Views

Cycling in Rotterdam 4 of 8

Pedestrianise London - 18 January, 2015 - 19:03

4. Salmoning (going the wrong way) appears to be a common & an accepted thing, especially on the uni-directional paths on wide boulevards.

— Paul James (@pauljames) November 4, 2014

It’s a little surprising when you suddenly come face to face with a bike coming the wrong way along the cycleway and you have to duck back into the stream of bikes hopefully without cutting anyone up.

It actually turns out to be less of a problem than you’d think, the single direction cycleways on the wide boulevards that make up the city are wide enough for easy passing. Salmoners mostly seem to be taking shortcuts in places where they’d otherwise have to cross the road twice rather than travel a short distance the wrong way on the wrong path.

I fully expect that these salmoners know what they are doing, it’s quite hard to accidentally end up going the wrong way. Junctions always push you in the correct direction by using curved versus square corners, a square corner is just hard to turn around and so your subconscious knows that it’s not a correct way to go. Even when you get to the end of a bi-directional path, the centre white lines and the curbing stop you from accidentally turning into a salmon.

Categories: Views

Why people advocating personal solutions to social problems annoys me

Vole O'Speed - 17 January, 2015 - 20:31
This post was triggered, as are many posts, by a Twitter exchange. This started because the City of London Twitter account announced:
We've teamed up with #taxis & .@CleanAirLondon to help #Londoners avoid air pollution bit.ly/1E7lxJZ .@TheLTDA pic.twitter.com/Mx4ATzvjOVThey were promoting an app where you can "choose from the user groups below to receive advice tailored for you on polluted days". So the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association was advising us on us how we can attempt to avoid the pollution that they are in large part responsible for. Great. A bit like Henry VIII advising his wives to steer clear of men with axes.

In reply to this, Schrödinger's Cat tweeted:
.@cityoflondon Is that advice simply "Leave London"? @CleanAirLondon @TheLTDANow the story gets more curious, because Clean Air London is a respected pressure group campaigning for air pollution to be cleaned up in London. They replied to my re-tweet of Schrödinger's tweet,
@VoleOSpeed You can reduce exposure without leaving London. @HealthyAirUK videoThey linked to this video, from Healthy Air, another anti-pollution campaign:



This over-long video presents essentially two contentious ideas. The first is that those cycling and walking receive less pollution than those in cars. This is contentious because, although the concentrations of some pollutants have been measured to be higher in cars than around the heads of those walking and cycling on the same roads, it does not take into account the rate of absorption due to exercise and respiration, nor the time spent exposed to the pollution. Now, there's nothing wrong with advising people to cycle or walk (except that such advice is likely to be ineffective until the environment is changed to make that behaviour easier), but let's not advance scientifically-shaky arguments for it.

The second contentious idea is that those walking and cycling can reduce their pollution exposure by chosing 'quieter routes'. This is problematic in many ways. For one thing, there's nothing in general to stop motorists from very sensibly heeding the same advice, and chosing the quieter routes to drive on themselves, so making those routes anything but quiet and tending to level-up air pollution everywhere (a process that the sat-nav devices are expediting). For another, the advice is impractical, whether we talk about walkers or cyclists. They need to go to where the things are that they need to get to, which tend to be on main roads. Also, the main roads usually are the direct, shorter routes, the socially safer ones, and the easiest routes to find and navigate without spending a lot of time in research.

An actual example: yesterday, I nededed to wheel my partner, who is in a wheelchair, from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London WC1, to King's Cross Station. We had decided to create less pollution by walking and taking the tube than by taking a cab. We could have walked between those points on a slightly quieter and ldess polluted route than the one I chose, which was via Russell square, Tavistock Place and Euston Road, some of the most polluted roads in London, but in fact we needed to go via shopping streets as we needed also a bank, and we desired an eating-place as well. She, being low down in the chair, would have received the worst of the pollution.

In general if you try to navigate in any town avoiding the main roads, you soon find that you are taking much longer routes, you are taking complex, time-consuming detours (which might lead to you even absorbing more pollution as you are in lower levels for longer), you are probably going up and down more hills (which also may lead to more absorbtion), as main routes tend to be the flattest ones in hilly areas, and you require more planning to take in the facilities you actually need to get to.

The truth is that everybody has a limited amount of time. Main roads are the main roads because they go through. Minor roads don't, you get lots of kinks in your route trying to use them, or you find yourself trying to navigate obscure paths, through housing estates or other obstructions, and in places where the space is tight and infrastrucrture poor. Many back streets have narrow pavements in a bad state of repair or with strange gradients or changes of surface, or are full of street furniture obstructions that make them impossible to get a wheelchair along. I have tried to use, for example, Stephenson Way NW1, as an alternative to a section of Euston Road, and found it is quite impossible with a wheelchair, for these reasons. You can only have a reasonable level of confidence that you are going to encounter reasonable, pedestrain and disabled-friendly infrastructure, with good junctions, pedestrian signals, smooth surfaces, proper dropped kerbs, and enough space, by sticking to big roads, where the pollution is.

But what I really object to is not being told all this nonsense about 'quiet routes' in itself. I can put up with it if I am told it by institutionally hypocritical governmental organisations, or people who are part of the problem, like the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association. What I really object to is being told it by organisations that claim to be there to campaign for better conditions: for actual solutions to the problem of pollution. Because, I don't understand why they are doing this. It's like they are undermining their own work. They are causing a distraction from the big, real social problem, that they are supposedly there to address, and its real, collective, structural, permanent solutions, by towing, or in any way supporting or publicising, this 'personal solution' line. It's just very convenient for the organisations on the 'other side', like the chronically conservative, anti-democratic mediaeval excrescence that is the Corporation of the City of London, or the polluters themselves, the taxis, that campaigners collaborate with this kind of thing.

It's parallel to the cycling case where, for so long, cycle campaigners have got wrapped up in the idea, and the systems, of trying to train people to cycle in motor-dominated conditions, as a personal solution to the big social problem, that, basically, cycling can't flourish unless it is given workable motor traffic-free space. This is a similar distraction, playing along with the 'solution' advocated by those who want to keep the environmental, infrastructural status quo. It absorbs so much energy that should be spent campaigning for the actual change in conditions that is needed.

In another area in which I am interested, the quality of the night sky and the issue of light pollution, it is like campaigners for darker skies telling people they should get dark skies by driving to dark places (producing more pollution on the way, of course), rather than by getting better, more appropriate lighting solutions in their communities, in the places, and at the times, at which they are genuinely required, and not elsewhere.

It's also like rape justice campaigners saying a part of the solution is for women to be more careful and not get drunk, or put themselves in risky situations ,or wear the 'wrong' clothes.

I am irritated by these people promoting personal solutions to social problems because they are wasting time and energy on these things, they are letting 'the authorities' and those otherwise in powerful positions 'off the hook', and in general, they are giving out patronising, unhelpful, poorly-thought-through advice to boot.

It's not a practical solution to try to avoid air pollution by cycling or walking on quiet routes. It's not a route to mass cycling to try to train everyone to ride on roads full of motor vehicles. It's not a solution to light pollution to tell anybody who wants to see the stars to drive to a place many miles away. It's not a solution to rape to advise women to avoid risky situations – which will – hey! lead to them avoiding quiet streets, which is where they are supposed to go to avoid the pollution, and not cycle, which seems to be regarded as an act of sexual provocation by many men, and avoid the places where they might be able to silently contemplate the stars.

For these personal 'solutions' to social problems just lead to a mass of patronising, contradictory advice and nonsense. They are not short-term solutions to 'tide us over' until the policies can be sorted out, they are part of the problem themselves; they form a part of the environment of ideas in which the real solutions are just put off. My take-home message: if something is wrong, campaign for the policies to fix it. Don't tell individuals to change their behaviour. Don't even start.

Categories: Views

Is Copenhagen Finally up To Speed on 30km/h Zones?

Copenhagenize - 16 January, 2015 - 10:20
If Copenhagen was Paris or Barcelona, they would be doing this. Based on population density, this is where 30 km/h should be standard.
Yeah, so I woke up to some promising news this morning here in Copenhagen. For all the modern liveable city goodness in the Danish capital, we are in the Bronze Age regarding speed limits in cities.

It's been lonely being one of the only people broadcasting the need for 30 km/h zones in Danish cities. Discovering that modernisation may be on the way is fantastic. The first 30 km/h zone was implemented in 1983 in Buxtehude, Germany. Over 150 cities in Europe have made 30 km/h the default speed in urban areas.

It is shocking that most of densely-populated Copenhagen isn't already a 30 km/h zone.

Buxtehude, Germany. 1983.

In Denmark, the Ministry of Justice published a document back in 1985 with the sexy name Justitsministeriets cirkulære nr. 72 af 5. juli 1985 making it possible for municipalities to adjust local speed limits. If "speed is a major cause of accident or risk on the stretch in question".

While that sounds like a good thing, they stated that it had to be proven that a reduction in speed would make dangerous stretches safer. Proving it has been a difficult task and the proof had to be in the form of complicated mathematical calculations. Weird to require calculations in order to save human lives, reduce injuries and make cities nicer. The next challenge was convincing the police to allow it. As we've written about before, the Danish police have bizarre powers and veto rights regarding traffic and they are not obliged to provide proof to support their veto.

The police in Copenhagen wouldn't even agree to 40 km/h zones, let alone the European Union standard of 30.

Today, however, the Ministry of Justice has announced that they are working on making it easier for municipalities to reduce speed limits. Let's hope they don't overcomplicate it and that they complete ignore the police on the subject. Until it's time to enforce the new speed limits. THEN they can move in and do their job.

We have written at length about 30 km/h zones here on the blog and we started a little Facebook group called 30 kbh (kbh is the short form for København - Copenhagen in Danish).

You can read 30 km/h Zones Work.

We also made an analysis of the effectiveness of 30 km/h zones that is freely downloadable and sharable.  But here's the gist of it all:

30 zones reduce injury and death
A study carried out in London concluded that there was a 42% reduction in injuries after the implementation of 30 km/h zones. Younger children were the group with the most significant reduction in KSI’s (Killed & Seriously Injured). A 27% reduction was measured in Barcelona, which led to the city rolling out massive 30 km/h zones across the urban landscape.


The numbers are pretty clear here. If you get hit by a car doing 30 km/h your chance of dying is only 5%. At 50 km/h it is 50%.


As your speed increases in a car, your peripheral vision decreases drastically.

There is no cheaper or more effective way to save lives and reduce injury in cities. Period.

30 zones improve congestion
With slower speeds, the amount of stop-starts is reduced – if not eliminated – which improves flow and helps easy congestion.


30 zones are inexpensive
Changing speed limit signs is inexpensive while building out sidewalks and narrowing lane widths is more expensive. Nevertheless, it is cost efficient. In Switzerland, the annual savings on health costs due to 30 zones is €120 - €130 million.

30 zones reduce noise pollution
By reducing the speed by 10 km/h, a noise reduction of 2-3 dB is achieved. That is far cheaper than noise reducing asphalt. Read more in the article Noisy Danish Speed Demons.
Also, the noise of five cars at 50 km/h is the same as ten cars at 30 km/h. The noise of one large truck equals as much noise as 15 cars.

30 zones improve air quality
In an overall analysis of pollutants, 30 km/h zones reduce CO2 emissions by 15%, NOX emissions by 40% and CO emissions by 45%. Only hydrocarbons will increase, by 4%.

30 zones improve fuel efficiency
Since they improve flow, motorists will save on fuel and reduce C02 emissions.

30 zones improve local business
The traffic calming effect that 30 km/h zones have on neighbourhoods is remarkable. Pedestrians and cyclists increase and, since pedestrians and cyclists spend more money in shops, local business benefits. A study in the UK showed that people who walked to town centres spent an average of £91 (around €115) per week, while motorists would spent £64 (around €80) per week. Cyclists, too, are proven to spend more money in shops than motorists.


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

Space for cycling, Dutch-style

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 14 January, 2015 - 09:38

I follow the Amsterdam-based photographer Thomas Schlijper on Twitter, mainly for his excellent photographs of street life, and cycling in particular. He’s well worth a follow.

This photograph of his, from a few weeks ago, caught my attention.

Photograph of Haarlemerplein from the air, by Thomas Schlijper

It shows the Haarlemerplein, a square to the north west of the city centre, with highly visible (and very new) cycle infrastructure, just completed. The name rang a bell – it’s the same square where the same photographer took this beautiful picture, back in May.

Slightly intrigued, I thought I’d see what this area looked like, before these improvements. Thanks to Google Streetview’s archive feature, we can see the state of  roads and streets here, prior to the changes being put in place.

Looking southwest on Korte Marnixstraat (the street at the bottom right of the aerial view above), there was a poor cycle lane and ASL on the east side of the road, and nothing at all, on the west side -

This has been replaced by fully protected cycle tracks, on both sides of the road. The parking also appears to have been removed.

The north-west approach (over the bridge in the bottom left) had poor (by Dutch standards) cycle tracks.

These have been replaced by a wide bi-directional track on the south side, and an improved track on the north side. This has come at the expense of two motor traffic lanes.

Approaching the junction from the north-east, a cycle lane, merging into protection at the junction -

Has become a wider, kerb-separated cycle track. Again, at the expense of a motor traffic lane.Perhaps the most remarkable change has come on the south-eastern arm, in the square itself, where a fairly grotty narrow road, shared with motor traffic (note the token British-style ASL) -

Has become a lovely, bicycle-only route through the square.

You can clearly see this ‘bicycle road’ running across the square on the aerial photograph at the top of this post.

These kinds of changes aren’t particularly exciting – certainly not as eye-catching or newsworthy as a fancy bridge, or a solar cycle path. But they encapsulate the way Dutch cycling success is built upon continual improvement, and maximising the safety, comfort and convenience of cycling as a mode of transport.

This junction wasn’t even particularly bad before – certainly many junctions in the UK would benefit hugely from the kind of physical separation, with separate signalling, that was already present. But it’s been substantially improved, regardless. Indeed, every time I visit the Netherlands, I am struck by how quickly many of the paths, routes and tracks that I had used on my previous visit have been upgraded. This path to the university area – the Uithof – had been widened and resurfaced, with lighting, when I visited last year. Given the numbers of people using it, it really does need to be this wide.

 

The Dutch aren’t standing still – they are continually refining and enhancing (and adding to) their already excellent network. Meanwhile British towns and cities don’t even have a network at all, or, at best, a piecemeal one.

It’s profoundly depressing. The one glimmer of hope is that we have a living, breathing example of the benefits of this kind of design, right on our doorstep, and a template for how to do it.


Categories: Views

Policy lag (or why bike lanes will be crap for a while yet)

ibikelondon - 13 January, 2015 - 15:27

Mark from As Easy As Riding a Bike blog tweeted a screen grab from Streetview recently of a newly painted bike lane in Horsham with the caption "Where that Department for Transport 'cycling money' is going. Brand new (2014) cycle 'infrastructure' painted in Horsham with Local Sustainable Transport Fund cash".  It doesn't take a rocket scientist - let alone a road engineer - to work out that this is crap:



This shouldn't just make cyclist's blood boil. Not only is at best unusable and at worst downright dangerous, it's also a complete waste of tax payer's cash; something we are frequently reminded is in short supply these days.

However Horsham is not alone in splashing the cash (and the paint) around.  Here's a shot I recently took in London's shiny new Olympic Park.  This road layout is little more than a year or two old, and yet contains poorly painted sub-standard bike lanes which really help no one and serve no purpose:



There's a faction of cycle advocates who would say it is not worth asking for cycle infrastructure at all, because all you get is nonsense like this.  I can empathise with their position - the internet is filled with pages and pages of examples just as bad as this (or worse)

I've argued before that you need three things to make successful cycling cities:

  • Political Will
  • Money
  • Design knowledge

And in the above cases I would strongly argue that it is the latter - design knowledge - which is lacking.  There are plenty of road engineers out there who don't have a clue how to accommodate cyclists in their designs, but there are plenty more who would like to do so but are nervous from straying from the manual.

When it comes to road design in the UK innovation cowers in the shadow of liability, perhaps understandably when you consider that it is people's safety potentially at stake.  As a consequence most of the space between buildings is filled in like a "Paint by Numbers" picture, fitting in whatever the manual says is appropriate.  
Busy road with lots of vehicles?  There's a pre-defined solution for that.  
Quiet cul-de-sac with heavy pedestrian activity?  There's a pre-defined solution for that, too.  Call it "tick box urbanism", if you like.

The trouble is that most streets take a few years to get from the drawing board to reality, and in that time I would argue the aspiration of cycle campaigners has evolved whilst the guidance has struggled to keep up.  In just a few short years in London we've gone from a situation where campaigners (and campaigns) could not even decide whether they wanted cycle provision or not, to a much broader consensus with far more ambitious aims.  The London Cycling Campaign and others are now asking for - and getting - high quality, European-style separated infrastructure.


How wide do you want your spanking new bike tracks?
Transport for London have been quick to get their design skills up to date (see the Cycle Superhighways proposed for central London and the construction work currently ongoing around the Oval) whereas some of our local borough authorities are much further behind the curve.

And here's the trap. For those lagging behind who are still following the guidelines to the letter, there's a real policy lag.  As has been remarked elsewhere not all of the guidelines that designers and engineers are employing are particularly effective at prescribing environments suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.  Whilst there has been much in recent years to help make streets more attractive, there has been less about improving the actual subjective experience of riding a bike.

This policy lag - the inability for the paperwork to keep up with the aspiration - will ensure that for every fantastic new cycle track built over the next few years there's going to be plenty of crap, as well.

Further reading:

Rachel Aldred: what's wrong with place and movement hierarchies?
As Easy As Riding a Bike: when will design guidance think of cycling as something for all?
A View From The Cycle Path: 3 types of Cycle Safety


Share
Categories: Views

How to make cycling possible in the snow

BicycleDutch - 12 January, 2015 - 23:01
We had almost grown unaccustomed to it… snow! The last time there was substantial snow in the south of the Netherlands was in February 2013, almost 2 years ago. But … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

How poor design creates conflict: An inconvenient and dangerous junction in Assen.

A View from the Cycle Path - 12 January, 2015 - 21:55
Poor infrastructure design causes conflict wherever it exists. This is just as true in the Netherlands as in other countries. It should not be assumed that employment of Dutch architects is enough to produce good results for cycling. We can't even guarantee that in the Netherlands... Just over two years ago, a huge new cultural centre, De Nieuwe Kolk, opened in Assen to accommodate the library, David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2015/01/how-poor-design-creates-conflict.html
Categories: Views

Cycling in Rotterdam 3 of 8

Pedestrianise London - 12 January, 2015 - 20:15

3. “Give way from the right” takes a little getting used to, especially when it appears to be optional to some people.

— Paul James (@pauljames) November 4, 2014

Unlike in the UK where at an unmarked junction you give way to whoever is deemed to be going straight on along the more major of the intersecting roads, in the Netherlands you always give way to traffic coming from the right.

And unlike the UK where unmarked junctions are few and far between due to our love of white paint, they are the default on access roads and quite common on distributor roads in the NL.

Article 15

1. At road junctions, drivers must give priority to traffic approaching from the right.

2. The following exceptions exist to this rule:

a. drivers on unpaved roads must give priority to drivers on paved roads;

b. all drivers must give priority to tram drivers.

Trams are the exception, you don’t mess with trams.

What this means is that there are times when you are travelling straight on along a road but you have to give way to anything turning right from a sideroad into your path.

This has the effect of slowing traffic travelling along the road at junctions as they act like unmarked reverse priority mini-roundabouts (although in practice they are marked with a speed table).

When it comes to bicycles, it appears that either some cyclists and drivers don’t understand this rule of the road and inappropriately yield (or don’t yield) for each other, or it’s just that some drivers expect cyclists not to yield and so will wait for cyclists even when they actually have the right of way. This causes a little ambiguity sometimes, although usually with everyone yielding for each other rather than the other way around.

Categories: Views

Thinking outside the box

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 January, 2015 - 17:25

Urban Design London have recently released some new guidance (in draft form), entitled the ‘Slow Streets Sourcebook: designing for 20mph streets’. This manual – like other ones I have commented on recently – has revealing design recommendations for ‘cyclists’.

These are the kinds of recommendations that show the authors are only really thinking about ‘cyclists’ as the people who are cycling already, not anyone who might want to ride a bike – from a very young child, to someone in old age.

To take just some examples from this guidance -

Carriageway widths below 3m encourage cyclists to take up the ‘primary’ position in the middle of the carriageway, making it more difficult for vehicles to overtake cyclists. [my emphasis]

Whether being used as a mobile roadblock is something the person cycling would actually enjoy is, it seems, not considered. Likewise, I doubt the authors of this passage reflected on whether it is reasonable to expect, say, a young child to take up a position in the middle of the carriageway in response to it being 3 metres wide.

A young child cycling beside a bus, in her own space, in the city of Utrecht. Should we be expecting children like her to cycle in the middle of the road, in front of that bus?

And, in a longer passage -

There are a variety of ways to indicate that the priority lies with cyclists and/or pedestrians and that drivers should slow down. Segregating or separating suchusers from vehicles may dilute their influence on driver behaviour. Therefore when thinking about designing for sub-20mph behaviours, integration may be the optimum choice. However, when designing with cyclists in mind, their needs should be fully considered to ensure that they are not put at risk.

Integrating cycling into narrower carriageways can encourage all road users to engage better with each other. This can also help retain a constant, but slower, traffic flow. This treatment is shown with a bicycle sign painted on the carriageway. Care is needed when designing junctions to ensure cyclists are visible and not ‘squeezed’ by turning vehicles.

There are some photographic illustrations of these kinds of designs.

Unfortunately the narrow carriageways which ‘integrate’ cycling in this example – note the helpful bicycle symbols ‘encouraging’ people to take up the primary position – also appear to be rather busy in this particular location.

TfL run five or six bus routes along this road, in addition to the seemingly copious private motor traffic. Is ‘integration’ here really something we should be aspiring to? Is this the kind of environment that will appeal to people who currently don’t feel willing or able to cycle in Britain?

I doubt it. In truth these kinds of designs are a way of integrating existing cyclists into the road network; they are not conceived with the needs of those people who aren’t cycling in mind. Consequently they will do little or nothing to address the problem of Britain’s cripplingly low levels of cycling.

Of course, it’s hard to think outside the box; to think in terms of the people we need to get cycling, rather than the tiny minority of people who are currently bold enough to venture onto our hostile roads. We still tend to think of ‘cyclists’ and ‘cycling’ in terms of the people already doing it.

Without wishing to single any particular comment out, there was a delicious recent example of this way of thinking below Diamond Geezer’s detailed blogpost about the proposed Superhighway 2 upgrade between Aldgate and Bow roundabout.

‘John’ wrote

A busy cycle route yet I did not see any cyclists in your photos.

Well…. duh! The reason there aren’t ‘any cyclists’ is because the road in question is, well, atrocious.

 

This upgrade is needed precisely because there aren’t any cyclists; because it’s a hostile, scary and actually lethal road, even for those few who are brave enough to cycle on it. Yet ‘John’ appears to believe that proposals to build cycling infrastructure along this road are unjustified, because very few people are cycling there at present.

This kind of thinking is understandable from members of the public, who simply don’t see cycling as a potentially universal mode of transport, because they are not surrounded by evidence that it is. They need to be persuaded otherwise, to be shown how cycling could work for everyone, if we invested in changes to our roads and streets.

But a failure to ‘think outside the box’ is far less acceptable from politicians, councillors, engineers and transport planners – the people we are relying on to bring about the changes in cycling levels that they all say they want to see. This broader failure is displayed in a hostility to cycling that only makes sense when you appreciate that the objector is thinking in terms of ‘cycling’ as it is now in British towns and cities; something for fast (usually male) adults, or for anti-social yobs.

The town where I live has an unspoken policy of keeping cycling out of the town centre as much as is humanly possible, apparently on the grounds of it introducing danger and uncertainty to ‘pedestrians’. Their attitude betrays that they plainly aren’t thinking about these kinds of Horsham residents when they consider cycling -

Instead they are thinking only in terms of the cyclists they encounter when they are driving around the town’s roads – people striving to travel at the speeds of the motor traffic that surrounds them. The councillors are not thinking outside the box.

The Royal Parks in London appear to be exhibiting a similarly close-minded view of cycling; in their response to the East-West Superhighway consultation (see this more detailed post from Cyclists in the City), they argue that Serpentine Road (among other roads and routes in Hyde Park) is

not suitable for larger volumes of cyclists because of the scale of other use such as including event activity and vast pedestrian movements

Given that the Serpentine Road looks like this

A very wide road.

this objection really shows that the Royal Parks are thinking of ‘cyclists’ in terms of a stereotypical lycra-clad horde, tearing through the park, rather than as the kinds of people you see cycling on very similar routes in Amsterdam’s equivalent park, the Vondelpark.

Would these kinds of ‘cyclists’ be so objectionable on Serpentine Road?

Finally, here’s an example from New Zealand of a new ‘cycling’ scheme, built around catering for existing demand, rather than for the people we need to reach.

… let’s put it this way. I always know if a cycleway has been designed right. The #NinjaPrincess is my expert in such matters. She is one of the customers whose needs should be considered most highly when such infrastructure is being designed and built.

… It is certain that every box in the performance specifications, set by the traffic engineers, has been ticked. But that is no guarantee that it will be a design that is conducive to the wider range of the 8-80 demographic. There is a difference between surviving and flourishing.

So while I don’t pretend to have the expertise of the traffic engineers who have installed this new infrastructure, nor do traffic engineers have the same valuable world view that the #NinjaPrincess possesses. It would be nice to think that her view has some value in the process of designing and building cycleways.

Well, exactly. I have my own ‘Ninja Princess’ – my own barometer of whether a scheme that purports to ‘encourage cycling’ will actually do so. My partner. She can’t drive, so cycling can and should fit her like a glove for the short trips she makes in urban areas. But she doesn’t cycle where we live. When we go on holiday to Dutch cities, she’ll leap on a bike; likewise, when we find traffic-free trails in places like Bath or Bristol, she’ll pedal for ten, even twenty miles, without even realising it.

But please don’t try to ‘integrate’ her into carriageway like this. You will fail.

As with the previous example of Hornchurch, this is not somewhere she is going to be happy cycling. At all.

 

She doesn’t want to be ‘integrated’ – she just wants to feel safe and comfortable.

If we’re serious about increasing cycling levels in Britain, shouldn’t we listen to people like her? Think outside the box of existing demand.

 


Categories: Views

The Urban Archipelago - Reclaiming Space and Revitalising the Harbour

Copenhagenize - 7 January, 2015 - 14:27

Living in Copenhagen, you're never far from the harbour or the sea. We're blessed with access to water and to fabulous beaches. Nevertheless, we feel that the harbour is currently underused. The ancient harbour of the Danish capital was decommercialised around 17 years ago and most shipping activity was moved to harbours to the north of the city, leaving a fantastic swath of urban space for the citizens. Freeing up the harbourfront led to an ongoing urban renewal, with 42 km of harbourfront to be developed.

Nevertheless, I've watched the development and wondered why the actual water seems so underused through the years. It seems to be accelerating a bit over the past two years or so, but given the fact that this is a rowing and sailing nation, I would love to see more opportunities for the citizens to use the water.


There are harbour baths in place now and the number of pleasure craft is rising. The Kalvebod Wave made a serious impact on harbourfront usage despite the City missing the mark regarding transport connections.. All great. It's brilliant that the water is now clean enough to swim in and that people do it at every opportunity - even at four in the morning.

Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement. There is a lack of sanctioned areas for bathing in the harbour (Copenhageners generally don't worry about those rules) and there is opportunity for creating viable and lively urban space with direct access to the water.



Enter Steve C. Montebello - designer and architect here at Copenhagenize Design Company. Hailing from Malta, Steve understands the need for access to the sea for citizens of a city. He developed The Urban Archipelago for his design project for the final year of his B.Sc. in The Built Environment. With our offices located on Paper Island, on the harbour in the heart of Copenhagen, we instantly saw how this brilliant idea could be applied virtually right outside our door, let alone at numerous locations along the harbour and elsewhere in Denmark.

Two factors inspired Steve to create the modular Urban Archipelago. One was the brilliant Sugata Mitra, who has brilliant TED talks about children and education. His Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) concept got Steve thinking. The other factor was the eternal battle for urban space for the citizens.

Steve's idea, like all good ideas, is simple. Creating an off-shore activity area that provides access to the water - including jumping in from various heights YAY! - and that shields the users from any boat traffic that may be chugging past. Hang out, eat lunch, make out, doze, swim, play. Whatever you need to do, The Urban Archipelago system will help you out. It's the perfect addition to any Life-Sized City.



Of course, we did a rendering of what it would look like right outside our offices on Paper Island/Papirøen. Bring on the summer.


The modular unit can be tesselated, allowing for a large variety of arrangement possibilities. The layout of the individual is organic and changeable and can be adapated to user needs, user volume and specific location requirements.



The main intentions of Steve's design were to create floating modular units consisting of a square base which could be tessellated. These modular units will increase public space at the location they are anchored. Steve has even factored in free wifi. Nice.


The modular elements are connected by ropes and pre-existing pontoon elements. A separate module can be anchored off to the side, covered with solar panels that could power the wifi and any other electricity needs.



The modular units are constructed in a workshop. They will then be assembled as prefabricated elements on site, in whatever size and form is desired or required.

It's a brilliant, simple and effective idea. It also makes us miss summer badly. We decided at Copenhagenize Design Company to build more stuff in 2015. Maybe we should get started on this.







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

Desire Line Analysis in Copenhagen's City Centre

Copenhagenize - 7 January, 2015 - 11:11



Continuing in our series of Desire Line Analyses, we decided to cast our critical and curious eyes on yet another Copenhagen intersection, this time where Bremerholm meets Holmens Kanal.

We decided to be more specific and focus on one part of the intersection - a location that we know well and one with a specific congestion problem in rush hour. We filmed for one hour from 08:15-09:15.

Behaviour vs Design

With the massive numbers of bicycle users in the mornings in Copenhagen, bottlenecks occur at a number of locations, particularly where many bicycle users need to turn left. This is something that all of us at the company experience each morning so we decided to study it.

It was a November morning and it was party-cloudly, dry and 6 degrees C. The focus was to determine how bicycle users react to the sub-standard design of this location. How they react to having to battle with motorised traffic - something that is unusual in the city. Yep, even in Copenhagen, The Arrogance of Space is present at times.

With this study we look at how bicycle users react to the design of infrastructure at one specific location, their behaviour and adherance to traffic laws and how they interact with other traffic users, in particular cars. All in one tight, congested location.

As always, we apply Direct Observation and Revealed Preferences, as opposed to Declared Preferences in order to explore how to improve conditions for bicycle users in the interest of improving flow, capacity and safety.

For more Desire Line Analyses, see: copenhagenize.eu/projects.html#desire

Here is the map of the intersection in question.

You can check out the full report here. (LINK to full pdf)

This short analysis revealed quite a lot of interesting revelations in the behaviour of the bicycle users. We have established that Copenhagen has the world's best behaved bicycle users. We wondered if that track record would stand the test at an intersection that is far below the Copenhagen par in its design.

71% of all traffic in the observation period were bicycle users.

86% of all left-turning bicycle users observed performed the textbook Copenhagen Left. The majority of those who didn't were reacting to the congestion.

1:3 - For every vehicle there were three bicycle users. Imagine if they were all in cars. This might jog your memory.

1560 - This Desire Line analysis mapped the Desire Lines of 1560 cyclists on their way to work or education during morning rush hour at the Bremerholm - Holmens Kanal intersection.

Bremerholm - Holmens Kanal intersection: 1560 Cyclists (from 8:15am to 9:15)



During the morning rush hour, the intersection is characterised by congestion at the corner with bicycle users waiting for the green light. The traffic law dictates that the Copenhagen Left - or the box turn - is required. Bicycle users are not, however, required to wait for the light to turn green. They can cross if there is no traffic.

Two main behavioural patterns were observed. The first where bicycle users are turning left in great numbers and also how bicycle users coming down Bremerholm interact with motor vehicles upon reaching the light.  These two scenarios interacted with each other, and should not be considered to be mutually exclusive events.

Detailed Observations of cyclists waiting at Bremerholm


Here we see how bicycles and vehicles interact inside the same space. At this location, the bike lane ends before the intersection and bicycle users share the space with right-turning cars. This design was standard for a few years, but now pulling back the stop line for cars at intersections is the new design approach. The general rule of thumb is that whoever gets to the intersection first - be it a car or a bicycle user - can decide to hug the curb. Cars invariably hugged the curb, leaving - at this location - no space for bikes. Because of their expectations due to the uniformity of design elsewhere in the city, bicycle users invariably found a way of getting ahead of the cars at the red light.


Detailed Observations of cyclists waiting at Bremerholm doing the Copenhagen Left



It was interesting to observe how bicycle users waited at the light when turning left. It had little to do with the volume of bicycles but rather the behaviour of those who arrive first on the scene. The following bicycle users invariably followed their lead, either lining up across the intersection or bunching up behind them.

Further Data
Further data and observations were gathered from this Desire Line analysis.The data of each of the different forms of traffic was then broken down (shown below).


The observations of the cyclists.


Vehicular data was broken down.


Along with pedestrian data.


It was interesting to note the flow of traffic per traffic light turn and compare the flow of bicycles to cars. While the flow of vehicles remains rather constant at 9 cars per green light over the morning rush hour, the flow of bicycles varies greatly. This demonstrates that bicycles can get through an intersection quicker than vehicles do.


Copenhagenize Fixes
Finally we offer our recommendations for redesigning the intersection. When the vast majority of the users are on bicycles, democracy would indicate that there are easy redesigns available to prioritize them.


Read the full pdf from the Copenhagenize Design Company website.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Pages

Subscribe to Cycling Embassy of Great Britain aggregator - Views