We all want traffic free cycle routes! Well no we don’t.

Sustrans, in association with a number of cities, has produced an excellent “Bike Life – Women: reducing the gender gap” report. Go read it. It really shows the way our Highways Engineers have excluded women (and men) from taking up cycling. This gender gap is born out in many studies with around 28% of people that cycle being women in the UK, vs 55% in Netherlands

There is a big big problem in Highways and the DfT. Being an engineering profession I suspect it is also dominated by men and this directly impacts the design process “I would ride that.”.

However this report also showed something interesting. Continue reading We all want traffic free cycle routes! Well no we don’t.

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Metro Mayor Tim Bowles is failing us

For anyone that caught the news on Friday, Chris Boardman raised alarm at the lack of progress on cycling recently in the West of England. You can catch a more detailed program and discussion on it on the Sunday Politics West if you are quick.

The basic premise is that when each of the 6 mayors were elected, they were also given a load of money.

Greater Manchester’ Andy Burnham received £240M, committed £160M to cycling, employed Chris Boardman, designed a complete gold standard cycle network across 11 boroughs and is now spending £50M per year trying to build it. West Midlands Andy Street is also doing an immense amount of stuff exceptionally quickly. These are Metro Mayors that hit the ground running.

West of England’s Tim Bowles was given £80m,  has taken a year to get a Head of Transport when the 2 page job advert did not mention walking and cycling, and has committed to producing a document, the joint local transport plan by April 2020.

On the politics show, the Metro Mayor was accused of being useless. When I was interviewed I called him as useful as a chocolate teapot when it came to transport.

You should be extremely alarmed that this man has sat on £80M of City Transformation Funding. That the wording he uses around this money is about strategic transport. That he wants to ‘promote’ cycling, despite WECA scrutiny panel assuring me in a written statement that the term promote would no longer be used and replaced with enable.

The reality is that Tim Bowles is utterly failing the people of the West of England, and before you try and defend him in anyway, Andy Street is Conservative and Andy Burnham is Labour. It is not about parties, it is about ability, about political will, about surrounding yourself quickly with good people and delivering.

Janet Sadik-Khan TRANSFORMED New York because Mayor Bloomberg had faith in her and backed her 100% all the way. Chris Boardman has the vision, but his ability to deliver is down to Metro Mayor Andy Burnham backing him 100% and putting money where his mouth is.

Tim Bowles has ensured that the wording he uses around the City Transformation Fund is about strategic transport, but I strongly suspect he does not consider cycling or walking strategic. It’s taken him over a year to employ a Head of Transport who needed experience of dealing with buses, but no experience of implementing walking or cycling strategies and he is so weak in this area, he is pushing any decisions around this space out to the Joint Local Transport Plan.

Yet Transport for London have recognised that Cycling is a strategic form of transport and have done complex Strategic Cycling Analysis, using commuter and school travel DATA. Tim Bowles knows this. I had a meeting with him last Christmas and showed him this. TfL are increasing road capacity by 15% by building cycle tracks.

This situation is utterly depressing and is very much down to Tim Bowles and his utter failure to get a grip on Transport from all aspects unless it has to do with 18a of the M4 junction.

As Chris Boardman said “It is not what does it cost to get people cycling and walking, but what is the cost not to get people cycling and walking”.

With the Joint Local Transport Plan not being published until April 2020 at the earliest, Tim Bowles will have set back the west by at least 2 years. In the meantime other mayors are absolutely killing it, focusing on enabling walking, cycling, and transforming public transport.

It’s less Metro Mayor Tim Bowles and more Teapot Tim.

We need a commitment from Tim Bowles to allocate the £80M he has been given to walking and cycling, implement a Strategic Cycling Analysis exercise, and begin delivery of a complete cycle network across the west. This could be done this year.

Public Health England demands councils take action

Finally we are beginning to see a change in mindset. Even now, the council bumbles from consultation to consultation. It knows what to do. Sadly at a West Of England Combined Authority & Local Enterprise Partnership level we are seeing complete inaction.

Our decades long car centric approach to transport has created the biggest health crisis this country has ever seen. We promote and encourage cycling, never enable it.

Change The Question_ Enable Cycling

 

Our schools exist within cycling transit deserts, inaccessible from the communities they serve, forcing people to drive their kids to school.

Thankfully Public Health England has had enough.

Their blog gives a set of documents councils should be using, as well as a health costs tool that councils should be using as part of any actions they want to tackle.

Let’s be clear WECA is sitting on £80M of Transforming Cities Fund. If this is not immediately allocated to the delivery of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to deliver a 58% in residential traffic as Ghent achieved in one year then we have the CEO and Metro Mayor who are utterly failing us, and particularly our children.

Change The Question_ LIVEABLE CITIES

Tim Warren, Tim Bowels, Patricia Greer, Marvin Reece, enough is enough, just get on with it.

Will eBikes save the planet?

Wired published a rather excellent article “THE VEHICLE OF THE FUTURE HAS TWO WHEELS, HANDLEBARS, AND IS A BIKE” which explores the future of autonomous vehicles and whether they will truly be the answer to urban travel.

When you start doing the math, you very quickly realise that we have allocated an exceptional amount of space on our roads to not moving people to the point where we could be moving three times as many people down our roads given the provided space.

Change The Question - Move People (2)

However, we appear to have shafted the planet and are in the middle of the 6th mass extinction event on caused by you, fellow human.

What is your MPG?

In all of this, how efficiently we move around the planet is hugely important.

Even cycling and walking have a carbon cost in terms of food consumed. In fact the MPG of a human has been roughly calculated

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More interesting is that this article from 2011, doesn’t consider the impact of electric bicycles in their ability to efficiently use power or the impact of renewables on the electric supply market. However others have written on the subject “Surprising Ways An Electric Bike Affects The Environment”

Save the planet, get on an eBike

Although this might sound illogical, an eBike is the most efficient way to move a human.

It also makes Bath an easy city to cycle. 😉

Car centric councils create inequality, poor performing employees, and limit the local labour market

If an employee cycles to work, employers will find that this employee will be more on time, perform better and save employers money. This employee will also have half the number of sick days that other employees do.

Now, an American study, looking at inequality and employer access to potential candidates has found that a council that does not focus on delivering a true multi-modal road network, is directly impacting the earning capacity of minority groups and women while limiting the access employers have to good candidates. Travel choice is key in achieving equity.

Congestion costs the UK £300Billion

On top of this, the car centric road infrastructure approach that is rife, not only at council level, but within the highest echelons of UK Government is costing the country £300 Billion in congestion each year.

But let’s be clear, this is absolutely not about banning the car, but recognising that if we want a healthy, functioning, equal society, then our roads must treat each mode of transport equally and using a set of good design standards for delivering the right infrastructure.

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WECA and LEP are failing us

What surprises me most about this is that neither WECA or LEP seem to have a handle on this. Congestion alone is costing the West of England £300M per year. Cars really are not providing the answer and the lack of action on behalf of the Metro Mayor and Patricia Greer (CEO of both WECA and LEP) should have employers up in arms.

We need to move people

For too long Highways and the DfT model things in terms of vehicle movements. Not people movements. Removing on-street parking and introducing 1 bi-directional car lane wide cycle land is the same as installing a 5 lane motorway in terms of people moved.

Change The Question - CC-BY licence (1)

WHATABOUTERY?!

What about the 37.5Million cars on our roads? They VOTE.

Most politicians will fight tooth and nail to prevent enlightened council officers from delivering a balanced road system that gives equal priority to walking, cycling, and driving.

When accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

Ignoring the immense long term costs these politicians are burdening the council with in terms of youth and social services through loss of child independent travel and health impacts from transport related obesity and air pollution, they are doing all those businesses in your area a disservice, while ensuring people from minority groups and women have limited access to employers.

It’s the economy stupid

Transport policy pervades all aspects of our lives, and the travel choices available to you will limit the job roles you can apply for. As an employer, your council’s lack of willingness to deliver good cycling infrastructure is costing you money and you will be missing out on star employees.

A new parking garage in ’s-Hertogenbosch

When you look at Park and Ride facilities, as done by other countries you see an approach predicated on providing good connections via all modes of traffic, not simply use of bus. Given the square meterage of this parking garage, I’m surprised higher capacity was not achieved through the use of car park stacking systems. These building should, in effect be big hangars within which a car stacking systems are built. This would achieve a capacity of 4000+ cars and provide an charging point for each car. The thought and planning that has gone into the environmental impact of this building and how it has been connected to transport routes, be it by car, bus, foot, or bicycle, is simply brilliant. All it needs now is a tram connection 😉

BICYCLE DUTCH

The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch wants to have fewer cars in its city centre. To achieve that goal the city built a large car parking garage at the edge of the city, where people can transfer from their private car to a bus that takes them to the city centre. The city decided to build the so-called Transferium as green as possible in collaboration with a lot of stake holders. Cycling infrastructure is an integral part of the project. The building was opened last week with a bike-fest.

Once the outside is covered in green ivy this parking garage will be hidden in plain sight with all the green surrounding it. In the distance to the right: the city hospital. In the far distance: the city. Still from a video by the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

Some of you may wonder why I would show you a car parking garage on…

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Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Many people are in awe of what has been achieved in Walthamstow, London with over 10,000 less car movements per day and a big shift to walking and cycling as the neighbourhood became car light and traffic free.

London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets London have now created a guide for campaigners, council officers, and politicians on how to achieve these cheap, hugely impactful changes within your towns and cities in a matter of months.

The introduction I hope gives you a taste for what this document can do for Bath and North East Somerset, if the political will can be found.

Each neighbourhood or “cell” is a group of residential streets, bordered by main or “distributor” roads (the places where buses, lorries, lots of traffic passing through should be), or by features in the landscape that form barriers to motor traffic – rivers, train lines etc.

  • You should be able to walk across a neighbourhood in fifteen minutes at most. Larger, and people start driving inside the neighbourhood. We suggest an ideal size of about 1km2.
  • Groups of cells or neighbourhoods should be clustered around key amenities and transport interchanges in a 6-10km radius (with 1-2km walking journeys key) as a priority. This is typically what you get in Dutch suburbs, towns and cities. People walk and cycle within their area, and to the station etc.
  • Cells should link together with crossings across distributor roads or other cell boundaries – this enables people to comfortably walk and cycle between cells from home to amenities, transport interchanges etc.
  • The positive benefits of low traffic neighbourhoods can be further enhanced by providing high quality cycle tracks and pavements along the distributor roads also.

In the coming weeks I will be working publicly to identify all traffic light neighbourhood cells within the city and deliver a plan to create a city that truly prioritises walking and cycling and creates the behaviour change that a clean air zone could never achieve.

Watch this space!

Stop idling

BATH NEWSEUM

Gillian Risbridger writes to ask if Bath Newseum could give ‘Bath living Streets’ a shout and also mention their role in a campaign to help cut pollution and improve air quality in Bath.

She would like people to come and support the anti-idling initiative aimed at encouraging drivers to turn off their engines when parked. The next action day takes place on Saturday 28 April at 10.15am at the YMCA in Bath.

Gillian – who is the campaign organiser – writes; “Idling – running a vehicle’s engine when the vehicle is not in motion – increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air. The anti-idling initiative is organised by Bath Living Streets, a UK charity for everyday walking. 

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The first action day in March was a great success. After a short training session, volunteers – called Bath Clean Air Champions – went out to engage with drivers in…

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WECA Head of Transport, walking and cycling not needed

Before attending WECA meeting today to do my speech (WECA 18 April March 2018 pdf) on behalf of Cycle Bath and Bristol Cycle Campaign, somebody made me aware that the West of England Combined Authority is looking for a Head of Transport. Within the job specification document the key responsibilities listed are:

  • Manage the Transport Team of the West of England Combined Authority.
  • Manage and lead on the strategic transport functions of the West of England Combined Authority including the Joint Local Transport Plan, Bus Strategy, Key Route Network and Major Transport Scheme programme and other transport projects and initiatives that arise.
  • Manage the West of England Combined Authority’s Integrated Transport Authority functions for concessionary travel, bus information, community transport and supported bus services, clean air zones and transitional arrangements with the constituent councils
  • Monitor and manage spend from the West of England Combined Authority’s transport budgets.
  • Lead and co-ordinate the development, adoption and enactment of transport policies and schemes that assist the West of England Combined Authority in making best use of its capital and revenue resources including the West of England Investment Fund.
  • Develop the future role of the West of England Combined Authority in taking on responsibility for new transport powers and functions.
  • Provide strategic transport advice to the Mayor and the constituent councils on transport and planning functions.
  • Provide a lead role in joint working with the constituent councils on developing and delivering transport schemes including leading on bids to Government and other agencies to maximise investment in the area.
  • Promote the role of the West of England Combined Authority as a transport authority.
  • Engage with a range of stakeholders including Network Rail, Highways England, bus and rail operators.

Continue reading WECA Head of Transport, walking and cycling not needed

Where the **** is our Cycling and Walking Tsar?

Chris Boardman is Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Tsar appointed by Metro Mayor Andy Burnham. Andy has been a Metro Mayor for almost 1 year. West of England’s Metro Mayor Tim Bowles has also been in the role for almost 1 year.

I am utterly disappointed with Tim Bowles. He appears to be way over his head and has no idea what he’s doing with transport. Casual observers might think he is utterly obsessed with junction 18A of the M4 or any scheme as long as it appears to make it better for motorised vehicles.

Continue reading Where the **** is our Cycling and Walking Tsar?

Working, Living, Cycling, and campaigning for better cycle infrastructure in Bath, UK