Love London, Go Dutch – should this be about ‘choice’?

Now that the excitement of the London elections is starting to die down, and we know Boris will be ensconced in City Hall for another four years (or maybe three), I think it’s time to take stock of where things stand, particularly with Boris’s apparent commitment to the London Cycling Campaign’s Love London, Go Dutch tests, namely

  1. Implement three flagship Love London, Go Dutch developments on major streets and/or locations. 
  2. Make sure all planned developments on the main roads that they controls are completed to Go Dutch standards, especially junctions. 
  3. Make sure the Cycle Superhighways programme is completed to Love London, Go Dutch standards 

As David Arditti has written, this commitment

leads to a bit of puzzle. In fact, to a whole lot of enormous puzzles. Because he could have been doing any of these things for the last four years, but has most strikingly not been doing them. The “flagship developments” that LCC have suggested include Blackfriars, where he insisted on a design that had cyclists up in arms, protesting, for most of last year, and where he refused even to impose a 20mph limit, to do the bare minimum he could have done to make it more cycle-friendly. The suggested Go Dutch developments also include the Olympic Park, which would have been, to a considerable extent, within Boris’s powers to make genuinely cycle-friendly, but in which he seems to have taken not a jot of interest, leaving it to a clueless (on the subject of cycling) Olympic Development Authority, recalcitrant boroughs, and irresponsible developers, to make a general hash of cycle provision in the area. And the suggested developments include Parliament Square, which Boris has made clear he sees continuing as the ugly and polluted traffic maelstrom that it has long been, with poor concessions to pedestrians, and none to cyclists.

That is to say, if Boris is indeed sincere in his commitment to these principles, it will prove to be a remarkable and sudden turnaround, compared to the policies he has implemented, or failed to implement, in his previous four-year term. Three years ago, Boris apparently informed one of my correspondents that segregated provision for bicycles would be “the worst thing that could happen in London”.

The signs of a sudden change in heart are not good. Only last week, at a hustings specifically on cycling only a few days after he signed up to Go Dutch, when Boris had an opportunity to make even the right-sounding noises, let alone any firm commitments, he managed to alienate his audience with comments that did not suggest anything in his attitude towards cycle promotion in London was going to change. He seemed to find a specific question about dedicated space for cycling in Hammersmith amusing, and was vague, even dismissive, about making safer routes through the area – it was left to Siobhan Benita to point out that as he’d signed up to the Go Dutch tests, this shouldn’t really be a matter for debate or discussion. Space for cycling should now happen in new development or rebuilds. Boris had forgotten that already, or chosen to.

I shall, of course, keep an open mind about what may happen, and what Boris will do. If he does start to implement quality designs that prioritise cycling, and make it a safe and inviting option for potential cyclists of all ages, then I will be more than happy, and will write enthusiastically about them. At present, however, I think the correct attitude is healthy scepticism.

In that context, I think it is vitally important that the London Cycling Campaign are absolutely clear about what Go Dutch should really mean, and not give Boris the wriggle room to claim that what he may implement in the future actually meets their standards. If there is any vagueness, or rowing back from the best Dutch principles, Boris can quite easily exploit that, and continue to produce street designs similar to the ones that have arrived over the past four years, while claiming they meet LCC standards.

While I think it is indisputable LCC have done a fantastic job in opening up the choice of campaign to the membership, and enthusing people about Go Dutch and pushing it up the agenda, there are some grounds for concern here. The principles, as set out in detail, are decent enough, but I am troubled by some misintepretations that appear to be creeping in, and that could potentially open up the door for either half-hearted provision that really isn’t up to scratch, or for Boris to claim that he might choose to do for cyclists is ‘Dutch’, in some way, shape or form. With that in mind, I plan, this week, to set out some of the reservations I have with what I have seen of Go Dutch.

The first problem I have diagnosed, and which I will discuss in this initial post, is perhaps the most serious. It’s an incipient (or perhaps innate) notion that there are two distinct categories of cyclist; those that are happy cycling on the road, and who would continue to cycle on the road once ‘provision’ has been put in, and another category of cyclist, made up of those who are more nervous, or who don’t currently cycle but who would like to, for whom the infrastructure is being provided. Further, and problematically, this categorisation extends to the notion that these two distinct types of cyclist will require two different approaches to their cycling needs.

This attitude has manifested itself in the appearance of Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) in the carriageway, alongside segregated provision for the ‘other type’ of cyclist, in LCC’s illustrations of their schemes for both Blackfriars and Parliament Square.

In my opinion, these ASLs are indicative of a troubling outlook; it suggests that the LCC have already assumed that their cycle tracks are going to be inadequate; so inadequate, that a large number of cyclists are not going to want to use them.

Of course, this position is framed as ‘choice’. That, as the LCC is a democratic organisation, they should not rule segregation either in or out, and cyclists in London should be free to use either the carriageway or the new provision. It was this argument that was employed by Richard Lewis, the designer of these schemes,  in his presentation of Go Dutch at the Movement for Liveable London’s Street Talks in April.

The word ‘choice’ is the first one that appears on this slide of his, about the ‘principles’ of infrastructure. Richard had this to say –

I’ve put ‘choice’ up there because LCC is a democratic organisation… Some people like the segregated tracks, some people like to use the streets. I like to allow people to use both, if they want to. But for those people using tracks, in circumstances where they’re provided, they need to be good enough for people, whoever they are, to use them, and choose to use them. If they’re not good enough, people will choose not to use them. They’ll vote with their wheels. And I think we need to give them that opportunity, as a kind of test to see what kind of quality we’ve achieved.

This is more than a little uninspiring. The LCC are effectively starting from a blank slate – they can design and present the quality of infrastructure they think is desirable. Yet within their very own designs, they are putting in features that imply their own designs will not be good enough.

Indeed it begs the question of why people would not like to use the segregated tracks. Put bluntly, if cyclists, of any stripe, are wanting to continue using the carriageway, then the design must be a failure. It implies that the design is too narrow (you can’t easily get past other cyclists, for instance). Or that the corners are too sharp. Or that you are being held at traffic lights, while motor traffic is privileged. Or any of the above. In short, your journey on the infrastructure will be slower and more arduous than it would be on the carriageway.

This is what those ASLs represent – an admission that the infrastructure the LCC is designing is not up to standard. In other words, the LCC have tacitly made an admission of failure, before they have even started.

Now I’m not quite sure how the LCC arrived at this ‘choice’ interpretation of Go Dutch, because it certainly isn’t a Dutch principle – Dutch infrastructure is designed to a standard suitable for all cyclists – nor does it appear in LCC’s own Principles in Detail.

To speculate, I think the most probable reason is that the LCC don’t want to alienate or upset those of their members who have a strong attachment to ‘vehicular’ cycling. Without wishing to pick out any blog or writer in particular, this recent piece by Patrick Field is indicative of the LCC attitude more generally. Entitled ‘free to choose’, Patrick asks us if

There’s no practical problem with a full-hearted endorsement of the important principle that the choice between riding on the highway, and using any parallel cycle-infrastructure, is best left with the individual?

Patrick shows us this picture of Argall Way in East London –

and claims that what it represents is

theoretically perfect because it has cycle-tracks on either side offering respite from any status problems people on bikes might feel about taking space on the carriageway while at the junctions there are – now somewhat faded – advance stop boxes, which signal clearly that cycle traffic is also welcome on the highway.

This is muddle-headed, for reasons that I will detail below. An immediate and obvious objection is that the off-carriageway provision shown here is just about the opposite of ‘perfect’, in that while it does allow people to cycle away from motor traffic, it is of a desperately poor standard, and deeply inconvenient (indeed, like most UK off-carriageway provision). What Patrick has written is pervaded by an attitude that off-carriageway provision, of a very low standard, is fine for slower, nervous plodders; an attitude that contains within it an assumption that the road itself should still carry markings to ‘signal’ to drivers that cyclists not willing to use that very same crap can still use the road.

Why I say this is a muddle-headed attitude is because I don’t think it would be unfair to say that this group of cyclists – ‘faster’ cyclists, people like Patrick and indeed me – are objectively all that concerned about how, precisely, they might make their journeys across London, as long as those journeys remain as fast and as convenient. For instance, I’m not sure many London cyclists would choose to cycle amongst HGVs and taxis if an off-carriageway track or path was just as useful, and safe, to them as the road shared with those lorries and taxis.

But unfortunately we are in a position where plenty of cyclists in London – those like Patrick – have got it into their heads that off-carriageway infrastructure is for ‘slow’ cyclists, and will always be like that, and consequently the road should remain the place for ‘fast’ cyclists.

You can hardly blame them for this, of course, given that the mostly crappy off-carriageway provision in London, just like that seen on Argall Way, forces people to go slow, and that most London cyclists have little experience of how fast you can go on Dutch infrastructure.

These attitudes were sadly mirrored by Richard Lewis himself, who said, while comparing Danish and Dutch infrastructure during his presentation, that

You are a lot more like a vehicular cyclist in Denmark than you are in the Netherlands, where you are much more of a pootling cyclist. The Dutch stuff encourages slower cycling – which some people say is more civilised, and perhaps under certain circumstances it is.

That is, Going Dutch is taken to mean putting in some infrastructure that will allow nervous people to ‘pootle about’, while the carriageway itself remains the place for cyclists to ‘make progress’. This interpretation of Dutch infrastructure, I think, goes some way towards explaining why the designs that the LCC have come up with are so keen to continue providing a place for cyclists ‘on the road’; because they think Dutch provision is for a slower category of cyclist. (Perhaps that attitude has also been coloured by how we are forced to cycle on current off-carriageway provision in the UK).

This is simply wrong, of course; you can cycle very fast on nearly every single Dutch cycle path. They are nearly always smooth and wide. In Groningen –

In Rotterdam –

In Amsterdam –

In Assen –

And in Utrecht.

You may indeed encounter ‘slow cycling’ on Dutch cycle paths, but this never a function of the design – it is a function of the fact that some of the people on those cycle paths will not be able to cycle fast – namely young children and the elderly. But it seems that faster cyclists in the LCC have a fear of being trapped behind a load of ‘pootlers’ on narrow tracks. The ASLs are their metaphorical, and literal, escape route.

The correct approach should, of course, be to make the cycle tracks wide enough to prevent any such conflicts, to create ‘roads for bikes’, that will be pleasant for all to use, regardless of speed or ability or confidence. This should be the starting position of the LCC; not one that apparently assumes that conflicts and poor design will be inevitable from the get-go.

Of course the LCC’s ‘dual track’ approach – seeking to keep cyclists on the carriageway, while also providing off-carriageway tracks – may not be problematic, in and of itself; it should be theoretically possible to build decent infrastructure while still allowing cyclists to use the road itself, and putting ‘signals’ on it to that effect.

But unfortunately there will almost certainly be implications for the quality of off-carriageway provision if you insist that large numbers of cyclists will still want to use the main carriageway. Imagine a conversation like this, between LCC and TfL, as they consider some of LCC’s plans –

TfL – What are those ASLs on the road for?

LCC – They’re for cyclists who want to continue riding on the road.

TfL – Why would they want to do that, when we’re putting in these fantastic wide, smooth cycle paths?

LCC – It’s because some cyclists want to continue to ride fast. We can’t do that on cycle paths. 

TfL – Oh right. I see. So the cycle paths are for people who don’t mind cycling slowly. [With that in mind, goes away and designs compromised facility that is narrow and suitable for ‘pootling’, in other words very similar to the compromised awfulness that has been put in for decades]

If your starting position is that cycle paths and tracks are for people who want to cycle slowly, and don’t mind doing so, you are storing up trouble by maintaining, or even creating, attitudes about how that infrastructure should be designed. You are effectively opening the door to the provision of rubbish infrastructure, and, just as bad, you are undermining any objections you might have as to its quality. Say you want to complain about the fact it currently takes 4 minutes to get across Henlys Corner, using off-carriageway ‘provision’? That’s going to become a lot more difficult if you think off-carriageway infrastructure is for ‘pootling’ and for people who don’t mind going slowly, and that the road is the best place for going fast.

Indeed, the LCC position on who infrastructure is actually for is startlingly close to that of Boris Johnson.

There will be different strokes for different folks.  Some cyclists will want to use… I mean, for instance, last night I was going along the Euston Road, and you get to that bit where you come to the underpass, and then the cycle route takes you on a sort of fiddly thing, where you go over… there’s a path, and you’ve got lots of oncoming pedestrians, and then you’re invited to cross at a traffic light, and so on and so forth. Or you can just scoot down the underpass.

Of course the LCC don’t want cycle paths that are as awful as the ‘fiddly thing’ that Boris refers to, but it is hard to see how the designs they are proposing will not become compromised, in some way, shape or form, by their very own implicit admission that cycle paths are for ‘slower’ and more nervous cyclists, and that faster cyclists won’t want to use them.

A major reason for the poor quality of the off-carriageway provision we currently see across Britain – and the consequent reluctance of basically everyone to use that provision – is this very same starting assumption, embodied in Government literature, that it is for a ‘different type’ of cyclist. As Joe Dunckley wrote back in February (while also presciently noting the increasing attachment of LCC to ‘dual networks’) –

[A] fundamental problem is that LTN 2/08 endorses “dual networks”. It correctly identifies that different cyclists have different needs and abilities, but from this fact it draws some very wrong and damaging conclusions. “Some cyclists are more able and willing to mix with motor traffic than others. In order to accommodate the sometimes conflicting needs of various user types and functions, it may be necessary to create dual networks offering different levels of provision, with one network offering greater segregation from motor traffic at the expense of directness and/or priority.” That is, new, nervous and child cyclists will be grateful for a crap facility that gives way to every side road, or a winding backstreet route, while confident cyclists will want to be in their natural place — on the road, with the traffic, riding in the vehicular style. Indeed, the former category are expected to eventually cast off their training wheels and graduate into the latter category.

I sincerely hope that the LCC pay heed to this lesson from history, and don’t give Boris and TfL an opportunity to downgrade the quality of their designs on the assumption that most current cyclists won’t want to use them anyway. That is, unfortunately, the message that their ASLs – a design feature almost entirely absent in the Netherlands, and certainly never present alongside segregated provision – are sending out, and it’s a message that Boris will surely exploit if he can.

Let’s ensure that our cycle paths are roads for bikes that are designed to the highest standards, and suitable for everyone, and not give anyone a chance to imply that they are merely ‘fiddly things’ for nervous plodders, because if we do, that’s probably what we’ll end up with.

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48 Responses to Love London, Go Dutch – should this be about ‘choice’?

  1. @angus_fx says:

    A few thoughts in no particular order…

    * The cycle campaigners turned against Boris not because his offer was terrible (it’s not – while not as big an improvement on today as it could & should be, it’s still an improvement) but because the other candidates’ policies were markedly better. Boris was always the favourite to win, and had less incentive to put much on the table. (The other side issue is that two of the other four candidates – Livingstone, Jones – were actively anti-car, and given how close the result was, it may well have been a factor in why Ken lost again).

    * The Chiswick Flyover comment at the hustings should not have been taken seriously, and cycle campaigners do themselves no favours by pretending otherwise. Boris was 100% right on this one! The A4 is a fume-choked urban motorway, and nightmare to cycle – only a vehicular-fundamentalist would use it. Fast cyclists headed East-West in that part of town use the A315, leisure riders use the river path and back streets. There’s simply no need for a cycle route on the flyover, and closing one lane to traffic is anti-car, not pro-bike – what IS sorely needed are better surface cycle routes around the unpleasant & dangerous Hammersmith Broadway gyratory & 1-way system, but mostly to connect the A219, A306 & A315.

    * I actually agree with the LCC position to some extent. For two reasons. British cycle culture incorporates everyone from fast commuters to 5-year-olds wobbling to school on stabilizers. Bearing in mind the degree to which pedestrians are intimidated by pavement cyclists.. if we want those self same people to take up cycling, we should expect that they’d be intimidated by fast cyclists in the same space. We don’t want to bring about a situation where 5-year-olds can’t use the cycle path to get to school in the rush hour because of 25mph MAMILs. Second – it’s about much more than bikes. Streets for people! In a city-centre context, putting in bike infrastructure is not a substitute for civilising on-road traffic – you need to do both, otherwise you make life even worse for pedestrians – they’ve less separation from (potentially fast & intimidating, esp for the very young and old) bike traffic, and by segregating the bikes, the road itself becomes less civilised. It’s not about a dual network, it’s about building segregated bike lanes that are up to the basic task of taking people where they want to go (many of today’s are not, as we all know), but at the same time not neglecting the important task of civilising the road – bringing down traffic speeds, reducing volumes, making it easier for pedestrians to cross etc.

    Fully appreciate that, out of town, where space is plentiful, pedestrians few & far between, & roads impossible to civilise, the issues are different. But when it comes to, for example, Parliament Square or Blackfriars, the shockingly bad treatment of pedestrians is to my mind a bigger issue than cycle provision of any kind.

    • Thanks for commenting Angus.

      On Hammersmith Flyover – I certainly don’t think putting cycle tracks/lanes is realistic. It’s far from attractive, and there should be a civilised solution at ground level. But I think – maybe I’m remembering this wrongly – the lady was making a point about allowing cycling across the flyover while it was under repair, and it was that suggestion that Boris was smirking about. In any case, the general thrust of his response to all the lady’s points – about cycling in the area in general – was evasive.

      ‘We don’t want to bring about a situation where 5-year-olds can’t use the cycle path to get to school in the rush hour because of 25mph MAMILs.’ No, and neither do I. But if that is the case on a cycle track, it suggests the design is poor. There shouldn’t be conflict between users.

      Your point about civilising streets is something I will address in a later post this week; segregation should not be seen as a substitute for addressing road danger, nor as a way of getting bikes out of the way of vehicles. It should be properly framed as a reclamation of road space. The calming of through routes and the building of cycle tracks on them should go hand in hand.

      • IIRC the lady’s comment was about permanently closing one lane of Hammersmith Flyover, but equally I may have remembered wrong – but even while it’s under repair, there’s just nowhere you’d want to be on a bike at either end of the flyover. It’d be crap infrastructure on a large scale, and I can’t see it serving any purpose other than to goad motorists stuck in the jams.

        Re conflict and the avoidance thereof – something about that Assen picture (second one) – that shared-use path with the lady walking her dog is no wider than many UK pavements, where pedestrians report feeling intimidated by cyclists (even though pavement cyclists rarely travel much above jogging pace). Indeed, conflict between cyclists & dog walkers is reported a fair bit in the Royal Parks. Any anecdotal evidence as to how Dutch pedestrians perceive close proximity to cyclists? Does mixing our cyclists with (aggressive, dangerous) road traffic mean they transfer that aggro on to pedestrians, for example?

        Basically, as far as Inner London goes, I think we should be unapologetic in campaigning for BOTH a joined-up, efficient network safe enough for a 7 year old to ride to school, and roads that are safe enough for a moderately fit adult with a little cycle training to deal with. If only because “being navigable on a bike” is a reasonable benchmark for how friendly the road is for other unmotorised and lightly-motorised traffic that doesn’t necessarily belong in a bike lane.

  2. This highlights the difference between bicycles for transport and bicycles for sport.
    Bicycles for pootling are what most people will use for local transport if the infrastructure were there. The dutch style of riding is primarily for journeys of a few miles and they arrive without sweat and in normal clothes. I would suggest that there is a lot of confusion in planning caused by the very thing you highlight. but If you want dutch, you plan local and for ‘slow’ bicycles.
    You mention ‘the fear of being caught behind a slower rider’, frustrating though it maybe, but with most journeys to and from a regular place, ie work, school etc, how slow will people be? If they are riding regularly on a capable comfortable bike it will not be as slow as you infer. Slower than a cyclist might like perhaps, but in the great scheme of things i welcome the day i get stuck in a bicycle traffic jam. getting somewhere a fairly long way away fast by bicycle is a great thing. But if we are copying the dutch way of doing things, we cater for the masses going on shorter more local trips. separate well designed routes will aid that, I think there are two trains of thought here..planning for those already brave enough to already ride, and one for those that will ride if the conditions were viable. go dutch by its very nature is surely for the latter? Whatever the infrastructure implemented it will not suit all, but the majority of riders in the future will think of their bike as they do their car now. a tool for local transport, it will move them a few miles at a decent speed. That is an achievable future and a sensible one to plan for.

  3. Londonneur says:

    Fiddly innit…

    A couple of points

    – the parliament sq scheme is not part of a network of provision. People will arrive there by road and once they are beyond it they will be on road again. Many will simply stay on the road. Unless there is a true network of continuous lanes you are stuck in either and neither land…

    – its a pilot scheme… When one desires change the tendency is to want it now but reality is that there are many steps to be taken and great resistance. The greatest driver is demographic and that is a slow burn.

    – Patrick is being ironic I think 😉 My reading of his post is that you and he are broadly in agreement. What he says about the need to civilise the roads/spaces is spot on.

    – Personally, I think LCC have not been bold enough in their demands but they are the ones talking to ministers. I am quite certain that all the points and conflicting issues you have raised have been accommodated as best as possible. There is a massive paradigm shift needed in govt. around cycling.


    • Yes, that’s a fair point about Parliament Square being ‘isolated’, and one I can accept – without a continuous network, you are inevitably going to fall between two stools. However, what I’ve read and heard from LCC has not made that argument; the ASLs and on-carriageway markings are presented not as a stop-gap, but as the inevitable result of people wanting to continue cycling on the road, presumably even when an off-carriageway network in an area is complete.

      I agree with Patrick about the need to civilise roads and spaces – however that particular location, Argall Road, leads to an industrial estate chock-full of lorries. Cycling on some roads, I think, can only be civilised so far, unless we want to do away with industrial production entirely. Roads like that will need off-carriageway provision, and it needs to be done properly, so properly that ASLs are redundant. This can be part of a civilising mission. There’s no need to grab more land; it just needs to be taken back from the space for vehicles.

  4. When I saw the Argall Way example, my neck of the wood, I thought we have to remind ourselves what we are looking at.
    We often see pictures of fantastically comfortable cycle tracks to illustrate Dutch cycling and then we sneer at our own designs with a picture of a (admittedly needlessly) complex junction. Argall Way has fine cycle tracks either side. They have the usual shortcomings of UK tracks (pavement level, give way at site entrances, poor maintenance etc.) but these are not the reason people don’t use them. The Argall way tracks are ok to use and preferable to the carriageway even for seasoned cyclists unless they want to pove a point.
    Where they fall over (which is where all UK cycle tracks fall over) is at the junction. To do a right turn there using the pedestrian lights you’d want to have a good book with you as it takes so long. Yet the on-carriageway right turn is fine even when I’m going with my kids. So not surprisingly we have a mix of ‘solutions’.
    Maybe incompetence has something to do with it. But there is also an element of culture and national regulation that plays a role. In the UK you simply don’t get priority across turning traffic and consequently you have looooong waits or you use the carriageway.
    If we compared like for like, e.g. a junction, we’d see the essential difference to the NL in terms of engineering and regulation.
    Now we could run a campaign on this specific issue. But would it be likely to convince politicians or the public? More importantly, would it result in real benefits for cycling?
    I dont’ know

  5. Excellent post! I do get your point regarding the “dual network” approach to cycle infrastructure and I personally would love to see cycle provisions implemented to such a degree that choosing the bike route should be the more logical choice!
    Even as a rather quick vehicular cyclists my average moving speeds across London are normally between 15-17mph on a good day and this is with a cruising speed closer to 20 (have had 18-20 on weekends and during off peak times). Once you account for red lights etc. I think it brings the journey average down to around 12-15mph (I often use 5 min/mile as a rule of thumb for judging journey times) The constant stop/start and “need” to maintain a relatively high cruising speed is great if you are wanting to use your ride as a training session and have a change of clothes at the end but it’s hardly ideal otherwise. There is then also the mental “stress” of dealing with riding in London traffic where it requires 110% concentration.

    In an ideal world I’d love to have decent network of bike routes that allow for more continuous routes so I can just continue at a more civil pace. I think it was during The Big RIde that I got a taster of how “the other half” ride when we used more back road routes which where quieter and a lot less stressful then the main roads that I’m used to. A cruising speed of 15-17mph with fewer stops would result in same overall journey times and I personally wouldn’t have any problems with slower riders. Surely if cyclists complain about slow riders it only drags us down to the level of car drivers who complain about being held up by “slow cyclists”?

  6. orioliver says:

    Having read all the above, it is scarily obvious how easy it would be for Boris et al to ‘divide and rule’ over cycle campaigners. If planners categorise cyclists into ‘racers’ or ‘pootlers’, we’ll end up with the worst of both worlds, or nothing at all. I don’t see racing at speed through the morning rush hour as a human right, either by bike or by car, and think campaigning should focus on cycle lanes for reasonable, quietly competent people, capable of slowing down during congested periods for the odd pootler, in the interests of a more people-friendly city. The racers can go as fast as they like during quiet times of day, but it would be a shame if their demands for special provision means the waters are muddied, the politicians use this is an excuse to back-peddle, and so we don’t get a decent infrastructure to start with.

    • disgruntled says:

      The thing is, the planners *already* categorise cyclists into ‘racers’ and ‘pootlers’. It’s right there in the design guidelines and explains why cycle infrastructure provision has actually gone backwards in the past few years…

    • fonant says:

      The traditional cycle campaigning approach, of which I have been a part for a couple of decades, has divided “cyclists” for that long. It pops up as Sustrans versus CTC on a regular basis.

      I ran a local cycle campaign group that folded because half were parents with children who wanted decent off-road facilities, and the other half, including me, “knew” that off-road facilities were always crap and only wanted to campaign for on-road facilities. Sadly “cyclists” who don’t think we’ll ever get decent facilities think they want something different to people who will ride a bike when there are decent facilities.

      Later I realised that we should all have campaigned for decent facilities for people on bikes, the on-road/off-road debate being irrelevant as it’s the usefulness and attractiveness of the facility that matters. Now I’m a parent I know that on-road facilities are never going to feel safe enough for your own children unless motor vehicles are kept to 20mph or less.

      The question is, should we unite to campaign just for what existing cyclists want, should we unite to campaign just for things that will actually get ordinary people on their bikes for transport, or should we agree to disagree but campaign for decent facilities, and decent levels of investment. I vote we stop dividing ourselves into on-road/off-road camps and campaign for cycle facilities that are proven to work for all cyclists: Dutch style.

  7. Simon Parker says:

    Like many commentators, I agree with your critique of the “dual network” approach . According to ‘Cycling: the way ahead’, “Ideally, one should start by studying a cycling network which, as a priority, is designed for beginners and hesitant cyclists (‘tortoises’), but which must, if possible, also be able to satisfy the requirements of swift and experienced cyclists (‘hares’).”

    You suggest it is “indisputable” that LCC have done “a fantastic job” in allowing their members to determine what the focus of their campaign for the mayoral elections should be, but to what purpose? The Go Dutch advocate, David Arditti, said right at the very start of his piece, “What we need is a strategic network of routes which look really attractive to cycle on.” This is what the membership voted for, but, very irritatingly, this is not what LCC have campaigned for.

    Charlie Lloyd said recently (on your blog): “Going Dutch […] is about planning for people to have easy, safe access to wherever they want to go.” Rather than do this, however, LCC have proposed three flagship schemes as a ‘test’ of the Mayor’s resolve. This despite the fact that Jim Davis has said, “If we don’t […] think in terms of [a] coherent network instead of piecemeal ‘solutions’ that act like a Band-Aid on a laceration, then […] the bicycle will continue not to be taken seriously as a mode of transport.”

    Making sure the remaining Cycle Superhighways are completed to Go Dutch standards, as well as all planned developments on the TLRN, especially the junctions, are not ‘tests’ in the same way that the three flagship schemes are, since the only thing that is being tested is an individual’s common sense. If you have a cycle network, and there is the opportunity to improve a part of it for not very much money, and you don’t take that opportunity, then I think you might actually be quite insane. But if you don’t have a cycle network, then why should you push the boat out and alienate a significant body of people, many of whom are likely to vote for you?

    I am suggesting that the cycling lobby needs to get its house in order. We need to be careful what we wish for. If Going Dutch means thinking in terms of a network, or planning for people to have easy, safe access to wherever they want to go, then for pity’s sake, is it too much to ask that we might actually give this matter some serious thought?

    • I think that to really make bicycles work as safe mass local transport cyclists need to be selfless in their campaigning. Safe pathways or cycle routes are not for really for cyclists to enjoy, they are for everyday people using bikes (and feet) to take for granted. The routes we campaign for are not necessarily to make our journey better but to reduce dependency on the car for local journeys making life better for all in the longer term. I think that bicycles for local transport (dutch bikes included) are generally looked down upon and misunderstood by cyclists and non cyclists alike. The self important rantings of some cyclists do nothing to help the long term future of cycle provision for the masses or bring the humble bicycle from the shed into the car ports of everyday people. I agree with Simon, lots of good work is being done, but we need to appreciate the issues from a planning and political perspective and realise that the utopia we aspire too will happen one bit at a time, its not just about pathways, it’s a hearts and minds thing.

      • Agree there and I think we also have to realize, whilst aspiring to the Dutch ideal, is that it took them 40 years to get to where they are today. This means the groundwork and foundations we are (hopefully) laying down now should bring benefits to our children and their children.

        David Hembrews last blog post on how roadworks over there had little to no effect on cycle lanes (whilst in some cases either blocking completely or sending on a massive diversion cars) was rather interesting. He has clips of the routes that have been implemented and even their “temporary” routes for cyclists put the vast majority of British infrastructure to shame,

      • davidhembrow says:

        southlondoncyclist: It doesn’t take nearly as long as you think. In fact, the Netherlands had much of what they had now after less than ten years, and it looked pretty good after about 20 years of consistent policy. But consistent policy is that is must be, and what’s more, the aim of any such policy has to be a lot higher than what is being asked for at the moment.

        BTW, I covered the dual network nonsense, also looking at LCC’s inadequate plans for Parliament Square, a couple of months ago.

    • Simon Parker says:

      David, you’re absolutely right to say that, given the political will, it is possible to make big strides towards the development of an amenable cycling environment within ten to twenty years. “The essential thing,” says ‘Cycling: the way ahead’, “is to take the first step because, while use of the bicycle is a choice for the individual, it is essential to launch the process by which your city builds on the initiatives and habits of some of your fellow citizens for a healthier urban environment.”

      And what is the first step? Think in terms of a network.

  8. I understand the desire to cater for the speed demons, as they make up most of the current cycling lobby, but it really does drive me to despair.

    We don’t design our road network for boy racers who want to go out and drive as fast as they want, so why must we do it for cyclists? Public roads are not racetracks for cyclists OR drivers.

    • I think that the “speed demon” cyclist has evolved in a similar way to the vehicular cyclists. It’s a “survival” technique that can be used when mixing with other faster moving traffic.

    • Panjandrum says:

      Yes,but Andrew a “boy racer” on a bicycle is not going to be going more than 25-30 mph max; well within current speed limits.

      • And even then those speeds are only attainable for brief periods 😉 Takes an awful lot of effort to maintain that whearas boy racer drivers need only press their right foot against the floor a bit harder.

      • andrewtravels says:

        This is nothing to do with speed limits.

        In my view that still too fast for a city street, but even where it’s not I see little point in catering for those sorts of speeds at the expense of “normal” people. It simply makes the environment unpleasant for utility cyclists and pedestrians and being exposed to such cyclists discourages your average punter from getting on their bike.

    • Panjandrum says:

      I don’t believe a cyclist at 25mph passing the “average punter” at say 10-12mph is that terrifying an ordeal. Guess we’ll have to agree to differ on this one!

      • Simon Parker says:

        Hi Panjandrum,

        According to Jan Gehl, what is interesting about Copenhagen, compared to a city like Brisbane, say, is that in Brisbane they have about 2% of people commuting to work by bike. They are mostly young men, aged between about 25 and 35, and they are dressed to take part in the Tour de France.

        In Brisbane, as in many other cities, cycling is an extreme sport, with these crazy cyclists thinking they should be allowed to tear around the place at 40km/h. Not so in Copenhagen. In Copenhagen, the majority of cyclists are women. Consequently, a more leisurely pace is encouraged: they have these green waves, even, so that if you keep to between about 17km/h and 20km/h, the traffic lights always show green, meaning you can just sail along without any interruptions to the flow of your journey.

        I say again, for too long the cycling environment has been “designed” to meet the needs of what Roger Geller (the cycling coordinator of Portland, Oregon) calls The Strong and the Fearless. This has to change. Most of the 40,000 people who signed the LCC Go Dutch campaign would, it’s fair to assume, agree.


      • Sir Velo says:

        Simon, I think there are other reasons why only 2% of journeys undertaken in Brisbane are by bike. The lack of take up is far more likely down to the risible helmet laws and the lack of proper infrastructure, or enforcement of the highway code by police, than a terror per se of getting mown down by daredevil cyclists careering round the streets at a pant-wetting inducing 25mph. However, I do agree with you that there is a lot we can learn from the Dutch and the Danes. Anything which encourages more women to cycle has to be a good thing!

  9. fonant says:

    Quite agree with everything you say. I am both a “vehicular cyclist” when on my own, and a “pootler” when riding to the shops with my family. I am only a “vehicular cyclist” because I am forced to be, I’d much rather the motor vehicles were kept well away from me, even when I’d riding fast. Decent Dutch-style cycle “roads” would make cycling safer, more convenient and more pleasant for EVERYONE, leading to dramatic increases in cycle usage. Not a 50% increase to 3%, but an increase to 50% of all journeys.

    One problem, I think, is talking about “cyclists” as if they’re a different species of human. If you think about “people” then providing for “people on foot”, “people on bicycles”, and “people in cars” is much easier to think about. On that level you can only wonder why “people in cars” get so many special privileges, when they’re already privileged to be in an expensive-to-own and expensive-to-run vehicle that insulates them so well from the elements.

    • Cycling needs to be seen as a safe and viable alternative to driving and walking. At the moment our road system is setup in such a way that even for relatively short journeys the car is a no brainer. Walking the same journey would take “too long” and cycling isn’t seen as safe.

      I already average 20 miles a day commuting and would quite happily use my bike for longer journeys if we had the same high quality links that the Dutch enjoy between their towns. I’d love to see separate cycle roads alongside a-roads over here, the fact that planners think mixing bikes @ 15-20mph with cars travelling in excess of 60mph is acceptable is beyond me.

      • fonant says:

        Quite agree. We need all the things the Dutch have, including, but not limited to, decent segregated cycle paths with priority on busy roads, and residential roads blocked to through motor traffic but open to cycles.

        Make cycling a more sensible choice for journeys than the car, and more people will cycle automatically. Telling people that cycling among cars is statistically safe, and training them how to be less likely to be injured or killed by motor vehicles is never going to get ordinary people on their bikes.

  10. Richard says:

    I am constantly amazed at the ability of people to take an original concept and background reasoning and to spin their own yarns with regard to what it all means and what the originator’s intentions might be.

    I am the designer of the Parliament Square and Blackfriars Bridge, and my rationale for what appears on LCC’s website, courtesy of some excellent rendering by Milenne, whose own consultancy is, is as follows:

    – I established that cyclists should have a choice about whether they wish to use the carriageway or the tracks, and this should be well-facilitated. Infrastructure on the carriageway would serve to give emphasis to the fact that cyclists are welcomed on the carriageway. Infrastructure adjacent to the carriageway would be designed and built to the same standards, or even better, than those found in mainland Europe, particularly the Netherlands and Denmark.

    – Cycle tracks would not be exclusive to slow cyclists. They would accommodate cyclists of all speeds, but those with disabilities, or children, or the elderly would gain the most benefits from them whilst not being intimidated by MAMILs. There would not be compromises on quality (unless we wanted them, which is unlikely) and they would form part of a coherent and continuous network insofar as it is decided that the streets to which they might be applied are suitable or appropriate for such treatments. This latter point is with reference to whether other treatments, such as removing motors altogether, or speed and volume reduction, or traffic calming are more appropriate and are sufficient to make the street genuinely conducive to cycling–the Dutch agree: “integrate where possible, segregate where necessary”–CROW. You have to bear in mind that there will be limited funding for major schemes so we are reliant on the prioritisation of schemes where they pair up with existing maintenance and wholistic corridor treatments.

    – We are not undermining our requirement that infrastructure should be of the highest achieveable quality; indeed it is my desire that we should produce detailed design standards. Poor quality schemes built on compromises are infinitely worse than nothing at all, in fact, so let’s assume that we want something of high quality. What I am trying to do is raise the standard of design of the public realm for all street users, in a way that reduces road danger, reallocates street spaces in a way that demonstrates a clear vision of good travel demand managment (rather than the rather boorish “smoothing the traffic” rubbish) and supplies infrastructure of the right type, of the right design and in the right places.

    – Yes, allowing cycling to take place on the carriageway and on tracks will indeed increase the capacity of tracks, which, on London’s narrow streets, will be constrained in places–you can only narrow carriageways so much, given political and practical engineering parameters. It also helps to tame the whole street environment, as drivers will still have to share the carriageway with cyclists. I don’t understand why that isn’t a good thing! Good cycle tracks will provide the same level of priority as motors enjoy on the adjacent carriageway, and achieving this means focusing conflictual traffic movements at signal junctions whilst filtering existing priority junctions, unless there is no alternative route for access.This will minimise conflicts and it will improve conditions for pedestrians.

    – And finally, yes, cyclists will choose not to use poor quality infrastructure. We want quality–perhaps an evening out of those who want to use the infrastructure and those who don’t. Perhaps the ‘test’ is whether this evening out occurs or cyclists simply choose to use one or the other, in which case something isn’t right.

    • Richard I for one appreciate the fact that you have commented here.

      I think your response shows that the basic premise of the article is correct – you are offering a choice to cyclists to cycle on- or off-carriageway, and that is what many posting here disagree with. Including me, as it happens.

      I have no interest in riding on the road in high speed/high traffic environments, and I believe that offering this on-road alternative will result in a compromise or complete lack of segregated provision. It’s just more of the same as we have: crappy ASLs blocked by cars and requiring dangerous filtering to get to them, or half-arsed segregation because it’s only for “learners”.

      Having lived in NL, I have no sympathy with those who fear removal of their right to ride. Never once in more than four years did I hear anybody complain about that in the Netherlands, and for good reason. Who in their right mind would WANT to ride on the road, with proper provision. By trying to offer both I believe you’ll dilute both.

      And why on earth does the cyclist have to wait at the light to turn left in the render? That’s not a Dutch design!!! The whole point is to give the cyclist an advantage over the cars whenever possible when they use the cycle tracks!

      • Richard says:

        Andrew, I (personally) am not after a “Dutch” design! I am after “good” design, which recognises and responds to the opportunities and constraints of the particular locations. Frankly, I’m saying that in most cases (as, in fact, in the Netherlands and Denmark), dedicated infrastructure is not required: it would be a costly waste of money. The decision that we (as campaigners) and politicians /. engineers need to make is about where segregation is appropriate and indeed possible on a case by case basis, and what the design should be.

        I don’t want cyclists to be required to use tracks where provided–because this actually makes the carriageway less safe. It is well known that increasing the amount of cycling has an inverse relationship with their safety: the safety of individual cyclists becomes greater when there are lots of riders, and this also has benefits for pedestrians. Give drivers their own segregated space “unpolluted” by cyclists, then they will drive faster and with less due care and attention. Putting in cycle tracks and then banning cyclists from the carriageway is like putting in guard railing. Putting in cycle logos and ASLs on the carriageway reminds motorists that cyclists have a right to be there.

        If you want to say that segregation is for “learners” then fine. But I think well designed tracks in the right places are for everyone who wants to use them. The carriageway is also for everyone who wants to use it. It just happens to be likely that particular groups will select particular infrastructure, and this should be their choice to do so.

        As for the left turn: well perhaps you are correct. I’m not precious about the details of my design; if you want pedestrians to lose more priority because they should be riding bikes–you are entitled to think so. I have designed my scheme to continue to give crossing pedestrians priority when they have a green light to do so. That’s my approach and you are entirely at liberty to put forward your own designs. In Parliament Square it would be possible to achieve a Dutch design; someone has indeed suggested it, and it looks great. Would it be possible at other junctions?

    • Richard, forgive me – given what you have written here, I don’t think I have twisted or misinterpreted your position at all.

      The basic point which needs addressing is – why would some cyclists choose not to use any new infrastructure? Particularly if, as you say, they ‘would accommodate cyclists of all speeds’, and are of ‘the highest achieveable quality’?

  11. What’s really at the back of all this though is THE FEAR OF THE LOSS OF THE RIGHT TO RIDE ON THE ROAD.

    Patrick Field actually does not like the whole Dutch solution because he feels it is wrong that Dutch cyclists have lost the right to ride on (some) roads where there are cycle tracks. The fact that absolutely everything is better in the Netherlands for cyclists does not deflect him, and those who think like him, from the idea that the Dutch have surrendered a fundamental right for cycling on the road, and that this can never be forgiven.

    To me it is evident that the principles of Sustainable Safety require that road users doing particular things are found in predictable parts of the road, using the infrastructure in a predictable way. Therefore, the safest and best solution is to have all cyclists in their proper infrastructure, using it in the way designed. Therefore it has to be designed to accommodate the whole range of cycling speeds and styles. The experience of the Netherlands is that it can be.

    The Dutch ban on cycling on the roads, where it exists (which is not many places) is reasonable and fair, because it represents an equitable bargain, whereby in return for excellent infrastructure, cyclists are required not to confuse or complicate the situation on the (fast) carriageway, creating unnecessary dangers from a mixture of vehicles with very different kinetic energies. Unfortunately, few UK cycle campaigners have got their heads round this concept yet, which means that campaigns like the LCC’s always are looking two ways, asking for the excellent infrastructure while warily trying to keep the “don’t loose the right to the road” brigade on board. But ultimately this is a boil which will have to be lanced.

    One significant thing you overlooked in the Patrick Field quote was his mention of “status problems”. This is actually how he thinks. He thinks that those cyclists who do not want to take up space and slow down cars on the roads have “status problems”, i.e., actual personality defects, which are required to be rectified by (his form of) cycle training. This is the lens through which it is necessary to view his comments on cycle engineering. Such an attitude is fundamentally at odds with Dutch Sustainable Safety principles, which seek both to separate out vehicles of different kinetic energy in their own space as far as possible, and also to separate road safety from personal psychology and attitude, objectifying it as far as possible by building in predictions of how people really behave.

    I am a fast and strong cyclist who has no “status problems” on the road, nevertheless I still find it nicer to cycle away from traffic, and I don’t have a “mental illness” that I need Mr Field to cure me of.

    Finally, there really is not a conflict between cycle tracks and “streets for people”. The concept of “civilised streets” that Angus uses is a terribly difficult one. The word “civilised” is used by shared-space advocates like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton-Bailie to oppose cycle-specific provision, which they see as “uncivilised”, in favour of their preferred Shared Space methods, which do not, of themselves, it seems to me, cure the problem of excess motor traffic in cities.

    Unless we get everybody staying at home all the time, which is not likely, it is a necessary precondition for turning streets away from the “highways” model, towards becoming “for people”, that we get people out of cars and on to bikes for journeys of 1–8 miles. That can only be achieved, in the experience of both the Netherlands and Denmark, using logical “principles of separation” and a rational mix of solutions including cycle tracks on many roads, and traffic-calming, traffic exclusion and space-sharing on others. As you pointed out in your recent piece on Milton Keynes, cycle tracks and “civilised”, or “people-friendly”, streets are actually answers to different questions, and are not in opposition.

  12. As I understand it, many roads have special raised lanes known as “pavements”. Although there are many issues with certain pavements, they can generally be regarded as design issues with the particular installation or issues related to misuse (examples would include signposts or vehicles obstructing the pavement, inadequate width, as well as long detours or a lack of dropped curbs at junctions), and are not regarded by most as being an inherent problem with the concept of the pavement. It is perhaps easier to justify a higher speed limit on a road with pavements or pedestrian crossings to one without those facilities, and yet one is hardly going to hear a parent say “we shouldn’t have a new pedestrian crossing outside the village school, the A road might be raised to a 40 limit”.

    I think the idea of having both on road and off road facilities at the same point on a particular road is a very stupid idea, as it means that the physical road width (and money) that could have been used for a high quality cycle track will have been wasted because it will have been split between a pathetic gutter lane and some bicycle symbols painted on the pavement. One may as well decide that instead of building a 25 metre indoor swimming pool; because we wanted to giver people the choice of swimming indoors or outdoors we should instead have a 12.5 metre indoor pool next to a 12.5 metre outdoor pool, and one would wonder why none of the local swimming clubs were interested in using it – because, guess what, as well as choice two half baked solutions, there is a third choice when confronted with inadequacy, which is not to bother at all, and that is what most potential cyclists on Argall Way will do.

  13. patrick says:

    Thanks for the name-checks.

    The picture you linked too is more about Lea Bridge Road than Argall Way. If you took the other one – and reversed it – it’ll pass for Rotterdam, so long as nobody looks too closely at the drive on the bike.

    Describing a fat, lazy, granddad who often pushes 100kg of tools as a ‘fast cyclist’ falls somewhere between laughable flattery and gross misrepresentation. There is – however – one item on your charge-sheet that I’m proud to plead guilty to. I do hold the heresy that there are two categories of cyclist. I will go further. I not only hold that notion, I actually believe there are unnumbered categories of cyclist, including plenty we are not yet able to imagine.

    Where do powered two-wheelers – sales of which now dominate the utility cycle market in Germany and the Netherlands – and cycle-freight fit into a three network street design in a context of compulsion not choice? In N1, E8, E5 and N16 cargo bikes and trailers are well on the way to being normalised without recourse to any Clarksonite infrastructure changes.

    David Arditti suggests that my caveat on Northern European practice is motivated by “FEAR OF THE LOSS OF THE RIGHT TO RIDE ON THE ROAD” – human motivation, self-knowledge are slippery fish, but the best part of my intention is to build a consensus around ‘Go Dutch’ by clarifying it’s purpose. Unity is strength. Are we working towards a solution, or is a three network system a target in it’s own right?

    DAVID is right that I don’t believe in a “Dutch solution”; not because of any misapprehension that you can’t cater for purposeful traffic with cycle-tracks, or because cycle-tracks aren’t useful, appropriate and – currently – necessary in some London locations. David’s ‘solution’ is really mitigation and accommodation.

    Martin Mogridge observed that – when they happen – transport revolutions happen very quickly. The context here in Central and Inner London is evolving rapidly and rather than try and shoe-horn us into your theories why not let a thousand flowers bloom?

    Your post on the Shard is great. As Berthold Brecht said: “Injustice is not anonymous it has a name and address.”

    • Patrick,

      Cycle tracks should be a way of making bicycle journeys more pleasant and convenient; about privileging it as a mode of transport. They should not be about ‘mitigation and accommodation’, or about getting bicycles out of the way of cars (which is what I assume you are implying by ‘Clarksonite’ infrastructure), or a substitute for calming streets. They are an appropriate and necessary treatment for making the use of a bicycle an inviting prospect on those London streets which will still carry significant volumes of motor traffic (and these, however reduced in number, will still exist).

      They aren’t a ‘surrender’, any more than pavements are; indeed, if the space for them is taken from motor vehicles, as it should be, quite the opposite.

      (Oh, and one other thing – we’re just having a difference of opinion. I’m not sure it’s helpful to characterise people who disagree with you as ‘fundamentalists’ writing ‘denouncements’, or undertaking an ‘ideological purge’.)

      • patrick says:

        An anonymous stranger calls me ‘muddle-headed’, I take trouble to explain myself. Why not be grateful? If the complexities of the real World don’t make you muddle-headed maybe your not trying hard enough?

        I’m not very interested in ‘should’. My concerns are practical. Streets don’t need calming, it’s people that generate threats.

        Round here – the inner North-Eastern area – where cycle-traffic is normalised, bicycling is already an inviting prospect. What part of London do you come from?

        Your concept of ‘best Dutch principles’ implies a one-size-fits-all approach. If you dislike the handle ‘fundamentalist’ it may be better not to rely so heavily on theory and consider Richard’s case-by-case approach?

        I agree that motor-traffic is likely to persist into the medium-term – public transport, municipal services, delivery and the rest, will all be heavily regulated – but suspect your analysis of private motoring in our city is exactly backwards. It’s the non-essential, the frivolous, that will persist not the ‘essential’ which is inefficient and – round here at least – desperately unfashionable.

        All the problems currently associated with motor-traffic – except climate change – were once generated by equine-traffic.

        There are still horses on the streets. None of them are essential.

        • Patrick –

          Did I say I wasn’t grateful? I’m not sure I did. You’re welcome to comment here and explain your position, and (I would hope) vice-versa.

          I accept the premise that ‘people generate threats’ – cars and vehicles are not, yet, autonomous – and that better-driven vehicles make for a better environment. This neglects, however, one of the main purposes of cycle tracks, which is to make journeys pleasant, not, solely, to keep cyclists out of the way of badly-driven vehicles. Cycling amongst vehicles (especially amongst large vehicles), even ones that might be perfectly and courteously driven, is not an experience that is particularly appealing for most people. As an example, in Denmark and the Netherlands, it is generally considered inhumane to expect children to share the same space as buses.

          Of course, if that separation is achieved by filtered permeability, or by removing vehicles completely from some streets, I’m all for it. You can see that in my posts on this blog. There will remain, however, roads in London which will continue to be bus routes, or delivery routes, or even car journey routes. Holloway Road, where I used to live, is a pretty ghastly place, and is in desperate need of remedial action. But will it cease to be a route, in some shape or form? I doubt it.

          Neither is it feasible (or even desirable) to design the car completely out of existence; what can be done is to make it as unattractive a mode of urban transport as possible, so it is only used when it really needs to be.

          Finally, Richard and I are both relying on theory, and practice. As it happens, I think his designs should perhaps draw rather more heavily on Dutch, rather than Danish, practice. He disagrees. That does not make him a fundamentalist, any more than me. Labels are tiresome.

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  15. patrick says:

    Worrying about the difference between Dutch and Danish flavours of street design doesn’t make you a fundamentalist, but that’s not why you rattled my cage is it? Asserting that cycle-traffic in London must be restricted to ‘special roads for bikes’ might do?
    You asked…
    “…why people would not like to use the segregated tracks”?
    the most obvious answer – on routes from Hackney into the City and West End – is inadequate capacity in the peaks.

    What part of London do you come from?

    • andrewtravels says:

      Segregated paths are capable of passing massive numbers of cyclists. That’s a complete non-issue if they are designed properly, which is the whole point… by deliberately making them just for half the people then what chance do we have of them being good enough and wide enough to be truly useful?

    • Cycle tracks that don’t even exist have an inadequate capacity?

      It’s good to see that you’ve decided upon their quality before they’ve even been built; indeed, a presumption of inadequacy was rather the point of this post.

    • Simon Parker says:

      Hi Patrick,

      I think the idea is that everything possible should be done to *invite* people to walk and to bicycle in the course of their day-to-day lives. In order for this invitation to be a strong one, cycle paths should be “designed to the highest standards, and suitable for everyone.”

      The question was asked why people would not like to use segregated cycle paths. You suggested that the most obvious answer – on routes from Hackney into the City and West End – is inadequate capacity in the peaks. Eh? A cycle path which was designed to the highest standards, and which was suitable for everyone, would surely have adequate capacity.

      Personally, I do not think too much consideration should be given to the needs of people who regard cycling as an extreme sport. For myself, I would rather live in a city where women and children can confidently make their way around by bike. I do not believe this is possible while the views of people like yourself are allowed to hold sway.

      For too long, the cycle lobby has been organised for the benefit of “crazy cyclists” who want to tear around the place at 25mph. If London is to be a more liveable, loveable place, that will have to change.


      • orioliver says:

        Simon, I agree with you. I’m new to this debate, and up to now had not realized the extent to which there were conflicting views within the cycling campaign, nor that there was a ‘speedy’ camp. But I’m getting it now, thanks to this interesting thread, and reiterate what I said earlier on … in a crowded city like London, neither cyclists nor drivers should expect to move at speed during rush hours. We’ll get nowhere if we’re divided, and the politicians will be delighted to use this as an excuse to do nothing while we argue. If the cycle lobby really is organised for the benefit of speed-merchants, it will certainly need to change to keep people like me supporting it.

      • Panjandrum says:

        Hang on Simon! Bit of an oxymoron here: “tearing around at 25 mph”. Most motorists would consider going at 25 mph to be ridiculously slow. Let’s not throw the babe out with the bath water; going at 25 mph on a bike is fun and should not be frowned at. Provided one’s machine is in good working order, stopping time is negligible at this speed. It is not, I repeat, “tearing around”.

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