A report from Kats Dekker
On Saturday 12 October 2013, as promised, the Embassy visited Leicester to join the local group, Leicester Cycling Campaign, for an infrastructure safari. Nine campaigners met at the newly and nicely refurbished Leicester station - when peeping outside however, it was a different story, one of fast and heavy traffic rushing past in multiple lanes, and a complicated layout. (And never mind the weather that seemed to be determined to deter our tour.)
And this was setting the scene for the things to come!
New planning and design, versus old.
We saw the biking bits so "compulsory" in UK cities and towns: bonkers bike ways, converted towpaths and railway lines (generally pleasant), shared bus lanes (aaargh). It did seem, though, that Leicester had tried to fix some things for cycling, in the past - demonstrated by little spot changes, such as opening up one-way streets, toucan crossings with elephants footprint markings... the 20mph conversion however has not yet fully reached Leicester.
So we did come across 2-way cycle 'tracks', barely a metre wide - and they were freshly painted too. And this beautiful thing was also on show - just what to do on this loopy lane?
But there also were exciting signs of new thinking, slowly but surely coming up. Particularly impressive were the entirely new 4 metre-wide, two-way cyclepath, and extended pedestrianisation for the city centre (where cycling will continue to be allowed).
We think these are indicators for change. A change in attitude, towards a city for people, a realisation that a city is there because of the people, with their convenience, mobility and quality of life being valued over accessibility by car. We wish Leicester lots of luck - their Mayor (we hear he is behind these changes), together with the local Leicester Cycling Campaign, are on the right track towards a Liveable Leicester.
Thank you, Leicester - Dave, Eric, Matt, Elizabeth, Clare and Gaz.
Check out previous infrastructure safaris by the Embassy. Where next? Contact us!