Space for cycling confirmed as separation from motor traffic

The AGM of the London Cycling Campaign on Saturday saw a series of important motions being passed – ones that will serve to define how the LCC formulate policy, and what they will campaign for. Indeed, the motions that were passed set out fairly explicitly what ‘Space for Cycling’ (or #Space4Cycling, if you prefer) actually means in practice. I think they are massively significant. You can read these motions here. Motion 3 – ‘When do we need protected space for cycling?’ – was proposed by Rachel Aldred. It’s quite clear from looking at it that it amounts to a call for Dutch-style separation across the cycle network in London. The demand is that nobody will have to cycle anywhere in motor traffic travelling at above 20mph, nor – crucially – should anybody be expected to share the same space as motor vehicles on a road or street carrying more than 2000 Passenger Car Units (PCU) per day.

What PCU values mean in

PCU values for different vehicle types. For more explanation, see Rachel’s blog

If a road has a speed limit higher than 20mph, or if it carries more than 2000 cars (or rather fewer lorries, buses or coaches) per day, then physical separation from motor traffic is required. Both of these criteria are ‘tipping points’ in their own right. That doesn’t mean that cycle tracks – or forms of light segregation – have to be employed. Measures could obviously be taken to remove motor traffic from a given street, so that the PCUs per day value falls below 2000. This could take the form of filtered permeability, or opposing one-way systems, to cut out through traffic. If this can’t be achieved, then physical separation from motor traffic is an absolute requirement. In practice, I think this kind of policy would result in a very ‘Dutch’ looking cycle network, with cycle tracks on main roads, and barely any physical segregation at all on the minor road network of residential and access streets.

Amsterdam street with measures to remove motor traffic. No physical separation required

Amsterdam street with measures to remove motor traffic. No physical separation required

Even what resemble main roads can be acceptable without physical segregation if through traffic is removed

Even what resemble main roads can be acceptable without segregation if through traffic is removed

But on streets which carry significant volumes of motor traffic, physical separation is an absolute requirement

But on streets which carry significant volumes of motor traffic, physical separation is an absolute requirement

In other words, Motion 3 is recognition that Space for Cycling amounts to separation from motor traffic, wherever you choose to cycle. It recognises that fear of motor traffic is one of the most significant barriers to cycling, and that to create safe, pleasant and comfortable conditions for cycling you have to minimise the amount of interaction with that motor traffic. Motion 5 – proposed by David Arditti – was also significant. It argues for uniformity of cycle provision, for all categories of user. David himself has set out why this is so important in a blog post of his own, one that makes the case so clearly there is little point expanding on it here, except to say that his motion explicitly rejects the two-tier style of cycling provision that trades off safety against convenience, and in practice results in awful compromise that suits nobody.

What catering for 'different cyclists' looks like in practice

What catering for ‘different cyclists’ looks like. A substandard cycle lane, and a shared use pavement alongside it. Enough.

Someone – I forget who, sorry – pointed out to me that it is quite remarkable that a cycle campaign is even having to pass a motion like this. It should be completely obvious that we need cycle infrastructure that is simultaneously suitable for both the fit and the fast, and also for the young, the frail, and the elderly, rather than two sub-standard compromises tacked together. David’s vigorous and eloquent defence of his motion drew one of the most stirring rounds of applause of the day, and I’m pleased to say it was carried overwhelmingly.

Rachel’s motion was subjected to more opposition, initially some ‘procedural mischief’ from Oliver Schick, who pointed out that her motion contained reference to a document that was not included in the AGM papers (an objection that carried little weight in light of the fact that the AGM had, moments earlier, voted to approve the accounts, which were not included in the AGM papers), and then from a proposed amendment (Oliver again) suggesting that reference to protected space be removed, and replaced with a reiteration of the importance of 20mph limits across London. This amendment was overwhelmingly rejected, and the unamended motion was passed almost unanimously.

Motion 4 – proposed by Mustafa Arif – amounted to an endorsement of these demands (and indeed of Space for Cycling in general) as the LCC’s campaigning strategy for next year. It was a very tiring (and argumentative) day, but a productive one.

One anecdote to close with. As I left the building, a well-dressed man with a Brompton, wheeling it along the pavement with his companions, asked me ‘what was going on in there?’ He had caught sight of the dozens of Bromptons stacked up inside the entrance. AGMs are obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, but from our brief conversation it was apparent he had no idea that the London Cycling Campaign even existed. The LCC only has 12,000 members, so there is huge potential for growth in membership, if the positive campaigning messages now being developed reach these kinds of people. And not just that, there’s huge potential for change, full stop, if the wider public can be shown that cycling is a viable transport option for them if the conditions are right, and if they can be shown what a difference mass cycling can make to the quality of where they live. I think the motions passed at the weekend are a big step in the right direction.

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20 Responses to Space for cycling confirmed as separation from motor traffic

  1. Jim Moore says:

    Very impressive results. Well done to you all and to all who supported these motions.

  2. bikemapper says:

    I too would like to pass on my congratulations to all involved. But taking on board the points raised in Ranty’s latest blog – that if we’re going to do it properly, then we need to plan to do it properly, and that if we are serious about building proper infrastructure, it will cost us a lot of money, but (more importantly, Ranty would say) it will cost us a lot of time – could I please ask you to give your view on a couple of issues:

    1. You write: “It’s quite clear [that #space4cycling] amounts to a call for Dutch-style separation across the cycle network in London.” And yet, according to the LCC: “The Space for Cycling campaign calls on all the capital’s decision-makers to create safe space for cycling on every London street.” Which is it: across the cycle network or on every London street?

    2. Accepting David’s point about the need to move away from dual networks, the case is that there is still going to be a network of Quietways. However, as Ranty says (in the comments of his blog), “There will still be the issue of barriers and busy streets to deal with.” Given that it not possible to address these issues with a click of the fingers, should we accept the prudence of “introducing” certain parts of the planned network to a minimum level of functioning?

    • fonant says:

      1. The cycle network is, and must be, every London street (apart from motorways, where parallel cycleways must be provided). Dutch-style separation includes separating by removing motor vehicles (filtered permeability) and by segregated cycleways where through motor vehicle is retained.

      2. We should not accept anything done for people on bicycles that is implemented to a minimum level of functioning. That’s what has been done for the last few decades, and it demonstrably doesn’t work. In the few places where it does encourage more people to ride bicycles it leads to higher rates of injury and death, simply because the facilities are not good enough to be properly safe (because they do not keep people on bicycles away from heavy motor vehicles). We should accept that the only way to make cycling safe, and popular, is to use the extensive experience of the Dutch and Danes, who know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

  3. Tim says:

    Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I do get the impression that opinion amongst cycling advocacy groups is far more consistent now than it’s been for a long time (despite your argumentative day!). And simultaneously it seems there are more and more cyclists around; our work shelter was filled beyond capacity again today despite some revolting gloomy rainy weather on the way in.

    Well done to all concerned.

    • fonant says:

      I think the breakthrough for LCC is that they’ve realised that appealing to the vast majority of people who want to ride bicycles but who would never consider themselves “cyclists” is what matters.

      The problem of lack of consideration for cycling as transport is 100% political: we have the money and the knowledge to follow the Dutch if only our political leaders see the votes in doing so. Talk to the general population, and they’ll see that what LCC is campaigning for could actually be useful to them.

      The tiny minority of people who are “cyclists” and who belong to cycling clubs are easily ignored, however hard they campaign (especially when they campaign for the right to keep riding amongst motor vehicles – daft and dangerous according to the majority of the population).

    • Agreed. Great work.

      Now on to the CTC……

      • dave lambert says:

        That bunch of archaic morons will never change. They are welded to their belief in cycling in amongst fast moving heavy vehicles. Anyone who states that they don’t want to do that cos it’s stupid, dangerous and unpleasant is told to just man up. Hopefully they’ll just disappear quietly off the edge of history.

        • Paul says:

          As CTC Right to Ride rep for Richmond I don’t recognise that attitude at all. Motion 3 strikes me as brilliant.

          • Paul says:

            …and entirely consistent with CTC Top Ten Priorities
            “3 Better guidance for local authorities to reduce speed limits and provide dedicated space for cyclists on main roads and junctions.”

  4. Christopher Russell says:

    Really promising stuff from the LCC. They’re way ahead of a lot of cycling groups, which is great (but a shame for us outside London).

    I’m not a member of Spokes, because they seem to welcome infrastructure that is so compromised it’d be better off not there, and so can’t speak for me. I hope they, and other groups, come round to LCC’s latest thinking.

  5. disgruntled says:

    I wonder if it would be possible for bike shops in London to hand an LCC membership application form to every customer as they wheel out their new bikes…

  6. charlie_lcc says:

    There is always a problem setting out detailed motions where conditions are changing. While the 2000 PCU is a useful trigger to action it is not a particularly useful tool for measuring risk. Very recent work by Rachel and others has led to a measure of vehicle risk units (VRU) which will give HGVs and other large vehicles a much higher score than the 1.5 – 2.3 score in PCU estimates.

    In planning for a Dutch style cycling city we need to be aware that there will be a majority of streets that don’t have segregated cycle facilities, just as in the Netherlands. On those streets the danger will be reduce by excluding some of the motor traffic and calming the rest.

    It is incorrect to portray Oliver’s proposed amendment as a wrecking motion. It was intended to clarify the meaning and ensure that 20mph became the default speed limit across London

  7. Peter says:

    Hallelujah! The LCC found its teeth a couple of years ago and now it knows what it’s fighting for. Maybe I will see proper facilities for cyclists before I die!

    • fred says:

      Don’t hold your breath. The most likely scenario is that the majority of people born this year will be grandparents before any significant cycle infrastructure is created. But at least the LCC has stopped fighting against it now. They were formed in 1978 when the Dutch were already years into their “cyclisation” project. I guess some people in London looked at that and thought, nah bollocks to that I want to ride in amongst loads of trucks and buses. Let’s start a campaign to make sure that happens. So 35 years later they’ve decided that was a bad idea. I can’t see anything significant happening in the next 35 years.

  8. Pingback: CYCLING NATIONALS 2014

  9. James says:

    One issue with the 20 mph threshold is that the majority of cars in London do not obey this speed limit. If bikes are only going to be separated on roads with higher speed limits then we will need better enforcement of the speed limit on 20mph roads because currently I would suggest that a lot of drivers are doing double that.

  10. Dan Bassford says:

    I’m glad that the LCC have defined what ‘Space4Cycling” actually means. I might actually join now because I understand what the point is. I want to see good quality, integrated cycling infrastructure that makes cycling the most sensible and easiest mode of transport for all local journeys for all members of society. I now feel this is what the LCC want too. The cheque’s in the post!

  11. Pingback: Just one small road, or a symbol of London’s cycling czar’s ambition? | TAT

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