Category Archives: Road Redesign

A day in the life of somebody cycling from Timsbury

We recently highlighted the work that Timsbury Cycling Group are doing and as part of their work Alex Evans reached out to me about what he can do next forwarding the email chain he has had with the council.

Within one of his emails, he describes his daily commute from Timsbury. I tried highlighting particular sentences but it ended up with most of the email being highlighted. Read it. Understand this is a daily occurrence.  Continue reading A day in the life of somebody cycling from Timsbury

You’ll Never Leave…

Following some chat on Facebook about how the cycle routes through Radstock are in the process of changing I thought I would try and clear up some of the current confusion.

Prior to 22nd August 2016 the “Colliers’ Way” cycle route left town in the direction of Kilmersdon, Mells and Frome via Church Street and Meadow View. This was always intended to be a temporary route, pending redevelopment of the former Radstock West Station site (once a busy station on the GWR Bristol and North Somerset branch) since the  cycle route opened in 2004.

Continue reading You’ll Never Leave…

Selling cycling

One of the problems councillors have is the message they get from their constituents. I’ve been told that almost on a weekly basis they get a complaint about the behaviour of “cyclists” riding on pavements. As somebody that lobbies hard for more cycle infrastructure, I am asked to justify having the council spend resources on delivering cycle infrastructure when “you cyclists” behave so badly and what am I doing about them as chair of CycleBath?

I’m very much sitting between a rock and a hard place. It is the design of the roads that is driving this behaviour and preventing “normal people” from cycling. To solve it you need to re-allocate space and start treating cycling as a 3rd form of transport. This takes money which “we cyclists” do not deserve.

My concern now is that initiatives like Highways “Safe Routes To Schools” will just have councils delivering shared paths as a solution for cycling. This will just result in even more letters and complaints. Shared paths, through design, tell users it is ok to cycle on footpaths.

We cannot expect “normal people” to share road space on major routes with HGVs.

But I think this article is right, we need to change the way cycling is perceived. It is about having 8 year olds cycling to school without parents worrying. It is about cycling as a mobility aid. It is about being able to pop to the shops and carry more stuff home. It is about staying connected to your community.

Councillors need understand it is not about cycling clubs going on 100 mile rides or racing down a wooded hill. There is a huge chasm between cycling as sport and cycling as a form of transport.

If councillors cannot see the benefits to their constituents of investing in cycling. If all they see and hear about is the bad behaviour of “lycra louts” and aggressive pavement cycling, then the onus is on people like myself, like yourself, to educate, to positively engage with councillors.

I also think many of the bike companies operating in this space have a responsibility to change the message they are putting out. That it is not just about the sport/leisure of cycling, but about the practicality of everyday cycling and the health benefits it brings to yourself and your community. More importantly the different style of bikes that are needed for everyday cycling. Their marketing message needs to change.

It’s not an easy ask, because no other group I know is collectively held responsible for the actions of others. I do not blame the president of the AA for speeding motorists. There are just inherently bad road users and cyclists being an outlier group are more harshly judged.

Yet I cannot blame somebody for pavement cycling. I feel very uncomfortable having a 40 ton HGV pass me. That person riding on pavements could ride significantly faster on roads, not having to deal with pedestrians, side roads and street furniture. It will take them far longer to get to their destination. They do it because they fear riding on roads. The behaviour constituents complain to their councillors about, is determined by the design of the road.

Provide cyclists with their own segregated space and this behaviour will vanish. This takes money from an ever shrinking council budget and what the councillors are hearing from their constituents and seeing with their own eyes, we “cyclists” do not deserve a road space safe enough for children to ride to school.

So I’ve rambled on a bit much here, but there is one final thing you can do. As part of your Council’s Capital Highways programme you will see a significant amount of money being spent on road re-surfacing schemes. These are opportunities to place a road on a “road diet” and implement advisory/mandatory 2m cycle lanes, or even convert a quiet rural road to a cycle road. Engage with your parish and your councillors and educate them. This is how New York city transformed itself. When you resurface, place a road on a road diet.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

The biggest barrier to cycling uptake is the physical environment. Survey after survey, study after study, shows that it is road danger – and in particular, the unwillingness to share roads with motor traffic – that prevents people from cycling. When that barrier is addressed – even on a temporary basis in the form of events like Skyrides – cycling suddenly materialises, thrives and flourishes, quite naturally.

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By contrast, we should be deeply sceptical of claims that the way individuals behave or dress while cycling has any bearing on cycling uptake. That behaviour, the way people dress, and the way the current cycling demographic is skewed towards men and away from the young and the elderly, isn’t the problem, merely a symptom of the actual problem. Or as Beztweets puts it, ‘a product of the true barriers to participation, not a barrier itself‘. Sure…

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The Gummer Test

I sort of like this idea.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

A brand new section of road in Horsham – widened and rebuilt at the location of a new development – tells you everything you need to know about how ‘the highway design machine’ across the vast majority of this country still trundles along in its complacent way, taking no account of the needs of people who might want to cycle, or even those who are currently cycling.

The site of this development – Parsonage Road – has dreadful cycle lanes along it, barely 70cm wide.

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Industrial units along this road mean that there is plenty of HGV traffic on it. The photograph above is a typical reflection of traffic levels at busier periods of the day.

The new development – which has seen the road being widened, at the expense of the greenery seen on the left in the photograph – should have been a perfect opportunity to build-in high…

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Roman Road – It’s a bit better. Oh no it isn’t!

Even as we sometimes look towards Bristol and envy some of the cycling-focused schemes they seem to be delivering, it sometimes good to realise that they are still not quite getting it right. This rings so true:
“Cycling has to be baked into all schemes, the same way that pavements are just put in, or roads built to access properties. Safe space for cycling has to be an intrinsic part of the roads from now on, if we want to see change in our lifetimes.”

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Roman Road is one of many car-sick roads in Bristol. It’s a odd one-way road, that cuts a corner of the Downs. It’s simultaneously a rat run that avoids traffic lights at the end of Stoke Road, a long thin car park, a bus route, and a cycling route, created against a backdrop of the green leisure filled Durdham Downs.

What’s wrong with Roman Road, and how could it be better?

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The sole segregated bike path on the Downs exits onto Roman Road, right at the junction with Stoke Road. This junction is wide and allows for high motor vehicle speeds, but has poor sight lines due to constant car parking. On a hot summer afternoon in 2014 a child was almost killed by a driver at this junction.

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National Cycle Route 4 goes down Roman Road. As the road has been narrowed by permanently parked cars (resulting in…

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Mythbusting: The business benefits of bikeways

Many of the objections businesses around the world have to the installation of cycle lanes at the expense of on-street parking are hard to justify given the financial benefit cycle lanes bring to an area. Cars go from A to B. Bikes go from A to B via C, D, E, F, and G.

Cycling in Christchurch

With the new Major Cycleways coming to Christchurch, a major trade-off in many locations will be the removal of on-street car-parking (either on one side or both) to provide enough space for separated bikeways. Already we are seeing some concerns being raised in both the Rapanui – Shag Rock and Papanui Parallel cycleway proposals about loss of parking.

Let’s be quite clear upfront. Nobody has an absolute right to any carparks on the street, whether they’re in front of your place or not. The Council’s District Plan (see Vol.3 Part 13) is very specific that any land use (whether it’s a home, business, or whatever) is expected to provide a certain number of parking spaces off-street (including often a number of bike parks). Generally it is only those pre-existing historical land uses that might avoid this or some businesses in certain shopping areas that pay cash-in-lieu to help fund…

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Against shared use

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Do not mix cycling and walking. Do not create shared use. IT DOES NOT WORK. The new Bath Quays Bridge falls fowl foul of this.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

One of the most baffling aspects of British cycling policy is the contrast between the periodic clampdowns on ‘pavement cycling’ (and the intolerance to this kind of activity in general) and the way cycling is actually designed for by most councils across the country – namely, with shared use footways, and shared paths.

Footway cycling is simultaneously something that people hate, and that the police expend resources on dealing with, while at exactly the same time councils are putting cycling on footways, and lumping cycling with walking on new paths, bridges and underpasses.

To take just one example – there are undoubtedly many – Reading’s cycling strategy has this to say.

… we recognise that cyclists have varying abilities and needs. As a result, we will consider providing off-carriageway facilities by officially re-designating a footway to permit cycling when there is a high proportion of inexperienced cyclists and children to…

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Parking the problem

Parking. The one thing that frustrates me about London Road in Bath. Heading east on London Road I count about 12-15 cars parked in designated parking spaces. Without those there, London Road could have a protected cycle lane heading east.

Cargobike Dad

Generally, I don’t do problems. They are opportunities to change practice for the better.

Cars don’t move much

Cars don’t move very often. Most of the time they sit outside your home, then sit outside your place of work. Occasionally they sit outside a shop, or a leisure centre. You get my drift. Cars do an awful lot of sitting.

And when they are sitting they take up space. Lots of space. Belfast City Centre is not very big. A very walkable square mile or two, well connected by public transport. Yet it hosts about 14,000 parking spaces. Each taking up roughly 15 square metres of prime city centre real estate. Around 30 football piches, not including space for access. Occupancy of car parks at peak time is about 60%. Or: 12 of those 30 pitches are always empty.

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The implementation of Belfast on the Move has coincided with an…

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Seeing differently: urban cycling the gentle way – building the Happy City

Having just read some horrible accounts of the kinds of thing that sometimes happen to women cyclists, I’d like to make it clear that I am a woman, I’m almost 60, and I live and cycle in Bath. And I’d like to be able to safely do it a lot more. Here’s how….

the magic jug

Here’s another version of my vision of how I’d like my home city to be.

LREdit-3854 We sat in the square with a coffee and watched as they chatted for ages, then they cycled off together in a leisurely way

Ferrara, northern Italy.  Photos taken (by Malcolm) one afternoon in the summer, about 4 years ago.  The photos below are from a series he took within 5 minutes from a single spot.

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You’ve probably noticed that something is striking by its absence: motor vehicles of any kind.  This changes everything.

Another historic and busy tourist destination, a World Heritage Centre, with a different understanding of how life could be better for all of us.  Just ordinary people going about their ordinary everyday life. No lycra, no helmets. No need for either.

Old, young, hip, staid – everyone is cycling or walking.  Slowly and sensibly.  No competition between the pedestrians and the cyclists – after all…

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London Road, an example of bad BaNES management.

There are a lot of people wading into the London Road issue. Many of them believe, now they are elected, that they are able to come up with quick fixes to a broken design. Mostly this is focused around removing the “dangerous” cycle build out that was specifically requested by transport experts to protect people cycling along London Road. As an amateur who spends most evening reading up on best practices I’m going to try and have a go at fixing London Road.

Continue reading London Road, an example of bad BaNES management.