometres from east to west and about 1.5 kilometres … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Ghosts in the water: cycling in the shadow of Roger Deakin

ibikelondon - 30 July, 2014 - 08:30

Last year I wrote a glowing endorsement of Jack Thurston's new cycling guidebook "Lost Lanes: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England".  I loved the wide selection of routes, the philosophy of discovering quiet and car-free rides in our congested corner of the country, and the stunning photographs that illustrate Jack's engaging writing.  What follows is not so much a ride report of one of the routes, and more a musing on all of the thoughts and ideas a ride provoked:

Cycling in the shadow of Roger Deakin; the Waveney Weekender
(Ride no.27)

Start & finish: Diss, Norfolk.  Distance: 48 miles / 77km.  Total ascent: 183m
Terrain:  Country lanes and a short section of B-road.  Moderate.



The river Waveney weaves languidly from Diss to Bungay through a broad-backed valley of Suffolk fields which hummed with combines as I cycled through at the height of last year's harvest.  The air was thick with corn dust as storm clouds built up in to sticky towers on the horizon.Jack's bike route, dubbed the Waveney Weekender, charts a looping figure of eight around the river valley, starting at the train station in Diss.  A disembodied voice with a sense of humour reminds us that "CCTV operates at diss station".. 




It's a surprising roller coaster to the busy market town of Bungay.  I thought that Suffolk and Norfolk - Britain's 'big sky country' - was mirror-glass flat, but I was wrong.  It's a fun run of ups and downs, with the waters of the Waveney in the valley below periodically appearing at each crest before disappearing again on the descent.

The Waveney was naturalist and author Roger Deakin's local river.  He swam in it time and again, and lived nearby in a moated farm house.  It was here he first conceived of the idea to make a swimming journey across Britain, sloshing through every canal, tarn and river he crossed.  The resulting book, Waterlog, is a modern classic with the late Deakin seemingly awakening the nation's wild swimming conscious by asserting that swimming in the open air - like cycling - had become an outlier activity.
 He wrote; "“Most of us live in a world where more and more places and things are signposted, labelled, and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things."  
He explored the Waveney by canoe for a BBC radio production, and as I waded in to the cooling peaty waters myself after a hot, dusty ride through the valley I half expected to see his ghost paddling out from between the rushes.  Instead, I came eye to eye with pairs of aqua blue damsel flies dancing on the surface, accentuating the blackness of the water below.  Cows watched suspiciously from the river bank and I half feared they might, at any time, make off with my clothes and inform on me to their farmer, leaving me stranded with only the dark enveloping river to spare my blushes.

But the cows grew disinterested, no ghosts or farmers came, and with my bike safely stashed in a hedgerow I was left to swim slowly upstream to picturesque Mendham Mill alone.  There has been a Mill here for nearly a thousand years, but it is no longer a scene of roaring, pounding agricultural industry.  Now it is a picture postcard of rural peace with flowers growing in the gardens, water buttercups blooming in the mill race and otter spraint on the river banks.



I floated back downstream, back to my cows and neatly folded clothes, looking up at the sky as I passed beneath fallen trees that crossed the river and the long hanging strings of willows.  The roads of Norfolk lay off one river bank, the laneways of Suffolk off the other.  London seemed far away, and I thought about Deakin and his connection with water and the landscape, and how alien that connection seemed to my day to day urban life.  Seeking an escape from the city, Deakin has acted as a literary lilly pad for me.  I came to him from Jack's cycling book, and after Waterlog sprang on to Robert Macfarlane and his writing on The Wild Places.  He in turn lead to Olivia Coleman's account, To The River, of hiking and swimming the Sussex Ouse, on the banks of which Virginia Woolf had written A Room of One's Own and in whose clawing, muddy shadows she drowned herself.



Cumulonimbus clouds like great forger's anvils built higher as the sun waned, their towering reflections deepening the dark shallows of the Waveney.  The air felt thick with static heat, like the river itself was dissolving in to atmosphere and hissing about me.  Avoiding the road I pushed my bike along the deserted river bank, thinking about somewhere to sleep.

"Can I help you?" asked a headless voice.

Startled, I looked around, but there was no one to be seen.

"Can I help you?" asked the voice again.  Perhaps I had swallowed too much of the river.  Perhaps Deakin's spirit had returned after all. 

"You should not be here, this is a private reserve"

A door that was not there before opened, and revealed the interior of an expertly camouflaged bird watching hide.  A disapproving farmer, of whose view of darting kingfishers I had disturbed, looked out at me and repeated;

"You should not be here, this is a private reserve."

Startled by this apparition I spluttered an apology, mumbling excuses that I thought I was on a public footpath.  He looked me up and down, checked my packed bicycle and softened, explaining that he maintained the river bank and adjacent field to ensure it was kept in the best condition to encourage kingfishers.  Britain's most colourful - and illusive - bird is highly sensitive to water quality and the health of fish stocks. I wondered if pesticide run-off from bordering fields had affected the small bird's population at all?  The farmer, warming to his subject, thought the Waveney was improving every day.  Local land owners used GPS to only spray pesticides as a spot treatment instead of blanket coverage, and never where they'd been sprayed before.  The Waveney was burgeoning with the return of otters, trout and kingfishers.  

"King Edmund the Martyr was abducted near here hiding from the Danes beneath a bridge in 870.  Man has been changing the river for over a thousand years.  It used to an industrial water course.  Nowadays it is the healthiest it has been in decades and I love it.  This is a renaissance river."



As I climbed away towards the village of Hoxne - where the hapless King had been captured - I thought about the farmer's words.  Too often those who keep the land are accused of exploiting it, but many have as deep a love for the country as any landscape-starved city dweller.  The quiet road took me on, past troughs of cows, windmills, and rows of quaint cottages.  

Making my way back up the valley towards Diss, the accompanying Waveney grew narrower and less prominent, a river running in reverse.  Fields picked over by swifts gave way to housing estates and gardens.  Trees began to admit road signs and fences among their number.  The sound of the train line and the main road running through Diss grew louder ahead, as the trickle of the Waveney - the renaissance river - receded behind me in to overgrown channels, its waters disappearing underground, their beauty hidden from view.  In Bungay, at the other end of my ride, the sense of the sea had been palpable just over the horizon.  My bike ride back up the valley had not felt like a ride against the flow of the water, but instead the narrowing river banks and contracting channel had drawn me forwards, to the end of my ride, back in to the roaring real world and reality.  

"CCTV operates at diss station" welcomed the tannoy as the train for London pulled in.


Jack Thurston's book Lost Lanes; 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Southern England is available in all good bookshops and via the author's website now.  More photos of my ride can be found on Flickr here.
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Categories: Views

The going rate

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 29 July, 2014 - 09:13

I’ve just spotted that Transport for London’s new Draft Cycle Safety Action Plan attempts to pull the same trick that Norman Baker and Mike Penning tried to pull back in 2012.

That is, it makes a comparison between cycle safety in London and Amsterdam (along with other cities) on the basis of deaths per head of population, rather than deaths per total distance travelled by bike (or by total time spent travelling by bike).

Here’s the graph in question, from page 10 of the Plan -

Followed by the helpful explanation -

Internationally, in terms of cyclist fatalities per million population (Figure 2), London had fewer cyclist fatalities in 2012 than many other cities such as Amsterdam and New York.

So, looking at this graph, you might think that London (in yellow) is fantastically safe! Just look how much lower the number of fatalities there are, compared to Amsterdam, per capita. London had just 1.7 cycling fatalities in 2012 per million population, where Amsterdam had 6.5 – nearly four times higher.

But of course this is an entirely misleading comparison. It doesn’t take into account the fact that, across London, cycling only accounts for around 2% of all trips made, whereas in Amsterdam cycling accounts for nearly 40% of all trips made. There is much, much more cycling in Amsterdam per capita, so comparing cycling fatalities purely on a per capita basis is absurd. It’s like concluding it’s much safer to cycle in London than in Amsterdam if you have a Dutch name, because many more people with Dutch names are killed cycling in Amsterdam than in London.

This is the same logic that led Mike Penning to argue

I think the Netherlands may want to come and see us, to see how we are making sure that so few people are killed cycling

And (more recently) Denis McShane to suggest

@patmcfaddenmp @KenPenton Cycle deaths much higher in France than UK and truly awful in Netherlands

— Denis MacShane (@DenisMacShane) July 7, 2014

How much of this is down to stupidity or dishonesty is hard to tell. You would certainly think Transport for London and a Transport Under-Secretary (as Penning was, at the time) should know better.

The other thing that’s worth mentioning here – beyond the failure to use an appropriate rate – is that, in Amsterdam, children and the elderly (both more vulnerable groups, for different reasons) ride bikes in large numbers.

24% of all trips made by Dutch over-65s are cycled, while in London 95% of over-65s never cycle. If people that are, in general, more frail – and more likely to suffer death than a younger person in an equivalent incident – aren’t cycling at all, that will have a further skewing effect on casualty figures.

A demographic cycling in Amsterdam, but not cycling in London 

Thanks to the Road Danger Reduction Forum, who spotted this ‘measurement’ issue.


Categories: Views

New British infrastructure. A real improvement or making stop-start cycling even slower ?

A View from the Cycle Path - 25 July, 2014 - 10:49
Cyclists often win "commuter races" because of their ability to get through traffic jams which hold up both motorists and public transport. Many existing cyclists enjoy the fact that they can make fast journeys have have predictable journey times. These give cyclists major advantages over using other modes of transport. If cycling is to be spread wider through the population then other people David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/07/new-british-infrastructure-real.html
Categories: Views

Friday Throwback: Remembering Goullet the King, the most incredible cycling hero you've never heard of

ibikelondon - 25 July, 2014 - 08:30

The inscription on the photo says, simply, "Goullet" and in 1920s America that's all that was needed to identify a national champion. 



Australian Alf Goullet taught himself, building a cycle track on his father's land, using the family horse to flatten the grass in to a course.  Spotted by professional cycling talent scouts, he moved to America aged just 19, and never looked back.  Goullet arrived at the height of America's track cycling boom, with his local 12,500 seat velodrome in Newark selling out twice a week.

He went on to win 15 six day races, more than 600 races over the duration of his career and scalped a host of world records.  To give you an idea of how popular a racer he became, at the peak of his career he earned more than the $20,000 paid to Babe Ruth in the year he hit 54 home runs for the Yankees. 

Every big race would exhaust him, but he'd always want to get back on his bike and do it again.  Writing about his first six day race he said: "My knees were sore, I was suffering from stomach trouble, my hands were so numb I couldn't open them wide enough to button my collar for a month, and my eyes were so irritated I couldn't, for a long time, stand smoke in a room."  And still he cycled.

They called him "Goullet the King" and his name was synonymous with the biggest cycling races at Madison Square Gardens, where he was inducted to the Hall of Fame.  But tastes changed, and as track cycling became less popular and velodromes across America faded and closed, so too did the memories of the stars of those tracks.

But Goullet didn't forget cycling.  In 1982, aged 91, he was lobbying his local city council to build a new cycling track to give the young people of Newark something to do.  

He died in 1995, aged 103 years old. 

This is just one story from our ongoing series of Friday Throwbacks, exploring the best cycling history online.  Be sure never to miss a post from ibikelondon blog; you can follow us on Twitter here or join the conversation our Facebook page.

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Categories: Views

Sustainable safety – the British way

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 24 July, 2014 - 10:26

One of the principles of the Dutch approach to road safety – sustainable safety, or duurzaam veiling – is homogeneity. Homogeneity of mass, speed and direction.

Roads should be designed to eliminate, as much as possible, mixing road users with large differences in speed and mass in the same space. So, for example, relatively slow pedestrians should not have to mix with relatively fast bikes, and relatively light bicycles should not have to mix with relatively heavy buses or HGVs. Likewise road users who travel slowly should not be expected to share space with vehicles travelling considerably faster.

It appears this principle has been grasped by the Freight Transport Association, who argue

we believe there is evidence confirming that road safety will be improved if the differential between HGVs and other road users is reduced.

Sounds fantastic!

Except… the measure the GTA are welcoming involves reducing the speed differential by shifting lorries to a higher speed, so they are travelling at the same speed as smaller motor traffic.

Conveniently the FTA seem to have overlooked those ‘other road users’ who will still be travelling at around 15mph, or slower, for whom this move to higher speed limits for HGVs will distinctly worsen their safety, according to the logic that the FTA themselves accept. The speed differential between people walking, cycling and horse-riding, and HGVs, is being increased.

Sustainable safety – the British way!


Categories: Views

Missing link completed

BicycleDutch - 23 July, 2014 - 23:01
A cycle route in ʼs-Hertogenbosch leading to an industrial zone was not well-connected to the rest of the cycling network. To get from the normal cycle network to the start … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

What’s wrong with Transport for London’s Cycle Safety Action Plan (Part Two)

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 23 July, 2014 - 17:40

(continued from the previous post)

Seeing cyclists as the problem

I have already discussed the basic problem of how “road safety” measures and generally conceptualises the safety of cyclists. But a further element of this needs consideration. By looking at the people who are hurt or killed rather than those hurting or killing them, crucial issues for other road users are avoided. Consider these issues:

 1.Speed

Excessive, illegal or inappropriate speed of the other vehicle involved does not  appear to be a major factor in cycling collisions.” (p.16)

Speed is indeed not implicated in most cyclist Serious Injuries in London. But this is because most cycling in London is concentrated in inner London where speeds are low.  Motor vehicle speeds are higher in outer London where there is little cycling. That doesn’t mean that speed is not an issue there – indeed, high speeds may be a deterrent and one of the reasons for relatively low uptake there. The suggestion would then be that speed control (or separate cycle paths on higher speed roads if speeds can’t be reduced) is indeed an issue.

But the more important issue is that excess speed is discussed solely in terms of its effects on (existing) cyclists. Speed has been a preoccupation for transport professionals concerned with safety from the beginning. Even Colin Buchanan, architect of the car-centred urban transport systems of the 1960s onwards, advocated default urban speed limits of 20 mph. Would it not make sense to be part of initiatives for speed control and 20 mph which primarily benefit pedestrians? If you look at reducing danger at source you would do that – for the benefit of the safety of all road users. If you concentrate on cyclists as casualties, you miss out on that.

 

  2. Other law breaking

The same applies to policing. There are areas where law enforcement would benefit the safety of all road users through a road danger reduction approach

 

 3. Conspicuity.

A key feature of focussing on those hurt or killed – essentially a victim-focused approach – is that it easily slips into victim-blaming. I have argued that this is a feature of the emphasis on hi-viz clothing for cyclists and pedestrians herehere , and here   ,for example. Despite the lack of evidence for the value of hi-viz, we have measure 12: TfL will work with manufacturers and cycle businesses to help cyclists be safe by: challenging cycle manufacturers to increase the conspicuity of bicycles, for example building into the frame… retro-reflective equipment…, through innovator seminars.

 

4. Lights

On the same theme, there is a strong focus on lights, which are at least a legal requirement.

2007 -2011 fatalities. Fourteen of the collisions in the sample (26%) occurred in darkness or partial light, and in half of these collisions the cyclist did not have lights. Bicycle lights are a mandatory requirement and this lack of compliance needs to be addressed Page19

But how important is this issue for cyclists in London as what might be considered a cause of collisions? Firstly, the analysis I have carried out in one London borough (confidentiality required by use of official figures means I can’t name it) indicates that in no more than 1.5% of cases is contributory factor 506 (non-use of lights) a factor for all casualties (see this ). Secondly, while I might have taken an unrepresentative borough, at least some 300 casualties’ were looked at, rather than some 64.

But most important, a detailed manual analysis – easily done with small numbers – would show whether this factor was actually key to the collision occurring. Was the behaviour of the cyclist and other road user(s) exemplary apart from the non-use of lights? Was it the case that an alert driver capable of seeing unlit pedestrians on typical well-lit urban roads would be unable to see an unlit cyclist?

 

 5. Close overtaking during 2010-12 Conflict rank Manoeuvre description Seriously injured casualties (% of total) Fatal casualties (% of total) 1 Other vehicle turns right across path of cyclist 219 (13%) 2 (5%) 2 Cyclist and other vehicle travelling alongside each other. 180 (11%) 4 (10%) 3 Cyclist hits open door / swerves to avoid open door of other vehicle. 160 (10%) 3 (7.5%) 4 Other vehicle turns left across the path of cyclist 134 (8%) 9 (23%) 5 Other vehicle disobeys junction control & turns right into path of cyclist 114 (7%) 0 (0%)

 

One of the key complaints from cyclists is that drivers constantly overtake without giving enough room. Conflict types 2 and 4, covering some 20% of cyclist KSIs, involve changing driver behavior here. Some of this can be solved by segregation, but since this is not going to happen on most roads in London (and would take decades to install anyway even if desired) there is clearly scope for addressing the issue.

give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 213 and 214 to 215).”. Lengthy discussion with MPS officers indicate that there are problems in addressing this without specific distances given, but there is apparently precedent with regard to cyclist “wobble-room” being required when overtaking. At the very least: Is it really too much to expect some sort of police activity in this key area when officers have been giving (misguided) advice to cyclists on helmets etc. in Operation Safeway?

 

 And also…  “16: TfL will extend the safety principles of FORS”

Given the amount of time taken to get TfL to see sense over the “Cyclists stay back” stickers and the fact that they (with a new variant above) are still around, one hopes that these principles are properly sorted out.

 

  • The Boroughs :

    Although TfL is taking the lead to make roads safer, TfL cannot achieve safe cycling for all alone. Ninety five per cent of London’s streets are the responsibility of London’s boroughs, making them essential to the success of this draft plan.”. Matters like policing are actually much more in TfL’s control than the boroughs. Also, TfL often dictates – over matters such as “smoothing the traffic” – borough behaviour, and of course allocates substantial funding to boroughs. Can it not similarly direct boroughs in the right direction on safety?

  • 2.2 While only two per cent of all trips in London in 2012 were made on a bicycle its importance is greater in the places and at the times that matter most. (p.7)

    Why does it “matter” which times and places people choose to cycle, and who has the right to decide this?

 

  • The Cycle Task Force upgrade

    We have been critical of the way enforcement is done in London, but agree with a properly resourced enforcement programme. Only some of this will involve the Cycle Task Force but “increasing the number of police officers in the Cycle Task Force from 39 to 50 “ is hardly impressive.

 

 

Conclusion

We have made it clear to TfL, along with the other cyclist and road danger reduction organisations, that they need to measure danger in more appropriate ways in order to properly  understand safety of cyclists and other road users, and to implement measures to control road danger at source.  There isn’t much evidence that TfL are  listening to this message.

 

 


Categories: Views

What’s wrong with Transport for London’s Cycle Safety Action Plan (Part One)

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 23 July, 2014 - 17:14

This is our response to the draft Cycle Safety Action Plan  issued by Transport for London, which you can respond to here  by Thursday July 25th .

The draft CSAP is a fundamentally flawed document which fails in three main respects. Firstly, its idea of “safety” for cyclists is measured in a way which can indicate that having fewer cyclists and a higher cyclist casualty rate is BETTER than having more cyclists and a lower casualty rate. Secondly, it fails to differentiate between measures which reduce danger to cyclists (and other road users) and those which do not. Thirdly, it has no real way of assessing the effects of measures implemented.  

Let me refer to my experience here: for some years I sat on the Cycle Safety Working group at Transport for London (then representing the Borough Cycling Officers Group) and had a role in preparing the first CSAP. Reviewing its effects in September 2012 I wrote The above report indicates ways in which the CSAP has been inadequate. It also shows that insofar as issues are addressed and attempts made to implement necessary changes, the impacts made have been minimal or very limited. Pursuing the overall objectives of the CSAP will require substantially more commitment and resources to achieve a significant reduction in danger to cyclists (and often other road users) and a reduction in the cyclist casualty rate.”

I don’t think there has been any fundamental change since then. In fact, we seem to have gone backwards on the key issue of actually defining what the problem is. This is so basic that nothing worthwhile can really progress unless a clear definition of what the problem is has been agreed upon.

What is ”Cyclist safety”? The measurement issue.

This is not an abstract academic issue. It is absolutely critical as a basis for any discussion about cyclist safety.

As far as traditional “road safety” is concerned, “Cyclist safety” is about the total number of reported cyclist casualties (generally “Killed and Seriously Injured”) per head of the population or in a given location – in this case London. It is NOT about what the cyclists’ organisations asked for – and what TfL for many years at the CSWG agreed on – namely an indicator based on exposure. This is sometimes referred to as a “rate-based” indicator, in that casualties are expressed in terms of the exposure of cyclists, for example cyclist casualties per journey made, distance travelled, or time taken cycling.

At various places in the draft CSAP the casualty rate is indeed considered as the indicator, but elsewhere it is not. For example, take this graph prominently displayed:

Figure 2 : International cyclist fatalities per million population, 2012

 So, the casualty rate per journey, per mile or per hour spent cycling may be far lower in Amsterdam than in London. The experience of cycling in Amsterdam may be far more pleasant and inviting because of the lower levels of danger presented to cyclists. But for TfL, reviewing this graph: “London is performing well when cycling in London is compared against national statistics” (Page 9). TfL takes precisely the opposite view that we take, and as far as we are concerned this is a fundamental problem. Unless they invert this position we disagree on what we are trying to achieve.

In fact we need to go a lot further. Even casualty rates are inadequate as measures. We should be looking at whether casualties result from a third party’s rule- or law-breaking, or from careless behaviour on the part of the cyclist. We should be stating that locations laid out so that cyclists are subjected to unacceptably high  levels of road danger  (gyratory systems like Bow Roundabout or Staples Corner) are just that: particularly dangerous locations for cyclists, and that this is objectively so. When actual or potential cyclists are scared to travel through such locations we don’t need to talk about “subjective safety” – these people are making a correct analysis of the objective danger presented to them.

But considering these issues systematically – as I attempted in Local Transport Today last year – is apparently not on TfL’s agenda. There is some reference (“This draft plan, taken as a whole, seeks to improve the reality and the perception of cycle safety.” Page 9)  to concerns about people being deterred by their perception of safety – but this is not followed through.

This is a classic difficulty with traditional “road safety” which we have pointed out numerous times before, whether the offenders are TfL or  Government ministers  and where we agree with our colleagues in the London Cycling Campaign: “London Cycling Campaign has always called for casualties to be measured against exposure to risk. How risky is cycling per mile travelled compared to other ways of travel? Without such measurements the benefits of increasing cycling can be misrepresented in casualty data.”

 

Road Danger Reduction versus “Road Safety”: The “Who-Kills-Whom” question.

Our colleagues in the LCC correctly say: “…(we) will be assessing the 32 actions in the plan for their impact on reducing road danger. For each action we will ask:

  • Does this reduce the source of danger on the roads?
  • Will this action tend to encourage more people to choose a sustainable mode of transport?

 

… too few of the actions really address sources of danger.”

For us there is a fundamental issue about the difference between those road users who kill, or hurt, or endanger others and those who are killed, hurt or endangered. All road users may well have responsibilities, but there is a fundamental difference in actual or potential lethality between (broadly speaking) the motorised and those outside motor vehicles endangered by them. This difference is routinely and systematically neutralised by the “road safety” lobby. So:

Sharing the road

Research also shows that Londoners are concerned by safety on the roads; however they tend to consider the need for change to lie with others rather than themselves. This is a fundamental barrier to improving safety at present. Even though many people acknowledge that they take risks at times, they feel that they have appropriately accounted for the safety of themselves and others and that any risks that they take are calculated and ‘safe’.”

This paragraph perfectly demonstrates the determination to deny the difference in lethality between the different modes.

In this context, Figure 3 is interesting, because it shows that casualty rates for cyclists and pedestrians vary with age (excluding the over-80s) much less than for drivers and motorcyclists. This strongly implies that it is largely the behaviour of others, rather than their own behaviour, that causes cyclist and pedestrian casualties. For pedestrians and cyclists, the ratio between highest and lowest risk  ages is just over 3 to 1. For drivers it’s over 12 to 1, and for motor-cyclists 33 to 1.

 

Analysing effects

Even without tackling this basic moral issue properly, there is a point about analysing the effects of interventions. “This new draft Cycle Safety Action Plan (CSAP) builds on the original, published in 2010,” (Page 4). But, as I argued in 2012,   with the possible exception of resources directed at the freight industry to reduce cyclist deaths involving HGVs, there was precious little evidence for the effects of interventions. This doesn’t stop TfL baldly stating:  “There are some notable successes achieved through the previous CSAP that have made cycling safer in London (Page 25)”

These “notable successes” are:

  • The publicity “cycling tips” campaign: publicity has the least success of all interventions, even according to the official “road safety” lobby.
  • The “exchanging places” campaign to warn cyclists of danger from HGVs. No doubt of some use until lorries (and the roads they travel on) are properly designed to minimise danger, but – as with all education – of limited benefit for fallible human beings. And no use for the (majority of?) cases of HGV/cyclist collisions where lorries overtake and cut across cyclists or hit them from behind. Or for the vast majority of cases of cyclist Serious Injury collisions.
  • Changes in regulations on lorry design and design of signals. No doubt worthwhile, but of limited benefit and yet to roll out in most cases.

That may seem like grumbling, but I can’t help wondering whether the changes achieved so far – or even those mentioned as potentially to be lobbied for  in the new CSAP – are rather less than might be pushed for with other modes of transport. For example: “TfL will lobby vehicle manufacturers and representative organisations to make vehicles safer for cyclists by pushing for:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems to be fitted to all new cars as standard
  • research into the potential of a Rapid Emergency Impact Braking System (RIBS) to rapidly stop HGVs if they hit a cyclist, in order to prevent fatal crushing injuries

Which is all very well, but how about consideration for systems to be retro-fitted? And what happens in the meantime while the motor industry considers these devices? To take just the example of under-run guards on HGVs which could prevent cyclists (and pedestrians) from being crushed? Is it too much to suggest that TfL could actually part- finance installation of such devices – after all, with a £6 billion a year budget it shouldn’t be too hard to find the money. (continued in next post)


Categories: Views

Turbogate gets weirder

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 22 July, 2014 - 11:09

From the press release, the ‘turbo’ roundabout in Bedford will now be under construction – building was scheduled to start yesterday, Monday the 21st of July.

Pretty much everything you need to know about this strange scheme and its convoluted history is here on the Alternative Department for Transport blog. (The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain also hosted a guest blog critically examining some of the claims made for this design).

Presumably in anticipation of construction starting, the local cycling campaign for North Bedfordshire (CCNB) have put out a statement justifying the design. It’s as curious as the scheme itself. Principally it clings to the sad, failed strategy of attempting to design for two different categories of ‘cyclists’ separately, instead of the proven, successful approach of inclusively designing for everyone. 

CCNB believes that the dual use scheme will improve the safety of all types of cyclists (and pedestrians). Experienced cyclists will use the on-road carriageway around the roundabout while the less confident, new and young cyclists will use an off-road shared use route using four zebras is a good compromise.

For ‘experienced cyclists’ -

The tighter geometry and enforced lane discipline should slow down traffic over what it is at present. An experienced cyclist adopting the primary position should thus avoid being overtaken or cut-up and as a consequence feel much safer. The lane discipline should also ensure that most motorists know what cyclists are doing and in the same way cyclists should also know what motorists are doing.

Well that sounds attractive, on a roundabout that will still be carrying around 25,000 PCUs per day! And for everyone else -

Current regulations stipulate that cyclists can cycle across zebras if there is a dual use path on either side but unlike pedestrians must give way to motor vehicles. The zebras will be wider than normal and the design will allow easy modification to a more traditional Dutch style junction when the DfT allows cyclists to use them in the same way as pedestrians, hopefully sometime next year.

The experience of cycling like a pedestrian.

I am deeply, deeply sceptical about claims this design can be ‘modified’ to a Dutch-style junction, not only because a Dutch-style junction would have perimeter tracks, clearly distinct from footways, rather than shared use areas, but also because the zebras in this scheme cross multiple lanes on the approaches, at sharp angles, a design that is simply not appropriate to ‘convert’ to a crossing. (To say nothing of the appropriateness of cycling on these zebras while waiting for this ‘conversion’).

Will converting these zebras to ‘cycle zebras’ amount to a ‘Dutch style junction’?

The CCNB response also contains this strange factoid -

The roundabout is generally very busy mainly in the short morning and evening rush hours. The area concerned is fairly small and it is not possible to have Dutch style off-road cycle tracks along any of the four roads involved. [my emphasis].

Really? Looking at the four roads involved – the four arms of the roundabout – in turn -

Union Street -

Tavistock Street -

Roff Avenue -

And Clapham Road -

It is plainly possible to accommodate cycle tracks on these approaches. And you don’t even need to believe me -

In the application, the designer submitted a mocked up version of what the roundabout could look like with a ‘proper’ Dutch design, including side road priority for cyclists on fully segregated cycle tracks and tight curve radii to slow vehicles.

That’s right – the designer of this scheme presented a possible version of this roundabout, with cycle tracks on entry and exit. Here it is!

As the CTC report, Bedford Borough Council vetoed this design on the grounds that it would affect motor traffic capacity; having one lane on each of the approaches wouldn’t be sufficient to cope with current volumes of motor traffic.

So – faced with the intransigence of the council, and the ludicrous constraints of the the DfT’s Cycle Safety Fund – it would be understandable if the local cycle campaign admitted defeat, and grimly accepted this being forced on them, while grumbling about it. But to actually come out and support this dog’s dinner?


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