Enough is enough

Dave Horton’s excellent Cycling Struggles series continued on Thursday, taking a look at pavement cycling, and how conflict has been created between two user groups that really should co-exist quite harmoniously. I urge you to read it (indeed, read the whole set, if you’ve got time over Christmas), because it is highly pertinent.

The particular passage I’d like to dwell on is this one -

The currently dominant transport order almost enforces styles of cycling which are antithetical to the calm, unhurried orientation towards pedestrians which would in a civilised society be normal. To survive, city cyclists often need to hurry. I doubt I’m alone in sometimes feeling almost primed to fight by my experience of city cycling. A refusal to engage in such ‘fighting’ is of course one of the reasons people take to cycling on pavements; but the fight remains, only the terrain and actors change.

Cycling’s in a fix. Mixing with cars pushes us to ‘hurry up’; mixing with pedestrians compels us to ‘slow down’. There’s work to do here; and in making cities fit for cycling we must also ensure cycling becomes fit for cities.

Our current road layouts and road conditions have created two types of cyclists; the faster, confident cyclist, able (although not always willing) to mix with motor traffic at motor traffic-type speeds. And, by complete contrast, the pavement cyclist; the person who just doesn’t feel like cycling on a certain type of road, and defaults, socially or antisocially, depending on their persuasion, to the pavement.

An awful irony is that both of these types of cyclists are quite unpleasant for pedestrians. Confident cyclists, travelling at car-like speeds, are unnverving, because they are fast and (almost) completely silent. Likewise the pavement cyclist – even the careful and considerate one – can also be unnerving. Dave Horton’s piece is very good at highlighting how the subjective perception of pedestrians – particularly vulnerable ones – is often at odds with how careful some cyclists think they might be.

Neither of these types of behaviour is all that compatible with civilised town and city centres, especially fast cycling. It is undeniable that cycling faster than 20 mph will inevitably become unacceptable on certain types of street. This is not to say that cyclists will no longer be able to make progress on these streets; just that there will have to be a trade-off between rapidity and a calm street environment.

The trouble is that a great proportion of current cyclists, particularly those in London, are precisely those types who cycle at speeds approaching 20 mph, or over, and who engage in long commutes. I don’t blame these cyclists for travelling at these speeds. Indeed, I do so myself when I am in London, or at least try to. You have to try and cycle fast, because it is urged upon you by the road environment. You simply can’t make right turns, or negotiate roundabouts, at lower speeds.

But how compatible is this kind of speed with a civilised London? We can’t simultaneously urge a calming of the street environment, and still expect to cycle just as fast as we like on any street. There will inevitably be places where cycling has to become more social, and more part of the fabric of the street. More like walking, in other words. Not walking speed itself, but a more responsible speed, around pedestrians. This is precisely the point Dave Horton makes -

Challenges lie ahead for people who’ve kept riding through the time of the car. Speaking for myself, I’ve become used to riding fast and assertively, but such riding will become less and less appropriate. I need to broaden my repertoire of styles of riding in the city, learning to enjoy slow and sedate as much as fast and furious!

This brings me to Transport for London’s proposed designs for the bus stops on the extension of Superhighway 2, through Newham.

Courtesy of the Evening Standard

Courtesy of the Evening Standard

There are a few minor things wrong with this design. The kerbs are too sharp vertically (I am told that the Superhighway planners have not heard of 45° kerbs, which is slightly astonishing), and the corners of the entry to the track are also too sharp. But the principle is exactly right. Instead of placing a bus in a recessed stop, and allowing motor traffic to pass freely, the bus will be held in front of motor traffic, while bicycles can instead pass freely. The track is in the area of the bus stop.

Why this kind of design is so important can be explained quite simply – employing it creates a stretch of road that parents will feel comfortable letting their children cycle on. Few parents would seriously consider letting their children cycle in, around and outside motor traffic on Stratford High Street, negotiating their way into a stream of motor cars to pass stopped buses, however carefully those motor vehicles might be being driven. By contrast, this design creates a high degree of subjective safety, eliminating completely complex interactions with motor traffic.

It is standard practice on the continent to arrange bus stops like this, for the obvious reason that it makes cycling available to all.

Potterstraat, Utrecht. A bus stop is passed in complete comfort.

Potterstraat, Utrecht. A bus stop is passed in complete comfort.

Pedestrian entry to the bus stop. Negotiated with cyclists.

Pedestrian entry to the bus stop. Negotiated with cyclists.

Amsterdam. Bus stop passed without interaction with buses.

Amsterdam. Bus stop passed without interaction with buses.

A rural example, just outside Assen.

A rural example, just outside Assen.

A busier location, in Groningen

A busier location, in Groningen

The design solves the problem of constant ‘overlapping’ between buses and cyclists; buses having to overtake cyclists between stops, and the cyclists having to negotiate their way back past the bus every time it stops. It does mean, however, that pedestrians are ‘severed’ (I use the word in inverted commas quite deliberately, because I don’t think they really should be ‘severed’ at all) from the bus stop.

This creates the perception of a problem for two distinct groups. On the on hand, existing ‘fast’ cyclists, who are worried that pedestrians will get in their way, and step without looking into the track. And on the other, more vulnerable pedestrians, who do not want to interact with bicycles, at all.

It should be quite clear that for those ‘fast’ cyclists, their behaviour will have to adapt (I include myself in this group). You will no longer be able to hammer through some parts of London. You will have to be more responsible in certain areas, particularly outside shops and bus stops. You will have to watch out for pedestrians, who will be often be unpredictable. This isn’t just about cycle tracks around bus stops; It’s is a necessary component of creating a more liveable city. We’ve ended up with a cohort of cyclists trying to act like motor vehicles, and as we tame the motor vehicle, so we will have to tame precisely these cyclists.

If Transport for London starts to create cycling infrastructure that makes cycling possible for all, then I think this transition will happen quite organically. Cycling in town and city centres will become dominated, naturally, by those who are not capable of cycling fast, or who have no desire to do so, and this will create a new standard of behaviour. Cycling fast will still be possible, of course -

A roadie in Amsterdam

A roadie in Amsterdam

This gentleman was making very rapid progress out of the city; however, I expect he moderated his speed and behaviour where pedestrians and interactions with them were more likely.

A calmer style of cycling would go some way towards adjusting the perception of cyclists by many pedestrians – particularly disabled groups – as ‘the silent menace’. You only have to look at the mock-up that Transport for London have created of the bus stop to see the difficulty; they have used an image of a fast-looking cyclist, with helmet and hunched over position, onto the cycle track. So I have some sympathy with pedestrians who are concerned; understandably, they are imagining the cyclists who currently use the roads being transplanted directly onto a cycle track, which they have to cross to get to a bus stop.

But it doesn’t need to be like this. Crossing roads and tracks with cyclists – even lots of them – is so much easier when cycling is more civilised, and on more equitable terms with pedestrians.

DSCN0083

DSCN0294

Enough is enough – we need to break out of the loop we are currently stuck in. Our decades-long attempt to make cycling a form of transport equivalent to the motor vehicle has only succeeded in creating hostility towards cycling from the one group with which we have most in common – the pedestrian. Seen as a fast, lycra-clad menace, or as anti-social pavement invaders (indeed, these two tropes are often blended into one), the act of cycling has unnecessarily been made hostile to walking, through bad design, and bad policy.

The Transport for London plans in Newham are a big step in the right direction; road space is being reclaimed from the motor vehicle, and an environment is being created in  which anyone can cycle in comfort. Bus stops designs like this are a crucial part of that overall vision. Let’s not lose sight of the goal of making cycling a part of the humanising fabric in towns and cities, with its own space where it needs it, and with care and concern for the more vulnerable.

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44 Responses to Enough is enough

  1. Ken Barker says:

    I think there are issues of speed [reduction] and sharing space [with pedestrians / bus passengers] in the transfer from ‘Superhighways’ to the cycle path to the back of bus stops, as with all transitions between “on-road” and “off-road” routes. It’s better to have what seems to be the practice in Holland, that paths to the back of bus stops are continuations that are separate from the road, I believe. The test for the need for separate cycling facilities remains the speed and volume of traffic on the road.

  2. There is a real problem, particularly with the fast commuting types, who treat pedestrians with contempt. I have seen very disturbing comments made on some cycle forums about pedestrians, and have tried to point out to the peeps that the same type of comments can be found on motoring forums referring to cyclists. The act of riding a bicycle does not (sadly) make you a better person. We do need to civilise out urban streets and make them more friendly inviting places for people. even if this does mean banning Cat Six racing. A good first step is to build good quality cycle infrastructure and this needs to be followed by throwing out “CycleCraft”…

  3. Useful points to make, though not new. More than a decade ago I recall Paul Gannon of Camden Cycling Campaign putting this very clearly as a policy point, in the light of his experience of the Netherlands: he said something like: “Those fast cyclists who object to segregated cycle facilities because they think they will hold them up need to understand that if we are to achieve mass cycling, irrespective of the infrastructure, whether we use a network of segregated cycle tracks, or just roads, they would still have to slow down. On the roads, they would be slowed down by large numbers of the kinds of cyclists who are currently excluded. They would be in a tiny minority in a mass cycling society, and their desire to cycle fast wouldn’t count for very much”. He was saying, as well, that the style of cycling that has been forced on us by the vehicular cycling movement is unsustainable, not compatible with people-centred cities.

  4. Cue a hundred angry hardcore cyclists: “But my commute is 30 miles each way and is only possible at an average of 25mph and this might stop me doing that speed. I don’t care if every man, woman and child has access to safe, easy cycling, if there’s the slightest chance it will interfere with my adrenaline-filled danger sport then I will vigorously oppose it. Death to non-cyclists! Long live John Franklin! All hail John Forester! Now, who wants to talk about bike frames?”

    • Ken Barker says:

      What sort of response is that Schrodinger’s Cat? I don’t get the sarcasm. As is pointed out in the blog, it’s about cycling infrastructure design that works for everyday cyclists. Roadcraft isn’t in opposition to this – in fact, it’s complementary – and “hardcore” road cyclists can choose to ignore the cycle path of course, without endangering non cyclists.

      • livinginabox says:

        I believe Schrödinger’s Cat was being ironic.

      • In any discussion of Dutch-style cycle facilities, there is always at least one fast commuting cyclist who fears that one day they’ll be forced to use such cycle paths against their will, and that it will slow their commute down. (I was right, too – see below!)

        For me, I have no objection to those cyclists choosing to remain on the main carriageway with the motor vehicles – but there should be no dual network, as it takes up too much space and is confusing. Vehicular cycling should mean just that – riding on roads as they are, designed for motor vehicles.

  5. Ranty says:

    Huh. I wish I could maintain 25mph to work – I am not built for speed. Thinking about CS2, it is mainly a blue stripe and so not even and advisory lane, so the bus stop picture is leaps ahead. It will be interesting if TfL take away traffic space to do a proper job though. 45 degree splay kerbs are not seen very much, normally on rural A roads to help people bounce onto the verge in an emergency. But, they are standard stock for manufacturers and have ramp units to make dropped kerbs as well, so should be an easy thing to provide. There will be two issues with this kind of layout and that will be the impact on business loading in terms of delivery people having to get loading cages across the track and if there is parking to the right of the track, thought will need to be given to less able passengers who will find it difficult to step down and up the track kerbs. Possibly, the layout needs designated loading and accessible parking bays with similar layouts to the bus stops

  6. londondev says:

    I have a long commute on my bike (20 miles each way), I average around 18 mph on this commute. Since I already cycle into London and back I already have a high level of tolerance for crap infrastructure and drivers who don’t know what they’re doing. I don’t want infrastructure built to cater for me, I want it built to release the latent demand for cycling. To me this means, proper Dutch style infrastructure, which is wide, well maintained and segregated. If that means slowing down my speed because there are thousands more people, young and old, have taken it up then I’ll gladly get myself a sit-up-and-beg. In my long commutes, I am always surprised when I see a lady or gent in normal clothes (whether that be a long skirt or suit and smart shoes), my second thought after being surprised is: why am I surprised, these are the people who should be cycling to get from A to B; “the cyclists” should not consists of the lycra clad racing bike type blokes (and it is mainly blokes) like me. Give me proper infrastructure and my current road bike will be for long rides out to the country side at weekends only. I’m off to look for a Dutch Shopper bike in anticipation.

  7. PaulM says:

    First a little anecdote. I bought myself a new bike for Christmas. It isn’t Dutch, rather German, but the concept is basically the same – step-through frame (makes it easier to mount with big shopping panniers on the back), sit-up-and-beg posture etc. Riding it back from the shop in Bloomsbury to Waterloo for the journey home, I immediately found myself doing quite the opposite of what I typically do on my Brompton – I slowed down. “This is nice” I thought, “you don’t feel the need to hurry”. And of course over shorter distances, hurrying doesn’t actually save any time. I really was feeling rather pleased with myself.

    Then, in Aldwych, I was overtaken by a bus, which as he passed me, closed in towards the kerb to the point that I had my wheels against the kerb and my shoulder almost in contact with the side of the bus. No alternative but to stop, fast, and let him get ahead. One brand new bike inches from being trashed, let alone what might have happened to me.

    When I tackled him at the next bus stop he claimed not to have seen me. Well, whatever, but I do feel that the unhurried style of my riding at that point was not making things any safer for me. You’re right, hammering along is a survival strategy, indeed Forester/Franklin’s entire these of vehicular cycling is a survival strategy for motor roads – fine as far as it goes, if only they wouldn’t then acts as though that has to be the only way.

    The main point though, I think, is that not only are we largely conditioned by the environment to cycle furiously (in the traditional as well as modern senses of the word) but by the types of bicycle we ride. The retail market is dominated by MTBs or skinny tyred racers, so that is what most people buy because they have no real exposure to more suitable alternatives. With more suitable bikes and more suitable attire, I am sure that we could co-exist with pedestrians much more easily, in those relatively few situations where it is actually necessary for us to be mixed, to share the same space.

    The issue of shared space is a contentious one, especially for vulnerable pedestrians, such as blind or partially sighted people. The examples we have of “sharing” with motor vehicles are not, in my view, good examples to follow and certainly don’t conform with what I imagine Hans Monderman had in mind with “Naked Streets”. Exhibition Road for example, doesn’t strike me as any safer or more pleasant since its multimillion pound makeover. When addressed to sharing in a pedestrian context, ie with cyclists only, the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind (not, as I erroneously tweeted recently, the RNIB) is an active and vocal campaigner against shared space, through their “Say No to Shared Streets” campaign. http://gdbass.netefficiency.co.uk/index.php?id=204 I haven’t downloaded their campaign materials because I don’t want to add yet another website to the list of who has my personal details but the gist of it seems to relate to shared surface streets, ie no visual or tactile clues to which bits are for pedestrians and which for vehicles – or cyclists, in a pedestrianised context.

    GDB campaigned vocally to ban cyclists from the pedestrianised are in Woking Town Centre, and I understand that they have a significant number of staff working on this campaign around the country. A similar campaign was mounted in Gloucester, although I believe there the campaign was led by the Macular Disease Society, another blind/partially sighted charity. In Woking, the local cycle campaign has fought back against this and their riposte can be read in an open letter on their website http://www.wokingcycle.org.uk/shared_space_-_open_letter.html To be honest, I don’t have a long enough attention span to take this in, but I did struggle to follow it. It seems to say that GDB have through their own campaigning created the fear of cyclists which they subsequently uncovered in their opinion surveys, which the writer considers to have a flawed methodology anyway. It also appears to support the DfT position on dedicated spaces, quoting

    Part of the Department for Transport (DfT) Cycle Infrastructure Design guidance states:

    “4.3.8 Pedestrians and cyclists often claim a preference for marked cycle routes within pedestrianised areas (Davies et al., 2003). However, in practice this can lead to higher cycle speeds and greater potential for conflict. Defining the cycle route may therefore not be the best solution in these cases.” [4]

    This strikes me as (a) true, in our current context and (b) capable of being rectified, if we address the issue the right way, and in that respect, I am 100% with you on the notion that we should place the interests of the great majority of [potential] cyclists who would ride gently ahead of the small minority of [current] cyclists who want to behave like cars. David Arditti responded to my tweet (traducing RNIB) last night with “Strikes me than the best thing for cycling orgs to do is to join with them – call for separate cycle paths instead”.

    • I had exactly the same experience as you, Paul, with the German bike, probably the same make as yours, and probably bought from the same shop. I used it around Camden, Westminster and the City, and liked it and the relaxed style of cycling it engendered, and the fact that it was really well-built, with everything you needed built-in so it couldn’t fall off. But when I moved to outer London and stopped cycling regularly in those places, I sold it. It was the wrong bike for coping with the big uncontrolled roundabouts and urban motorways of outer London, it was less safe than a fast, light touring bike on those roads. Sad.

  8. Luv 2 Cycle says:

    My max for cycling on roads is 10mph and on pavements and shared paths it’s 5mph slowing to 3mph when passing pedestrians.

    Over the next decade as more and more segregated cycling is created I think the adrenaline monkeys will automatically slow down. For a while they will ignore the segregation and still use the road, but within the next 10 years they will be hitting their 40s, 50s and 60s and will gradually make their way to the cycle paths and ride at a more sedate speed. As we get older we become more aware of our own mortality and take far less risks. In the meantime, the cyclists coming up with automatically use any and all cycling facilities provided.

    I also think pedestrians are becoming more used to sharing space with cyclists. All councils now have been forcing us to share the majority of pavements for a long time, and it’s only the few die hard pedestrians that are, and will continue, to complain about sharing, even complaining about wanting to ban mobility scooters. Those fighting for the blind and disabled will also have to accept that many cyclists are disabled and cycle because it’s a way of getting around when one is too disabled to walk far.

    Cyclists are far closer to pedestrians in species than they are to motorists, therefore it’s logical when one is building separate space for cyclists to build it nearer to pedestrian paths than to build it close to roads.

    I do think though that as segregated cycling facilities are created that the part of the highway code that applies to cycling will need revising. If much of our segregation is going to take us into close contact with pedestrians it needs different types of rules to be created. In the future there will be far more of those that will have never taken the driving test and therefore would never even have read the highway code, so perhaps a smaller, separate Cyclists Code should be written and published.

  9. Some people seem to curse the division between cyclists and pedestrians created by motor-centric design and then turn to creating a division between fast cyclists and slow cyclists. Yet, when pressed, I think all of you would answer the question “what is the solution to bad road behaviour?” with “good design”. The TFL design is a step in the right direction, but it falls far short of continental standards. Fast cycling should be supported on trunk routes like this but you have all spotted that this situation is going to lead to ped/cyclist conflict. Yet now you are saying behavioural change is the key to resolving the conflict, instead of good design.

    Note how the TFL design differs from all the continental examples given

    1) Cyclists start off sharing road space with the bus
    2) Cyclists must take a sharp left to exit the road to continue straight on
    3) Cyclists must take a sharp right to re-enter the road after the bus stop, presumably giving way as they do

    As David Hembrow would say, the good design has been “lost in translation”. This is ultimately space related, they have tried to cram a bus stop, cycle path and pavement into too small a space, because they refuse to lose a lane of motor traffic. Please don’t create divisions between faster and slower cyclists when the enemy is the same that it has always been, the domination of the urban realm by space dedicated to motorised vehicles.

    • 3rdWorldCyclinginGB says:

      Nasty blue too.

      But, to continue this line. Are there more cyclist KSIs by bus stops than anywhere else? Is it the most threatening place for cyclists to negotiate? If not, why isn’t the budget being targeted at reducing the danger at the most unsafe/threatening areas, which I was under the impression were fast stretches of road, roundabouts and junctions?

      @ Luv 2 Cycle. I hope you’re right (except the bit about oldies like me slowing down!).

      @Voleospeed – maybe it isn’t new, but a new generation of cyclists may not have read Paul Gannon’s words so the article and comments are a timely review of the issues.

      • I haven’t ever seen anyone lay out a case for a correlation between bus stops as cyclist KSI hot spots but it would hardly be necessary. Not only is it obvious that these manoeuvres are dangerous they don’t feel ‘subjectively safe’. It’s not pleasant or fun to have to navigate these areas of conflict and you certainly wouldn’t want your children doing it.

    • Fast cycling should be supported on trunk routes like this but you have all spotted that this situation is going to lead to ped/cyclist conflict. Yet now you are saying behavioural change is the key to resolving the conflict, instead of good design.

      That’s not quite what I’m saying – I’m sorry if I gave that impression. I certainly think infrastructure should be suitable for all, and on trunk routes you should certainly be *able* to cycle as fast as on the road. I suppose I was making a more broader point about whether you *should* cycle as fast as you can on the road, especially in areas where there might be more pedestrians. I definitely wasn’t attempting to suggest that fast cyclists are necessarily antisocial, or to create divisions. I’m a fast cyclist myself, and I want infrastructure suitable for all.

      Design is certainly the solution to minimising conflict, not attempting to change behaviour. I did stress in the piece that change in behaviour is likely to arise organically as a natural response to a changed environment.

      Regarding your last paragraph – as far as I know, this route through Newham will be fully segregated, and will take a lane away from motor traffic on Stratford High Street. That is what I have been told by some of the people working for TfL.

  10. livinginabox says:

    As a utility cyclist who carries ‘stuff’, I normally cycle between ~10-20 mph, but mostly towards the lower half. I primarily cycle on the road. In my experience the shared paths on the pavement are so rough and generally awful that 10 mph would be an aspiration, even when there are no pedestrians around.
    Of course cyclists need to moderate their speed when pedestrians are around. I slow down when approaching pedestrians and mostly upon ringing my bell they move over and I thank them. In cities the behaviour is quite different. People seem much more aggressive and intolerant. Some peds, walking line-abreast on cycle paths are plain belligerent and become angry when they feel ‘scolded’ (how?) by a bell.
    All road users need to be considerate. pedestrians are notoriously incautious about stepping suddenly without warning or looking into the road, or cycle path , and are utterly oblivious to a loud bicycle-bell, (even when events reveal they have perfectly good hearing).
    There are bad pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

    Roll-on segregated Dutch-type infrastructure. (but they’ll need ‘pedestrians- use separate path’ signs). At least then, I’ll be able to experience the true joy of cycling, rather than constantly needing to remain vigilant for stupid drivers on the phone, and volunteers for SMIDSY duty.

    Much UK cycle infrastructure is impassable at least in places with a luggage trailer*, or even a standard bicycle carrying panniers, other non-standard bicycles (due to greater length, or width, or a combination). As for cargo bikes or a velomobile, forget it.

    * Try lugging a towing bike and bike trailer complete with payload (an Azor Dutch-bike from Velorution**) up steps! Just to make it more fun, it was pissing with rain and there was a width restriction at the top.
    I had to unload trailer, separate towing bike from trailer. Carry all three up to the top, then each through the width restriction and reassemble. Not much fun!
    Note: This was a route I had never used before and will probably never use again. I surveyed it from Google satellite beforehand, but overlooked the steps.

    ** Azor are good bikes, but I will never buy another bike from Velorution.

    • Luv 2 Cycle says:

      I often have problems with my tricycle because of the width and weight.

      Sustrans in their wisdom encouraged overpass bridges for crossing our duel carriage way (aptly named Sustrans Way). I tried to push the trike up and over (obviously cyclists have to dismount as per usual) and it did me up like a kipper. At the top the council have placed a staggered metal barrier which is such a tight turn that I have to shuffle my trike back and forth and lift it at the back end to swing it around to get it through.

      I don’t use that bridge anymore. Instead I have to cycle half a mile out of my way to cross elsewhere and then cycle back to where I started but on the other side of the road.

      Many times I can only get through barriers with my trike by the odd inch or two, having to take it really slowly and keeping an eye on both back wheels.

      This country really does soon have to seriously start thinking about facilities for cycling. Not only with cycle paths and segregated lanes, but also thinking about how various styles of bikes are going to manage. God forbid that British women start using the styles of bikes they have in the Netherlands to carry 2 or 3 kids around.

      I am also teed off with continually coming across “No Cycling” or “Cyclists Dismount” – Pushing a trike a fair distance is no fun. I ride a trike because I can’t walk the distances with arthritis in my foot and hip, yet what do I have to do along with others like me, but either get off and push or risk a fine by continuing to cycle. No one asks a motorist to get out and push their car over the pavement and into their driveway. Why should cyclists have to continually have to get off and push. Do motorists have to push their cars through residential areas until they reach a main road? Of course not. Yet cyclists are expected to walk their bike every time we reach an area that might put someone else out a bit.

  11. haagse hop says:

    Being Dutch I don’t know anything about British Law but is it not possible to sue your government because they so blatantly discriminate their citizens who walk or ride a bycicle? Also because they let continue many hazardous situations for those more vulnerable traffic-users? I read the article on IBIKELONDON’s blog about how your legal system fails the victims of motorist every time . If a jury gives a verdict! within the legal rules then isn’t the law and the Government responsible and acountable for this grave injustice??
    Apologies for any misspelling or bad grammar.

  12. Wyadvd says:

    No! I refuse to have to slalom round old grannies with push along shopping baskets and blind girls tapping away on iPhones while the rest of the traffic speeds past the bus stop quite happily. I refuse .

    • Beta Blocker says:

      “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” (George Bernard Shaw)

      • Wyadvd says:

        Even If I am a minority of one, truth is still the truth.

        Ghandi

        • livinginabox says:

          You can quote Ghandi as much as you like, it won’t dig you out of the hole you have dug for yourself.

          The trouble is that if a motorist sees one hundred law-abiding and socially responsible cyclists and one lawbreaking or anti-social cyclist, they will forget the one hundred good ones and remember only the bad one.

          • Wyadvd says:

            The last thing I want to be is antisocial or non law abiding. I’d just like to see the space used for a scheme like this at bus stops used for a layby into which the bus could pull in so that I can continue on my way with all the other traffic, rather than being funnelled into a zone which has to be crossed by a bunch of gormless pedestrians. And at every single bus stop? Pull the other one!

            • Simon says:

              A couple of years ago, LCC were thinking about changing their name to London Cyclists, I imagine to represent cyclists such as yourself. I don’t know, but I guess because of blogs such as this one, they thought better of it.

              All the major cycle advocacy groups are now agreed upon the destination. This issue is no longer in dispute, but what is still to be agreed is how best to get there. Network first and then a separation of functions, or isolated bits of quality infrastructure first and then join up the pieces?

              According to the Dutch National Information and Technology Platform for Transport, Infrastructure and Public Space (CROW), the five main requirements for bicycle-friendly infrastructures are:

              1. Improved traffic safety;
              2. Directness: short, fast routes from origin to destination;
              3. Comfort: good surfaces, generous space and little hindrance from other road users;
              4. Attractiveness: a pleasant, socially safe environment, without smell or noise nuisance;
              5. Cohesion: logical, cohesive routes.

              Identifying routes that are direct, attractive and cohesive is something that can only be done during the ‘planning’ phase, and creating routes which are safe and comfortable is something that can only be done during the ‘development’ phase; so there ought to be no debate about what comes first.

              But what comes next? Get the network up and running by doing as much as possible at least bureaucracy first? That, according to Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities is “a prudent course to follow”. You would lay the foundations all at once if you were building a house, so why would you do different if you were building a cycle network?

  13. davidhembrow says:

    You’re right. The bus stop design from TfL is on the right lines, but they’ve not understood the details. Apart from your objections, I’d also say that it’s designed with far too narrow a cycle-path.

    I made a video of some bus-stops like this (perhaps TfL have seen it). The example from Vries is one of those in the video. Note that it’s best played on a computer which shows annotations and not on a mobile phone or tablet which does not as otherwise you won’t see the explanations of what all the parts of the bus stop are for.

    The blog post accompanying the video is here. Also note that New Scientist magazine ran an article that suggested bus stops like this for London more than 30 years ago.

  14. Tim says:

    For a long time I’ve been in the habit of cycling in a vaguely competitive way, trying to get past people I view as less sporty – often women – in the same way that drivers often try and force their way past an L-plated car regardless of its speed or how it is being driven. I’m not proud of myself for this.

    More recently I’ve calmed down a bit, perhaps in part because I’ve had a toddler on-board. And in contrast to the idea that my more circumspect style puts me in more danger, I think that often hanging back a bit can be safer.

    And when I do still find myself trying to force my way past, I’m occasionally reminded of a comment made by “the operative” in the film Serenity. (you could replace the characters with “vehicular cyclist 1″ and “vehicular cyclist 2″).

    The Operative: …I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
    Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?
    The Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you.
    :)

  15. There are several hypothetical improvements to infrastructure within the responses so far, some mutually compatible, some not. There are also a number of specific suggestions about the bus stop by-pass that introduced the article itself.

    What I had hoped to read was a suggestion that changes of a piecemeal kind, however well-designed, can add to our problems not reduce them. Bristol offers a highly visible warning about the confusion, frustration and downright bewilderment that can arise from idiosyncratic designs and an accumulation of unfinished or unsustained plans. It would take a long essay to spell this all out, but my point is that the development of a settled culture of city transport will depend on consistency, predictability and regular physical cues. Consciously wondering what rules or possibilities are likely in a given situation, while trying to find a route or deal with an immediate problem overloads the attention span, increases anxiety and increases errors – for all.

    To put it simply I would argue that national design and construction standards, tied to funding and written in expectation of decades of development, should be a priority.

    However many promising experiments we have already seen, all of them become part of the socio-cultural problem of modal conflict if they don’t establish or sustain a norm that a culture can develop around.

    • changes of a piecemeal kind, however well-designed, can add to our problems not reduce them

      I think that’s exactly right. The only reason this hasn’t written about here – by me at least – is that it I have assumed it goes without saying! I think clarity is most definitely required, and the issue probably merits a post in its own right.

      Unfortunately I suspect that with increasing localism (read, government leaving it up to councils to make their own minds up about what to do, if anything) we’re going to have more confusion.

  16. Simon says:

    The only thing which I think may be safely assumed is that the readers of this blog – and others like it – are interested in the development of an environment which broadens the appeal of active travel. How this is best achieved is known, but does not seem to me to be widely accepted.

    Your point that the development of a settled culture of city transport will depend on consistency, predictability and regular physical cues is well made. As you explain, “Consciously wondering what rules or possibilities are likely in a given situation, while trying to find a route or deal with an immediate problem overloads the attention span, increases anxiety and increases errors – for all.”

    David Byrne (of Talking Heads) says in his book, Bicycle Diaries, “London is a city not on a grid plan, which can be both good and bad for getting around by bike. If one knows the streets well, one can, by taking a zigzag path, avoid the large, busy thoroughfares that snake through the maze of smaller streets and, by following those smaller arteries, travel more or less as the crow flies. However, not being a native, I have to consult a map fairly often, as the winding streets here can lead one astray.”

    I accept the need for design standards, but implementing these, as you imply, is likely to take a decade or two at the very least. And so what should be done in the meantime? If anyone reading this knows the answer, then I implore you to spell it out clearly, and please do not just assume that certain things go without saying.

    • You want people leaving comments on one particular blog post to spell out a detailed plan for the next ten years? I don’t think it would be safe to presume that anyone not doing so is assuming anything.

      • beta blocker says:

        @ aseasyasriding: I don’t think Simon was asking anyone to spell out a detailed plan, was he? He just said that the development of high engineered solutions is going to take a bit of time, and so what should be done in the meantime?

        @ Simon: regardless of whichever way you put this question, and no matter how many times you ask it, no one is ever going to give you a straightforward answer, you know.

        • I don’t take very kindly to sockpuppeting, Simon, especially of such a shamefully obvious variety. (If you’re going to invent characters to agree with you, at the very least make sure you sue a different IP address. Schoolboy stuff).

  17. Simon says:

    Okay, Mark, you got me caught. Well played, sir!

    • Simon says:

      A report on Friday’s PM (Radio 4) caught my ear.

      Eddie Mair: If you’re beginning the New Year with a new product or two in your possession, you might be wondering, why was it that shape, or colour, or in that kind of box? No doubt a designer or two had a hand in it, but it’s also possible it was created with the help not just of consumers, but of people called ‘extreme consumers’.

      Chris Vallance: [...] Why bring [extreme consumers] together with your paying corporate client? Jeremy Brown, the Chief Executive of Sense Worldwide, explains:

      Jeremy Brown: Businesses are under a huge amount of pressure to innovate, and as any innovation person will tell you, all good ideas will die in focus groups.

      Chris Vallance: Jeremy Brown believes that ideas that lead to great products are found at the extremes.

      Jeremy Brown: We look for the freaks, the geeks, the obsessives, the hackers, the more extreme consumers, because a lot of these guys are already living in the future, and so by getting them in a room with people who care dearly about their business, and getting them to challenge them [...], we start to get a really rich dialogue.

      Chris Vallance: In the specialised vocabulary of Jeremy’s profession, this approach is called ‘co-creation’. But according to business psychologist Sheila Keegan, it’s not actually that new an idea. But she does value in its intelligent use.

      Sheila Keegan: If you have a group of designers thinking together, there’s a tendency for them to think increasingly in the same ways, the ‘group think’ if you like. One of the great advantages of having diverse people together is they’ll challenge that group think, and that’s really helpful: we need lots of ideas, and we need lots of diverse ideas, different ideas, when you’re at that stage of trying to think – that awful phrase – ‘out of the box’.

      Jeremy Brown: It’s really about collaborative creativity.

  18. Ryan says:

    I think these are a really bad idea.

    In a quiet Zone 4 or 5 part of London then they would be useful but in Z1-Z3 they would be dangerous to use.

    I say this as you are asking cyclists to leave the main carriageway and traffic flow to filter onto a pavement, while dodging the pedestrians that will undoubtably be alighting the bus/buses en-mass. Then once you’ve made it past them you will then have to rejoin the main carriageway/traffic and also run the risk of being hit by the departing bus/buses. Repeat this every 300 metres!!!!

    Also what happens when in many cases 2 or 3 busses are at the bus top? The entry to the paved section would be blocked off?

    Can you imagine this scenario during the rush hours? You only have to either ride the main trunk routes yourself or view them on youtube to see how many cyclists there are and I can see nothing but accidents being caused by these.

    I agree these work in the low countries but they have a totally different cycle infrastructure and therefore it works, but also a better understanding and respect for cyclists so you don’t get the issues of peds knocking cyclists over when passing through the bus/tram stops.

    A better solution would maybe to have more bus stops that pull into a lay- by??

    • Wyadvd says:

      I did try to make this point in a rather flippant way (offending the separati ) earlier. In my opinion these are yet another bit of ‘safety’ engineering which just succeeds in making cycling impractical and slow for those of us who go at speeds which have a more than marginal advantage over walking. We are in the minority so they say!

      • Ryan says:

        every cyclist has the right to ride at a speed that they are comfortable with. IMO riding at a speed close to that of the traffic flow in C London is safer but i do not look down on others who ride slower, like those mentioned earlier.

        I just feel that jumping in and out of the the carriageway creates more pinch points than problems it claims to solve

        If we had totally serrated cycle ways like in Nederlands then riding at a slower pace would be more favourable.

        • Wyadvd says:

          Agreed on all counts. Half way houses and the odd ‘facility’ here and there help no one. And whole series of these sort of things are not going to be used by the faster cyclist ( who also have a right to chose the speed at which they need or want to cycle) and look to me like they would introduce more danger than they proport to eliminate for the less traffic savvy cyclist . The overall effect for me may well be to adopt shanks pony on journeys of less than a mile or so if faced with obstacle courses like these.

          • Ugh, you two have no imagination at all, do you!

            Don’t worry, you won’t be forced to use the facilities – you can stay on the road with the cars, as you please. Just don’t bleat when your ASL is removed…

  19. stephendorey says:

    I’m not sure we need to worry too much about how those of us currently living in the ‘age of the car’ will behave in enlightened times to come. I’ve lived in London for the last 8 years cycling 10-20km to work pretty much every day. As a consequence of riding in this environment i’ve probably become one of the typical male vehicular cyclists whose speed we’re worrying about in this post.

    However after recently starting working quite a bit in Copenhagen, enjoying all the Danish transport delights we’re all too aware and envious of, I notice a marked change in my behaviour. Perhaps its the infrastructure, perhaps its the attitude of my fellow commuters (in turn a consequence of the environment in which they find themselves) but I find myself riding slower and in a more relaxed manner as soon as I get over there (and sadly the reverse on my return). I was surprised how much my riding behaviour seemed to be due to the current environment rather than being shaped by long experience on more hostile infrastructure.

    I feel confident Londoners will respond quite rapidly to civilised infrastructure with a civilised riding style.

  20. Pingback: How to suppress bike riding #2: Bus stops (and also, the solution) | The Alternative Department for Transport

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