Reconstruction of St Mary’s Place in Utrecht

BicycleDutch - 21 September, 2015 - 23:01
The Utrecht “St Mary’s Place” (Mariaplaats) has recently been reconstructed. Much more than before the street is now designed for people. First of all for people walking, but the design … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

RDRF Manifesto for London Mayoral candidates

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 20 September, 2015 - 21:13
ROAD DANGER REDUCTION FORUM: Objectives for the new Mayor of London: Safer Roads for All

We ask the new Mayor to support our calls for reducing danger at source, for the safety of all road users as part of implementing a sustainable transport system:

  1. ENFORCEMENT: A substantial increase in law enforcement based on a harm reduction approach –targeting rule and law breaking known to endanger or intimidate other road users. Careless driving and driving offences in general should be treated as a priority by the Police. Behaviours such as close overtaking of cyclists (Highway Code Rule 160), not giving way to pedestrians (Rule 170), and car collisions not involving personal injury and speeding in 20 mph areas are typical examples of under-policed rule and law breaking. Driving offences should be properly treated as crimes and included in MPS and MOPAC crime statistics, strategies and community consultations.
  2. TRAINING OF MPS and TfL PERSONNEL: Unconscious bias in officers’ attitudes, including victim-blaming and seeing driving offences as minor should be strongly challenged/ addressed. The MPS has confronted commonly held attitudes amongst officers with regard to gender, sexuality and disability – it should similarly change/ address/challenge attitudes which stem from a culture where driver misbehaviour is routine.
  3. MEASURING DANGER PROPERLY: Road safety targets need to be set correctly indicating level of exposure to danger. Current road danger measurements use aggregate numbers for reported casualties, which can be low simply because of low levels of pedestrian, and particularly cyclist, traffic.
  4. EVEN SAFER LORRIES: The September 2015 requirements for HGVs in London by TfL should be upgraded by September 2016 to require full guards, infra-red sensors and design features such as transparent door panels retro-fitted on lorries, or else new design (low cab) lorries, and extend the CIRAS system to FORS fleets. While lorries are a small part of overall danger in London, reducing their danger at source can achieve demonstrable benefits for pedestrian and cyclist safety.
  5. SAFER BUSES: End TfL’s Bus performance contracts based on measurement of excess waiting time targets.
  6. TRAFFIC REDUCTION AND MODAL SHIFT: TfL to set targets for reduced motor vehicular traffic throughout London in order to reduce danger, emissions and congestion, with local authorities required to show how shift to sustainable modes is to be achieved as a condition for Local Implementation Plan funding.
  7. RIGOROUS INVESTIGATION OF ROAD DEATHS AND INJURIES: A transparent, accountable and effective system to be implemented.



  1. The Road Danger Reduction Forum was set up in 1993. For our background and the basis of our existence see here .
  2. Supporting Councils and other organisations sign the Road Danger Reduction Charter .
  3. For our views on Road Traffic Law Enforcement in London see the posts here  and here  on the Michael Mason case and more generally here and here.
  4. See our views on Measuring Danger Properly .
  5. See our views on Even Safer Lorries .
  6. See our views on Investigation of road deaths and injuries 


We need to go further than highway engineering to look at law enforcement and other ways of reducing danger at source, ” says Lord Berkeley, RDRF President, ”We also need to have a new way of measuring road danger, and include the other threats to human well-being from road traffic as part of the Mayor’s commitment to a healthy and civilised transport system”.


Categories: Views

Gridlock, and confirmation bias

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 18 September, 2015 - 13:27

Way back in 2003, the north side of Trafalgar Square – the portion in front of the National Gallery – was pedestrianised, with the road running in front of the gallery, that severed it from the square, removed.

Before the scheme was even implemented, it was ‘feared’ that gridlock would result, and indeed gridlock in the area continues to be blamed on the closure of this small stretch of road, particularly by cab drivers.

But even before this section of square was pedestrianised, gridlock still occurred.

Photograph taken from here

Trafalgar Square has always been clogged, even as far back as the 1940s.

If this short stretch of road in front of the National Gallery were to be reopened to motor traffic, perhaps motor traffic in the area might flow more freely for a short period, but after a while the ‘extra’ road space would inevitably fill up again, returning the square to its previously clogged state.

This is the nature of demand for road space in central London; demand for driving in London outstrips the amount of road space available (or that ever could be available), so whatever amount of road space that is provided, large or small, will just get filled.

The problem is that drivers in London don’t see things this way; the congestion they are sitting in must have been ’caused’ by this or that closure; that subtle change to the way the roads are arranged; that extra bit of pavement that’s been created; or, pertinently, that new bit of cycle infrastructure.

2) Every queue of traffic once the Cycle Superhighways have been complete will be credited to them. After all, there were no queues before.

— aviewoflondon (@sw19cam) September 4, 2015

This applies outside London too, of course. The inner ring road in Horsham has recently been subject to roadworks – minor changes to install a better pedestrian crossing – reducing its four or five lane width to just two lanes, in places.

Inevitably, these temporary changes are alleged have ’caused’ gridlock.

This overlooks the fact that roads in the town are regularly congested, even in the absence of roadworks. Again, demand outstrips supply, so people driving on roads in Horsham have in a sense ‘adapted’ themselves to the available supply of road space. We are seeing the temporary effects of some reduction in that supply. I say ‘temporary’ for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, these roadworks are on a road that didn’t even exist until the mid-1990s. It was bulldozed through, demolishing buildings, to bypass an existing two-lane road, and to open up access to a new Sainsbury’s supermarket. So it’s entirely possible to argue that traffic capacity – even with the roadworks – is still greater than it was in 1995. The new, wider road, has just been filled up in much the same way as the old one was; the difference is that this new road is four lanes wide, rather than two lanes wide. The roadworks – which are visible from your car, as you sit, stationary, in congestion, appear to be the proximate cause of your delay, but in reality motor traffic congestion is inevitable in urban areas. The number of people who might want to drive outstrips the amount of space we can give them, or at least should be willing to give them, without destroying the fabric of our towns and cities.

Secondly, people are rational. They will not sit in congestion, day after day, month after month; they will adapt. (Or at least, many will – and that will be enough). They will choose a different time of day to make their journeys by car. They will choose a different route, by car. They may even choose a different mode of transport (heaven forbid).

Problematically, this kind of behaviour is not addressed by modelling of road- and junction-changes. For instance, the ‘delay’ forecasts produced by Transport for London for the new Superhighways – which generated alarming headlines – assumed that people’s behaviour was fixed. That they would not change their time of travel, their route, or even their mode of transport.

Short-term increases in congestion caused by lane closures due to roadworks, or permanent reallocation of road space, will inevitably smooth out over time as people adapt, even if at the time it is apparently ‘obvious’ that those changes have created a ‘gridlock’ that would exist anyway.


Categories: Views

Utrecht – a city that has been designed for cycling and mass mobility

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 16 September, 2015 - 20:04

I remember David Arditti once describing the experience of viewing pictures of Dutch cycling infrastructure, while sitting in a British conference a few years ago, as like seeing scenes beamed back from another planet – such was the difference between the road- and streetscape that we were seeing on the projection screen, and the familiar British roads and streets that we had encountered outside the venue, and indeed in the places where we live.

Much as I am now reasonably familiar with the Dutch city of Utrecht, every visit I make there has the a similar astonishing impression. Despite only being a mere 200 miles or so, as the crow flies, from south east England, the difference in the nature and character of the cycling environment in this city, and the nature and character of cycling in it, is so mind-bogglingly different to towns and cities in south east England, it really is like being on another planet. Indeed, as I write this, I’ve noticed a new piece by Andrew O’Hagan for the LRB which contains descriptions of London cycling so utterly at odds with nature of cycling in Utrecht – as we shall see in the pictures that follow – that the two places really could be on different spheres.

Andrew O’Hagan on London cycling


Perhaps the most striking thing about Utrecht is, of course, the staggering volume of people cycling, especially in rush hour, but also throughout the day. I have observed before how the ‘boom’ in cycling in London is essentially a commuter boom, limited to central London, and to the rush hour; cycling disappears from central London after 9am. This isn’t the situation in Utrecht; cycling is omnipresent, with what seem like continuous flows along the main routes throughout the day.

Typical cycling scene, Nachtegaalstraat, 12:30pm. Children are in school at this time.

This is the case both on the main roads – which naturally have separate cycleways – and also on the streets which form useful routes, but have low motor traffic levels.

11:30am, on the Oudegracht.

At peak times the flow becomes a flood, a dense mass of people on two (or more) wheels.

Cycle flows on (brand new) Vredenburg bridge, 5:15pm

As is clear from these pictures, the other reason why cities like Utrecht feel like another planet is the character of the cycling itself. People who are cycling are dressed just like pedestrians. Helmet-wearing, and hi-viz clothing, are totally absent. As Chris Boardman puts it in this wonderful video –

I’ve spent a couple of days riding around the streets of Utrecht, and I’ve seen tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of bikes, but I haven’t seen a single cyclist. I’ve just seen normal people, in normal clothes, doing normal things, dressed for the destination, not the journey. The bicycle is a simple, fun and inexpensive way to get from A to B.

Indeed, the only hi-viz clothing I saw in five days in the city was worn by police officers, and by the construction workers directing people cycling at the temporary junctions through the construction site by the railway station.

Some people in hi-viz – but these are workers stopping traffic.

Apart from racing cyclists, heading out of the city in lycra of an evening, helmet wearing amongst adults was non-existent; amongst children, a tiny minority of those perched on their parents bicycles had been given a (usually far too large) helmet to wear. Children riding independently, however, were also entirely unhelmeted.

The behaviour of people cycling is also ‘pedestrian’. By that I don’t mean that they travel at walking speed, but that they engage in activities they would be engaging in, if they were walking. Chatting side-by-side; listening to music; eating; carrying objects; talking on phones; travelling along with a dog beside you; and so on.

This behaviour, and this absence of safety equipment, isn’t because of any innate rebelliousness, or lack of concern for safety. People are just responding to the environment they find themselves in. Cycling in the city looks and feels safe – principally because, thanks to the design of the environment, it is safe. Interactions with motor traffic are minimal, or non-existent. On the main roads you are clearly separated from it, as in the photograph above; on side roads, design ensures that the only motor vehicles using these streets will be doing so in order to access properties on it, meaning motor traffic levels are very low. People can relax, everywhere, and that is reflected in how they behave.

Likewise, a good sign of a safe and attractive cycling environment is that children who are old enough to ride a bike do so themselves, rather than being ferried about on their parents’  bikes. Perhaps this wasn’t quite as common here in Utrecht as in a city like Assen, (this may have something to do with slightly longer trips in Utrecht, it being a larger city) but nevertheless young children riding independently was a common sight.

Children were even giving each other backies, on some of the busiest roads in the city.

My impression was also that women formed a distinct majority among people cycling in the city – certainly during the day. Rush hour was more balanced, but it was not unusual for me to arrive at traffic signals and find myself the only male queuing at the lights.

Cycling here is a mode of transport for everyone. Nobody is excluded from cycling. From what I could see ethnic minorities were cycling around just the same as everyone else, on exactly the same types of bikes, in the same way.

For those with mobility problems who can’t ride a conventional bicycle, the city is far, far easier to navigate than a British one – an environment designed for cycling is equally suited to  hand cycles, mobility scooters, assisted trikes, and powered wheelchairs.

Law- and rule-breaking by people cycling is at a very low level, mainly because there are few laws to break, and because the city is set up in favour of people cycling and walking. The environment supports you in where you want to go, in safety and comfort; you don’t have to choose between bending rules and avoiding danger, or avoiding inconvenience, because safety and convenience is built into a ubiquitous network. Where there are rules that people can break, people generally obey them, because the rules makes sense, and because there are reasonable alternatives. (There are, of course, anti-social idiots on bikes, but they are drowned out by the mass of everyday people behaving normally and sensibly).

To give just one example, cycling is banned on a busy shopping street during the day, and from a short period of observation, I would estimate that around 90% did comply with the rules, and dismounted.

People dismounting and walking on Choorstraat.

But this isn’t because Dutch people are any more compliant with rules than Britons; if you are travelling in this direction by bike, there is a parallel route just yards away where cycling is allowed, so naturally people travelling through will use that route instead. The people dismounting on this street are happy to do so because they are only travelling a short distance to shops on it. This contrasts with the typical British situation, where cycling bans are implemented on pedestrianised streets which are very often the only attractive and safe route from A to B. If you want people to obey rules, they have to make sense.

Admittedly this ubiquity of cycling (and of mobility aids on cycling infrastructure) does present some problems. The huge flows can be mildly irritating for people on foot at rush hour; there were some occasions where I had to wait 30 seconds or more to find a suitable gap to cross a cycleway safely, as did others.

Waiting for a gap to cross the cycleway at peak times

To be clear, this is only a problem that exists for a short period of the day, and even at these times natural gaps do present themselves, and the wait is, of course, much shorter than one might expect at signal-controlled crossings of a road carrying around 50,000 people per day (on buses and on cycles). But I did find myself wondering if there are ways of resolving this issue.

Other problems present themselves in the volume of bikes parked on some streets – especially the narrower ones that still serve a through-function. Voorstraat, in particular, is not a brilliant pedestrian environment. A genuinely narrow street has one-way flow for all traffic, including cycles, a protected cycleway running in the opposite direction, and ungenerous pavements. Notably, a supermarket on this street had at least 100 bicycles parked outside it.

Cycle parking on Voorstraat

The pavement on the other side becomes increasingly narrow, with bicycles leant against buildings; buses thunder through on the road, heading towards the centre of the town, combined with access motor traffic. On an earlier trip a few years ago, I saw children cycling on this road, being tailgated by one of these buses.

Cycling on Voorstraat

It’s a far from brilliant cycling or walking environment. But the problems with this street would be much, much worse without the levels of cycling in the city. That supermarket would have cars coming and going, clogging the street. There would be most likely be two-way flow for motor traffic, presenting more danger and difficultly to people walking on the pavements.

Indeed, in general, the minor irritations and inconveniences one experiences on foot are vastly outweighed by the benefits cycling brings. Mass cycling goes hand-in-hand with a highly pedestrian-friendly city. The entire ‘old’ city centre of Utrecht is effectively an autoluwte, or ‘nearly car free’ area.

The area outlined in red measures approximately 2km by 1km, and represents the original fortified city, surrounded by canals. Today, it is a low motor traffic area, dominated by walking and cycling.

You can drive here, either to car parks, or simply to access properties; but from the way the streets are arranged, you won’t be driving through. Motor traffic in this red area is therefore at a very low level, meaning roads that at face value are ‘shared’ with motor traffic aren’t really shared at all.

Typical access road layout in the north of this area. All the streets in the photograph are accessible by motor traffic, but designed not to be through-routes.

It’s very easy to wander from one side of this area to the other without encountering a single traffic light. Indeed, there are only a handful of junctions with traffic lights within the ‘zone’. That means there is little or no delay to journeys on foot or by bike within this area. It’s cycling that allows mobility into and across it, that provides the viable alternative to the car, and that means, consequently, it is such an attractive environment. It is ubiquitous cycling infrastructure, allowing easy, comfortable and painless door-to-door journeys, that actually contributes to ‘placemaking’.

It should be stressed that this is a city of some 340,000 people, not some minor town. Utrecht ranks just outside the top ten English cities in terms of population. Yet it feels extraordinarily calm, peaceful, and civilised. Sitting at a bar of an afternoon, you can see people travelling past spotting each other, waving, saying hello, or stopping for a chat. Transport here brings people together, rather than separating them.

Categories: Views

A monumental bicycle roundabout in Arnhem

BicycleDutch - 14 September, 2015 - 23:01
It was opened 61 years ago and it still qualifies as exceptional cycling infrastructure: the bicycle roundabout in Arnhem at Airborne Square. The Netherlands has several so-called ‘bear pits’; cycle … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

One road at a time, London is making cycling progress - and it will change everything!

ibikelondon - 14 September, 2015 - 08:30

London has been changing over the summer.  Whilst the city was on holiday, Transport for London's contractors have been out in force building bike infrastructure on a remarkable scale.  Boris Johnson confirmed he would go ahead with his new Cycle Superhighway plans in January of this year, and now we're seeing the first results on the road.

Big construction projects inevitably cause short-term congestion whilst underway, but it is worth remembering the astonishing level of support for the new Cycle Superhighways and the long-term gain they'll bring.  The nine-week public consultation on the plans saw an overwhelming 21,500 responses from individuals and business organisations, with 84% in overall support of the plans. A YouGov opinion poll taken during the consultation found 73% of Londoners supported the Cycle Superhighways, even if it meant taking a lane of traffic away.  Over 160 major employers, including Deloitte, Coca Cola, Unilever and others came out in support of the East / West Cycle Superhighway which is currently being built on the Embankment.  

A quick ride up the finished section of the East / West Cycle Superhighway along the Embankment, courtesy of @CycleGaz
There has been opposition, of course, namely from the old guard of the taxi lobby (hello, LTDA, you scoundrels!) so much of which has been thinly-veiled anti-cycling sentiment.  Construction of the Crossrail train project has seen entire streets closed off in central London for years (as opposed to just months), but no one seems to be complaining about that...

Vauxhall Bridge (2 way track) via @AsEasyAsRiding and segregation wands on the Whitechapel Rd (apologies to whoever I saved this photo from, I can't remember who it was!)
The changes afoot are not just along the route of the East / West Cycle Superhighway.  At Oval, CS5 is being upgraded to provide full segregation, including around the terrifying Vauxhall Gyratory and over Vauxhall Bridge. In East London the killer CS2 is also getting an upgrade, with full or semi-segregation being introduced on a route that was previously literally just dirty blue paint and a lot of wishful thinking.

 Newly Hollandised Waltham Forest village!  Just look at all that anti-driving economic activity going on(!)
Cycle tracks alone can't change a city in to a bike riding paradise.  You also need balanced residential zones where local streets are set free from the tyranny of rat running and speeding traffic.  The Waltham Forest Mini Holland is just such a project and is now beginning to take shape - but only because of the diligent work of local residents in the face of vociferous NIMBYs who wish to retain their right to drive 150metres to the local shops...  There's a street party on Orford Rd today (Monday) from 3PM to celebrate the completion of the first stage of the project, if you're in the area.

As the London Cycling Campaign rightly point out, there are growing pains which need to be resolved in some places, and that's to be expected with innovation and change.  Meanwhile, progress presses ahead with construction of the North / South Cycle Superhighway in central London chalked up to start in autumn (check here for details)

But with summer almost over and the city's streets transformed whilst everyone has been away, the pace of change seems unstoppable.  The old "blue paint and optimism" superhighways - despite their very obvious limitations - still saw a leap in rider numbers of a minimum of 25%.  When these new safe and separated routes open to the public we'll see a torrent, a deluge, a flood of new riders using them, and it's going to change London completely!

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Categories: Views

Get ready for racing on Regent's Street as a new Tour of Britain route comes to London!

ibikelondon - 9 September, 2015 - 08:30

It's no secret, I love the Tour of Britain!  I like the smaller scale of it compared to the Grand Tours of Europe, the opportunity for emerging riders to taste success, and of course the route through green and pleasant Great British Countryside.

But I've always felt the final stage - right here in London - has always been a bit of a let down.  Yes, you get the finish line photo of racing in front of Buckingham Palace, but the rest of the day is spent riding up and down the Embankment and Upper Ground which makes for a dull stage that is not very exciting for spectators.

So I'm thrilled to see that this year's final stage has a new route in our beautiful capital - and it's all because of London's everyday cyclists!  Because of construction work on the Embankment to build the new East / West Cycle Superhighway the Tour can't ride there.  So in 2015 it is adopting a new route, which promises fast down-hills on Haymarket, tight corners around Trafalgar Square, and racing up and down magnificent Regent's Street which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful street in the world (ESPECIALLY when it is closed to traffic!)

The final stage comes to London this Sunday the 13th of September, heralding the end of a fantastic summer of cycle racing.  The start and finish line is just south of Piccadilly Circus, and the riders will make a three-pointed loop of Regent's Street, Whitehall and the Strand, passing some of London's most famous buildings and attractions along the way.  It is free to spectate and makes for a fun day out for all the family.  The riders are fast, but you might even catch a glimpse of favourites Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Alex Dowsett and Andre Greipel, or even local boy Tao Geoghegan Hart from Hackney racing for British Cycling's development team.

Seeing as the stage is hosted and paid for by Transport for London (did anyone check the balance of the cycling budget recently?) Londoners might as well get their money's worth and have a nice day out of it...

All the details of the London stage can be found on the Aviva Tour of Britain website here.  The beautiful picture of Piccadilly Circus featured in this post is by artist Will Barras and was specially commissioned by cycling website Rouleur, where it is available for purchase.

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Categories: Views

Cycling into the city centre

BicycleDutch - 7 September, 2015 - 23:01
The summer is quickly coming to an end and the holidays are over. The schools and the academic year for the university have started again, people are back at work … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Cycling into the city centre

BicycleDutch - 7 September, 2015 - 23:01
The summer is quickly coming to an end and the holidays are over. The schools and the academic year for the university have started again, people are back at work … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Stress test

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 4 September, 2015 - 23:03

There was a typical August ‘silly season’ story last week – the idea of women-only train carriages, prompted by some comments from a Labour leadership candidate that were seized on and used to generate ‘news’ at a typically quiet time of the year for the media.

Without wishing to re-hash that story, there was an interesting comment on it, in relation to cycling design, from @accidentobizaro –

If we agree solution to drivers harassing cyclists is segregation, why shouldn’t solution to men harassing women on trains be same? #thought

— Andromeda (@accidentobizaro) August 26, 2015

This is a thought-provoking point; it implies that people who are in favour of separating cycling from motor traffic (at least on busier roads) should also be in favour of separating women from men on trains (if women want to be separated).

But I don’t think the analogy quite stands up. ‘Harassment’ is of course one reason why separation of modes makes sense. Walking on footways greatly reduces any harassment you might receive from drivers. So, with an equivalent separation of cycling from driving, harassment from drivers will diminish in the same way.

These people in the Dutch city of Zwolle can’t be harassed or intimidated by the drivers in the background.

But, with train passengers, I suspect most people don’t think women and men should be separated on trains, because the behaviour that is causing the problem should be addressed in the first place. Men should not harass women; if they do, they should be dealt with, rather than providing a separate (and allegedly safe) space for women.

But harassment is not the only reason why separation of the kind shown in the photograph above is provided. Even if we could stop drivers harassing people cycling, separation is still vitally important. We can see why by entering an alternate reality, one where ‘train separation’ is being argued for. But this is an alternate reality designed to resemble the situation on British roads.

Let us imagine a situation in which a good number of people in train carriages are in the habit of… throwing and catching bricks. Not all, but a sizeable proportion. You could say, it’s what the British do, on trains. (A bizarre situation, but bear with me).

The vast majority of people throwing and catching these bricks are doing so with regard for other people. They’re doing it carefully, and trying their best to ensure their bricks don’t hit other people, be they brick-throwers, or non-brick-throwers.

But of course a tiny minority will throw their bricks recklessly. These are the anti-social minority, who don’t really care about other people, and are just lobbing their bricks, willy-nilly, without thought for others.

Let us imagine Britain has clamped down on this behaviour, over a period of decades. There are stiff penalties for reckless and anti-social brick throwing; repeat offenders are banned from trains.

This policy has been a success for a long time. Dangerous brick-throwing is almost entirely eliminated. The only people throwing bricks on trains are doing so carefully. You will almost certainly never encounter a reckless brick-thrower on a train. Only considerate, thoughtful ones.

Despite this success, let us now suppose that people have lobbied – successfully – for train carriages where you won’t encounter brick-throwers.

Would you choose to carry on sitting in the carriages with brick-throwing, or would you now opt to sit in these new carriages?

We might go further and even imagine that all brick throwing in train carriages will – at some point in the near future – only be carried out by robots, highly advanced robots, who will never make a mistake with their brick-throwing, and will never hit a fellow passenger. You would be perfectly safe to sit in one of these carriages.

Again – would you choose to sit in this brick-throwing carriage? Or would you instead opt for the carriage without brick-throwing?

The answer to both these questions is surely quite obvious. Faced with a choice between a environment in which potentially dangerous objects are occasionally coming close to you, and an environment in which these hazards are absent, nobody would opt for the former environment – even if those objects are being thrown by human beings who are carefully considering your safety, or by perfect robots.

This is why separating cycling from motor traffic is important. While bad behaviour and harassment by drivers is undoubtedly an issue, the bigger problem is that cycling in motor traffic is de facto needlessly stressful, regardless of how well or badly motor vehicles are being driven around you. The experience of cycling in motor traffic may not strictly correspond to sitting in a train carriage where bricks are occasionally being thrown – benignly, and competently – but the reasons why people might want to avoid such a train carriage correspond closely to the reasons people want to avoid cycling with motor traffic.

It’s the knowledge that you might come to harm; the visceral sensation, rational or irrational, that your safety lies in the hands of other people. It’s the uncertainty and stress of having to negotiate your way through environments where heavy objects are travelling at different speeds, and angles.

These problems might be ameliorated by perfect behaviour, but they will still remain to a large extent, even if motor cars were driven by robots. It’s why we don’t stand close to the platform edge when a train is arriving, even if it might be perfectly safe to do so – the human body instinctively flinches away from heavy objects that are travelling at greater speed, and that have the potential to injure you.

We also want some leeway of our own to engage in less than perfect behaviour. It’s stressful having to maintain constant vigilance, and ‘correct’ technique. We’d like to be able to look around at our surroundings; to pay a little less attention to ensuring that we don’t come to grief. To lower our guard.

The Dutch cycling environment (when it is done right, of course – the Dutch still have problems, and still make mistakes) removes these kinds of stress from everyday trips. It makes ordinary journeys a relaxing and painless experience, free from concern or worry, from door to door.

This mother was happy to let her young child speed off ahead – because the environment is unthreatening.

This is what I enjoy so much about cycling in the Netherlands, wherever I go, be it countryside, suburbs, or city centre – it’s the total relaxation, the complete lack of stress.

The removal of through-traffic from streets that are ‘shared’ makes them equally relaxing.

There are exceptions, of course. What might actually be relatively comfortable environments, by British standards – low speed roads, with quite low traffic levels – leap out jarringly from the smooth, comfortable background experience.

The road in front of Zwolle station. Not remarkable by British standards – perhaps even relatively pleasant – but jarringly uncomfortable.

Nobody was misbehaving, or driving badly, on the road in the picture above, but cycling along it felt so much more unpleasant than the rest of my journey that day. The uncertainty of worrying about parked vehicles potentially moving in and out; whether drivers were going to turn across your path into side roads; whether the cars, buses or lorries behind you were going to get too close, or attempt to overtake inappropriately. The ‘concern load’ was so much higher here, I simply wasn’t able to enjoy myself. But this is pretty much the everyday experience of cycling in urban areas in Britain.

While I can tolerate cycling on these kinds of roads, it’s precisely these raised stress levels that put the vast majority of people off, entirely. I can adapt, and put up with it; they simply won’t cycle, at all. That’s why cycling levels are so pitifully low in Britain. Mass cycling depends on low-stress environments; streets and roads that invite cycling, and make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Categories: Views

New Grafitti in Elm Street Lane

estudio27 architects - 4 September, 2015 - 16:00

Categories: Views

Candidate cities for the best cycling city of 2016 announced

BicycleDutch - 3 September, 2015 - 20:12
Today the Dutch Cyclists’ Union published the names of nine municipalities who applied for the “Fietsstad 2016” election to become the best cycling city of the Netherlands in 2016. “These … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Candidate cities for the best cycling city of 2016 announced

BicycleDutch - 3 September, 2015 - 20:12
Today the Dutch Cyclists’ Union published the names of nine municipalities who applied for the “Fietsstad 2016” election to become the best cycling city of the Netherlands in 2016. “These … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The large cycle bridge of Maarssen

BicycleDutch - 31 August, 2015 - 23:01
An easy and convenient way to cross a 10 lane motorway. That is what the cycle bridge in the recreational cycle route Rijnveldsche Pad was meant to be. It makes … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The large cycle bridge of Maarssen

BicycleDutch - 31 August, 2015 - 23:01
An easy and convenient way to cross a 10 lane motorway. That is what the cycle bridge in the recreational cycle route Rijnveldsche Pad was meant to be. It makes … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

People choose to live on quiet streets – so why is it so hard to close residential to through traffic?

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 31 August, 2015 - 11:28

An interview with the founder of housebuilder Redrow has been floating around in my drafts as a potential basis for a post for a while. It caught my attention because it touched upon residential streets and they should be designed – and in particular, how we should address the issue of designing motor traffic out of residential streets (through traffic, that is – motor traffic should still be able to access residential properties).

The Dutch approach to road design – Sustainable Safety – is quite explicit that roads and streets should have a single function, with a principle of Monofunctionality. As David Hembrow explains

To the Dutch the most ideal situation is when roads and streets have only one single purpose. To achieve this mono-functionality a hierarchy of roads was introduced.

  • Through Roads for high volumes of fast traffic on longer distances.
  • Local Access Roads from which end destinations can be reached.
  • Distributor Roads which connect through roads and local access roads.

All Dutch streets and roads have been classified (under a legal obligation) and are or will be re-designed to the Sustainable Safety principles by the road managers. This led to areas where people stay (residential areas and areas for shopping/sporting/theatre etc.) and designated space used for the flow of traffic in order to transport people from A to B. Under the Dutch vision these functions cannot be mixed.

It is this approach that explains why Dutch roads and streets work so well for all users. In particular, access roads are designed to have low levels of motor traffic, meaning they are safe and attractive.

Residential street in Utrecht; motor traffic can access this street, but careful arrangement of one-way flow means it cannot be used as a through route

Strangely enough, it is this detail that is touched upon in the interview with Steve Morgan of Redrow. I’ve highlighted the relevant passage in bold.

House builder Steve Morgan has hit out at housing designed to meet the “urbanist” principles promoted under New Labour’s now defunct Richard Rogers-inspired planning guidance.

In an interview with BD’s sister publication Building, Steve Morgan, the founder of Redrow who rejoined the business in 2009 when it hit difficulties in the credit crunch, said that the housebuilder’s adherence to PPG3-style design was one of the main problems with the firm and hailed the return of the cul-de-sac.

Redrow had been building high-rise flats available at low cost but Morgan has subsequently completely redesigned the firm’s product range around traditional homes with arts & craft movement-inspired detailing, arranged in cul-de-sacs.

Morgan told Building: “We’ve got to start producing the type of housing that people want to live in, not some theoretical designs with ‘permeability’ all over the bloody place, which actually means traffic. Who wants tarmac all over a development? I want cul de sacs, green spaces, safe spaces for children to play in – not permeability, that’s just bullshit jargon.”

PPG3 was introduced under the tenure of deputy prime minister John Prescott and was inspired by the conclusions of Rogers’ Urban Task Force. It recommended higher-density developments to make public transport viable and create street life based around “walkable” neighbourhoods. But house builders said it resulted in building a large number of developments of flats without gardens which became very hard to sell when the credit crunch hit.

Morgan added: “It seemed to take forever to convince planners that PPG3 was history and we had to get on and build traditional housing again. It probably took the best part of three years. They have got the message now. Absolutely nobody’s doing PPG3-type development anymore but it took a while to get that through.

“We had highways engineers quoting the manual for streets and all the rest of it. [I] said, ‘Bollocks, bring the cul de sacs back, bring the type of housing that people want to live in back’.”

This is, I suspect, some fairly self-serving rhetoric from a developer with an interest in building low density (and therefore more expensive) housing, rather than higher density (and therefore more affordable) flats and housing. And it also comes from the perspective of someone who it seems can only imagine people moving around by car; permeability can work (and indeed should work) in residential areas, provided it is permeability of a specific kind, for walking and cycling.

But the passage I’ve highlighted is revealing – it shows that housebuilders are more than aware that the general public don’t want to live on traffic-clogged streets. They want to live on streets where their children can play safely; where there isn’t a huge amount of tarmac required to facilitate the through-flow of motor traffic; where there is green space.

Popular streets to live on are those that are quiet and safe; unpopular ones are those that are noisy, polluted, and dominated by motor traffic.

Not such a good street to live on – a residential street in Leicester dominated by through traffic, despite a parallel main road just a few yards away.

Given all this, it is surprising why proposals to close residential streets to through traffic often meet with such vociferous opposition from the people who live on them, on the grounds that the journeys they will make by car will become marginally longer – perhaps only a few hundred metres or so.

Because, with a free choice, the vast majority of people will choose to live on a street that is (effectively) a cul de sac to motor traffic rather than a through route, even if that means their car journeys are slightly indirect. The benefits of living somewhere nice outweigh the benefits of straight-line car routes.

So what’s going on? How do we explain this discrepancy between the choices people actually make, and the difficulties in ‘converting’ a poorly-designed street into an environment people would choose to live on in the first place?

My guess is that the benefits of a street being closed to through traffic can’t easily be appreciated – residents can only imagine their street as it is now, but with a bit of extra inconvenience for motoring trips, rather than imagining a safer, quieter and more pleasant street, one they easily would have chosen to live on, given a blank slate.

An interesting way of tackling this issue might be come at it from the opposite direction – to conduct a survey of streets that (by accident or design) only serve an access function in a given British town or city. My idea would be to ask the residents on these streets whether they would prefer their street to be opened up as a through route – ‘filtered permeability in reverse’. To ask them whether they would be prepared to trade off the attractiveness of their street for more direct car journeys, but with a (potentially large) increase in motor traffic on their street.

Maybe there aren’t any easy answers though – human beings are fundamentally conservative, and dislike change, even if the benefits can be presented in an attractive and easily understandable way, and even if the benefits come to be appreciated by residents who were initially opposed. I suspect the only concrete way of making progress is councils taking bold decisions, in the form of trial closures of a suitably long duration for the benefits to appear.



Categories: Views

It's often only one person

Vole O'Speed - 30 August, 2015 - 15:06
Such is the pace of developments in London cycling infrastructure (planning if not actual execution) currently that a couple of details in my long blogpost of 11 days ago have already been superseded.
The most striking one is that a plan has now been produced for taking the East-West Cycle Superhighway past Buckingham Palace in a sensible manner, with the support of the Royal Parks Authority. There will be, if this goes through, a two-way segregated track on the north and west sides of the Queen Victoria Memorial linking a new cycle track on the north side of Birdcage Walk (currently the most stupidly-designed road in the area, with masses of space wasted in the middle of it, with giant pedestrian islands and dead areas between) with a widened two-way track on the north side of Constitution Hill. The segregation around the Memorial will be with bollards, removable for ceremonial purposes, unlike on most of the Superhighway, where it is with kerbs.

TfL visualisation of the bollard-segregated track in space taken out of the road (middle background)Plan for the Superhighway link at Buckingham PalaceThis all looks sensible enough, and people should respond to the consultation, supporting it, by 4 October. The question that is posed is: what was the problem before? Why was the Royal Parks Authority, until last week, bizarrely insisting there should be a gap in segregated the Cycle Superhighway in front of Buckingham Palace for 'safety, operational and aesthetic reasons', which would have caused, as Cyclists in the City pointed out, the Superhighway flow to get mixed with hundreds of gawping, snap-happy tourists on the Mall Service Road (effectively a pedestrian area, shown hatched just south of Green Park on the map above), obviously a recipe for disaster, and a position made even odder by the fact that, for the Superhighway solution in Hyde Park, the RPA was insisting that cyclists not share any of the current subdivided paths, but be routed via the roadway of South Carriage Drive.
Of course I've not been party to any behind-the-scence negociations, but Ross Lydall of the Standard, who generally seems to be very well-informed, seems to make things very clear:
The appointment of a new chief executive at The Royal Parks, which is responsible for the roads around Buckingham Palace, has been key to resolving the dispute.

Previous chief executive Linda Lennon was a fierce critic of many aspects of Transport for London’s 18-mile “Crossrail for cyclists” that passes through Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park as it links Barking and Acton. The Royal Household is understood never to have objected to the plans. Mr Johnson said: “This is the final jigsaw piece in what will be one of the world’s great cycling routes. I am absolutely delighted that we and the Royal Parks have been able to reach agreement and I pay tribute to the agency’s new chief executive, Andrew Scattergood, his staff and TfL officers for the immense work they have put in to make it happen.So an anti-cycling Chief Executive left, and suddenly the 'safety, operational and aesthetic' objections all disappeared and the RPA was left looking rather less like the car-oriented dinosaur that campaigners had perceived it as before (the Royal Parks of course being full of roads that are full of cars, roads used as normal parts of the through-traffic system of London, with this fact not seeming to cause the RPA any distress or sense of conflict about their purpose). Hopes are raised that, after decades of campaigners asking for it, the Outer Circle of Regent's Park might cease to be a huge gyratory for motor traffic, but might be changed so as to allow only motor access to the car parking, the zoo and residences, and to facilitate a much-needed north-westbound Cycle Superhighway, CS11.

So my message here is that often, despite outward appearances of implacable homogeneity of institutional opposition to progressive schemes, it can often turn out to be only one badly-placed person, in reality, who is causing the problem.

On the flip side, one well-placed progressive person can often galvanise an organisation and create more progress in a short time than has been achieved for many years. And I have to hand it to Cllr Phil Jones, Camden's Cabinet Member for Transport that he has, with the assistance of his officers, got Camden making better progress on actually implementing a Central London Cycling Grid (to complement the small number of built Superhighways) than all the other boroughs combined. I reported in my last post that the promised link between Royal College Street and Primrose Hill was currently stymied by bus-related arguments, but apparently these have been overcome, and Camden is now produced an attractive plan for consultation, which I recommend all London cyclists respond to favourably as well.

Proposals for Pratt StreetThe proposals for Pratt Street , between Royal College Street and Camden High Street, and Delancey Street, betweem Camden High Street and Parkway, show a huge improvement over the current state of these space-wasting, unattractive, rat-runny one-way westbound roads, with a stepped cycle track going westbound with the motor flow, and an eastbound contraflow track either stepped (Delancey Street) or fully segregated (Pratt Street). The westbound flow for bikes is currently allowed, but is unattractive, particularly with the competition for road space with large vehicles including buses and squeezing at the corner of Camden High Street and Delancey Street, but the eastbound flow is not possible, cyclists from the very traffic calmed and reduced Primrose Hill area needing to access the Royal College Street or St Pancreas Way routes being forced to go via congested Chalk Farm Road or busy Parkway and Camden Street. This scheme promises to fix this long-standing, bad gap in the cycle network (as well as generally improving these streets for everyone) and others have seen the potential of this. Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner, has been touting this as making possible numerous long-distance cycle connections across London, in combination with the East-West and North South Superhighways:
Once the links are complete, cyclists will be able to ride from Swiss Cottage and Camden Town to Canary Wharf, Barking or Elephant & Castle entirely on separated cycle tracks or low-traffic streets. It’s testimony to the power of the relationship between TfL and a borough genuinely committed to cycling.Actually he could go go further. If the Mayor actually builds CS11, promised for 2016, it will be possible to go all the way from Brent Cross to Canary Wharf, Barking or Elephant & Castle on cycle tracks and low-traffic streets. So I congratulate Cllr Jones on getting his plans this far, though I have disagreed with him on the best solution for Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street, Camden's 'West End Project'.

With the West End Project,  I felt, as I said last year, that fixation on the objective of undoing a gyratory system for cars and buses had got in the way of visualising the best possible ways of changing these roads to benefit pedestrians and cyclists, who are supposed to be at the top of Camden's 'transport hierarchy'. Camden's planners are now doing as good a job as they can on trying to solve junction problems that will be introduced by having stepped cycle tracks running in both directions on a two-way (for cars) Gower Street, but I think there are fundamental problems here. The cycle tracks will be on the same level as the motor lanes at the junctions, so reduced to painted markings, Danish-style, and therefore an attempt to signalise the cycle flow separately from the turning motor flow is likely to result in cyclists just getting blocked off by cars and vans invading their space. There is something of an attempt to combine Danish and Dutch junction principles here which I fear will not work. The Danes merge the cycle flow with the left (their right) turn for motors and expect cyclists to turn right (their left) in two stages. A full Dutch signalised solution separates all the conflicting cycle/motor movements in time, but depends on segregated tracks running right up to the junction, which cannot be invaded by motors. Without segregation at junctions, how can separate signalising work without risking the blocking-off of the ahead path for cyclists on what is certain to be a congested road? However, Gower Street clearly is not wide enough for two-way motor flow plus two-way cycling segregated at the junctions in the manner of a large Dutch signlised junction. The problem here is the whole architecture of the system left by removing the one-way flows for motor vehicles. (Another bad problem with the Gower Street plans is that one of the 'Danish' tracks will be interrupted by a loading bay, something the Danes would not dream of.)

But, to get back to my main theme here, we've got some individuals in influential positions now doing a lot of good for cycling in London, and we've got one or two who have been really getting in the way. Linda Lennon may have gone, but we still have a fine example of the latter tendency in Hackney Council's Planning Sub-committee Chair and perhaps Phil Jones's polar opposite, Councillor Vincent Stops. Stops has been a long-standing and clear opponent of segregated cycle infrastructure, and most likely through his influence Hackney Council has prevented TfL implementing Cycle Superhighway 1 on the A10 in the borough, consigning it instead to indirect back-streets in the manner of the old poor-quality London Cycle Network, and sacrificing the safety of the majority of cyclists who will always wish to cycle on the direct, main road, on which 28% of the serious casualties to people on bikes in Hackney now occur. Stops has actually written a blogpost on the subject of Cycle Superhighway through Hackney, but this does not really attempt to justify the route that Hackney Council has forced on the Superhighway on any logical grounds, rather, it attacks the whole concept of cycle routes:
A route-based approach is limiting, when streets are better regarded as a networkDrawing lines on maps, declaring them cycle routes and investing heavily along the route seems to capture the imagination of cycle planners and some campaigners, even though hardly anyone cycles such a route from end to end. Some of the investment that comes from such route-based planning will be good cycling value for money. However, instead of spending all this money on CS1, there are numerous other locations in the borough where investment would have been better directed. Improving these other locations, rather than using a large pot to titivate, and not substantially make things better for people cycling would certainly be better value for money, in terms of improvements to cycling.In Hackney, in contrast to the route-based approach, the most innovative recent work has been the creation of a Bikeability map which assesses all of the borough's streets, regarding them as a network. Incrementally improving this network, particularly where there are historic clusters of collisions, will provide the best value for limited cycle and road safety funding. Sometimes improvements may be made opportunistically.
Hackney's 'Bikeability map'. The green on minor roads represents a lower 'Bikeability skill level' than the grey-brown on  (e.g) the A10 running straight N-S down the west side of the borough.The first thing to say here is there is nothing 'innovative' about these 'Bikeability maps' for urban areas; I've been hearing about them for years from various campaigners and officials. The approach sounds reasonable enough, if it is being used to identify the worst locations that require remedial action, but, in practice, these maps are always used as a displacement activity to avoid doing what really needs to be done. Stops is being disingenuous in his talk of 'limited cycle and road safety funding'. Hackney could have had the funding from Transport for London to transform the A10, the road, I repeat, where 28% of all cycle casualties in Hackney occur, the most direct sand useful route in the borough, into an attractive, safe, high-quality cycle corridor. They chose not to take this, but to fiddle about on back-streets instead. Stop's claim that
Hackney Council has to be congratulated for getting so much value from the Cycle Superhighway processwill be regarded with some very raised eyebrows in the borough and beyond.

Of course I'd not dispute that streets should be regarded as a network, and, ultimately, almost the whole network needs its quality raised for cycling, the but points that are missing from Stops' analysis are 'utility' and 'standards'. Some routes are of far more utility and importance to cyclists than others, and it is here that investment at this early stage in developing a cycle network must be concentrated, to develop what I'd describe as the 'backbone network' of obviously attractive and useful routes that is needed to pull people in to cycling. Generally, but not always, these routes will be on the main roads, where, to achieve acceptable standards of actual and subjective safety, cyclists need segregation.

Stops wishes to focus on the wider network, and implicitly, to focus on small roads, because he seems to have a horror of the idea of subdividing the space on larger roads using kerbs, which he considers to be 'pesky' things that will disadvantage pedestrians, bus passengers, or others. But the 'Bikeability map' approach that Stops praises is fundamentally discriminatory and opposed to inclusive cycling, because it accepts a general and permanent compromise between efficiency and safety that is inimical to creating to a quality cycle network with uniform provision. What this 'Bikeability' thing, in this context, is really about is classifying cyclists, not roads. The very concept of 'Bikeability' in play here is a motor-oriented one, confusing 'cycling skill' with 'willingness to cycle with motor traffic'. Brave 'skilled' cyclists (normally young men) will continue to push their way down the A10, with its bad crash rate, because it is the most efficient, useful route for them. The slow and less assertive will, if they try to cycle at all, which most of them will not, be consigned to an indirect, low-priority, hidden 'superquietway' that will not be easy to use and will not get them to the places they need to go. This is not a good approach if your aim is mass cycling. But I sense this may not be Stops', or Hackney Council's, real aim.

Stops goes to a bizarre extreme in inventing arguments against segregated cycle tracks, for example when he commented on Twitter on the forthcoming East-West Superhighway:
How will an 8 year old get through a more congested Parliament Square as a non CSH route user? if there are eight year-old cyclists using Parliament Square now who could possibly could be inconvenienced (rather than enabled) by the cycle track! (Even if you accept the wrong contention that the cycle track will cause congestion, I challenge Stops or anyone to stand at Parliament Square for a day, or a year, counting eight year-olds on bikes. There will be more flying pigs seen, except, of course, when road are closed for events like the RideLondon.)

Stops likes to claim that Hackney is London's best borough for cycling. I'm sorry, but the truth is that cycling in Hackney is, by and large, crap. I've often cycled in Hackney, and I cycled through Hackney the other day. There is no provision on main roads, which are choked with buses and other heavy vehicles, and the minor road routes are slow, deprioritised, badly-maintained and uncomfortable. You are bumping over severe traffic-calming all the time, and badly-maintained surfaces, taking long ways round, trying to follow neglected or non-existent signage in obscure places, you are constantly having to give way to main roads, or even slightly more important roads, and where you meet a main road to negotiate a straight across or dog-leg junction you have no help and no protection. Hackney can't even can't keep these poor backstreet routes open. The famous one running east-west from Canonbury to London Fields is currently blocked by major digging where the railway goes over in Middleton road, and cyclists just have to use the pavement.

Cycling in Hackney is inefficient and dangerous on the backstreet routes that borough provides, and very dangerous on the direct main road routes that it does nothing to make attractive or comfortable. Contrary to Stops' frequent claim that Hackney is some sort of great cycling leader amongst London boroughs, it actually (according to TfL cycle counts) has a similar cycling level to the boroughs of Richmond upon Thames, Hounslow, Islington and Lambeth, places with very different local circumstance and policies. The 2011 census gives utility cycling actually at a higher level in Richmond upon Thames than in Hackney (though I don't put much store by census transport data, as it comes from a self-survey, and may just mean that Richmond people want to believe they cycle more than Hackneyites do).
TfL counts had (2013) Hackney on 6% of journeys compared to Richmond, Hounslow, Islington and Lambeth on 5%
2011 census data had Richmond ahead of Hackney on cyclingRichmond and Hackney are very different places, the former outer London and Conservative-controlled, the latter inner London and Labour, but I think the reasons for the high (by very low UK standards) cycling levels they share are a result of similar factors. Both have within them or very close to their borders a lot of parkland and waterside space where cycling is possible, attractive and car-free (in Richmond Park and other parks and along the Thames in the case of Richmond and in Victoria Park and other parks and and along the canals in the case of Hackney). In neither case is this much to do with the roads policies of the council. Hackney is, in addition, a flat and compact borough within easy commuting distance of the City of London, and it does seem that Hackney does disproportionally well out of commuting to the centre (it is the commuting mode share that the proponents of Hackney's 'cycling success' usually quote), while cycling to school remains at only 2% of trips, not high even by UK standards, and indicating the lack of a genuinely broad-based cycling culture.

Cllr Stops' partner Rita Krishna, is strangely (or not so strangely, if you know the local situation) on the Committee of Hackney Cycling Campaign. Since she appears to share the same views as Stops, those Hackney cyclists wishing to campaign for good-quality infrastructure in their borough had best lend their support to the rival campaign, Hackney People on Bikes, which does support the policies promoted in this blog (which are also the official policies of the London Cycling Campaign). In any case, it looks like Hackney will continue to be a blockage to the development of a high-quality, inclusive cycle network for Londoners while Vincent Stops remains influential on the borough's transport policy.

I paid a visit to the Embankment on Friday to see how the East-West Superhighway construction is getting on (and to examine those pesky kerbs). Only a 500m section is currently open, between Horseguards Avenue and Westminster Bridge, and it is only accessible to westbound (or southbound) cyclists, as there is no way to reach it eastbound. However, looking at the rest of the work on the two kilometre section between the open section and Blackfriars Bridge, I expect all this length to be open by the end of the year.

Completed Superhighway section looking south (up river). The basic two-way track is 4m wide in general.This is all cycling space. The right-hand area is a lane for right-turning cyclists, who will cross the carriageway using the signals Completed Superhighway section looking north (down river)The track is smooth, machine-laid tarmac. The kerb on the river side has not been altered, though I think it has been made lower by laying of the track. The kerb on the new segregating island is chamfered,  a good detail, allowing wider effective width and reducing the chance of pedal-strike.
Make no mistake, this is the proper thing, and very satisfying to see, as the first piece of truly high-quality cycle infrastructure ever built on a main road in Central London. This is the most significant thing done for cycling in London since Camden built its tracks at the turn of the century, and, before that, well perhaps the most significant infrastructure put in since the 1930s (though that was suburban, not central). It's worth re-emphasising here: this is a gain from road-space. Nothing has been lost by pedestrians (in fact a lot has been gained). A simple transfer has taken place from space dominated and, from the point of view of most people, monopolised by motor vehicles to space dedicated to active travel. We'll see a lot more of this with the rest of this Superhighway scheme, and the north-south one from Elephant and Castle to the border of Camden. The politicians and public servants, like Vincent Stops and Linda Lennon, who say they support cycling, but do not want to see this kind of thing on their patch, will in future be seen more and more as an anachronism and an impediment to the development of a more civilised, pleasant and sustainable city. 
The new Superhighways and Camden's grid routes point the way to a future pattern of use of road space that gives everybody an opportunity to cycle their journeys if they wish. The discriminatory approach based on keeping direct main routes as the cycling preserve of a tiny fit and brave minority must be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Categories: Views

Deventer: An efficient route for cycling in a city which has much to offer.

A View from the Cycle Path - 29 August, 2015 - 10:34
A few days ago, Ranty Highwayman wrote about visiting Deventer. He covered the central streets quite well, but unfortunately, the central streets are not where you find the best developed cycling infrastructure in that city. Therefore, I've brought forward a long overdue blog post about Deventer, including a long video which I shot back in April 2014 just after a new cycle route had opened. David Hembrow
Categories: Views

Deaths on the road

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 26 August, 2015 - 00:12

It goes without saying that the crash of a plane onto the A27 on Saturday was a terrible tragedy, an incident in which at least 11 people died, and many more were seriously injured. Rightly, the crash is being investigated thoroughly, and undoubtedly measures will be taken to greatly lessen the chances of any similar kind of incident ever occurring again.

But what has happened following that crash on Saturday afternoon? On the same day – the 22nd August, shortly afterwards, a motorcyclist died in Manchester, a pedestrian was killed in Solihull, and a driver died on the M1.

On Sunday 23rd August, 3 people died in a car crash in County Down, a motorcyclist died on the A82 near Loch Lomond, a cyclist died in Essex, a motorcyclist died in the Peak District, a driver died in Lincolnshire, a motorcyclist died on the A40 in Cheltenham, and a driver died in the New Forest.

On Monday 24th August, teenager died in a motorcycle crash in London (with another teenager seriously injured), and a motorcyclist died on Anglesey,

On Tuesday 25th Augusttwo people died in a car crash in Doncaster – with one (and maybe two more) seriously injured, a driver died in Camarthenshire, and a driver died (with another driver seriously injured) on the diversion route from the A27, closed following the Shoreham crash.

The scene of the crash in Doncaster.

This means that in the three and a half days following that dreadful air crash, 18 people have died on Britain’s roads, in crashes that, because they occurred in isolation, and because they are so appallingly ordinary, won’t make any headlines, or any lasting impact, beyond a fleeting mention in a local newspaper.

No lessons will be learned; nothing will change. All part of everyday life in Britain.

Categories: Views

The redesign of the Utrecht Sint Jacobsstraat

BicycleDutch - 24 August, 2015 - 23:02
City streets used to be designed with only the private car in mind, but that has changed (in The Netherlands at least). In many Dutch city centres the car is … Continue reading →
Categories: Views


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