Kerbside activity

The issue of ‘kerbside activity’ and cycling infrastructure comes up intermittently.

In plain language, this is loading, and dropping off/setting down, and how it works with cycle tracks between the loading/drop-off point, and the footway. Just last month, the Freight Transport Association responded to Transport for London’s detailed proposals for the N-S and E-W Superhighways in London, with a particular focus on this point.

FTA’s message to Boris Johnson is that whilst it supports the development of infrastructure which improves safety for cyclists, the association is also asking him to remember that the people of London depend on goods being delivered and collected.

Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London said:

“FTA supports the development of new cyclist infrastructure which is targeted on improving safety for cyclists, and believes it can provide real benefits. But cyclists are only one user of the road and the needs of all must be considered – Londoners depend on the goods our members supply every hour of every day. It is important that these schemes are carried out in such a way that they do not unduly disrupt traffic flow or prevent kerbside access for deliveries to businesses and homes.”

FTA added that it must be recognised that delivery and servicing activity does not only take place in high street locations but on many different street types including residential streets, therefore full segregation in these locations may hinder access for deliveries. In such areas, FTA favours the use of other measures such as ‘armadillos’ or giant cat’s eyes, which provide partial segregation stronger than painted white lines, but at the same time enable vehicles to access the kerbside. [my emphasis]

My understanding of this passage is that the Freight Transport Association favours the kind of cycling infrastructure that HGVs and vans can park on, obstructing it, so they can park right next to the kerb. In other words – cycling infrastructure that, while nice in theory, is functionally useless, if it’s going to be used as a parking bay.

Armadillos, and 'kerbside activity'. Picture by @the_moodster

Armadillos, and ‘kerbside activity’. Picture by @the_moodster

Similar reasoning appeared recently from Hackney councillor Vincent Stops, who argues that cycle tracks are not appropriate where there is kerbside activity.

Likewise the British Beer and Pub Association had this to say in response to the House of Commons Transport Committee on Cycling Safety -

Segregated cycle lanes already cause particular issues for pub deliveries. Manual handling of bulk beer containers such as kegs and casks (as specified in current Health & Safety Regulations) ideally requires the delivery vehicle to be sited at the kerb-side outside the premises. Physically segregated lanes prevent this access

Given that loading and parking has to occur pretty much everywhere on main roads – where cycle tracks will almost always be necessary – then if we take these objections at face value, continuous cycling infrastructure, separated physically form motor traffic, is an impossibility.

But is this really true? How does the Netherlands manage to cope? Deliveries and loading still take place on their main roads, as well as people parking, and dropping off passengers – and these are roads that will often have cycle tracks.

Well, it’s not really that hard. HGVs and vans park in marked bays outside the cycle track, and then load across it, and the footway.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 19.13.29You can see this happening in this recent picture from Mark Wagenbuur -

Courtesy of Mark Wagenbuur

Courtesy of Mark Wagenbuur

The delivery driver has put a home made ‘watch out’ sign on the cycle track as an extra (albeit slightly obstructive) precaution. But it’s clear that loading across a cycle track is hardly an insurmountable problem – it’s not really any more difficult than loading across a footway, provided that the cycle track is well-designed, with low level, mountable kerbing between it and the footway, as in both these Dutch examples.

I suspect the objections from these groups are based partly on assumptions about existing patterns of cycling behaviour in places like London – cyclists are perceived as fast and silent car-like objects, whizzing around like vehicles, rather than as the more sedate mode of transport it is in places where cycle tracks are commonplace in the urban realm. It’s easier to imagine loading  across a cycle track with these kinds of people moving along it -

DSCN0111

… than one with people clad in lycra, riding on racing bikes, in cycle-specific clothing. That’s not to criticise this latter group – it’s just that perceptions can be skewed, because the existing environment tends to exclude other types of cycling.

Their objections are probably also based on their understanding of existing UK segregated infrastructure, which will often  present loading issues, due to the use of unforgiving, high kerbing, which is an additional obstacle for drivers to load objects across.

A poor example in Camden, with high kerbs that are difficult to load across - as well as being bad for cycling

A poor example in Camden, with high kerbs that are difficult to load across – as well as being bad for cycling

But this is poor design – cycle tracks shouldn’t be constructed like this, not least because it’s bad for cycling, as well as for people loading. Cycle tracks can and should fit seamlessly into the urban realm, allowing easy loading across them. It can be done – just look at best practice, across the North Sea.

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The case for minimum standards

blogged for the Cycling Embassy last week about the value of new audit tools, from TfL, and in the Welsh Active Travel Design Guidance.

These tools allow professionals and cycle campaigners to objectively assess the quality of cycling provision, scoring routes out of 100, and 50, respectively. If a route scores less than 35 out of 50 under the Welsh Guidance, it should not be classified as a ‘route’, or be included as part of a cycle network.

I was reminded of the potential uses of these tools by some discussion on Sunday about the National Cycle Network, and how, while some bits of it are genuinely excellent, the Network as a whole is diminished by the inclusion of sections that simply aren’t up to scratch.

Take the National Cycle Network around Bath. Some of it is genuinely high quality, like the traffic-free Two Tunnels Route 244.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 17.18.53

Wide, direct, smooth surface, no interactions with motor traffic. Perfect.

But some bits of it aren’t, like this section of NCN 4, which runs into the centre of Bath on a very busy road, with a significant proportion of the motor traffic composed of HGVs.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 17.24.56

Not the sort of environment most people are going to feel comfortable cycling in.

A signed part of the National Cycle Network.

A signed part of the National Cycle Network.

This is actually Bath’s inner ring road, the A36. This stretch would almost certainly fail to meet the minimum standards set out in the Audit Tool. There’s just too much motor traffic, it’s too fast, and there are too many additional hazards, like car parking and junctions where there are turning conflicts.

Yet looking at the map, this section (circled) is included in the network, as part of NCN 4.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 16.00.28

I would assume that this is for reasons of continuity – it makes no sense to have a route that has breaks in it. But there are downsides to this approach.

First of all, it means people can have little confidence in the quality of the network. If parts of it are this bad, how are they to know how much of it is equally bad? What are the criteria for including bits of roads as parts of a ‘Cycle Network’? Having low-quality, or even hostile, sections included downgrades the ‘brand’ of the National Cycle Network, as Joe Dunckley argued.

Secondly, it suggests that a ‘network’ actually exists, when, in reality, there isn’t much of a network, at all, if parts of it are difficult to negotiate, or actively hostile. It suggests that the job has been completed, that journeys can easily be made from A to B on the ‘National Cycle Network’ – politicians can even boast about it.

Sadly even Sustrans themselves fall into this trap, claiming that ‘The National Cycle Network passes within a mile of almost 60% of the population’ – by implication, we have a functioning network already, rather than a bits-and-pieces affair of highly variable quality, that quite often doesn’t really go anywhere near where people live and work.

By contrast, if only the parts of the network that actually met minimum standards were included, we would have a truer picture of state of the network, and of inclusive conditions for cycling more generally. Marking up ‘networks’ that simply don’t work for most people gets us nowhere, and in fact lets politicians and councils off the hook.

The council where I live drew up what can only be described as a farcical ‘network’ map, composed of sections that sometimes link up (but sometimes don’t), and even sections that are ‘proposed’ (we’re still waiting!).

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 17.56.48

This map has, however, quietly been withdrawn, once the council discovered that cycling in some areas of the town centre (as marked on the map) wasn’t technically allowed. Rather than changing TROs to make cycling legal… it was easier to make the map disappear.

I recently assessed the best part of this ‘network’ with the Welsh Active Travel Guidance tool – it scored 24.5 out of 50, well below the minimum threshold of 35. So in truth Horsham doesn’t have a cycle network, at all, when even the best parts of it are so far below a minimum standard. It’s for the best the map has vanished.

This kind of objective quality control would also mean that councils could no longer get away with boasting about how many miles of cycle lane they’ve put in, if the ‘network’ they produce doesn’t meet minimum standards. If a route composed of painted lanes doesn’t score over 35 out of 50, it’s not fit for purpose.

A 'cycle lane', included in Horsham's network map. This would fail objective standards for inclusion.

A ‘cycle lane’, included in Horsham’s network map. This would fail objective standards for inclusion.

For all these reasons, I think a ‘downgrading’ across the country to a much smaller cycle network, composed of the bits that are actually of a suitably high standard, would be beneficial. It would be an accurate reflection of where Britain’s cycling provision actually stands, and would act as a spur for genuine improvement.

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Perne Road – what’s gone wrong, and what could have been done instead?

A bit of a follow-up to last week’s post about the Perne Road roundabout, looking at the potential issues, and what could have been done instead.

This roundabout has now hit the headlines because a child has been injured while cycling on the roundabout, on Wednesday evening. I don’t think it’s massively helpful to leap to conclusions on the basis of one incident, but it’s certainly worth looking at the general design flaws with this roundabout, and the alternative ways in which it could have been designed.

For me, the central problem is that cycling has not being designed for explicitly. Instead, it has been bodged into pedestrian-specific design, and into motor vehicle-specific design, simultaneously. Almost all the potential issues flow from this failure. The roundabout design expects people on bikes to behave like pedestrians, or like cars; something genuine Dutch design would never do.

For a start, the ‘shared use’ paths around the edge are quite obviously footways, on which it is permissible to cycle. They are not cycle tracks, with clearly defined routes. The result is cycling in a pedestrian-specific environment, and this, coupled with a lack of clarity, presents a number of problems.

With ‘shared footways’, drivers will have less certainty over where a cyclist might be heading. Take the scenario below, with the path of a cyclist represented by the blue arrow.

Where is that cyclist going? Across the crossing? Or away from the crossing, along the road?

Where is that cyclist going? Across the crossing? Or away from the crossing, along the road?

The driver doesn’t know if the cyclist is, or isn’t, going to use the crossing. The cyclist is travelling across an expanse of tarmac, and their intentions aren’t clear. The driver may assume wrongly.

Contrast this with a Dutch roundabout (in Assen) -

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 00.03.53It’s much more obvious to drivers, at an earlier stage, where cyclists are heading, and they can respond accordingly. (Note that on this roundabout, cyclists don’t have priority.)

And the same is true from the perspective of people cycling. They have more time to assess which direction a driver is taking – staying on the roundabout, or leaving it – and therefore will have more opportunities to cross, more safely. Again, this is without cycle priority -

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 00.03.53

The Cambridge roundabout does not have this cycle-friendly feature. Because the crossing points are not set back any distance from the roundabout, there’s little time in which to assess which way drivers might be heading. In many instances, it may be too ambiguous to take a chance.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 00.11.18

Placing the (pedestrian) crossings at these locations close to the roundabout also means they are blocked by drivers queueing to enter the roundabout, rather than left clear, as on a Dutch roundabout, by setting the crossing points back from the perimeter.

Funnily enough, although I’ve criticised the Poynton scheme, this ‘setting back’ of the crossings has been done correctly there, approximately one car length back from the ’roundabouts’.

8K98W

This means people can cross behind stationary vehicles, rather than trying to cross in front of a vehicle that might be about to jump into the roundabout.

DSCN9874This ‘set back’ design approach also allows drivers to deal with crossing cyclists/pedestrians, and entering/exiting the roundabout, in two separate stages.

To compound these issues of uncertainty about where people are going, drivers have to contend with people cycling on the road, and on the footway, simultaneously, as they enter and exit the roundabout, rather than dealing with cyclists at one clear crossing point, on defined paths. This is a point John Stevenson makes here -

Drivers don’t know where cyclists are going to be. Because cyclists can either use the main carriageway or the shared-use, off-carriageway paths, drivers are expected to look for cyclists in a number of places at each arm of the roundabout, instead of just one.

Unnecessary complication has been added by putting people cycling on two different forms of route across the roundabout.

Another issue John identifies – having visited the site – is that a shared-use footway, by definition, involves mixing up pedestrians and cyclists together, rather than separating them, and that can be an uncomfortable experience for pedestrians, particularly in areas with high levels of footway cycling. Again, this problem is not one that should have been created.

What effect might the narrowed carriageway have on people who continue to cycle on it? John thinks it might make collisions more likely, as people cycling will be closer to motor vehicles (and there also might be a temptation to squeeze through). That said, the geometry has been tightened, which should lead to lower vehicle speeds – so the collisions would probably on balance be less serious. Swings and roundabouts, although it is obviously far too early to make definitive judgements. In any case, a roundabout with this volume of motor traffic shouldn’t – in principle – be designed with the expectation people will be cycling on the carriageway.

Finally, there has been an awful lot of discussion about whether or not a genuine Dutch-inspired roundabout design would offer cyclists priority over motor traffic, or not. To me, that’s not a particularly pressing issue, compared to the overall design problems set out here. A Dutch roundabout with priority would look very similar to a Dutch roundabout without priority. Cyclists would have clear routes, separated from pedestrians – routes which would make it obvious to drivers what they are doing. Likewise the paths that drivers are taking would be clear, and the roundabout would be designed to maximise crossing opportunity. This roundabout achieves none of those outcomes.

My personal inclination – and I’ve been persuaded on this point – is not to offer cyclists priority, for the main reason that it is safer (remember, this is an entirely new kind of treatment for British drivers), and also because the loss of convenience is marginal, if the roundabout is designed properly. We should remember that no Dutch roundabout offered Dutch cyclists priority, at all, until the 1990s, by law. It was only for reasons of convenience – not safety – that his law was changed, and priority was switched in urban areas.

Priorities can be changed easily – bad design can’t.

UPDATE

Just a quick rough-and-ready size comparison between the Perne Road roundabout, and the Dutch example illustrating this post (which is here, by the way). Not an exact science, but there appears to be more space available at Perne Road.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 09.09.22

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 09.10.13I think one of the main issues is that the size of the roundabout island itself has been maintained at Perne Road – the island in the Dutch example is considerably smaller, about 15m in diameter, compared to ~23m at Perne Road.

I understand that it would have been expensive to ‘shrink’ the roundabout, due to a culvert, but I think maintaining its size might have led to some of the problems and issues detailed here.

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The Perne Road roundabout design

The Perne Road/Radegund Road roundabout in Cambridge reopened recently – it’s been redesigned with ‘continental’ geometry, and wide shared use paths around the perimeter. This picture from Chris Rand gives you an impression of how it looks (and some of the potential issues).

Picture from CherryHintonBlu

Picture from CherryHintonBlu

This redesign was at a cost of £413,000 – £240,000 from the DfT’s ‘Cycle Safety Fund’, £70,000 from the European Bike Friendy Cities Project, and the remainder from Cambridgeshire/Cambridge City Council’s cycling budget.

I’ve been struck by some of the comments from the designer – Alasdair Massie – which can be found here. I’m going to analyse these, in turn.

The geometry is taken from Dutch guidance, although you will see some differences from the classic “Dutch” roundabout. Most significantly there is no segregated cycle track around the perimeter. This was a deliberate decision. We could have provided one, there is sufficient space if other elements were adjusted, but there is no off-carriageway infrastructure to link into and no prospect of providing any in the foreseeable future. [my emphasis]

Here it is stated that the decision not to provide cycle specific provision, away from the carriageway, around this roundabout is deliberate - it could have been provided, but because there isn’t any infrastructure to link to it, there apparently isn’t any point.

I find this slightly boggling. It implies that segregated infrastructure can only ever join up with existing bits of segregated infrastructure, which has disturbing implications for a country that has next to no existing segregated infrastructure.

It’s also, well, complete rubbish. Segregated infrastructure can, and does, join up smoothly with other bits of cycle provision that doesn’t involve separation. Cycle provision in the Netherlands is not made up entirely of segregated provision – it’s made up of a variety of treatments, all of which smoothly transition from one to another, as you cycle along.

So a moment’s reflection shows this kind of assertion to be baseless.

In addition, these kinds of transitions in the Netherlands frequently occur at these kinds of situations. There might be a cycle lane – or even no provision at all – on a link approaching a roundabout, or junction, which then transitions to segregated provision, at the conflict points.

Cycle lanes in Gouda, that become protected tracks on the approach to a large junction.

Cycle lanes in Gouda, that become protected tracks, on the approach to a large junction.

In fact, this kind of arrangement is very, very common, because designing proper separation at junctions is a priority. I’ve frequently been struck by how fairly crap Dutch roads still manage to prioritise physical separation at junctions, because that’s where it is most important. You’ll see it in rural areas too.

Roundabout in Genderen, showing transition from on-carriageway lanes, to physical protection at the roundabout

Roundabout in Genderen, showing transition from on-carriageway lanes, to physical protection at the roundabout

So this explanation doesn’t really stack up. Next -

There is a significant amount of pavement cycling at certain times of day, principally by school children. One of our aims was to make it safer for people to cross the roundabout using the footways, without actively encouraging footway cycling. We also wanted to make it easier to cross on foot, as the previous arrangement involved a 60m detour via a Pelican Crossing, with guardrails to prevent jay walking.

‘A significant amount of pavement’ cycling suggests that on-carriageway traffic levels are too high for people to happily share the carriageway. A proper response would surely involve designing explicitly for these people, creating the segregated provision that it is acknowledged would fit here. Indeed, this has been demonstrated visually.

Image created by Kieran Perkins

Image created by Kieran Perkins

There are issues with motor vehicle access to the properties to the north east of the roundabout (not insurmountable – it would be relatively easy to provide motor access along, or across, the cycle tracks) and whether the Dutch would provide this kind of design with or without cycle priority across the arms. In either case – no priority, or priority – there would be separation from pedestrians, and clear routes through the junction. The motor traffic levels of around 20,000 vehicles/day (as discussed below) would, under Dutch guidance, still allow priority to be provided (the threshold is 25,000 PCU/day – p.246 Diagram 43).

But instead of creating this high-quality provision, the intention is apparently to make it easier for people to cycle on footways, ‘without actively encouraging’ it. Something of a contradiction.

I designed the work and I cycle across it every day on my way to work. I have to say that I am very pleased with the outcome. The traffic flows more smoothly and calmly; it is much easier to break in and out of the flow on a bike, and having watched Coleridge College empty out on Wednesday afternoon, the off-road provision works fine.

Translation – I’m happy cycling on the roundabout; it works for me. And there’s a footway people can cycle on, for those people who don’t want to mix it with traffic.

There are then some follow-up comments from the designer. Among these is a repeat of the earlier argument that segregation won’t work, because there is no segregation on the approaches.

There are no segregated cycle tracks on the streets leading to the junction, no prospect of any being provided in the foreseeable future. Where roadside cycle tracks exist elsewhere in urban Cambridge they are problematic and unpopular with many people. We used to call the abuse suffered by on-road cyclists the “Milton Rd effect” after a particular roadside cycle track. Where isolated cycle tracks exist at junctions they give drivers an excuse to harass and abuse those people who choose not to suffer the danger, delays and inconvenience of using them –I speak with personal experience.

Creating an isolated, segregated cycle track here would have been detrimental to the design in many ways. I would not have recommended it at THIS junction even if the funds were available.

I’ve already examined why this ‘lack of continuity of segregation’ argument is bogus. Another argument appears here, however – that ‘isolated cycle tracks’ at junctions create harassment from drivers for those people ‘choosing not to suffer the danger, delays and inconvenience of using them’.

Note – this argument is coming from someone who has just designed in off-carriageway provision on this very roundabout, that he himself chooses not to use! It’s extraordinary hypocrisy. Surely you should build off-carriageway provision that you yourself would choose to use, before you start complaining about its effect?*

However, this follow-up comment is more revealing, in that it shows what I think is the actual motivation for the design.

I have to say that I have been a little taken aback by the venom with which some in the twittersphere have attacked this design. As far as I can understand the anger is ideologically based – we did not  provide a segregated peripheral cycle track and so some people hate it on principle.

I am not sure at what stage we abandoned the Hierarchy of Measures in LTN 02/08, but this is NOT a junction where I believe that a segregated cycle track around the outside is either necessary or appropriate. Ours is a TOP of hierarchy solution – it reduces traffic speed, it addresses junction danger, it does so by changing the geometry from the wide, flared, tangential British roundabout geometry to a tight, radial arrangement typically used in the Netherlands.

The absence of a separate cycle track is not due to an oversight, a misunderstanding or due to a lack of funds – although funding would have stopped this project in its tracks, if people had insisted on all or nothing. It was a deliberate design decision, because this was the most appropriate solution for the junction. [my emphasis, again]

Now, I think the Hierarchy of Provision (or Hierarchy of Measures) is a woeful piece of guidance, precisely because it can lead to bodged outcomes like this. To see it being used to justify this kind of design says it all. It’s so open to (mis)interpretation it needs to be jettisoned, and I’m glad to see a growing consensus on this.

Indeed, this is a textbook example of how the Hierarchy of Provision can be misused. For a start – the top measure in the Hierarchy of Provision in LTN 2/08 is actually to reduce motor traffic volume, not ‘speed’. This hasn’t been addressed at this roundabout.

Picture 9

The Hierarchy of Provision, from LTN 2/08

In fact, a roundabout with this kind of layout would actually be appropriate, if the Hierarchy of Provision was properly applied, and motor traffic levels were actually reduced to 6000 or so motor vehicles per day, which is what the CROW manual recommends as the maximum volume for ‘mixed traffic’ (cyclists and motor vehicles sharing the carriageway) on a continental geometry roundabout. With that level of motor traffic, a roundabout designed like this could properly accommodate cycling on the carriageway, for everyone.

But the designer hasn’t done this – he’s employed the Hierarchy of Provision ‘pick and mix’, picking out elements from it like speed reduction, junction layout changes, and off-carriageway provision, blending them all up, and then claiming that the outcome is a ‘top of the hierarchy solution.’ Which is just meaningless guff, because

  • the actual top measure – motor traffic reduction hasn’t been applied
  • the bottom measure – shared use – has been applied, and forms a major part of this design.

How on earth does that amount to a ‘top of the hierarchy solution’?

There is then the belligerent insistence that not providing a cycle track is actually ‘the most appropriate solution for the junction’ – apparently in defiance of the fact that significant volumes of motor traffic will still be flowing across it.

There are DfT counts for Perne Road (which runs N-S across the roundabout) – these figures show around 13,000 motor vehicles per day flow along this road. I can’t find figures for an E-W direction, which looks quieter, but this figure of 13,000 vehicles per day corresponds with a quoted figure from Martin Lucas-Smith of 20,000 vehicles using the roundabout, every day (in the comments here).

So this is a busy roundabout, one that – if we really care about making cycling an attractive transport option for anyone – certainly shouldn’t involve people cycling on the carriageway. As already mentioned, it far exceeds the Dutch threshold for ‘mixed traffic’ (i.e. integrating cyclists and motor vehicles) on roundabouts, of 6000 PCU/day (Diagram 42 of the CROW manual, page 246).

I cannot understand how – in this context of continuing high levels of motor traffic – expecting people to share is ‘the most appropriate solution’, especially when the design itself acknowledges that many people don’t want to do this.

 

*Note. Since publishing this I’ve been told that the designer did not want to include any off-road provision in the original design, although he still wanted to ensure that people could cycle on the footways safely, as per the comments here.

Alasdair explained that the original proposal had no explicit off-road cycle provision, as there is no off-road infrastructure to connect into.

… The original proposals aimed to ensure that people who do cycle on the footway could do so safely and without endangering other path users, but without encouraging or drawing attention to it. Explicit shared-use came about as a direct result of requests made during public consultation and was not part of the original recommendations.

The distinction appears to be between aiming to ensure that people can still cycle on the footway, without drawing attention to it, and allowing people to cycle on the footway, and drawing some attention to it (presumably by the addition of bicycle symbols, and ‘Give Way’ markings in front of the tactile paving).

I’m not sure this is a huge difference – indeed, the original plans, which appeared to tolerate pavement cycling, but without making it obvious it was legal, may even have been worse. But it should be mentioned.

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Aspiring to explore how we might do something, with other people doing it

Great historical speeches on matters of ambition, put through the Department for Transport Cycle Funding Filter.

Reagan’s ‘Tear down this wall!’ speech – Tear Down This Wall

“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalisation,  Mr. Gorbachev, aspire to explore ways of working together with other parties to develop a strategy for tearing down this wall!”

John F Kennedy’s ‘Moon’ speech – 220px-John_F._Kennedy_speaks_at_Rice_University

“Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. And that’s why my aspiration is to explore ways of potentially getting the funding together by the end of this decade, working with other countries.”

(More suggestions gratefully welcomed)

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Pedestrians and the Superhighways

The Cyclists in the City blog has cast its eye over the City of London’s latest response to the Superhighway proposals [pdf], interpreting it as suggesting that the City are supporting their proposals, and actually demanding even more radical change.

I’d really like to be that charitable – after all, the City are demanding better pedestrian crossings, more pedestrian space, and better waiting times, as outcomes from this scheme. However, it’s quite hard to take these demands at face value when their response to the current proposals is so strangely negative. I can’t make sense of it. It seems there is some politics going on being the scenes, but the City’s interpretation of what is currently on the table is so oddly skewed it bears examination.

For a start, the City explicitly state that the proposals will make the roads in question worse for pedestrians.

The overall impact of the current proposals on pedestrians, local access and the environment are not in keeping with the Mayor of London‟s Vision to “create better places for everyone”.

Apparently, the current proposals have such an impact on pedestrians, they can’t be said to create a ‘better place’ for them. Elsewhere -

Officers believe that TfL’s proposals will have a significant adverse impact on the City. In particular to pedestrians, traffic flow, access and network resilience. It also fails to sufficiently address other challenges such as casualty reduction, air quality and the built environment.

‘Significant adverse impact’, in particular on pedestrians. Justified? Here are the new crossings that will be provided, listed by the  City in a table, which I’ve annotated. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 19.24.45 Of the 14 listed, 12 are an (often substantial) improvement. The two that are worse are negligibly worse – the ‘2-stage’ crossing listed is a crossing of the road, then a crossing of the cycle track. This also applies to other ‘2-stage’ crossings listed above – they are not conventional two stage crossings – they are a crossing of the road in one go, followed by another (signalised) crossing of the cycle track, much better than crossing two large carriageways in two stages.

Three of the junctions mentioned currently have no pedestrian signals on one , two, or all of their arms.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 19.35.29

The Queen Street Place crossing. Currently no signals for pedestrians. A safe, proper crossing will be delivered here, with the Superhighway.

Likewise, the east and west side of Ludgate Circus have no pedestrian signals. You have to guess when it’s safe to cross. Proper crossings will come with the Superhighways.

No signals for pedestrians at all on all four arms of the Farringdon Road/Charterhouse St junction. Crossings coming on all 4 arms, single stage on 3.

No signals for pedestrians at all on all four arms of the Farringdon Road/Charterhouse St junction. Crossings coming on all 4 arms, single stage on 3 of them.

The Tower Hill/Minories junction would be a huge improvement, as you can see below.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 20.21.55

Left – existing THREE STAGE crossing. Right – proposed, direct crossing

The City have this to say -

Whilst most of these new crossings are welcomed and long overdue, a number of them are proposed to be the “stagger” type crossings. These are crossings where pedestrian will need to cross in two attempts (two stages) and are therefore less than ideal.

Given that these “stagger” crossings are being put in place where there are currently no signals at all for pedestrians, this strikes me as being a little uncharitable. But if the City – in good faith – are calling for more direct crossings as part of these proposals, then that is very welcome. There is no reason at all why direct crossings can’t work with segregated cycle tracks – in reality, a number of these crossings remain two-stage to preserve motor traffic capacity, not for anything specifically related to cycling.

It’s also worth pointing out that – as mentioned above – there are two very different kinds of ‘stagger’ crossings. There are the current, horrible ones on the Embankment, which leave you stranded on a narrow island in four lanes of thunderous motor traffic.

Nearly every single crossing on the Embankment is like this.

Nearly every single crossing on the Embankment is like this.

Then there are the ‘stagger’ crossings that will replace every single one of these unpleasant crossings, which are of this form -

A direct crossing of the road, followed by a crossing of the cycle track.

A direct crossing of the road, followed by a crossing of the cycle track.

These are very different beasts, and the latter has to be acknowledged as a massive improvement, even if it remains a ‘two stage’ crossing.

So the crossings – while plainly not ideal – are almost in every case a large improvement on what is currently in place. The City are right to call for more – and one should welcome the chance to make things even better for pedestrians. But do the current proposals really justify comments about ‘significant adverse impacts’ on pedestrians? I’m not seeing it. Even the space gains for pedestrians (several thousand square metres) are accepted slightly churlishly by the City -

Although the proposals provide more pedestrian space, they are not necessarily at the locations where they are most needed such as the large islands north of Ludgate Circus or the islands forming the cycle lane segregation. In fact, the proposal looks to reduce footway space, particularly outside areas where high pedestrian flows exist such as at the Tower of London, Trinity Square Gardens, Queen Street and Ludgate Circus.

Footway space is, in truth, being marginally trimmed at these locations. Ludgate Circus is both gaining and losing some footway space -

'Salmon' colour is new space; red outline, the old kerblines

‘Salmon’ colour is new space; purple outline, the old kerblines

… while the losses at Trinity Square and Queen Street are really quite marginal, especially in the context of the public space behind the carriageway in both these locations. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 21.28.56 Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 21.30.06 To focus on these minor changes, as against the major gains elsewhere, again seems churlish. This is without even touching upon the large overall benefit to pedestrians from the way these schemes move motor traffic further away from footways – making for quieter, more comfortable and attractive experience – and the benefits from the banned turns for motor traffic, making it substantially easier to cross many of the minor side roads covered in these schemes. None of this mentioned by the City, at all.

The remaining pedestrian-specific issue the City raises are the longer waiting times at some of the pedestrian crossings, particularly at Ludgate Circus, where waits could be up to 24 seconds longer. But, as with ‘staggered’ crossings, this issue of timings is entirely related to maintaining motor traffic capacity. There is no incompatibility between cycling infrastructure and short waits to cross the road – the problem is the motor traffic.

The City’s position here is – rightly – that crossing times have to be shorter, but something has to give, and that ‘something’ should be motor traffic, not safe and attractive cycling conditions. Unfortunately it’s not clear where the City stand on this issue, particularly as they are making noises about delay to motor traffic elsewhere in their response, and also because of their strange comments about the Superhighway schemes being ‘biased’ towards cycling.

[The Superhighways] will run mostly on TfL roads, be direct and largely segregated. At junctions, conflicts between motor vehicles and cyclists will be removed. In order to achieve these design objectives, the reallocation of road space, amended signal times and restricted access is proposed. The City considers that the proposals are too heavily biased towards cyclists with insufficient consideration given to the needs of other users.

Funnily enough, ‘removing conflicts’ at junctions, and physically separating between them, is exactly what TfL should be doing on these busy roads – these designs, despite the ‘bikelash’ hype, are really the bare minimum.

So, from this passage, it seems the City believe that the mere act of designing properly is enough to render these proposals ‘too heavily biased towards cyclists’. (To look at this another way, how might the proposals becomes less ‘biased’? Maintaining conflicts at lethal junctions like Ludgate Circus, or Blackfriars? Continuing to mix people cycling with HGVs and coaches on Lower Thames Street, rather than separating them?) My concern, from this kind of comment about ‘bias’, and from comments elsewhere that

the segregation design would significantly compromise network resilience

is that the City want to iron out these niggles, in some areas, over the quality of the pedestrian experience by watering down the quality of the Superhighway proposals, and even eroding them completely, rather than taking more time, and space, away from motor traffic. I hope that’s not the case.

Posted in City of London, London, Superhighways, Transport for London, Walking | 13 Comments

What would measuring overtaking distances in the Netherlands tell us about Dutch drivers? Very little

One of the presentations at last month’s London Cycling Campaign Seminar Series was from Ian Garrard of Brunel University. Ian was one of the authors – along with Ian Walker and Felicity Jowitt – of a paper examining the influence of a cyclist’s appearance on overtaking distance. The paper is freely available here, and well worth a read.

One of the standout findings is that 1-2% of the thousands of overtakes measured came within 50cm of the ‘trial subject’ (Ian himself) – and this on roads that included 60mph limits – and that this was consistently the case, regardless of the clothes he was wearing. It seems that a minority of drivers just don’t care, and will continue not to care, regardless of who they are overtaking, what they look like, and what they are wearing.

But I was most interested by this slide from Ian’s presentation.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 23.19.08Compared to 1979, British drivers – on average – now get 34% closer to people cycling while overtaking. (This is in just one region – the region in which the study was carried out – but likely to be reflected across Britain).

What’s the explanation? Are British drivers of today that much worse than those of 1979? That seems unlikely – there’s no standout reason why British drivers of the 1970s would have been trained any better, or behaved any better.

Ian Garrard’s (speculative) hypothesis is that motor traffic volume has substantially increased since 1979, which raises the risk of being on the receiving end of a close overtake. With lower traffic levels, it’s much easier to overtake correctly, as there’s less chance you will encounter a cyclist while there is oncoming traffic. With higher traffic levels, the ‘windows’ of an empty oncoming lane are more scarce, and the option of just ‘squeezing through’, instead of waiting patiently, becomes increasingly tempting.

The hypothesis is plausible, and worth examining in more detail – doubtless the closer overtakes would correspond to the busier roads, with the wider overtakes occurring on the quieter ones. I’ve observed – anecdotally – how easy it is form a misleading impression of continental drivers, based on the fact that British people cycling in Europe will generally be doing so in low traffic areas, at off-peak times – on holiday.

This issue of overtaking distance cropped up again, around about the same time as that LCC seminar, in a musing from Carlton Reid that Dutch drivers might give more overtaking distance – suggesting that Ian Walker use (or lend someone!) his proximity test in that country to find out whether that is true. My immediate instinct is that such a test would be fairly meaningless. For a start, on roads that carry significant volumes of motor traffic – above about 3-4000 PCU/day – it is almost always impossible for Dutch drivers to overtake closely to people cycling.

Will that HGV perform a close pass on people cycling here? Erm, no.

Will that HGV perform a close overtake on people cycling here? Erm, no.

Does this young girl have to worry about a close pass?

Does this young girl have to worry about a close pass?

Watch out! A bus!

Watch out! A bus!

Roads that carry high volumes of motor traffic, or where motor traffic is travelling at higher speeds, form part of a system where cyclists are catered for separately. They don’t have to share these roads, as a matter of design principle. And they won’t be overtaken closely, because it’s just impossible.

Of course, the remaining parts of the Dutch road network are places where Dutch cyclists will share with drivers, but these parts of the network are places where there is very little motor traffic; almost always below that 3-4000 PCU/day threshold. And so these are places where (Dutch) drivers will find it much easier to overtake properly – for the reasons discussed above.

These roads and streets will, for the most part, serve access purposes only; to residential areas in towns and cities…

A (retrofitted) access-only road in a 1960s Utrecht housing development. Only residents driving here.

A (retrofitted) access-only road in a 1960s Utrecht housing development. Only residents driving here.

or to link up properties in rural areas.

Not hard to overtake properly here.

Not hard to overtake properly here.

These rural roads will only be used by local motor traffic, because faster roads have been provided for drivers, and/or they are restricted as through routes. Consequently, there will be very little oncoming motor traffic, and very little opportunity to do crappy overtakes. Indeed, a basic rationale of Dutch sustainable safety is to remove the opportunity to perform a crappy overtake entirely.

The consequences of driver error, and driver stupidity, are slowly being designed out of Dutch roads and streets. So, really, measuring driver overtaking distance under this kind of system – sadly so very different to the prevailing conditions on British roads – would tell you very little about Dutch driver behaviour. It would be almost equivalent to measuring the distance with which British drivers overtake pedestrians.

 

Note – the one way in which a legitimate comparison might be made is to examine overtakes on two equivalent segments of road, in Britain and the Netherlands, of the same approximate width, carrying the same approximate volume of motor traffic.

Posted in Driver behaviour, Sustainable Safety, The Netherlands | 15 Comments

The Badgertown Exception

No, not the latest Matt Damon film. The ‘Badgertown Exception’ is a debating technique which employs the following logic.*

  • Cycling infrastructure requires x amount of space.
  • Here is Badger Street, Badgertown. It has many competing demands, and cycling infrastructure won’t fit.
  • Because cycling infrastructure won’t fit on Badger Street, cycling infrastructure is pointless/won’t work, anywhere, and we should employ other techniques, everywhere.

This kind of logic is actually employed by Hackney Councillor Vincent Stops – calling it the ‘Hackney Cycling Test’.

In response to someone suggesting that ‘dedicated space on main roads‘ has to form part of the answer to making cycling more attractive in Hackney, Stops suggests

You should take the test. How would you put segregation through Dalston Kingsland?

The implication being that because cycle tracks ‘won’t fit’ on Kingsland Road, by Dalston Kingsland station, the strategy of cycle tracks on main roads is entirely flawed, anywhere in Hackney.

This section of the A10 is undoubtedly a busy area, with competing demands for the space between the buildings. It’s a through route for motor traffic, there are bus stops, the footways are busy with pedestrians, and loading needs to take place.

The A10 at Dalston Kingsland

The A10 at Dalston Kingsland

Creating cycle tracks here would not be straightforward (although certainly not impossible). But even if it were impossible to do so, that doesn’t tell us anything about anywhere else in Hackney, nor should it. Failing a ‘test’ on one particular road shouldn’t rule out that design intervention everywhere else, any more than a failure to fit bus lanes on Dalston Kingsland means that bus lanes should be ruled out everywhere in Hackney.

It might be the case that Dalston Kingsland remains a ‘gap’ for the foreseeable future; one of those bits that are just difficult to get right. Dutch cities have these kinds of roads and streets too, places they haven’t really got around to sorting out yet, because of similar competing demands. Mixed use streets where children have to cycle outside parking and loading bays, on a route shared with buses, for instance.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 23.36.16

Importantly, however, these are the gaps, not the model itself. These gaps are only really tolerable because the rest of the network is so good – good enough to keep large numbers of people flowing through these low quality areas. The city of Utrecht did not look at the street above and think – ‘well, it’s quite hard to fit in decent cycling infrastructure here, so that rules out the principle entirely – let’s give up.’

Utrecht got on with creating good conditions everywhere else, and at some point in the future will presumably revisit this street and come up with a decent solution.

By the same token, Dalston Kingsland tells us nothing about the kind of treatments that are available, and could be employed, on other main roads in Hackney. Difficulty on one section of road should not rule out attempts to improve other parts of that road, or indeed other major roads.

DSCN0153 DSCN0147 DSCN0730 DSCN9837Equally, it would be silly to suggest that the current arrangement on Dalston Kingsland is ideal, or even ‘perfect’. It really isn’t. It’s unpleasant, and hostile, even for someone used to cycling on London’s roads.

Is this good enough?

Is this good enough?

Yet Stops is presenting this road as a perfect cycling scheme.

It’s true that putting cycle tracks here would require compromises; delaying motor traffic while making buses stop in the carriageway, for instance, or trimming some of that (wasted) footway space you can see in the picture above. But in acknowledging these compromises, we shouldn’t go so far as to suggest that the current scheme – which does very little to take cycling into consideration – is ‘perfect’ – or indeed that it should teach us anything about any other road or street.

 

Credit for the Badger Street, Badger Town formulation goes to Jim Davis

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

On being hit by a car. Or, why ‘mutual respect’ is incoherent.

Today marks the third anniversary of the last time I was hit by a motor vehicle.

It wasn’t the worst collision I’ve suffered, but it sticks in the memory, partly because it is the most recent, but also because – for whatever reason – when you are young you seem to have the ability to quickly slough off and dismiss incidents that would probably linger when you are older and wiser.

This particular crash occurred in the evening, at around a quarter to seven. I’d just been visiting a friend. I was exiting a cul-de-sac, approaching the T-junction at the end of the road, at which I was going to turn right. I was correctly positioned, as per Bikeability training, in the middle of my lane (ironically enough, I might not have been hit had I been hugging the kerb to my left, but that introduces other dangers).

About twenty metres from the junction, I realised a car approaching on the major road, from my left, was turning into the side road I was on, and it was doing so in a way that meant it was going to crash into me. It was turning in on my side of the road, straight at me.

Time slowed down, enough for me to process a number of thoughts.

  • Have they seen me? No.
  • What on earth is going on here? Are they going to stop? No.
  • Can I move out of the way in time? No.
  • Will yelling help? No.
  • Will this driver brake enough, so that the collision will be negligible? No.

This all took, almost certainly, less than second. Suddenly I was on the bonnet of the vehicle.

This is a curious and memorable experience, and I think it’s worth attempting to convey what it’s like.

Imagine the strongest human being you know. Then make them twenty times stronger. More. And made out of metal. Then imagine them running at you, at fifteen miles an hour.

When they hit you, there is no trading of momentum. The car doesn’t bounce off you like a human would, it just keeps coming at you, and I was suddenly travelling with it, in the opposite direction to which I made been travelling, a fraction of a second earlier.

Then – presumably once the driver had realised there was a person on her bonnet – the brakes were suddenly applied. The car quickly came to a halt, but I didn’t, flying back off the bonnet, suspended in mid air, before landing in the ground, in a tangle with my bike, my right hip and right elbow taking the impact.

I bruised up a fair bit over the next day, but fortunately my injuries were minor. I still have a bit of a scar on my elbow. My front wheel was ruined, but apart from that, my bike survived. Pleasingly (from my perspective) the car was not unscathed – a shattered numberplate -

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 22.27.01And a long, dent/scrape in the bonnet, presumably from where my bike landed on the car, beneath me.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 22.29.36The driver was (at the time) mortified – she couldn’t understand what had happened. We exchanged details, and I limped home.

A few days later, when I rang her up asking her for forty pounds to repair my front wheel (this was for a new rim – I was even going to the trouble of re-lacing the existing wheel, rather than demanding an entirely new one) she had a change of heart and accused me of riding without lights, before hanging up.

I texted her to point out that this was unlikely, especially as we had used my bike light to illuminate the exchanging of details. She backed down, and a cheque for forty pounds arrived a few days later.

I did go back and check how visible I would have been, from her perspective.

DSCN9616I was on my touring bike, which (then) had a Mk2 Strada Exposure fitted – a bright light, as good enough, approximately, as a car headlamp. The bike would have been in the middle of the lane, not propped up against the kerb, but the photograph gives a reasonable indication of the situation.

Even if I didn’t have a bike light, she should still have seen me. I could have been a pedestrian crossing the road, and she would have run me down in just the same way.

She just didn’t see me.

I don’t know why. She was pulling in to the parking bays in this cul-de-sac, so, at the end of her journey, at the end of the day, she must have switched off, assumed her journey was over and not realised that, driving on the wrong side of the road, cutting the corner, there might have been something, or someone, in the way.

What sticks with me about this incident is the impact, and how powerless I felt as it was occurring, and how powerful the motor vehicle beneath me was, how it just kept going, and how it stopped so abruptly.

And yet this was, in truth, a minor collision. (Because I went to the police station to report it the next day, it’s logged as such on Crashmap). At a rough guess I was hit by a car travelling at around 10-15mph, that was probably already slowing. I bounced off, landed on the road, and recovered from my bruises and scrapes.

I was already a careful rider, but the incident has made me even more cautious. Worst case scenarios run through my mind. If I see a driver approaching a Give Way line, waiting to join the road I am cycling on, I really, really make sure they are going to stop, and think about what evasive action I might take, should they fail to yield. When I approach a main road, I am really, really wary of drivers who might be turning in on my side of the road. Understandably.

I know what a minor collision feels like, so I really don’t want to suffer a serious one. A minor one is bad enough, and I shudder to think about harder impacts, impacts at greater speed, impacts I can’t limp away from.

Every time I hear the expression ‘mutual respect’, I’m transported back to that moment when I’m on the bonnet of a black car, a car that has just driven through me, scooping me up, before unceremoniously dumping me on the tarmac, and my helplessness to avoid the collision, or do anything about it while it was occurring. The difference in power was total.

What kind of ‘mutuality’ are we really talking about, when this is the reality of interaction between motor vehicles, and human beings, when collisions occur? Presumably only ‘do your best not to be hit’. A pretty shallow form of respect.

Posted in mutual respect | 24 Comments

Why is the Evening Standard’s transport correspondent presenting the Superhighway proposals in the worst possible light?

A short piece on the Evening Standard’s reporting of the Superhighway proposals.

The first article in the Standard came on the 11th September, entitled Business leaders in revolt over Boris Johnson’s cycle superhighway plans, quoting an (unnamed) business leader describing the plan as ‘an absolute mess’ that ‘will cause gridlock’, without providing any evidence to back up these claims. This ‘gridlock’ theme is one the paper returned to later, as we shall see.

The next article appeared nearly a week later, on the 18th September. This was an ‘exclusive’ which revealed, in a large headline, that

Mayor’s new £48m cycle superhighway would have to be removed after just one year to make way for supersewer construction

Really? In the article, an unnamed ‘source’ (another one) had this to say -

“The idea is that they do the cycle superhighway in 2015 and then in 2016 take it out all again for Thames Water. The concern is you are going to have to pay tens of millions of pounds and you are going to have to take it all out.”

The implication of this comment (and the article in general) is that tens of millions of pounds will be going to waste; once the Superhighway is built, TfL will ‘have to take it all out’. But the ‘tens of millions of pounds’ cost of the Superhighways is for the whole project, both E-W and N-S routes, from end-to-end. How much of the Superhighways might have to be taken out for the ‘supersewer’?

The Thames Tideway Tunnel website confirms that between Horse Guards Avenue and Northumberland Avenue along the Victoria Embankment a section of “roadway and pavement” will be required on the westbound carriageway.

How long is this section?

Supersewer distance

… Just 200 metres.

A tiny, tiny percentage of the whole Superhighways scheme. And in any case -

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL said: “We are working closely with Thames Water to ensure that there is no impact on the superhighway. It is planned that in the event of any closures, a safe, segregated and clearly signed cycle lane will be installed to get cyclists past the works.”

This silly article was followed on the 23rd September by an article that contained this bizarre passage -

… transport chiefs have pledged that all major sports will be able to take place as usual along the Victoria Embankment despite the [Superhighway] changes.

It follows concerns that there would be insufficient space to stage the BUPA 10k, British 10k, Royal Parks 10k and half marathon, London triathlon, and cycling’s Tour of Britain.

Again, unnamed, unreferenced ‘concerns’, this time about sporting events being unable to take place – ‘concerns’ that are completely unjustified. Here’s Leon Daniels again -

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL said: “Major sporting events in the capital will not be affected by the east-west Superhighway.”

Sporting events – just like supersewers – will happily coexist with the Superhighways. But plainly they are extremely ‘concerning’ for the anonymous people being quoted in the Standard. Where next for this paper, in its trawl for negative things to write about this project?

Yesterday Transport for London published the (projected) effects of the Superhighways on journey times for motor vehicles, and the effects on pedestrian crossing times. The Standard splashed with the headline

Car journeys to take 16 minutes longer because of bike highways

Which was subsequently changed to include the crucial detail ‘up to 16 minutes longer’ -the original wording is contained in this tweet from the author, Matthew Beard.

Update – Beard has now set his tweets to private, so here is a screen capture of that tweet.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 16.08.49

As the article reveals, this ’16 minute’ figure is the very worst case scenario, the maximum possible delay for people driving from the Limehouse Link to Hyde Park, at peak times.

The TfL summary of effects of the E-W route is here, and the table of modelling impacts is here. The effects on motoring journey times is shown below. The right hand columns show the difference, either positive or negative, if the scheme were to be implemented, against current journey times. The ‘headline’ figure is in the top row.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.48.01Notice that for most of the other motoring journeys, the effect on journey times is negligible, or even beneficial. This hasn’t been reported by the Standard.

From the same table, here’s the potential delay to pedestrians at a variety of crossings (in seconds). The right hand columns show the difference in maximum waiting time, in the AM and PM peak, if the Superhighways were to be built.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.55.41

At worst – 9 seconds, and mostly no change. This should be set in the context of a 4000 square metre gain of pedestrian space, 25 crossings being shortened, and 4 staggered crossings changed to direct crossings. The figures released by TfL confirm that the project as a whole will offer significant benefits to pedestrians.

Much the same is true of the north-south route. Again, the net gain for pedestrians will be 3000 square metres, there will be six shortened crossings, and three staggered crossings will become direct crossings.

Amazingly TfL don’t even mention new crossings, like the one on the north side of the Blackfriars Bridge junction.

No crossing here at present (top). There will be one with the Superhighway.

No crossing here at present (top). There will be one with the Superhighway.

The modelling suggests that maximum waits for a green signal for pedestrians will increase by up to 24 seconds at some crossings, but as Cycalogical points out, this extra delay (indeed, any delay at pedestrian crossings) is purely a function of an attempt to accommodate motor traffic, rather than cycle tracks, in and of themselves. More people cycling means less motor traffic, and less delay for pedestrians, in the long term.

One final point here is that the TfL modelling (as is increasingly becoming clear) is extremely conservative, not least because these figures are based on static motor traffic. The modelling assumes no continuing decline in motor traffic in central London, and no modal shift to cycling.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 13.19.02

From the TfL summary

The Evening Standard has chosen to focus on the very worst headline figures from the TfL modelling release, without setting them in context, or even mentioning  the positive effects of the Superhighways, either for drivers, or pedestrians, or for the functioning of London as a modern multi-modal city. Getting more people cycling – rather than causing causing gridlock – is in reality a way of avoiding it.

The Standard’s latest report fits into a pattern of negativity about the Superhighways, with worst case scenarios, and unjustified ‘concerns’ from unnamed sources, forming the basis for articles. What’s going on?

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments