Views

A common urban intersection in the Netherlands

BicycleDutch - 19 February, 2018 - 23:01
Can urban intersections can be designed in such a way that motor traffic, cycling and walking flow smoothly and that the potential conflicts of these very different types of traffic … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Reversing a 50-year-old cycle detour

BicycleDutch - 12 February, 2018 - 23:01
The city of Utrecht reversed a 50-year-old detour for cycling on a main route in the city centre. For all that time cycling had been diverted around the shortest motorway … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A Waste of Space

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 February, 2018 - 13:43

In London yesterday evening, I approached Parliament Square along the cycleway at Great George Street.

Good job TfL.

In front of me was perhaps the classic stereotypical scene shared by taxi drivers, and other people hostile to new cycling infrastructure in London (and other British towns and cities). A large expanse of empty tarmac loomed in front of me, contrasting starkly with the clogged road on the right. You might say the cycleway is ‘causing’ congestion and pollution, if you were so inclined.

In the distance – on the ’empty’ tarmac – two cyclists (maybe three? who cares, really) are waiting at a red signal. On the right, frustrated drivers are needlessly spewing out fumes, and doubtless fuming themselves, at the waste of space on their left. Valuable space that – if it were used properly for important motor traffic, not for some silly hobby – would have sped them to their destination about half an hour ago.

Surely, a superficial observer might think, it would make a great deal of sense to ‘free up’ that tarmac, using it to move all those motor vehicles more efficiently. It’s just obvious, surely? The cycling infrastructure is just a waste of space.

But of course things aren’t that simple. How many people are actually waiting at the lights on bikes? It doesn’t look like many, but it turns out that when you get close there are… five. All tucked together in a small amount of space.

How about that queue of cars and taxis? How many people are waiting there? Must be loads, surely?

Well, one of the taxis in the queue – the white one, three from the front – is carrying… nobody at all.

The taxi at the front of the queue, waiting to enter Parliament Square is also carrying… nobody at all.

A further quick survey of the queue revealed that the other four vehicles in the queue – a Range Rover behind this black taxi, a red taxi behind the white one, the Ford people carrier, and the small hatchback, are all only carrying… one person. (the red taxi has one one passenger). So that means that in my original photograph –

 There are more people being moved somewhere on the cycleway (five), than on the road (four).

I think this is an extremely common way of misreading traffic flow, and hence misdiagnosing problems. Even I felt instinctively uneasy at what appeared to be a very long queue of motor traffic, apparently being ‘held up’ for the benefit of ‘just a few’ cyclists. It was only when I found out how many people cycling were actually waiting at the lights, and closely examined how many people were actually in the motor vehicles, that I got a objective answer that directly contradicted my instinctive impression. It’s such an easy mistake to make.

Motor traffic seems big, and important. All the noise, the size of the vehicles, the (occasional) speed – it seems like it’s conveying lots of people, and fast. But in reality it’s an extremely inefficient way of moving people around urban areas. Cars take up lots of space, and clog up roads, precisely because of this intrinsic inefficiency. It’s also why photographs are a very poor way of attempting to demonstrate that cycling infrastructure is pointless – it rarely manages to capture the genuine volumes of people being moved on it, relative to the road. What really matters are actual figures on flow, not photographs that are all to easy to misinterpret (or indeed photographs that are used to mislead).

Private motor traffic is the real waste of space. Not cycling infrastructure.

To repeat the ‘experiment’ of the first junction, I also stopped at the next two junctions at CS3, and counted vehicle occupants. Here’s ~20 people on the left, versus five on the right.

And again. Fifteen people on the right; six in the motor vehicles in the same length (and more width!) on the left

Categories: Views

“A mate doesn’t let a mate drink drive”: What’s wrong with this campaign?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 6 February, 2018 - 20:45

The annual government drink-drive campaign had a slightly different approach this year, which I review below. But let’s take a wider analysis of what the annual ritual is about – and what could be wrong with it.The Christmas 2018 annual campaign is entitled “A mate doesn’t let a mate drink drive” and is described by the Department for Transport thus :

Our campaign is calling on friends to do what they do best – look out for each other. We’re specifically calling for mates not to let their mates drink drive, asking them to step in when necessary when a friend who is driving is drinking.

In Great Britain, in 2015, there were 170 young people between the ages of 17 and 24 who were killed or seriously injured in reported accidents when over the legal alcohol limit.

You can see one of the videos on Twitter  and it is described in (extracts from) an account by Road Safety Great Britain as follows :

The video shows a group of friends preventing their designated driver from drinking alcohol at the pub. The driver wants to have one pint, but his friends deliberately continue to spill his drinks – before buying him a non-alcoholic drink.

At the end, the group ‘cheers’ each other with the caption ‘knock it on the head’ – in reference to one of the ways they have prevented the driver from drinking. The video, which contains strong language and what might be considered by some as inappropriate behaviour, has been viewed 5.3m times on Facebook.

A second campaign video, ‘Party Time’, champions the designated driver, who in this case is Dr Ofori – an opinionated Uber Driver played by Michael Dapaah, an English rapper, actor and comedian. The video, which has been viewed more than 4m times, follows a group of mates on a night out with their Uber driver, who sticks to soft drinks while the others drink alcohol. On the journey home, the driver is forced to brake sharply to avoid a pedestrian on his mobile phone – with the driver highlighting his ‘ninja reflexes’ as a result of not having consumed any alcohol. The overarching 2017 THINK! festive campaign puts forward the premise that ‘a mate doesn’t let another mate drink drive’, and depicts celebrity friendships including Ant and Dec, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and Rodney and Del Boy.

The video signals a move away from the traditional approach taken by the THINK! Campaign, which was outlined by Dawn Lauder, who heads up the marketing team at the DfT, at the National Road Safety Conference 2017. She told delegates that with road safety advertising becoming less noticed, it was time for a new approach to make THINK! more relevant at ‘moments that matter’ to young drivers and their passengers.

Essentially the change from previous campaigns is simply a shift towards social media to get the message over to young people, because that is a more appropriate medium to reach them than traditional media.

I am more interested in how the problem is defined, and how it fits into perceptions of what “road safety” is about.

 

What’s the problem?

The specification of the problem by the Department for Transport is as follows:

 The THINK! strategy for drink driving is to deter those most at risk — men aged 17 to 34 — from having a second drink.

We think it worth noting that “those most at risk” are the drivers who kill themselves, not their potential victims. While some of the official reports refer to the number of people hurt or killed in accidents (sic) where a driver was over the legal limit, much of the reference is to those (as above) killed in incidents when they were over the legal limit. Right from the start there is a blurring of the distinction between those who are judged to be at risk of hurting/killing themselves and hurting/killing other people.

At this point we should make the road danger reduction view clear: drink (or drug) driving is wrong because it increases the potential for those in charge of motor vehicles – which is there for all drivers to start off with – to hurt or kill other road users. It is rightly defined as criminal because of this and because it is something which drivers are aware of: it is easy to know that you have been consuming alcohol. Nevertheless, while there is, for example, no measurable indicator for levels of fatigue, a responsible driver will be aware of the fact that they are tired and are not safe to drive.

Drink-driving (and drug-driving, to which the same issues apply) is therefore something which should be stigmatised and condemned because it is one – but only one – of the numerous forms of rule and law breaking by those in charge of motor vehicles which increase danger to others.

That’s what the problem is. Putting a number on its extent is difficult. For example, it tends to occur at certain times such as evenings and early mornings at weekends rather than a fixed proportion of all driver journeys. It will be more common among certain age groups (hence the focus of the campaign). It gets recorded in some police stops, which are restricted to a very small proportion of driver journeys . Questionnaires suggest that approximately a million drivers drink before driving at any time in the year, but these may be underestimates because of the (justifiable) stigmatisation of drink-driving and associated unwillingness to admit to it.
On top of this, it is more than possible that drink-driving is implicated in many of the instances where drivers fail to stop (hit and run). Above all, discussion tends to be restricted to those incidents where death or injury has occurred and police investigate, particularly where death occurs and also where the drink-driver has hurt or killed themselves.

So, as a proportion of all the road danger that exists – that is to say danger to road users, which essentially comes from the (mis)use of motor vehicles – it is difficult to say how much comes from drink/drug driving. However, a good rough estimate would seem to be about 10 -15%. In other words the vast majority of road danger – more specifically rule and law breaking by those in charge of motor vehicles – comes from sober drivers.

 

The lightning conductor issue

Some years ago an RDRF supporter who worked as a driving instructor (yes, a driving instructor can be a supporter of road danger reduction!) was chatting to me about his pet road danger hates. One of his favourites was drivers who would tell him that they were a “good driver” (aren’t all drivers “good drivers”?) because they didn’t drink and drive. Obviously he wasn’t excusing drink driving: his point was that it was being used as diversion from the vast majority of bad driver behaviours.

Sociology, anthropology and cultural studies are full of examples of stigmatised, deviant and outlier behaviours which function to stabilise and validate the mainstream and non-deviant. Our concern here is that drink-driving functions in public consciousness as a means of shifting attention away from most of the endangering behaviour in the road environment. (At this point see the discussion in a wider context in Chapter 12 here :although the data is now 25 years old, the main argument still applies).

After all, when we are under the influence of alcohol, we are “not ourselves”. Thus drink-driving is something bad, but in essence not what normal, typical drivers do.
But what normal, typical drivers do is what is responsible for the vast majority of rule and law breaking behaviour which endangers others.

 

The “mates” issue

The one new development in the campaign is the relentless stress on the responsibility, not of the drink driver, but of their friends. It’s all about the “mate”…What does this tell us about how safety on the road is viewed by the government body responsible for “road safety”?

1. The driver as pathetic.

Young men are more likely to be inexperienced as drinkers, and inexperienced as drivers. Young men have always been higher-level risk takers. Nevertheless, they are deemed legally old enough both to drive and to drink alcohol. Everybody knows that it is illegal to be in charge of a motor vehicle when under the influence of alcohol.

But this is not accepted by the campaign. We are presented with a driver – in at least one case – who is the “designated driver”, selected to be sober when driving his friends. He must know that he is driving a motor vehicle. He must know that the liquid served at the pub or party is alcoholic – it’s why there is a designated driver in the first place.

But the picture painted is of someone old enough to drive and know what alcohol is, who somehow is just too unintelligent (in which case one wonders: why is he driving a car in the first place?) to remember that he is the designated driver. The person concerned is someone who is just too hopeless to be considered responsible. This brings us to:

2. The driver as requiring others to take control.

Because of this level of irresponsibility, the drink driver has to be controlled by his mate(s). He is so incapable of making the correct choice on the most basic decision – whether to drive under the influence of alcohol or not – that someone else has to make this choice for him. In this case, the person(s) required to do so will also, somewhat strangely, be a young man under the influence of alcohol. The point is that the driver requires someone else to make the most basic decision for him.

Indeed, much of the message of “road safety” over its 100-year history is about assuming that drivers are incompetent. The thrust of engineering has been to make vehicles more crashworthy, and of the highway environment to be easier to drive in and more “forgiving” to rule and law breaking drivers. It is all about assuming that ordinary drivers will be either unable or unwilling to drive properly. This directly contradicts the core of motorist identity – which is that a motorist is someone who is properly in charge.

So we have the idea that a driver cannot be criticised for their driving, but that they should be controlled when it comes to breaking a well-known and basic law.

3. The driver should be controlled by his “mate”.

The person endowed with this special responsibility has to be a “mate”. And remember that this appears to be restricted to drink-driving and not, for example, speeding.

At this point I should confess to a personal experience. Although this has the limitations of all anecdotes, you may find some resonances with your own experience. Some years ago I (quite mildly) remarked to a man in our group at a pub that he was going to be driven home by his wife, who was just over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, and that this was wrong. This person was a “driving instructor”.

In the ensuing blast of outrage from him – fortunately he was too stunned by this bit of taboo-breaking to progress beyond verbal violence – one remark sticks in my memory:

“You’re not even a friend of mine!” he shouted.

4. Driving behaviour is the personal choice of a driver

The requirement for a friend to be the agent of control is a key element of car culture and “road safety” mythology: the behaviour of the driver is essentially a personal matter for the driver. As such, intervention is to be carried out by someone who has been selected by the driver, namely their “mate”. My suggestion is that appeals for mates to become involved may not have much success: the persistence in thinking that driving is the personal business of the driver is resistant to intervention. But that’s a secondary point. The main point is the reiteration of the notion that even basic law-breaking is a matter for the motorist to decide upon.

This echoes the message we often get in court cases where killer drivers are seen as victims (“s/he will have to live with this for the rest of their life”) rather than perpetrators of an offence. Indeed, the DfT campaign, under the heading “The consequences” refers to potential problems for the convicted drink driver, rather than the effect on other members of society. Obviously it makes sense to direct a potential offender’s attention to adverse consequences for them, as well as the anti-social nature of the offence. The point I am making is that the DfT and “road safety” industry approach is based very much on the notion of driving as being a personal matter which is up to them and possibly a close friend, rather than something which is dangerous law-breaking.

 

Conclusion

This can all be seen in the context of the current uproar from motorist organisations against the suggestion by the UK’s top traffic police officer that police should actually enforce road traffic law.  Driving illegally is still seen as the prerogative of the driver rather than a crime. Even the outlier of drink driving is viewed as a personal matter: control should be exerted, but by personal friends only.

Now, it may be that the winter 2017/2018 campaign has managed to stop some in the target audience from drink-driving, or letting their “mates” drink drive, although the effect of advertising and publicity is notoriously difficult to assess. My point is that we need to look at it both as an example of the lightning conductor effect, and as a public health message which situates it as a problem for the driver and his intimate friends.

I suggest that if we are to properly situate rule and law breaking driving as the anti-social activity it is, our culture must produce very different messages in official campaigns against road danger.

Categories: Views

Cycling rush hours in the dark

BicycleDutch - 5 February, 2018 - 23:01
Although it is now rapidly changing for the better, we are still in the dark season. From early November to late February the hours of daylight are so few, that … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

New underground bicycle parking facility in Maastricht

BicycleDutch - 29 January, 2018 - 23:01
The league of Dutch cities with a huge underground bicycle parking facility near their main train stations has grown again. Maastricht opened the latest bike parking garage on the first … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A spontaneous cycle trip from Rotterdam to Delft

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 24 January, 2018 - 13:50

BicycleDutch’s post yesterday about his unexpected 55km cycling journey reminded me that I had also made an unplanned cycle trip in the Netherlands, due to a railway being out of action. Unlike his journey, however – which was long, and in the dark, and in the aftermath of a storm – mine was a good deal shorter, and took place on what turned out to be a glorious, hot, sunny day.

Last summer, I was heading home from the VeloCity conference in Arnhem and Nijmegen. My initial plan was to cycle towards Arnhem on the fast cycle route from Nijmegen, and then spend the day cycling around in Utrecht and Rotterdam, before finally catching the the train (with my bike) to the evening ferry crossing back to the UK.

The initial part went to plan – I cycled towards Arnhem, before getting on a train at Elst (about two-thirds of the way between Nijmegen and Arnhem). This was a typically impressive new station, with a cycling underpass directly under the tracks (although I was a little bit surprised there was no walking-specific provision here).

A change at Arnhem took me and my bike quickly to Utrecht, where I discovered a problem. All the trains to Hoek van Holland (where the ferry departs) were not running, because the train tracks were being dug up and replaced. As I saw for myself when I arrived, some time later.

I hadn’t spotted this when I arrived in the Netherlands, because I had cycled directly off the ferry towards Rotterdam and Gouda.

So I decided to change my plan, aborting my visit to Utrecht, and heading straight to Rotterdam, from where I could at least think about the best way of getting to the ferry terminal (either by cycling, or by public transport).

Rotterdam Centraal station – and the area in front of it – is tremendously impressive, and I spent some time here taking photographs of the hordes of people cycling and walking to and from, and past, the station. The area is dominated by active travel and public transport, with the only sounds being conversation, the dinging bells of passing trams, and the occasional motor vehicle using the access road, some distance away.

As I was doing this, and still musing about what to do, I spotted the standard Dutch cycling signposts beside the cycle path in the photograph above, which indicated that the city of Delft was only 15km away (about 9 miles). I’d never cycled between Rotterdam and Delft, but I had cycled between Delft and the ferry terminal many times, a journey of about fifteen miles. Adding the two together and I’d have a journey of about 24 miles, with the first part being completely unfamiliar.

Without really knowing what I would encounter, and with the added problem of no data roaming on my phone – but trusting that the infrastructure would be of a good standard – I quickly decided to head off in a northwesterly direction, cycling towards Delft, straight under the railway station through the cycling and walking tunnel, under the platforms.

This brought me out on the north side of the station, an area which has also undergone tremendous change. When I last visited these streets in 2011, the road here only had painted cycle lanes, but there was now a wide two-way cycleway, running beside the station, with a wide kerb and parking protecting you from traffic, and new trees that will offer shade and shelter.

You can read more about how this area is changing – with improvements for cycling – on Mark’s blog.

I followed this route as it wound northwards, with priority over side roads.

A quick check of the signs at the next junction (remember, I had no real idea where I was going!) and I found myself on a low-traffic service road next to the main road. Although there are plenty of parked cars here – both accessing the supermarket on the right, and presumably belonging to residents – this felt very safe.

My route then took my beside one of the main roads heading out of the city centre, towards the A20 motorway, which skirts Rotterdam. I encountered a woman riding a horse along the road here, in the suburbs of the city.

As I cycled further and further out of Rotterdam, the environment became increasingly dominated by motor traffic, but the conditions for cycling remained entirely safe and attractive. A petrol station beside a major road was completely bypassed by the cycleway.

I then came across an enormous ‘Spaghetti Junction’-style mess of roads and slip roads layered upon each other.

This turned out to be where two motorways meet, the A20 and the A13 (which connects Rotterdam and Delft). Needless to say my passage through this area involved absolutely no interaction with motor traffic whatsoever – a network of cycleways passed under (and over) all these roads, and with clear signposting was a breeze to negotiate.

This area was a vivid reminder that while the Netherlands does have high cycling levels, it also builds roads on a massive scale, with a dense motorway network connecting the major towns and cities.

A cycle path then took me through a wooded area – note the street lights for social safety –

… before I emerged in a suburb of Rotterdam.

Navigation would now be very easy, because I would be following the motorway (the A13) all the way to Delft. You can see that it is shielded behind noise barriers here, in an attempt to mitigate noise pollution.

Although this was direct, and easy – cycling on a very low-traffic service road, next to the motorway – it quickly became quite boring.

It was also pretty hot now, with the sun beating down, so I was quite relieved when two women on e-bikes overtook me. With a little bit of effort, I was able to get into their slipstream, and draft them all the way to the outskirts of Delft, some five miles away.

This would have been quite relentless without being able to coast along behind them, so this was a real blessing. (And I definitely don’t think it counts as cheating if the people I’m slipstreaming have power assistance!)

If I had planned my route between the cities, instead of just heading out spontaneously, I’m sure there would have been more attractive routes available, rather than just plodding along beside the motorway – as safe as this was. Perhaps that’s something for the future. In any case I soon came across an underpass, back under the motorway, that I had used before in Delft.

This path leads to Delft University, and from there it is only five minutes or so, right into the picturesque city centre, where I was able to cool off and get some refreshment!

Here’s my map of the route – just under ten miles, from city centre to city centre.

My trip may not have been anywhere near as hard as Mark’s (the weather was certainly far better, although perhaps a little too hot!) but it does demonstrate, in a similar way, that it is possible to spontaneously set off and cycle from one Dutch city to another with minimal planning, without worrying about traffic conditions or other difficulties.

Categories: Views

Why are we still waiting? Regent’s Park needs action NOW

At War With The Motorist - 24 January, 2018 - 07:30

Westminster Council have been playing games with the mayor, putting improvements for walking, cycling, public transport and one of our greatest parks in jeopardy. It’s time for Sadiq Khan to get a grip and deliver, before it’s too late.

In December 2016, Sadiq Khan announced construction of CS11, from Swiss Cottage to the West End, would start in 2017. Since then, nothing has happened — and now the whole project is in danger.

CS11, for those unfamiliar, should provide some desperately needed improvements to north London neighbourhoods in Swiss Cottage and Primrose Hill, and even more so to Regent’s Park. Nominally a “Cycle Superhighway” scheme, most of the improvements it makes are somewhat mediocre for cycling — like “semi-segregated” cycle lanes on Avenue Road, and cycle tracks on Portland Place that would probably prove too narrow and soon need upgrading.

Really, CS11 is a set of important improvements to the general environment of the places and neighbourhoods along the route, and that’s where its value lies.

In Swiss Cottage it will remove the vast gyratory of speeding traffic that severs neighbourhoods and suppresses the potential of this local hub. It will transform the public transport interchange here, and provide bus priority to cut journey times on most of the bus routes.

In Primrose Hill and St John’s Wood it will halt the otherwise relentlessly rising tide of ratrunning traffic that is taking over residential streets.

And most importantly of all, in Regent’s Park it closes the gates on the habitually speeding motorists that race through this place of recreation, destroying the peace and polluting the haven of our parkland.

This is a scheme which has huge benefits for residents, park users, public transport passengers and cyclists — for everyone except the drivers who think they should be able to take a short-cut through parks and residential streets. Which is why so many people supported it in the first place, during the consultation stage.

Time is running out and Sadiq Khan needs to get a grip

I have no party allegiances. I’m not anti-Sadiq. He got my (second preference) vote. I like a lot of what he says. And he’s not even the villain here.

The Conservatives of Westminster City Council are the villains. They’ve been playing games with CS11 — and playing games with the Mayor. They’re causing trouble, muddying water, in order to introduce delays until time runs out on the project.

Westminster have introduced an alternative proposal for Regents Park, watering down the changes to the point where they become entirely useless. They suggest closing a token couple of gates for token couple of hours a day, leaving it no less full of speeding traffic and pollution.*

Their proposal is a wrecking amendment: it is obviously useless, and therefore obviously unacceptable to all the other stakeholder organisations at the table. But it will tie everybody up arguing about details it until it’s too late.

Because it seems the rest of the route is now on hold until the park question is resolved. And I’m told that if work doesn’t start on the northern sections of the route soon, it will be too late to complete it before other major construction works are scheduled to begin nearby. Fixing the ever-growing problems blighting the people of Swiss Cottage and Primrose Hill will be off the cards for years.

A walkover in the park

But on this important issue, it’s Sadiq Khan who is not delivering on his pledges and not showing the leadership of the mayor of a great city.

Closing the gates and restoring Regent’s Park should be such an easy, quick win. It’s popular. It’s cheap. It needs no lengthy or disruptive construction or preparation. It has already been consulted on and received wide support. The gates are shut from midnight to 7am every night anyway — it is literally more effort to open them every day than to keep them shut. If a leader can’t deliver this, what can they deliver?

A clean park, a fresh air haven in the centre of the city, could have been a fantastic, highly visible signal from an incoming Mayor that he’s taking air pollution seriously and leading with practical action.

Instead we’re nearly half way through this Mayoral term with nothing to show for it.

Sadiq Khan criticised his predecessor for his cavalier style, for pushing schemes forward without doing enough to address all the concerns raised by everybody affected. The professed approach of Khan, and his deputy for transport Val Shawcross, is to “take more time” and work through problems to make sure everybody’s happy.

Westminster’s Tory councillors have seen this and they have walked right over him.

Westminster are taking the piss, and eventually a leader has to stand up to that and not allow themselves to be played so easily.

A beast is stirring

Half way through Boris Johnson’s first term, people started getting tired of his bluster. Johnson made grandiose promises about the scale of his cycling programme which were visibly lacking in substance on the ground. He thought the constituency of people who cared strongly about this stuff was small.

Then some things started happening.

It began on Blackfriars Bridge. It was the tiniest of things really. A plan to revert a 20mph speed restriction, and replace a mandatory cycle lane with an advisory one, upon completion of the new Blackfriars Station.

A mediocre speed limit change and a rubbish bit of paint. Hardly quality infrastructure worth fighting for. But symbolic of a mayor who was so ineffective that he was letting things slide backwards — even the things that should have been so ludicrously easy to achieve.

It turned out there were a lot of people who cared. Thousands turned up to flashrides and rallies, and began making their voices heard.

It ended five years later, with that junction at Blackfriars transformed beyond recognition.

The people who got angry, and got organised, at Boris Johnson were placated when he finally delivered, and when Sadiq Khan was elected with a pledge to continue — and accelerate — the progress.

But once again, we’re half way through a mayoral term. Once again there has been a lot of talk and not much to show for it.

I feel the beast is getting restless.

*To really take the piss, and really slow things down, they even propose an entirely new change — to make Hanover Gate entry only — which nobody yet seems to have noticed is another one of those turning restrictions which actually facilitate increased motor traffic throughput. Dressed up and paid for as a cycling project of course.

Categories: Views

An unexpected 55-kilometre-long evening ride

BicycleDutch - 22 January, 2018 - 23:01
Half an hour after the railways announced it wasn’t certain the trains would go riding again after the storm last Thursday and that it would be wise to seek alternative … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Why doesn’t [population x] cycle?

At War With The Motorist - 21 January, 2018 - 17:47

I wrote this thing a year and half ago but never quite got around to shaping it into anything I was quite happy with. Well, since the BBC have come around with yet another “what is stopping women cycling?” story, I figured I’ll never finish it and may as well get rid of it…

Another tweet scrolled past me this evening asking why a segment of the UK population doesn’t cycle.

Is cycling a 'white' thing? Help us find out what stops people from BME groups cycling: Do our survey & pls rtw https://t.co/AhO2P8QWPq

— Life Cycle UK (@LifeCycleUKteam) June 7, 2016

It’s certainly an admirable exercise, trying to address inequalities in access. And there are certainly inequalities to address. But there is little to learn about what the inequalities are, or what the solutions to them might be, by comparing current cycling rates between different populations, or by asking the question “why don’t x cycle?”.

Because it’s not just x who don’t cycle. Black and minority ethnic populations don’t cycle, but neither do white populations. Women don’t cycle, but neither do men. And the number one reason all of these populations don’t cycle is the same.

That’s not in any way to say there aren’t inequalities of access, or to dismiss the additional barriers that women and minorities face, or to belittle the diverse ways that different people and populations can experience the same barriers. Only that when it comes to “why don’t people cycle”, the biggest concerns by far are the same for everyone.

Here is an entirely hypothetical society that we can imagine, with some entirely made up data for different populations in that society:

Compared to population X, 4 times as many population Y cycle. And 3 times as many again population Z cycle. When you only look at the few who currently cycle, these populations look vastly different in their propensity to cycle. But look at the many who aren’t cycling and you see they’re not very different at all. Almost nobody in any of those populations cycles. Clearly they live in an environment which is very hostile to cycling.

Some of the people would never ever cycle, no matter what the environment for it were like. But for the vast majority of people in all demographics, there are circumstances in which they would happily cycle, were the environment different. There are barriers stopping them, but they are only barriers in the context of the prevailing environment.

Indeed, in our hypothetical society, while Xs are currently substantially less likely to cycle than Zs, if you radically change the environment to shift the cut-off point to the left, the proportion of Xs to Zs converges until Xs slightly outnumber Zs.

Perhaps in our hypothetical society, Xs on average actually make more of the types of short journeys to which cycling is inherently the most suitable form of transport — but compared to Zs are typically burdened by this society with other duties, expectations or threats to their safety which make cycling extra unattractive in the prevailing conditions.

Understanding the burdens Xs face may be a worthwhile exercise in itself. But they’re not the answer the question “why don’t x cycle?” — and addressing them alone won’t change the fact that, just like everyone else, they overwhelmingly don’t.

Categories: Views

Strategic

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 19 January, 2018 - 14:22

What does the word ‘strategic’ mean?

The Oxford English Dictionary on ‘strategic’

Identifying long-term aims and interests – and working out how to achieve them. That sounds quite sensible, doesn’t it? Who could argue with that?

Yet I found myself having to look the word up, after Transport for the North – the organisation formed to ‘transform the transport system across the North of England, providing the infrastructure needed to drive economic growth’ – used it in a way that implied active travel is outside the remit of ‘strategic’ transport.

https://twitter.com/Transport4North/status/943075328049770496

This might have just been some clumsy wording from the person running their social media account, but this attitude is reinforced not just in the imagery Transport for the North uses, but also in the reports it produces.

Planes, electric cars, trains, motorways – but not much sign of active travel here –

Spot the missing modes of transport

Or indeed here –

Container shipping, airports, motorways, trains, and people using a travelator, instead of active travel.

Equally, as Carlton Reid has spotted, Transport for the North’s new Strategic Transport Plan contains essentially no discussion of active travel, choosing instead to focus on road and rail connections between urban areas. This is despite Transport for the North’s remit covering journeys ‘within the North’, which will obviously include all those short trips that could be walked and cycled – in fact, the majority of the trips we make. 68% of all British trips are under 5 miles; 23% are under 1 mile.

From the latest National Travel Survey.

So what’s going on here?

I think it’s indicative of a belief – one that’s widespread across Britain, and not just limited to the North – that only certain forms of transport, and certain types of journeys, are worthy of investment, and serious consideration. Only motorways, roads, railways, airports and shipping can be thought of ‘strategically’ (whatever that actually means). The mundane ordinariness of walking and cycling for trips under 5 miles in length isn’t apparently something that deserves to be thought of ‘strategically’.

Closely tied to this belief is an assumption that walking and cycling will just happen by themselves, with words like ‘encourage’ and ‘promote’ featuring prominently alongside soft measures that history has shown will have very limited effect without the kind of investment, planning and engagement we conventionally apply to other ‘strategic’ modes of transport. This is why the person who composed the tweet for Transport for the North – the one that bluntly stated their focus on ‘strategic’ transport excludes walking and cycling – was evidently happy to suggest that local transport authorities ‘do a great job promoting walking and cycling’. (That ‘promote’ word again).

In reality, it’s pretty obvious to most campaigners that local authorities – with a few honourable exceptions – really do not do ‘a great job’ on walking and cycling. Quite the opposite. They’re hamstrung by a combination of limited budgets, limited political will, and limited expertise, or a combination of all three. These problems plainly won’t be solved if organisations like Transport for the North continue to treat walking and cycling as someone else’s problem.

And even if Transport for the North only want to define ‘strategic transport’ as intra-urban trips, that still doesn’t excuse a lack of consideration for walking and cycling. Not only will cycling in particular still form an important connection at either ends of journeys on public transport, as well as a way of making journeys of 5-10 miles into towns and cities (increasingly likely with the widespread prevalence of e-bikes), any new road and rail infrastructure should consider opportunities for developing walking and cycling links as part of that development. All too often new projects can impose barriers on these modes of transport; failing to think ‘strategically’ will fail to deliver important new connections for walking and cycling.

A ‘by-product’ underpass for walking and cycling in Nijmegen – a useful direct route, delivered as part of a junction upgrade

A new cycling and walking underpass under a motorway on the outskirts of Delft, providing a direct route into the city centre.

A new cycling and walking suspension bridge, spanning a large new turbo roundabout near the Hook of Holland

A cycling suspension bridge, providing a direct route across a large junction on the outskirts of the city of Zwolle

In the Netherlands, not only is cycling catered for ‘strategically’ in planning – in other words, it is taken just as seriously as other modes of transport – but it is also embedded in road and rail projects too, ensuring that cycling actually benefits from schemes that deliver other aims.

With the increasing importance of improving public health, and the importance of ensuring that – with more and more of us living in urban areas – we make journeys by the most efficient, healthy and sustainable modes of transport, a failure to think genuinely strategically about walking and cycling would be truly disastrous. We need to make those short, sub 5 mile trips as easy, as safe and as convenient as possible, by walking and cycling. That won’t happen if it these modes get ignored by the organisations with power and responsibility.

Categories: Views

Houten: Cycling City of the Netherlands 2018

BicycleDutch - 16 January, 2018 - 13:15
The municipality of Houten has been awarded the honourable title of Cycling City 2018! This was announced by Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management on a … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The Netherlands’ Cycling City 2018

BicycleDutch - 15 January, 2018 - 23:01
Later today, the Netherlands’ Cycling City of 2018 will be announced by Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management on a cycle congress in Utrecht, organised by … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Should cyclists be able to hurt or kill with impunity?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 10 January, 2018 - 16:48

Following the Alliston case (discussed here and here) we have discussed the demands for parity between cyclists and motorists with regard to the response from the criminal justice system, not least from the Kim Briggs Campaign . In particular, we have studied the meaning of The Times instruction to cyclists to “respect the rules of the road like everyone else” . We showed 
that this would in fact mean that “cyclists” (the term refers to everybody who may ever ride a bicycle) would actually have to break rules and laws a lot more, and have to endanger other road users far, far more. That’s the actual rule and law breaking: what about the responses of the criminal justice system once the rule and law breaking has been detected, and in particular once collisions have occurred?

A step by step guide to letting errant drivers off the hook

The first step in looking at any supposed “punishment” for offenders is the response to rule and law breaking by the police before collisions occur. Secondly, the police may investigate after collisions have happened – although there are no legal requirements to report to the police if nobody has been injured. Thirdly, there is a legal requirement for the police to investigate after a Road Traffic Collision (RTC) where somebody has been hurt. Fourthly, an investigation may lead to charges being brought against a driver: these vary in the potential severity of a sentence. Fifthly, a guilty verdict has to be reached if there is to be any sentence. Sixthly, if that guilty verdict is reached, there are different severities of “punishment” that can be given by the (Crown or Magistrate’s) Court. Seventhly, there are ways in which “punishments” may be reduced in their severity. Finally, even the less severe “punishments” may be removed.
What follows is not a study which analyses all cases in the UK – although there is reference to the survey by our friends in RoadPeace – but rather an illustration of typical cases, drawn from media reports of cases in the UK in 2017, mainly after the Alliston case. (Apologies if I have misreported any of these cases: do let us know if details are wrong.)

Let’s proceed through the seven steps, bearing in mind what parity with the relatively rare cases where cyclists are responsible for hurting (and even more rarely for killing) other road users would actually mean.

 

1. Before collisions occur.

2017 saw a report from the RAC Foundation which highlighted the number of motoring offences picked up by cameras. Ostensibly a protest against the loss of traffic police officers and the associated lack of enforcement of serious traffic offences , it was actually a complaint against the use of cameras for minor offences, “punished” by fines. (In fact, traffic offences have always had a very small chance of resulting in arrest). The report was greeted with front page outrage by the Daily Mail:

which complained about the “relatively minor offences such as speeding and red light offending…”(my emphasis). In fact, the number of speed camera based fines for speeding was about 1 million. As illustrated in the previous post on this subject, the proportion of drivers who regularly break the laws on speed mean that several million (the precise amount depends on what kind of vehicle driver, which speed limits etc.) drivers are regularly breaking the law in this area.

In other words, this report might note that the chances of being caught for speeding are actually very low – probably about one in 15 regular speeders may get a fine in a year. Instead, its spokesman, Steve Gooding (formerly a senior official in the government’s Department for Transport) stated: . “If thousands of drivers a day are getting tickets this is a clear indication of a system that is failing.” The answer might be – for an organisation concerned with responsible driving – that there should be more enforcement, with the realistic chance of being caught with a deterrent penalty likely to stop the offence in the first place. For example, in November we were told that half of all speed cameras in the UK are switched off .

Instead, it appears to take the opposite view. This approach is further illustrated by a look at the research interests of the report’s author  : “…a special focus on crimes of the law abiding …In particular I am interested in how ostensibly law abiding citizens react to being labelled a problem by the justice system..” (my emphasis). The oxymoron is of central importance to this matter: for the author of a report by a well-funded organisation with charitable status which “…advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist”, the people committing crimes when driving are still “law abiding”.

We come back to this issue at the end of this post. Plainly the fact that much – but not all – of the driving public doesn’t consider driver crime to be “real crime” is important. Although one might expect a charity claiming to speak for “the responsible motorist” to more apparently and vigorously oppose such an attitude.

Another issue is driving while uninsured. I argue that third party insurance is in fact insuring the driver against their responsibilities – but I won’t bother to continue that line of argument here. Suffice it to say that about 1 million cars are uninsured . According to this report

last year, only 15% will be caught.

 

2. When collisions have happened and no injury is reported

The vast majority of collisions do not involve injury, so there is no duty to report to the police, although the police can investigate what has happened. After all, despite the reporting of incidents in the media as if no driver was involved (“A car turned over/hit a house” etc.) in almost all cases somebody will have done something they should not have. I have discussed before at length how something as visibly law breaking as driving into a shop can be described by a police officer as “not thought to be suspicious”.

Porsche driven across footway into Caffe Nero: “not thought to be suspicious”

 

A – hopefully – more typical response arrives in my Twitter feed yesterday. In this case
a professional minibus driver who falls asleep and crashes into a car does get arrested and is “punished” by being given a Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice (a fine) although there is no indication if this has warranted the 3 penalty points that might be given under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

3. When collisions have happened and injury occurs

In these cases the police are required to investigate. However, this may not happen. Consider these examples (remember these are just some of the cases reported in the media in the last year):

This incident, (the first one in the story here ) where a cyclist was hit by a bus in Hackney where the driver was clearly in the wrong – overtaking on wrong side of the road straight into cyclist. There was no arrest at the time in July, nor mention of it in TfL’s Q3 Bus Safety Data for 2017.

Hackney bus/cycle collision

We read of how a cyclist who had been crushed under the wheels of a HGV but that the police did not investigate because she “only” suffered a broken leg.  Her lawyers stated “At the time, the police [at the scene] were incorrectly informed that the accident was not life threatening or life changing so failed to pass the case onto the collision investigation team and are therefore unable to prosecute the driver.

In the case of third party reporting, even where there is additional violence as in this case in Essex which attracted a lot of attention recently, there may be no charges.

Of course, it must be remembered that making an arrest immediately is not necessarily the best cause of action for the police – although in this recent case  of a car driven into a restaurant with two pedestrians injured it is difficult to see why an arrest was not made.

 

4. When charges are made after a collision

Very often, charges are made after a collision where somebody has been hurt or killed. However, there is concern that there may be too high a tendency for them to be made for the less serious offence of “careless driving” rather than “dangerous driving”. The justification often given for this is that juries are less likely to convict for the more serious offence. Indeed, that does in fact happen:

In this case a lorry driver blind in one eye, and going blind in the other, has seven seconds to see a couple crossing the road despite exceeding the speed limit by 7 mph, drives into them and kills them. As the judge said “you were not paying proper attention and you should have been”. However, the jury acquits him of causing death by dangerous driving, and he is sentenced for the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving.

In this case the Crown Prosecution Service believed that because the driver drove across a junction, where he collided with a cyclist and killed him, without reducing his speed despite seeing numerous ‘Give Way’ signs along the road, his driving was dangerous. (The driver initially told police he had slowed down from 25 mph to 15 mph. However, as a driver who had passed his test 3 months previously he had a speed monitoring device on board which recorded his speed as 37 mph). The jury did not agree and he was convicted of the lesser offence of causing death through careless driving.

In this case the van driver caused permanent life changing injuries after driving through a red light – don’t forget the Daily Mail calling this a “relatively minor offence”, and was also convicted of the lesser offence of causing death through careless driving.

5. Reaching any type of Guilty verdict

The unwillingness of a jury to acquit drivers is a central feature of lenience towards bad driving. In this case even something as apparently wrong as driving into a pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing gets a Not Guilty verdict.


She told police she had “no idea” how the incident happened.

For this reason some campaigners will often argue for driving offences to be specified as being “Careless” (or “Causing Death through Careless”) Driving” so that they can be tried by a Magistrate who – again, hopefully – may be less prejudiced than a jury composed of people sympathetic to bad driving.

 

6. After a Guilty verdict: suspended sentences

In 4 we show how a Guilty verdict often only results under the less serious of the two main categories of offence (“Careless” and “Dangerous”). Let’s see what kind of “punishment” may result.

Here are five cases resulting in suspended sentences, that is to say there is no custodial sentence despite someone being killed by bad driving:
One being a hit and run ;  One with the driver taking his eyes off the road to adjust his car radio : a driver who “didn’t see” a cyclist despite his light being visible 200 metres away ; one just “careless”  or seriously injuring them.

I want to give a special mention to elderly drivers given suspended sentences after killing people. I have posted on how the “road safety” industry, or at least this part of it , seems to have taken a soft view on this issue. Here we have cases of people who are obviously unable to drive properly and who therefore should not have driving licences. When they get suspended sentences after killing people, one does wonder if this is not a particularly gruesome example of the social tolerance of bad driving. After all, if they should not have been driving in the first place, what is the point of saying they have been “punished” when all that happens is a loss of licence?

Three cases are here, here and here.

 

7. After a Guilty verdict: endorsements and bans

My view is that the principal response by the courts to driving which endangers others should not be prison: this should be reserved for the most serious cases only. A deterrent (providing it is not for people who are incapable of driving properly, as in the cases of the elderly killer drivers mentioned above) can exist with the loss of licence. Let’s have a quick look at what happens with the use of endorsing licences.

Here is a case of a driver with a bald tyre failing to stop after knocking down and killing somebody: there are 10 points given so she can carry on driving. In this case a driver using her telephone (it was on loud speaker, and as she was not actually holding it that is not considered so serious) gets 5 penalty points and a £90 fine after hitting and killing a child crossing the road.

But surely these endorsements add up and lead to bans? Well, not really. Drivers have to be caught and have their licences endorsed over a limited period of time, and as we have seen, the chances of getting caught for driving offences are small. (Also, even where cases are severe enough to result in a prison sentence, it is noteworthy that the driving ban may be for a short period of time )

Statistics published this year showed that 10,000 drivers are still on the road with 12 or more points on their licences, due to a loophole in the law. Magistrates are allowed to be lenient with motorists if a driving ban would cause them to lose a job.

So what are the chances of actually being banned? Our friends in RoadPeace have a good briefing sheet here for 2016. This shows that only 15% of “punishments” involving a driving licence were bans. Only 11% of driving offences resulted in a ban. Of these bans, over two thirds were the mandatory bans for drink or drug driving offences. (Less than 1% of drivers convicted of using their mobile phone were banned, despite the evidence showing the risk to be at least comparable to drink driving.)

That means just one third of the 64,409 drivers banned at court were banned for other offences. There are approximately 45 million driving licence holders with about 37 million registered vehicles in use. Being conservative and allowing for the licence holders who don’t drive frequently, we can use a number of about 38 million drivers. In 2016 that means 0.17% of regular drivers were banned, and about 0.06% of regular drivers banned for offences other than those involving drink or drugs.

If almost all drivers behaved impeccably, that would be fine. But as the post shows, rule and law breaking which endangers others is commonplace.

 

8. “Undue hardship”.

But it gets worse. Banned drivers have the right, after two thirds of a ban is served, to plead “undue hardship” because of the loss of licence. This is illustrated neatly by the case of the Alan Duffuss,  who has been convicted of bad driving in three separate incidents where people have been killed.

In 1980, he lost control of his Jaguar XJS at an estimated speed of 100 mph, with the car flying 70 feet and his passenger dying after it hit a wall. In 1983, less than three months after he got his licence back, while on a powerful 863cc motorbike he ploughed into the back of a car, killing one of the passengers. Duffus was driving a powerful BMW Z4 in January 2008 when he 
encountered Grant Whyte, 22, who was in a modified Vauxhall Corsa. Witnesses told how the two cars sped along the road bumper to bumper, with Whyte just behind Duffus. It was alleged that they raced each other for three miles, tailgating one another and swerving repeatedly on to the wrong side of the road, after which Whyte swerved off the road 
and hit and killed a pedestrian walking home from work. Duffus and Whyte were charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but Duffus denied racing or having anything to do with the fatal collision. The jury cleared him of racing and of blame for the death, and he got a 10-year ban for dangerous driving.

The reason for mentioning this individual is that in 2017 he successfully applied for the last three years of the latest ban to be removed on the grounds of “undue hardship”, namely that inconvenience had been caused to his family by the ban (he had to be driven to work by his wife).

 

Punishment…

I haven’t, to be fair covered the fact that in many of the above cases the court has ordered community service to be undertaken, or given fines. There are other possible responses as well: in the case of the driving captured in the video here an afternoon of driver awareness was specified as appropriate.

There are, of course, some cases where offenders get sent to prison (although not necessarily with long term driving bans), normally for the more serious offences and where the consequences have been severe. My suggestion is that these act as lightning conductors diverting attention from the majority of types of rule and law breaking behaviour which endanger others. Indeed the focus on driving impaired by alcohol or drugs can be seen as implying that driving unimpaired is essentially benign.

Given the lenience I have described, matters such as having a journey curtailed or being required to attend a court may themselves count as a form of “punishment”. Indeed, unlike other law breaking resulting in the death and/or injury of others, a key element of what constitutes punishment is the actual or alleged suffering of the offender. This is a persistent theme apparent from the proceedings of court cases, particularly where someone has died.

It is normal – do check through court reports for this – for not only the offender’s representatives but judges and magistrates to refer to this actual or alleged suffering. It is evidenced by the offender having to attend counselling, treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression or undergo other psychiatric care. Stock phrases include “Whatever the sentence, s/he will have the sentence of having to live with this for the rest of his/her life”. (This is for younger offenders: for older ones “as a (grand)parent s/he fully understands the loss of X”). Today I read of a doctor who crashed her car when drunk twice in three months : “..she has already punished herself enough.”

 

…or not?

The point of this post is to show that driver rule and law breaking is not only commonplace, but unlikely to result in any kind of real punishment, except when the worst types of bad driving result in serious injury or death – and it is quite usual for it not to happen even then. As explained previously (at some length), the purpose of describing this state of affairs is not to excuse the relatively lower level of danger that an errant bicyclist or pedestrian poses compared to that of an errant motorised road user. Or indeed even the far, far lower danger that errant cyclists or pedestrians pose to others compared to errant drivers.

It is simply to show the scale of road danger and where it comes from – and that this society treats it with impunity. This happens to such an extent that the author of the RAC Foundation report described above appears to imply that law breaking by motorists is not actual or real law breaking. It means that discussion of cyclist rule and law breaking, as a key topic for the forthcoming Cycle Safety Review, cannot occur in a meaningful way unless the massively greater problem of motor danger is put on the agenda alongside it in an equitable way.

One way of looking at it is an analysis of 9 years of mortality statistics:

Indeed, this period could allow for a positive opportunity to have a civilised discussion about danger on the road. We don’t think that road danger should only be addressed by enforcement and sentencing (although stigmatising endangering behaviour is important and a key part of our work supporting traffic policing based on the principles of Harm Reduction.)

Various kinds of engineering and other measures should be used to reduce danger on the road. But we won’t even be able to set the agenda for this unless we understand what the problem is.
A century of the activities of the “road safety” industry and the massive power of the mainstream driver and motor industry lobby has left us with normalised rule and law breaking – but not all drivers are necessarily content with this state of affairs. We need to take this opportunity to express what a civilised approach to road danger would actually look like.


Categories: Views

Lights that switch on just for you

BicycleDutch - 8 January, 2018 - 23:01
When the cycle route from ’s-Hertogenbosch to Vlijmen was upgraded in 2012, the designers faced an interesting challenge: a main cycle route needs lighting at night to make it socially … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Copenhagen Bike Hub

Copenhagenize - 8 January, 2018 - 12:08

by Stephanie Patterson

Copenhagenize Design Company’s time at our very cool co-working space on Paper Island/Papirøen is sadly coming to an end – the island's old industrial buildings are being demolished to make way for a new residential development. We’ll miss the creative vibe in our office - and on the island - that we have experienced daily for over four years. Paper Island was a freestyle creative hub that captured the imagination of Copenhageners and visitors alike.



Instead of resigning ourselves to tristesse, or to merely search for new offices, we decided to finally dust off an old Copenhagenize idea. Luckily, some ideas get better with age. Back in 2008, Copenhagenize Design Co. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen envisioned that "Danish bicycle culture needs a physical home. A place where ideas can be fostered and discussed. A launch pad and showcase for Danish bicycle innovation". The idea led to the establishment of the Bicycle Innovation Lab, the first cultural center for cycling complete with a bicycle library and events.

With the impending need for new offices, the idea has surfaced once again and this time a strong tailwind is pushing it along. Enter: CPH Bike Hub. With the growing global interest in reestablishing the bicycle as a feasible transport form in cities, Danish bicycle planning, social cycling innovation and product design - among other aspects of the cycling community - can benefit from gathering under one roof.

We are thrilled that the idea is now in development and moving towards becoming a reality. A long list of colleagues have gotten on board this exciting cargo bike ride.

The idea for the CPH Bike Hub is not just sharing office space with colleagues. It also includes creating a destination for visitors. With all the delegations that come to Copenhagen to learn about bicycle planning, we have plans to develop a conference space to host them. Not just the delegations that Copenhagenize hosts, but also the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Cyclists Federation will benefit from having dedicated space to host visitors. Plans also include an exhibition space, a café/bar and meeting rooms.

We have seen the emergence of similar bike hubs in places like Barcelona with BiciClot  and the Netherlands with the Dutch Bicycle Centre and we hope that the CPH Bike Hub will contribute to this growing trend.

At time of writing, we are working hard with colleagues to establish the foundations of the CPH Bike Hub, secure financing and gather as many likeminded companies, organisations and individuals as possible. The list of colleagues continues to grow and includes the following:

· CYCLING WITHOUT AGE - Worldwide cycling non-profit for the elderly
· COPENHAGEN CYCLES - Global distributor of innovative bike trishaws
· LEADERLAB - Nordic sustainability business accelerators
· VELORBIS - Leading Danish bicycle brand
· MATE - Rapidly growing local E-Bike brand
· CYKELKOKKEN - Innovative and well-known Copenhagen cycling chef
· COH & CO - Sustainable materials bicycle producers
· SCANDINAVIAN SIDE CAR - Cutting-edge Danish cargo bikes solutions
· HOE360 CONSULTING - Danish green mobility consultancy

Morten Kabell – the former environmental and technical mayor of Copenhagen joined Copenhagenize Design Company in early January 2017 as COO and he is spearheading the work to establish CPH Bike Hub together with our colleagues. The timeline is still under development, but we are looking forward to letting the world know about the launch when the time comes.

Stay tuned. We're excited. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Dutch cycling figures

BicycleDutch - 1 January, 2018 - 23:01
The Dutch cycle more. They cycle more often and they cycle longer distances. But the modal share of cycling has been more or less stable for the last three decades … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

2017: A pivotal year for Road Danger Reduction

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 26 December, 2017 - 17:50

2017 has seen two important steps forward for Road Danger Reduction (RDR) in the UK. But the transport status quo is still stacked against sustainable/healthy travel policy and the gains can easily be rolled back. So let’s have a look at what has happened to get RDR on the agenda – and what needs to be done to keep it there and push it further.

Policing close passing of cyclists and related policing

Firstly, our friends in West Midlands Police have had more publicity for their work on policing close passing of cyclists and related policing, such as of 20 mph limits. We helped them with me giving a key note talk at their January training day.

Yours truly at January training day hosted by West Midlands Police

I am pleased to be in constant touch with the two PCs whom we awarded the special award to in November 2016. We – Ken Spence, Colin McKenzie and I – then jointly organised a very well attended training day for police officers in September.

Most significantly, they have been organised into the West Midlands Road Traffic Harm Reduction Team (“Harm Reduction” is the Police equivalent of “Danger Reduction”). RDRF are acting as the Secretariat for WMP on close passing policing by collecting and disseminating information to police forces in the UK interested in this kind of policing. We also supported the launch of the Metropolitan Police’s close passing of cyclists policing.

This was the year when Third Party reporting of bad driving – a crucial part of Harm Reduction policing – got itself firmly on the agenda. I attended the launch of Operation Snap in Wales: will the public take to submitting footage of law breaking motoring? And will UK Police Services act on these submissions in ways which help to deter bad driving?

Talking about “Road Danger Reduction”

Secondly, the Mayor of London’s draft Transport Strategy (MTS) contained numerous references to “Road Danger Reduction”. Transport for London is setting up a Road Danger Reduction Team and we hope to assist them.

Regrettably, talking about RDR has sometimes been just that – talking. RDR has been slotted in to documents replacing some usage of the phrase “road safety” while the approach stays the same.

So while the above are both big steps forward for the RDR agenda, there are signs that some police forces and local authorities just want to go through the motions on RDR. We will need to be vigilant and work with them to make sure that a genuine RDR approach is taken.
RDRF activity

Getting the message across

I have been active with the http://www.rdrf.org.uk  blog and our Twitter account #CHAIRRDRF. I have spoken on harm reduction policing at conferences in Westminster, Hackney, and Bradford; and on road danger reduction in London at Waltham Forest.

I was interviewed twice on radio after the Alliston/Briggs case: we had over 11,000 views for the first of our posts on the case. Regrettably this case was exploited by all too many with an utterly hypocritical pseudo-concern for pedestrian safety. We saw it as necessary to show up the double standards as part of our aim of getting proper safety and traffic justice for pedestrians. We are continuing to show the failings in current official approaches to law breaking  and sentencing.

Safer lorries

I have also attended the Action on Lorry Danger working group and Brenda Puech represented RDRF at an important conference in Gothenburg on safer Lorries (paid for by the hosts Volvo Trucks). If Volvo thought they could get a compliant audience they were mistaken and got a lot of pressure from Brenda and the NGOs representing cyclists and pedestrians who pushed – we hope with success – for them to be swifter in bringing in safer lorry designs with Direct Vision.

Volvo Safer Lorries conference in Gothenburg

 

The future

Most importantly, we are reconstituting the RDRF with a new constitution and committee to enable us to be more pro-active in the New Year. As well as continuing our work on close passing policing we intend to extend the work we do with a conference (probably with our friends in RoadPeace) and offering to train transport professionals and the police and audit their work on RDR. Our work will be supported by a fundraising initiative and our committee members have determined to give more time to the cause.

So watch out for those fundraising requests in the New Year!

 

What we’re up against

Just to remind you: This year’s Budget saw the Chancellor proudly proclaiming yet more money given to drivers. We are one of the few organisations that question the continued subsidy to motoring. We question the equation of fewer deaths with “more safety”. We push for traffic justice.

To give just one (minor) example of our work , take this crash in east London: I am trying to find out what happened after this incident (the first one in the story here ) where a cyclist was hit by a bus where the driver was clearly in the wrong – overtaking on wrong side of the road straight into cyclist.

Crash in Hackney in  July 2017. Note impact site on windscreen and bicycle under bus (Photo: Good News Hackney)

There was no arrest at the time in July and no mention of the incident was made in the TfL quarterly bus accident reports. Working out what happened as a way of reducing the danger that leads to such incidents is just a small part of what we are about.

We hope you will be with us as we continue our work in 2018.

 

Dr Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum

 


Categories: Views

Launch of Operation Snap

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 21 December, 2017 - 20:27

I was pleased to attend the launch of Operation Snap in Cardiff on December 19th. It has significant implications for traffic law enforcement and the involvement of the public in reporting bad driving to the police.


Insp Steve Davies, Duncan Dollimore (Cycling UK),Asst Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan, Chair RDRF, Theresa Healy (GoSafe)

Here is an abridged version the Press Release which gives a good indication of what is involved:

Nowhere for careless and dangerous drivers to hide as Operation Snap launches Wales-wide

Motorists can now contribute to help Wales’ police forces keep roads safe by putting digital footage from dash cams and other devices to good use. (Cyclists can also submit helmet-cam or light/camera footage).

As part of Operation Snap, members of the public throughout Wales can submit footage and images showing traffic offences being committed – from driving dangerously or carelessly to contravening solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving or ignoring traffic lights.

The joint initiative between the four Welsh police forces, GoSafe and the Crown Prosecution Service, has attracted support from Cycling UK and The British Horse Society as well as a number of families who have lost loved ones as the result of a road traffic offence.

South Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable, Jeremy Vaughan, said: “Operation Snap enables people to submit footage of motoring offences to all Welsh police forces, allowing us take action, change attitudes and deal with those who compromise all our safety on our roads.

“Footage can now be submitted…in a very simple and streamlined process. This provides us with the ability target those who drive dangerously and reduce the number of fatal or serious road related accidents that occur on our roads.
Operation Snap is for all roads users – from pedestrians to cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders and drivers of all vehicles. If you have recorded anyone driving dangerously, then you can help us by submitting your footage online. By supporting this operation you are reminding those that drive dangerously on Wales’ roads that there is nowhere to hide.”

Teresa Healy, Partnership Manager at GoSafe, added: “Operation Snap is the culmination of partners working together to respond to community needs; to deliver a solution which allows road users and the wider community to actively contribute to road safety. This operation also allows us to protect vulnerable road users, who would not otherwise have a means to submit their footage easily to the police. Supported by the Crown Prosecution Service, this operation acts as a deterrent to those who choose to drive dangerously. By enabling the public to submit footage we will reduce the number of serious or fatal collisions that occur on our roads.”

Inspector Steve Davies who delivered Operation Snap on behalf of South Wales Police stated, “Police officers cannot be everywhere, as much as they try, but with Operation Snap the police could be anywhere. The aim of this initiative is to change driver behaviour and their mind-set behind the wheel. We want drivers to ask themselves two questions: firstly, am I being recorded? and secondly, do I really want to take that chance?

Footage can be submitted for any incidents in Wales at

https://gosafesnap.wales/ or https://gosafesnap.cymru

My understanding is that between 12 to15 Police Services in the UK have shown an interest in the Wales system, with 9 likely to be introducing it soon. Some do or are likely to shortly introduce other systems of submitting 3rd party footage of illegal driving, such as Avon and Somerset, Sussex, in London there is  https://beta.met.police.uk/report/report-a-road-traffic-incident/  and Essex have https://saferessexroads.org/extraeyes/extra-eyes-submit-footage/.

In order to find out what is happening in your area, contact the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Also see the good summary of what has been happening in Local Transport Today 27th October.

My thoughts on this initiative is that it shows a major commitment on the part of Wales Police Services to respond to public concern about illegal driving which endangers other road users, with the focus on deterring people who may otherwise drive badly. The key issue is how it develops in terms of public acceptance, willingness to submit footage and appropriate responses from the Police Services which will be taking this or similar systems up.

This latter point has regrettably been prominent in the last week with the case of an incident in Essex. In this case which has been extensively discussed on social media, Essex Police seem to have taken a lenient attitude towards a driver who collided with a cyclist and then punched him in the head. However, this contrasts with Essex Police’s action following another incident in Colchester in May, following which a driver was charged with dangerous driving and assault. (For an account of these cases see this )

So, as with all matters of road danger reduction, the issue is the changing of a culture which tolerates excessive rule and law breaking which endangers others. Knowing that bad driving may be reported and lead to unpleasant consequences could be part of that change. Watch this space.


Categories: Views

2017 - A year in Review

Copenhagenize - 19 December, 2017 - 09:33
2017 saw yet another instrumental increase in urban cycling in cities across the globe, further legitimizing pedal power as a mode of transport for citizens the world over. As another year has passed, another busy twelve months came and went for the team across our four Copenhagenize Design Co. offices. This year solidified the work of our newest office in Barcelona, developing new partnerships with the Municipality to study bicycling in Catalonia. We have had an exciting year collaborating with new client cities from Montréal to Antwerp, completing transformative mandates in Detroit and Strasbourg, and continuing progressive work to elevate the bicycle agenda in forward-thinking cities like Long Beach and Bordeaux. 2017 also marked an exciting point of growth for Copenhagenize Design Co. as our management team expanded to include partners James Thoem, Clotilde Imbert and Michael Seth Wexler. Our Year in Review (Download the PDF here) looks back at our highlights from the last calendar year as we gear up for an incredibly exciting 2018. 

THE LIFE SIZED CITY










Having launched in September of this year, Mikael released his first television series “The Life Sized City” – offering a fresh look at urbanism around the world. Premiering with Canadian broadcaster TVO, and produced by Montreal-based DBCom Media, Mikael travels the world, hearing from engaged locals involved in fascinating urban projects – at both the grassroots and government level. The first season went live across Canada this year with episodes featuring the cities of Medellín, Toronto, Paris, Bangkok, Tokyo and Tel Aviv, while Mikael continues his journeys into 2018, kicking off season two in Cape Town.

THE 2017 BICYCLE-FRIENDLY CITIES INDEX














For the fourth time since 2011, Copenhagenize Design Co. crunched the numbers and analysed over a hundred and thirty urban regions to reveal the 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. These findings were seen by readers of WIRED magazine in all corners of the globe. Using 14 parameters – this year adding cargo bike logistics as a parameter – the crème de la crème emerged with some surprises, as Utrecht stole second place from Amsterdam, while others such as Copenhagen, Strasbourg, Malmö, Bordeaux and Antwerp remained stable in the top 10.

THE COPENHAGENIZE MASTER CLASS(ES)













A trip to Copenhagen is a must in order to understand what makes a truly bicycle friendly city. Every year, planners, engineers, city officials, politicians, community leaders and academics from around the world come visit our team in Copenhagen to learn firsthand how good bicycle infrastructure design really makes a difference. This June as every year, we welcomed back an international group of thirty participants for an immersive bicycle urbanism experience, and a whole lot of fun. Our master Class has connected a network of many engaged urbanists across the globe to bring a piece of Copenhagen to their home cities and share ideas with one another. 

Throughout the year, we also have the pleasure of welcoming international delegates to Copenhagen who aim to reach new levels of quality bicycle infrastructure design in their cities back home. Delegations of urban designers, traffic engineers and politicians from Barcelona, Bordeaux, St. Petersburg, and Burlington, Canada each visited our Copenhagen team at different points of the year for several days of lectures, workshop activities and lots of cycling around the city. These groups were able to fill their idea catalogues with best practice in design, bicycle policy and network planning. Planning for a number of delegation visits in the new year are already underway.

CYCLING PROJECTS IN THE U.S.A.



The past year was filled with a lot of positive change in American cities, as the number of protected bike lanes continued to rise, more innovative bike plans started popping up around the country, and we began to hear more cities talk about building a network for bikes as transport – an essential first step in the U.S. context. We got our hands dirty working hard with the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department to draft a forward-thinking protected bicycle network strategy for the greater downtown area, helping to set a standard for many American cities to follow. 

We held public meetings and helped the City imagine a more connected future for all of  their vulnerable road users. The plan is now in the final drafting phase and will go public in the new year! At the same time, our North American team stayed active in Detroit through working on a collaborative team of planners, landscape architects and consultants to draft a neighbourhood plan for the Islandview and Greater Villages community – with our focus on mobility and extending safe and practical bike planning from the downtown to the neighbourhoods.



Long Beach, long proclaiming to be the most bicycle-friendly city in the U.S. continues to impress with their political will to continually build more and more protected bike lanes on major roads to fill in their pledge from their recent Bicycle Master Plan. We continued our work with this modern administration and Development Services Department, helping guide them on issues of backlash from parking removal, misconceptions in commercial corridors and dealing with the ever-present issue of NIMBYism. Our work reached even further, offering local cutting-edge traffic engineers innovative ideas for intersection design and conceptual bicycle and pedestrian bridge links over the LA River.

BICYCLE URBANISM IN OUR MONTRÉAL OFFICE

The year started busy in our North American office, with the international Winter Cycling Congress being held in Montreal, Mikael presenting stories from Copenhagen and Russia, and hosting a number of delegates at our Mile End office. Our team began a first mandate with the City of Montréal, consulting on how they might best link bicycle infrastructure through the abandoned Outremont train yards, as a new university district rises from the rails. Throughout the year, Copenhagenize Design Co. advised on the local administration’s new bicycle framework plan, shared ideas with local leaders, collaborated with a number of local organisations to create design recommendations for problematic intersections, and continued to document the City’s bicycle infrastructure as Copenhagen-style footrests began to appear across the city. Next year is bound to be exciting as our team has high hopes for the new bicycle-friendly city administration.

FRENCH CITIES AND DANISH DESIGN











French deputies are working on the production of a general law on mobility that will be voted by the Parliament in 2018. Copenhagenize Design Co. has contributed to workshops in the aims of  highlighting the importance of prioritising cycling as a serious means of transportation in order to change the modern transport paradigm in our cities. Our team has been continuing to do innovative work with the Eurometropole of Strasbourg on a comprehensive visual identity, a wayfinding strategy and the implementation of services to turn the bicycle superhighway network VéloStras into a world-class metropolitan network. Through the efforts of a pilot project, Copenhagenize Design Co. evaluated the reactions of the bicycle users to the modern and innovative wayfinding designed for the
VéloStras network. The new visual identity branding for the network will be implemented across the 130 km of cycling routes. Moreover, together with partners – Inddigo and UrbaPlan – our France office has contributed to the elaboration of a new bicycle plan which will be voted in 2018 and driven by ambitions for the most bicycle-friendly city in France.

BELGIUM HAS A THIRST FOR COPENHAGEN





































In 2017 and ongoing into the new year, the Copenhagenize European teams have been supporting Omgeving, De Urbanisten, and COBE architects in a project that will shape future of Antwerp’s West Bank. As the city looks to overdeck an outdated ring motorway that has long served as a barrier within the urban fabric, the project team has presented a vision that engages local residents, nurtures local watersheds, and provides real mobility options. Copenhagenize’s participation in the project ensures the bicycle will play a primary role as a legitimate mode of transportation for traversing the former ring road and connecting the West Bank to the Centre City. 

Additionally, Copenhagenize Design Co. focused new attention on studying people not using a bicycle as a mode of transportation.Together with Kwin and the researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, our local office contributed to a profiling of non-cyclists of Brussels in order to get a understanding of their mobility habits and their perception of cycling. Based on this analysis and the target groups defined, our team is in the process of producing a catalogue of communication campaign ideas for Brussels Region Capital for the new year.

COPENHAGENIZING CATALONIA


The new Copenhagenize Barcelona office hit the ground running. The results of a comprehensive Desire Lines Analysis in the Eixample neighbourhood of Barcelona were presented to the local city administration. 7 hours of observation and 2,627 cyclists were tracked in late 2016 and subsequently displayed in an engaging document for the local client at the beginning of this year to show how Barcelona’s intersections might be better conceived for vulnerable road users. Following this success, the local team has begun a new study for the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona analysing the  distribution of urban goods in low carbon emission zones. This work continuing into 2018 will culminate in the action of launching a micro-distribution pilot project – elevating and testing ideas of cargo bike logistics. As summer continued on, the City of Barcelona trusted our local team to make a review of all strategic work that the municipality has been developing over the last couple of years to improve bicycle mobility. With this project our team will be offering the municipality a global document from the perspective of best-practice bicycle infrastructure inspired by Copenhagen.

THE RETURN TO ALMETYEVSK - RUSSIA’S BICYCLE GEM


In 2017 we had the exciting opportunity to revisit Almetyevsk, a City we worked exclusively with in guiding their transformation into the most bicycle friendly city in Russia. The project began back in 2015, when we were commissioned to develop a bicycle strategy for this small city in the oil fields of Tatarstan. Two years and 100 kilometres of bicycle infrastructure later (yes, you read that right, 100 kilometres in 2 years) we returned to Almetyevsk to see firsthand how the city has transformed.

We had heard the skeptics before: “Nobody in Russia will ride a bike” “It’s too dangerous to cycle in Russia” or “You can’t bike in Russia, they have winters!”. But of course, Almetyevsk proved to be another case showing the importance of a network of reliable and safe bicycle infrastructure. Upon arriving on a Thursday afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised to see dozens of everyday people cycling along cycle tracks as if it was the most natural thing. 

Where once bicycles were relegated to playgrounds, they have now become an everyday mode of transportation in Almetyevsk, with everyone from children to seniors seen comfortably riding through the city along dedicated cycle tracks, guided by dedicated bicycle traffic signals, and welcomed with reliable bicycle parking.

TALKING ABOUT BICYCLE URBANISM - OVER 25 INTERNATIONAL KEYNOTES IN 2017


Copenhagenize Design Co., together with partners from the BiTiBi project, organised a European conference in Utrecht (The Netherlands) to promote the efficient use of first and last mile bike-train combined trips. Over a hundred participants attended the event with speakers from Belgium, the  Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Catalonia. They shared their successful local experience with intermodal projects and design and stressed the importance of building well-designed bike parking at train stations as well as offering reliable bikeshare systems for train passenger last mile travel (see below).

POSTCARDS FROM THE MECCA OF BICYCLE URBANISM
Copenhagen never ceases to inspire. With a rapidly expanding network of cycle superhighways connecting the region, widened cycle tracks, improved wayfinding, and newly dedicated ‘cycle streets’, the City continues to prove itself as the world’s most bicycle friendly urban centre. And these efforts don’t go unnoticed. New statistics released in 2017 show cycling and cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen to be more valuable than ever:
  • 97% of citizens are generally satisfied with the Copenhagen’s efforts as a cycling city.
  • 41% of trips to work or school are done by bicycle
  • The risk of injury for citizen cyclists has dropped 23% in the last ten years
  • 70% of Copenhagen children get to school by cycling, walking, skateboarding or scootering.
  • Copenhagen invests €39 per resident per annum on cyclingrelated initiatives
  • 48,400 bicycle riders cross Queen Louise Bridge on a typical weekday
  • The Farum cycle superhighway route has seen a 61% increase in bicycle traffic since opening in 2013
But the work is not done in Copenhagen. Much is still to be done if the city is going to reach the ambitious goal of 50% modal share by 2025. So here’s to 2018, surely to be another year of great cycling in Copenhagen.

PREVIEW 2018...

THE COPENHAGENIZE TEAM GROWS

In January 2018, Copenhagenize Design Co. welcomes a new member to its international, multidisciplinary team. Morten Kabell is stepping down from four years as the Copenhagen mayor of the Technical and Environmental Administration and after a rewarding 20 year career in municipal politics. He has chosen to continue his work in urban development with Copenhagenize overseeing organisational structure and development, helping to orchestrate the company’s growth in the coming years. He will also act as another external face of the company, alongside CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen, representing the consultancy at conferences and events around the world.

COPENHAGENIZE – THE BOOK
Copenhagenize the book offers vivid project descriptions, engaging stories, and best practices, alongside beautiful and informative visuals to show the general public how to make the bicycle an easy, preferred part of everyday urban life. The book will serve as inspiration for everyone working to get the bicycle back into our cities. It will give planners and designers the ammunition to push back against the Automobile Age and convince the skeptics of the value of the lifesized city. This is not a guide on how to become Copenhagen, but how to learn from the successes and failures (yes, failures) of Copenhagen and other cities around the world that are striving to become more livable. The book goes live in 2018 through Island Press.

AMSTERDAM ANALYSIS
The Copenhagenize Design Co. European team has kicked off the second in a series of intersection studies in Amersterdam, to understand how the City can better improve bicycle flow, safety and comfort. Work is already deep underway from the end of 2017 and will continue on into the new year. Copenhagenize has now launched Desire Lines Analyses in cities around the world from Amsterdam and Copenhagen to Barcelona and Montreal.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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