The A2 motorway no longer divides Maastricht

BicycleDutch - 15 October, 2019 - 23:00
Not too long ago the A2 motorway split the city of Maastricht in two. The internationally important road connection cut off the east of the city from the centre. The … Continue reading →
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The battle for the Ferdinand Bolstraat

BicycleDutch - 8 October, 2019 - 23:00
The Ferdinand Bolstraat is an interesting street in Amsterdam. Part of it is car-free now, another part is almost car-free. In the 1970s it was still considered a main arterial … Continue reading →
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Cycling from Scheveningen to The Hague

BicycleDutch - 1 October, 2019 - 23:00
Recently I cycled to the sea side resort and former fishing town of Scheveningen (now part of The Hague) and I noticed the road to the beach had completely changed … Continue reading →
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The Numbered Junction Network for recreational cycling

BicycleDutch - 24 September, 2019 - 23:00
Have you ever used a map while cycling in a foreign country? Trying to find villages with names you can barely pronounce not to mention remember? In the Netherlands and … Continue reading →
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Cycling through the heath (3)

BicycleDutch - 17 September, 2019 - 23:00
Extensive heaths and vast woodlands are probably not what comes to your mind first when you think of the Netherlands, but just like the green meadows with cows they are … Continue reading →
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What’s the future for Groningen’s Station bike parking?

BicycleDutch - 10 September, 2019 - 23:00
Groningen station was one of the first to get a large bicycle parking garage. When it was opened in 2007, there was room for a little over 4,000 bicycles. At … Continue reading →
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Ten years later in Utrecht

BicycleDutch - 3 September, 2019 - 23:00
Usually, my “before-and-afters” are a couple of weeks, sometimes months, apart, but for this week’s post I rode a route which I filmed exactly a decade ago for the first … Continue reading →
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Constitution Hill

Vole O'Speed - 31 August, 2019 - 23:13
I think to a foreigner it would be almost impossible to explain the current constitutional situation in the UK, as it makes no sense.

A referendum was fought on the principle of 'making our Parliament sovereign again'. But now the people who supported that idea have suspended the Parliament. But how can a sovereign parliament be suspended? If it can be suspended against its majority will (which has not been tested), then it can't truly be said to be sovereign.

The Queen approved the suspension. Is the Queen sovereign? In theory, yes, she does have that title, but if she always follows the convention of accepting the advice of the Prime Minister, which she does, then not in practice. In practice, then, he is the Sovereign, but he was only elected by 180,000 Conservative Party members. The EU requires member states to be governed democratically. Is this a democratic set up?

The suspension is being challenged legally, but does a court have any power to rule that the Sovereign has acted unconstitutionally? Does the supposedly sovereign Parliament have the power to limit or change the powers of the actual Sovereign?

Whatever anyone says, having no written constitution for a country is a problem. Every silly little club and charity in the country has to have a written constitution. There are good reasons for this. Instead the country itself has a mush and a mess of historical precedents, laws and practices, and has always tried to 'get by' on this.

Giving the UK a written constitution seemed to be a popular idea in the last century (does anyone remember Charter 88?). I remember the Independent newspaper advocating for it. But it's never been regarded as a politically important subject, just something for geeks to get excited about.

It's different elsewhere. The constitution of the Irish Republic is printed in a little book that every schoolchild has. There's no need there to consult some academic on the arcana of historical precedent to decide (or most probably not be able to decide) what the constitution says. Everybody knows.

To me, a clearly written-out constitution has got to be the bedrock of good governance of any corporate body, from a local club to a superpower. Where constitutions are lacking, or bad, or corrupted, we always find bad and corrupted governance.

It's well-known how the Weimar Republic fell from democracy into the dictatorship of the Third Reich. An important element was how the parliament (Reichstag) allowed the written constitution to be changed implicitly, by passing legislation that contradicted it, rather than going through the correct procedure for changing it. The post-war Bundesrepublik constitution went to lengths to make clear that this must not happen again.

This distinction has no meaning in the UK, which lacks a separate body of constitutional law with its own regulations for amendment. Some people regard this as an advantage, pointing to, say, the difficulty the United States has with amending its 18th Century constitution, and the difficulty of interpreting the amendments, such as the controversial, oddly-worded (to us) Second Amendment that buttresses gun rights in the USA. The Trump period has, however, shown us some of the permanent strengths of that constitution, with its separation of powers that limit his capacity to wreak havoc or act as dictator.

The basis of the current UK settlement lies in the facts of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the current line of monarchy was installed, in collaboration with Parliament, in exchange for an agreement of limitation of monarchical power, under threat of a foreign army and navy (the Dutch). The metaphysical vagueness of the concept of sovereignty of The-King(Queen)-in-Parliament that resulted is a principle of constitutional order that no-one seems to understand (a bit like the Holy Trinity). But it enshrines a fusion of legislative and executive powers that is in contrast to the separation the American Founding Fathers were so keen to create a century later.

This is now tested to the full with a Prime Minister who does not have a majority in Parliament for his main policy, but who acts as if he does, using prerogative powers deriving from the monarch, who by convention has to agree with him, though her legislative sovereignty lies only in Parliament: a parliament that the Prime Minister can, apparently, stop acting, by prorogation, even though it is not apparent that Parliament has confidence in him.

Even though some of the UK constitution is enshrined in statute law, it's not written down together in any one place where a politician or anyone else can get to understand it. Parliament is regulated by a written-down set of conventions and precedents known as Erskine May, that the Speaker of the Commons interprets, but seems to have the power to change as well. It's all an incredible mess.

I've written a few constitutions in the past, in collaboration with others, and they've been quite successful, continuing to smoothly regulate the activities of organisations ranging from a few up to 3,000 people. I'd be quite happy to help with the one the United Kingdom desperately needs. I await the call from Her Majesty, in hope.
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Recreational Cycling in Limburg (Belgium)

BicycleDutch - 27 August, 2019 - 23:00
People in Belgium cycle a lot, at least in the Dutch speaking part of the country. If we treat Flanders as a country cycling there would be comparable to that … Continue reading →
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The car-free myth. The Netherlands is a great country to live in if you're car-free, but it's a very long way from being a car-free country. Dutch car ownership and use are at an all time high.

A View from the Cycle Path - 24 August, 2019 - 14:00
The 1970s in Assen. The city was then full of cars. Cars are now restricted in the city centre, but it would be incorrect to assume that they've gone away. In fact, car numbers have tripled since this photo was taken. A myth has grown up about the Dutch being enthusiastic cyclists who live in green cities and rarely drive. In reality, the majority of journeys are made by motorized vehicles andDavid Hembrow
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Finally fully open: Utrecht’s huge bicycle parking garage

BicycleDutch - 19 August, 2019 - 23:00
The biggest bicycle parking of the world, in Utrecht, is now fully operational. Since Monday 19 August the garage at the central railway station has room to park over 12,500 … Continue reading →
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A Groningen ride (University – Centre)

BicycleDutch - 13 August, 2019 - 23:00
When I was in Groningen two months ago, I was able to revisit the cycle route from the city centre to the University Campus Zernike that I had been critical … Continue reading →
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Long term review: My Pashley PDQ touring recumbent. 20 years on the Ship of Theseus.

A View from the Cycle Path - 8 August, 2019 - 20:10
Long term review: 20 years ago I bought a Pashley PDQ recumbent bicycle for touring. I still have it and still use it. Pashley PDQ recumbent bicycle. Compact, simple in design, reliable. Still a good buy second hand in my opinion. Cycling need not be an expensive activity. Good quality bicycles last a long time. If we're careful to buy decent quality machines and we maintain them with some David Hembrow
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An underground bicycle parking garage in Amsterdam

BicycleDutch - 6 August, 2019 - 23:00
The Amsterdam Beursplein (“Stock Exchange Square”) has been restored in a beautiful way. The 1903 square had been used as car parking space until 1982, after which it had been … Continue reading →
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Bicycle helmets – the Dutch way

BicycleDutch - 4 August, 2019 - 23:00
Guest contributions have been rare on my blog in the past 10 years, but there were a few. Sometimes people filmed for me and sometimes I chose to publish other … Continue reading →
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Cycling in the hottest evening rush hour on record

BicycleDutch - 30 July, 2019 - 23:00
What a Summer the one of 2019 is… The arctic is burning in an unprecedented way, there was a second heatwave in Europe, breaking records on two consecutive days and … Continue reading →
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Without tackling car culture we won’t make headway with road danger reduction

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 24 July, 2019 - 18:27

(This article appeared in the 19th July 2019 issue of Local Transport Today as “Viewpoint” – online here)

Last week Lord Berkeley retired after 26 years as President of the Road Danger Reduction Forum (RDRF). So what has been achieved since we were set up in 1993? Is road danger being properly addressed? And since governance of policy on safety on the road is always part of wider transport policy, is the way our society views transport what we need for the 21st century? Despite some positive developments, the answer for both is no.

So what is the road danger reduction (RDR) agenda? Following publication of my “Death on the Streets: Cars and the mythology of road safety” in 1992, a conference in Leeds was organised to outline the “new agenda” in road safety, where a group of transport professionals invented the phrase “road danger reduction”.

A key concern was that the “road safety” (RS) establishment’s metric for success – aggregated deaths or casualty numbers – was deeply flawed. We knew that reduction of casualties could be attributed to spontaneous change, or migration of the more vulnerable (and benign) mode users from the highway environment, and that at the very least casualty reduction could be better achieved by reducing danger at source – from the (mis)use of motorised vehicles.
The academic basis, such as John Adams’ reading of “the Smeed curve”, was robust. All we had to do was state the obvious to politicians: reported Killed and Serious Injury (KSI) casualties are not the same as, and may be inversely related to, actual danger. Everybody knows a busy gyratory system that may have few reported pedestrian and cycling KSIs precisely because the danger at such locations inhibits people from cycling and walking there. “Real road safety” – RDR – states this.

There are two key components to the RDR approach. Firstly, we emphasise that we all adapt to our perceptions of danger. Sometimes this “risk compensation” can have negative consequences: parents preventing their children from independent travel because of road danger, or the increases in motor danger (initially leading to increases in pedestrian deaths) from compulsory seat belt legislation. Sometimes it can be good – an increased tendency of drivers to watch out with greater traffic congestion intensity or the increased presence of cyclists in some urban areas (“Safety in Numbers”).

Secondly, the “Who Kills (or hurts or endangers) Whom?” question. The “road safety” industry has spent 100 years covering up the essential difference in potential lethality between different transport modes. In other safety regimes it would be usual to concentrate on those posing the greatest potential danger to others before seeing those they endanger as the problem, but not with “road safety”. We have accordingly drawn attention to attempts to measure danger to others, such as here.

This focus shows the essential moral difference between RS and RDR. For us the fact of endangering, hurting or killing others is fundamentally different from being endangered, hurt or killed. The RS industry obscures this fact.

Indeed, if we were just totting up deaths due to the current road transport system, we would consider noxious emissions, inactive travel, climate change or simply the investment in motor transport which could be spent on health care. Each one of these will either come close to or dwarf the numbers of life years lost due to KSIs.

Which brings us to transport policy: unlike the RS industry, embedded in successive governments’ accommodation (or encouragement) of increased motor traffic, RDR aims to reduce motor vehicle usage for environmental, social, and public health reasons.

So where are we now? Organisations supporting cycling, walking and road crash victims have embraced RDR since the 1990s, and the current Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy (MTS) stresses road danger reduction. Nevertheless, central Government seems to be stuck in the old paradigm. As recently as 2012, the Road Safety and Cycling Ministers argued that the Netherlands had a worse record on cyclist safety than the UK – by measuring it in cycling casualties per head of the population. Obviously casualties per journey were lower in the Netherlands, with the higher figure per head of population due to far, far higher levels of cycling. Use the right metrics!

With transport policy we have had consistent warnings about induced demand from road building, congestion, health disbenefits to users of motor transport, noxious emissions, global heating, loss of local community, and the massive financial costs of these “external costs”, for some decades. Some of them led to John Prescott’s famous commitment to reduce motor traffic – a claim swiftly dropped after he took power. Targets for increased amounts of cycling have been made since the early 90s, and rapidly disappeared.

On the plus side, with RDR enforcement we have West Midlands Police Road Harm Prevention Team setting the gold standard. We have a reasonable target for motor traffic reduction in London’s MTS – but only by 2041.

Essentially we have politicians unwilling to challenge the idea that there is a “right” to drive where, when, how and why drivers want – and to not pay the true cost for this. The key task for practitioners is to make this clear to their employers, and to show why motor traffic (including EVs) needs to be reduced, and how: costs of motoring (and road traffic law enforcement with deterrent sentencing) need to be increased, with parking and on-carriageway space for motoring cut.

This basically requires cultural change. It’s not impossible: other countries similar to ours have reduced motor traffic and/or increased cycle use in cities, have better public transport, and driver behaviour better attuned to the needs of other road users like cyclists. We in the RDR movement think there is no other civilised way forward.

Dr Robert Davis,  July 2019

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No limits to the success of the public transport bicycle

BicycleDutch - 23 July, 2019 - 23:00
The OV-Fiets (public transport bicycle) system in The Netherlands keeps on growing. “People only complain about their availability.” The yellow and blue bikes are a well-known sight in every city … Continue reading →
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Riding from Lake “Iron Man” to ʼs-Hertogenbosch

BicycleDutch - 16 July, 2019 - 23:00
One thing the Dutch take for granted is that they can really cycle everywhere. You never need to do a reconnaissance tour before you want to cycle with your family … Continue reading →
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Lord Berkeley retires as President of RDRF after an astonishing 26 years

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 13 July, 2019 - 17:52

Tony Berkeley, President of the Road Danger Reduction Forum since its beginning in 1993, has retired from his position with the new interim President to be Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb.

Lord Berkeley said:

“After 26 years I am glad that Road Danger Reduction is now on the agenda as the way for improving safety for all road users. First the pedestrian and cyclist groups were on board, and the now the phrase is being used widely, such as in the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy, an important policy statement. I’m pleased that Jenny Jones will be taking up my role – we need to press ahead to make sure that danger is reduced at source, and not just talking about doing so.”


Jenny Jones has worked in the London Assembly and House of Lords for road danger reduction.

She says: “Our streets should belong to people first, vehicles second”. Jenny has worked to make safe space for walking and cycling, to improve public transport and to reduce traffic levels.

Current work by the RDRF includes being the Secretariat for West Midlands Police Road Harm Prevention Team, delivering training in road danger reduction to transport professionals, and advising transport authorities and campaigning groups.

For further information see and

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