The City of London have brought out what they presumably believe to be a charming ‘road safety’ video, entitled ‘Handle Like Eggs’.
The presenter of the video informs us that it is really important we ‘share the streets, safely.’ This is, apparently, because the City has ‘a global financial centre, packed into a medieval street pattern.’
The implication of these comments is that there really is no alternative to ‘sharing the road’ when you are riding a bike; that the City cannot do anything to separate bicycle traffic from motor traffic. Especially on streets like Cheapside, where it is ‘especially important to share safely.’
This is utter tosh. The reason people using bikes are being forced to ‘share’ the road with motorists is because the City has created a street design that pushes the two into conflict. The City Cyclists blog has assiduously documented the history of this £3 million scheme, pointing out that despite claims it will ‘greatly benefit cyclists’, it is actually deeply unpopular. Nobody riding here wants to have to place themselves directly in front of motor traffic to prevent dangerous overtakes, yet this is what you have to do. Likewise it is often impossible to filter on this street when it is congested with motor traffic. You simply have to sit behind buses and lorries, and breathe in the fumes.
This is not a consequence of the ‘medieval street pattern’. It is a consequence of the City creating a deliberately narrow carriageway.
There’s a vast amount of space here, but the City have pushed bike users and buses into the same tiny bit of road.
You can see this same scene in the City’s own video -
The pavement is so wide here, you can see a lorry parked on it, behind the presenter.
Now obviously taking carriageway space and reallocating it to pedestrians is a good thing, in and of itself. But frankly a huge opportunity to create safe and attractive cycling conditions on Cheapside has been lost.
There wouldn’t be any need for videos like this if the street had been designed differently. The impatient overtaking attempts illustrated in the video simply wouldn’t happen. The left hook as the cyclist enters an ASL wouldn’t happen. And, most importantly, there wouldn’t be any need to tell you to cycle in the middle of the road.
The simple truth is that the City have built a street that engenders conflict between people riding bikes and people driving, and have to had to resort to a silly video to try and ameliorate the consequences. If they had just designed the street with proper, protected space for cycling in the first place, it wouldn’t have been necessary.
Sadly I don’t think they are paying attention.
This news story featured yesterday in the Hull Daily Mail -
A Hull man whose back was broken in two places when he was knocked from his bicycle faces a long struggle to walk again. Cliff Hattersley, 59, was cycling to his son’s house from his home in The Quadrant when he was hit side-on by a car.
Mr Hattersley was thrown from his bike by the impact and suffered two fractures in his vertebrae. X-rays revealed emergency surgery would be needed to help it fully heal.
His wife Linda said: “He couldn’t get out of the bed at hospital. He couldn’t stand up on his own. I would rather it was a broken arm or a leg but it’s such a serious thing, a back injury. It’s not something you easily recover from.”
Mr Hattersley’s son was away from his home in Priory Road, so he was heading round to check on it. As he cycled around the roundabout where Fairfax Avenue joins Cottingham Road, he was in a collision with a silver Vauxhall Astra. He did not lose consciousness and even spoke to his wife on the phone after being picked up by emergency services. It was at first thought his injuries were minor, before an X-ray revealed the bad news.
Mrs Hattersley, 59, said: “He didn’t sound too bad on the phone. He got a bang on the head and he hurt his shoulder but he never lost consciousness. I didn’t think it was that serious.”
But a CT scan revealed her husband had suffered an unstable fracture. His vertebrae was broken his in two places, meaning his back might not heal properly on its own. The family was given two choices – 12 weeks of bed rest coupled with therapy from a specialist unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, or an immediate operation.
They decided surgery was the best option, and on Friday afternoon, Mr Hattersley had screws and rods put into his back to help it heal properly. He is still in hospital and is walking only hesitantly with a zimmer frame but hopes to make a full recovery.
Mrs Hattersley said: “They’re trying to get him home at the beginning of this week. But with the pain he was in and him not being able to stand, I will just have to see how it goes when the doctors see him. It’s hard not knowing what the outcome will be yet. Once I know the outcome, I will be relieved.”
Her husband, who no longer drives, is fitted with a pacemaker and started cycling to improve his health. The couple do not yet know if he will get on a bike again.
Mrs Hattersley said: “The doctors said he will have less mobility but whether he will be able to cycle again I don’t know. He’s usually full of jokes. He’s not himself at the moment but he will get back there. There was nothing he could have done to protect himself. The police said about him having a helmet but a helmet wouldn’t have stopped a broken back.”
The crash happened just before 8am on Wednesday last week.
Well, Mrs Hattersley isn’t quite right when she argues that ‘there was nothing he could have done to protect himself’.
Her husband could have been wearing body armour.
Of course a helmet wouldn’t have protected her husband’s back! That’s just silly. No, that’s what a reinforced spine protector is for; and that’s what her husband should have been wearing. As well as a helmet.
Now there are some deluded fools out there who insist on arguing that the real solution to keeping people toddling around on bikes safe from harm is to separate them from motor vehicles to the greatest possible extent, and to ensure – through design and enforcement – that vehicles are driven slowly and carefully when mixing is unavoidable. They say that a country called ‘The Netherlands’ has apparently achieved some success in keeping people riding bikes safe with these kinds of strategies.
But trauma surgeons in Canada know better. Because they’ve seen the effects of injuries to cyclists up close.
Trauma surgeons at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary conducted a study into cycling injuries and say the risk of serious injury can be reduced and even prevented by wearing body armour.
The doctors compared injuries between street cyclists and mountain bikers over a 14-year period and looked at incidence, risk factors and injury patterns.
One of the recommendations that came out of the report is that cyclists in both groups should consider wearing chest protection.
The research study was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery and studied 258 severely injured cyclists in southern Alberta.
“Trauma to the head is still the No. 1 injury in both cycling groups, which underscores the importance of wearing a good-quality, properly fitted helmet,” says Dr. Chad Ball, the senior author of the research paper. “At the same time, almost half of the injuries we noted were either to the chest or abdomen, suggesting that greater physical protection in those areas could also help reduce or prevent serious injury.”
Yes, Canada’s cyclists are suffering serious trauma injuries all over their bodies. And not just to their heads. Isn’t it therefore completely frickin’ obvious that we should protect their entire bodies, and not just their heads?
So, use your head. Don’t just protect your head. Protect your chest and your spine. And your limbs! 38.4% of trauma injuries to cyclists are in ‘the extremities.’ Just think of the horrible consequences to your arms if you’re caught in a serious motor vehicle smash without your hard shell arm protectors. There’s no way I’d cycle anywhere without these bad boys. Even if I’m just popping to the shops. (I only have two arms, and I’d like to keep them, thanks.)
Of course, some might say we should address the so-called ‘root causes’ of those injuries, like being struck by motor vehicles travelling at high speeds, or being run over by heavy trucks, rather than taking the logical step of cladding people head to toe in safety wear.
But they haven’t seen a serious head injury, or a crushed chest. Just think how those injuries could have been very, very slightly lessened with a polystyrene helmet, or a hardened plastic thorax protector. Or reinforced limb armour.
Then you’ll understand. It’s for your own safety.
In a recent post, David Hembrow introduced the fifty bollard game: a practical exercise for campaigners to look at how a few strategically placed bollards could solve problems on their streets. A few bollards to create filtered permeability — closing off streets and country lanes to ratrunning, forcing motorists to keep through journeys to the main roads — can be a cheap and quick to implement solution to reclaiming those places from traffic.
Last week I talked to my neighbour @Jon_events, who has some practical experience with turning this game into reality, and we thought we’d try making a quick guide for other campaigners who want to fix their streets:
So, if you want to turn the fifty bollard game into reality, you should (a) set out your demands to the council exactly, so that they can’t mess it up or fob you off with excuses about how it would be much more complicated and expensive and bogged down in red tape than you think; and (b) get your neighbours to join you in a petition making those exact demands. (Exactly how many of your neighbours you need to support you will vary according to the pre-existing political will in your local council.)
The key part of Jon’s approach, though — necessary both to cut through the red tape, and to get sceptical neighbours on side — is not to ask for bollards at all. At least, not to begin with. Jon asks for flower planters, and — here’s the important bit — an Experimental Traffic Order. While almost everybody recognises the problem of ratrunning, some people have concerns about the proposed solution. But it’s difficult for them to say no to a reversible trial.
The time consuming bit is treading the streets, knocking on doors, explaining the proposal and getting signatures. So we made another guide, this one for our neighbours:
I found this post in my drafts, from way back in october 2010, when this blog and my thoughts on transport policy were young. I thought it was really time to chuck it out and get it out of the way. I think it was probably waiting for another illustration I’d had planned but never shot, or something…
Private cars (including taxis and minicabs) for transporting people make up perhaps only a half of the inappropriately used vehicles clogging our city centres on weekdays. Nor are they the most polluting of these vehicles. Fighting car and taxi dependency and fighting for support for alternative modes of transportation for people will not alone make our cities liveable again.
This week, because somebody drove into me last weekend, I have mostly been catching up with the pedestrian and bus passenger’s experience of central London. On Monday morning, already late (I always forget that a half-hour bike commute takes an hour on public transport) and not up to hobbling even the short distance from Cannon Street to Grays Inn Road, I waited outside the station for a number 17. I could see the number 17. It was just down the end of the road at Monument Station. But it took a while for it to arrive on account of the long line of vehicles parked along Cannon Street’s double yellows, beside the “no loading” markings. Vehicles like Thoroughshred‘s DU02OVK. (This van’s hazard lights of course indicated that the vehicle had temporarily broken down, and the driver was visiting a nearby friendly office building who helpfully supplied the box of old documents that fixed the van’s immobility.) Note that Thoroughshred care for the environment by using “low-emission vehicles”. As my bus was finally approaching, Office & General Cleaning had an unfortunate incident on the opposite side of the road: the driver quickly braked and pulled in on the double yellows, firing up his hazards. What were the chances, two vans broken down on either side of the road, blocking the busy bus routes of Cannon Street? All counted, there were seven unfortunate van drivers who had broken down on the yellow lines of Cannon Street that morning, and twenty three on the two miles to Grays Inn Road.
(Office & General Cleaning, it should be noted, use low-sulphur vehicles, and make the bold and scientifically illiterate claim to have eliminated all chemicals from their cleaning “regime”. This makes their business “environmentally sustainable”.)
One particularly worrying breakdown had occurred on Ludgate Hill, where Eden Springs were stopped, hazards flashing, on the double yellows in the eastbound bike lane just below St Paul’s. In an attempt to get the vehicle working again, the driver was bravely unloading large bottles of water onto a trolley, and an adjacent office must have selflessly agreed to store them for the company. Eden Springs are clearly doing important work in London: as they point out, water is vital to the health of office workers, and it’s not like you can just turn a tap and expect it to come pouring out like magic. Eden Springs have a philosophy: to be an environmentally responsible partner. (After livetweeting my bus journey, I discovered a new follower: Eden Springs. Somewhere somebody is living their PR career dream.)
Elsewhere, on New Change, a van sat at the lights full of towels and tablecloths that it had collected from restaurants to be cleaned on an industrial estate on the north circular. On Exhibition Road they delivered paper cups and single-use wooden spatulas to the museum cafés. On Great Queen Street a lorry swapped around the furniture between conferences at a hotel. All over Soho, bars took deliveries of ice cubes.
Everywhere people were delivering blank paper and printer cartridges, stepping over the bags of paper recycling strewn across the pavements. Everywhere people were delivering disposable cutlery while the council swept up the disposed of cutlery. And everywhere people were delivering water. Water. A substance that is available on tap in every London building for a negligible cost.
Whenever one suggests that the price of the congestion charge should be vastly greater than it is, that there should be stricter limits on the vehicles that are allowed into city centres, or that a significant proportion of zone 1 roads should be closed to vehicles entirely, one is asked what one would do about all the people who simply have no choice but to drive into Central London: the businesses who need things delivering. Vans are essential and the costs they’re already asked to bear are hurting, we’re told.
Well if businesses in the centre of the city are choosing to have ice cubes and water driven to them in vans instead of turning on a tap and buying a £200 ice machine, having contract cleaners cart mops around instead of investing in a broom cupboard, and sending their laundry to a barn on the orbital instead of putting it in the washing machine, I say the costs aren’t hurting enough. Or rather, businesses are not paying their bills. Because, as is amply evident on any journey through central London, the main reason such ludicrous operations manage to survive is by breaking the rules and dumping the consequences on the rest of us.
Business is one of those fields that I’m really not competent to begin to comment on — and christ can I think of nothing I’d like less than to be so. But I’m happy to speculate wildly anyway — content that on this topic I don’t really care if I’m spouting embarrassingly simplistic crap — about how Britain, and London especially, built itself into its unhappy van dependency. This situation appears to be the outcome of the pursuit of an extreme outsourcing. The vans of companies specialised in simple everyday tasks, like freezing water and washing tablecloths, serve asset light and asset stripped “enterprises” — owners of nothing, investors in little, employers of nobody, constructing products and services entirely out of the leased and the subcontracted.
Whether that’s clever responsible responsive flexible capitalism or dangerous short termist profiteering that contributes nothing of any real value to the lives of our cities is too far outside of my field even for my wild speculation. All I know is that it only works by dumping its costs on society in the form of the traffic in our towns: the vans that we are reminded are so essential.
A correspondent has pointed me to this story from last week -
Steven Berkoff was found guilty today of driving without due care and attention after knocking over a woman on Oxford Street.
The 76-year-old actor, playwright and director was fined £400 after hitting Fiona Scully with his Volkswagen Beetle as he pulled on to the wrong side of the road to overtake another car on New Year’s Eve. The star had insisted he was not responsible and blamed Miss Scully for the accident, allegedly telling her: “I didn’t touch you.”
But his victim accused him of being “aggressive” after he knocked her to the ground, with City of London magistrates’ court ruling her evidence was “credible”. Chairman of the bench Dr Andrew Pairmley gave Berkoff, of Limehouse, three penalty points to be added to his UK driving licence when he applies for it to be restored — it expired after he was banned for six months in February for jumping a red light.
Berkoff was fined £350 for driving without due care and attention and £50 for driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.
More detail -
Miss Scully had been shopping after work and was walking with a friend for dinner in Soho. At about 6pm they were standing on the north side of Oxford Street when a Mini stopped and gestured for them to cross.
Miss Scully — who said she had to use a walking stick for 10 days after the crash — said: “Once we passed the Mini I heard a car sounding its horn and then a car pulled out from behind the Mini. It wasn’t moving at great speed. It braked and it hit me, knocking me to the ground. At that stage the car would have been on the other side of the road. I had passed the centre line. I was walking quite slowly, I didn’t need to rush.
“The driver got out and said words to the effect of ‘I didn’t touch you’ or ‘I didn’t hit you’. I remember the driver saying ‘she just ran out’. I didn’t run out. I thought he was quite aggressive. I was quite shocked at the time he didn’t say ‘Are you OK?’” The court was told other witnesses confronted Berkoff. The actor said: “My standard of driving is a very high standard and in 40 years I’ve only had one incident … I’m very careful.
“I didn’t lose my temper, I was angry because of the situation. It was a road designed for motor vehicles. If a pedestrian crosses they have to be particularly careful.” Berkoff already admitted driving without a valid licence because his Californian driving licence had expired.
It seems the driver in front of Berkhoff slowed to let the two women cross the street. Berkhoff, for whatever reason, chose to overtake this vehicle and struck one of them while he was driving on the wrong side of the road; then got out and blamed her for ‘causing’ the collision, while she was still sprawled on the ground.
Of course it was the person crossing Oxford Street – possibly the street that has the highest pedestrian footfall in Britain – at 6pm on New Year’s Eve who should have been careful, because Oxford Stret is a ‘road designed for motor vehicles’.
Scully told City of London magistrates court that she had been shocked by Berkoff’s reaction to the incident. “I thought he was quite aggressive when he got out of the car. I was quite shocked at the time and am still quite shocked that he didn’t say ‘are you okay?’ There was no apparent concern or offer of assistance. What struck me was a very aggressive man in a rush who showed no concern for my welfare when I was lying on the road in front of his car.”
At the time of this incident, Berkoff did not have a valid driving licence – the Californian one he presented had expired.
Berkoff – despite claiming to be a ‘careful’ driver – is a serial offender, having amassed 12 points on his British licence in a short space of time. As the article notes, he was banned from driving in February this year, after being caught jumping a red light back in October 2012.
James Bond villain Steven Berkoff has been banned from driving after jumping a red light, despite maintaining he was trying to get out of the way of a police car. The veteran actor, writer and director, 75, who played General Orlov in Octopussy alongside Roger Moore, said he had not meant to break the law.
In a letter read out at City of London Magistrates’ Court he claimed while driving his VW Beetle through Central London: ‘I heard a siren in the near distance and turned to get out of its way.’ But he still pleaded guilty to failing to comply with traffic signals on October 25 last year, earning himself a six-month ban from driving.
Berkoff, who has been caught speeding twice in the last two years and ran another red light in March 2012, already had nine points on his licence. He was handed three more points today, leading to automatic disqualification.
‘Mr Berkoff was driving a Volkswagen Beetle motor vehicle in Upper Thames Street, at the junction with Queen Street Place’, said prosecutor Varinder Hayre. ‘He crossed the stop line when the light had been red for 1.5 seconds, and he was at a speed of 27mph.
Maybe he should bear in mind that, the next time, ‘that could be your mother.’
Ahead of today’s parliamentary debate on cycling, and subsequent Space for Cycling protest, I thought I’d give a brief reminder of why change is so urgently needed in Britain, and to persuade you to come along to the ride.
The first graph, below, shows the percentage of all trips made by bike – split by age group – in the Netherlands and the UK (click to enlarge) -
With the proviso that the age groups are slightly different, the contrast is remarkable. Note in particular the extraordinary differences in the amount of cycling in the under 16/17 age groups, and in the over 65s. Dutch people over the age of 65 make 23% of all their trips by bike; just 1% of over 65s do so in the UK. Likewise Dutch children under 17 make 40% of all their trips by bike; just 2% do so in the UK.
The young and the old in the Netherlands have considerably more freedom than in Britain. The young can travel independently, without having to rely on parents to ferry them about, as can the elderly, without relying on public transport, or cars which they no longer feel confident driving.
The percentage of short trips made by motor vehicle (either as driver or passenger) in Britain is huge. 55% of trips under 5 miles in Britain are made by car, and nearly 40% of trips under 2 miles are driven. This is a distance that can easily be cycled in less than 15 minutes.
By contrast, the percentage of short trips made by bicycle, to the same scale -
A tiny percentage of all trips, even at these short distances.
The comparison with travel patterns in the Netherlands for trips under five miles is revealing -
Walking rates are broadly similar between the two countries, but while 34% of all trips under 7.5km are cycled by the Dutch, just 2% are cycled in Britain. The balance between car use and bicycle use for trips under this distance is remarkable, compared to the total imbalance in Britain.
This huge discrepancy between the two countries does not look like starting to close any time soon, for all the talk of cycling ‘booming’ in Britain. If we look at the total number of trips made by bike in Britain, we are still well below the number of trips made back in the mid-90s.
The volatility in the data is a consequence of the small number of bike trips being made by those in the NTS survey. But it’s quite obvious that cycling isn’t going anywhere in Britain, despite the distance travelled by bike increasing substantially in recent years.
Cycle use among British children is stagnant, while the use of cars to drive them around remains stubbornly high – higher than in the 1990s.
These statistics paint a picture of continuing failure. The reasons for this failure are not hard to discern.
It’s not because we’re a lazy nation, or because we have any kind of antipathy to cycling. There’s plenty of evidence that when conditions are right, British people will cycle in their tens of thousands, even if it means considerable effort just to get to those places where they can cycle in comfort and safety. Cycling gives children freedom and independence, and yet so few are currently able to do so on a regular day-to-day basis.
Nor are we wedded to our cars. For urban journeys they are often stressful, costly and inconvenient. Britain fell out of love with motoring a long time ago, but most people do not have a reasonable alternative for many short trips.
All the evidence suggests that there is enormous suppressed demand for cycling, suppressed by the physical conditions in which cycling currently has to be undertaken. People who want to use bikes to make short trips are confronted by a stark choice between cycling in motor traffic, or using poorly-designed ‘infrastructure’ that puts them into conflict with pedestrians, abandons them at random, and makes their journeys circuitous and awkward.
This has to change, not just for the sake of people who currently cycle, or those who want to, but for everyone. For motorists, whose journeys will be made easier with less traffic on the roads; for anyone who wants to see our villages, towns and cities become vibrant, thriving and pleasant places; for our own health and wellbeing.
That’s why I’m going to be in London this evening. I hope you can join me and thousands of others.
Something new turned up from TFL yesterday, an animation of the design of an “innovative” new right turn layout. In Copenhagen they have “the jug handle”, the Dutch have “the curb protected junction”, now in the UK we have “the confusing mess”.
Mark Treasure has a good look at what’s wrong with it here and I think it’s easy to see the faults in this poor implementation, but more interesting than the “what”, in my opinion is the “why”. How did this solution even get onto the table? Let me hazard a guess.
The problem that TFL are trying to solve is how to enable cyclists to turn right without having to cross two lanes of fast moving traffic by introducing a two stage turn. In other words, how can we get bikes from the cycleway into the ASL box for the perpendicular direction?
The easiest way is to simply allow cycles to pull left from the cycleway into the ASL, the problem with this idea is that missing from the TFL animation is the pedestrian crossing that will exist between the cycleway and the ASL. When the bikes are on the cycleway and wanting to pull into the ASL, pedestrians will have a green man to get into the pedestrian cage in the middle of the road.
DfT rules don’t allow sub-conflicts at a light controlled intersection, that is you can’t give a go signal to pedestrians at the same time as allowing bikes or cars to turn through them for example.
So we can’t possibly allow bikes to just pull through the pedestrians green man into the ASL, we must find another way.
Since the pedestrian crossing on the other side of the road will be red unless activated by a pedestrian, we can allow bikes to turn left and then immediately right through the central reservation straight into the ASL.
Better, but again we’ve introduced a sub-conflict, a minor one but one that could be considered a problem. To get through the central reservation bikes have to swing right, a movement that drivers wouldn’t be expecting and something probably decided as being too dangerous.
So on to option C, the TFL option. Using the DfT’s cycle provision get out clause, the “shared use pavement” to get around the disallowed sub-conflict between bikes and pedestrians. Job done.
Although I’d like to have cheerier news, as far as I can tell, this mess of a design isn’t really the fault of TFL. They’ve tried to do something like the CPH jug handle but due to the rules have ended up tied in knots. The real issue is not how poor this design is, but how to get the DfT to review the rules around sub-conflicts.
That said, I’m not entirely sure why the Southampton jug handle design wasn’t considered, it doesn’t have any of the sub-conflict issues. Maybe the extra space required for it isn’t easy to come by, after all two pieces of drop curb are cheaper than moving pedestrian crossings around.
Of course, the best solution would be a full Dutch style junction.
All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling Inquiry
HM Government Response (which may have been tweaked by the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club)
The Department for Transport is pleased to have the opportunity to respond on behalf of HM Government to the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report. The Department welcomes this report, as it has done everything in its power to suppress cycling over the past few decades and now has a golden opportunity to go for it again.
This response is made on behalf of the Department for Transport, which has the responsibility of trying to disperse as much responsibility for cycling policy as it can in England, outside London. Wales, Scotland and London have their own insipid programmes to support cycling.
The ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report’s 18 recommendations, and the Government’s response to these, are below.
1. Create a cycling budget of £10 per person per year, increasing to £20.
Since February 2012 the Department for Transport has made an additional £159 million available for cycling infrastructure in England. Projects include: some racks at railway stations; painting bicycle symbols on pavements in communities; schemes to improve the layout of road junctions to make them even less cycle friendly; and recently announced piecemeal schemes in cities and National Parks with some photos of smiling people in helmets and hi-viz jackets.
Following the £77 million of Cycle Ambition Grants announced by the Prime Minister for eight cities across England, investment in cycling in these areas is now in excess of £10 per head per year. Along with local contributions, this equates to £18 per head of population across the funding period.  
Making you think that figure meant the entire UK population was inspired by
 Watching old videos of The Paul Daniels Show
 …..and the bit from The David Copperfield Magic Show where he makes a Boeing 747 disappear. We’re thinking of drafting him in as a consultant for our Aviation Strategy.
94 of the 96 projects being funded by the Department for Transport’s £600 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund contain a cycling element. Together with local contributions, this is £1 billion of investment. Yes! We can’t believe we had the balls to write this stuff either! We’re thinking of changing our name from DfT to just LOL!!
Bikeability cycle training grant provides funding of up to £40 per child training place which will get forgotten outside the school gates as the roads are seen as too dangerous in the parent’s eyes.
2. Ensure local and national bodies, such as the Highways Agency, Department for Transport and local government allocate funds to cycling of at least the local proportion of journeys done by bike.
Through the Integrated Transport block, the Department for Transport is giving a significant amount of money to local authorities enabling them to design solutions appropriate to their local transport challenges, which is a bit like giving the Taliban funding to promote ‘International Women’s Day’.
The Highways Agency (HA) works with cycling organisations to provide parallel routes, safe access and crossing points to try and keep cyclists away from ‘The Precious’ (or ‘Strategic Route Network’). These schemes are funded within the HA’s portfolio of Microscopic Improvement Schemes, on which the expenditure is approximately £50 million each year across the portfolio (3% of the HA’s operational programme budget of c.£2 billion or ‘Fuck All’ to use basic transport vernacular).
Furthermore, significant junction upgrades and other improvements will help cyclists at locations on the HA’s trunk road network taking the risk factor from ‘Appallingly Designed & Lethal’ to ‘Appallingly Redesigned & Lethal’. A pittance will be invested in upgrades at 14 locations over the next two years, and a further pittance will be invested in 2015/16, with plans in place for many more similar schemes beyond that diluting the funding further so it has about as much impact as this document.
3. Cycle spending that makes a tangible contribution to other government departments, such as Health, Education, Sport and Business, should be funded from those budgets, not just the DfT.
The Government just worked out that cycling improves health (and have officially stopped using Boris Johnson as a gauge. That just confused matters) but not quite sure how to apply this new knowledge. So we are going to chuck £1 million over the next two years to be shared across at least four of the eight Cycling Ambition Grant cities in a desperate hope that someone rides a bicycle or eats an apple or does something healthy or something.
Across the country as a whole, cycling stands to benefit from the Government’s healthcare reforms where it can be used to deliver against local health priorities. Responsibility and funding (worth £5.45 billion over the next two years) for public health has been devolved to local authorities that haven’t a clue about bicycles or are hostile about bicycles. Oh, and £5.45 billion is about the same amount that the NHS spends each year alone on obesity and obesity related diseases.
This places local authorities in a much stronger position to stuff up the wider determinants of health, including transport, through adopting a more holistic approach to the planning and delivery of local services. Statutory guidance from DH specifically mentions the need for Health and Wellbeing Boards to consider transport as a wider determinant of health when drawing up Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and highlights the opportunity to use Health and Wellbeing Strategies to join up health and transport services…………….No, we don’t have a clue what that paragraph meant either……………………..erm…………………….does jogging to catch a bus count?
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport also fund cycling at elite and community levels through the Mr-Tickle’s-arms-length bodies UK Sport and Sport England who both work with British Cycling which is as relevant to mass cycling in Britain as Bonsai conservation or the origins of the litter bin.
On the plus side, a whip-round of £507.34 will be ring fenced to get Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish to shut the fuck up on the subject of helmet compulsion.
4. A statutory requirement that cyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs are considered at an early stage of all new development schemes, including housing and business developments as well as traffic and transport schemes, including funding through the planning system.
The National Planning Policy Framework introduced in 2011 can be ignored if it means taking space from cars:
The Department’s technical guidance on designing for residential developments, Manual for Streets, can be ignored if it means taking space from cars:
The Department’s guidance on providing for cyclists, Local Transport Note 2/08: Cycle Infrastructure Design, can be ignored if it means taking space from cars:
The Government has already helped local authorities to provide for cyclists, for example by making it easier to introduce contraflow cycling using ‘no entry except cyclists’ signing. Contraflow cycling means that cyclists can use one-way streets to avoid the busiest roads and junctions in the absence of anything decent there and will cause a welcome orgasm for Editors of Local Newspapers and the expert commenters that they attract.
Through the revised Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, due in 2015, Government will be making further changes to make it easier for councils to install cycle facilities, by removing the requirement for Traffic Orders for mandatory cycle lanes and exemptions for cyclists (such as ‘No Right Turn Except Cycles’). At least until Eric Pickles decides to open his trap as it will be seen as ‘anti-car’.
5. Revise existing design guidance, to include more secure cycling parking, continental best practice for cycle-friendly planning and design, and an audit process to help planners, engineers and architects to ‘think bike’ in all their work.
The Department’s guidance for local authorities on providing for cyclists, Local Transport Note 2/08: Cycle Infrastructure Design, was published in 2008. It provides comprehensive advice on designing and installing a wide range of measures which is nearly always ignored with local authorities instead drawing deep draughts of inspiration from the works of Jackson Pollock.
The Department will also consider endorsement and promotion of TfL’s new cycle infrastructure guidance outside London when it is published next year advising red and green paint to be switched to Barclays Blue and junctions worthy of ‘The Krypton Factor’.
DfT will be organising a summit later this year on cycling infrastructure which will focus on training for designers and practitioners. It is intended that input will be sought from professional bodies that haven’t designed a decent cycle facility in their lives.
Many of the measures identified as good practice in other countries are already possible in Britain, for example fully segregated cycle lanes and providing a form of priority for cyclists at side roads. Decisions on how best to provide for cyclists on local roads are just over the North Sea with national government showing a lead but instead we want it handed down to local authorities – not only do they have a duty to put the car first when considering how to design and manage their road networks, but they also tend to despise anything from mainland Europe for some reason.
The Department for Transport also plans to take action to help local authorities to:-
Share a glittering history of appalling practice, lack of knowledge and no experience on the engineering and traffic management solutions sadly all too readily available to address common challenges to making roads more cycle-friendly;
Investigate opportunities for local government collaboration in the preparation and testing of old masquerading as new engineering (think ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ and you get the general idea) and traffic management solutions (to shoehorn badly compromised cycling ‘solutions’ around getting as much motorised traffic through their areas); and
Help local authorities identify how best to involve cyclists themselves in identifying the right solutions to local challenges by consulting with local groups and then building a shared use pavement anyway but now ticking the box that says ‘consulted with cyclists’.
6. The Highways Agency should draw up a programme to remove the barriers to cycle journeys parallel to or across trunk roads and motorway corridors, starting with the places where the potential for increased cycle use is greatest.
In his statement on 12th August 2013, the Prime Minister announced that cycling will be at the heart of future road developments. He committed to ensuring that all new big road developments will incorporate the needs of cyclists into their planning and design (using politically compromised designers, non-existent standards and ignored guidelines) in an ongoing commitment to put infrastructure currently regarded as a joke internationally everywhere.
Work will begin immediately on junction re-hashes and other pointless meddling that will keep cyclists on the trunk road network on their toes. £5 million will be invested in upgrades at 14 locations with design or construction work starting this year and a further £15 million will be invested in 2015 to 2016, with plans in place for many more similar schemes beyond that. Oh, by the way, £28 billion was announced for the Strategic Road Network only last month. I repeat: £28 billion. And I repeat again: £28 billion.
The Highways Agency is working with cycling groups to provide training for highway engineers so that they design cycle friendly road improvements. You might as well have Jeremy Clarkson teaching the works of Socrates through the art of Improvisational Dance.
The Highways Agency liaises with local cycling groups and has recently opened up yet more dialogue with British Cycling. The Highways Agency also hosts the Vulnerable Road Users Committee attended by vulnerable road user groups, including Sustrans and CTC, twice a year. Which is nice. For ‘committee’, read ‘box ticking exercise’ or ‘County Cycle Forum’ for sheer effectiveness.
7. Local authorities should seek to deliver cycle-friendly improvements across their existing roads, including small improvements, segregated routes, and road reallocation.
The Department for Transport expects local authorities to up their game from ‘appalling’ to ‘slightly-appalling-but-we-have-now-been-to-a-conference’ in delivering infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.
The Department for Transport provides funding to local authorities to implement improvements to their local road infrastructure, but it is for local authorities to prioritise schemes dependent on motorist’s wishes.
Local authorities have a duty to consider the needs of all road users, including cyclists and pedestrians as a last resort, when managing their road networks. In making changes they should consider the needs of all users, including vulnerable pedestrians such as elderly people and those other non-driving leeches with mobility issues or visual impairments. This is usually solved with painting a bicycle symbol on the pavement to keep everyone suitably antagonised and energised. Until a car or tradesman’s van parks on it.
8. The Department for Transport should approve and update necessary new regulations such as allowing separate traffic lights for cyclists and commencing s6 of the Road Traffic Act 2004.
It is intended that new regulations will be brought into force in 2015. As well as new traffic lights to give cyclists a ‘sporting chance’ at junctions, other measures being considered include:
Removing the requirement for a lead-in lane for cyclists at advanced stop lines, making it easier for highway authorities to install advanced stop lines at junctions that are ignored by motorists and putting cyclists in a pole position more tense than the start of the Monaco Grand Prix;
Options for joint crossings for use by both pedestrians and cyclists, filter signals for cyclists, options for bigger cycle boxes (advanced stop lines), removing the requirement for Traffic Orders for mandatory cycle lanes and exemptions for cyclists, such as ‘no right turn except cycles’. This will make it easier for local authorities to implement the same crap they always have, but even more so.
In advance of the revisions to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions the Government has already made it easier to:
Palm off the Introduction of 20mph speed restrictions to Local Authorities that haven’t the money to implement them properly and police them even less. All of the successful Cycling Ambition Grant cities have plans to introduce area-wide 20mph speed limits as part of their programme to make city streets more cycle-friendly; which is not exactly how it’s implemented in mainland Europe but trying to introduce networks for different modes, and cutting off rat runs involves thinking and doing stuff.
Use “Trixi” mirrors at junctions so that lorry and bus drivers can see cyclists more easily before coming into inevitable and occasionally fatal contact. But at least it can be seen from different angles now.
9. Extend 20 mph speed limits in towns, and consider 40mph limits on
many rural lanes.
Local authorities are responsible for setting local speed limits in line with their local conditions and requirements meaning a national lack of consistency.
It is important that local authorities take a balanced account of the full range of impacts of changing speed limits, including economic and environmental effects and the inevitable guff from the letters page of the local newspaper on how it’s ‘Health & Safety gone mad’, not to mention the Association of British Drivers (think of a UKIP that’s spectacularly more ignorant and you start to get the general idea).
10. Improve HGV safety by vehicle design, driver training, and mutual awareness with cyclists; promote rail freight and limit use of HGVs on the busiest urban streets at the busiest times, and use public sector projects to drive fleet improvements.
DfT Ministers are treating this issue (the risk posed to cyclists by HGVs) as a priority, because it’s keeps grabbing the headlines (although it always appears to be ‘cyclist collided with…..’ in the press) and have had a number of discussions with the Mayor of London which was like negotiating a migraine. He even used ‘lassitude’ which made things even less clear.
The Department for Transport is now updating some guidance which can also be ignored as we’re shoving yet more responsibility out to the provinces without giving a steer or lead or anything.
Government is promoting the further development of the Strategic Rail Freight Network and has ring-fenced a further £230 million in the period 2014-2019 for the rail industry in Great Britain to take forward its own priority projects on freight. This has nothing to do with what would actually work for cycling but it allows us to insert another ‘headline figure’ in there
We are introducing new standards on Mirrors and camera technology because it’s easier and less tiresome than coming up with standards for quality bicycle infrastructure. And don’t get us started on junctions. No, really – don’t get us started.
11. Strengthen the enforcement of road traffic law, including speed limits, and ensuring that driving offences – especially those resulting in death or injury – are treated sufficiently seriously by police, prosecutors and judges.
All road users have a duty to use the road network in a safe and responsible manner and to obey road traffic law. That’s about all we have to say on the subject other than some meetings are going to be held and some blather about stakeholders. Obviously we can’t bring in US style gun laws so we just wanted the car to be the weapon of choice for people that may have a grievance without all the formal enquiries and calls for controls as the victims or collisions with cars in this country are regarded merely as ‘collateral damage’.
12. Provide cycle training at all primary and secondary schools.
The Department for Transport provides funding to local authorities and School Games Organisers for training that’s promptly forgotten as it’s vetoed by the parents who regard it as a lethal activity making it a tragic waste of trainers time and taxpayers money but ‘c’est la vie’ as Nigel Farrage wouldn’t say. It looks as though we are doing something constructive whilst ignoring the stuff that would actually enhance the hard work of cycle trainers like quality infrastructure but that would involve proper investment and not the pathetic figures we’re bandying about here.
13. Offer widespread affordable (or free) cycle training and other programmes to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to give cycling a try, as evidenced by NICE.
The LSTF invited local authorities to submit bids which may include cycling. All £600 million from the fund has now been committed to deliver 96 packages. Of those 96 packages, 77 contained cycle training which includes 48 adult training packages because they are cheaper than infrastructure and will probably not trouble the minds of the majority of the general public.
Bikeability is not only for children, despite having a revised childish name. There is a range of training available to suit all requirements from the complete beginner wanting to boost their confidence to those wanting to develop more advanced skills such as dualled trunk roads which commenters on some cycle forums think are perfectly reasonable to cycle on.
14. Promote cycling as a safe and normal activity for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Cycle safety is very important, which is why the Department for Transport has given £35m to improve safety at dangerous junctions across England and have helped local councils to design solutions appropriate to their local challenges, including improving their road infrastructure to encourage and is the equivalent of attempting to mop up the River Thames with a ‘J Cloth’ for sheer futility.
The small rise in the number of cyclists seriously injured may be due to the increase in cycling which has been seen in recent years and the Department will continue to progress initiatives to improve cycle safety except the stuff that would actually make a fundamental difference.
Bikeability cycle training provides people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities with the skills and confidence to cycle safely and competently on modern roads if you ride like Mark Cavendish on a combination of MDMA and Lucozade and realise how uncomfortable cycling in this country is, then put the bike away and go inside, mix a nice Gin and Tonic and book a holiday to the Netherlands. Bikeability is appearing an awful lot here isn’t it?
Government is keen to do more to promote leisure and utility cycling along existing rights of way because our stakeholders excel at this, and to reduce the red tape around the creation and maintenance of multi-use cycle routes so that we have more crappily implemented regional and national cycle networks where cyclists, pedestrians, the visually impaired and dog walkers can swear at each other.
The Government is committed to turning Britain into a cycling nation to rival our European neighbours. This means introducing policies that will make it easier for everyone to cycle, regardless of their age or background. We have already invited colleagues from the Netherlands to conferences here to tell them to their bemused faces that their solutions wouldn’t work here and that their 40 years of engineering expertise in developing incredible and constantly evolving infrastructure for bicycles is cute but they’ve always been cyclists and that Hackney is far better. We should therefore strive toward policies in a unique British idiom using a hotch potch of Danish/British/Nigerian/Dutch/Galapagos Islands/Finnish/Martian and call the end product ‘Dutch Style’.
15. The Government should produce a cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan with annual progress reports.
The Department for Transport has been co-ordinating a cross-departmental effort to promote cycling, in particular with Defra and the Department of Health in a further bid to get our responsibility for cycling out of our building.
Realising our ambition for cycling will require sustained leadership, collaboration and innovation at each level of government and between all sectors. To ensure that robust arrangements are in place to realise the ambition, we will work with stakeholders to assemble a comprehensive delivery plan for publication in the autumn. Did you like that bit of middle management bullshit speak? We will also, moving forward, incorporate ‘blue sky thinking’ into all half arsed meetings with no steer or lead.
The Department for Transport has governance arrangements in place to support the development of cycling policy through the Cycling Stakeholder Forum led by Cycling Minister Norman Baker, a cycling High Level Subgroup and a cross-Whitehall officials Subgroup. Close working relationships will continue as the cycling delivery plan is developed in the same time it took to build the Great Wall of China (including the planning application). The Cycling Stakeholder Forum is probably held in the same reverence as a ‘County Cycle Forum’ and has experts promoting their guides to cycle training, experts on cycling as a sport or recreational activity whilst selling the requisite products to go with it and actually believe the ‘Wiggins Effect’ means something or that promoting the cause of getting women to cycle more will be solved by sponsoring a professional women’s cycling team or drawing their vision of a cycle friendly town as something out of ‘Where’s Wally’ as it elegantly sidesteps taking a serious view on what really works. We don’t really know who they are as its all closed shop with no accountability to mere mortals like you. It’s probably about as useful as tits on a bull anyway.
16. The Government should appoint a national Cycling Champion, an expert from outside the Department for Transport.
The Government has no plans to appoint a national Cycling Champion. However, the Cycle Safety Forum Subgroup provides external expert help and advice and are the reason we have the truly incredible cycling conditions we have now.
17. The Government should set national targets to increase cycle use from less than 2% of journeys in 2011, to 10% of all journeys in 2025, and 25% by 2050.
The Government does not believe that to set national targets for cycling will encourage take up at local level. It is for Local Authorities to decide on hilarious/dangerous ambitions for their local areas. A ‘One size fits all’ approach is not effective. Why, to compare Guildford with Watford is to compare Mars with Mercury. Apparently.
For example, the eight successful Cycling Ambition Grant cities have all set targets that are ‘ambitious’ (which is the control word for ‘spectacularly unachievable’ in British Politics), but with their local circumstances and current levels of cycling, they have set their own unique ways of not meeting these targets.
The Government continues to invest money – £159m has been announced since the beginning of 2012 – and implement measures that enable more people to say ‘why can’t this country just design a decent junction. Just for once. Please for fucks sake’ and use the car instead.
18. Central and local government and devolved authorities should each appoint a lead politician responsible for cycling.
The Government encourages local authorities to identify a senior Officer or Member to take cycling development forward in their authorities and to champion cycling in their area, despite them getting rid of all their Cycling Officers in the spending cuts. The ‘Cycle Champion’ is usually an older councillor who has ‘ridden a bit’, but you’ve generally got more chance of spotting Tim Loughton MP supporting a Pride march than this person on a bicycle.
In central government Norman Baker champions cycling, as Minister for Cycling (or ‘Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Transport’ for the full and more accurately duller title).
Transport for London have created a video to explain how you turn right on a bicycle at major junctions on the Superhighway 2 Extension on Stratford High Street.
It is described as a ‘two stage right turn’, but in reality it looks a bit more complicated than that. In fact, much more complicated than that.
It goes without saying that this is far from obvious. Indeed, the fact that a video explanation has had to be prepared about how to ‘use’ this junction shows how complicated it is.
There is absolutely no reason why a two-stage right turn – the standard way of making these kinds of movements on equivalent Danish or Dutch junctions – needs to be this counterintuitive. What is being created here is a mess, that puts those on foot, and those on bicycles, into conflict.
It should surely have been simpler to provide a direct route to the ASL on the south side of the carriageway. This is, in fact, the kind of arrangement that is being proposed at a junction in Southampton, with a ‘waiting pocket’ that you can enter easily, and wait for a green signal to make your second crossing (thanks to Phil Marshall for reminding me).
This is close to the Danish approach of simply waiting at the side of the road for your second crossing. Now I don’t think it is anywhere near as good as the Dutch approach, which protects you while waiting, and also allows ‘free’ left turns at all times. But it would be really easy to implement, and would involve no conflict with pedestrians, as well as being much more direct and understandable than what Transport for London are currently going to build.
TfL can’t say they weren’t warned; the Cycling Embassy response to the consultation had this to say -
The method for making right turns at the large junction of Rick Roberts Way appears to be by progressing through the junction, then mounting the pavement to enter the ASL in the side road, and waiting for a green signal. While this allows right turns to be made without having to negotiate across multiple lanes of motor traffic, and resembles (in principle) the Danish ‘left hook’ method of making these turns, we feel that there is possibility for confusion, and conflict with pedestrians. We would like to see dedicated cycle-specific waiting areas for those on cycles waiting to complete the second stage of a right turn, either on the Danish model, or the superior design of the Dutch model, which incorporates protected kerbs.
These suggestions have obviously been ignored.
The presence of ASLs on the main carriageway itself is revealing, because it demonstrates that Transport for London do not expect people to use this design. The ASLs are there for those people who, quite reasonably, do not want to waste their time faffing around doing 270° turns on the pavement. But this is what happens when you design for two different categories of cyclist.
As I wrote in a long post way back in May last year, if you start from the assumption that ‘fast cyclists’ won’t want to use what you are designing before you have even built it, then you open the door to compromise. Namely, the construction of slow, fiddly rubbish just like what we are seeing at this junction, ‘designed’ for those ‘nervous’ or ‘less confident’ cyclists who apparently don’t mind being unnecessarily inconvenienced (it is curious why it is nearly always assumed that people who don’t like cycling in motor traffic are happy to take so much longer to reach their destination).
The Dutch, by contrast, design infrastructure that everybody on a bike wants to use, and will use; infrastructure that is both objectively and subjectively safe, and fast and convenient for all users, regardless of age, speed or ability. Quality is ensured when you create designs that cater for everyone.
Is this lesson being learned?