If we truly truly want to “get people out of cars” then we need to provide an environment that is built from the ground up to prioritise the safety and convenience of people walking and cycling. This video explains Vison Zero, an approach to road design that has been adopted in the USA and most scandinavian countries.
If we’re going to have a conversation about cycling in Bath and North East Somerset we need to be able to know where we are starting from and where we want to end up. More importantly we need a way of talking to individual councillors and asking them, what they are doing about “their” patch.
So something that was started as a project at a Bath Hacked “Celebrate the City” hackathon, has very quickly, over the last couple of days, evolved into something rather powerful:
Yesterday I spent close to 3 hours looking at Saw Close with Frank Thomson (a.k.a. Mr. Two Tunnels) and attending the public consultation. What was really good was meeting a lady that was blind and seeing her perspective on it.
For those unable to attend it looks like this:
Today the Bath Chronicle posted an article about Saw Close. I wrote a reply and then realised it had gone completely over their word limit, so had to edit it down.
I think the critical bit that UK Highways needs to listen to is: “Many countries have seen a considerable drop in traffic injuries and deaths since roughly the 1970s. Reasons were the introduction of seatbelts, drunk-driving laws, helmet laws for motorcyclists and mopeds, car cages and airbags. But in the Netherlands there also was a dramatic drop in injuries and deaths of the most vulnerable road users: cyclists and pedestrians. Traffic researches attribute this difference to the introduction of Sustainable Safety.”
Sustainable Safety (“Duurzaam veilig” in Dutch) is the name of the Dutch approach to achieve a better road safety. This policy is lesser known than ‘strict liability‘ and underestimated. Where strict liability is a cure after something went wrong, sustainable safety does much more and at a different time. The main objectives of this vision are preventing severe crashes and (almost) eliminating severe injuries when crashes do occur. It was introduced and quickly adopted by all road managers in 1992 and has since been very successful. In 2005 it was revised and extended. The approach began with establishing that the road system was inherently unsafe. The goal was to fundamentally change the system by taking a person as a yardstick. The guidelines for design were to be the physical vulnerability of a person, but also what a person can and wants to do (humans make mistakes…
If you haven’t been down to the towpath recently you really need to pop down. Better still wait to a rainy horrible day and then pop down. Try to remember how bad it was.
Let me help you:
What is down there is rather fantastic now:
I also think the pea gravel surface on top of asphalt works really well although speaking to somebody who was pushing their father in a wheel chair it was harder going than on the smooth asphalt. The spray and chip top layer is still being applied.
What I do like about the pea gravel is that it makes it noisy to ride/walk along the towpath, and whether we like it or not, we unfortunately have people that do ride too fast and close to people walking and are not prone to using bells and create conflict.
Where the pea gravel surface doesn’t work so well is on the slope down to Grosvenor Bridge. Thankfully it stops halfway down but it feels a bit slippy.
One of the key points made during the consultation was the provision of signs educating people about the Canal and River Trusts Towpath Code of Conduct.
I have not seen any of these along the route. I’d like to see these down there pretty sharpish. Having spoken to a few people down there, it is a problem and it can be easily addressed.
So what still needs to happen?
The spray and chip surface along the whole length needs to be finished.
The footpath between Hampton Row footbridge and the ramp is being made into a gravel path to make it useable all year round.
Code of conduct Signs need to go up.
The exit area onto Beckford road needs asphalt and the desire line footpaths in this area I believe are going to be gravelled to make them useable all year round.
As “leader” of the cyclists in Bath, my recent trip to London pretty much confirmed my worst fears. All the segregated cycle infrastructure in London is not good. Not good at all. It’s ruining cycling for the rest the UK. I mean seriously.
The way you design your road infrastructure determines the way people behave. YOU GET THE BEHAVIOUR YOU DESERVE. Building good cycling infrastructure serves SO many other groups. I was amazed at the number of people with disabilities using the space. How safe it was for kids. KIDS. How many women were using it. How, PEOPLE, not “lycra louts”, were all enjoying the space, travelling healthily to work.