Response to the Central London Cycle Grid consultation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death on the streets

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

On Wednesday, Beyond the Kerb wrote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘At least twelve months’. Great news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Views

Desire Lines - Dybbølsbro

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Rush Hour, 8:45-9:00

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

Ingerslevsgade Intersection

Morning Rush Hour

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

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

Copenhagenize Fixes

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

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

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

‘The Little Green One’ cycle bridge north of Nijmegen

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

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

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

From Halfords cycle2work leaflet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Look at the people below:


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


Street scenes in Denmark Amsterdam


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


           La Rochelle, France                                                    Berlin

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

Categories: Views

The Central London Grid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is not a network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Views

Transforming Copenhagen - Købmagergade in 1973 & 2014

Copenhagenize - 11 February, 2014 - 11:30

Købmagergade by Kronprinsensgade - looking north

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Købmagergade by Klarboderne - looking south

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

Købmagergade towards Rundetårn - the Round Tower. Looking north.

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

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

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

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

The quick, the cheap, and the inadequate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Views

Ducking the issue with electric cars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Views

What is the Advertising Standards Authority for?

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

Health warnings on car ads?

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

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

 Where we are now:

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

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


The politics of it all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  What is the ASA for?

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

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


In the meantime…

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

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

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

Categories: Views

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

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


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

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

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

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

Northbound Superhighway just visible, under several buses.

Danny Williams also took a picture of Superhighway 7 yesterday -

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

— cyclistsinthecity (@citycyclists) February 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Views

Friday throwback: riding with your 'fro intact

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Views

Velsen, nominee for best cycling city

BicycleDutch - 5 February, 2014 - 23:01
Velsen 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

The steps

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 5 February, 2014 - 12:55

There is a small entrance to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, from St Giles’. It brings you into the grand central courtyard from the east, through a corridor in the building, rather than via the direct and obvious entrance from the south on Beaumont Street.

The view into the Ashmolean courtyard from St Giles’

On my recent visit I noticed that a walkway has been built across this corridor, linking the main Ashmolean building (to the left) to the wing of the building, on the right. 
This obviously makes it more inconvenient to walk along the corridor, than to pass across it.

Presumably these steps – or walkway, depending on your perspective – have been installed to allow step-free access throughout the museum buildings. The ‘extra’ steps for people passing along this corridor, rather than across it, are not much of a problem for those who have already come up the ten or so steps from the street. Anyone who can’t manage steps will be entering the museum from the main entrance on Beaumont Street, up ramps.

But the arrangement got me thinking about priorities, and about choices.

For short trips, most people have the option to walk or cycle to their destination. It’s technically possible to walk or cycle short distances. A great percentage choose not to, however – nearly 40% of all trips under 2 miles in Britain are driven. But why?

Because we’ve built steps across their routes – steps that make driving easier. Driving has the smooth, continuous route on this walkway, while walking and cycling have to struggle up and over the steps built for it. The ease and convenience of driving has been purchased at the expense of making walking and cycling more difficult, and more hazardous.

A concrete example. Take this roundabout in Didcot.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

It’s possible to walk or cycle from left to right, across this roundabout – but you have to come a huge distance out of your way, push a button, wait for a crossing signal, then travel back up to where you actually want to go. Driving from left to right, on the other hand, is a more-or-less direct route, that can be taken at speed.

This is the way we design for walking and cycling in Britain, in microcosm. It has to fit in at the margins, fenced away, and given indirect routes that skirt around and yield to the ‘dominant’ mode of transport, motor traffic. While this continues, all the talk of ‘encouraging’ and ‘promoting’ walking and cycling will ring hollow.

I don’t like it. The only continuous connected space is road space. Need more for cycling and walking. Tired of lillypadding around my city

— Katja Leyendecker (@KatsDekker) February 4, 2014

Pictured below is the junction between Biltstraat – a main road in Utrecht – and Goedestraat, a residential side road.

It doesn’t even look like a junction, because the cycle track and the pavement extend across the side road. It’s driving that has to go up and over the steps, while walking and cycling has the level walkway.

Yet at equivalent junctions in the UK we seem to go out of our way to make walking and cycling hostile and unattractive.

Courtesy of Google Streetview

This is the junction of Ashley Road and The Parade in Epsom. Ashley Road is a one-way road, that forms part of the A24 gyratory in the town. Needless to say cycling here on this fast and busy road is inadvisable if you are not confident. The Parade, on the left, is a residential side road – actually a dead-end. But it has a ludicrous flared treatment, and barriers to stop you crossing in the most natural place.

Walking and cycling are eradicated by this kind of design, just as they are in Horsham, where simply crossing the inner ring road into the town centre from the west means the use of four separate signalled controlled crossings.

In urban areas in Britain, it’s driving that has been given the most convenient and direct routes, without delay, diversion, interruption or inconvenience. It has been put up on the walkway, at the expense of walking and cycling, so it’s no surprise that it continues to dominate as a mode of transport, while walking dwindles and cycling remains essentially non-existent.

The steps need rearranging.

Categories: Views

Default to Green: cyclists have priority while drivers wait for the lights to change

A View from the Cycle Path - 4 February, 2014 - 19:39
Assen has 28 sets of traffic lights. Three of them are set up in such a way that they default to green for cyclists. i.e. their usual situation is showing a green light for cyclists and they will only switch to red for cyclists and green for motor vehicles a sensor leading to the junction is triggered by the motor vehicle. Red shows cycle-paths, blue shows the direction from which cars areDavid Hembrow
Categories: Views

Bike the strike! Let's get London to work on two wheels

ibikelondon - 3 February, 2014 - 22:43

Unless there's nothing short of a diplomatic miracle, London's Underground network will come creaking to a halt from this evening for a 48 hour strike.

Whatever you think about the politics of the strike, there's no denying that the Underground carries more people every day than the rest of the UK rail network put together.  In a nutshell, that's an awful lot of people who still need to get to work on Wednesday and Thursday morning...

Most of you reading are probably already committed cyclists and know the joys of using a bicycle to get from A to B in the city and how easy, fast and stress-free it can be. 

But there's plenty of people in London who will be considering using a bike to get through the strike who might be feeling nervous, may be inexperienced at cycling with London traffic or simply may not know the way overground to their place of work.

So here at i b i k e l o n d o n we thought we'd combine the goodwill of the London cycling community with the magic of social media and put together BikeTheStrike!

The way it works is simple; if you're a cyclist and you'd be happy to guide another slightly apprehensive rider to work, add your details and draw your cycle route on to our #BikeTheStrike action map, which you can find here.  

 List where you will depart from (local landmarks, tube stations, or pubs are good places to gather), at what time you'll leave, what your Twitter handle is so people can reach you, and which tube stations you will pass on your way to your destination.

On the other side of the cycling spectrum, if you're a rusty rider looking for someone to show you the way, or to give you a bit of gentle encouragement, check the map for routes near you, and tweet any ride leaders whose route suits your needs, et voila you've got your very own bike buddy to show you the way and take you gently across town and in to the office.

People leading rides are in no way liable for you during your cycle journey, and there's no assumption of legal responsibility here (phew, that's the nasty legal bit out of the way) but if you need some "blitz spirit" to help you get to work during the strike, the London cycling community is here for you.

So, what are you all waiting for?  Get mapping and tweeting your route right now, and who knows what new two-wheeled friends you might meet along the way? #BikeTheStrike!

Top tips for rusty riders:
  • Give your bike a quick once over before you leave;
  • Pump up your tyres, give your chain a spin, squeeze your brakes
  • Pack your waterproofs and a spare set of clothes. (Cycling in the rain is surprisingly okay. Sitting at your desk all day in wet knickers is not.)
  • Don't forget your lights - not only a legal requirement but damn useful too as it will be dark when you leave work in the evening.
  • Keep an eye on social media, note the contact details of your BikeTheStrike ride leader, tell someone where you are going.
  • You'll need a lock to secure your bike at your destinaton (preferably two)
  • Don't forget to say thank you!

Top tips for BikeTheStrike ride champions:
  • Try to map your route accurately, and mention the stations you will pass; some riders may wish to "get off" along your route.
  • Try to set an easy pace as some of the riders may not be as used to hurtling through central London streets as you are.
  • Consider setting off earlier than usual when roads are quieter, and to allow yourself more time.
  • If you say you're going to do a ride, do it!
Individually, each ride may only have one or two participants, but across town that could really add up to a lot of people who've managed to avoid the crush of the buses or having to take leave because they can't get in to work.  Together, let's get London to work on two wheels!

Check out the BikeTheStrike route map, and add your cycle journey today.

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Categories: Views

A small difference

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 3 February, 2014 - 12:47

Two news items popped up almost simultaneously in my inbox recently. Each described a collision, but in a slightly different way. The first -

Woman taken to hospital after crash with cyclist at Cawsand

A LADY was taken to hospital after a man on a push bike crashed into her.

Police were called to the scene at Forder Hill, Cawsand at around 4.30pm this afternoon by ambulance staff.

A first responder – member of the community with advanced first aid training – was on the scene first followed by ambulance staff and police.

And the other -

No criminal action taken against death crash driver

A speeding driver has been told he must live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life after the tragic death of a popular roofer.

Cyclist Brent Jelley, 23, collided with a Ford Fiesta driven by Halstead resident Joshua Rumble, in Swan Street, Sible Hedingham on October 21, 2012.

Rewording the first article in the manner of the second, we get

A lady was taken to hospital after she collided with a push bike ridden by a man.

Which doesn’t sound like gibberish at all.

Categories: Views

What should we learn from the Advertising Standards debacle?

Vole O'Speed - 2 February, 2014 - 23:56
I didn't cover Scottish Cycling's regressive, victim-blaming Niceway Code advertising campaign of last year at the time, partially because this is a London-focused blog and partially because many other bloggers gave it a good thrashing anyway (in fact it actually spawned new blogs and Twitter feeds that came into existence just to attack it), but mainly because it was the type of thing we get from time to time that goes away quickly, leaving the world no different for it ever having existed, so it didn't seem particularly worth while.
Four months after this dismal campaign ended, the affair came back in a new form. The wheels of the Advertising Standards Authority had turned slowly, and they had assessed the hundreds of complaints the Nice Way Code's dreadful adverts had generated. And they had decided to uphold one complaint (made by five separate people, apparently), with the effect that the absurd and dehumanising "Think Horse" commercial could not be broadcast again, despite the fact that Scottish Cycling had no intention of broadcasting it again, as the money for the campaign had run out long ago.

So a dreadful commercial was banned by the ASA. That's good. Except their reasons for banning it were crackers, based on ignorance of cycle safety, ignorance of accepted cycle training, and ignorance of the Highway Code, and, more worryingly still, showed ASA executing bizarre "mission creep", attempting to police the media according to their own completely arbitrary concepts of "Health and Safety", rather than sticking to their job of determining whether adverts are truthful or legal:
We considered that the scene featuring the cyclist on a road without wearing a helmet undermined the recommendations set out in the Highway Code. Furthermore, we were concerned that whilst the cyclist was more than 0.5 metres from the kerb, they appeared to be located more in the centre of the lane when the car behind overtook them and the car almost had to enter the right lane of traffic. Therefore, for those reasons we concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.This set a terrible precedent, so suddenly cyclists were at the barricades again, this time defending Cycling Scotland's advert, with a massive campaign of emails, blogs and Tweets directed to getting the ASA to change their minds, that extended to MPs and attracted sympathetic comment even in the right-wing press.

The ASA's judgement was so obviously bonkers that it clearly could not stand, and it hardly lasted a day before they announced:The ASA has withdrawn its formal ruling against a Cycling Scotland ad pending the outcome of an Independent Review. That followed a request from Cycling Scotland, in which it argued that the ASA’s criticism of the positioning of the cyclist was incorrect. The decision to withdraw was made by the ASA Chief Executive in light of a potential flaw in our ruling. Once the Independent Review process is complete we will publish our decision on our website.This may or may not be the end of the matter. Roger Geffen of the CTC argues, with some justification, that
It would be wrong to start celebrating prematurely. It is noteworthy that the ASA’s announcement only references a "potential flaw" in their ruling on the cyclist’s road positioning, without mentioning their non-use of a helmet or other ‘protective equipment’. .....what if the ASA is looking to ‘save face’ by backing down on road-positioning, while sticking to their guns on helmets, citing the Highway Code Rule 59 in their defence? If we end up with the ASA imposing de facto censorship of helmet-free cycling on TV, that would be an appalling blow to the promotion of cycling as a safe, enjoyable, aspirational and (above all) perfectly normal way for people of all ages and backgrounds to get around for day-to-day journeys or for leisure.Well it certainly would not be good. But I'd like to take a step back from all this agitation about one stupid and insulting advert.

For the initial crime was Cycling Scotland's anti-cycling Nice Way Code campaign. Just because they had one of their adverts struck down by people with even less idea of how to build a safe cycling culture than them did not make them into Good Guys worth in any way supporting or defending, and I'm not going to start doing that.

Furthermore, the whole furore around this just shows how far we are away from concentrating on what is important in building a safe cycling culture. That's physically building an environment where cycling works for anyone who wants to do it. Adverts and PR and image-making aren't actually all that important. They are a  side-show. Cycling in the Netherlands and Denmark does not work because everybody has the right attitudes, and cycling has the right image, it works because they have built the correct physical environment. The image is better there as well, yes, and attitudes are slightly different, but this follows from the engineering of the physical environment and the consequent democratisation of cycling. Britain at this particular historical period, however, has lost sight of her past engineering prowess, and since the 1980s has become obsessed with spin, advertising and image, thinking these more important, and this extends into the cycling world and is manifested in the attention given to this whole controversy. The energy directed into this would probably be better spent elsewhere: in campaigning for tangible change (as indeed LCC is doing with its Space for Cycling campaign).

Though I'm totally against the use of helmets for normal cycling, I've never discussed the subject here. Why? Because the whole subject generates more heat that it's worth. People can wear whatever they like. What I'm campaigning for is an environment so safe and so conducive to cycling that the suggestion that cyclists should normally wear helmets in that environment would be dismissed as absurd by any average person, as it is in the Netherlands. Just as the suggestion that people walking should normally wear helmets would be dimissed as absurd by any average British person now. I consider that we will get to that point through campaigning for infrastructure change, not by talking about helmets.

So infrastructure change remains resolutely my focus. We'll get the right attitudes when we have enough people cycling, that it's no longer in any way a niche activity, and we'll get that when conditions are subjectively safe enough, guaranteed by concrete infrastructure, not by hopes of good behaviour. Then the attitudes that ASA demonstrated in their ruling against Think Horse, as well as the attitudes enshrined in the Niceway Code campaign itself, will be as generally unacceptable as racism and homophobia.

In the present environment though, the conclusions that ASA came to first, before they rowed back, are perfectly understandable. They are, in a sense, correct; ASA is, or was, merely reflecting common understanding of how the roads should work with respect to bikes and motor vehicles. Their ruling showed up various pieces of hypocrisy not of their making, and therefore it is wrong to blame them wholly for it.

I wrote before of The problem with assertive cyclingMy argument in that post was essentially that cycle training in the Bikeability sense embodies a lie, which puts cyclists "between a rock and a hard place". The lie exists in the fact that the government would never impose a statutory duty on motorists to overtake cyclists in the manner recommended by the Highway Code, and enforce that. Motorists would regard it as intolerable that they were held up by cyclists all the time, and always had to dawdle behind them, if they had to allocate them a whole lane, and change lane to overtake them.

The ASA were just interpreting practice on the road as they found it. We can shout and shout about how cyclists should be taking the primary position and motorists should have to change lane to overtake, but in the real world, most of the time, this does not and cannot happen. The road situation shown at 0:35 of Think Horse strikes me as hugely untypical: the width of the road, the lack of oncoming vehicles. the space available. The cyclist actually seems to have no reason to be riding so far from the kerb. It's not a realistic scenario, and has nothing to do with the problems I encounter every time I get on a bike in London, which are about how you get through without intimidation on multi-lane roads full of moving vehicles, or on parked-up residential streets that are effectively only one lane wide, and where nobody can overtake or pass anybody without squeezing through, and I'm not clear what anybody was ever supposed to learn from it. If they'd shown a realistic situation of conflict, where a motorist is forced to wait for a whole minute or two while a cyclist gets to the end of a road where safe overtaking is impossible, and told us what we are supposed to do there, that would have been different. But this is no help at all.

What's supposed to be going on here, and what is anyone supposed to learn from it?  0:35 from Think HorseSomeone in the ASA thought that this cyclist was in a funny position in the road (which, actually, they are) and thought it showed somebody doing something "socially irresponsible" (not that any car advert approved by ASA ever showed anyone doing anything socially irresponsible, of course). But this is just how most members of the public would probably regard it.

With the helmets issue, the problem lies more clearly with the Highway Code itself. This says cyclists should wear helmets. You and I know there is important distinction in the Code between places where it says should and places where it says must, but this will be lost on most people, and clearly was on the ASA adjudicators. There's a "common-sense" argument which could have run, in their minds: "The Highway Code says cyclists should wear helmets, therefore there must be some good reason for it to say that, therefore it must be unsafe and socially irresponsible of cyclists if they don't heed that advice, therefore we should ban this advert for that reason". There's a parallel here with the "not guilty" verdicts that juries often come up with in road death cases, that campaigners find deeply unacceptable. The actual purpose of juries is to take a "common-sense" view of the case, whatever that means, and in a car-oriented society, where the cyclist is regarded as a distinctly peculiar creature by most, and majority sympathy lies with the motorist, the result will be these miscarriages of justice that we see.

What's the real problem here? The problem is that the Highway Code mentions helmets at all, and uses this word should. The Highway Code should be clearer. It should be a set of rules that everyone must obey at all times on the public roads, punishable by law if they do not. It has no business getting into dubious behavioural recommendations, like helmets for cyclists, high-vis clothing for walkers or luminous leads for dogs. If Parliament wants those things to be law (which it does not), it should make them the law.  The Department for Transport should throw all the shoulds out of the Highway Code. Every one of the shoulds is just a way of transferring a little bit of blame on to those not responsible for road danger, but who suffer disproportionally from it. The shoulds, in their quasi-legal, quasi-rescriptive character,  just confuse the public, and ASA is merely reflecting that confusion. A great number of people, including me, would dispute that cyclists should wear helmets. There is a great raft of data and argument against it, so familiar, I am sure, to readers of this blog, that I will not go into it. I don't think it is particularly surprising that ASA are confused about this subject, which is not their speciality, when the DfT is so confused.

It's correct to point out, as CTC do in the link above, that ASA never try to enforce in advertising any of the other Highway Code shoulds, such as high-vis for pedestrains at night, and therefore they are clearly singling out cyclists for dicriminatory treatment. But clearly, also, there is no reason for all shoulds to be considered equal. It would probably appear as "common-sense" to the ASA adjudicators that clothing for pedestrains is just a matter of personal choice, but that there are serious safety issues invoved in the attire of anyone getting on a bicycle.

This is the sort of discrimination we have to combat, and, in the end, I suspect it will persist until we can normalise everyday utility cycling into British society. This can't happen until we get a massive re-engineering of our roads and streets such that it ceases to be the case that the only pleasant and practical way to use them is in a motor vehicle. I can't get too het up about the banning (or not) of one silly advert based on an argument between two sets of people, both of whom have regressive attitudes. Let's put the effort into getting real change of the streets. So often I hear people say, "We need to change the attitudes now, as it will take too long to get decent infrastructure in". Well, it only seems to take a long time to get decent infrastructure in because we never really start. Getting that start should be the focus of our efforts.
Categories: Views

Friday throwback: the children forced to cycle to school

ibikelondon - 31 January, 2014 - 10:31

Introducing a new series of light-hearted posts here on ibikelondon which - every friday - will explore the wealth of cycling images, videos and paraphernalia that can be found on online archives such as the Flickr commons.

Why are we looking to the past?  Because an image speaks a thousand words, and nothing quite gets debate stimulated like looking at where we've come from (and as the old cliche says, if we don't know where we are coming from, how do we know where we are going?)

Today's images are from the fascinating United States National Archives and depict school children in February 1974 "forced" to cycle to school because of the oil crisis.  With fuel in short supply there simply wasn't enough around to power school buses for extracurricular activities like trips to the local swimming pool or museum.  As "No Gas" signs went up on the pumps all over north America, car pooling was touted as a smart way to share and conserve limited fuel supplies.

These kids may not have had any choice but to me they look like they're coping with style (they do say that in fashion what goes around comes around, and I'm loving the clothes these kids have got on!), and though they wouldn't have known it then, Portland (where this photo was taken) would go to become America's cycling nirvana with some of the highest cycling rates in all of the United States.

If you're heading out on two wheels yourself this weekend, wherever you go ride safe and have a good time.  In the interim, why not connect with ibikelondon online? 
Join the conversation with us on Twitter @markbikeslondon, or give us a "Like!" on our Facebook page.  

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Categories: Views


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