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

Bicycle rush hour at Vredenburg, Utrecht

BicycleDutch - 7 May, 2014 - 23:01
Some weeks ago I had to do a course I didn’t find useful at all. I couldn’t find a good excuse for wriggling out of it, but as it turned … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Bicycle rush hour at Vredenburg, Utrecht

BicycleDutch - 7 May, 2014 - 23:01
Some weeks ago I had to do a course I didn’t find useful at all. I couldn’t find a good excuse for wriggling out of it, but as it turned … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The possible versus the acceptable

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 6 May, 2014 - 14:26

North Parade in Horsham is a fairly busy distributor road (running north – unsuprisingly) out of the town centre. It has a 30 mph limit, and very narrow cycle lanes, which give up at a couple of awful pinch points.

The local cycle forum are quite rightly pressing to have these sorted out – in fact the picture above shows us with a representative from West Sussex County Council. A good interim solution would be to have the pinch point removed, and replaced with a zebra (this is an important crossing for pedestrians, with access to the park on the left).

Long term, this road desperately needs cycle tracks. There is absolutely no shortage of space here, as you can see, but obviously their construction would involve investment – adjusting the kerb line and drainage, and so on.

The problem is that councils like pinch points. They make it relatively easy for pedestrians to cross roads, without them interfering with ‘traffic flow’ (i.e. motor traffic flow) in ways that zebra or toucan crossings would.
And it is on this kind of issue that Sustrans’ new guidance is really quite unhelpful, because it doesn’t challenge councils’ inclination to continue employing pinch points (or ‘central islands’) like this, at all.

The handbook simply says ‘avoid gaps of 3.1 – 3.9m’. Going by a standard bus width of 2.5m, the pinch point in Horsham probably falls outside this recommendation, and is therefore acceptable, by the terms Sustrans set out. Even if it didn’t, ‘avoid’ is hardly strong enough – likewise the suggestion that a cycle lane of 1.5m ‘should’ continue through the pinch point.

Councils will want to take the easy path, that of least resistance, and do as little as they can. They can paint a bicycle symbol in the middle of the pinch point, and by Sustrans’ terms, that’s acceptable – indeed, even recommended.

I think this is the issue that many people have with the Sustrans’ guidance. It’s not that it doesn’t contain good recommendations (there’s plenty of good stuff in there) – it’s just that it is far, far too weak in opposing the stuff that we all know councils will only be too happy to build, if it means they can get away with doing things on the cheap. This is a real problem if you are presenting your handbook as best practice.

This isn’t a matter of asking for the (currently) impossible, or for those aspects of Dutch or Danish design that would be difficult to implement in the UK, or that are alien to UK highway engineers. It’s about demanding quality where it would be easy and obvious to achieve it. I would like a Sustrans manual that says 3m wide pinch points on a road with a 30mph limit and about 10,000 vehicles a day are completely unacceptable, not one that says ‘consider’ painting a cycle symbol in the middle of the pinch point.

If councils come back and say we can’t build a cycle route to those standards? Nothing has been lost; the road will remain as crap as it was before. And no time and effort has been wasted in half-arsed efforts to present it as a ‘route’.

 


Categories: Views

The possible versus the acceptable

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 6 May, 2014 - 14:26

North Street in Horsham is a fairly busy distributor road (running north – unsuprisingly) out of the town centre. It has a 30 mph limit, and very narrow cycle lanes, which give up at a couple of awful pinch points. The local cycle forum are quite rightly pressing to have these sorted out – in fact the picture above shows us with a representative from West Sussex County Council. A good interim solution would be to have the pinch point removed, and replaced with a zebra (this is an important crossing for pedestrians, with access to the park on the left).

Long term, this road desperately needs cycle tracks. There is absolutely no space issue here, but obviously their construction would involve investment – adjusting the kerb line and drainage, and so on.

The problem is that councils like pinch points. They make it relatively easy for pedestrians to cross roads, without them interfering with ‘traffic flow’ (i.e. motor traffic flow) in ways that zebra or toucan crossings would.
And it is on this kind of issue that Sustrans’ new guidance is really quite unhelpful, because it doesn’t challenge councils’ inclination to continue employing pinch points (or ‘central islands’) like this, at all.

The handbook simply says ‘avoid gaps of 3.1 – 3.9m’. Going by a standard bus width of 2.5m, the pinch point in Horsham probably falls outside this recommendation, and is therefore acceptable, by the terms Sustrans set out. Even if it didn’t, ‘avoid’ is hardly strong enough – likewise the suggestion that a cycle lane of 1.5m ‘should’ continue through the pinch point.

Councils will want to take the easy path, that of least resistance, and do as little as they can. They can paint a bicycle symbol in the middle of the pinch point, and by Sustrans’ terms, that’s acceptable – indeed, even recommended.

I think this is the issue that many people have with the Sustrans’ guidance. It’s not that it doesn’t contain good recommendations (there’s plenty of good stuff in there) – it’s just that it is far, far too weak in opposing the stuff that we all know councils will only be too happy to build, if it means they can get away with doing things on the cheap. This is real problem if you are presenting your handbook as best practice.

This isn’t a matter of asking for the (currently) impossible, or for those aspects of Dutch or Danish design that would be difficult to implement in the UK, or that are alien to UK highway engineers. It’s about demanding quality where it would be easy and obvious to achieve it. I would like a Sustrans manual that says 3m wide pinch points on a road with a 30mph limit and about 10,000 vehicles a day are completely unacceptable, not one that says ‘consider’ painting a cycle symbol in the middle of the pinch point.

If councils come back and say we can’t build a cycle route to those standards? Nothing has been lost; the road will remain as crap as it was before. And no time and effort has been wasted in half-arsed efforts to present it as a ‘route’.

 


Categories: Views

The best traffic light solution for cyclists. Simultaneous Green scales to almost any size of junction. Safe, convenient

A View from the Cycle Path - 4 May, 2014 - 14:25
Imagine if it were possible for cyclists to take their desire line across traffic light junctions, even riding diagonally if that the shortest path. Imagine if this was possible in complete safety because there were never any cars using the junction when cyclists used it. Imagine if cyclists' green traffic lights were twice as frequent as those for drivers so that average delays were shorter if David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com2http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/05/the-best-traffic-light-solution-for.html
Categories: Views

Sustrans Handbook for cycle friendly design - a poor design manual which sets very low standards

A View from the Cycle Path - 1 May, 2014 - 16:05
Not only does this Sustrans route consist of nothing but loose pebbles, there's a gate on it which I could not pass without removing my bike trailer. Sustrans (the name means sustainable transport) is a high profile campaigning organisation in the UK. They have a long history, having been around for 37 years. It might seem surprising that an organisation which claims to have been working on David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com16http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/05/sustrans-handbook-for-cycle-friendly.html
Categories: Views

High Speed Cycle Route Hattem – Zwolle

BicycleDutch - 30 April, 2014 - 23:01
The cycle highway from Hattem to Zwolle was festively opened by a class of schoolchildren, the alderman for traffic of the city of Zwolle and a representative of the province … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

High Speed Cycle Route Hattem – Zwolle

BicycleDutch - 30 April, 2014 - 23:01
The cycle highway from Hattem to Zwolle was festively opened by a class of schoolchildren, the alderman for traffic of the city of Zwolle and a representative of the province … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The benefits of keeping buses and bikes apart

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 30 April, 2014 - 23:00

Putting a cycle track alongside a bus lane is standard practice in the Netherlands. The principles of sustainable safety – specifically, homogeneity – mean you should not mix vehicles that differ greatly in mass. So unless it is completely unavoidable, the Dutch separate cycling from bus traffic, in urban areas.

Cycle and bus routes, in front of Nijmegen station

Cycle corridor, bus corridor, Utrecht city centre

This is completely alien in Britain, where bus lanes are usually presented as ‘cycling infrastructure’ – although this is starting to change, with schemes in Brighton and London (and proposed schemes in Manchester, Bristol and elsewhere) separating cycles from bus traffic on particular roads.

Of course, this does mean that bus stops have to be dealt with – cycle tracks will have to pass behind bus stops, as they are separate from the carriageway. Naturally this is less convenient for bus passengers; instead of stepping straight off onto a footway, they step onto a waiting island, before having to cross the cycle track.

It is easy to overstate this inconvenience. In Britain, “a cyclist” is typically conceived of as a fast, silent vehicle, whistling past in lycra. But in the Netherlands in particular, “a cyclist” is typically more like a wheeled pedestrian, wearing ordinary clothes, and travelling at 10-15mph. It is easy to negotiate your way across a cycle track on foot when people are essentially travelling like you.

Technically, a ‘bus stop bypass’. Very easy to cross this cycle track, to access the bus stop

But what I think is being overlooked in Britain at the moment is how poor a solution it is to place cycling in bus lanes, not just for people cycling, but for people on buses.

The average speed of people cycling, and a bus, is very similar, but the fluctuations in speed are very different. Someone cycling will be travelling at a constant 10 to 20mph, while a bus will be travelling from 0mph to 20-30mph, back down to 0mph again. In practice – as anyone who cycles regularly in bus lanes will tell you – a bus will constantly be overlapping you, while you constantly have to overtake the bus at each stop.

This is not attractive (or indeed safe) for cycling, and it’s not very good for bus passengers either, who will be held up by people cycling in the bus lane.

I’ve made a short video to demonstrate how smoothly cycling and bus traffic can co-exist if they are separated. It was filmed at about 8pm on a Thursday evening on Nachtegaalstraat in Utrecht. Not a particularly busy time, as you can tell from the video, but this is actually a very busy street, carrying well over 10,000 people cycling, and probably at least as many bus passengers, every day. It is one of the main routes from the city centre to the campus of Utrecht University.

As I hope is clear from the video, these arrangements benefit cycling and bus travel, by removing conflict, and preventing each mode from delaying the other.

Towns and cities that take cycling and public transport seriously should not push the two modes into the same space.


Categories: Views

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