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
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