Why so angry

I’ve given in and bought myself a bike camera ( was £240, now £65).

Pretty much every time I cycle on main roads I get a close pass or somebody racing past you to get through a pedestrian island pinch point, only to pass them a minute later as they sit in traffic.

Worse can be on some of the residential rat runs where you have to take primary position to block people from overtaking you dangerously. You can hear them revving their engine and sitting as close to your back wheel as possible. Even on an eBike riding up hills at 15mph in a 20mph zone you get this behaviour.

Enough is enough.

Sadly Avon and Somerset Police have now provided a dashcam evidence submission page to help get prosecutions.

A sad state of affairs our roads have come to.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

Take a look at this short video [language warning].

It’s a woman attempting to cycle along Upper Thames Street, and having to come to a stop as two HGVs barrel past her, at speed. You can actually hear the fear in her voice.

This was of course back in 2011. This section of road looks very different now.

The lane in which the two HGVs thundered past the frightened woman has been replaced by a protected cycleway. The post box where she was forced to come to a halt is visible in the photograph above, with a father and his young son cycling past it, side by side. It’s precisely the same location. There is an HGV in the background of the photograph, but it won’t come anywhere near these two. The contrast is total.


There is a cliché of cycle campaigners being angry, or aggressive. That we froth, won’t…

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Council to investigate Resident Friendly Day Parking Zones

Although not strictly cycling related, many many many times, when we ask for better cycling infrastructure, the answer is no due to budgets. Even more insidious are Local Enterprise Partnership grants that can only be allocated on the basis of generating economic activity. So safe routes to schools from communities are harder to justify.

The Problem

  •  A council trying to find £16M cuts over the next three years.
  • Client Earth suing DEFRA again for not doing enough to tackle air pollution.
  • A city suffering from some of the worst congestion in the UK.
  • The cancelling of public bus services.
  • Lack of investment in walking and cycling.
  • 29,000 people commuting to Bath by car with most of them parking up in residential roads
  • 9,000 of those commuters live IN Bath and drive to work IN Bath

The Solution

We need a solution that

  • Removes ‘free’ day parking from our city roads removing the huge incentive to drive into the city rather than use provided park and rides or switch to public transport.
  • Enables the council to fund better public transport networks.
  • Enables the council to implement free bus passes for school age children tackling the 30% of rush hour traffic that is the school run.
  • Does not impact Residents financially for using a car, except when used to commute within the city.
  • Enables the council to work towards a fixed cost of say £35 per month to travel into and around the city by car or bus. Currently buses are £66 within the city or £80 from outside the city. Cars are ‘free’. Guess why people drive in?
  • Recovers some of the costs of Congestion to the city. Currently £9.9Million per year and car commuters directly impact that cost.
  • Delivers on Air Quality. There is no reason to consider that down the line, older diesel cars will be charged more for permits or even not allowed to have a permit.
  • Solves Congestion. Congestion is an exponential curve. A 30% reduction in number of cars entering the city would be similar to what happens to the roads in School Holidays.
  • Discourages car ownership within the city, particularly from students who are asked not to bring their cars with them, but many do.

We need a solution that changes the behaviour of car commuters getting them out of their cars. That places a cost on parking. That solution is Day Parking Zones.

Day Parking Zones

Keeping the current resident parking zones and placing the rest of the city under a new type of Day Parking Zone where:

  • Parking is free up to 4 hours Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm.
  • Council Tax Paying Residents get up to two free permits for their zone.
  • Day Tickets and ALL DPZ permits can be purchased from the council by anyone.
  • Key Workers get free ALL DPZ permits to enable them to carry out their jobs easily.

City Wide Day Parking Zones (3)City Wide Day Parking Zones.pdf

Show me the money

Generating around £54 Million in revenue over the next three years, enabling the council to invest heavily in public transport, walking and cycling, and simply getting more people out of cars. It even discourages students from bringing cars to the city.

I presented this idea to the BaNES Communities, Transport, and Environment Scrutiny panel last night, and they have now set up an All-Party Task and Finish working group to investigate the proposal further.

Bath Key Bus Network

This proposal is only the start though. We currently have a broken bus transport system and without delivery of a Key Bus Network that connects communities and park and ride sites to all economic centres of the city, we have to accept that people will still use their cars to get around the city.

Bath Key Bus Network MapBath Key Bus Network Map.pdf

If we want more cycling infrastructure, if we want a better environment, if we want a good public transport system, we need to enable the council to provide those. Day Parking Zones is that enabler.

IF YOU TRAVEL TO WORK IN BATH BY BUS IT SHOULD COST YOU LESS THAN TRAVELLING BY CAR.

What happens if this is too successful?

This one has been raised. Assuming that this creates a monumental shift in behaviour and suddenly, of the 29,000 commuters, we suddenly find only 50% switch to public transport. Over night air pollution would drop significantly. Public Transport would be heavily utilised requiring less/no subsidy. The economic cost of congestion to the city would drop. This is a win win situation. The less people commute by car, the better.

We need a functioning city, not this grid locked air pollution nightmare we currently have.

Sustainable Safety and ‘Shared Space’

I suspect that I’ll be mentioning Sustainable Safety and asking why this is not a core part of any public realm redesign.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

There was a bit of back-and-forth on social media last week on the subject of Exhibition Road, involving – in particular – the Conservative councillor Daniel Moylan, who had a major role in pushing the ‘shared space’ scheme through.

One of his tweets was – for me at least – particularly intriguing.

Fairly clear! But why might a fan of ‘shared space’ be so hostile to Sustainable Safety – the policy which lies behind the Netherlands world-leading road safety record? After all, the Netherlands is the country where Moylan’s version of ‘shared space’ largely originates – with the ideas of Hans Monderman.

If we look at the principles of Sustainable Safety, the answer quickly becomes clear. The ideology behind Exhibition Road (and Moylan’s attitude towards how it should…

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Bath North Quays, using pedestrians to slow down cyclists

North Quays is a piece of the puzzle that completes the vision for the Bath Enterprise Area.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 13.05.42

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 13.06.03

If we examine the role Bath North Quays plays within this vision we see it’s key role is to provide the major cycle route that connects the west of the city to the Bath Spa Train Station. Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 13.13.09.png

In other words it is a vital corridor for active travel.

A complete failure

However the reality of the North Quays Outline Planning Consultation is that this travel corridor has not been provided for.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 13.18.35

Alarming it also goes against the current requirements in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, in particular IAN 195 This is a busy 30mph A road and as per the DMRB this requires cycle tracks. Segregated cycle infrastructure is the required infrastructure.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 13.22.16

Conflict designed in

Yet what the council is proposing is that the South Quays route which will be significantly more attractive once the vision is implemented fully, should be the preferred route for cyclists to then ride along Riverside Parade, then dumping them onto the dual carriageway that is Ambury Street or, the more realistic solution, to ride the wrong way along the footpath round to the Bus Station then rejoin the carriageway on Dorchester Street.

It gets worse

Riverside Parade is also going to be prime café area with on road seating. It’s going to be a major focus for making this into a beautiful public realm for enjoying the river side. It’s brilliant, but should not be a preferred through route for the majority of people cycling from the south of the city.

newsite2big

 

They were warned

The problem is that I met Cllr Anketell-Jones on site months ago. We discussed in detail the issues around creating a cycle desire line along Riverside Parade and we raised it with the officer responsible for the enterprise area and the plan has still not changed.

Simple ask

We, Cycle Bath, are simply asking that the council actually stick to the rules and regulations they love so much and deliver something that actually meets the DMRB. Build infrastructure to modern standards.

Vision is key

The big failure with the council and how they are looking at the North Quays is to consider better fundamental changes to the build environment. My proposed ‘Living Heart’ gives a better answer to their problem.

Simplified Bath Living Heart (1).png

By closing Green Park Road and access from Corn Street to St James Parade we create a really good quiet space where the current proposed scheme works correctly.

One more thing

The proposed scheme re-opens Milk Street making it a new rat run into the heart of the city. I have no idea why a council, strapped for cash would not create one large office/resident block rather than two blocks cut through by an unnecessary new road. Not sure I’ve heard of councils creating roads.

Big problems with simple solutions

The officers who came up with this were warned, they did not listen, and are now proposing a poor implementation that goes against current regulatory guidance. There is an implicit assumption that pedestrians can be used to slow down cyclists. The Riverside Parade MUST be a destination, not the most ‘safe’ feeling route to use as a cycle cut through. Protected cycle tracks is a requirement on a high volume 30MPH A road. Failure to consider these as part of the scheme show a training issue within the council Highways team and a very real mindset issue to take cycling seriously as its own form of transport and not one that can be controlled by throwing pedestrians in cyclists way.

They are even going so far as to deliver two below value buildings by building a new unnecessary road rather than delivering one cohesive building. The council is literally taking high value land and building roads on it. You could not make this up.

Amsterdam vs Copenhagen (part 1)

Really think that the way we design roads in the UK is somewhat stuck in the 1970s. I still think we prioritise parking too much over creating good healthy streets that work for everyone, not just cars.

Nicer cities, liveable places

Amsterdam vs Copenhagen…
…Netherlands vs Denmark

Part 1 – Basic urban cycle track anatomy

Despite the provocative title this blog post will have a relatively technical focus – comparing some features of infrastructure found in the Netherlands with what’s found in Denmark – and comparing both to the UK. But it’ll not be too technical. What I’m aiming for is to convey my overall impression of the differences in infrastructure design where this is intended to support cycling.


All being well, this will be one part of a two or three part series.

Note that the images in this post are simple sketches, illustrating my overall impression of the differences in relatively standard infrastructure in each place.

typical_Neth2.svg_sml

These images are not to scale, and almost certainly contain errors when compared to real infrastructure. Inevitably actual infrastructure varies hugely in reality too. What I’m drawing here is simply an idealised image…

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Working with the Metro Mayor on an evidence based approach to investing in cycling

Last night I was able to meet Mayor Tim Bowles and Cllr Tim Warren. I was able to discuss the use of cycle infrastructure as a strategic tool to tackle congestion on the West of England’s Key Road Network as well as present a proposal on how this could be achieved at a national level. I also presented with this document, an edited version of this article.

We discussed setting up MetroCycle, a body on equal footing to MetroRail and MetroBus.  There was little appetite for this. I suspect this is a no go for now.

We also discussed the importance of electric bikes at lowering the barriers to people cycling and how bike hire schemes (e.g. NextBike) really need to upgrade their systems to only use these. Exeter was highlighted as a great example where hire of bikes and particularly travelling to specific high elevation stations is not a problem.

During the meeting this quote was made, and I think it is rather appropriate for what is being proposed.

“In God we trust, all others bring data.” – W. Edwards Demming

What I would say is that this proposal is not *easy*, but if this comes off, the DfT, Combined Authorities, and Local Authorities will have a tool that allows them to use cycle infrastructure to target congestion and get more people cycling to work or to school.

Tim Bowles ask me to do a write-up of the High Return On Investment Routes proposal which I have copied below.

Note that the write-up focuses on the key remit of the Mayor, to tackle congestion. It is a given that tackling congestion by using cycling as a strategic tool provides health benefits through physical and mental well being and reduction in air pollution.


Hi Tim,
Apologies for the long write-up. Not quite the bulleted list you wanted.

The Problem: 

The way we deliver cycle infrastructure is based upon anecdotal evidence and asking people where they want to cycle. This usually delivers ‘nice’ leisure routes or improves infrastructure along existing routes where people are already cycling.
The Solution:
An evidence based approach to identifying High Return On Investment Routes on the Key Road Network enables West of England Combined Authority to utilise cycling as a strategic tool to tackle congestion while delivering significant modal shift from commuting by car to commuting by bicycle.
The Implementation:
  • Create the High Potential Modal Shift Network Map:
    • Use topography to calculate distance calculations equivalent to cycling 20 minutes/and or 20 minutes on an eBike.
    • Use Census 2011 Travel to Work Flow Data (WU03EW) at LSOA area filtered by “only commute to work by car or as car passenger” and “residence within 20 minute cycle/eBike ride of work”
    • Use DfT Traffic Counts for the road network to identify high volume roads.
    • Use School locations on or within (500m) of high traffic counts roads, recognising role of the school run in congestion.
  • Create the High Return On Investment Network Map:
    • Combine the High Potential Modal Shift Network Map with the Propensity To Cycle Network Map available through the DfT sponsored www.pct.bike/m/?r=avon
  • Identify High Return On Investment Routes:
    • Overlay the WECA Key Road Network Map onto the High Return On Investment Network Map to identify routes where investment in cycle infrastructure would have highest impact on congestion.
Suggested way forward:
The team behind the Propensity to Cycle Tool should be engaged via the DfT to expand their work to deliver both the High Potential Modal Shift Network and the combined High Return On Investment Network.
This would enable WECA to overlay the Key Road Network Map onto the High ROI Network Map and identify key investment opportunities within WECA that will significantly tackle congestion. Local Authorities should also be able to leverage this HROI network map to tackle congestion on their road networks.
Further the HROI Network should be something the DfT should take very seriously and provide funding to LAs and CAs to implement cycle infrastructure.
I hope this helps clarify my proposal. It was good meeting you. If you need anything further don’t hesitate to ask.
Regards,
Adam Reynolds

BaNES Active Travel and Accessibility Forum 24/10/17 Minutes

ATAF Meeting 24/10/17 Kaposvar Room, The Guildhall

Attendees:

Cllr Mark Shelford (MS); Nigel Sherwen (NS); Adam Reynolds (AJR); Frank Tompson (FT); Julian Carpenter (JC); Gill Risbridger (GR); Alison Sherwin (AS); Justin Reeve (JR); Bryn Jones (BJ)

Notes

Introduction & welcome. Cllr Shelford expresses desire for future input of forum into transport planning.

AS reviewed minutes. FT requested outstanding questions answered; to send to Cllr Shelford by email for consideration. Request for sign on Grove Street investigated but no space as footways narrow. Funding for access improvements obtained from LGF, locations identified through Sustrans audit – AS to update locations.

Future meeting format: Cllr Shelford set out ambition for blue sky thinking through forum. Objectives such as quadrupling of cycling must be achieved through small scale intervention. Would like future direction to look at bigger picture. AJR – asked for focus on safe routes to school as a priority. NS – cycle routes must have connectivity end to end. MS – would like to visit examples of best practice for learning; requested suggested destinations. AJR proposed Walthamstow.

AJR noted lack of accessibility contribution. Forum will try to be as inclusive as possible, but recognises that lack of formal disability organisations affects potential contributors.

Briefing on cycle action plan: AS Proposals expected for comment in November, at outline design stage. Community engagement also planned for Larkhall and Bear Flat. BJ noted that local proposals for Larkhall need to be integrated into larger plan; to consider in larger context of LCWIP for funding.

Weston to Julian Rd route: AS. Proposals updated following discussions with local Cllrs. Signing and lining expected completion before Christmas, raised table constructed in New Year. Investigate possibility to make advisory cycle lane mandatory (where width allows)?

Discussion items:

Local Walking and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) – West of England proposal for LCWIP in accordance with DfT guidance. Focus on areas with greatest potential benefit. AJR asked for attention to be given to school run measures. Public consultation expected early 2018. East Sussex moving ahead already with Sustranswatch for examples.

Kingsmead Square – study taking place, forum should be involved in any future discussion regarding this space. Cllr Shelford noted that weekend closures proposed as an experiment during Christmas market to reduce vehicle traffic.

Locksbrook Bridge – FT asked if B&NES would adopt bridge to enable bridge to form part of linked cycle routes. Look for opportunity for future capital funding. In 2018/19 draft capital programme there is a budget allocated for a feasibility study to determine key issues. This budget still requires approval. MS indicated support for bid.

Two Tunnels signage – FT requested additional signage at access points. Would like funding to deliver proposals put forward. AS to put into 2018 budget request.

TRO London Road – to discuss offline.

Seasonal maintenance of shared paths – NS notes impact of autumn leaf fall on narrowing paths and creating hazard. Also locations where paths are breaking up due to lack of maintenance. MS acknowledges need to look at strategic objective to justify funding for routine maintenance.

London Rd gateway scheme – discussions with Simon Thomas. Awaiting report on changes proposed.

Paragon crossing – MS to discuss with AS.

AOB –

JR to circulate information from Bristol on cycle/pedestrian issues.

AJR noted lack of drop crossing on Saltford cycle route at Broadmead roundabout. AS to investigate if can be resolved. MS noted lack of direction signs from BtoB railway path to Saltford/Keynsham.

FT received approach from self build association regarding micro housing, will forward query to MS.

GR requested that pedestrians be included in cycle action plan.

Next meeting –

Tuesday 30 January 5pm to 7pm. Guildhall. Feedback from members was for 5pm start for future meeting.

Isochrons and Potential Modal Shift

This one is going to get very technical, but stay with me. I think the way we have been deciding where to build cycle infrastructure is fundamentally flawed. My day job is as a software engineer with a smattering of data science. I also play around at hackathons and winning a few.

At the weekend I won one in Bristol with this analysis

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 18.22.41.png Given a ward, how many people living in the ward drive to work in the ward? How many people living 5km or less away drive to work in the ward and from what direction?

So what does this tell us?

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 23.11.15

A good segregated cycle route from Headley Park and Hengrove to Brislington would have a huge impact.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 23.11.26 Avonmouth probably could do with some really good infrastructure.

Huh? But nobody wants that?

BaNES once asked Sustrans to identify a series of routes in various areas. They asked people. I mean why? What do you gain by asking people? You get people that already cycle affirming certain routes. Anybody already in a car doesn’t really care anyway.

So what should Councils be doing?

Isochrons are the measurement of something as a unit of time. In terms of cycling, 5km is about 20 minutes of cycling and we really don’t care about people already cycling. Yes the infrastructure could all be vastly improved, but let’s ask a simpler question.

Time is money, and congestion costs time

Given that congestion is estimated to cost Bristol £43.7 million a year can we use 20 minutes of travel time to determine the maximum Potential Modal Shift (PMS) for road networks and choose to develop infrastructure to maximise reduction in congestion?

Yes we can!

The work at MSOA level (ward) that I have done indicates that an LSOA (smaller than a ward) commuter flow exclusively using travel to work by car and limiting it to 20 minutes travel by bike applied using route finding, should enable identification of key routes with high PMS. This analysis should define the investment we need to do.

Implication

This method unfortunately absolutely shafts rural investment. Neither does it take into account the school run. However neither does it preclude using school travel plans to add the data into the mix.

Focusing on the problem

Let’s be honest, we could keep on spending money on cycle infra for the next 50 years and still not catch up with the Netherlands, however if we actually want to maximise the shift away from cars to bikes, then let’s identify the maximum PMS by focusing on the actual problem. The private car and the cost of congestion.

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