The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 24 February, 2014 - 10:22

Could one of the biggest barriers to the implementation of the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling be… the Mayor himself?

I ask, because of an extraordinary discussion at the Transport for London Board Meeting on the 5th February, kindly uploaded to Youtube by Tom Kearney.

Here’s what Boris had to say during this discussion of cycling in the capital. (If you wish to listen for yourself, this passage starts at around 7min30).

What we did, for instance, between the Bow roundabout and Stratford – we’ve taken huge amounts of road, because, basically, there isn’t much traffic there. But, on the Embankment, for instance, it might be that some of those lavish-looking drawings just produce too much congestion.

…. I think one of the reasons you’ve got to go for segregation is partly demonstrative. You’ve got to show to potentially timid, new cyclists that a lot of work is being done to try to help them. You’ve got to show the world that cycling is stuff that is going on in a big way in London. But for my money (actually it’s all of our money) the best investment you can make, I think, is just in designating large sections of the road network… as places where you are going to find loads of cyclists. That was the philosophy behind the Cycle Superhighways. I still think it’s the right way to go. I still think, broadly speaking, an integrationist approach is the right way to go. What you want to create is a culture amongst all road users of all classes that cycling is going to take place, in a big way, on this road. And you’re not going to have segregation everywhere… It costs too much, and in my view, speaking as a cyclist, once you get beyond a certain level of proficiency, it is totally pointless. Totally pointless.

For instance, on the stretch between Stratford and Bow, you’ve got this beautiful oxbow lake kind of thing that goes off behind the bus stop – floating bus stops – at colossal expense. I forgot to use it the other day. Y’know, because I was just bombing down the road. And lots of cyclists will take that attitude.

There is so much wrong with this it provokes the question at the start of this post. On the basis of what Boris is saying here it appears that Andrew Gilligan – the Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner – will have to fight against the attitudes of the Mayor himself to implement the policies in the Mayor’s Vision.

Boris explicitly states here that, in his eyes, the purpose of segregation is simply demonstrative. To ‘show’ people that something is being done - even if he doesn’t agree with the policy.

Boris still thinks that the old form of the Superhighways – without any separation at all, and just a blue stripe on the road, ‘is the right way to go’.

Boris thinks that ‘creating a culture’ amongst road users that cycling is ‘going to take place’ on this road is the way forward – an ‘integrationist’ approach.

Boris thinks that segregation is ‘totally pointless’ as an intervention, ‘once you get beyond a certain level of proficiency’.

That is – Boris is apparently only thinking about ‘cyclists’ like himself; not about what the vast majority of Londoners might want. He is not listening to what campaigners are demanding. He is denigrating the very policies that will be required to increase cycling levels in London in any significant way.

These comments are so clueless I had to double-check the date – but yes, they were uttered just a few weeks ago. Shocking.

Categories: Views

Peak Travel and Outdated Projections

Copenhagenize - 24 February, 2014 - 09:53
I had the pleasure of speaking at the conference in Basel last Friday. The theme was "Nature & Mobility - Increasing Mobility with Reduced Traffic". I gave a version of my Bicycle Urbanism by Design talk.

One of the other speakers was particularly great to listen to. Adam Millard-Ball from the University of Santa Cruz spoke about Peak Traffic and the future of traffic demand.

Future patterns of travel demand have enormous implications for energy supply and the environment. How far will we travel in the future, and by what modes? Has travel in the industrialized world ceased to grow – "peak travel"? Are developing countries likely to follow the high-travel, high-emissions path of the United States, or will their travel patterns look more like Europe or Japan?

He highlighted how engineers and traffic modellers insist on using the same old same old techniques for predicting future travel demand patterns. Despite the fact that they are hopelessly wrong almost every time.

The slide, at top, really says it all. He uses two examples. One is projections from the Department for Transport in the UK (at left) and from Washington State. It's a very intuitive slide. Actual traffic growth on both graphs is in black. The wild coloured lines shooting for the stars are the projections. Millard-Ball said that this is a tendency around the world.

Reality is quite different from the computer models still employed by transport departments. Models that produce projections that influence politicians and impact the lives of millions. Models that are wrong and hopelessly out of date.

As I describe in this TED talk about Bicycle Culture by Design, traffic engineering is an outdated science in its current form. Although that current form is largely unchanged for decades, so it's not really current at all. It's prehistoric. Take the 85th Percentile folly that still controls speed limits in cities. It's standard stuff at universities. Bizarre.

Traffic engineering has too much influence on the lives of our citizens. Nobody has bothered to dig just a little deeper and realise that it's quite hopeless and that we need innovation and new thinking to reverse the damage it has caused.

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

Junction design in the Netherlands

BicycleDutch - 23 February, 2014 - 16:01
One of my most viewed videos is an animation I made in 2011, showing that a common Dutch type of junction design with protected cycle tracks would in principle fit … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Junction design in the Netherlands

BicycleDutch - 23 February, 2014 - 16:01
One of my most viewed videos is an animation I made in 2011, showing that a common Dutch type of junction design with protected cycle tracks would in principle fit … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A kerb nerd protests

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 21 February, 2014 - 00:54

The epithet ‘kerb nerds’ seems to have been coined to describe those people who think that, on roads that carry a certain volume of motor traffic, travelling at a certain speed, cycling as a mode of transport should not share the same physical space as that motor traffic.

This label tends to ignore the fact that the Dutch model of cycle provision – which ‘kerb nerds’ like me tend to highlight as best practice – actually involves a surprisingly small amount of this kind of lateral separation. The Dutch employ other methods – usually falling under the umbrella of ‘unbundling’ – to separate cycling from motor traffic. Motor traffic is removed from the vast majority of streets in urban areas, concentrated on a larger grid of distributor roads, or displaced onto through roads. (Bypasses genuinely are bypasses in the Netherlands).

Separation, through removal of motor traffic. ‘Kerb nerds’ want this too!

‘Kerb nerds’ don’t believe in cycle tracks everywhere. They’re just another tool in the toolbox – one which, for some reason, a certain group of cycle campaigners insist on ruling out anywhere.

Beyond this basic misunderstanding, the label ‘kerb nerds’ also serves to overstate the important of kerbs in creating physical separation on the routes that actually require it. I suspect the problem here is that the people most vigorously opposed to ‘kerbs’ are only aware of the kind of physical segregation they see on a day-to-day basis, in the places where they live in Britain. (This is the most charitable explanation – wilful ignorance of Dutch practice is another).

This is the kind of physical separation they might be imagining – a hard step down into the carriageway, then a hard step back up over another set of kerbs.

The old arrangement on Royal College Street, Camden

I can only assume it is this type of cycle provision that – to take just one example – Councillor Vincent Stops of Hackney has in mind when he writes things like -

The problem with kerbs
At the heart of the cyclecentric, separated space campaign is a desire to see additional kerbs installed to “protect cyclists from motor vehicles” or for cyclists to be diverted onto the pavement in tracks, for example around the back of bus stops…  This is said to benefit cyclists, but ignores the problems that will be caused to pedestrians, particularly older people and the visually and mobility impaired. Pedestrians (whom hitherto transport planners have put at the top of the transport hierarchy) want to see wide, level, continuous and clear pavements and to be able to cross the street at will. Pedestrians do not want additional kerbs and complexity introduced into the street. Pedestrians do not want to have to look out for cyclists on the pavement, nor do they want to have to cross a cycle track and perch on a foot wide kerb before crossing the carriageway.

The introduction of kerbs and the paraphernalia of separated tracks flies in the face of years of work to establish that our streets are not there simply to cater for movement, but are also places for public life. Just at the time that walking policy has made a shift towards reduced segregation – for example by  the removal of guard railing etc. – and more shared space some cycle bloggers and campaigners want to shift cycling provision towards more separation.

His post has this picture of a ‘cycle track’ in it, apparently to demonstrate what ‘kerb nerbs’ want to install on every street in London.

Courtesy of Vincent Stops

This is the contraflow cycle track on Pitfield Street, Hackney, which Cllr Stops writes

serves a cycling function, but by no stretch of the imagination can this be described as an attractive and walkable street. For able bodied pedestrians it’s horrible to cross, for older people and disabled pedestrians it is un-passable. It is poor urban design.

Here’s the thing - kerb nerds would agree with this description.

There shouldn’t be any need for this kind of treatment on Pitfield Street – it could have motor traffic removed on it, through filtered permeability, or through opposing one-way systems. The parallel main roads, the A10 and the A1200 should be taking the through traffic.

But more than this. Cycle tracks do not need to look like the one Pitfield Street. They do not need to resemble ‘trip hazards’, or obstructions.

How many miles of trip hazards is Boris going to install. I’m sure Hackney will continue to focus on what’s important for cycling and peds.

— Vincent Stops (@VincentStops) March 7, 2013

Good cycle tracks – the kinds ‘kerb nerds’ want to see – are not something anyone will trip over.

Trip hazard? Or somewhere young children can cycle independently? You decide

No trip hazards here either.

Now of course it is undeniable that cycle tracks represent something ‘extra’ to cross, if you want to walk from one side of the road to the other. But this isn’t necessarily worse. How much harder is it to cross a busy road, with cycles in the traffic stream, than it is to cross the road in stages, with cycles subtracted from that general traffic stream? (Indeed, how many people on that route are cycling, instead of driving, because the environment is attractive to do so?)

Crossing a busy road, Dutch-style

And, rather than presenting barriers to Dutch people with mobility problems, cycle tracks are liberating – they are an excellent way to get about.

Do cycle tracks need to be a problem for the mobility impaired?

If cycle tracks are designed well, then the distinction between ‘pedestrians’ and ‘cyclists’ disappears. Cycle tracks are simply another way for peopleeveryone - to get about, not just ‘cyclists’.

Only if you have a fixed conception of what a ‘cyclist’ could possibly be would you describe cycle tracks as ‘cyclecentric’. They aren’t barriers; quite the opposite.

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain has more detail on what good cycle tracks should look like.

Categories: Views

Where next for hi-visibility clothing?

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 20 February, 2014 - 08:32

You might be the kind of person who thinks that someone riding a bike should do everything possible to make themselves visible to drivers. That they should wear hi-visibility jackets. That they should be reflective, and illuminated.

Well, if you ever cross the road at night, you might want to pay attention to what judgements that are emerging from courts – judgements like this one - might mean for the clothing you have to wear.

A MINICAB driver who struck a pedestrian in Kingsbury has been cleared of causing death by careless driving.

Wahidullah Hoori, 41, had just turned off Edgware Road in Kingsbury when his 05-reg Seat Alambra people carrier hit Barry Southgate as the slow-moving 64-year-old crossed Kingsbury Road, at 11.50pm on April 11 2012.

Mr Southgate, of Theobald Crescent, Harrow, died nine days later from his injuries at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.

Prosecutor Nicholas Bleaney told jurors: “The prosecution say he should have seen him and had plenty of opportunity to see him and Mr Southgate was doing nothing dramatic.

“He was walking along at a relatively slow, pedestrian speed – something any driver in any part of the country, particularly in London, has to deal with all the time.

“He did not suddenly come out from behind a tree and his movements, we say, were pretty obvious. Speed isn’t an issue. The turn was conducted at a normal speed. The accident, we say, was caused by carelessness.

“He [Hoori] should have stopped in time to avoid a collision or at the very least swerved to avoid him.”

Mr Southgate had helped plaster a wall at a friend’s house before he and his friend went for a drink at The Moon Under Water in Varley Parade, The Hyde in Colindale, where the victim drank two pints of real ale.

His bus home sped past as the two left the pub and so Mr Southgate, who was also known as Barry O’Reilly, decided at 11.30pm to walk down Edgware Road and had just turned the corner into Kingsbury Road when he was hit by the nearside front grill of Hoori’s minicab.

Mr Bleaney said the defendant made a statement to police that he had been working since 2pm on the day of the collision, that he had had a day off the previous day and had consumed neither alcohol or drugs before the crash.

Witness Raluca Frunza told the court: “I saw the old man. He was on the other side of the road. He was walking really slowly because he was on crutches. He was not using [the traffic island] to cross the road. I heard a noise like a metal-to-metal noise and heard a male scream, a yell, and then I realised that the car had hit the old man.

“I saw a lot of blood on the floor.”

There is some more detail on this case from the ‘expert witness’ providers, Wayman Experts, who provided ‘expert witness’ testimony in court, that appears, by their own estimation, to have contributed to the driver being found not guilty.

Mr Dave Burgess of Wayman Experts was instructed in this matter following a road traffic collision that occurred on the A4006 Kingsbury Road, London at approximately 2353 hours Tuesday April 10th 2012.

Mr Hoori, the driver of a Seat Alhambra taxi, collided with a pedestrian who sustained fatal injuries. During their investigation the Police obtained CCTV footage of the movement of both the pedestrian and vehicle immediately prior to impact, although the collision itself was not in view of the camera.

The prosecution alleged that the pedestrian should have been seen and that there were no obstacles preventing Mr Hoori from seeing the pedestrian.

The pedestrian was wearing dark outer clothing and walking with the aid of at least one crutch at a slow pace.

Within his report Mr Burgess highlighted a number of issues, to include the blind spot created by the vehicle ‘A’ pillar and the pedestrian conspicuity. [my emphasis]

Following a trial at Wood Green CC, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty to the charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving.

What does this all mean?

It means that if you are walking in a lit, urban area at night, wearing ordinary clothes, and you are struck and killed by a driver who should reasonably be able to see you as you cross a road, that driver will  be found not guilty due, in part, to your lack of ‘conspicuity’.

Don’t think that wearing hi-visibility clothing is just a ‘cycling’ issue.

Categories: Views

Enschede, nominee for best cycling city

BicycleDutch - 19 February, 2014 - 23:01
Enschede is one of the five nominees to become best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014. Chosen from a long-list of 19 municipalities, these five municipalities compete to take … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Enschede, nominee for best cycling city

BicycleDutch - 19 February, 2014 - 23:01
Enschede is one of the five nominees to become best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014. Chosen from a long-list of 19 municipalities, these five municipalities compete to take … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Action on “Cyclists stay back” stickers

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 19 February, 2014 - 17:39

Following the initial concerns raised on our website before Xmas 2013, the Road Danger Reduction Forum has come together with other organisations to explain our concerns to, and ask for action from, Transport for London.  Along with the RDRF they are the London Cycling Campaign;  CTC: the national cycling charity; RoadPeace: the national charity for road crash victims; and TABS: the Association of Bikeability Schemes:

The organisations that have signed this document have agreed the following statements about stickers aimed at cyclists on the rear of commercial vehicles in London.

 (1) The ‘cyclists stay back’ wording is not acceptable for use on any vehicle, because of its implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicle users. It also undermines the responsibility of drivers of such vehicles to use their nearside mirrors as required by the Highway Code in Rules 159,161,163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202. Non-use of nearside mirrors is associated with a significant proportion of incidents where cyclists are hit by motor vehicles.

 (2) It is not appropriate to have stickers aimed at cyclists on the back of any vehicle smaller than a heavy goods vehicle.

 (3) Stickers are appropriate on the rear of high-cab lorries, because of these vehicles’ blind areas, and the resultant danger to other road users.

 (4) Stickers on lorries should be worded as warnings rather than commands, with appropriate graphics. A suitable graphic is attached 



 Possible wording is:                                                         

 Accordingly, we ask for the following to be done immediately:

 (1) FORS to instruct their members to remove ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers from all vehicles except high-cab heavy goods vehicles, by the end of March.

 (2) London Buses to instruct operators to remove ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers from all buses, until such time as a more appropriate design and wording is agreed with cycling organisations, by the end of March.

 (3) TfL to inform all other vehicle operators, such as Hackney carriages (LTDA etc.) that TfL do not want such stickers to be used on their vehicles, by the end of March.

 (4) TfL to develop and produce a more appropriate sticker for heavy goods vehicles, similar to the one attached to this statement, and agree the design and wording with cycling organisations, by the end of May.

 (5) TfL to supply the new sticker to freight operators, with instructions only to use it on high-cab lorries. This should be in widespread use by the end of August, with no ‘cyclists stay back’ stickers remaining after this date.

 (6) TfL to invest in designing and promoting use of lorries that do not have blind spots around the cab. Stickers are, literally, a sticking-plaster solution. The long-term solution includes designing out the source of the danger by engineering lorries to reduce or eliminate the possibility of cyclists and pedestrians being crushed in collisions with them, engineering the highway to reduce potential conflict, eliminating lorry driver “blind spots”, and by training drivers to check their mirrors properly when turning or changing lane.


for CTC, Roger Geffen for LCC, Charlie Lloyd for RDRF, Dr Robert Davis for Roadpeace, Amy Aeron-Thomas for TABS  (The Association of Bikeability Schemes) David Dansky
Categories: Views

Repost: Pickles peddles pointless parking press release

At War With The Motorist - 18 February, 2014 - 08:00

Not having anything new to post, but having been reminded of this antique scrawl by last week’s Cycling Embassy response to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on whether they should interfere in local parking policies, I figured I could fob you off with something originally posted way back in august 2011.

This week, the Department for Communities and Local Government put out a press release about town centre parking. Unlike last time, they didn’t even have to announce that Pickles is ending The War On The Motorist™. On that point, their work was done for them, by 36 newspapers and the Daily Express. Aren’t they well trained?

This time around, Rubberknickers Pickles is ending The War by lifting restrictions on how much of our town centres can be given over to car parking. The idea is nothing new, of course, but it is assumed that most will have forgotten the previous occasions when it was announced. The “news” is that the paperwork has gone through: the new version of the government’s planning rules are complete.

As far as I can tell, the notorious limits on car parking provision that have been dropped were Policy EC8, “Car parking for non-residential development,” in the Planning Policy Statement 4 of 2001 [PDF]. This policy instructs local authorities:

Local planning authorities should, through their local development frameworks, set maximum parking standards for non-residential development in their area, ensuring alignment with the policies in the relevant local transport plan and, where relevant, the regional strategy.

In determining what their maximum should be, the policy suggested that authorities think about the needs of non-car users, the effects of congestion and need to tackle carbon emissions and air pollution, and:

h. the need to make provision for adequate levels of good quality secure parking in town centres to encourage investment and maintain their vitality and viability

j. the need to provide for appropriate disabled parking and access

k. the needs of different business sizes and types and major employers

That is, the notorious Labour control-freakery over town centre parking was, er, an instruction for local authorities to develop guidelines that they think are suitable for their own local situations. The Policy document goes on to state that these local standards that authorities have developed should then be applied to planning applications — unless the planning applicant gives a good reason for them not to apply.

So these maximum limits are locally decided and not really binding. That doesn’t quite look like “centrally controlled parking quotas” to me. In his press release, Pickles says:

The Government believes councils and communities are best placed to set parking policies that are right for their area and based on local need – not Whitehall. Local people know the level of parking that is sustainable for their town centre.

Which seems to be exactly what the old Policy document supported.

Perhaps there was some other Labour policy, rule, or law that I haven’t been able to find? Anybody?

I’m not sure what real difference the removal of this policy makes. Previously councils were made to think about the effect of congestion and pollution and the like on their town centres, and the needs of people on foot and bike and bus. When a planning application came in they would know how to recognise whether it would be bad for their town, and they would have a good pre-prepared excuse to reject a development that would make their town centre a more congested and polluted place, or which would hinder walking, cycling, and public transport. But I assume that they’re still allowed to reject those developments if they still don’t like congestion and pollution and dead places?

But perhaps the new policy document will send a message to local authorities: your town centres are in a bad way, and you need to do something about it. In his press release, Pickles says that the removal of this rule will “provide a big boost to struggling high streets”:

The new draft National Planning Policy Framework, recently published, will do away with these anti-car restrictions introduced in 2001 and give high streets a boost to compete for shoppers. It will encourage new investment in town centres, provide more jobs and encourage more charging spaces for electric cars.

Unfortunately, Pickles doesn’t explain how the new Policy will translate into more competitive town centres with more jobs. More importantly, he presents no evidence to support the statement. So I went looking for it. Luckily, Greg Marsden has already reviewed the evidence on parking policies.

One of the studies that Marsden reviews is the 2002 Lockwood Survey, which divides “town centres” by size of the town/catchment area, and whose summary states:

4.   Findings of the parking survey:

Major District Centres: Poor store performance is linked with low levels of parking, reliance on car parks more than 5 minutes walk from prime shopping streets and high charges (the report gives indicative levels).

Sub Regional Centres: Poor store performance is linked with reliance on car parks more than 5 minutes walk from prime shopping streets and high charges (the report gives indicative levels).

Regional Centres: Poor store performance is linked with high charges for 3 and 4 hour stays (the report gives indicative levels).

But when Marsden looked at the data he found it a lot more difficult to support these conclusions. In “major district centres”, those with very low levels of parking were indeed more likely to be performing badly. But those with mildly low levels of parking did better than those with high levels. And in regional centres, those with higher levels of parking were struggling more than those with lower levels. But those with very high levels of parking did a little better than those with very low levels.

There simply doesn’t seem to be any pattern in this data at all. The authors of the original report had cherry picked those parts of the data that made it look like low parking provision was harming shops, while ignoring those parts that said the reverse. Marsden found the same for parking charges and the proportion of parking spaces within a five minute walk of the main shopping area: the data was all over the place, showing no obvious and consistent relationship with economic performance. Why not? Because if variation in parking provision has any effect on town centre attractiveness and competitiveness at all, it is masked by far more important factors — perhaps factors like whether the town centre is easy to get to, has shops people want to use, and is a nice place to be.

So why is Pickles press releasing his new policy as the saviour for struggling town centres? Why did most of the newspapers toe that line? We’ve developed a national myth that giving over more of our town centres to parking is good for the businesses in them.

Sustrans documented the nature of this myth by talking to traders and shoppers on Gloucester Road in Bristol. Bristol is relatively dense and affluent with above average cycling and car ownership rates and, even by British standards, appalling public transport. Gloucester Road doubles as a major artery with many bus routes and a neighbourhood centre lined with mostly independent shops. As Bristol Traffic documents, its bus and bike lanes are usually filled with parked cars.

Not Gloucester Road, but a near-by case study which might teach us some things about why town centres are in decline

Shopkeepers on Gloucester road estimated that more than two fifths of their customers came by car. In fact it was only just over a fifth. They greatly underestimated how many people walked, cycled, or took the bus. The shopkeepers were perhaps being big-headed, believing that their businesses were capable of attracting people from a wider catchment area, when in fact most customers lived within an easily walkable distance.

And the shopkeepers greatly overestimated the importance of drivers to their business in another way: while the people who walked were likely to stick around and visit several shops and businesses, the drivers typically pulled up, ran in to one shop, and got out of there as fast as they could. Perhaps that’s because often they couldn’t even be bothered to park up properly and instead stopped in the bike lanes outside their destination.

High street shopkeepers and business owners greatly overestimate the importance of drivers to their success. Why? Perhaps proprietors are more likely to be drivers themselves, and, as is so often the case with motorists, can’t get their heads around the fact that so many others aren’t? Perhaps their view of the street through the big shop window is dominated by the big metal boxes passing through? Perhaps they see the apparent success of the big soulless out-of-town supermarkets and shopping malls, attribute that success to the acres of car parking, and leap to the conclusion that car parking is all that a business needs for success — that the model which succeeds on the periphery can be applied to the model that is failing in the centre.

I suspect that the opposite might be true. Those who are attached to their cars will go to the barns on the ring-roads. You won’t attract them back to the town centres. But by trying — by providing for the car parking at the expense of bike paths and bus lanes and wider pavements — you might drive away the surprisingly high proportion of town centre customers who don’t come by car, who come precisely because, unlike the malls, the town centre is walkable and cycleable and because the bus can get through. Town centres aren’t just competing with out-of-town malls and supermarkets any more. Those who don’t want to drive to out-of-town barns can sit at home, click on some buttons, and have things driven to them. Compared to most of the traffic-choked high streets in this country, that’s quite an attractive option.

Categories: Views

Designing for cycling in its own right

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

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

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

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

A good walking environment

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

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

You start reading the Introduction.

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

Sounds good! You read on.

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

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

Traffic volume reduction

‘Traffic volume reduction’? You scratch your head.

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

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

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

The Hierarchy of Provision

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

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

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

Indeed, the Hierarchy represents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New ‘off carriageway’ provision in Leicester

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

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

We need to design for cycling in its own right.

Thanks to John Parkin for providing the inspiration for this piece

Categories: Views

Every Traffic Light in Assen

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

Christchurch New Zealand Cycle Design Guidelines

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

The myth of the "standard Dutch junction"

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

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

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

Malmö Opens Fantastic Bike&Ride Parking at Central Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the waiting areas, with water fountain.

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

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

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

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

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

The ticket machines located conveniently at the bicycle parking.

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

Heja Malmö! 

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

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

The E-bike Sceptic

Copenhagenize - 14 February, 2014 - 13:51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classification and Branding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response to the Central London Cycle Grid consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death on the streets

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

On Wednesday, Beyond the Kerb wrote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘At least twelve months’. Great news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Views

Desire Lines - Dybbølsbro

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Rush Hour, 8:45-9:00

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

Ingerslevsgade Intersection

Morning Rush Hour

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

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

Copenhagenize Fixes

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

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

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


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