Views

Designing for cycling in its own right

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 17 February, 2014 - 11:15

Imagine that you are responsible for improving the walking environment in an area where walking rates are exceptionally low – perhaps making up around a few percent of all trips that are made.

You would probably start thinking about the kind of changes that would be required to make walking a pleasant, attractive and obvious option.

Routes for walking would have to be direct. They would have to be free from stress and danger, and obstructions. They would have to be convenient, and be of suitable width. And they would have to go everywhere that people needed to go.

A good walking environment

You would, ideally, like to end up with a dense walking network, which has all these qualities. In short, you would be designing for walking, to ensure that it makes sense as a mode of transport in its own right.

After this period of abstract thought, you reach for your bookshelves, and pull out the official guidance, published by the Department for Transport – Walking Infrastructure Design.

You start reading the Introduction.

Planning and designing high­-quality infrastructure involves developing individual site­ specific solutions, but there are some common requirements that need to be satisfied. The underpinning principle is that measures for pedestrians should offer positive provision that reduces delay or diversion and improves safety.

Sounds good! You read on.

When designing improvements to walking infrastructure, the hierarchy of provision (Table 1.2) offers useful guidance on the steps to be considered.

Eagerly, you flick to this Table 1.2, which offers ‘guidance on the steps to be considered’. You discover that the first ‘step’ you should consider is

Traffic volume reduction

‘Traffic volume reduction’? You scratch your head.

This makes little sense. What does this have to do with walking, and improving the environment for walking? ‘Traffic’ (meaning motor traffic) is an entirely different mode of transport; shouldn’t a manual for improving walking infrastructure focus on precisely that?

Perhaps, you wonder, the Hierarchy of Provision in ‘Bus Infrastructure Design’ suggests considering first ‘train travel reduction’, or ‘plane travel reduction’.

But of course it doesn’t, and nor does ‘Walking Infrastructure Design’ (mainly because neither of these documents exist). However, Cycling Infrastructure Design does exist, and unfortunately it suggests you go about planning for improving the cycling environment in precisely this unfathomable way – by suggesting you reduce an entirely different mode of transport as a first step.

The Hierarchy of Provision

A strong objection here is that the Hierarchy is confusing policy with outcome. Reducing motor traffic should be the result of improving the environment for walking and cycling, yet it is presented here as the actual design policy.

But an even stronger objection is that the Hierarchy fails to focus on what it should actually be dealing with – the bicycle. In a recent lecture, Professor John Parkin described the Hierarchy of Provision as

a completely inappropriate way of planning for cycling. It denies the existence of cycling a a distinct mode.

Indeed, the Hierarchy represents

planning for cycling with reference to another mode, rather than designing for cycling itself.

It’s hard to disagree with this assessment. As I’ve argued before, the Hierarchy of Provision embodies the historical fixation of cycling campaigning on fighting motor traffic. The focus here is not on improving the environment for cycling, but on abstract goals that may, or may not, have side benefits for cycling.

It is woolly and unfocused, and when used as a planning tool we find that it is all too easy to skip through all the steps and end up right at the bottom, with the conversion of footways to ‘shared use’ – because this is the easiest option. Indeed, at this same lecture, a transport planner working for a client mentioned that the scheme she was implementing involved shared use pavements – not because this was the best design solution, but because that was what the council wanted. And the Hierarchy does little or nothing to stop councils plumping for this option.

At another lecture last week, I heard Keith Firth of SKM Colin Buchanan stating that

What’s great about the Hierarchy of Provision is that infrastructure is quite a long way down the list.

Well, this might be true in an ideal world, a world in which councils would actually consider the wholesale removal of motor traffic from their towns, reducing the need for the amount of physical alteration needed to the street environment. But unfortunately we don’t live an ideal world, and that means the fact that design solutions that might be very, very important in particular contexts are ‘a long way down the list’ is actually a serious problem.

Dutch town and city centres, while often largely devoid of private motor traffic, do not simply relegate physical infrastructure into last place. Even on wide roads that only carry a limited amount of motor traffic, we still find the same kind of cycling infrastructure that would be appropriate on much busier roads.

Nobelstraat, Utrecht. The road here is for buses and taxis only.

This kind of approach makes no sense according to the Hierarchy, because it is a combination of serious motor traffic reduction, and physical separation. The difference flows from the fact that the Dutch design for cycling. They design to make sure that cycling is comfortable, safe, attractive and convenient. They don’t design for it with reference to other modes of transport.

The other manifestation of the curious way we design for cycling around other modes of transport is the distinction we have between ‘on carriageway’ and ‘off carriageway’ provision. We can have ‘on carriageway’ cycle lanes that, protected by a kerb, amount to a cycle track. But we can also have ‘off carriageway’ provision that essentially amounts to the same thing.

New ‘off carriageway’ provision in Leicester

The distinction is hard to fathom, but it stems, again, from a failure to design for cycling as a mode of transport in its own right. ‘On carriageway’ means treating bicycle traffic like motor traffic; ‘off carriageway’ means treating it like walking traffic. In other words – how do we fit cycling in, around other modes of transport.

But we shouldn’t be thinking like this. We need a comprehensive approach to planning for bicycle use, that starts from the kind of thinking we would employ for designing walking networks, and ensures the quality of routes, whatever kind of treatment is appropriate at a local level.

We need to design for cycling in its own right.

Thanks to John Parkin for providing the inspiration for this piece


Categories: Views

Every Traffic Light in Assen

A View from the Cycle Path - 17 February, 2014 - 00:23
Every traffic light in Assen. Most are on main routes for cars, not for bikes. Some spots show more than one set of lights There are many misconceptions about how cyclists use traffic lights in the Netherlands. In order to try to explain how cyclists really use traffic lights in the Netherlands, this blog post shows every traffic light in Assen and explains what interactions, if any, cyclists David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/02/every-traffic-light-in-assen.html
Categories: Views

Christchurch New Zealand Cycle Design Guidelines

A View from the Cycle Path - 16 February, 2014 - 11:35
Christchurch in New Zealand published a  Cycle Design Guide last year. My attention was drawn to it because of a bad design which I discovered came from this design guide. I've read most of the design guide now and sadly it's at least as deserving of criticism as Ontario's lacklustre design guide or the NACTO guidelines. This will not be a full point by point critique. I can provide one if David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/02/christchurch-new-zealand-cycle-design.html
Categories: Views

The myth of the "standard Dutch junction"

A View from the Cycle Path - 16 February, 2014 - 09:41
Before starting his own blog, Mark Wagenbuur made videos for some of my posts and then became a regular guest blogger here. Some of the blog posts and videos that he made for this blog are still quite popular. In April 2011, Mark wrote a blog post in which he criticized a dangerous junction design suggested by the then new and claimed to be "state of the art" US NACTO design guide. I thought David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/02/the-myth-of-standard-dutch-junction.html
Categories: Views

Why collisions don't occur between cyclists on Simultaneous Green junctions - bikes are ridden through curves not sharp angles

A View from the Cycle Path - 16 February, 2014 - 08:01
This location, a large Simultaneous Green junction in Groningen, was chosen for this example because of its symmetry, making it easy to illustrate with arrows showing the routes that people take as they cross the junction. To simplify the diagram I have not shown the straight over routes by bike or the legal right turn against a red light routes. (Google map) In Assen and Groningen we have David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/02/why-collisions-dont-occur-between.html
Categories: Views

Malmö Opens Fantastic Bike&Ride Parking at Central Station

Copenhagenize - 14 February, 2014 - 17:20
Copenhagenize Design Company was pleased to have been invited across the Øresund to the grand opening of the City of Malmö's brand new Bike&Ride parking facility at the central station. On a sunny morning, the ceremonial ribbon - strung between two cargo bikes - was cut. Malmö is Sweden's leading bicycle city - so much so that it features in the Top 20 on The Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities. It is a premier bicycle city with around 30% of the population using bicycles each day to go to work or education.

This brand-new Bike&Ride facility will host more than 1,500 bikes and there are even - be still our hearts - dedicated spaces for cargo bikes. There are loads of details; two air pumps, a bike shop, lockers, numerous screens showing train departure and arrival times, restrooms, a lounge if you have to wait for the train. There is even a single shower for the odd "cyclist" who might fancy a spandex ride. Generally, the facility is geared towards the Citizen Cyclist population of the country's third largest city.






Parking is free at Bike&Ride and there is 24/7 access. It is patrolled by station guards throughout the day. 

There is, however, a separate section for those who want some extra protection. A secure parking area for 700 bicycles based on a subscription service. It costs 80 kroner a month and you get a chip card. Although if you have a transit card, you can combine it with that.
There are numbers painted on the floor to help users remember where they parked so they don't have to wander around looking for a black bicycle in a sea of black bicycles. All of it with a fresh orange colour and cool, Nordic graphic design.

One great detail is the height of the bars in the cargo bike area. Too low for regular bikes to be leaned against them.

Our über intern Dennis, who studies at the University of Utrecht, was impressed with the second tier bike racks. Excellent ease of use, he says. There is a low bar on them to lock your bike to and they require little effort to lift up and put into place.



Access to the secure parking area is, of course, wide enough for cargo bikes, too.

One of the waiting areas, with water fountain.



The Bike&Ride is located under the bus station and connects directly with the train platforms. It's partially underground but it is lovely and bright because of excellent lighting and windows and glass doors. 

All the signs, pictograms and colours (orange and green) used make the facility attractive and user-friendly. We mustn't forget to highlight how important it is to use architecture and design to make sure facilities fit the users. 






In comparison, the Bike&Ride parking located at Hyllie Station on the outskirts of Malmö that opened in 2010 seems less appealing even if it has the same facilities. 

The upper level of bike parking is hardly used because you have to use a set of stairs with a ramp and the connection to the platforms is not at all direct. In the daily routine of a commuter, anything that makes it more inconvenient, however detailed, will not encourage them to consider changing their mode of transport. A2Bism is what we've always called it and Hyllie Station lacks that.

Let's hurry up and get back to the new facility at Malmö Central. That's the main focus here. The City has proved how serious it is about improving conditions for cycling in an already exemplary cycling city. Their new Bike&Ride should embarrass the City of Copenhagen and they should be incredibly proud of it. Another 200 parking spaces are located outside, under a XIX century style roof. These spots are closer to the train station but, above all, they are important for the image of cycling. The City wanted to make sure that some bicycles remained outside the station. You don't want to remove them all. It's still important for everyone passing by to remember that Malmö is a bicycle city.
Malmö has a vibrant bicycle culture and, in April, the City will recieve the results of a massive survey dealing with transport habits and we will know how the modal share of cyclists has changed over the last few years. Gathering data is something the Danes and the Swedes take very seriously.
The bike shop called Bicycle Clinic.

The ticket machines located conveniently at the bicycle parking.


While we're dishing out love for Malmö here on Valentine's Day, we should also recall their brilliant behaviour change campaign - No Ridiculous Car Trips.

Heja Malmö! 



Here's what the parking around Malmö Central looked like until recently:


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

The E-bike Sceptic

Copenhagenize - 14 February, 2014 - 13:51

I often voice my scepticism about the hype surrounding e-bikes in the many interviews I give, but I realised I'd never written an article about it. So here goes.

There has been an enormous amount of hype surrounding e-bikes.
Rule #1: Whenever there is a thick cloud of hype, there is most often another side to the issue that is being neglected. Which is what I've been exploring. When that thick cloud of hype is generated by profit-based industry, your grain of salt just got bigger.

Baseline
E-bikes serve a purpose. Absolutely. They are a great niche addition to the existing armada of bicycles that have served citizens for 125 years. They have the potential of increasing the mobility radius of cycling citizens - especially the elderly. All good.

Safety and Speed
The first point that should be of interest to anyone working in urban mobility, active transportation or whatever they call it where you're from is the safety aspect. The average speed of Citizen Cycling in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is about 16/kmh. Putting vehicles zipping along at 25 km/h into that equation would not seem to be wise.

If you've been to Amsterdam or, to a lesser extent, Copenhagen, you will know the scourge of the scooters. Fast-moving vehicles that cause injury and death to the riders and others in their path. Adding more scooters to the cycle tracks and bike lanes is hardly beneficial to the development of better traffic safety. Especially when these New Scooters appear suddenly and silently, whereas at least the Old Scooters make in infernal noise.

So, e-bikes to increase mobility radii for people "cycling" from farther distances are generally a good thing. But in densely-populated urban centres with bicycle traffic and pedestrians? Nah. Unwise. Nobody wants more scooters. Unless they use the car lanes. Fortunately, I don't see many e-bikes in Copenhagen and there aren't many in Amsterdam. I only see a few here every week. You can spot them easily. They're the ones braking hard and abrupt at intersections.

The City of Groningen has even taken the step to create e-bike lanes parallel to existing bike lanes, in order to separate these two different forms of transport.

A propos Groningen, when I was working there late last year, a city planner I was speaking to outed himself as an e-bike sceptic. He was concerned about the speed factor - casting faster-moving vehicles into an existing flow. He mentioned that 11% of cyclist fatalities were caused by the fact that the cyclist was on an e-bike. Going too fast, losing control, motorists surprised by a speed faster than the average cyclist. He was also concerned about the lack of interest in such matters.

Interestingly, a headline here in Denmark today was much the same. A study by the Road Directorate found out that 10% of cyclist fatalities were on e-bikes. Going too fast, losing control, etc. Most were elderly citizens, which is similar to the Dutch experience. Today, there are calls for e-bike courses to teach people how to use them.

The point here is that there is clearly a bit of an issue. One that isn't mentioned in the Hype Cloud.

Another interesting point was raised by a Dutch colleague who uses an e-bike on occasion. Dutch drivers are used to cyclists, of course, but they're also used to their speed. Motorists stop when turning, check over their shoulder and then decide to continue with the turn if they can see that the oncoming bicycle is far enough away. My colleague has had to brake hard because the motorist had more than enough time to turn if the cyclist was heading towards them at an average speed, but it is hard to see that the e-bike is doing double the speed.

China
Another point that is invisible in the Hype Cloud is the Chinese experience. They have had large numbers of e-bikes and e-scooters for over a decade. As you can read in this article in the Wall Street Journal called "E-Yikes! Electric Bikes Terrorize the Streets of China". The article doesn't mention is that almost every month, another Chinese city bans e-bikes. Simply because of the alarming rise in accidents and deaths. We don't often fancy looking to China for inspiration, but in many cases we should.

Classification and Branding

I've noticed that there is a bit of a confusion about how to classify e-bikes. The word "pedelec" is used to denote a bicycle with an electic assist motor. You have to keep pedalling in order to get some juice. The motor cuts out at 25 km/h. Let's face it, "pedelec" is not a word that will catch on in the general population. To the pleasure of the e-bike industry, who have been lobbying to get any bike with a motor classified as a "bicycle", even e-scooters. At least over the past couple of years I've noticed that "e-scooter" is used more often, in order to differeniate. Nevertheless, we all need to figure out some clear terminology for the general population.

Marketing and Messaging
When you have powerful industry looking to make some cash behind any product line, you have cause to be sceptical. Unlike the bicycle industry, the e-bike industry is pushing hard to make their products mainstream. In an article on BikeBiz we can read that Hannes Neupert, founder and president of ExtraEnergy, an electric vehicle lobbying organisation based in Germany, has declared that:

“Electrification will kill the mechanical bicycle within a few years like it has killed many other mechanical products. Bicycles…will remain as historical items hanging on the wall.”


He isn't the first. Many e-bike websites feature similar claims. It's odd to see that there are clear battle lines drawn.

I first noticed e-bikes on my radar back in 2010. A rumour that pro racer Fabian Cancellara used an e-bike in a pro race went viral on the internet. The rumour led to a frenzied flock of journalists around the world trying to find out if it was true. I remember saying here at the office when the story hit that "within a week, a company name will emerge". Sure enough, journalists that were fed the rumour found out that a motor existed but it was a couple of milimetres too thick to fit into Cancellara's frame. He was then free from suspicion. The Austrian company that produced the motor was all over the press, however.

I have no idea if the Austrian company was behind it all. It's probably unlikely. I remain convinced, however, that it was one of the most brilliant guerilla marketing campaigns I've ever seen, regardless of who started it.

Since then, I've been wary of the massive industry - like any other massive industry - and their tactics.

"Motorists are hopping out of their cars and onto e-bikes!"
No, they're not. This is one of the standard lines I hear from e-bike proponents. Unfortuately, it is purely anecdotal. There is no data to support this claim. Like most standard lines repeated ad nauseum, you can trace them back to the source, which is the e-bike industry. As this humourous YouTube video suggests, the e-bike industry is desperate in their attempts to brand e-bikes as "sexy" to able-bodied young adults. With limited success.

Many people have an anecdote to tell me. About him or her who now use an e-bike. Of course there are good stories to tell. I  know some myself. My main problem with anecdotes is that they are often presented as The Big Picture. Just because one person's dad or grandmother hopped onto an e-bike doesn't mean that everyone is. But the neo-religious Hype Cloud fogs up the lens sometimes. Another grain of salt, please.

The fact remains that there is only one way to get motorists to change their behaviour. And here it is.

Health Benefits
The health benefits of cycling are well-documented. I've been wondering how they will be reduced with the advent of e-bikes. People will be pedalling less. They won't be getting their pulse up as much, which is incredibly important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It's great if the elderly use e-bikes to extend their active mobility, absolutely. There are benefits there. In the Netherlands, the average age of an e-bike rider is over 60. Lots of elderly people will benefit. I just wonder about the big picture. Nobody else seems to be doing it.


At this point, because I've learned the nature of how many people read blog articles, I'm going to repeat this for clarity:

Baseline
E-bikes serve a purpose. Absolutely. They are a great niche addition to the existing armada of bicycles that have served citizens for 125 years. They have the potential of increasing the mobility radius of cycling citizens - especially the elderly. All good.

All I've done is questioned the Hype Cloud. Looking at important issues like safety. Mostly because too many people are dazzled by the e-bike industry rhetoric and I want to explore both sides of the coin.

I hope that when I'm elderly, I'll be fit and able enough to ride a bicycle. Having an e-option, however, is good. We'll see how it works out when I get there.

I remain convinced that the bicycle as we know it can continue to have a transformational effect on our socities and our cities, just as it has done for 125 years.

Remember, people rode bicycles sans motors in all of our cities for decades and decades. On bicycles heavier and clumsier than modern models. Their offspring can do the same today if infrastructure is put into place to keep them safe.

I believe in the bicycle. From a rational and historical perspective. The e-bike is a nice addition but despite what the e-bike industry tells you, it ain't the new sliced bread.

Those of us working towards creating more liveable cities should be well-versed in both sides of the coin and act based on that instead of blindly allowing the Hype Cloud to envelop us.






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

Response to the Central London Cycle Grid consultation

Vole O'Speed - 13 February, 2014 - 23:35
The consultation on the Central London Cycling Grid ends today, Friday 13 February. As they did for the (related) Westminster Cycling Strategy consultation, I hope that thousands of Londoners interested in cycling will respond to TfL. It is worth copying your local council, if it is one of those that covers part of Zone 1, and to the Royal Parks, and the Canal and River Trust with comments relevant to them as well.

The Grid is one of the four main planks of the strategy announced in the Mayor's Vision for cycling in London last year. The others are the Cycle Superhighways and Quietways outside Zone 1, and the Ourter London mini-Hollands. The Grid consists of routes classified both as Superhighways and Quietways, within Zone 1. Within Zone 1, these routes are supposed to form a fairly dense network that will facilitate most cycling journeys in comfort and safety. However, as officials have been keen to tell me, Transport for London cannot impose a plan for the Grid on the boroughs that cover Zone 1, and the other relevant authorities: that is, Camden, Westminster, Islington, The City, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Hackney, the Royal Parks, and the Canal and River Trust. They can only make suggestions and try to ensure coordination, but they cannot force compliance or any particularly standards on local authority roads. Though TfL provides funding, they cannot force consistency (except by withholding funds, which would be a blunt instrument to use). This is a pretty unsatisfactory situation all round, but until the Government or Parliament alters it, there is nothing we can do, and we have to try to get the best result through lobbying. Here are the views on the Grid of London Cycling Campaign and Hammersmith and Fulham Cyclists, and here are those of bloggers As Easy as Riding a Bike, Rachel Aldred, and Sticks and Wheels.

The fact that the Grid looks inconsistent between boroughs is due to the fact it is effectively 10 separate projects, of 8 councils plus the Parks and the Canals. My response follows. It concentrates on the north and west of the Grid zone, as the areas I know best.

1. General
The Grid routes need to be as direct as possible, full stop. Otherwise they will not achieve their potential, and the potential for cycling in the Grid area will not be realised. All cyclists require and deserve direct and prioritised routes, whether they are fast, fit and experienced cyclists, used to handling motor traffic, or those who wish to cycle slowly or who refuse to share space with motor traffic. Frequently, this directness and priority cannot be achieved on minor roads. The Grid is too heavily biased away from main roads. Main roads that I suggest should have been included in the Grid are Euston Road, Marylebone Road, Edgware Road, Park Lane, Piccadilly, The Strand, Fleet Street, Whitehall, and Kensington High Street, amongst others. More notice should be taken of the Copenhagen experience of creating a cycle grid: their early attempts to accommodate cycling on back-streets met with limited success. They realised they had instead to carve out safe space for cycling on the main roads that cyclists showed consistently they wished to use. They have now covered nearly all the main (non-motorway) roads in the city. They did succeed in creating the "new type of cyclist" that the Quietway consultation document speaks of, but they did not, primarily, do it by attempting to shove cycling away on small roads.

The standards that the Grid is built to, as well as its directness and convenience, will determine its success. The standards that should be adopted are those agreed as policy by London Cycling Campaign. Cyclists should not, on any links on the Grid, have to share space with traffic faster than 20mph or  with more than 2,000 Passenger Car Units a day. This means that on streets where either of these limits is exceeded,  cyclists must have dedicated, physically protected space. On streets where there is insufficient width to create that space, either that space needs to be created by removing lanes of traffic, which may involve the creation of new one-way streets for motor vehicles, or the speed must be lower than 20mph and the flow must be reduced below 2000 PCU per day by traffic-management measures such as mode-filters (closures allowing bikes through), opposing one-way sections for motors, with cycle exception, and no-entry plugs for motors.

2. Westminster
The E–W route across Fitzrovia and Marylebone (the Seven Stations Link) that continues Camden's route westward must be more direct than Westminster currently propose. The dotted lines on the TfL map are better than Westminster's actual proposals, which are represented by the solid lines. The route needs to create a direct link to Paddington Station. Conditions in New Cavendish Street are very poor. This street needs either segregated space for cycling, with parking outside cycle tracks, or complete removal of through motor traffic. The signalling of the junctions needs altering, as there are currently too many delays for this to work as an efficient cycle route. Similar remarks apply to the proposed N–S route via Wimpole Street and New Bond Street (or via Harley Street and Hanover Square). New Bond Street in particular would need radical alteration to make it an acceptable route, either segregation or closure to through-traffic. If just these two main E–W and N–S routes are got right, this would be a major useful contribution to the Grid and to cycling in the West End.

Westminster's proposals for the route N–S through St James are an indirect mess, and little different to what cyclists are allowed to do at the moment. The best solution is two-way cycling on Marlborough Road, St James's Street and Albermarle Street, or via Queens Walk and Berkeley Street.

Hyde Park Corner should not be left as it is. The current crossing arrangements for cyclists, pedestrians and horses are a confused mess. Cycle space should be clearly defined, segregated and spacious enough, and signals must afford sufficient priority and allow for the large flow of cyclists anticipated on the Crossrail route without congestion. Movements of and on to the Crossrail route from other major roads need to be allowed for here, in particular between it and Piccadilly and Grosvenor Place. Significant redesign of the whole junction is required. Currently, there is no safe connection between the Hyde Park paths and Piccadilly or Grosvenor Place.

The current routes N and S through Covent Garden and connecting with Waterloo Bridge are poor because they are overloaded with motor traffic. Bow Street is particularly poor. More filtering and/or one-ways for motors are needed. Proper cycle tracks are needed on Waterloo Bridge, with signals to manage the conflict at the north end.

The routes from the Hyde Park Corner area north-west towards Camden and Brent are too indirect. This is a consequence of the A5 not being dealt with; it forms the only direct route in this direction. In particular, the junction of the A5 and the A501 actually needs tackling. The loop via Old Marylebone Road and Cosway Street is silly, and the route via Norfolk Cresent, W of the A5, needs to connect with Hyde Park. There is a large unsolved gap around Paddington with no crossing of the A40/A501 and canal between Cosway Street and Westbourne Bridge. The canal towpath and connecting paths could, with work, solve this gap. A route is shown via Hamilton Terrace (an existing LCN route), but this is a highly unsatisfactory street for cycling, with significant through-traffic and no space for cycling, because of the parking down both sides and down the centre of this very wide road as well. Either the parking need rearranging, to make space for cycle tracks, or the road needs closing off as a motor through-route. It is not needed as a through-route for cars, as it exactly parallels Maida Vale, which has plenty of space and is under capacity. The fiddly southern extension of the Hamilton Terrace route is again unsatisfactory, Edgware Road should be tackled instead. The route via Carlton Vale (the proposed Bradley Wiggins Way, going into Brent) is welcomed, but this will need segregation. The connection between Little Venice and Maida Vale is much needed. This requires alteration of the one-way system in Blomfield Road and Maida Avenue.

3. Kensington and Chelsea
A route is obviously needed E–W through Kensington. This should be via Kensington High Street, which needs segregated cycle tracks. Holland Walk should be included in the network, properly connected with the roads. Alternatively, Campden Hill Road could be used, with filtering. But there really must a a route connecting Notting Hill Gate with Kensington High Street. There should also be an E-W cycle path through Holland Park. Ladbroke Grove is an example of a semi-main road that is the only satisfactorily direct connection between many places, and it should be part of the Grid. Semi-segregation in the manner of Camden's Royal College street might be appropriate here, with parking outside the cycle tracks. The current arrangement of advisory cycle lanes outside the parking is no good. Kensington and Chelsea's current proposals for the Grid are particularly bad, the worst of any of the relevant boroughs. The Royal Borough must try far harder to find appropriate routes for cyclists and to create connections.

4. Camden
The grid of cycle routes in Camden is already better than in adjacent boroughs, and Camden should be congratulated on proposing some more useful steps here. I would particularly support the connection from Royal College Street to Gloucester Avenue, via Delancey Street, if done to the same standard as Royal College Street, and the proposed extension of the Royal College Street route southwards via Midland Road. I'd also particularly support development of a Clerkenwell Boulevard via Theobalds Road and Bloomsbury Way, one of the most cycled routes in London, with a good standard of two-way, dedicated provision for cyclists, separated from the buses. Where Camden's proposals particularly fall short are in the treatment of the N-S route on Tottenham Court Road or Gower Street. One of these should be prioritised for cycling, with good-quality, ample dedicated space not shared with buses. Taking the totality of width available on these two roads, this must be possible. The concept of making them both two-way should not be elevated in importance over providing dedicated space for cycling on one of them.

The highest priority in Camden must be the improvement of the Bloomsbury E-W route, or Seven Stations Link. This is now massively over-capacity, and a whole lane of the road needs to be reallocated, with a consequent readjustment of the one-way system. Though-traffic on this axis needs to be forced back to Euston Road, where it belongs. Alternatively, a series of mode-filters or opposing one-ways for motors would exclude through-traffic and allow a continuous cycling boulevard using the whole width of the road.

5. Islington
The network in south Islington is, like that in Camden, already relatively good. However, St John Street needs sorting out. The current cycle lanes do not work, and it needs turning into a cycling boulevard. It does not need through-traffic as it is an exactly parallel alternative to the A1 Goswell Road. The Seven Stations Link route needs clarifying in Islington and bringing up to the same capacity and standard throughout. Priority needs improving and unnecessary stops at traffic signals eliminated.

6. City of London
The northward connection from Southwark Bridge needs improving through to Gresham Street. There is a chain of unsatisfactory shared-space type crossings which engender confusion a with pedestrian flows. The cycle route here should be clearly defined and properly signalised and separated from pedestrians. Cycling should be permitted through Smithfield Market. There needs to be a two-way route between St Pauls, Smithfield and Farringdon via Aldersgate Street, which is very wide, also connecting with Gresham Street. This would achieve a direct connection between Bank and the St Pauls area and the Seven Stations Link route in Islington.

The Superhighway across London Bridge needs connecting northwards. Both Blackfriars and London Bridges need segregated cycle tracks. A route needs to be taken through Bank junction, which needs simplifying and some roads closing off. Cycle tracks are needed on Blackfriars Bridge, with signals to manage the conflicts at the north end.

7. The Royal Parks
The routes through the parks need to be open 24 hours a day for the whole year. They cannot be allowed to be disrupted by arbitrary events such as entertainments in Hyde Park, which regularly cause the closing of the southern end of the Broad Walk. The cycle and pedestrian and horse paths along Rotten Row need to be redesigned, with enough capacity for all traffic. Currently far too little space is allocated to both cycling and walking. The conflicts around the Rotten Row - Broad Walk - South Carriage Drive junction need sorting out rationally. Some of the gates into the parks probably need widening. The current infrastructure in Hyde Park and Green Park will not be able to cope with the flows that the East-West "Crossrail" route will generate. The cycle path along the south side of Green Park needs massively widening. Cycling N–S via Queens Walk needs to be permitted. There needs to be a route diagonally across Hyde Park from the Serpentine Bridge to Albion Street.

In Regents Park, the route N–S needs to continue all the way down the Broadwalk. Most critically, through-traffic needs to be removed from the Outer Circle. This would be a huge benefit to the park as a whole, not just cycling. It would also be consistent with the original purposes of the roads through the park which were laid down in the 1820s for exercise and recreation, not as general traffic routes. Such a step would be an act of restoration for the park routes back to their proper purpose. The Charlbert Street and St Marks Square bridges across the canal should be made cycleable, and should be widened if this is not possible with the existing structures.

-----
That's enough. I'll leave other people to deal with Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth. The main point is to get your responses in today, welcoming the principle of the Grid, but pointing out some of the flaws and gaps in the current proposals.
Categories: Views

Death on the streets

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 13 February, 2014 - 22:03

On Wednesday, Beyond the Kerb wrote

Much of the time, it feels like the view that it’s simply not acceptable to kill people in completely avoidable collisions and then say “Well, it happens” is some form of extremism, and that the rest of society stands around blankly and says, “What are you on about? Of course it’s acceptable. You expect me to actually not drive into people?”

This was provoked by the case of a man who had been killed cycling in Southampton, David Irving, killed despite doing everything he could to keep himself alive, beyond not even cycling in the first place, and yet ended up being blamed, by implication, for his own death. Nobody else was at fault.

A very different case was reported by the Evening Standard yesterday – that of a nine-year-old boy, killed outside his own home. But it betrays the same extraordinary willingness to exonerate and excuse the person who crashed into him, and to blame the victim.

The family of a nine-year-old boy who was killed by a speeding driver today branded British justice a “joke” after  the man’s 21-month jail sentence was cut almost in half.

Redwan Uddin was riding on the handlebars of his brother’s bike as they played near their east London home  when Ibrahim Waseem, 23, crashed into them at 39mph in a 20mph zone.

He was jailed for 21 months at Snaresbrook crown court in November but on Tuesday had his sentence cut to 12 months by appeal judges. It means he could be released after serving six months following his conviction for causing death by careless driving.

The boy’s tearful uncle, Abu Ahmed, 25, an accountant from Whitechapel, today told of the family’s “devastation” at the new sentence, which he branded “a holiday”. He added: “We have lost faith in the British justice system. It’s a joke. We applied to have the 21-month sentence lengthened but we didn’t even get a reply. He appeals and he has his sentence halved.

“We have to live with this for the rest of our lives and he could be out after six months. The justice system favours the criminals and not the victims.”

Marks & Spencer worker Waseem had been driving in Woodhouse Grove, East Ham, near the brothers’ home, when he lost control of his Mazda on a speed hump and ploughed into the boys in June 2012.

Waseem, who was convicted of driving without insurance in 2008, fled the scene and dumped his car but later turned himself in to police. Lady Justice Rafferty, sitting with Mr Justice Collins and Judge Nicholas Hilliard, said the appeal court’s “heart goes out to Redwan’s family”. But Waseem was “extremely remorseful”, she said, and pointed out the crash occurred as Redwan was perched on the handlebars of a bike, without a helmet, travelling the wrong way down a one-way street.

Lady Justice Rafferty concluded: “We are confident that 21 months was manifestly excessive.”

Waseem was also disqualified from driving for at least 12 months.

‘At least twelve months’. Great news.

In the David Irving trial, the jury was directed, by the judge,

to ignore Highway Code [rules 93 and 237, advising drivers to] slow down or stop if dazzled [because the] Highway Code is not law.

That’s fine if you are driving a car. If you are driving a car, the Highway Code isn’t relevant, because it isn’t law.

But in the case of Redwan Uddin – who, let’s remember, was a nine-year-old boy, someone we should hardly expect to be fully conversant with road rules - the Highway Code suddenly becomes relevant in mitigation.

(Let’s not even stop to think here about the absurdity of a situation in which young children can’t even play on a bicycle, travelling in any direction, on the tiny street in front of their own house, and have to wear helmets in case a car comes flying out of nowhere at 40mph).

Was he wearing a helmet? No – well, that’s relevant.

Was he on the handlebars? Yes – well, that’s relevant.

Was he cycling the wrong way on a one-way street? Yes – well, that’s relevant.

But in any sane assessment of what happened here, all these details are completely irrelevant. Redwan Uddin could have been crossing the road, on foot, without a helmet, without being perched on handlebars, and would have been killed in precisely the same way.

He could have been cycling the correct way, with a full face crash helmet, on a saddle and not the handlebars, and would have been killed in precisely the same way.

What killed Uddin was a very heavy metal object flying off a speed hump at 40 mph, on a residential street, piloted by a deeply irresponsible man.

Yet once again the judicial system scrabbles around to find minor details, to lessen his responsibility.


Categories: Views

Desire Lines - Dybbølsbro

Copenhagenize - 13 February, 2014 - 05:00
Mikael, on behalf of Copenhagenize Design Co., is a teacher in the Bicycle Urbanism Studio led by urban liveability expert Bianca Hermansen at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). Since 1959, DIS has given American students the chance to study in Denmark. Our Bicycle Urbanism Studio features American architecture students.
Mikael led a portion of the course involving a massive Desire Lines analysis of two intersections at either end of the Dybbøls Bridge in the Vesterbro neighbourhood, where the coming elevated cycle track - "Bicycle Snake – Cykelslangen" - will be connected. Here's a map of the area in question.Working with the students - Anna Darling, David Mitchell, Jeannette Mundy, Elaine Stokes, Michelle Woods, Michelle Zucker, Ben Zünkeler -was brilliant and inspiring. Here is a summary of their studies.You can download herethe full report of the Dybbølsbro's Desire Lines analysis

Meant as a companion document to “Desire: The Bicycle Choreography of anUrban Intersection” the following study chronicle the usage of two intersections straddling the Dybbølsbro S-Tog station over the course of a 13 hour period. In order to determine how daily cyclists would react to the implementation of the proposed “Cycle Snake,” cyclist patterns were documented. Through the analysis of types of movement and frequented Desire Lines, a data based indication of the usage of the new infrastructure and a verifiable hypothesis of potential points of conflict can be developed.
As Jane Jacobs noted “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them […], that we must fit our plans.” We must be aware that despite best intentions, building without reference to the patterns of people can result in conflicts and failures that could have been foreseen and prevented. Through careful consideration of the data design solutions have been developed that strive to enhance the “cycle snake” proposal while remaining conscious of the realities of human behavior.
The observations are meant to reveal, inform, and inspire.
Bicycle Infrastructure Implementation Through ObservationOur focus is to determine how many people, currently, use the stairs to get to their final destination and if a solution can be presented that will better accommodate the needs of cyclists than the new “snake” infrastructure.
Our goal is also to use fact-based information to make decisions in our designs. The new layout should accommodate not only those who correctly follow the rules of the road but also those who feel the need to break the rules in order to get where they need to go more quickly. Both provide important evidence of human behavior.

4.756 - This number represents the total amount of people who use the staircase on a daily basis. We can assume that at least this number of people will use the new “snake” infrastructure when it is installed.
92%- Ninety-two percent of cyclists coming up the staircase head in the direction of Dybbølsbro station. This means the majority of people who use the stairs are doing so to get somewhere other than the mall.
37%- Looking closely at the mall intersection, we noticed that thirty-seven percent of all travelers heading southeast used the stairs to get to their future destination. This figure takes into consideration those going against the flow of traffic, those cycling in pedestrian crossingsand those who abode by the rules.

Fisketorvet intersection: 7.059 Cyclists (from 7am to 8pm)


During the morning rush hour, Fisketorvet is the destination for very few cyclists. Instead, the intersection is used primarily by commuters going up or down the stairs descending from the northeast corner of the intersection. As a result, the northeast corner frequently backs up with bikers. Additionally, the low level of car traffic at this hour gives the cyclists more freedom to bend the rules as they move through the intersection. Midday routes demonstrate a significant increase of cyclists entering or exiting the mall. During the mall’s opening hours, there was a relatively steady increase of pedestrians, cyclists, and cars alike entering the round-about.

Morning Rush Hour, 8:45-9:00














During the peak of morning rush hour outside the Fisketorvet, a significantly higher percentage of cyclists bent or broke the rules compared to a standard Copenhagen intersection. In “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection,” it was found that on an average day at a standard intersection, 93% of cyclists conformed to traffic laws, while 6% could be qualified as Monumentalists and 1% could be qualified as Recklists. The large increase of Monumentalists at this intersection can be accounted for by the number of people taking a left turn as if they were a car and cutting across traffic rather than doing the standard “Copenhagen left.” This data makes it clear that the high flow of commuters are in need of a more direct route crossing this intersection coming to and from the future Snake structure.
Midday, 12:00-12:15During the middle of the day at the Fisketorvet Mall intersection, a standard distribution of Momentumists and Recklists can be observed as in accordance with the data gathered in “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection”. When comparing the data collected from this intersection at midday with the data from the morning and afternoon, which showed higher percentages of rule bending, the conformists behavior can be attributed to higher volumes of vehicular traffic and less bicycle traffic. With more vehicles on the road as compared to the other observed times, bicyclists need to be more cautious. There are also not as many bikers on the road, so a pack mentality is not often created.
Evening Rush Hour, 6:00 - 6:15
During the peak of evening rush hour outside the Fisketorvet, a significantly higher percentage of cyclist bent or broke the rules compared to a standard Copenhagen intersection. The large increase of Recklists at this intersection can be accounted for by the number of people exiting the staircase and entering traffic. Cyclists behavior is largely dependent on the pedestrians moving through the plaza where the future construction of the snake is to take place. This data makes it clear that the high number of recklists commuters need proper infrastructure to navigate the plaza and eliminate this type of behavior.

Ingerslevsgade Intersection

Morning Rush Hour


Morning Rush Hour, 8:45-9:00The Ingersevgade operates as a fairly standard Copenhagen intersection: two intersecting roads with traffic lights on all corners. Still, this intersection has approximately twice as many momentumists and reckists as the streets studied in “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection.” The breakdown of types of deviations reveals that flexible interpretations of light signals and use of the pedestrian crossing accounts for these increases. After considering the time of day and unique site features, it is reasonable to assume that cyclists hurrying to work are less willing to wait at red land yellow lights. Additionally, the majority of cyclists using the pedestrian crossing were moving between the S-Tog corner and the neighborhood corner (Southeast and Northwest).
Midday, 12:00-12:15During the middle of the day, the Dybbølsbro intersection functioned as a standard Copenhagen intersection as reported in “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection”. It was found that on an average day at a standard intersection, 93% of cyclists conformed to traffic laws, while 6% could be qualified as Monumentalists and 1% could be qualified as Recklists. The data at this intersection matches and supports this data. The Dybbølsbro intersection is a fairly typical intersection, with the exception of a good amount of bicycle traffic coming into and from the intersection through an adjoining neighborhood road. The high percentage of bikers using pedestrian crossings to cross the street were mainly people using this street.
Evening Rush Hour, 6:00 – 6:15During the peak of evening rush hour outside the Fisketorvet, a significantly higher percentage of cyclist bent or broke the rules compared to a standard Copenhagen intersection. The large increase of Monumentalists at this intersection can be accounted for by the number of people entering the pedestrian crossings and creating conflict with pedestrians moving through the intersection. The high percentage of cyclists on the sidewalk can be attributed to an overflow accumulation of cyclists on street corners while waiting for the green light. 

This is likely the reason for cyclists running yellow and red lights to avoid waiting amongst large crowds. This data makes it clear that the high flow of commuters are in need of a more direct route crossing at this intersection coming to and from the future Snake structure.

Copenhagenize Fixes

Fisketorvet IntersectionIn a few months, instead of carrying their bikes up the stairs, the bicycle users will use the elevated cycle track designed specifically for them. But what about the connection between this much-needed infrastructure and the cycle tracks on the road? The bicycle users will arrive on a roundabout designed for the cars, and so the creation of this new infrastructure calls for a rearrangement. We can assume that in the future, bicycle users coming from the bridge and heading to the “Snake” will cut across the roundabout in front of Fisketorvet shopping mall. Indeed, currently we notice that only 23% (lines D and R vs lines C and S) of the bicycle users heading to the stairs cycle all the way around the roundabout. The other ones use the pedestrian crosswalk. That's why we suggest creating an official blue bike lane reaching the ‘Snake’ and to add two yield lines for the cars. This solution is the one that causes the least amount of changes to the current layout.
Ingerslevsgade Intersection

The Desire Lines analysis shows that most bicycle users cross the intersection normally, or use the crosswalks. The main aspect that does not meet the cyclists' needs is the new bike lanes on the sidewalk designed to reach Dybbølsgade. It is actually a good idea to make this small section of bike route 'official', since it is a well-known short-cut through Vesterbro. But the design of the lanes does not follow the natural trajectories of the cyclists. This infrastructure was brand-new when the study was made and we noticed that all the bicycle users took the lane in the wrong way. A few months later, less bicycle users made this ‘mistake’ but still a massive number of them cycle on the sidewalk without following the lane. Instead they take, as one might expect, the shortest way to reach their destination. Here again, our proposal is the one that causes the least amount of rearrangement. Opening the street in the middle instead of on the edges - where the bicycle users must snake around fences - would have been the best solution. 

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

‘The Little Green One’ cycle bridge north of Nijmegen

BicycleDutch - 12 February, 2014 - 23:01
“It should be called ‘The little green one’, because it’s green and because that’s what you say about a novice or something new as well. And this was the area … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

What’s wrong with Halfords’ “Cycling Top Tips”?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 12 February, 2014 - 22:35

From Halfords cycle2work leaflet

 Halfords, as well as being a large car parts and servicing business, is a major cycle retail business and operates a “Cycle to Work” government approved initiative to enable employees to use a bike and accessories to cycle to work. We think the extract from their “cycle2work” leaflet sends out the wrong message about cycling. Here’s why:

·        Wear a comfortable, well-fitting helmet.Cycling, even in contemporary conditions is low risk – comparable to walking, and even more so car journeys over longer distances, for which helmets are never recommended.  Cycle helmets are – and can only be – designed to withstand low impact forces, equivalent to falling of a bike from a stationary riding position. They are not designed for impacts with motor vehicles, especially not heavy vehicles or those moving at speed. This means that they can’t be relied on to give any protection in life-threatening impacts. The injuries they can reduce are generally minor and easily survivable. Factor in the adaptive behaviour of other road users to helmeted cyclists -  and the adaptive behaviour of helmeted cyclists themselves – and you see why there is no evidence of any safety benefit over a population over time for their effect.

·        Be seen – wear bright clothes and something reflective. Again, an absence of evidence, and a victim-blaming slant which takes attention away from the responsibilities of motorists. “Being seen” means pressuring drivers to look where they are going: “Never drive in such a way that you cannot stop within visible distance”. Are Halfords well known for effective attempts at promoting this? And is the cyclist in the photo – not in the kind of position recommended by “Bikeability” National Standards cycle training – positioning himself so that he is more likely to “be seen”?

·        “Stop at junctions and look, look and look again. If you’re not sure, wait”. Hardly a description of a confident and assertive cyclist, is it? Where do you look and what are you waiting for? None of the “Top Tips” includes developing cycling confidence through Bikeability training. Of course, on the other side of the leaflet they do refer to cycle training delivered by the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Will this be empowering, and provide knowledge of cyclists’ rights as well as responsibilities?

·        “Carry emergency contact details with you”. You’re probably going to die! At this point we have to draw breath and remind people of the paradox of road safety.  Cycling is not inherently hazardous. Even in current conditions casualty rates are low. You are probably NOT going to die. This DOES NOT mean that what many motorists (the source of road danger) are up to is in any way at all acceptable. It shouldn’t be difficult to see that this is an apparent contradiction (or paradox) and not an actual one. The point is to understand the level of risk and to deal with danger at source – for all road users.

·        “If going on a long bike ride let someone know when you expect to return and the route you’ll take.” Infantilising and “dangerising” cycling. This is exactly the right way to put people off cycling. It feeds in to the “fear of cycling”

·        “Keep tyres inflated: it makes for a smoother ride, means less effort to pedal and makes the bike easier to handle.” Something which actually makes sense. A big problem in the UK is that since the loss of cycling as a normal form of everyday transport since the 1950s, basic knowledge of what is actually needed to cycle has been lost. Are Halfords actually helping to create a cycle culture?

·        “If you are riding at dusk or in the dark make sure your bike has lights”. A legal requirement, but how important is it on the scale of things you might need to know about cycling? And how much will your safety be improved? 

·        “Use hand signals to show where you are going. Help drivers to help you.” Hand signals are taught as part of Bikeability training – but look at the wording here. It betrays an interestingly patronising attitude: Is rule and law obeying motoring something which is about “helping” your potential victims? Isn’t it about doing what you are required to do by law and your basic obligations to the well-being of others to whom you have a duty of care?

 

Unlike some commentators, we don’t believe that achieving significant modal shift to cycling is simply a question of mimicking some features of countries where there are better cycling modal shares. But we do think that moving towards a larger share of journeys by bicycle means: Seeing cycling as a normal, everyday form of transport carried out by normal people in normal, everyday clothes. Whatever the reason given for a larger share of journeys by bicycle by other societies, present or past, it is always based on this idea of cycling being done by normal people in normal clothes just getting about and not engaged in a danger sport, and with society reacting to cycling accordingly.

Look at the people below:

 

Groningen, Netherlands. (All photos are from urban areas with far higher levels of cycling than the UK, Captions below photos.) Somewhere in the Netherlands

   

Street scenes in Denmark Amsterdam

   

                  Munster, Germany                                                 Ferrara, Italy                         Ghent, Belgium                                        Seville, Spain

  

           La Rochelle, France                                                    Berlin

Halfords may think these people are doing something wrong and asking for trouble. We would disagree.


Categories: Views

The Central London Grid

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 12 February, 2014 - 17:08

The deadline for responses to the consultation on Transport for London’s Central London Grid is this Friday. Both London Cycling Campaign and Rachel Aldred have provided detailed responses, which I recommend you read; I thought I’d add some comments of my own to complement theirs, and also to remind you to respond yourself.

The idea of a Central London Grid is an excellent one – a network of direct routes that connect up across Zone 1, and that are (or should be) suitable for anyone who wants to ride a bike. The stated intention is to compose it mostly of routes away from main roads – around 75%. The remaining 25% of the Grid will be composed of main road interventions. These percentages can be quibbled about, but they sound reasonable. What is absolutely essential, however, is that the form of the Grid, and the treatments at ground level, are suitable, and there are worrying signs that the Grid will fail on both counts.

This isn’t all the fault of TfL. There is intransigence from Boroughs, particularly Kensington and Chelsea, who (as we shall see) have effectively eviscerated the Grid network in their borough. There is a higher density of Grid in Westminster, but again this is a borough that seems determined to fit cycling in around the margins, not provide for it in any useful way. There are also problems with the Royal Parks, firstly with even allowing cycling within them, and also with closing times.

But there are issues with how Transport for London is approaching the Grid. Firstly, in regarding what, precisely, is an ‘adequate’ Quietway, and secondly with ‘dual networking’ – treating Quietways as a kind of network for a slow, nervous cyclist, while main roads remain the preserve of the faster, confident existing cyclist.

Some of the proposed Quietway routes will follow streets and roads that have had measures already put in place to cut out through traffic – Goldsmiths Row in Hackney fits into this definition. However it is not clear from the TfL Grid document whether measures will always be put in place to ensure that motor traffic is greatly reduced on the Quietway routes.

It seems to me as if the Grid is being put on streets that have already had proper traffic reduction measures installed, and on streets that are deemed to be ‘adequately’ quiet already. But the scheme is crying out for a definition of what ‘adequate’ actually means, in terms of the volume of motor traffic – this could then set a benchmark for when measures like filtered permeability would have to be applied. The TfL document states

Like the name suggests, Quietways will use the quietest roads possible while balancing the need for directness, usability and safety. In some busy parts of central London there are no absolutely quiet roads, but all will be significantly less busy than the alternatives, with fewer vehicles, travelling at lower speeds

Well, there may be ‘no absolutely quiet roads’ in some parts of central London, but that suggests that the Grid should create these quiet routes, through deliberate interventions, not attempt to pretend that they are suitable simply by virtue of being a bit quieter than the horrendous main road nearby. The Grid is being presented almost passively, when it should be an active intervention to create safe and inviting conditions.

The other issue is the aforementioned ‘dual networking’. The TFL document has this definition -

Quietway routes are slower than the main roads. They are not aimed at speedy commuter cyclists, who will almost certainly stick with the fast main roads. They are intended for people who want to avoid the main roads and want to take it more slowly and calmly – the new kind of cyclist we want to attract.

The problem here is that if Quietways are ‘slow’, then nobody is going to want to use them, be they a faster lycra type, or just an ordinary person on a Boris bike. Quietways should be suitable for all – they should precisely be aimed at commuter cyclists as well as everyone else, because cycling needs fast direct routes to be attractive.

The additional danger here is the age-old problem with dual networks; that you end up with two different types of route that are both inadequate in different ways. The Quietways are fiddly and unusable, while the main roads remain hostile and unsuitable for most, justified on the grounds that if you don’t like it, well, there’s a Quietway over there, somewhere else. The Grid has to have Uniformity of Provision - the idea that all its routes should not trade off safety against convenience, and should be desirable and attractive for anyone who rides a bike. This is the essence of the Dutch approach to designing bicycle networks. They do not design different kinds of route for different people – that is a recipe for poor provision.

Now onto various specific issues. The Grid network in Kensington and Chelsea is hopeless.

This is not a network

Not only have Kensington and Chelsea blocked the routing of a Superhighway down Kensington High Street – they do not want cycle tracks on this road – they have also provided some suggestions for a ‘Quietway’ network in their borough that are, frankly, insultingly bad. There are lines on this map that just stop and start – they don’t even join up! Kensington and Chelsea need to be told in the strongest possible terms that this simply isn’t good enough. There has to be a coherent east-west route as part of the Grid here – through Holland Park (where cycling is currently banned) and the Royal Parks, and/or through the streets of the borough, to the south.

There are issues here with Parks too – as I understand it Kensington Gardens closes at dusk, effectively rendering it useless for much of the winter as part of a cycling ‘Grid’. If routes are being placed in parks, access should not be compromised. Hyde Park as a whole closes at midnight.

Sections of the Grid that run through The Royal Parks will form useful, pleasant routes. The proposal to close the Outer Circle of Regents Park to motor traffic will make this an excellent route, as well as improving the quality of the park as a whole. Likewise a route up the eastern side of Green Park is much needed. The Royal Parks need to be urged to support these suggestions, and also to ensure that the routes are properly designed, and wide enough, to ensure that people walking and cycling do not come into conflict with each other.

Westminster, for all the criticism it has come in for, is actually ahead of Kensington and Chelsea in one important regard – it will be allowing (hopefully) Superhighway 11 to run across its borough, and of course the main East-West route will run along some important roads in Westminster. Both of these routes will (or should) be fully segregated. However, there are issues with the fiddliness of the proposals for Quietways in Westminster. Particularly around Paddington, and in St James, the Quietways seem to meander all over the place, avoiding roads and streets that require interventions. Back street routes in Westminster need to be pleasant and direct. 

The Grid in Westminster. The dashed lines are the routes TfL want to implement as a first preference

In Camden, Hackney and Islington, the Grid looks pretty good, and includes some streets that already carry high volumes of cycle traffic, particularly the Tavistock Place segregated track, and the Clerkenwell Road.

It’s good to see these kinds of direct routes in the Grid. It is important, however, that whatever treatments are employed on these roads, they will be made suitable as genuine Quietways.

The final issue I’d mention here (doubtless there are many more) is in the City, where there are a number of serious blockages, particularly London Bridge, where a Superhighway doesn’t actually connect with anything.

London Bridge (the rightmost bridge). A Superhighway, that ends, leaving you stranded

This area is crying out for a sensible, continuous north-south route, straight across the City, and doesn’t seem to have got it. There isn’t one. The obvious choice would be across the horrible five-fingered Bank junction, with closures or filtered permeability on some of the approach roads. The area is teeming with people on foot, on public transport, and on bikes, and yet most of the space has been allocated to the private car. The Grid should represent a golden opportunity to address that imbalance.

So please do comment on the Grid before the end of Friday – reply to grid@tfl.gov.uk. All responses to the Consultation will be used to bolster the Grid concept, to revise it, and to improve it. It’s vitally important that it is implemented properly.


Categories: Views

Transforming Copenhagen - Købmagergade in 1973 & 2014

Copenhagenize - 11 February, 2014 - 11:30

Købmagergade by Kronprinsensgade - looking north

My heart leapt a little when I discovered a series of photographs taken by a Copenhagener, Finn Lustrup, back in 1973. This series is of Købmagergade - one of the two main pedestrian streets in the heart of the Danish capital.

Finn Lustrup, born in Copenhagen in 1951, has a fantastic archive of photo material from the streets of Copenhagen throughout a long period of time. I asked him some questions about why he ended up with his brilliant archive.

"My interest for photography started in 1965, when I recieved a photo album as a confirmation gift. I borrowed cameras until I bought my own in 1972 and my photography really took off. I was there when the #5 tram line was removed and it was then I really started taking photos. When the tramway network was removed, I focused on buses, but not just the vehicle. It had to be in a street scene because I wanted to record the typical street of the time, since I was equally interested in urban development.

Between 1972 and 1990 I must have taken a couple thousand photos all over Copenhagen and the surrounding area, and often in places where some sort of urban development was underway. Preferably before, during and after. I believe I have filled a gap in the urban development of the city because when the trams disappeared, everyone who was photographing them did, too. So I was rather alone with my camera at that time. I moved to Veksø in 1984 and took far fewer photos of Copenhagen. I have, however, followed the development of Veksø from a small, unknown town to a larger urban area and, with a co-author, I've published a book about the development of Veksø. I still photograph regularly".
 

Much has been written about the main pedestrian street - Strøget - which turned 50 last year. The idea of pedestrianising that street is nothing new. It has been around since - at least - 1913. After the planners at the City of Copenhagen took the visionary step of pedestrianising the main thoroughfare through the city centre, the idea started to snowball. Købmagergade, running north-south from the busiest train station in the nation - Nørreport - took longer to be transformed, as the photos from 1973 will attest. We haven't seen any decent photo documentation of this street's transformation, so we got right on it, thanks to Finn's photo archive.


We sent one of Copenhagenize Design Company's über interns - Dennis Steinsiek from Germany, studying at the University of Utrecht - out to take photos from the same locations as Finn was standing in in 1973. Dennis waited a couple of days because of dismal February weather and then couldn't wait any longer for sun. So the photos are from a Wednesday at about noon. The street is packed from facade to facade on Saturday afternoons, but in these photos there are fewer people at that time of day, in that dull weather. It lets us see more of the street and the transformation, which is why we didn't head out on a Saturday.

All in all, a wonderful look at how a major thoroughfare has morphed into a truly liveable pedestrian street.





Købmagergade by Klarboderne - looking south



Købmagergade by Kronprinsensgade - looking north
You simply can't imagine buses and cars on this street anymore.


Købmagergade towards Rundetårn - the Round Tower. Looking north.


Column at left: Kultorvet looking south.
Column at right: Kultorvet looking north.


Column at left: Kultorvet looking north.
Column at right: Købmagergade by Silkegade & Illum Department store.

Thanks to Finn Lustrup for his dedication to recording the streets of Copenhagen and for letting us use his photographs as great inspiration.


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

The quick, the cheap, and the inadequate

At War With The Motorist - 11 February, 2014 - 08:00

At the last Street Talks, a panel presented on the theme of “The quick, the cheap and the temporary: Speeding up the transformation of London’s streets and public spaces”. Hannah Padgett of Sustrans talked about projects that get communities to suggest and try out improvements to their streets and places; Brian Deegan talked about Royal College Street and the research that has gone into Transport for London’s new Cycle Design Standards; and Ben Kennedy from Hackney Council talked about their trial de-motorification of the Narroway.

It was all very encouraging to hear how transforming our streets to reduce the blight of traffic and enable walking and cycling doesn’t necessarily have to take decades and hundreds of millions of pounds, and so I look forward to Boris and the boroughs making some rapid progress rolling out this kind of flexible “segregation lite” around the city. It’s good to have it spelled out and spread far and wide: budget cuts are not an excuse.

Except I’m a little worried about the quick and the cheap. Sometimes I just can’t quite see how it can do the job. Take the proposals that TfL are currently consulting on for the A21 in Lewisham:

There are two elements to this scheme: the long straight link, and the crossroads node. A mandatory cycle lane is proposed for the link — dedicated space found for cycling within the existing carriageway, but protected only by a stripe of white paint. This cycle lane looks like exactly the sort of place that Royal College Street-style segregation could be quickly and cheaply implemented. It would be far from perfect — minimal separation from passing trucks, and only on one side of the road — but it would at least be a quick and cheap interim solution that could be in place on the street within days of a consultation ending.

The junction is the problem. Perhaps I just lack the imagination but I can’t picture any amount of the quick and the cheap segregation-lite making a safe, inviting and effective crossroads — especially one in which cyclists have to get past a long dedicated left-turn lane. And fixing the junction is the main issue, since it is junctions that are the least safe and least inviting part of our streets.

The best way to solve crossroads — and perhaps the only proven way, since Danish and German junctions don’t have such a great record for cycling safety and convenience — is the Dutch way: providing good, direct, high-capacity dedicated space with plenty of separation — in space and, where there are signals, in time — from the jostling and turning motor traffic. And that can not be done with a wheelbarrow load of armadillos.

@AnoopShah4 has already reached for the crayons box and sketched out a basic idea for the sort of things a junction like this needs. Carriageway narrowing, removing the left-hook lane, and putting in dedicated tracks set back from the carriageway:

@smsm1 @VoleOSpeed @steinsky I think there is a better way of designing A20 Lee Road / Canadian Ave junction: bit.ly/MoE1zY
Anoop Shah (@AnoopShah4) February 02, 2014

The fact is, the carriageway on the A21 is in the wrong place. It’s the wrong shape and size. Fixing it, to make it the right shape and size, will require at least digging up the road to move the kerbs, but probably also moving some of the things on the street (like lamp posts) and under it (like rainwater drains). That’s not cheap and easy (well, not compared to Royal College Street; it’s still a bargain beside the M74), which is why in TfL’s plans, there is only some minor tinkering with the kerbs to tighten up the turnings in a couple of places, while absurd abominations like that left-turn lane are untouched.

It’s not cheap and easy, but without digging up the road, I just can’t picture how this junction could ever match the Mayor’s promise for TfL schemes:

Timid, half-hearted improvements are out – we will do things at least adequately, or not at all.

The current plan out for consultation is inadequate; to do things at least adequately here would require the mayor to spend some money correcting the carriageway.

The Dutch had carriageways that were the wrong shape and size too, but they’ve slowly worked their way through them correcting that, adding their cycle tracks as they go.

This junction is far from alone amongst London’s main roads — the ones which require dedicated space for cycling — in being a place where I can’t see how the quick and easy could work, and it’s not just junctions where this is a problem. A great many of our streets seem to have been assembled quite clumsily, with carriageway and lane widths bouncing around erratically according to the space available between buildings, obstructions strewn across footways without thought, and decades of added and moved and sometimes removed buildouts and islands, stacking lanes, bus stops and loading bays. They’re a mess, and trying to retrofit them for cycling could only make them an even bigger mess. To do things adequately, you’re often going to have to sweep away the accumulated mess, cast off the constraints of the motor-centric streets we’ve inherited, and do things properly. But we managed to put the money and effort in to install all of those ill-conceived left-hook lanes and junction stacks in the past. We should be able to find the same to now fix those mistakes.


Categories: Views

Ducking the issue with electric cars

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 10 February, 2014 - 11:50

The car industry seems to have convinced itself – understandably enough, from their perspective – that the solution to transport in urban areas is simply to convert existing private motor vehicles to run on electricity, rather than combustion engines.

The latest evidence of this belief comes from Renault UK, who appear to be arguing that electric cars should be allowed in bus lanes.

Leading cities should do more to encourage the use of electric cars by investing in charging facilities and allowing zero emission vehicles to use bus lanes, says the head of Renault UK. Kenneth Ramirez said that it was important to create a “wave of acceptance” around electric vehicle technology to encourage their uptake, calling on London Mayor Boris Johnson to follow Norway in allowing electric cars to use lanes reserved for public transport.

He told RTCC: “In London that would be an interesting approach. In other cities having legislation that requires new buildings have a dedicated number of parking spaces with charge stations already included.”

But bus lanes don’t exist to encourage the ‘uptake’ of electric cars. They exist to relieve congestion, and to make more space-efficient modes of transport viable. Flooding bus lanes with electric cars would render them redundant, because buses would become mired in the same congestion that necessitated their implementation in the first place.

This is all part of a wider pattern of failing to address the problem of excess car use in urban areas, and for short trips. Electric cars only deal with one particular issue – tailpipe emissions.

  • they don’t reduce congestion;
  • they don’t reduce road danger;
  • they don’t provide independence and mobility for those who cannot drive, or who choose not to;
  • while they can improve local air quality, they don’t solve other public health problems;
  • they don’t make urban areas more attractive and pleasant places.

Imagine what a difference it would make if all these vehicles were powered by batteries

Motor vehicle manufacturers would like to imagine that the only issue that matters is carbon emissions. Or – more specifically – reducing carbon emissions from private transport, because unless electric cars are charged from power provided by renewable energy, the emissions are simply displaced elsewhere.

They do this by pretending that demand for driving is fixed, and not created by the physical environment – by the way our roads and streets are laid out. A classic example of this kind of thinking is a piece by Paul Everitt, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, in the Times, a few years ago. He wrote (£) -

From its invention, the car has provided an unquestionable level of personal mobility, giving people the freedom to travel where they like, when they like. For many, owning a car is no longer a luxury but a necessity that allows them to commute to work, take the kids to school and do the weekly shop. There is, and always will be, an important role for the car. But in a low-carbon future, the car will have to be cleaner and greener than ever before…

… As the global demand for cars increases it is essential that we retain and grow our share of the market. Designing, developing and manufacturing the technologies and vehicles of tomorrow is our route to a more sustainable future.

Well, not really. Electric cars are still a very inefficient use of resources and energy, and don’t address the myriad other problems caused by excess private car use. If we are truly aiming at a ‘sustainable future’, we need to be shifting a good proportion of the 40% or so of trips of under 2 miles that are made by private car in Britain to genuinely sustainable modes.

While there is a sensible case to be made for powering motor vehicles with better energy sources, the motor industry should not be allowed to pretend that this is the end of the issue. It’s not just the clogging of bus lanes that is counterproductive; it’s clogging our urban areas as a whole with the inefficient private car that is destructive and wasteful. That means we need space for cycling, not a continuation of the same patterns of designing for private motor vehicle use, however it is powered.


Categories: Views

What is the Advertising Standards Authority for?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 9 February, 2014 - 20:53

Health warnings on car ads?

First, the good news. The idiotic ruling of the ASA described here has been withdrawn following a veritable storm of protest. It is good to see that a diverse (and normally often disunited) community of cyclists and others concerned about a civilised approach to cycling and safety on the road can swiftly summon up good quality arguments and have an effect.

But this is just the start. This matter is far from being resolved, and it may well be that the outcome is a quite unsatisfactory judgement about the portrayal of cycling. We need to examine the issues regarding ASA judgements on matters of safety on the road in more detail.

 Where we are now:

The ASA has in effect admitted that it was wrong to object to Cycling Scotland’s video presentation of the position of the woman cyclist. Since this is the position recommended by National Standards cycle training they could do nothing else. However, on the matter of a helmet and the normal clothing of the cyclist (without “safety aids”) we do not yet know what decision the so far unspecified “independent review” to be set up by the ASA on this matter will make.

Supposedly, decisions by the ASA on matters such as these are based on the Highway Code.  On that basis, the CTC has raised the issue of advertisements which show pedestrians not wearing hi-visibility clothing in the dark: after all, the Highway Code requires that, so why shouldn’t the ASA censure such advertisements? It’s an interesting issue to raise as it suggests some absurdity about the ASA’s methods.

 

The politics of it all

But we need to go rather further than this.  To start off with, let’s look at the rules in the Highway Code. In our opinion there is no adequate evidence base for either the cycle helmets or the pedestrian hi-viz recommendations.

What this suggests is that the problem lies with some of the recommendations in the Highway Code. That is certainly the case, but it also raises the issues of Highway Code rules (and the law) as they relate to the behaviour of motorists. That is where it gets interesting.  You might wish to consult a copy of the Highway Code as it relates to driving.

 What becomes apparent is that the rules – including the more important laws, on matters such as speed – are broken as a matter of course. Typical driving involves infringing the recommendations of the Highway Code. Otherwise you would not have some four million motor insurance claims annually. Car occupants would not want to wear seat belts (and that’s even without going into the effects of the use of these “safety aids”) .

Now, I am not one to exaggerate the dangers posed by motoring in a way which might put people off cycling and walking. I am just saying that rule and law breaking by drivers is so commonplace and is regarded as such by the powers that be to such an extent that motorists feel the need to be protected from it.

So, take  4.1 and 4.4 of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code ), namely that “Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18” (rule 4.1) and “Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety” (rule 4.4). 

Now, there is an argument for “Health Warnings” such as these on car advertisements 

Or the one at the top of this post. But I am not referring to the environmental issues about car use: at present it is legal to pollute, congest, and cause widespread environmental destruction, poor health etc. by regular use of the cars that are advertised or shown in advertisements. The point is that even without such “behaviour that prejudices health or safety”, just in terms of the recommendations of the Highway Code, typical driving which we know will be done in cars shown in advertisements will indeed be “behaviour that prejudices health or safety”.

  What is the ASA for?

My view is that the ASA is basically a self-regulating body set up by the advertising industry. A large part of the advertising is, of course, for motor vehicles. These vehicles will inevitably be used on UK roads in ways which damage people’s health and safety through breaking of the rules and laws pertaining to legal motoring. Is there any real possibility that the ASA will take any effective measures to prevent the advertising of these vehicles? In that sense, the blogger who says  “The Advertising Standards Authority – not fit for purpose is wrong. The problem is exactly that the ASA is fit for the purpose of facilitating car advertising.

That doesn’t mean that advertising of cars should be stopped, although the idea of health warnings may be an interesting way of raising consciousness  Also, it may seem a little unfair for the ASA to have to mediate in matters of safety on the road. As the fortnightly transport professionals’ magazine Local Transport Today (7/20 Feb 2014) suggests “When asked to think of influential organisations in the transport debate, the Advertising Standards Authority wouldn’t be at the front of most people’s minds”. Ultimately we need to be looking at the recommendations in the Highway Code as the source of the problem. But the ASA is in it now, and as LTT say “…the ASA should be prepared for criticism…”.

 

In the meantime…

There is a lot at stake here for cycling and sustainable transport. If every organisation (including commercial advertisers) is effectively forced to ensure that all cyclists in adverts (other than ‘fantastical’ adverts) are wearing helmets, this would really undermine the ability of advertisers to use smart-looking cyclists to epitomise free-thinking, healthy, independent-minded individuality. A source of positive promotion for the image of cycling would be denied to us.  We really need to take this very seriously indeed.

It could be worthwhile getting the cycle industry to understand the potentially negative long term effects of portraying cyclists in the way the forthcoming London Bike Show  does:


Of course, the ASA codes do not refer to online and print advertising, but the principle is important.


Categories: Views

Disappearing traffic lights. How a second transport revolution in the Netherlands made mass cycling possible despite the rise in cars

A View from the Cycle Path - 8 February, 2014 - 13:29
Assen's first traffic lights were at this junction, once the most busy. The first traffic lights in the world were installed in London in 1868. This gas operated signal exploded shortly after installation. It wasn't until the 2nd decade of the 20th century that electric traffic lights were invented and these were swiftly adopted. By that time, an increasing number of deaths and injuries due David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/02/disappearing-traffic-lights-how-second.html
Categories: Views

Gridlock

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 7 February, 2014 - 08:31

Along with concerns about surrendering the road to motor vehicles, one of the main reasons for opposition to the physical separation of cycling from motor traffic is a fear of being ‘held up’.

This is the worry, from people who cycle already, that their journeys will be slowed down, by being blocked on narrow cycle infrastructure by people who can’t cycle as fast as them. I’ve attempted to dispel this notion – at least with regard to Dutch cycle infrastructure. Separation from motor traffic should not mean that you are impeded.

But with the tube strikes over the last couple of days, it’s quite clear that physical separation of cycling would provide considerable benefits. The pictures of Superhighway 7 in particular that appeared yesterday show the uselessness of ‘cycle routes’ that become clogged by motor vehicles.

Northbound Superhighway just visible, under several buses.

Danny Williams also took a picture of Superhighway 7 yesterday -

Here is cycle super highway 7 in action this afternoon. It’s so good you can only use it by dismounting pic.twitter.com/TJfm5tLJck

— cyclistsinthecity (@citycyclists) February 6, 2014

Contrast this with the videos that have emerged of people cycling along the segregated sections of Superhighway 2 over the last few days. The segregation is far from brilliant (indeed in places it is worryingly bad), but cycling has flowed smoothly and easily past static motor traffic.

I suspect this uselessness of the original Superhighways was built in from the start. There’s a very revealing interview with TfL by Andreas of London Cyclist, dating back from when the Superhighways were launched, in 2010. TfL provide this justification for not segregating the Superhighways -

Segregation however, is not something that is being considered for the cycle superhighways. TfL said the routes are simply not being used frequently enough to warrant separation of traffic. It is only during peak hours that you will see many cyclists in the lanes. TfL claim that segregating the lanes would create many problems for loading vehicles. They also claim that cyclists don’t want to be treated differently to other vehicles.

The implication of this is essentially that cycling was not considered enough of an important mode of transport in its own right to necessitate space being set aside for it – ‘routes not being used frequently enough’. TfL believed that the space properly-designed Superhighways would have taken up needed to be used instead for motor vehicles. Indeed, despite much progress in the last couple of years, this is probably the prevailing attitude within the organisation.

But I think we’ve seen over the last few days how wrong-headed this approach is proving to be. Despite the chaos on the transport network, with very little tube network running, desperately overcrowded buses, and clogged roads, cycling remains a non-option, principally because cycling through traffic – even traffic that is mostly stationary – is just deeply unattractive for most people.

I noticed that David Arditti left a comment below that London Cyclist article, in July 2010, which sums up the problem.

The big thing that tends not to be understood in the UK about segregated cycle lanes, Dutch-style, is that their main purpose is not safety, per se, as cycling is inherently quite safe anyway, it is the prioritisation of space for cycle traffic. It is, in other words, to give the bike a competitive advantage in the struggle for space on the roads, which makes bike journeys quicker and more efficient, as well as more pleasant. There is no other effective method of preventing parking, loading, queuing, bus and taxi stopping in cycle space, and general obstruction by motor vehicles, other than physical segregation. This is why it is used so extensively on the continent. It is not that the continentals have some malign control agenda to push cyclists off the general roads. Arguments that segregation slows down fast commuter cyclists are incorrect. It only has this effect if badly done, with insufficient capacity or other design faults. Fast commuter cyclists benefit equally with slower cyclists from the advantages that proper continental-style cycle tracks create. [my emphasis]

It’s hard to put it better than that. Space for cycling is needed for competitive advantage; to ensure that it isn’t impeded by congestion, and that journeys by bike are painless and pleasant.

This applies in the Netherlands too, where long queues of vehicles can easily be bypassed on cycle tracks – so easily you forget there’s actually ‘congestion’ on the road network.

If we’re serious about shifting people from private cars to cycling, then we need to insulate cycling from the negative consequences of driving – and that includes gridlock.


Categories: Views

Friday throwback: riding with your 'fro intact

ibikelondon - 7 February, 2014 - 08:30
Every Friday here at ibikelondon we're looking at images from the Flickr commons of cyclists from around the world over the years.  Last week we looked at how the 1970s oil crisis forced children to ride to school.  

Sticking with the 1970s, this week we visit the District of Columbia in the United States, where this photograph of black teenagers cycling along the banks of the Potomac river was taken.  I like this picture for a number of reasons; I like the quality of the light on this seemingly carefree spring day, I like the clothes the guys riding bikes are wearing (and the fact that "cycling apparel" seems to be entirely absent in this image).  And I really like their hair, especially the afro the chap on the left is sporting.




It has to be said, you don't see many afros aboard bicycles in London and indeed black riders here are a minority within the minority of cyclists themselves.  This fairly epic Reddit thread on how to find a bike helmet that's compatable with your 'fro is most enjoyable, but there are more serious considerations at hand too.  Everyone knows the story of 1900s black American track cyclist Major Taylor and the racial segregation he faced, but there's been much less debate as to why it wasn't until 2011 that a black man lined up to race a stage of the Tour de France. (2011!!)

Racial politics aside, I like that this photo from 1973 captured a great moment between a group of friends out on their bikes one sunny afternoon - I wonder if they are still riding together today?

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