Views

Support the Space for Cycling Campaign

Vole O'Speed - 20 May, 2014 - 18:14
A few of the 5000 people on the Big Ride in support of the Space for Cycling CampaignThe London Cycling Campaign is running its Space for Cycling Campaign in the run-up to the local (and European) elections this Thursday. If live in London, and haven't already done so, I urge you to visit the Space4Cycling website and enter your postcode. The site then generates an automatic email to send to all the local election candidates (for whom it has been possible to find email addresses) asking them to support a measure in your council ward, agreed by the local campaign, based on one of the six campaign themes:
  1. Removal of through motor traffic from minor roads
  2. Protected space on main roads and at junctions
  3. Cycle routes through green spaces
  4. 20mph speed limits
  5. Cycle (and pedestrian) friendly town centres
  6. Safe cycle routes to schools
The themes, and the policies behind them, are explained further here.
If you do not live in London, there may be a similar Space for Cycling campaign in your area. The national campaign is being co-ordinated here by CTC, based around similar demands.
With one day left to the poll 41% of candidates across Greater London say they are supporting the asks for their ward. It's an impressive result for a clever campaign. The cleverness lies in it being highly specific and geared to the local elections in being hyper-local in its demands, yet those demands all being tied to broad policy themes. It doesn't allow politicians to get away with mouthing platitudes about wanting to "encourage cycling". To count as supporters, they have to agree with exactly what is being asked for in their ward, and all those things that are being asked for very specifically contribute to the overall strategic objectives. It's a centrally-directed and coordinated local campaign. It's a move on from the days when we just asked politicians to propose what they would like to do for cycling. It is far more pro-active, far more agenda-setting. We know that what we require is not just isolated measures, but joined-up policies, but the cleverer local campaigns have structured their ward asks so that, if they were all really done, they would join up, complement one another, and form the basis for a high-quality core cycle network usable by people on bikes of all capabilities. The campaign also relies on the policy decisions taken at the last LCC AGM, to campaign for one network for all cycling abilities built to specific standards in terms of the speed and volume of motor traffic with which sharing is tolerated.
Now I don't believe for a moment that after the elections we will suddenly get all these cycle tracks built and road closures put in and we will be living in a slightly less tidy version of the Netherlands. I doubt that many of the candidates fully understand the implications of what they are signing up to. It will be the job of campaigners in the next five years to keep on telling them and pushing them to honour what they have signed-up to: the campaign will not end at the election, it will enter a new phase. It's noticeable that candidates seem very willing to sign up to major roadspace reallocation proposals on big roads, but relatively unwilling to agree to simple measures like road closures on small roads to eliminate rat-running traffic. I can see why. The second category includes very precise and limited demands that it would be impossible to wriggle out of later. Thought the first category also includes measures that are precisely-defined, the "asks" can't go into details of all the concomitant changes that will be required: junction and signal redesigns, movement of car parking spaces, movement of obstructions such as street furniture and trees. 
It is these that will of course allow candidates to try to wriggle out of their commitments when elected. They will soon start claiming it is all to difficult, that they didn't understand the problems that have to be solved. Their true commitment will become clear when opposition gets organised by, for example, taxi drivers wanting to preserve one of their traditional back-street short-cuts (the opposition that crippled Camden's pioneering Severn Stations Link route) or local traders get together to oppose the removal of car parking spaces immediately outside their shops, which they misguidedly believe are essential to their continued solvency. As the London Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan said at the rally after the Big Ride in support of the campaign on Saturday, the next six months will be a test of strength between the pro and anti-cycling political forces in London.
The main thing that the campaign does is to start to get the arguments through to local politicians, who form the grass roots of the whole political system, about how our streets could be far better designed to facilitate both walking and cycling, with clear and specific examples. Many of these politicians who previously haven't had a clue about the subject, even if they still don't agree, or intend to do anything much, should at least get to understand that this is a big issue to a substantial proportion of their electorate.
If you have already sent your message to your local candidates, in the last day before the election, try to get all your friends and work colleagues and neighbours to send their as well. One thing about this campaign quite separate to its cycling theme is that it is actually succeeding in raising the profile of the local elections in London, which is welcomed by all the candidates.
The campaign is for safe roads and independent mobility for everyone from the guys in the blue to the guys in the trailer
Categories: Views

The connection between walkability and high cycle use

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 20 May, 2014 - 12:47

Figures for cycling in Bruges are a little hard to come by, but from this Fietsberaad document [pdf], cycling in the city seems to form between 15-20% of all trips.

It’s certainly the most ‘Dutch’ place I’ve visited outside of the Netherlands, in terms of the amount of cycling, and the types of people riding bikes – broadly, a representative cross-section of the population at large. It’s also a very walkable city. It feels safe and comfortable, and easy to get about on foot.

I think this connection between walkability and high cycling levels is more general. I found Strasbourg to be a very pleasant city to walk around – this is a city that has some of the highest levels of cycle use in France.

And of course Dutch towns and cities – with their high cycling levels – are almost always a joy to walk around, compared to their UK equivalents.

I don’t necessarily think there’s any causal connection here, but certainly there are reasons why having a high cycling modal share makes it easier to walk around cities.

Principally, it means that fewer trips are being made by car, which has several obvious advantages for those walking. It’s just easier to cross the road when there are fewer cars and more bikes. Bikes are far smaller, they travel more slowly, and the person on them has an interest in avoiding you.

A street with a high volume of people cycling. If these people were travelling by car, the street would be practically impossible to cross without traffic controls

Similarly, with high levels of cycling use, and low levels of motor vehicle use, the need for traffic control at junctions becomes unnecessary. That means no push buttons to cross roads, or multiple staggered crossings. Junctions are easy to walk across. The level of signalisation in Dutch towns and cities is far, far lower than in Britain, even in places with high levels of ‘traffic’.

Less directly, towns and cities with high levels of cycling are safer for pedestrians (there are simply fewer motor vehicles which have the potential to harm you), and they are also more attractive, and quieter.

We need to move beyond the notion that cycling is something antagonistic to walking – something ‘extra’ that needs to be accommodated in the streetscape alongside walking and driving – and realise that it is a crucial way of improving the experience of walking itself.


Categories: Views

The connection between walkability and high cycle use

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 20 May, 2014 - 12:47

Figures for cycling in Bruges are a little hard to come by, but from this Fietsberaad document [pdf], cycling in the city seems to form between 15-20% of all trips.

It’s certainly the most ‘Dutch’ place I’ve visited outside of the Netherlands, in terms of the amount of cycling, and the types of people riding bikes – broadly, a representative cross-section of the population at large. It’s also a very walkable city. It feels safe and comfortable, and easy to get about on foot.

I think this connection between walkability and high cycling levels is more general. I found Strasbourg to be a very pleasant city to walk around – this is a city that has some of the highest levels of cycle use in France.

 

 

And of course Dutch towns and cities – with their high cycling levels – are almost always a joy to walk around, compared to their UK equivalents.

 

I don’t necessarily think there’s any causal connection here, but certainly there are reasons why having a high cycling modal share makes it easier to walk around cities.

Principally, it means that fewer trips are being made by car, which has several obvious advantages for those walking. It’s just easier to cross the road when there are fewer cars and more bikes. Bikes are far smaller, they travel more slowly, and the person on them has an interest in avoiding you.

A street with a high volume of people cycling. If these people were travelling by car, the street would be practically impossible to cross without traffic controls

Similarly, with high levels of cycling use, and low levels of motor vehicle use, the need for traffic control at junctions becomes unnecessary. That means no push buttons to cross roads, or multiple staggered crossings. Junctions are easy to walk across. The level of signalisation in Dutch towns and cities is far, far lower than in Britain, even in places with high levels of ‘traffic’.

Less directly, towns and cities with high levels of cycling are safer for pedestrians (there are simply fewer motor vehicles which have the potential to harm you), and they are also more attractive, and quieter.

We need to move beyond the notion that cycling is something antagonistic to walking – something ‘extra’ that needs to be accommodated in the streetscape alongside walking and driving – and realise that it is a crucial way of improving the experience of walking itself.

 


Categories: Views

Well done London! From the Big Ride to the streets where you live: space4cycling WILL make a difference

ibikelondon - 19 May, 2014 - 08:30



London Cycling Campaign's staff and hundreds of volunteers should be feeling extremely proud of themselves.  Not only did they present an impeccably organised family friendly "Big Ride" on Saturday pushing politicians to sign up to their space4cycling campaign, they've already procured pre-election promises from Councillors who will have the power to change the streets where you live.


London bathed in gloriously warm sunshine on Saturday, bringing cyclists out on to the streets in their thousands ready to have a good time, to enjoy their capital city, but to present a serious message too.  Whereas Park Lane usually drowns in the roar of motor traffic, the start of the Big Ride resounded to the tinkling of bells, music, chants and Mexican Waves.


The ride snaked past Hyde Park Corner, the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Downing Street before meeting this year's Tweed Run cycling in the opposite direction on Parliament Square.  On Embankment the ride took a good half hour to pass me by as I took photos; estimates on turn out range between 5,000 and 7,500 cyclists and there were countless children there enjoying streets they wouldn't usually be able to ride on.  ITV and BBC news cameras rolled, whilst journalists scribbled from the sidelines.








London Cycling Campaign Chief Executive Ashok Sinha said, “We owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands who joined us today on our Space for Cycling Big Ride, helping to send a powerful message to London's politicians. Our city and borough leaders can be in no doubt as to the hunger there is from ordinary Londoners for streets that are safe and inviting for everyone to cycle."

As a direct result of the space4cycling campaign, all of the Councillors who will be elected in Hackney have pledged to implement the specific cycling demands in their area (which range from building quieter back routes right up to the removal of a gyratory system.)





In a very impressive show of support for cycling, every Green Party local Council candidate has signed up implement space4cycling pledges (840 candidates in 32 London boroughs) and the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Ben, joined the ride.

100% of Labour candidates in Croydon, Hackney, Hammersmith, Fulham, Lambeth and Sutton have signed up, 100% of Lib Dems in Hackney and Southwark, and 100% of Conservatives in Hackney, Bermondsey and Merton.  

Over 75,000 emails have been sent to prospective Councillors, putting the space4cycling agenda firmly in the centre of the battle for votes, with over a third of London's local election candidates agreeing to demands.

These people will be elected meaning there will be pre-election promises to be implemented; promises of slower speeds, safer cycling routes and space4cycling where you live.

Sadly only 0.2% of UKIP candidates have agreed to support the campaign, whilst none of the Christian Alliance Party's candidates have signed up at all.







But on Saturday little could dampen the spirits of the cyclists on the Big Ride.  The scores of children who came along showed who we are campaigning for, whilst a cyclist fatality in Elephant and Castle last week and a serious injury suffered by a cyclist in Shoreditch on Saturday morning itself showed why the message for a safer more liveable city is more important than ever.

It's not too late to add your voice of support: email your candidates here.

Did you enjoy the Big Ride?  The logistics cost the London Cycling Campaign - a charity - a lot of money.  If you had a good time and felt proud to be part of something making a difference on Saturday, please consider making a donation online here.  For the price of a cup of coffee you can help ensure events like this can happen again in the future.

More photos can be found on the London Cycling Campaign website here, as well as the BBC news report here and ITV's touching coverage of the recent death at Elephant and Castle here. Jason's Onion Bag blog has some great photos and snippets of speeches from all of the politicians who spoke at the Finish Line Rally here.  With space4cycling rides taking place across the UK, Bike Biz has the low down on protest rides elsewhere here.
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Categories: Views

A temporary signalled crossing for cyclists (Road works vs. the Dutch cyclist)

A View from the Cycle Path - 16 May, 2014 - 20:42
Where cycling is at a high level, chances can't be taken with what would happen if cyclists were redirected from safe and direct cycle-paths onto busy unpleasant roads. The result could be a catastrophic change in how people travel. Cycling is very fragile. If people have unpleasant experiences when cycling, they are likely to give up and make their future journeys by a different mode. This David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/05/a-temporary-signalled-crossing-for.html
Categories: Views

5 Top Tips for rocking the Big Ride!

ibikelondon - 15 May, 2014 - 08:30

Just days before London goes to the polls to elect hundreds of new local Councillors, thousands of cyclists will descend on central London this Saturday to take part in the space4cycling Big Ride.

The family-friendly fun ride with a serious message will snake its way through traffic-free streets, passing some of our capital's most famous landmarks along the way.  But this colourful carnival of cycles has a serious message, too: those who are elected to run 70% of our streets must make them safe and convenient to cycle upon.  The Big Ride is the culmination of a campaign that has asked thousands of prospective Councillors to sign up to creating space for cycling where they will rule.  It's not too late to ask yours, and takes just a few seconds.

So how do you survive a bike ride through Central London with thousands of other people?  Just follow our 5 Top Tips for Rocking the Big Ride!


1.  Grab your family and friends! Bring as many people with you as you can; your Nan, your Mum, that nice Mr Jerrico from the corner shop down the road... Come one, come all!  They'll thank you for a fun, free, smile-filled day out and in return you get a pack of willing volunteers to carry all of your stuff for you (See Tip Number 2, below)
2.  Prepare for all meteorological eventualities!It's London, it's spring, anything could happen!  You'll need to pack for all weathers: I'm thinking sun cream and rain coats, umbrellas and shades.  In all seriousness, check the weather before you depart and bring lots of layers with you; you might get quite warm riding to the event, but there may be a bit of waiting round in the open air at the start of the event where you are likely to cool down very quickly.  Bring plenty of clothes with you to keep your kids warm too.  If you're wondering how you're going to carry all this stuff, that's what the funny shaped rack on the back of your bike is for. Haven't got a rack? Talk to someone who has. "Well hello Mr Jerrico, I'm so glad you came!"


3.  Fill your tank with fuel!Hungry cyclists are unhappy cyclists.  Hungry child cyclists are even worse.  Eat like a pro before you leave (I believe Sir Bradley Wiggins is partial to a Full English Breakfast) and bring plenty of sugary treats for along the way, too.  If you haven't ridden for a while you'll be surprised how hungry it makes you feel and trust me, fighting with several thousand other cyclists in a central London Pret-A-Manger over the last remaining flapjack is not a good look.


4.  Let the [bike] train take the strain!Daunted by the prospect of riding to and from the ride with your family and friends?  Don't be!  Did you know you can take your bike on the Docklands Light Railway, the London Overground and also all of these sections of the tube network?  Better still, London Cycling Campaign volunteers are running a host of free escorted "feeder rides" to get you smoothly to the event - they're great fun and there's nothing like the experience of setting off in a big group of your neighbours and other local riders.  Here's a list of the feeder rides location and a map.

5. Make some noise!Your favourite bike blogger (that's me, in case you were wondering) will be on the start line stage playing bike-related tunes, interviewing participants and generally doing his best to whip you all in to a frenzy.  But once you're past the bank of speakers, mass cycle rides can feel eerily quiet.  A nice shiny bell or some lovely big hooters can brighten up any ride, but why stop there?  Bring whistles, rattles and a host of witty campaign slogans to chant.  Or why not strap your iPod speakers to your bike, make up a cycling song playlist and have yourself a rolling disco?  Let's not be too English about this and make sure it's a real party, and London's knows why we are riding!

So decorate your bikes, make some signs, get dressed up in the space4cycling colours of red and white and see you there!

The space4cycling Big Ride will gather on London's Park Lane from 11AM, setting off at exactly midday on Saturday 17th May, ending by Temple Station on the Embankment.  Everything you need to know about Saturday's ride is over on the London Cycling Campaign website. 
All above photos by Ben Broomfield and James Perrin via the London Cycling Campaign, used with thanks. 
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Categories: Views

How come there are no pot holes in the Netherlands?

BicycleDutch - 14 May, 2014 - 23:01
“How come there are no pot holes in the Netherlands?“ Every time I show Dutch infrastructure to foreign guests that question keeps coming back. And it’s not just people with … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

How come there are no pot holes in the Netherlands?

BicycleDutch - 14 May, 2014 - 23:01
“How come there are no pot holes in the Netherlands?“ Every time I show Dutch infrastructure to foreign guests that question keeps coming back. And it’s not just people with … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

London gets ready to demand change with the Big Ride, will you be there?

ibikelondon - 13 May, 2014 - 08:30

London goes to the polls next week to vote for the Councillors who will control 70% of our city's roads; the streets where you live, the routes that you take to school, the quietways set back from the main roads.  In 2012 the London Cycling Campaign succeeded in strong-arming the Mayor to commit a billion pounds to create safe space for cycling on our main roads, and now they're hoping to repeat the success with our local borough councils.



So far a third of all the Council candidates have signed up to implement changes to bring about space for cycling in each ward of the city, but the LCC are hoping their Big Ride this Saturday will help to get even more on board.  It's going to be a two-wheeled kaleidoscopic cycling carnival but with a very serious message: that in order to keep all kinds of cyclists safe, to reduce the death toll on London's roads and to encourage more and more people to ride we must make more safe space for cycling.

How we go about that varies from each borough, with the LCC creating an incredibly comprehensive map of "asks"; from creating residential routes closed to through traffic right up to reducing entire gyratory systems.  It takes just a few seconds for you to find your ward and ask your local Councillors to implement change if they're elected.



And to ensure cycling is at the forefront of all the candidate's minds just days before London goes to the polls, this Saturday's Big Ride is going to really increase the pressure.

Thousands of Londoners are expected; from the very young to the very old, from the lycra clad to the laissez faire on sit up and begs.  There will be music and speeches to greet riders as they assemble on Park Lane, before processing through the very heart of London along an amazing traffic free route suitable for all the family.



Like a mini site-seeing tour of London, the ride will pass Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner, the Ritz Hotel, Fortnum and Masons, the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.

As well as promising to be a fun day out, every individual who comes will help to build the space4cycling message and ensure that the "story" gets maximum exposure from the media and maximum attention from Council candidates.  
Be there!

The London Cycling Campaign's Space For Cycling Big Ride gathers on Park Lane from 11AM on Saturday 17th May, departing at noon before ending on Embankment.  There are over 30 guided rides from across London to get you there safely, so why not come along and join in?

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Categories: Views

Crumbs

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 12 May, 2014 - 08:18

At the Leeds Cycle City Expo, the keynote speech was given by Robert Goodwill, the Under Secretary of State for Transport, with special responsibility for cycling.

It was full of pleasant soundbites and encouraging noises, but when he had to depart from his script – printed out on A4 pieces of paper that he was reading from – the detail was worryingly absent.

Goodwill seemed keen to boast about the record ‘£270 million’ the current government had spent on cycling – a figure that was questioned immediately by people on the stage next to him. But even if we take this figure at face value, it pales into insignificance compared to the sums being announced for road upbuilding and upgrading – tens of billions. It’s even dwarfed by the extra sums of money being employed to promote electric cars – the mode of transport nobody seems to want to buy.

How far does ‘£270 million’ – about £50 million a year – go towards actually addressing the significant barriers to the uptake of cycling in Britain a year? Even assuming, that is, that it is spent wisely – a very generous assumption, with hundreds of thousands of pounds currently being spent on schemes of dubious benefit.

By way of example, here is an issue in the town where I live, Horsham.

The railway line, in purple, cuts the town in half. I’ve marked five - the only five – crossing points between the east and west side of the town.

Let’s take a look at these in turn. Number 1 is a level crossing.

This is Parsonage Road, which has some truly dreadful cycle lanes that definitely should not exist.

Yes, that’s a cycle lane

There isn’t actually a shortage of space here, but sorting this road out will require serious investment, to adjust the kerb lines and put in cycle tracks. It’s entirely unsuitable for mass cycling as it stands.Your next option for crossing from one side of the town to the other is the North Street railway bridge – crossing point Number 2.

As you can see, it is very busy, narrow, and effectively unusable for all but a tiny minority of the population by bike. This bridge, and the embankment, will have to be adapted, or rebuilt, to make this crossing point suitable for cycling. Probably quite a lot of money.

The next crossing point - Number 3 – is a pedestrian-only underpass. You are not allowed to cycle through here, and there are barriers that attempt to stop you.

The sight lines are not good, it is narrow – and the ceiling is too low to safely cycle through, in any case. So as with the previous examples, for this railway underpass to be a crossing point for mass cycling, it will need to be widened and deepened. Another substantial project.

Crossing point Number 4 - the Queen Street bridge on the A281.Like the previous road crossings, this a busy road, carrying tens of thousands of vehicles a day, including buses and HGVs (it is not surprising these crossings are busy, as there is no discouragement to driving across Horsham, despite the presence of a bypass, and these crossings funnel motor traffic). The A281 itself is, in my opinion, the most hostile road to cycle on in Horsham, with a combination of pinch points, parked vehicles, side roads with limited visibility and a narrow carriageway all contributing to an unpleasant environment that requires constant vigilance. Totally unsuitable for most people to cycle on. It might be possible to create some form of protected space for cycling under this bridge without substantial re-engineering of the bridge itself, but again work will have to be put in adapting the carriageway.

The final crossing point, Number 5, is actually acceptable; a reasonably quiet residential street that does not carry much motor traffic, because it doesn’t really go anywhere. The low bridge also effectively acts as a form of ‘modal filter’, keeping out HGVs from this route, because they can’t pass under it.

The problem, however, is that this crossing, number 5, is (as you can see from the map) at the very southern edge of the town, and not at all useful for anyone who doesn’t live near it.

So. The main point here is that the town is severed for most ordinary people who might wish to travel by bike. There are no reasonable crossing points over or under the railway line that are in any way attractive to the general public. It is effectively impossible for them to cycle from one side of it to the other. And when you consider that the town centre lies on one side of the railway line while majority of the population lies on the other, that is a serious issue.

I haven’t even mentioned here the fact that every single one of the main roads in Horsham is totally unsuitable for inclusive cycling. They are not environments that most people would even dream of cycling in.

Cycling is designed out of Horsham. That is why – despite the town being essentially flat and only 3 miles from one extremity to the other - it is practically non-existent here, probably around 1% of all trips. The 2011 census revealed that even for trips to work (usually a higher mode share than trips for other purposes), just 1.6% are made by bike in Horsham, a decline (for what it’s worth, given these are very small numbers) on 2001.

As I understand it, the entire West Sussex budget spending on cycling in the last year was around £30,000. This for a total population of around 900,000 people. The only other funding stream is Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) money, which WSCC successfully bid for. About half a million pounds is being spent in Horsham, but – despite some good intentions – none of the systemic problems I mention here are being dealt with, and it will almost certainly be frittered away, in the most part, on ‘infrastructure’ that nobody wants to use, or signing circuitous routes on back street that people are using already.

To deal solely with the severance problems created by the railway line detailed here will require, at a low estimate, more than a million pounds, spent properly. This is just one issue, in one town, of 55,000 people. Scale this across England and Wales as a whole – villages, towns and cities with very similar problems to Horsham – and it is quite obvious that the current sums of money being ‘invested’ in cycling just aren’t going to cut it.

What is depressing is that congestion is primarily an urban problem, yet the huge sums of money the government is throwing at the road network are missing the target, going on large road schemes between urban areas, rather than addressing the prime issue of mobility within urban areas.

Towns like Horsham have a dysfunctional road network, clogged with single occupancy vehicles at peak times. The necessary conditions that will enable people to opt for sensible, painless alternatives – attractive, safe, direct cycle networks – are not being created, even though doing so would solve these congestion problems at a stroke.

The solutions to urban congestion are being ignored. So as far as I can tell the only purpose of the occasional announcements of tiny sums money ‘for cycling’ is to create the illusion that this government actually cares, rather than an actual serious engagement with the issues. They are crumbs, and not even comforting ones at that.


Categories: Views

Crumbs

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 12 May, 2014 - 08:18

At the Leeds Cycle City Expo, the keynote speech was given by Robert Goodwill, the Under Secretary of State for Transport, with special responsibility for cycling.

It was full of pleasant soundbites and encouraging noises, but when he had to depart from his script – printed out on A4 pieces of paper that he was reading from – the detail was worryingly absent.

Goodwill seemed keen to boast about the record ‘£270 million’ the current government had spent on cycling – a figure that was questioned immediately by people on the stage next to him. But even if we take this figure at face value, it pales into insignificance compared to the sums being announced for road upbuilding and upgrading – tens of billions. It’s even dwarfed by the extra sums of money being employed to promote electric cars – the mode of transport nobody seems to want to buy.

How far does ‘£270 million’ – about £50 million a year – go towards actually addressing the significant barriers to the uptake of cycling in Britain a year? Even assuming, that is, that it is spent wisely – a very generous assumption, with hundreds of thousands of pounds currently being spent on schemes of dubious benefit.

By way of example, here is an issue in the town where I live, Horsham.

The railway line, in purple, cuts the town in half. I’ve marked five - the only five – crossing points between the east and west side of the town.

Let’s take a look at these in turn. Number 1 is a level crossing.

This is Parsonage Road, which has some truly dreadful cycle lanes that definitely should not exist.

Yes, that’s a cycle lane

There isn’t actually a shortage of space here, but sorting this road out will require serious investment, to adjust the kerb lines and put in cycle tracks. It’s entirely unsuitable for mass cycling as it stands.Your next option for crossing from one side of the town to the other is the North Street railway bridge – crossing point Number 2.

As you can see, it is very busy, narrow, and effectively unusable for all but a tiny minority of the population by bike. This bridge, and the embankment, will have to be adapted, or rebuilt, to make this crossing point suitable for cycling. Probably quite a lot of money.

The next crossing point - Number 3 – is a pedestrian-only underpass. You are not allowed to cycle through here, and there are barriers that attempt to stop you.

The sight lines are not good, it is narrow – and the ceiling is too low to safely cycle through, in any case. So as with the previous examples, for this railway underpass to be a crossing point for mass cycling, it will need to be widened and deepened. Another substantial project.

Crossing point Number 4 - the Queen Street bridge on the A281.Like the previous road crossings, this a busy road, carrying tens of thousands of vehicles a day, including buses and HGVs (it is not surprising these crossings are busy, as there is no discouragement to driving across Horsham, despite the presence of a bypass, and these crossings funnel motor traffic). The A281 itself is, in my opinion, the most hostile road to cycle on in Horsham, with a combination of pinch points, parked vehicles, side roads with limited visibility and a narrow carriageway all contributing to an unpleasant environment that requires constant vigilance. Totally unsuitable for most people to cycle on. It might be possible to create some form of protected space for cycling under this bridge without substantial re-engineering of the bridge itself, but again work will have to be put in adapting the carriageway.

The final crossing point, Number 5, is actually acceptable; a reasonably quiet residential street that does not carry much motor traffic, because it doesn’t really go anywhere. The low bridge also effectively acts as a form of ‘modal filter’, keeping out HGVs from this route, because they can’t pass under it.

The problem, however, is that this crossing, number 5, is (as you can see from the map) at the very southern edge of the town, and not at all useful for anyone who doesn’t live near it.

So. The main point here is that the town is severed for most ordinary people who might wish to travel by bike. There are no reasonable crossing points over or under the railway line that are in any way attractive to the general public. It is effectively impossible for them to cycle from one side of it to the other. And when you consider that the town centre lies on one side of the railway line while majority of the population lies on the other, that is a serious issue.

I haven’t even mentioned here the fact that every single one of the main roads in Horsham is totally unsuitable for inclusive cycling. They are not environments that most people would even dream of cycling in.

Cycling is designed out of Horsham. That is why – despite the town being essentially flat and only 3 miles from one extremity to the other - it is practically non-existent here, probably around 1% of all trips. The 2011 census revealed that even for trips to work (usually a higher mode share than trips for other purposes), just 1.6% are made by bike in Horsham, a decline (for what it’s worth, given these are very small numbers) on 2001.

As I understand it, the entire West Sussex budget spending on cycling in the last year was around £30,000. This for a total population of around 900,000 people. The only other funding stream is Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) money, which WSCC successfully bid for. About half a million pounds is being spent in Horsham, but – despite some good intentions – none of the systemic problems I mention here are being dealt with, and it will almost certainly be frittered away, in the most part, on ‘infrastructure’ that nobody wants to use, or signing circuitous routes on back street that people are using already.

To deal solely with the severance problems created by the railway line detailed here will require, at a low estimate, more than a million pounds, spent properly. This is just one issue, in one town, of 55,000 people. Scale this across England and Wales as a whole – villages, towns and cities with very similar problems to Horsham – and it is quite obvious that the current sums of money being ‘invested’ in cycling just aren’t going to cut it.

What is depressing is that congestion is primarily an urban problem, yet the huge sums of money the government is throwing at the road network are missing the target, going on large road schemes between urban areas, rather than addressing the prime issue of mobility within urban areas.

Towns like Horsham have a dysfunctional road network, clogged with single occupancy vehicles at peak times. The necessary conditions that will enable people to opt for sensible, painless alternatives – attractive, safe, direct cycle networks – are not being created, even though doing so would solve these congestion problems at a stroke.

The solutions to urban congestion are being ignored. So as far as I can tell the only purpose of the occasional announcements of tiny sums money ‘for cycling’ is to create the illusion that this government actually cares, rather than an actual serious engagement with the issues. They are crumbs, and not even comforting ones at that.


Categories: Views

Shopping: The Netherlands vs Australia

BicycleDutch - 10 May, 2014 - 16:01
In this extra post I would like to show you a video made by Paul van Bellen from Sydney in Australia, that he shot when he recently visited The Netherlands … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Shopping: The Netherlands vs Australia

BicycleDutch - 10 May, 2014 - 16:01
In this extra post I would like to show you a video made by Paul van Bellen from Sydney in Australia, that he shot when he recently visited The Netherlands … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

What’s wrong with TfL’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plan?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 9 May, 2014 - 01:14

Regrettably, Transport for London’s draft Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (PSAP)
fails from the start. Despite a rough attempt to consider what is meant by the term “pedestrian risk”, it is not clear about what it thinks pedestrian safety is. Having a well formulated set of approaches to the problem – which it doesn’t seem to have anyway – is not really going to be possible if we can’t be certain what the problem is in the first place.

Consultation on the draft finishes on May 9th. Below are our basic objections.

What is pedestrian safety and how do we measure it? 1. The casualty rate question

The basic problem with the draft PSAP is that it has not properly articulated what is meant by pedestrian risk. This involves some way of measuring it, so that we can see whether its level has increased or decreased. The questions involved in doing this are set out here  – although the focus is specifically on cyclists’ safety in this article, the issues are the same for pedestrians.

Traditional “road safety” measures the problem for pedestrians as the aggregate number of pedestrians reported as “Killed and Seriously Injured” (KSI) – irrespective of the number of walking journeys, time spent walking, or distance covered by foot. This allows the “road safety” lobby to claim success when overall casualties go down, even if the casualty rate (per distance, journey walked or time spent walking) stays the same or goes up.

To be fair, TfL now do refer to measures of exposure. It is worth quoting this in full:

“This puts understanding risk at the heart of road safety assessment, to target resources where they will be most effective. By looking at KSI casualty figures alongside other data, such as trips, population, journeys and time and distance travelled, we can gain a greater understanding of the risk posed to different road users. This allows us to focus on improving pedestrian safety for those at highest risk, to better identify interventions and focus resources in order to gain the greatest improvements to pedestrian safety.

The risk analysis was undertaken by combining collision and casualty data from
STATS193 with detailed journey data from the London Travel Demand Survey
(LTDS). LTDS is a rolling sample survey of travel by households in London, with an
annual sample size of 8,000 households. It provides accurate quantitative data representative of the diversity of both people and places in London that, over time,
builds up to provide a comprehensive and detailed picture of the travel behaviour of
London residents.

This allows a full and robust profiling of the nature of trips by Londoners – where and
when they travel, by which methods of transport, which combinations of modes… “(PSAP p.9.)
Having said this, the claim to being “robust” is unwarranted. For example, a good way of assessing changes in casualty rate is to look at the data at specific locations which have been re-engineered (“treated”) with pedestrian safety in mind. It should now be easy to measure pedestrian flows in detail at such locations, as well as considering other factors, such as whether there has been additional ease in crossing without having to worry about particular sources of danger, e.g. with increased crossing times at signalled junctions. Instead, the depiction of casualty rates is much cruder, as this heat map (Figure 4) shows. By depicting pedestrian KSIs per billion kilometres walked per Borough, are we actually learning anything?


We would, for example, expect pedestrian casualties to be more serious in areas where motor vehicle speeds are higher, which could be why the rate is higher in at least some of the Outer London Boroughs, where there are roads with higher vehicle speeds than in Inner London. But walking trips may well be made on roads in town centres with congested conditions where vehicles are travelling slower and both drivers and pedestrians watching out more: maybe, for example, there are more of these kinds of trip being walked in Bromley than in neighbouring Bexley, accounting for the distance. We can’t really tell.

But even if we do have a more accurate account of pedestrian casualty rates, it is still not clear if TfL actually want to break out of the traditional “road safety” paradigm. So we see that a central aim is:

“A significant reduction in the number of pedestrians killed and seriously injured is central…”p.7

…which can be achieved by having fewer pedestrian trips, particularly those made by elderly or disabled people, who are most likely to become KSIs in collisions because of greater frailty.

Now, TfL do say:

“The challenge is to meet the demands of more walking and simultaneously reduce
the total number of pedestrians that are involved in collisions when using our streets”.p.6
But which is more important? If the number of walking journeys doubled, and the total number of pedestrian KSIs stay the same, or increase by, say, 20%, we could say that the chances of being hurt or killed on a given journey appear to have dramatically decreased. Most of us walking about would think that a step forward (pun intended). But would TfL?

 

2. More danger can lead to fewer casualties

The Road Danger Reduction Forum and our predecessors have spent years pointing out that locations where motor vehicles pose particularly high levels of danger to people walking and cycling can lead to people being less likely to cycle, walk (or allow their children to walk or cycle there). This leads to low numbers of cyclist/pedestrian casualties: this is traditionally an indicator for the “road safety” lobby of less of a safety problem when in fact there is more danger.
Now, TfL do say:

“Roads that are perceived to be busy and unsafe may deter people from making a journey on foot.” P.12

There are other issues – these locations may be deterring walking because of noise pollution, the visual intrusion of motor traffic and noxious emissions. However, there is danger and it is often not just a “perception”, these roads – or to be more precise, the use or abuse of the motor vehicles on them – are indeed particularly unsafe.

“A high number of pedestrian collisions at a particular location may indicate that there is a specific problem that needs adressing to improve safety” p.13

But a low number may indicate a particular problem. No recognition of that.

There is a question as to how we might measure the levels of danger posed at such locations, although, as Basil Fawlty might have said, it is often “bleedin’ obvious”. But are TfL actually attempting to do this? As far as I can see, the only measures being used in “Extensive data analysis… (to)… identify the places where pedestrians are at greatest risk in London ” p.3. are still KSI based, rather than on actual danger.

3. Different groups

Newcomers to the world of road safety statistics may be interested by items such as Figure 3. Risk path showing pedestrian risk and KSI numbers by age group which shows that 20 – 29 year olds are the age group with the highest number of KSIs, yet a risk per distance walked about one-third of the 75+ group, who have about half as many KSIs as the 20 -0 29 year olds. The explanation is that 20 -29 year olds are far more likely to be walking (more KSIs), while the 75+ group are far more frail and likely to be reported as KSI when they are hit.

The thing is: so what? How exactly does this help us in an attempt to do what we should be doing? Allegedly this is about targeting scarce resources. Actually what it is likely to mean is the production of publicity initiatives aimed at these different groups which is at best ineffective and at worst victim-blaming – and which may only “work” by scaring the “targets” away, such as in a recent TfL campaign.

What are we actually going to do about it?

All the above relates to the central point of what we are all supposed to do to achieve pedestrian safety – even if we know how to define what it is, which so far is up for debate. (Again, consider the discussion about the aims of achieving safety in a civilised society here http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/11/15/if-we-want-safer-roads-for-cycling-we-have-to-change-how-we-measure-road-safety/ ).

1. An example: Speed

“…the significant majority of collisions took place on roads with a 30mph limit. Almost half of the vehicles involved were exceeding the limit, and where the limit was exceeded, this was sometimes by very substantial margins”. PSAP p.16. There is discussion in PSAP about further introduction of 20 mph (but not about how to achieve compliance with 20 mph in these areas) and some about replacing defective speed cameras. None of the discussion mentions that speed cameras are only located where a threshold of incidents has been recorded – again, focussing on the collisions rather than the background danger. Nor that a substantial proportion of those found on speed cameras are not prosecuted because their vehicles are unregistered.

None of this augurs well for an effective speed control strategy.

2. Not just pedestrians.

What this leads on to is how addressing speed issues for pedestrians (and the issue of unregistered drivers, and not just because they can avoid speed camera detection) would be of benefit for the safety of all road users. The problem is that a “road safety” analysis of the PSAP type, by being victim based, tends to divert attention away from danger reduction – from reducing danger at source, namely from the (often inappropriate, rule or law breaking) use of motor vehicles. Even without a degree of victim-blaming, it simply misses out on what would be desirable for all road users.

3. What “works”.

A crucial issue is that the “road safety” approach does not recognise that many reductions in road collision casualties have occurred because of changes in general levels of risk taking in society, changes in the quality of medical care, or other factors which have nothing to do with “road safety” initiatives – as well as the declines in walking and cycling mentioned above.

But ultimately the issue of deciding what programme to pursue depends on what we are trying to achieve – we won’t know whether something has worked or not until we agree on this. So far this is not clear in PSAP.

We humbly suggest that an approach based on a more rational discussion of what safety on the road is, and the commitment towards reducing danger at source as the civilised way of achieving it, is the way forward.

 


Categories: Views

Copenhagenize's New Bike Racks from Veksø

Copenhagenize - 8 May, 2014 - 11:08

We recently moved in our new offices on Paper Island (Papirøen) on the harbour in Copenhagen. A fantastic place to work, populated by wonderful, creative people.

There was one little detail missing. You can't very well be a fancy, blah blah blah urban design company like Copenhagenize Design Co. and NOT have bicycle parking outside your offices. It was wrong, so very wrong. What to do?


Ole, from Purpose Makers and Cycling Without Age / Cykling uden alder, lending a hand.

Simple really. You call Veksø. A legendary Danish company that started in the 1950s, producing bike racks for the Danish schools. A company that has made literally hundreds of thousands of bike racks over more than 60 years. Then they branched out into other urban furniture like covered racks and busstops, digital bike counters, footrests like the ones in Copenhagen, air pumps and tilted garbage cans for cyclists.

All of it in the kind of aesthetic design you'd expect from a Danish company with the slogan "Enriching Urban Life".

If you stood on a random, busy street in Copenhagen and removed the Veksø products, you'd be hard-pressed to find your busstop, throw away your rubbish or park your bicycle.

Check out Veksø's online catalogue right here: Enriching Urban Life


Testing the racks out and finding the right placement width.

Veksø came all the way from Jutland - Fredericia - to deliver our racks. Thanks!

We put the racks where people were parking their bikes anyway. Right by the entrance. Useless to place them anywhere else.

Paper Island's "Mr Clean" came past when we were placing the racks. He grabbed a broom and said, spontaneously, "shouldn't I sweep now that it looks so nice?" Yes, please and thank you!

And thanks to Veksø for helping us bling up our parking.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Do you hate humans? Take it out on them through design

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 May, 2014 - 09:16

Last week I was staying in Leeds for the Cycle City Expo, and the Space for Cycling campaigners conference. My hotel was quite convenient – only half a mile from Leeds Town Hall where the Expo was being held, and about the same distance from venue for the Space for Cycling Conference. (Indeed, it is formally described as the Leeds City Centre Premier Inn.)

Despite this proximity to the centre, the layout of the hotel, and the surrounding roads, is quite extraordinary if you are trying to get to it on foot.

The hotel entrance doesn’t face onto the street; you can only access it from the car park at the rear.

A hotel next to a road. But no entrance.

This meant that I cycled straight past it while I was trying to find it.

If you are attempting to walk to this hotel from the north, the direct route – of just a hundred metres or so – becomes an extraordinary meander, thanks to a combination of bizarre building design and enormous roads with limited crossing points, that force you take a hugely indirect path.

The blue arrow – the direct path. The red arrow – the actual walking route.

But this isn’t even the worst example of this kind of ‘design’ I’ve encountered. An even more preposterous example can be found in Crawley in West Sussex, right in the centre of the town.

Central Sussex College is adjacent to the main shopping centre of the town, separated from it only by College Road. You can see it, only a matter of tens of metres away, when you step out of the County Mall shopping centre.

There it is. So close. And yet (as we shall see) so far.

But just try to walk there.

Again, blue the direct route. Red, the designed route.

Six (yes SIX) separate crossings, followed by an infuriating diversion all the way around the building to enter it from the car park.

What is amazing is that this is (amongst other things) a college for 16-18 year olds – so a considerable proportion of the people attending it can’t even drive. Yet the obvious and easy way to access the building – on foot – has been simply been ignored, and made about as difficult and circuitous as possible.

Let’s take a closer look. The corner of the building that faces the town centre – where the entrance should be – isn’t even being used. It’s somewhere to stack chairs and tables.

Could this be the actual entrance?

There should be an entrance here, facing the town, but evidently that was just too obvious. Some opaque windows combined with dead space are plainly much more important.

Here’s another view of where that entrance should be, through a sea of pedestrian guardrailing.

Incredibly – once you manage to cross the road – you will find that the building is further protected against attack by pedestrians, with armco barriers. ARMCO BARRIERS. Presumably in case a ‘car loses control’.

This ring of crash protection extends right around the building, right around to the car park entrance to the north east (top right in the aerial view). Note where it lies in relation to the pavement – pedestrians are expendable.

They even had a spare bit left over – it’s been put to good use, protecting another bit of the building from speeding vehicles.

The final insult? There isn’t even a footway through the car park to the main entrance. You have to find your own way through the motor vehicles.

The rear. The entrance is in the corner.

Amazingly, this building was opened in 2006. 2006. Hang your heads in shame.

Plain evidence of design failure, right in front of those responsible.

 


Categories: Views

Do you hate humans? Take it out on them through design

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 May, 2014 - 09:16

Last week I was staying in Leeds for the Cycle City Expo, and the Space for Cycling campaigners conference. My hotel was quite convenient – only half a mile from Leeds Town Hall where the Expo was being held, and about the same distance from venue for the Space for Cycling Conference. (Indeed, it is formally described as the Leeds City Centre Premier Inn.)

Despite this proximity to the centre, the layout of the hotel, and the surrounding roads, is quite extraordinary if you are trying to get to it on foot.

The hotel entrance doesn’t face onto the street; you can only access it from the car park at the rear.

A hotel next to a road. But no entrance.

This meant that I cycled straight past it while I was trying to find it.

If you are attempting to walk to this hotel from the north, the direct route – of just a hundred metres or so – becomes an extraordinary meander, thanks to a combination of bizarre building design and enormous roads with limited crossing points, that force you take a hugely indirect path.

The blue arrow – the direct path. The red arrow – the actual walking route.

But this isn’t even the worst example of this kind of ‘design’ I’ve encountered. An even more preposterous example can be found in Crawley in West Sussex, right in the centre of the town.

Central Sussex College is adjacent to the main shopping centre of the town, separated from it only by College Road. You can see it, only a matter of tens of metres away, when you step out of the County Mall shopping centre.

There it is. So close. And yet (as we shall see) so far.

But just try to walk there.

Again, blue the direct route. Red, the designed route.

Six (yes SIX) separate crossings, followed by an infuriating diversion all the way around the building to enter it from the car park.

What is amazing is that this is (amongst other things) a college for 16-18 year olds – so a considerable proportion of the people attending it can’t even drive. Yet the obvious and easy way to access the building – on foot – has been simply been ignored, and made about as difficult and circuitous as possible.

Let’s take a closer look. The corner of the building that faces the town centre – where the entrance should be – isn’t even being used. It’s somewhere to stack chairs and tables.

Could this be the actual entrance?

There should be an entrance here, facing the town, but evidently that was just too obvious. Some opaque windows combined with dead space are plainly much more important.

Here’s another view of where that entrance should be, through a sea of pedestrian guardrailing.

Incredibly – once you manage to cross the road – you will find that the building is further protected against attack by pedestrians, with armco barriers. ARMCO BARRIERS. Presumably in case a ‘car loses control’.

This ring of crash protection extends right around the building, right around to the car park entrance to the north east (top right in the aerial view). Note where it lies in relation to the pavement – pedestrians are expendable.

They even had a spare bit left over – it’s been put to good use, protecting another bit of the building from speeding vehicles.

The final insult? There isn’t even a footway through the car park to the main entrance. You have to find your own way through the motor vehicles.

The rear. The entrance is in the corner.

Amazingly, this building was opened in 2006. 2006. Hang your heads in shame.

Plain evidence of design failure, right in front of those responsible.

 


Categories: Views

Norwegian Share the Road Campaign Films

Copenhagenize - 8 May, 2014 - 08:47

"70% of cyclists have experienced aggressive behaviour from motorists. We tested the same behaviour in a supermarket."
Text at end: "Cyclists and motorists have equal rights on the road"

First, a huge disclaimer. These ads were commissioned by the Norwegian Road Directorate - Statens Vegvesen. An organisation so jurassic in their transport mentality that they have to serve lunch outside every day because it will fossilise the moment it enters the building. An organisation that, despite their proximity to Denmark and Sweden, refuse to accept curb-separated cycle tracks in their "design" guide for bicycle infrastructure. An organisation that is so rooted in a last century ideology about traffic that the Transport Ministry in previous Norwegian government got so tired of hearing the same car-centric rhetoric that they commissioned a report about increasing cycling from other companies. When the government is tired of listening you, you know you have issues. An organisation with an employee who responds to a question at a conference earlier this year about why cycle tracks like in Denmark and the Netherlands aren't standard design by saying, "We can't just import all sorts of foreign ideas..." An organisation in one of the only countries in Europe with a falling cycling level, that has failed to - or refuses to - see that "sharing the road" is not something that actually gets people onto bicycles.

Also, Most campaigns from them are about sport/recreation cyclists, not people riding to work or school in a city. Grain of salt, please.

So. Baseline. Welcome to it.

With all THAT said, they hire a proper communications firm to communicate for them, which is good. They have obscene amounts of oil money, so nice that they use some of it on professional communication.

Let's forget for a moment that they are dinosaurs, because you'll probably get a kick out of these four films. In the

Text at beginning: "Many motorists think that have exclusive rights to the road. We tested the same behaviour in an elevator"
Text at end: "Cyclists and motorists have equal rights on the road"


"27% of motorists have experienced that cyclists have actively blocked their way"
(This is obviously sporty cyclists out doing exercise, not you and me riding to work)


"20% of cyclists have been forced off the road by motorists"


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

And the winner is: Zwolle!

BicycleDutch - 8 May, 2014 - 06:48
Today Zwolle was announced to be the winner of the title “Best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014″! It was no secret that Zwolle was my favorite of the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

And the winner is: Zwolle!

BicycleDutch - 8 May, 2014 - 06:48
Today Zwolle was announced to be the winner of the title “Best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014″! It was no secret that Zwolle was my favorite of the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

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