Views

The “Bicycle Apple”

BicycleDutch - 9 April, 2014 - 23:01
Bicycle parking facilities are not always the most attractive buildings, but there is a very interesting exception in the town of Alphen aan den Rijn: the Fietsappel or Bicycle Apple. … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Is that a shared use path ? Do Dutch cycle paths cause conflict with pedestrians ?

A View from the Cycle Path - 9 April, 2014 - 12:17
One of the most common misconceptions about the Netherlands is that where cycle-paths through the countryside which don't have an obvious path for pedestrians alongside, they are mistaken for "shared use paths". Actually, the Netherlands doesn't build shared use paths and the cycle-path network makes for fewer conflicts with pedestrians, not more. Read on for an explanation: Urban areas AnywhereDavid Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/is-that-shared-use-path-do-dutch-cycle.html
Categories: Views

Why can’t we get visualisations right?

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 9 April, 2014 - 09:17

Last night I was discussing plans for the centre of Enfield, as part of that borough’s ‘mini-Holland’ bid, during a London Cycling Campaign seminar on designing well for walking and cycling.

The plans themselves – if they are not watered down – actually look pretty good, and we were mainly discussing the best way of facilitating cycling and walking movement without causing conflict in a high street environment.

The visualisations of the scheme, however, struck me (and others) as problematic.

A burly man going mountain biking, apparently

Not just the garish, intrusive colour scheme, but also the type of people cycling. Very much ‘cyclists’ – a man in full sporting gear, hunched over, stomping on the pedals of his mountain bike.

If these plans are trying to be sold to the public – and indeed to convince shopkeepers that the removal of the road outside their shops is a good idea – then this is frankly a disastrous kind of person to be showing. Someone who looks like they are going somewhere else, and who won’t be stopping. And who also looks like a bit of a menace.

It would surely have made much more sense to use a different kind of person on a bike.

Take your pick

Or just something that has a bit of joy in it.

Isn’t riding a bike supposed to be fun?

Enfield aren’t the only people to have got this wrong. Notable examples included TfL’s ‘bus stop bypass’ visualisations, showing someone who resembles Monkey Dust’s ‘The Cyclists’ -

The Superhighway 2 visualisations, showing lycra clad, fast-looking men

And Peterborough Council’s laughable, laughable decision to use what looks like Fabian Cancellara in their visualisation of a walking and cycling route in their town centre.

A vision for the type of cycling Peterborough want in their town centre

I’m sure there are many other examples like this.

We were told that there was ‘limited time’ to prepare the bid, and the visualisations, but really, how much more time does it take to choose a suitable image of someone cycling? If you are thinking about doing a visualisation – please, please contact me and I will be happy to supply a photograph!


Categories: Views

Why can’t we get visualisations right?

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 9 April, 2014 - 09:17

Last night I was discussing plans for the centre of Enfield, as part of that borough’s ‘mini-Holland’ bid, during a London Cycling Campaign seminar on designing well for walking and cycling.

The plans themselves – if they are not watered down – actually look pretty good, and we were mainly discussing the best way of facilitating cycling and walking movement without causing conflict in a high street environment.

The visualisations of the scheme, however, struck me (and others) as problematic.

A burly man going mountain biking, apparently

Not just the garish, intrusive colour scheme, but also the type of people cycling. Very much ‘cyclists’ – a man in full sporting gear, hunched over, stomping on the pedals of his mountain bike.

If these plans are trying to be sold to the public – and indeed to convince shopkeepers that the removal of the road outside their shops is a good idea – then this is frankly a disastrous kind of person to be showing. Someone who looks like they are going somewhere else, and who won’t be stopping. And who also looks like a bit of a menace.

It would surely have made much more sense to use a different kind of person on a bike.

Take your pick

Or just something that has a bit of joy in it.

Isn’t riding a bike supposed to be fun?

Enfield aren’t the only people to have got this wrong. Notable examples included TfL’s ‘bus stop bypass’ visualisations, showing someone who resembles Monkey Dust’s ‘The Cyclists’ -

The Superhighway 2 visualisations, showing lycra clad, fast-looking men

And Peterborough Council’s laughable, laughable decision to use what looks like Fabian Cancellara in their visualisation of a walking and cycling route in their town centre.

A vision for the type of cycling Peterborough want in their town centre

I’m sure there are many other examples like this.

We were told that there was ‘limited time’ to prepare the bid, and the visualisations, but really, how much more time does it take to choose a suitable image of someone cycling? If you are thinking about doing a visualisation – please, please contact me and I will be happy to supply a photograph!


Categories: Views

Best Cycling City of the Netherlands – recap

BicycleDutch - 8 April, 2014 - 23:01
My series of the nominees of the election to become best cycling city of the Netherlands in 2014 is complete. But the five nominated municipalities were also portrayed by the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Best Cycling City of the Netherlands – recap

BicycleDutch - 8 April, 2014 - 23:01
My series of the nominees of the election to become best cycling city of the Netherlands in 2014 is complete. But the five nominated municipalities were also portrayed by the … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The bad bits

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 April, 2014 - 12:30

I’m just back from a week-long tour of the Netherlands, cycling between (and across) a number of cities and towns I hadn’t visited before. I travelled around 300 miles, across the entire country. I will obviously come to the good bits in due course, but I thought I would start by writing about the bad bits, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they demonstrate that the Netherlands has not had perfect infrastructure magically parachuted in from the sky. The country had (and in many places still has) a very British-looking road network, that has been improved and adapted over recent decades. The bad bits I encountered are either old – streets and roads where nothing has been done (or the bare minimum has been done) – or simply places where compromised designs have been put in place, because the Netherlands has exactly the same conflicts for space between motor vehicles and cycling as Britain does.

Secondly, these are the parts of my journey that actually really jumped out at me. I could cycle for four to five hours a day, completely relaxed, apart from at these locations, where I suddenly had to concentrate, and start worrying. As well shall see, many of these examples actually look pretty good from a British perspective; but in the Netherlands, they were the places were I felt most stressed, and the least relaxed.

Starting at the beginning. On my way from the Hook of Holland to Delft, a good cycle path alongside a major road just stops, and switches to being bi-directional on the other side of the road.

Oranjesluisweg, De Lier

Not a huge problem, but quite jarring to suddenly have to deal with crossing two lanes of motor traffic, without any assistance. This was early on a Saturday morning, and I can imagine this road being much busier.

Further on, and as I approached the city of Delft, another good cycle path just tapered down to nothing, dumping me on the road on the approach to a busy junction.

Woudseweg, Delft

In Gouda I came across this ‘always stop’ junction for cyclists.

Spoorstraat, Gouda

The cycle track under the railway line meets a stop line, where cyclists are held while motor traffic progresses from their left, up to and through the junction (the green signal in the distance).

Then, the motor traffic is held, and cyclists get a green light, to move up to the stop line at the junction.

Quite safe, but this arrangement, combined with long waits (well over a minute) at the junction itself, made for a bad situation for cycling. Plenty of people were jumping the lights here, frustrated at having to wait for so long.

The town of Vlijmen, in the municipality of Heusden, was very poor, with no infrastructure at all to speak of, on quite busy roads and streets. It felt uncomfortable, even on a Sunday afternoon. But normal for Britain.

Mommersteeg, Vlijmen

While Nijmegen was in general very good for cycling, it did have a number of roads and streets which were inadequate, and indeed poor. Some examples.

A British-looking ASL at a major junction

A three-lane, one-way road, with no contraflow for cycling, and only a ‘feeder’ cycle lane in the middle of the road

An old street which has not been improved (although it looks like it will be, with development at the other end)

Nijmegen was the city I felt the least comfortable on my trip; but it vastly outstrips anywhere I have cycled in Britain. And remember; these are just the bad bits I am showing here.

In rural areas, my most uncomfortable cycling was on roads with ‘advisory’ cycle lanes at the sides of the road, and with no centre line.

Near Veenendaal

Generally I encountered very little motor traffic on these roads (certainly by British standards), so these pictures are unrepresentative of my trip as a whole. But I was travelling in the middle of the day, not at peak times, and situations like those pictured here could, I suspect, be quite common.

Access road near Breukelen

Quite often ‘bunching’ of motor traffic occurs, and (in my experience) Dutch drivers tend to give you very little passing distance on these kinds of roads, on the assumption that you know what you are doing.

It was unpleasant to have to start worrying about whether drivers would give you enough passing distance, or whether they were going to attempt a stupid overtake – compared to the serenity of the rest of my trip. And in some places these treatments are very obviously inappropriate.

The N836, Wageningenstraat, just south of the A15 motorway

This is an ‘N’ category road, the equivalent of our ‘A’ roads, only a kilometre or so from a motorway junction. This just didn’t cut it, as far as comfort was concerned, with large lorries and tractors passing in both directions. It was a relief to get back on the cycle tracks that ran along this road for the rest of its length. Why this section has not been upgraded yet, I don’t know.

Other ‘N’ category roads were interesting, in that for the most part they had extraordinarily good provision running alongside them, but sometimes, in towns, they just gave up. In particular Doorn, near Utrecht, was exceptionally bad.

‘No space for cycling’ at this junction in Doorn

The same problem British towns and cities face – multiple queuing lanes for vehicles means there’s not much space left over for proper cycling provision (or indeed for walking). Further on in the town -

‘Watch out for bikes!’

Here an (old) cycle track simply peters out, spitting you out onto a trunk road through the town, carrying heavy traffic. That is a lady carrying her family by cargo bike.

And because there is no cycle track in the opposite direction, you get children doing this – ‘salmoning’ up the road to get to the safety of the cycle track.

Hostile

Cycle lanes like this on this kind of road would, I think, be considered quite good in Britain, but this was definitely the most exposed I felt on my entire trip.

Leaving Doorn, and glad that military convoy is going the other way

Even very wide cycle lanes could suddenly create a feeling of discomfort. Here in Nijmegen this exceptional (by British standards) cycle lane was unsettling, compared to the cycle track I had been on moments before, as traffic came past me.

Good by British standards, but not very good compared to what is around it

And there were problems in Utrecht too. This cycle lane has been put on the wrong side of the parked vehicles. The parking and the cycle provision should obviously be switched.

A fantastic superhighway from Breukelen into Utrecht sends you into an industrial park, where you have to fend for yourself amongst HGV movements, on tiny cycle lanes.

This wasn’t much fun

And some junctions in the centre of the city are in desperate need of an upgrade, like here at Nachtegaalstraat, where huge numbers of people are squashed into an inadequate central queuing lane which separates bus traffic from private motor traffic, only able to turn right. By British standards, entirely comfortable, but not really good enough in the context of the rest of Utrecht.

Not good enough

So by no means is it perfect everywhere. The Dutch have plenty of old roads and streets that need to be upgraded; they just haven’t got around to doing them yet. And in other places it looks like battles still need to be fought to get proper provision installed, at the expense of motor traffic.

But I should stress that these examples – in total about twenty or thirty places – are the only times I felt uncomfortable, or inconvenienced, on my entire trip of around 300 miles. The vast, vast majority of my trip was gloriously pleasant, easy and safe. More of that to come.


Categories: Views

The bad bits

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 April, 2014 - 12:30

I’m just back from a week-long tour of the Netherlands, cycling between (and across) a number of cities and towns I hadn’t visited before. I travelled around 300 miles, across the entire country. I will obviously come to the good bits in due course, but I thought I would start by writing about the bad bits, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they demonstrate that the Netherlands has not had perfect infrastructure magically parachuted in from the sky. The country had (and in many places still has) a very British-looking road network, that has been improved and adapted over recent decades. The bad bits I encountered are either old – streets and roads where nothing has been done (or the bare minimum has been done) – or simply places where compromised designs have been put in place, because the Netherlands has exactly the same conflicts for space between motor vehicles and cycling as Britain does.

Secondly, these are the parts of my journey that actually really jumped out at me. I could cycle for four to five hours a day, completely relaxed, apart from at these locations, where I suddenly had to concentrate, and start worrying. As well shall see, many of these examples actually look pretty good from a British perspective; but in the Netherlands, they were the places were I felt most stressed, and the least relaxed.

Starting at the beginning. On my way from the Hook of Holland to Delft, a good cycle path alongside a major road just stops, and switches to being bi-directional on the other side of the road.

Oranjesluisweg, De Lier

Not a huge problem, but quite jarring to suddenly have to deal with crossing two lanes of motor traffic, without any assistance. This was early on a Saturday morning, and I can imagine this road being much busier.

Further on, and as I approached the city of Delft, another good cycle path just tapered down to nothing, dumping me on the road on the approach to a busy junction.

Woudseweg, Delft

In Gouda I came across this ‘always stop’ junction for cyclists.

Spoorstraat, Gouda

The cycle track under the railway line meets a stop line, where cyclists are held while motor traffic progresses from their left, up to and through the junction (the green signal in the distance).

Then, the motor traffic is held, and cyclists get a green light, to move up to the stop line at the junction.

Quite safe, but this arrangement, combined with long waits (well over a minute) at the junction itself, made for a bad situation for cycling. Plenty of people were jumping the lights here, frustrated at having to wait for so long.

The town of Vlijmen, in the municipality of Heusden, was very poor, with no infrastructure at all to speak of, on quite busy roads and streets. It felt uncomfortable, even on a Sunday afternoon. But normal for Britain.

Mommersteeg, Vlijmen

While Nijmegen was in general very good for cycling, it did have a number of roads and streets which were inadequate, and indeed poor. Some examples.

A British-looking ASL at a major junction

A three-lane, one-way road, with no contraflow for cycling, and only a ‘feeder’ cycle lane in the middle of the road

An old street which has not been improved (although it looks like it will be, with development at the other end)

Nijmegen was the city I felt the least comfortable on my trip; but it vastly outstrips anywhere I have cycled in Britain. And remember; these are just the bad bits I am showing here.

In rural areas, my most uncomfortable cycling was on roads with ‘advisory’ cycle lanes at the sides of the road, and with no centre line.

Near Veenendaal

Generally I encountered very little motor traffic on these roads (certainly by British standards), so these pictures are unrepresentative of my trip as a whole. But I was travelling in the middle of the day, not at peak times, and situations like those pictured here could, I suspect, be quite common.

Access road near Breukelen

Quite often ‘bunching’ of motor traffic occurs, and (in my experience) Dutch drivers tend to give you very little passing distance on these kinds of roads, on the assumption that you know what you are doing.

It was unpleasant to have to start worrying about whether drivers would give you enough passing distance, or whether they were going to attempt a stupid overtake – compared to the serenity of the rest of my trip. And in some places these treatments are very obviously inappropriate.

The N836, Wageningenstraat, just south of the A15 motorway

This is an ‘N’ category road, the equivalent of our ‘A’ roads, only a kilometre or so from a motorway junction. This just didn’t cut it, as far as comfort was concerned, with large lorries and tractors passing in both directions. It was a relief to get back on the cycle tracks that ran along this road for the rest of its length. Why this section has not been upgraded yet, I don’t know.

Other ‘N’ category roads were interesting, in that for the most part they had extraordinarily good provision running alongside them, but sometimes, in towns, they just gave up. In particular Doorn, near Utrecht, was exceptionally bad.

‘No space for cycling’ at this junction in Doorn

The same problem British towns and cities face – multiple queuing lanes for vehicles means there’s not much space left over for proper cycling provision (or indeed for walking). Further on in the town -

‘Watch out for bikes!’

Here an (old) cycle track simply peters out, spitting you out onto a trunk road through the town, carrying heavy traffic. That is a lady carrying her family by cargo bike.

And because there is no cycle track in the opposite direction, you get children doing this – ‘salmoning’ up the road to get to the safety of the cycle track.

Hostile

Cycle lanes like this on this kind of road would, I think, be considered quite good in Britain, but this was definitely the most exposed I felt on my entire trip.

Leaving Doorn, and glad that military convoy is going the other way

Even very wide cycle lanes could suddenly create a feeling of discomfort. Here in Nijmegen this exceptional (by British standards) cycle lane was unsettling, compared to the cycle track I had been on moments before, as traffic came past me.

Good by British standards, but not very good compared to what is around it

And there were problems in Utrecht too. This cycle lane has been put on the wrong side of the parked vehicles. The parking and the cycle provision should obviously be switched.

A fantastic superhighway from Breukelen into Utrecht sends you into an industrial park, where you have to fend for yourself amongst HGV movements, on tiny cycle lanes.

This wasn’t much fun

And some junctions in the centre of the city are in desperate need of an upgrade, like here at Nachtegaalstraat, where huge numbers of people are squashed into an inadequate central queuing lane which separates bus traffic from private motor traffic, only able to turn right. By British standards, entirely comfortable, but not really good enough in the context of the rest of Utrecht.

Not good enough

So by no means is it perfect everywhere. The Dutch have plenty of old roads and streets that need to be upgraded; they just haven’t got around to doing them yet. And in other places it looks like battles still need to be fought to get proper provision installed, at the expense of motor traffic.

But I should stress that these examples – in total about twenty or thirty places – are the only times I felt uncomfortable, or inconvenienced, on my entire trip of around 300 miles. The vast, vast majority of my trip was gloriously pleasant, easy and safe. More of that to come.

 

 


Categories: Views

Where the crashes are: Shared Space and other bad junction designs lead to crashes and injuries

A View from the Cycle Path - 7 April, 2014 - 11:02
A useful website shows where all crashes have occurred on Dutch roads. I've used it below to demonstrate the relative safety of different roads and cycle-paths in this country. Is Shared Space safe ? The Laweiplein Shared Space "squareabout" in Drachten has been the subject of much hype. Many claims have been made for a low accident rate here but the evidence does not support this. Drachten David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com7http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/where-crashes-are-shared-space-and.html
Categories: Views

“Road danger reduction and road safety are not the same”

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 6 April, 2014 - 23:29

Photo from Local Transport Today 644 (4th April 2014)

Below is the text of a letter published in Local Transport Today  644 in response to a long letter from Professor Oliver Carsten in the previous issue  showing how the UK’s “road safety record” is presented in an undeservedly “sunny” light. I state that the way he points this out is welcome, but needs to go a lot further…Oliver Carsten’s demolition of “our” “road safety performance” (Letters, LTT 643) is a welcome first step by a senior academic to catch up with what the Road Danger Reduction (RDR) movement has been saying for decades. But stating the very obvious should be just that only – a first step.

 

Carsten makes the obvious point that some people (the “vulnerable road users”, so called because – like most travelers on the planet – they happen to be outside motor vehicles) are more prone to being hurt when collisions occur. He could have included elderly people and then children, but let’s go one small step at a time.

 

 

So let’s suggest some further steps for Professor Carsten and others who may be interested in a civilised approach to the subject to consider in a civilised assessment of safety on the road.
The basic strategy is to get the language right: do try and speak English and not “roadsafetyese”. A good way of introducing the English language into the discussion is with this word “danger”. Generally “road safety” (RS) professionals use this word intransitively – with regard to danger being done to somebody. So an elderly pedestrian is doing something “dangerous” whereas the Volvo driver threatening him and others on the road is “safe”. The RDR movement thinks we need to invert this, and concentrate on seeing those with more lethal potential – essentially the motorised of various types – as being the “DRUs” (dangerous road users).

 

 

To take another language example from the letter, it is not “our” road safety record. Some people have chosen modes of transport more potentially lethal than others. Some people are more careful than others. Some people reduce the chances of their children being hurt by not allowing them to walk or cycle (while having a far higher chance of premature death because, as Carsten says, of the morbidity and mortality associated with non-active travel), etc. I don’t think that “we” should all be lumped in it together in terms of responsibility for “our” record.

 

 

Here’s another one: sometimes there are few pedestrian or cyclist casualties at a location – such as a rural road with high speed motor traffic or a busy gyratory system – precisely because there is high amount of danger from motor traffic. These locations (or to be more precise, since we are talking about the importance of language, those responsible for the motor vehicles involved) are more dangerous, not less.

 

 

Try some thought exercises: Professor Carsten says that “travel on foot or by bicycle is far more dangerous than travel in a car”. As explained above, if we take a more civilised approach which concentrates on responsibility towards others, we should base our approach on the fact that walking and cycling pose far less of a threat than using a car does. Working out how to use the words properly can help turn road safety into road danger reduction, moving from accepting danger on the road with its attendant victim blaming into a more civilised approach to safety on the road. Luckily, for most professionals this can be easy as it will often be a case of simply inverting previous thought.

 

 

The last misuse of a word I will look at now is “road safety performance”. As he suggests, the official way of assessing this is deeply flawed. I described similar points, restricted to cycling and walking but more extensively, in my LTT 635 (15th November 2013) Comment piece on how to measure safety on the road.

 

 

Now it becomes a bit harder. Everyone knows that adaptive behaviour to perceptions of risk (risk compensation) is a fact of life. This will be hard for RS practitioners unwilling to accept that increased crashworthiness of vehicles and more forgiving highway environments has reduced care taken by drivers. Ultimately the move towards RDR from RS means having to accept the evidence and that your profession has had – at the very least – a flawed approach.

 

 

Finally, there is of course a sense in which looking at aggregated road traffic fatalities over time does make a lot of sense. This is the work done by John Adams in interpreting Reuben Smeed’s descriptions of deaths in different countries related to levels of car ownership: it shows changes which occur irrespective of road safety interventions occurring.

 

 

In other words, RS professionals have to consider that apparently positive changes may actually conceal (enforced) reduction in more benign mode use – and they also have to consider that what positive changes that have happened may well have happened anyway. Insofar as official interventions have a responsibility for change, improvement could have occurred by following the central aim of the RDR movement. This is reducing danger at source – from the ways in which motor traffic is used – for the benefit of all road users and as part of a sustainable transport policy. This will be emotionally hard for traditional practitioners in this area. Are they up to it?

Robert Davis
Chair
Road Danger Reduction Forum
LONDON NW10


Categories: Views

Copenhagen - Is Cycling Up or Down or What?

Copenhagenize - 5 April, 2014 - 10:50

It's all so confusing. Numbers indicating rise and falls in cycling levels. Although perhaps not as much as we think.

Firstly, back in 2009 I made a bet with anyone who would take it. Cycling levels in Copenhagen had been stagnant for many years. In 2008, a whole new kind of stupid showed up in Denmark. The Danish Road Safety Council (Rådet for Sikker Trafik - or Rodet for Sikker Panik if you like) decided to expand their ideological campaigns by promoting bicycle helmets. They convinced the Danish Cyclists Federation (DCF) to join the parade. To this day, the DCF remain one of the few national cycling organisations in all of Europe who support promotion of bicycle helmets.

Anyway, hardcore emotional propaganda hit the streets of Denmark in January 2008. As usual with such organisations, there was little science involved. An unsuspecting population were subjected to a one-sided view on helmets and not offered any balanced, scientific perspective. The Culture of Fear is powerful when applied correctly. Now, 17% of Copenhageners wear helmets on average. They are usually the ones involuntarily performing Risk Compensation studies. Keep a careful eye when cycling out there with them.

In this article from 2009 - Cycling is booming - just not in Denmark - I predicted that the rash of bicycle helmet promotion would not cause cycling levels to increase - despite the massive political will at the time. As I wrote:

Here's my bet. Because of the intense bicycle helmet propanganda in 2008:
- the percentage of cyclists in Copenhagen - 37% - will not rise. It will either fall or remain unchanged.


Few colleagues believed it. What happened?

Copenhagen cycling levels fell from 37% to 35% by 2010. That's a lot of people who hopped off the bicycle. The people who made that happen have blood on their hands.

In order to explain the drop, the usual suspects will tell you that it was because there were two hard winters in Copenhagen. So we looked at all the different factors involved, including the weather, and compared it all with Amsterdam. Amsterdam, and the rest of the Netherlands, suffered EXACTLY the same hard winters in the same period. Amount of snow, temperatures, you name it.

Cycling levels didn't fall in Amsterdam. They remained steady. Fewer people drove because of the winters, but cycling wasn't affected.

The emotional propaganda onslaught faded away and, as one would expect, cycling levels started to recover. We're now at 36% modal share of people arriving at work of education in the city and have lingered there for a few years.

The news today in Copenhagen is of a massive increase in cycling in Copenhagen. Numbers from travel survey data from Danish Technical University show the following:

- The average trip length for Copenhageners increase by a whopping 1 km since 2012.
- Copenhageners ride 2,006,313 km a day, compared to 1.3 million in 2012.
- Car trips are down 12%.
- Public transport also increased its modal share from 28% to 32% since 2007.

One of the newspapers in Denmark that is arguably the most anti-cycling - Politiken - try to wrap their pretty heads around why there has been an increase in this article, in Danish. They ask all manner of academics who offer up their opinions.

The journalists claim that the City of Copenhagen's focus on infrastructure is a reason for it. They mention, among other things, the bicycle bridges over the harbour but fail to notice that they aren't even finished being built yet. So that doesn't work. There have been infrastructure improvements on certain streets, sure, but nothing on a large enough scale to boost cycling levels this much.

It's all very simple if you want it to be.



Right here, in all its simplicity.

Copenhagen is one massive building site. 17 new Metro stations are under construction all at once. Last year, work was finally completed on the huge network of pipes providing central heating to most of the city centre, which only contributed to the chaotic construction in the city. In the above article, the DCF - to my delight - recognised this as the reason for the current increase.

If you want to encourage cycling and public transport, make driving a pain in the ass. It is the only way forward and the only way we know to get motorists to change their behaviour.

Trip lengths by bicycle are up in Copenhagen - and car trips are down - simply because it's a pain to drive in the city because of all the construction at the moment. That's it and that's that.

If the City wants to maintain these cycling levels, keep the current chaos, albeit in a nicer form, when the Metro construction is finished.

The new numbers are nice today, but if everything just reverts to the car-centric status quo when construction is finished (and remember that the Metro expansion is already projected to reduce cycling levels by 3%), the honeymoon will be over and it will be abrupt and shocking when it happens.
Mark my words.

It's all so easy if you want it to be.
Don't promote helmets.
Make driving difficult, complicated, expensive.
Duh.

The homo sapiens of a city will always figure out the fastest A to B. We call it A2Bism. We are all like rivers, finding the easiest route. Make that the bicycle or public transport and you are halfway there.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

What do Victor Veilig and Benni Brems say about Subjective Safety ?

A View from the Cycle Path - 5 April, 2014 - 08:17
Over the last few years in the Netherlands, small yellow boys, 80 cm tall, have become a more common sight on the streets. Victor Veilig ("Safe Victor") and his older German cousin Benni Brems ("Benni Brakes") are claimed by the manufacturers and distributors to remind drivers to slow down. Victor and Benni are light in weight and parents are told that they should place him outdoors when their David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com2http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/04/what-do-victor-veilig-and-benni-brems.html
Categories: Views

Fun-loving singles

John Adams - 4 April, 2014 - 21:59

I recently discovered (thanks Jim) that my website had acquired a sideline in the form of a service for fun-loving singles wearing not very much, and keen to get in touch with others similarly attired. Although many of the postings might be said to have had a risk theme I have decided to focus, for the moment, on less exciting issues such as seatbelt laws and ISO 31000.

Apologies to all disappointed users of the alternative service.

Best wishes

John

Categories: Views

Bikes Beat Metro in Copenhagen

Copenhagenize - 4 April, 2014 - 10:24

Like anyone interested in city life, we at Copenhagenize Design Co. like to keep our eyes on the street life of our city. Currently however, the City of Copenhagen is planning to take some away from the street, by forcing  people underground, with the 'Cityringen' expansion of the Metro. Instead of investing in the reestablishment of our tram network - so rudely removed by the ironically-named mayor Urban Hansen in the 1970s - like cities all over Europe, Copenhagen seems keen to get people off the street.
This doesn’t come cheap: 3 billion Euros gets you an additional 17 stations added to the existing Metro network. In a nice circle shape. Perhaps some of the cost can be explained by the fact that It is not easy to build a Metro in Copenhagen, a city that is on the whole scarcely above sea level, and with a dense urban fabric too.  It's due for completion in 2018, but that's later than the initial estimate and with the date still some way off who knows whether it will actually be ready by then - just ask the planners in Amsterdam, where a new metro line has been under construction since 2002 and is still not finished, although it was supposed to have been operating for several years by now. As well as that, Amsterdam's costs more than doubled from initial estimates.
But this article is not only about the Metro extension in Copenhagen; it deals with the question of which kinds of transportation are needed to support cities in becoming more liveable. We realise that we won't be stopping the Metro, but we are keen to highlight - even years before it's finished - that it ain't "all that".

The projections for the Metro also have an alarming statistic buried in the paperwork. Cycling levels in Copenhagen are expected to drop by an estimated 2.8%. That is a lot of cyclists we'll be losing. 
We know what people want. We want to move fast, safe and cheap from A to B. Also, the transportation system has to be sustainable, namely environmentally friendly, at a reasonable cost to society and it should not exclude anyone.
Since we are hands-on people here at Copenhagenize, we decided to just test it ourselves. We were curious how the different transport modes score compared to each other and especially how the bike performs against trains, buses and the new Metro.
What we did was simple. For some days we tracked all our journeys from our homes to the Copenhagenize office (and vice versa) or other routes with the GPS-based App Endomondo. A great app - also because it includes Cycling - Transport as an option. Not surprisingly, it's a Danish app. Sometimes we came by public transport, sometimes, as normal, by bike.
As the new metro is not operating yet, we had to be a bit creative when comparing it to the bike. We built scenarios to challenge the totally unrealistic times which are published on the project website of the Metro extension. If false advertising is a thing, the Metro are guility of it. "7 minutes from Nørrebro Runddel to Enghave Plads!", they declare, without anyone bothering to check if it's true. Until now.
To be clear about that point: It is probably very realistic that the time you will need to spend on the metro carriage itself between the future stations Nørrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads is seven minutes. The unrealistic part about that is that nobody lives or works in those stations.

To have a realistic Home to Work scenario with which we could compare travel times with the bicycle, we took addresses in potential residential areas in a range of less than one kilometre to a future Metro station and tracked the time it takes to walk from the address to the future station. We then added the two minutes that it takes to get down to the train and wait for it. (We actually timed this at a number of stations and worked out an average. We like details.)

And then comes the time you actually spend in the train, followed by the fact that it will take another minute (again, on average based on our timings) to get off the Metro and reach the street level again. Lastly we added the walking time from the station to an address in a potential working area, again in a range of less than one kilometre to the Metro station. As you can imagine, a trip incorporating the journey from Nørrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads doesn't take seven minutes any more.

Here you can see the results of our Bike vs. Metro study.  For the bike trips we assumed that we were travelling at an average speed of 16kph, which is the average pace people cycle in Copenhagen. Very relaxed, without having to sweat, and doable for all cyclists. We also added two minutes to unlock, park and lock the bike. The results are impressive: in three out of five scenarios the bike is faster door to door than the Cityringen line will ever be.

In one scenario there is a tie between Metro and bike and in only one instance is the Metro slightly faster. The longer you have to walk to and from the station (last mile) the higher are the chances that the bike will be faster. From our data we see that 700m can be seen as a threshold: if you take the metro to work and have to walk more than 700m (about 10 minutes) on the way from door to door, you almost certainly would have been faster by bike.
We're asking why the City of Copenhagen and the Danish government put so much money into something which does not bring a significant advantage to the people in the city? We're not saying that a Metro never makes sense. There are cities where the Metro is an indispensable element in the transportation system, carrying millions of people a day, like in London, Paris or New York. But does it make sense in cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where you can reach almost everything in the centre within 20 minutes on a bike?
Of course, we understand that not everybody is able to ride a bike. And we definitely want a transport system which does not exclude anybody.
So, where is your tram, Copenhagen?
Imagine what a fantastic tram network we could have for €3 billion. Look at France, where new tram systems are popping up like mushrooms. Also, there would be plenty of money left to further improve the cycling infrastructure within the city. What we get now is a new line with 17 stations which runs in a circle and only connects to other lines at two points. It doesn't seem like the main effect of this project will be to make Copenhagen more liveable. The City of Copenhagen is clearly afraid of reducing car traffic. Despite the goodness in the city, they still are intent on maintaining the car-centric status quo.
Back to the competition: What about our commuting trips we tracked? Also in those cases the bicycle is highly competitive as you can see in the graphics below.  
On trips less than ten kilometres the bike is usually the fastest option. The longer the trips are, for example from Frederiksberg to the Airport at Kastrup or from Glostrup to the new Copenhagenize office on Papirøen (Paper Island on the Harbour), the better public transport scores. That makes sense and it is also in line with the fact that cycling drops significantly for trips longer than eight kilometres.
But we also have to mention that we set the average speed for cyclists even on the longer commuter trips to 16kph. It can be assumed however, that commuters who cycle everyday between 10 and 15 kilometres to work are faster than that. The bicycle superhighway network for greater Copenhagen for instance is designed for an average speed of 20kph. And then, the bicycle is even very competitive up to distances around 15 kilometres.
So, what’s the message of our short study about getting from A to B in Copenhagen? First: there's no obvious need to invest billions in mega projects if the effect is as small as in Copenhagen’s current Metro extension project. Secondly: Invest the money instead in cycling infrastructure.

Our little experiment has shown again that the bicycle is the best mean of transport to get from A to B in a city. And thirdly: Invest in public transport solutions which cover a larger geographical area at a lower cost. Like trams or light rail.

And lastly, you might wonder why we did not include the car in our comparison. Well, because a car wouldn't make sense at all for daily trips in a city and because only 14% of Copenhageners transport themselves by car each day. 


Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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BicycleDutch - 2 April, 2014 - 23:01
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