Lessons from Amsterdam: How to make cycling easy and fun

Moving Beyond the Automobile

At home in Toronto, I ride my bike all the time. I ride for commuting, for leisure, for travel, and for shopping. Most of the time I wouldn’t dare ride without a helmet, and most of the time I ride by myself. I often wear more athletic clothes when I cycle, and many others do the same. I can even hear my mom’s voice ringing in my head when I leave on a ride “make sure you wear a helmet!”.

So, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Amsterdam and saw Dutch cyclists riding without helmets, side-by-side, and in normal clothing.

20170624_150354704_iOS (2) What is this strange world? No helmets, and no Lycra!

My three weeks in the Netherlands has dramatically shaped the way I think about cycling, and in particular, my perspective on the way we talk about cycling. I’ve come to realize that in its current state, public messaging…

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Ride and Meet – Today 6pm

Cycle Bath is meeting in Kingsmead Square today (Wednesday 14th of June) for 6pm to leisurely ride over to the Locksbrook Inn for 6:30pm to have a meeting. The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss what our new MP can do for cycling. Other subjects will arise. We’ll probably end up discussing the poor maintenance of paths and the slow ingres of nettles narrowing a lot of the paths as they get busier during the summer.

See you at 6pm. The weather is looking beautiful.

A bit of cycology

There does seem to be a step change in the quality that is being delivered in London. I just hope this translates to the rest of the country.

Subversive Suburbanite

Enfield’s cycle infrastructure is coming along nicely in the form of bike lanes, re-modelled junctions and better public realm along the A105. Since this road – also known as Green Lanes, Ridge Avenue and London Road depending on which bit you’re on – connects my own street to Enfield Town, I cycle up and down it at least once a week. Watching it take shape is fascinating.

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What do each of the parties offer for cycling?

After the withdrawal of the transport hustings from all the candidates, Transition Bath, Transition Larkhall and Cycle Bath requested a one to one interview with all candidates. They obliged. During the interviews we gave each candidate the chance to air their views on some of the main issues in Bath and what their plans were to tackle them.

Each candidate was given an hour to interview and answer detailed questions. The full details of which can be found here.

A quick summary of local priorities:


Focusing in on cycling in order of interview:

Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrats)

On Cycling and active transport

  • A keen cyclist with a history of prompting increased cycling in other areas she has lived in.
  • Wants to see a greater emphasis on encouraging people on to bikes and walking.
  • Demonstrated openness to working with groups like Transition and Cycle Bath, to implement and lobby for stronger initiatives and incentives.
  • Wants to create networks of cycling away from main traffic.

Ben Howlett (Conservative Party)

On Cycling and active transport

  • Will implement more cycle routes and safe walking zones
  • Working to implement cycle racks on the front of buses to help encourage bike use
  • Improvements to the Bristol/Bath cycle path, with more accessibility to more people and new developments in Bath.
  • Accessing government’s funds to improve the region.

Joe Rayment (Labour Party)

On Cycling and active transport

  • Like Ben, would like to see bike racks on the front of buses.
  • Segregated cycle lanes to make cycling safer to increase accessibility for all.
  • Prioritise walking, cycling and buses above the use of car.

Eleanor Field (Green Party)

On Cycling and active transport

  • Safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists, including segregated cycle lanes.
  • Walking buses for children on their way to school.
  • Less cars will encourage more active travel, so it has to be key to reduce car use.
  • Wants to encourage more e-bikes in Bath.

Interviewer’s Conclusions

There were some big differences between candidates and some similarities. All accept there is a problem with air quality and congestion in Bath, and all want to encourage more walking and cycling, whilst trying to make public transport more affordable. All candidates apart from Ben seem to agree that more roads and car centric schemes are not the answer. Joe and Eleanor both see an opportunity to take rail and buses back into public ownership, at least at a local level, and Joe strongly made this the centrepiece of his plan. Wera looks strongly to working within communities to instigate change through movement away from the car, and Ben wants to put the emphasis on reducing traffic in Bath by diverting it where possible on alternate routes. Please take the time to listen to the interviews yourselves and hopefully this will help you make the choice you feel will best serve the city, and our future.

My Conclusions

I felt that much of what an MP can and cannot do is constrained by a willing council. It’s all very good Ben Howlett pushing for more cycle routes and walking zones but that actually means very little. All roads are cycle routes and walking zones. Just some are safer than others. The other candidates all wanted to segregate cycling away from motorised traffic which I feel is the only viable approach.

All candidates wanted to ‘encourage’ people to cycle. This is a politically weak construct that allows you to do nothing. With 5.5% of commuters in Bath cycling to work (Census 2011), but only 1% of school children cycling to school, it is the perceived safety of our roads that is ‘discouraging’ people from everyday cycling. The only way you get more people cycling is to segregate, to make it safe.

Putting the work an MP does at parliamentary level within the context of what can be achieved locally I think is a hard thing to do.  An MP can do a couple of things at national level that will have a profound impact at a local level:

  • Legislate for 10% of DfT budget to be spent on cycle infrastructure.
  • Legislate for a set of national enforceable cycle infrastructure standards that take the speed profile and minimum requirements as set out in Highways England IAN 195
  • Legislate to require councils to meet minimum infrastructure standards as part of resurfacing/maintenance programmes and provide access to DfT budget to implement those changes.
  • Petition to switch from maximising traffic flow to maximising road capacity. Replacing 2 rows of parked cars on a major route with cycle lanes can increase road capacity by 63%.
  • Legislate to recognise that road design has a key role in delivering public health improvements around Air Pollution (average 7 months loss of life) and Obesity (average 36 months loss of life) and refocus the DfT and Local Authority Highways departments around prioritising active travel on our roads or provision of good alternatives.

Whoever wins on Thursday, I hope Cycle Bath can sit down with them and work at a national level to make a real difference locally.

Please go and look at the detailed analysis available on Transition Bath’s website

Micro-consolidation centre in Oslo

Now this is thinking about freight consolidation in the right way!



Next month DHL will begin using cargobikes in Oslo city centre aided by a micro-consolidation centre.

Rather than using three vans, DHL will be using one van, drop the parcels at the hub and the last mile will be taken care by cargobike riders.

The Hub is a shipping container provided by the City rent free for the duration of the pilot until 2018.

The Department of Transport will analyse the results of the project and evaluate the costs/benefits.


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The attack on 20mph schemes in BaNES

Today was an opportunity to take the council to task over their recent report on 20mph schemes. In particular the way the report attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of councillors. At the last-minute, purdah was invoked to remove the item from the Scrutiny Panel until after the election. Let’s be clear. This was not political. This was a major concern by Living Streets, Cycle Bath, 20 is plenty, and Transition Bath, that a fundamental building block of good road design was being removed through deliberate misrepresentation of data in a report.

From the 20 is Plenty critique of the report:

In May 2017 N & NES Council released a report on their recent 20mph area schemes. Whilst we believe that assessing the results of 20mph limits is important in order to better implement ongoing schemes and formulate local authority policy, this must be done in a reasonable, balanced and objective manner.

20’s Plenty for Us refute the findings and conclusions in the report and advise members that the report is so compromised that it would not be reasonable for them to make any decisions based on the report. This critique looks at the report in detail.

In particular it finds the report biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality.

Continue reading The attack on 20mph schemes in BaNES

A continuum of mobility

Something I feel BaNES Council and particularly councillors do not get. You think you are slowing down speeding cyclists or making exits safe, but every damn time, you’re just excluding people with really bad mobility issues.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

The way debates around the division of space in urban areas are framed – how much space we should allocate to private motor traffic, to public transport, to walking, and to cycling – presents walking as an ‘essential’ mode, one that all of us engage in, while by contrast cycling is almost always an optional extra, something that’s nice to have, but not all that important.

For example, we wouldn’t dream of building a new road scheme without footways that are suitable for the children or the elderly to use – or without footways altogether – yet it’s extraordinarily common for new schemes not to bother including any cycling infrastructure at all, even in places where cycling is already a relatively established mode of transport, despite the conditions.

A brand new road scheme in Westminster, London. No cycle space included.

What this means in practical terms is that cycling as…

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Creative Bath Innovation Award Finalist

On September 3rd 2016, I (Adam Reynolds) took part in the Celebrate the City Bath Hacked Hackathon winning the event, with the help of one other hacker, with the following graphic:


Upon releasing this onto social media, people began feeding back information, even laminating it and using it to get around the city. I realised there could be some mileage in evolving the map into something better.

Continue reading Creative Bath Innovation Award Finalist

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