As Easy As Riding A Bike - 10 November, 2014 - 15:42

In yesterday’s BBC Sunday Politics piece on the Superhighways, presenter Tim Donovan repeated, in the form of a question, the City of London’s statement that the proposals are ‘heavily biased’ towards cycling and cyclists (that comment appears three times in this City response). Donovan included Canary Wharf in his comment that the plans are

heavily biased towards the cyclists

and he then followed this up with the statement that

They [the City] are saying that when you’re looking at changes, you are being biased towards the cyclist in the changes you’re putting in.

You can see these exchanges in this video of the whole section of the programme, from the six minute mark.

Gilligan makes the obvious point that this is (predominantly) a cycling scheme. If it wasn’t ‘biased’ towards cycling, something would be seriously wrong.

Other allegations of bias have been made by Michael Welbank of the City of London, as documented by Cycalogical. In this BBC piece, he argues

Cycling in towns is here to stay, and is going to grow, and we don’t resist that, we try to accommodate it… but normally… major infrastructure, you really want years to get everybody on-side… not just one group, you want everybody on side.

In the context of 50+ years of road and street design that has utterly failed to consider cycling as a mode of transport this is, frankly, a laughable comment. To suggest that when, for pretty much the very first time, cycling is being considered in a serious way on a few major roads in London, that such a scheme amounts to a sudden departure from the normal procedure of getting ‘everybody on side’ is deeply ahistorical.

Likewise, in an interview with the Guardian’s Peter Walker, Welbank makes a similar point, this time about cycling apparently being ‘prioritised’ -

All road users should have equal opportunities. At the moment [with these plans] we believe the cyclists are having priority to the disadvantage of other users.

This isn’t what’s happening, at all. Cycling is, for the very first time, being treated as a mode of transport suitable for anyone who might want to ride a bike, rather than the usual process of making token (and often completely ineffectual) changes. The only way in which this scheme could amount to cycling being ‘prioritised’ is if you are blinkered enough to believe that the existing road network has been designed and built to equally prioritise cycling and driving – that they are impartial, and mode-neutral.

Let us, hypothetically, imagine that there is no footway along the Embankment, as shown in the picture below. Understandably, very few people are prepared to walk along here. Transport for London then propose to install a footway, to make walking attractive enough for everyone, along this road.

Would that amount to ‘bias’ in favour of pedestrians? Would it mean that Transport for London are only considering the needs of pedestrians, failing to get everybody else on side’?

The BBC’s Tom Edwards, reporting for yesterday’s Sunday Politics item, finding out what it feels like to cycle on a road that isn’t ‘biased’ towards cycling

Let’s get one thing straight here. Roads and streets in London, and everywhere else in Britain, are almost without exception heavily biased – but heavily biased against cycling.

The changes that are being proposed to the roads like the one in the picture above aren’t some kind of ‘icing on the cake’ for the people already cycling there; a bit of extra ‘niceness’ for the existing cyclists.

These roads are extremely unsuitable for cycling, such that only a tiny percentage of the population would be willing to cycle there. The changes that will (hopefully) be implemented are really the bare minimum we should be expecting; they begin to put cycling on something approaching an equal level of consideration as motor traffic, and walking.

The only conceivable way in which these proposals could be seen as ‘biased’ is if the existing road network is taken to be equally attractive to people cycling, driving and walking. But that’s plainly a nonsense. Walking along the Superhighway route is not always pleasant, but it’s something that families can do, reasonably happily. By contrast, I have never, ever seen children cycling on these roads, except for the one day a year when they are closed to motor traffic.

So these comments about ‘bias’ and ‘too much prioritisation’ really amount to ignorance about cycling as a mode of transport, manifested as reluctance to move away from the existing state of affairs in which cycling remains the preserve of a small minority of the population. It’s perhaps forgivable that the general population continues to see ‘cycling’ and ‘cyclists’ as a minority pursuit, but the people in charge of transport – people who should be knowledgeable and informed – should really know better.

Categories: Views

City centre streets. Perfect for children on their own bicycles, if the city is truly planned for cycling. Cargo bikes shouldn't be required.

A View from the Cycle Path - 10 November, 2014 - 11:21
Something which people who visit Assen often notice is the lack of cargo-bikes. Somehow an expectation has grown up that cargo bikes are the way of transporting children by bicycle. Actually, children have their own legs and really should be able to use them to transport themselves as soon as they have the ability to ride a bicycle. This of course is only possible if the infrastructure is very David Hembrow
Categories: Views

Transport for London’s “Cycle Safety Action Plan”: Still getting it wrong.

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 7 November, 2014 - 22:32

Earlier this year the RDRF responded to Transport for London’s Draft Cycle Safety Action Plan (CSAP) here  and here .

I argued then that: “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.”

The new CSAP is now out . Apart from some typographical differences, there are only two noticeable changes. One of these changes seems to be simply cosmetic, the other could potentially have an effect, but I suggest is unlikely to. (So much for the effects of consultation). I discuss these changes below along with general comments: if these seem the same as before it’s because (apart from the two changes) the criticisms remain the same. So:

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 which was prominently displayed in the draft CSAP – and which has been dropped from the final version:

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 in the draft CSAP: “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. 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.

Now, let’s consider the dropping of this graph and the quote above from the final CSAP. What we have instead is :”Other cities across Europe may have proportionally more cyclists, but London had fewer cyclist fatalities per million population in 2012 than many of these European cities”.

Which is still saying exactly the same thing: the metric which is valued by TfL is the cyclist death rate per head of the population, rather than per cyclist journey, or per kilometres cycled.

To be fair to them – following the persistent criticism of TfL made by RDRF and others for years – they do now admit the following in the final version of the CSAP:

International data comparisons of cyclist fatality should ideally be normalised for exposure using a common denominator such as journeys cycled or distance cycled. However, a lack of data in major international cities, including those where cycling is a popular mode of transport, presents a challenge for international benchmarking. Given that population data is readily available, it currently provides the only measure for comparison. TfL continue to seek accurate data to benchmark cycling risk in London with cyclised cities. (p.10)

Or to put it another way: we’re using the wrong measure but we have to because we haven’t got proper data.

But this is nonsense. It is quite easy to show that the chances of having been killed on roads in European cities that have far more cycling are lower. My suggestion is that TfL – and the “road safety” industry generally – are inherently biased against cycling (and for that matter walking, particularly by the elderly and children). This is because with far more cycling it is quite likely that we can get a lower casualty rate (per journey or distance cycled) but that the numbers of injured cyclists per head of the population may rise. To take the usual example: nationally the Dutch have a far lower death rate for cyclists when exposure is considered, but a far higher one per head of the population.

This is not just some sort of abstruse technical discussion: it goes to the heart of whether cycling is to be supported or not.

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. Indeed, in the Foreword to the CSAP, Leon Daniels, MD of TfL Surface Transport, says:

 “Our high-profile marketing campaigns will bring balance to the debate (my emphasis) by showing drivers and cyclists how they can keep themselves and each other safe.

Rather as if drivers on the one hand, and cyclists on the other, pose the same sort of potential threat to other road users.

In this context, Figure 2 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 builds on the original, published in 2010,” (Page 5). 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.

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: A change of heart?

This is the other apparent change from the draft CSAP, which said

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

We commented on this by saying in our consultation response that :

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.

But now we have an apparent change of heart: on Page 18 of the final CSAP, where the fact that speed can be a contributory factor is recognised, along with “…reduction in (motor traffic) speed may assist with the perception of cycle safety”.

But will this actually lead to any change in terms of attempting to reduce speeds of motor vehicles? There is nothing new in the CSAP to suggest this (Para 21 , page 36 is referred to but doesn’t mention speed and is no different from the draft CSAP). Speed law enforcement is essentially about fixed cameras at sites where the “right number” of personal injury collisions have been recorded, and there are much discussed problems with a lack of enforcement in the new 20 mph areas.

And this is really the only significant change that TfL has made in response to consultation…


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 Page22

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?



  1. 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 are still around, one hopes that these principles are properly sorted out.


  • 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?
  • 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.

Our response to the draft CSAP concluded:

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.

Removal of an embarrassing graph indicates that the message has been noted. But TfL are still not taking on board the message.






Categories: Views

My response to Hackney’s Draft Cycling Plan, 2014-24

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 7 November, 2014 - 16:40

Hackney’s Cycling Plan has the (admirable) stated aim -

To make Hackney’s roads the most attractive and safest roads for cycling in the UK, and a place where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, background or ethnicity.

However, for a borough that prides itself on its levels of cycling, the Plan’s target of a 15% modal share for cycling by 2024 is unambitious.

Even more unambitious is a target of just 5% cycling share for trips made by children to school, by the same year (and not even for all trips children make). This compares very poorly with Dutch levels of child cycling, which are above 40% for the entire country, as a percentage of all trips. This is a target a genuinely ambitious cycling borough should be aspiring to. Correspondingly, Hackney should look and learn from the best of Dutch practice.

Hackney already does many things very well, better than nearly every London borough. In particular it has made many residential streets, and roads away from the main road network, safe, comfortable and attractive for cycling, by filtering out motor traffic (or removing it completely).

However, the strategy in this Plan for making cycling an attractive prospect on the borough’s main roads remains vague – talking only of creating ‘clear space’, which is ambiguous.

The Council will look to pursue a policy of ‘clear space for cyclists’ when designing public realm and traffic schemes on busy routes or where there is high traffic flows.

This is despite the Plan itself acknowledging several problems on Hackney’s main roads. For instance, the problems caused by a lack of clear routes on congested roads -

Where there is regular congestion and queuing vehicles there will be limited room for cyclists to advance and as a result cyclists will often squeeze between vehicles or even undertake on the left hand side despite the known dangers

The problems caused by having to negotiate around the outside of parked vehicles -

Parking and unloading arrangements at the kerbside on these busier roads can also represent a danger to cyclists when moving around them especially when vehicles try to overtake and cyclists are also at risk from being hit by vehicle doors being opened in their path

The problem of where actual, serious collisions are occurring -

the majority of serious [cycling] accidents occur on our busier roads with high traffic flows and often multiple bus routes

And perhaps most importantly of all, the problem of subjective safety -

Chapter 5 established that fear of injury and the perception of cycling as a dangerous activity is a primary reason why many residents do not currently cycle

All of these problems clearly need to be addressed, if Hackney is to get anywhere near its own targets, let alone start progressing towards the considerably higher levels of cycling achieved in cities in the Netherlands and Denmark. Not least because – as the Plan itself acknowledges -

It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes.

There are – tentative – noises about starting to do things properly on main roads, rather than relying on a strategy of mixing people cycling in with high volumes of motor traffic.

the borough is unsure as to how [full/light segregation] will impact on the borough’s highway network (both TfL‐controlled and otherwise) but will work with the Mayor and TfL to assess the appropriateness or otherwise of this approach on a case‐by‐case basis.

Not ruling it out, but hardly a ringing endorsement. And later -

The Council is open and willing to examine proposals for segregated and semi‐ segregated cycle lanes on principal roads but it will be considered on a case‐by‐case basis ‐ taking into account concerns about: high collision rates at intersecting junctions where segregated lanes end; visual impact on the streetscape; interaction between bus users and cyclists at bus stops; and other competing demands for road space on Hackney’s busiest routes.

There are plainly many roads in Hackney that could happily accommodate cycling infrastructure, with physical buffering from motor traffic, and separated from pedestrians. This space could either come from footways that are sufficiently wide that reduction in width would not affect pedestrian comfort -

Or from private motor traffic lanes on the carriageway -

Or simply from better use of the existing space on the carriageway.

Hard choices will have to be made in some locations about which modes of transport – and which uses of public space – get prioritised, but that’s no reason to ignore those places where comfortable cycling conditions, separated from motor traffic, could be provided with little difficulty.

Of course, in other locations, the borough will have to make those choices; about how many lanes of private motor traffic to keep; about whether bus lanes should be a higher priority than cycling infrastructure; and about whether simply returning gyratories to two-way running represents the best available way of making cycling an attractive and viable mode of transport – retaining one-way flow for motor traffic could, for instance, allow the creation of separated two-way flow for cycling.

In short, Hackney needs to decide how much cycling it wants to have – whether it wants a small amount of growth on top of what it already has, or whether it wants to reap the benefits of genuine mass cycling. If it wants the latter, this Plan needs to reflect a serious commitment to prioritising the comfort, safety and convenience of cycling in the borough, especially on main roads, rather than the uncertain-sounding noises it currently contains.

The consultation closes today – see also Hackney Cyclist’s excellent (and much more detailed) analysis

Categories: Views

With 48 hours to go, your voice counts! If you do one thing for cycling this weekend, do this...

ibikelondon - 7 November, 2014 - 15:08

You need to send an email to by Sunday night saying why you want London's new Cycle Superhighways to be built. Doing so is really important and a chance for you to actually make a difference to London.  Read on to find out why...

It's been a fast and furious few weeks in the cycle campaigning world, with lots of behind the scenes activity and meetings trying to get as many people as possible to signal their support for the Mayor of London's hugely ambitious "Crossrail for Bikes" cycling plans.

As most of you know, there's been some very cloak and dagger lobbying by some business interests who are desperately trying to kick the plans in to the long grass.  With a Mayoral election coming up, delaying these plans means they risk not being built at all.  And now there's just 48 hours for you to contribute and make a difference...

Space4cycling protestors travel down the Embankment, the route of the proposed the east / west cycle superhighway.

These Cycle Superhighway plans are from being won.  There's bad news to come with Westminster Council proposing all sorts of mad ideas like painting bike lanes down the middle of the Mall as some sort of Cycle Superhighway alternative.  In short, they'll do anything to avoid having to address the sinful cesspit of shame that is the current state of Parliament Square, where the route is currently planned to go.  Later today (Friday) the CBI will submit their response to the consultation.  I've seen a draft and I'd be charitable if I were to say that it is hopelessly outdated in its approach to how cities really work.

Westminster's bonkers plans to send cyclists down the middle of the Mall with fast moving traffic either side of a painted strip. 
Of course, this late flurry of negative attention is not a mere coincidence.  With 14 cyclists killed on London's roads in 2013, six in a two-week period this time last year, no-one wants to be seen to be publicly saying they *don't* want to see improvements (real improvements) for people on bikes.  So in a classic lobbying tactic these last minute submissions are coming in right on the line in the hope that everyone will go home for the weekend and not notice the "against" voices quietly doing their thing.

It sounds so sinister, doesn't it?  Like some kind of crazy conspiracy theory.  I'm fully aware of this, but this is the score with lobbying in London it would seem...

Luckily, the wider business community in London is much more enlightened.  CyclingWorks.London have been collating positive responses from organisations to the Cycle Superhighway plans and they've been inundated - almost overwhelmed - with businesses saying "Yes" and "Build it, Boris" to these plans.  This week alone the University of Central London, the English National Opera, the Civil Aviation Authority, the City of London Police, Universal Records and many others have piled in with their support, joining Microsoft, Unilever, Deloitte, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Olswang LLP, Herbert Smith and many, many others. 

Just some of the very long list of business names who support the Mayor's Crossrail for Bikes.
The devisions between those "for" and those "against" led Evening Standard journalist Ross Lydall to go so far as to say there was only a "50/50 chance" of the Cycle Superhighways ever being built.

And with the consultation plans closing on Sunday, now it is your turn to get involved.  If you can find twenty minutes to add your voice as a London cyclist, then you'll have strengthened the chances of these ambitious bike tracks being built and the Mayor delivering on his "Go Dutch" election promises.

You can go through the step-by-step consultation on the Transport for London website, which you can find here.

Alternatively, you can send an email to with the subject matter "East West and North South Cycle Superhighway consultation" with you own comments.

Perhaps you want to explain how you'd like to bring your kids in to town by bikes safely?  Or maybe you are particularly excited about a certain section of the route and the wider calming impacts it will have, like at Parliament Square?
Maybe you work on or near the route and this will make your commute to work a safe and inviting option all year round?

Perhaps you have other reasons you'd like to see these routes built; maybe you voted for the Mayor on the back of his "Go Dutch" promise?

Maybe you'd like to send a note supporting the broader concept, or perhaps you love a particular part of the scheme like a certain road closure or safe space for cycling where currently there is none.  You can make critical suggestions for improvements too, of course (I've asked TfL to ensure they use angled curb stones to make sure cyclists can use the full width of the lanes.)

The point is, the agenda is set by those who show up and now more than ever before we need the real voice of Londoners to be reflected in this consultation.

So please, take the time to pen a note to Transport for London this weekend and help to make the city where we live a better place for everyone.

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Categories: Views

Car free city centre in Utrecht

BicycleDutch - 5 November, 2014 - 23:01
In recent years we could see trials with pedestrian zones in cities around the world. The New York “Plaza’s” are very successful and spreading. Other cities are lagging behind, or … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The Race for the Life-Sized City

Copenhagenize - 4 November, 2014 - 15:55

It's simply not fair that there are so many board games featuring a car-centric, last-century theme, like this one:

Or even this online version.

So, together with Doug Gordon, who runs the Brooklyn Spoke blog and who should be immediately followed on Twitter, Erik and Mikael from Copenhagenize Design Company decided to rectify the matter by whipping up a board game for the Life-Sized City. Like so many things regarding cities, the idea is old but still good - snakes (or chutes) and ladders has been around for many centuries - known as Moksha Patam in India.

Find a die and start rolling. It ain't easy, sunshine, but it's possible to win.

You can also download the .pdf if you want.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Headway’s Brick Wall

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 4 November, 2014 - 00:25

I really, really wish I didn’t have to write another ‘helmet’ post ever again, but the Headway brain injury association have made me. Thanks very much.

Here’s what they’ve done. They’ve responded to Chris Boardman’s appearance on BBC Breakfast with a sanctimonious, error-strewn press release, that only serves to highlight their total inconsistency on the issue of head protection.

This is their release. I won’t link to it; you can find it easily by Googling, if you so wish.

Former Olympic cyclist ‘setting poor example’

03 November 2014

Headway has expressed its anger and disappointment over a BBC Breakfast feature on cycling in which Chris Boardman was seen cycling through Manchester city centre wearing dark clothing and without wearing a helmet.

Mr Boardman, a former Olympic cyclist and currently a policy advisor for British Cycling, was cycling with BBC reporter Louise Minchin, who was appropriately dressed and was wearing a helmet in compliance with the Highway Code and BBC editorial policy.

Mr Boardman attempted to justify his reasoning in a subsequent piece to camera which was later posted on the BBC Breakfast Facebook page.

In this one-sided interview, Mr Boardman states that ‘it (wearing a helmet) discourages people from riding a bike’ and that while ‘there is absolutely nothing wrong with helmets, they are not in the top ten things you can do to keep safe’.

In July 1998 Mr Boardman featured in a full-page article in The Sun in an article entitled I was saved by my helmet. Following a crash at 30mph that left Mr Boardman unconscious, the cyclist said: “If I was left unconscious with a helmet, then I don’t like to think what would have happened if I had not been wearing one.”

He continued: “I will continue to wear one. It was a real lesson for me. Things could have been so much worse. At the moment you are not forced to wear a helmet but I choose to.”

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, has labelled Mr Boardman’s appearance on BBC Breakfast and his recent comments as ‘dangerous and lacking in common sense’.

“It is worrying that a leading figure in the world of cycling should be allowed to put across such a dangerous and irresponsible view of helmets in this manner,” said Peter.

“The UK’s leading independent transport research institution, the Transport Research Laboratory, has recently demonstrated that cycle helmets are effective in reducing the risk of head and brain injury. The TRL has also dismissed the myth that helmets put people off from cycling, stating in a report to the States Assembly in Jersey that there is no evidence to suggest this is accurate. In fact, cycling in Australian states where helmets are compulsory has never been more popular.

“Questions have to be asked about why a representative of British Cycling, which receives public funding, is actively encouraging cyclists to disregard the Highway Code, putting their lives at risk in the process. Mr Boardman is on record saying he is lucky he was wearing a helmet when he had an accident, which can happen to any cyclist at any time. His recent actions and comments are dangerous and irresponsible.

“The reality is that had Mr Boardman not been wearing a helmet when he had his accident he might not have been able to cycle around Manchester this morning. He needs to explain why he said one thing then and the complete opposite now, and why he promotes a brand of helmets in his own name if he feels they are not effective.

“It is vital that cyclists are given education and encouragement to ensure they comply with the Highway Code and increase their safety by wearing helmets.”

This is the video of Boardman cycling around Manchester that has provoked this outrage; accompanied by Minchin, who as a BBC employee is of course wearing an eye-meltingly bright yellow top (‘appropriately dressed’, according to Headway) and a helmet. The subsequent piece to camera, in which Boardman explains why he chooses not to wear a helmet for ordinary, everyday cycling, is here.

Note, firstly, that Headway are arguing that Boardman is ‘actively encouraging’ people not to wear helmets. Such is the perspective of the blinkered zealot. Suggesting that people should have a free choice whether they wear helmets, or not, simply isn’t ‘actively encouraging’ one of these options, any more than me offering you a choice between fish and chips and a curry amounts to me ‘actively encouraging’ you to have a curry.

Note also that the Headway press release talks about ‘complying’ with the Highway Code, by wearing a helmet (and apparently ‘disregarding’ it, by not wearing one).

But there is no requirement to wear a helmet in the Highway Code. It’s merely a recommendation; a ‘should’, not a ‘must’. To take just one example from elsewhere in the Highway Code, Rule 102 suggests that

children should get into the vehicle through the door nearest the kerb

Which is a recommendation. Entering vehicles through other doors is not a ‘failure to comply’ with the Highway Code. Clearly, talk of ‘compliance’ with regard to helmet-wearing is gibberish.

The central ‘argument’ in the Headway press release is just as bizarre. It appears to be that Boardman once crashed his bike while wearing a helmet, acknowledging, at the time, that his helmet might have reduced the injuries he suffered, and that this somehow makes him a hypocrite.

But as the press release itself mentions, that crash occurred at 30mph+, in a sporting event, with considerably higher levels of risk. A video of that crash is below.

Riding at these speeds, competing with other riders in close proximity, bears absolutely no relation with the kind of cycling Boardman was doing in the BBC video – slow cycling, in ordinary clothes, around a city.

Indeed, it bears as much relation to cycling in the Tour de France as driving to a supermarket does to rallying; yet I’m sure Headway don’t berate rally drivers for setting ‘a poor example’ by driving to the shops without their safety equipment.

Here’s rally driver Ari Vatanen, setting a very poor example, by driving a car without his safety equipment.

Either Headway can’t tell the difference between these wholly contrasting kinds of cycling, with their entirely different levels of risk, or they do know the difference, and have chosen to belligerently ignore it to ram home their dogmatic point. What’s worse?

But when it comes to head injuries suffered by people employing different modes of transport, this ‘broad brush’ approach from Headway – the approach that apparently can’t tell the difference between the Tour de France, and cycling around town – suddenly vanishes. Headway become deeply selective about which kinds of activity require protective headgear.

Take a look at the case studies on their website. Any head injury that was sustained away from a bicycle passes without comment about the presence or absence of a helmet. Any head injury that happened to involve a bicycle – lo and behold, a helmet is preached about.

Here’s Ben Quick, who was hit by a car while walking, and suffered severe head injuries. No comment on whether he should or shouldn’t have been wearing protective head equipment.

By contrast, Gareth Green, who hit his head on the ground while cycling, having swerved to avoid a bus, thinks that “the Government should make wearing cycle helmets the law. If all cyclists wore helmets, fewer lives would be lost or forever changed by brain injury.”

No comment on whether this logic applies to the pedestrians and drivers featured on Headway’s website; drivers like Luke Flavell, who crashed his car into a lamppost, suffering serious head injuries. His lack of protective headgear again passes unmentioned. Or Michael Darracott, who severely injured his head when he flew through his car windscreen. It’s almost as if Headway don’t care if drivers injure their heads – why aren’t they advocating full-face crash helmets for car occupants?

Like Ben Quick, Nicola Scott was knocked down by a car while walking, suffering serious head injuries. Should she have been wearing a helmet? Or Paul Calderbank, who was hit by a taxi while walking? Headway don’t say.

By contrast, Kirsty Offord, who happened to be on a bike when she was struck by a car, is ‘determined to promote the use of cycle helmets’. Likewise, Carolyn Molloy, who suffered a brain injury when she crashed her bike, ‘strongly believes that cycle helmets should be made compulsory.’ And unsurprisingly, Sinead King, who fell off her bike in her back garden at the age of six, also manages to preach about helmets.

This is Headway’s Brick Wall.

Risk, taken across the population, does not stop when you get off a bicycle. The figures make that quite clear. In fact they make it clear that it may not even subside.

And this is The Brick Wall against which one has to beat one’s head when trying to discuss helmets: the fact that the evangelists believe cycling to warrant a helmet when real figures show that there’s no demonstrable risk above other activities for which even the evangelists argue that a helmet is not necessary.


Why is that Headway seemingly don’t care about serious head injures suffered by people walking and driving, even though the rates at which these serious head injuries are suffered are comparable to the rate at which people cycling suffer serious head injuries?This selectiveness is all the more remarkable in the light of their failure to distinguish between 1998 Chris Boardman, and 2014 Chris Boardman; it’s a selectiveness that comes and goes.

Headway really need to take their single-issue campaign away, have a think about what it is they’re trying to achieve, and attempt to reach a measure of consistency. At the moment, they are embarrassing themselves.

Categories: Views

The Mayor's Vision for Cycling in London: 18 month assessment

Vole O'Speed - 31 October, 2014 - 16:42
I last wrote extensively on The Mayor's Vision for Cycling in London shortly after it was announced, in March 2013. We are now 18 months on, so I thought I would try to assess 'how it is going'.

A reminder: the Vision is aiming for a doubling of cycling in London over 10 years, achieved mainly through these four programmes:
  1. Cycles Superhighways (Including the E-W "Bike Crossrail")
  2. The Central London Grid
  3. Quietways outside Central London
  4. Outer-London mini-Hollands
About £900 million was earmarked for spending over 10 years on these, but only £370 million was expected to be spent by May 2016, the rest of Boris Johnson's tenure as mayor, with the rest being dependent on the wishes of whoever is elected to replace him.

Now the first thing to say is that the rate of progress has been disappointing. Summer is the usual time for spades to be put in the ground for major work on the roads.  I thought a year would be adequate for Transport for London to put their plans in place and assemble the correct staff, and that we would probably see something happening this Summer. But Summer passed, and nothing much happened, except a draft of the much-delayed, and in the event exceedingly lengthy and somewhat un-focused London Cycle Design Standards document was released for consultation. (See the excellent Cycling Embassy response on this.)  The Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, has been giving talks everywhere, and press releases have been common, but there's been no spades in the ground. What has been built in the last 18 months was either in train before (as was the Cycle Superhighway 2 extension), or the result purely of a borough initiative (as was the rebuild of the Royal College Street cycle track).

On the other hand, though it is getting going painfully slowly, there are signs of a seriousness to the project that go far beyond what we have been used to seeing before in the politics of UK cycle provision. I have, for example, actually watched (sad, benighted creature that I am) the examination of the chief officers of the project, including Gilligan and Lilli Matson, TfL's Head of Deliver Planning, by the GLA's Budget Monitoring Subcommittee. It is very clear if you watch this that we are in a rather different world to the Borough Town Hall meetings of old where a 'Cycling Officer', a rather unimportant council employee who happened to be quite keen on cycling, would turn up before a few pretty uninterested councillors in a dirty yellow lycra suit and explain how he proposed to spend a few thousand pounds on painting some lines on pavements. Now, we have people establishing the serious business case for the expenditure, monitoring and auditing by actual outcome, of how many cycle journeys are actually generated, for hundreds of millions of pounds spent across a city of 10 million people. This is a hard-headed world which is little to do with wanting to 'look green' or create a bit of good PR with 'cyclists', but everything to do with keeping a major city moving and keeping it in business, and spending public money sensibly and effectively.

So what of the four programmes? In brief, if you haven't got time to read further, I'd say this: The Cycle Superhighways are now looking quite promising as the standards, programme and timetable for them is becoming clear. The timetable, nature and likely ultimate success of the Central London Grid is much less clear, and that is because TfL doesn't control most of it, the boroughs do. The programme for the Quietways is becoming slightly clearer, but the standard of implementation is in doubt. There seems to be a problem with people understanding the nature of the Quietways; Andrew Gilligan seems to have to keep explaining it again, and that must be his fault for not being clear enough from the start. The mini-Hollands still have not progressed sufficiently to draw any conclusions.


According to Gilligan at the budget subcommittee, around half of the total budget for Superhighways (£209m) is scheduled to have been spent by May 2016. The initial four superhighways that were created by painting the road blue – CS2 from Stratford to Aldgate, CS3 from Barking to Tower Gateway,  CS7 from Merton to The City  and CS8 from Wandsworth to Westminster are promised to be re-engineered 2016. However, the only one for which we have seen plans is the notorious CS2. These are being consulted on currently (ends 2 November), and look worth supporting, containing a large element of segregation, though the solution for Bow Roundabout is still sub-optimal, and a further round of improvements here is promised at a laster date.

Then there are the two 'new' un-numbered Superhighways, known as the East-West (previously 'Bike Crossrail') from Tower Hill to Acton, and the North-South from Kings Cross to Elephant & Castle. These are due to be completed by May 2016, except for the Westway section of the East-West. They are being consulted on now (here and here). You should act quickly to respond, if you have not already done so: consultation closes 2 November. The plans have been well-recieved by campaigners and bloggers, being again for mostly segregated tracks achieving a generally high standard of provision and capacity. These new Superhighways also meet two of the main criticisms levelled at the original Superhighways plan: that the routes didn't go into the centre, and they didn't connect up. There two Superhighways will cross at Blackfriars north junction, though they will be at different levels there. They will be connected by a major junction remodelling, converting one of the current slip-roads off the bridge to the connecting two-way cycle track. Construction of all this will mark the final success of the Blackfriars campaign that this blog covered extensively in 2011.
What LCC demanded in 2011

What is now being offered. Sustained campaigning and protest by thousands of people put this on the table as a realistic possibility.The plans for the East-West and North-south Superhighways are really not complete at all. The North-South, in particular, seem not to deserve its name, as it is seems just a 'stub' compared to the far more important East-West, and most of what has been planned is south of the Thames, further emphasising the Superhighways network's already very strong south-of-the-Thames bias. Far from getting anywhere near 'north' London, it peters out in the backstreets of Clerkenwell's existing Seven Stations Link (London Cycle Network Route 0) in the Ampton and Cubitt Streets area, seemingly baffled by the King's Cross Gyratory. It could connect with Camden's proposed route on Midland Road up towards Camden and Kentish Towns ultimately, but still it seems disappointing in concept compared to the East-West route: we might have expected a high-profile main road route up at least as far as Kings Cross. However, let's not be churlish: with a good segregated cycle track on Blackfriars Bridsge, we could finally declare the Battle for Blackfriars won.

There are still big gaps in the East-West plan, mostly concerned with the Royal Parks. What to do at St James's Park and in front of Buckingham Palace still has not been decided, though the suggestion of replacing the horse ride by Constitution Hill with a cycle track is a good one. Andy why, at the chaotic Wellington Arch, why do TfL propose 'a larger shared space to replace sections of grass to provide more space for pedestrians, cyclists and horses'? Why not just have clear dedicated routes so everybody knows where they are? Using the Carriage Drives in Hyde Park is a good plan, as they don't get disrupted by the park's frequent commercial entertainments, but these sections have not been designed yet. Different options are given in the Lancaster Gate area, and the idea for using the elevated A40 Westway to Acton seems still sketchy: further consultation on this is promised in 2015.

On the other hand, the plan for The Embankment, Bridge Street and Parliament Square is a clearly-defined game-changer: a high-capacity, high-profile two-way cycle track driven right past the Houses of Parliament and across the formerly intimidating and hostile gyratory of the Square. For this section alone the plans would deserve massive praise, and the scale and ambition of the East-West and North-South Superhighways concepts overall demand that all who are interested in the environment of the city and its transport network, whether they cycle or not, show their support.
Of the other Superhighways, CS5 Belgravia to New Cross is supposed to be finished by the end of 2015, and there may then be an extension east of New Cross. The plans for extensive segregation of the inner section, Belgravia to Oval, were consulted on this Summer, and look quite good. The outer section will use semi-segregation, we are told, but the exact character of this does not seem to have been decided.
CS1 City to Tottenham will not be on the roads originally planned, it will be on smaller roads, and possibly built by Autumn 2016. CS11 from Regents park to Brent Cross is also due to be finished by Autumn 2016. It depends on Westminster and the Royal Parks agreeing to the closure to through-traffic of the Outer Circle. It will thence run up Avenue Road, Finchley Road and Hendon Way, but we have see no plans for this so far.

CS4 Tower Bridge to Woolwich is supposed to be finished by 2017, and a new (so far un-numbered) Superhighway is planned to have something to do with the Waltham Forest mini-Holland project.
CS9 which should have gone from Hyde Park to Hounslow has run into opposition from the Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It looks like TfL will only be able to progress the sections in Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow, and the timetable for these is currently unclear.

That's a total of twelve Superhighways, the number originally projected, though they are not all in the originally projected locations. The original CS12 Angel to Muswell Hill and CS10 Hyde Park to Park Royal have been abandoned. CS10 is supposedly replaced by the East-West route on the A40, but this means, with the original CS11 alignment having been moved east, from the A5 to the A41, and Brent, quite an inner borough (though technically an Outer London one) will have been completely left out of the Superhighways programme.

I have to say I take all TfL's projected comStapletion dates with a massive bag of salt. We were told, after all, in late 2012, that CS5, 9, 11 and 12 would be launched in 2013. Well, clearly the rethink on the whole nature of the CSH's after LCC's Go Dutch Campaign and the appointment of Gilligan as Commissioner caused that three-year delay. But it is for the best if what we get is actually good.

Central London Grid

The Grid is the name given to the combination of Superhighways and Quietways in Central London. We have a map of the grid, and we have the Superhighway plans at the moment, so far as they go, and we have solid proposals for some of the Camden routes, but that seems about all. We have little indication of the standard that the boroughs other than Camden will apply to the Quietway routes. We have had one Quietway proposal from Southwark (QW2) in detail, and this has been criticised in detail elsewhere, with suggestions for how it could be better. It seems likely to fail LCC's criteria of vehicle flows below 2,000 PCU per day and speeds under 20mph in the design that has been proposed. It seems like the problem is political will from the borough to cut the minor-road rat-runs, like Tabard Street, which is parallel to the A2 and should not be a through-route, and it looks very likely that this kind of issue with the Grid Quietways will be repeated more widely unless Boris Johnson and his aides can somehow bring more persuasion to bear on these boroughs.

I've written about the inadequacy of many parts of the Grid plans before. The problem is basically one of the Mayor trying to promote changes on roads he doesn't control. One answer would have been for him to have included more TfL roads in the Grid. Kensington and Chelsea is most obviously not playing ball, and Westminster's commitments remains very vague, which is deeply worrying since, as can be seen, much the largest part of the Grid is in Westminster. The general lack of concrete plans by the boroughs for implementing the non-Superhighway Grid at the moment makes it look very likely that little of the Grid will have progressed beyond the paper stage by May 2016.

Quietways outside Central London

The Quietways beyond the Grid area are a separate funding stream for TfL, and this also is the only source of funds for new routes (or upgrades of old ones) for the boroughs that lack mini-Holland funding (that is, most of the outer boroughs). Sustrans were put in charge of doing the initial planning of these Quietways, and immediately there seemed to be divergences of opinion over what the scheme really was about. The emphasis in the Mayor's Vision for the Quietways was on 'low traffic back streets and other routes', but it also clearly stated:
Where directness demands the Quietway briefly join a main road, full segregation and direct crossing points will be provided, wherever possible, on that stretch.

We will use judicious capital investment to overcome barriers (such as railway lines) which are often currently only crossed by extremely busy main roads. Subject to funding, land and planning issues, we will build new cycling and pedestrian bridges across such barriers to link up Quietway side-street routes.This was always going to be a prescription that was hard to apply in many places in Outer London, where 'low-traffic back routes' are not very available or useful, and therefore the joining of main roads might not be so 'brief'. I pointed out last year how the level of funding allocated to these routes did not suggest that many intractable problems that require heavy engineering solutions, such as the mess of railway and main road corridors that makes the centre of the Borough of Brent quite impenetrable by bike, could actually be solved within the limits of this programme. It soon became clear that Sustrans and some people in the boroughs were interpreting the Quietways as being necessarily, and thus limitingly, on quiet roads, and being necessarily low-intervention, which is, of course, what the name does suggest. However, Andrew Gilligan had repeatedly said that where no satisfactory back-street route exists on the desired alignment, Quietways can be on main roads, and they can be high-intervention, i.e., physically segregated. The other question which remains unanswered is the same as for the Grid: how prepared will local councillors be to actually cut the rat-runs to make back-street routes attractive?

The planning for the Quietways, so far as it has got, seems to have been rather secretive, and LCC has only with difficult managed to compile this plan, low-res version below, of roughly where the first routes are currently proposed to go.

It appears that this map shows the very most that will be achieved by May 2016. It will be seen that Andrew Gilligan's early concept of naming routes after tube lines that they follow has been abandoned, except for the Jubilee Line Quietway. This one seems a poor shadow of what he promised last year: a route from Central London to Wembley. In fact is is shown stopping short of the north Circular, at Dollis Hill. The fact that there is a serious intention to extend it beyond the North Circular is indicated by an announcement of funding for a new cycling bridge over the A406 in Brent (and also another in Redbridge), but the timescale for these larger Quietway interventions seems to be beyond this mayoral term.

The Jubilee Line route, like CS11, depends at its southern end on the Royal Parks and Westminster agreeing to the closure of Regents Park to through-traffic. Though Camden the route, oddly, is only one or two blocks away from CS11, and then it follows an old LCN route in Brent, which requires more mode-filters and reversal of priority at junctions with other minor roads if it is to be made much more attractive than it is now. There's no guarantee of local councillors agreeing to measures like this, and little the Mayor can do to make them. So the worry is about standards. It's all very well to draw these lines on maps, but if the routes are fiddly to use, and traffic levels remain as they are at the moment, and on many roads, such as Maygrove Road and Chapter Road on the Jubilee route, cyclists just get squashed into tightly-parked narrow corridors with cars trying to get past them, then the Superhighways will prove far more attractive to all cyclists, of whatever level of experience, than the Quietways, which were supposed to be 'particularly suited to new cyclists'.

Chapter Road, Brent, as it is at the moment, part of the the proposed Jubilee Line Quietway.Perhaps the most serious problem for the inner Jubilee Line route occurs where it meets West End Lane, West Hampstead, which it has to follow for a short while to connect between side-streets, because there is no other way to cross three railways. Traffic on this road is far above a 'quietway' level, but there is also no space for segregated lanes, and no realistic political prospect of closing this quite important local through-route to motor vehicles including buses. Sustrans' proposal for this has been a fanciful 'shared space' repaving, rejected by Camden Cyclists, rightly, as quite beside the point. This situation points to a fairly deep conceptual error with the Quietways. Andrew Gilligan wrote in the Mayor's Vision that the Quietways would exploit London's 'matchless network of side streets, greenways and parks'. Where are the links in this network, exactly, and how should they be solved at places like West End Lane?

Again, the most advanced of the Quietway plans seems to be CS2 in Southwark and Greenwich, which Gilligan has indicated will be delivered by 2016 subject to planning permission for a new path along the railway past Millwall Football ground. Bits like this could prove to be good and could justify the name 'Quietway", but examination of the map above will show that, in general, Sustrans have not succeeded in identifying the 'matchless network of side streets, greenways and parks', because, of course, it is not a continuous network, and could never be made into one within the constraints of the funding offered, not to mention the realities of local politics. The concept is not entirely without merit: it is not that different to the orbital Green Routes plan of Copenhagen that I covered in my blogpost on that city. The political climate there, however, is sufficiently different, through cycle culture being sufficiently established, that the complete removal of traffic, parked and moving, from minor streets and their conversion to genuinely green pathways does really occur. It is hard to see that happening immediately in many places in the London suburbs.

On a pessimistic assessment, it looks like the Quietways could become just a third attempt at the London Cycle Network (following Ken Livingstone's failed LCN+ project), on very similar routes: a byword for complex, inefficient, out-of-the-way routes that most cyclists will avoid and will not significantly encourage cycling in Outer London, where encouragement is most desperately needed. What I would really have liked to have seen would have been a far better-funded equivalent of the Superhighways project specifically for strategic main route sections in Outer London that would often be orbital, not radial routes. There are one or two projects in the boroughs coming up that do approximate to this: there is currently on a consultation from Hounslow on possible cycle tracks on Boston Manor Road, the A3002, that looks really rather good. I think this kind of thing, solving really specific outer borough link problems, is likely to prove a more effective spending of funds than the very distributed low level of funding not achieving consistent high quality that is possibly emerging as the pattern for the Outer London Quietways.


Three mini-Hollands were selected this spring: Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest. The following description is taken directly from the TfL site:
A major cycle hub will be created and the plaza outside Kingston station will be transformed. New high-quality cycling routes will be introduced together with a Thames Riverside Boardway - a landmark project which could see a new cycle boardwalk delivered on the banks of the river.
The town centre will be completely redesigned with segregated superhighways linking destinations, three cycle hubs delivered across the Borough and new greenway routes introduced.
Waltham Forest
A semi-segregated Superhighway route along Lea BridEnfge Road will be developed as well as a range of measures focused on improving cycling in residential areas and creating cycle friendly, low-traffic neighbourhoods.These are funded to the tune of £30 million each. The Enfield project seems to have proved most locally controversial, with shopkeepers mobilising against it, and the Enfield Cyclists organising a counter-campaign of demonstratively spending money in shops to prove the power of the 'pedal pound'.
    The most actual action so far has occurred in Walthamstow, where a series of temporary experimental road closures were put in. This is like the '20 bollards' game, where you have only twenty bollards to distribute found your town, and you need to position them to most effectively reduce rat-running traffic to create useful new cycling and walking routes and enhance local life. Again, reaction has been mixed, but there seems a lot of positivity around the Waltham Forest mini-Holland, and campaigners seem to think it has a good chance of being accepted by the community, and forming a good template for other Outer London town centres in the longer term. But broadly, because the selection process took so long, not enough has actually happened in the mini-Hollands yet to write much about them. 
    The selection procedure itself, the competition, was I think one of Andrew Gilligan's aims, successfully completed. It did get some previously pretty cycle agnostic, or even hostile, local authorities to start seriously thinking about radical change to kick-start more cycling in Outer London, lured by the cash promise, and the fact that the whole thing seemed to be suddenly in fashion, and the project of a Tory mayor, potentially outflanking the Left on a 'green' issue. It remains to be seen whether anything from these unsuccessful mini-Holland bid plans will see the light of day; Gilligan has promised in letters to the boroughs that some projects will be pursued, and has budgeted for a number of mini-Holland consolation prizes to finance the best ideas that came out of the competition in the non-winning boroughs, including the two new bridges across the North Circular I have already mentioned. Implementation of these however seems to be beyond 2016.
    How to summarise? It has been difficult writing this post. I have started several times, and had to rewrite because of new developments and announcements. The Mayor's project is now gathering pace. A could of months ago I would have made a much more negative, perhaps slightly bitter, assessment of where it had got to, compared to the promises of the Vision document. But now we have seen more of the new Superhighway designs, we can see that our campaigning over the last four years or so has been a success: it has produced a mind-shift in the ambitions of the people tasked with designing cycle facilities in London. The mind-shift of course has not spread to many local politicians, who have direct control over most of our roads, and therein lies the rub. There is plenty more campaigning that needs to be done, in fact, there will never be an end to it, as David Hembrow points out from the example of the apparently miraculous Netherlands. LCC had exactly the right idea with its Space for Cycling Campaign for the local elections: taking very specific demands for each ward right to each local ward councillor and candidate. This did have an effect, rather like the mini-Holland competition process, of making a few more people think properly about the issues, or at least start listening to the arguments, for the first time, though I don't expect miraculous results from it of all the ward 'asks' actually being delivered in the next few years. It was a stage in a process.
    London's cycling revolution will certainly spread from the centre outwards, and the Superhighways will carry it to the suburbs. In the foreseeable future it will remain quite limited, though. The target of 5% mode share by 2025 might well be achieved, but this would still leave most Londoners out from the benefits that cycling can provide, which is rather sad, and it will also limit the success of the city overall. We've see a tremendous reaction from business leaders to the Superhighway proposals, and it's been found that a vast majority of ordinary Londoners support them as well. I always expected this kind of reaction to visionary, transformative proposals for our streets; I have said repeatedly in this blog that this is what would happen if you put to people a striking, coherent vision for change. I said this was why we in the cycling world should stop messing around asking for scraps that nobody really could see the point of, and should start to think far bigger, about what a real cycling and linked quality of life revolution would look like in London. There is now a growing realisation that London needs to compete with other world cities in terms of the quality of life it offers to a highly mobile skilled workforce. Competing on salaries or low levels or either personal or corporation tax is not enough. It is this economic driver that is increasingly recognised, and will increasingly be recognised, as the impetus for change.
    This should encourage Boris Johnson and his aids and officials to become even more bold in laying down the infrastructural basis for the cycling revolution before he leaves office. We need all the other Superhighway plans quickly, and we need top quality maintained at the difficult places with many competing demands. We need better control and more up-front leadership over the Central London Grid and the Outer London Quietways to prevent any money being wasted on cosmetic projects which fall short of the best standards. We need the Royal Parks Agency, the Corporation of London, the City of Westminster and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to come unambiguously on board and we need to find ways to put pressure on the from every angle, from residents, businesses and commuters, to do so. We need flexibility over the definitions of the various projects, so it is clear to all that we can have segregated tracks funded on long stretches of main road in Outer London, and this in fact becomes a thing that is expected. We need the major essential linking infrastructural elements such as the new North Circular crossings delivered more quickly. We need more funding for Outer London and plans for a second round of mini-Hollands after 2016 to start to develop a real usable cycling grid outside the centre. Finally, the Mayor and GLA need to get a grip on miscellaneous 'third-party' development projects, such as, in my part of London, Brent cross Cricklewood, and Old Oak Common, and ensure that everything built in them meets the Cycling Level of Service  in the London Cycle Design Standards. There should be no question of more major road junctions being rebuilt in London without high-quality cycle provision.
    There is progress, but the gap between London and the best places for cycling in world continues to grow. We continue to lose further generations of children to cycling. We continue to see illegal levels of pollution in our city, and massive levels of pollution-related disease. We need to be sober. Cycling appears quite popular at certain places and certain times in London, but we're really still in the remedial class of world cities for cycling. Cycling still hasn't made the breakthrough to become the obvious method for most people to consider for short, routine journeys. Our roads still feel, and, are, far too dangerous. We need to continue to demand far more. We can't let up.

    Categories: Views

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Picture courtesy of Phil Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Flexibility, and designing separately

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

    Courtesy of Jitensha Oni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cycle zebra?

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

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

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

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

    Time will tell.

    Categories: Views

    Road diet XXL for an intersection in Den Bosch

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

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

    A View from the Cycle Path - 28 October, 2014 - 12:07
    Assen's cycle-racing circuit a few daysago. All types of cycle racing are extra- ordinarily popular in the Netherlands, hence even many smaller cities have specially built cycling circuits on which people ride extremely quickly. A fear which is often expressed, especially in the UK but also in other countries with little cycling, is that adoption of Dutch style cycling infrastructure will David Hembrow
    Categories: Views

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

    ibikelondon - 28 October, 2014 - 08:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Categories: Views

    Welkom op de Nederland

    Pedestrianise London - 27 October, 2014 - 22:05

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

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

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

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

    Oh, and of course, bicycles.

    Categories: Views

    How to make public space dull – fill it with cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Who wants to look at this?

    Or this?

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

    … is much more diverting.

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

    Categories: Views

    Copenhagenizing Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport Cycle Track

    Copenhagenize - 25 October, 2014 - 08:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Until then we are amazed that it even exists.

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

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

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

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

    Kerbside activity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Courtesy of Mark Wagenbuur

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Categories: Views

    New York Journalist Covers Cycling in Denmark and Scandinavia

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

    A roving New York reporter covers cycling in Scandinavia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The case for minimum standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A signed part of the National Cycle Network.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Categories: Views


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