Children cycling on a city’s roads and paths are the canary in the coal mine. Without overthinking this too much, a parent won’t let a child out to play on a bike unless that parent can perceive that the child can make mistakes and not be run over.
And this gets to the premise that Cycle Bath campaigns on:
To enable everyone to cycle in comfort we need high quality space for cycling, inclusive for all ages and abilities, connecting communities with schools and centres of employment. Routes must be direct and cohesive, with space on main roads re-allocated from the general carriageway, not the footway.
So when Peter Walker writes in the Guardian:
In countries where decades of investment in bike routes has made cycling safer and more everyday, the reverse is true. Almost 40% of Dutch children go to and from school by bike.
We need to understand how you achieve that level of cycling and for that we can look at Public Highways England IAN 195
This document is readily discounted by Council Highways departments as it only relates to the strategic road network, but this table is also in the London Cycle Design Standards, the Welsh Active Travel Design guidance, NACTO Global Street Design Guide, and has its origins in the Dutch CROW manual.
It is a fundamental recognition that if you want people cycling you have to change your roads to ENABLE people to do it.
Lack of political will
We talk about the 40,000 people dying from Air Pollution each year. Rarely do we see mention of the 85,000 dying from obesity related diseases.
In the UK obesity is at 27% and in the Netherlands at 10%. So about 62% of our obesity is down to our built environment, the responsibility of Council Highways departments and councillors. It’s predicted that by 2030 the UK will be at 35% and the Netherlands at 8.5%. So 75%, THREE QUARTERS of obesity will be down to Councillors and Council Officers.
We need to have councils recognise that the health and wellbeing of our residents comes before any other ‘need’ and that we need to change the priorities around delivering transport schemes and make politically hard decisions to enable children to cycle.
The council is currently in the process of delivering the Weston to Julian Road Scheme. However it is a compromise. The route is identified on the Bath Cycle map as a key connection from the RUH to Fairfield.
Even the http://www.pct.bike/m/?r=avon tool identifies this as a desirable commuter route
It’s just paint
The problem is though that the scheme is just paint. So we’re relying on the good behaviour of drivers to keep your child safe, rather a lot of the time. 😦
Have a look at the drawings and ask yourself if this would persuade you to let an 8 year old child ride to school along this route.
Asking the wrong question
We know what works. We’ve seen it in London, Cambridge, Oxford, York, Manchester, Leeds, and many more. You do not compromise if you want to get more people cycling. The golden rule is this chart:
If you’re designing a quiet 20mph road scheme for combined traffic on a high volume 20mph road then you have been politically compromised and are prioritising motorised traffic flow. We have a health crisis caused by our transport system. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Change the nature of the road
If you do not have the space to deliver the minimum level of provision, then you need to change the road. You need to reduce the speed and reduce the traffic flow to a level where the design is acceptable.
Fixing the Weston scheme
In all honesty this is simply a case of the use of filtering. Recognise that you want to create a network of quiet streets that are good for walking and cycling through the use of bollards to close streets to through traffic.
I would close access to the High Street from Crown Hill which would significantly remove the traffic along narrow Crown Hill and reduce traffic along Weston Park to local traffic only:
I’d close off Marborough Buildings access to Julian Road creating a quiet route into the heart of the city and solve an accident black spot.
I’d also make more use of cycle streets within the scheme to encourage good passing behaviour for drivers. Note how the width of the cycle paths is never compromised.
If we do not have the space to deliver the right infrastructure, change the nature of the road.
Killer door zones applenty
Oh and for all our children’s sakes, if we do recognise that a road is a vital transport corridor can we remove on-street parking to deliver a good scheme? Politically the answer is probably not.
Creating Healthy Streets
London recently announced the Mayor’s Healthy Streets For London prioritising walking, cycling and public transport. This idea of Healthy Streets is one that we should all embrace.
Design your city to how you want it to be, not to how it is.
We’ll be back
The Weston scheme is a series of political compromises that does nothing to get more people cycling while highlighting how poor our councillors are at doing anything other than maintaining the status quo of us living in a polluted unhealthy city.
It needed cheap road closures and a priority to deliver healthy streets to get more people walking and cycling. Instead it’s measly paint on the road and retention of
on street parking deadly dooring zones.
Making health a legal requirement
There is no legal requirement for the Council’s Highways team to force councillors to accept a high quality scheme and the necessary changes to make it happen. Neither does there seem to be a moral duty by councillors to deliver good healthy schemes that actually makes a difference.
We can all get fat while having breathing difficulties as long as we keep voting.
Healthy Street Corridors
We need a rethink in the way councils are designing and delivering schemes and at it’s core is the health of residents. Nothing else should matter.