Category Archives: Uncategorized

Another reconstructed city centre street in Utrecht

A key point to me is that this is not pedestrianisation, but the road is traffic free as it is not a part of a through route. I also note the grade separation between road and pavement, vital for visually impaired people. In the UK they would have flattened this space into some sort of Frankenstein shared space then wondered why it was not working. Interesting to note that even in the Netherlands there is a problem with parking.

BICYCLE DUTCH

Retailers in the Utrecht shopping street Oudkerkhof are very pleased with how their street was reconstructed. Some seem to think it was done at their request. But this transformation was part of a much larger program that runs for years. It is meant to upgrade the city centre of Utrecht by making it less accessible for motor traffic and much more attractive for people walking and cycling.

Oudkerkhof after the reconstruction. The roadway is slightly wider than before. This makes cycling possible in both directions. The sidewalk became wider too, because 16 of the 24 parking spaces were removed.

Oudkerkhof in 1976. The banner says it is “young and very much alive” but it had parking on both sides and really narrow side walks at the time. Not at all what the Dutch perceive as livable today. Picture Utrechts Archief.

The cause for the reconstruction can be traced as…

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On whether cycling is worth it at all

Hard though it is, we simply need to keep demanding space for cycling…

Banging on about bikes

Folks, tonight I feel closer to quitting the whole cycling lark than I’ve ever been. This week, still only four days old, I’ve had so many depressing, worrying, dangerous incidents that it’s sapped what little joy I’ve managed to muster since a sustained slump over the summer and I’m genuinely wondering whether it’s worth all the aggro. So no links or pictures this time, just some raw insights.

On Tuesday someone tried to run me off the road in a massive 4×4, then stopped to have an argument when I wouldn’t yield (that in a moment of rare composure I refused to get drawn into). On the way home, a van driver did me a nice close pass and then did that throat-slitting gesture at me just in case I was in any doubt as to what a massive wanker he is. Yesterday I witnessed a Twitter spat between the…

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We all want traffic free cycle routes! Well no we don’t.

Sustrans, in association with a number of cities, has produced an excellent “Bike Life – Women: reducing the gender gap” report. Go read it. It really shows the way our Highways Engineers have excluded women (and men) from taking up cycling. This gender gap is born out in many studies with around 28% of people that cycle being women in the UK, vs 55% in Netherlands

There is a big big problem in Highways and the DfT. Being an engineering profession I suspect it is also dominated by men and this directly impacts the design process “I would ride that.”.

However this report also showed something interesting. Continue reading We all want traffic free cycle routes! Well no we don’t.

Metro Mayor Tim Bowles is failing us

For anyone that caught the news on Friday, Chris Boardman raised alarm at the lack of progress on cycling recently in the West of England. You can catch a more detailed program and discussion on it on the Sunday Politics West if you are quick.

The basic premise is that when each of the 6 mayors were elected, they were also given a load of money.

Greater Manchester’ Andy Burnham received £240M, committed £160M to cycling, employed Chris Boardman, designed a complete gold standard cycle network across 11 boroughs and is now spending £50M per year trying to build it. West Midlands Andy Street is also doing an immense amount of stuff exceptionally quickly. These are Metro Mayors that hit the ground running.

West of England’s Tim Bowles was given £80m,  has taken a year to get a Head of Transport when the 2 page job advert did not mention walking and cycling, and has committed to producing a document, the joint local transport plan by April 2020.

On the politics show, the Metro Mayor was accused of being useless. When I was interviewed I called him as useful as a chocolate teapot when it came to transport.

You should be extremely alarmed that this man has sat on £80M of City Transformation Funding. That the wording he uses around this money is about strategic transport. That he wants to ‘promote’ cycling, despite WECA scrutiny panel assuring me in a written statement that the term promote would no longer be used and replaced with enable.

The reality is that Tim Bowles is utterly failing the people of the West of England, and before you try and defend him in anyway, Andy Street is Conservative and Andy Burnham is Labour. It is not about parties, it is about ability, about political will, about surrounding yourself quickly with good people and delivering.

Janet Sadik-Khan TRANSFORMED New York because Mayor Bloomberg had faith in her and backed her 100% all the way. Chris Boardman has the vision, but his ability to deliver is down to Metro Mayor Andy Burnham backing him 100% and putting money where his mouth is.

Tim Bowles has ensured that the wording he uses around the City Transformation Fund is about strategic transport, but I strongly suspect he does not consider cycling or walking strategic. It’s taken him over a year to employ a Head of Transport who needed experience of dealing with buses, but no experience of implementing walking or cycling strategies and he is so weak in this area, he is pushing any decisions around this space out to the Joint Local Transport Plan.

Yet Transport for London have recognised that Cycling is a strategic form of transport and have done complex Strategic Cycling Analysis, using commuter and school travel DATA. Tim Bowles knows this. I had a meeting with him last Christmas and showed him this. TfL are increasing road capacity by 15% by building cycle tracks.

This situation is utterly depressing and is very much down to Tim Bowles and his utter failure to get a grip on Transport from all aspects unless it has to do with 18a of the M4 junction.

As Chris Boardman said “It is not what does it cost to get people cycling and walking, but what is the cost not to get people cycling and walking”.

With the Joint Local Transport Plan not being published until April 2020 at the earliest, Tim Bowles will have set back the west by at least 2 years. In the meantime other mayors are absolutely killing it, focusing on enabling walking, cycling, and transforming public transport.

It’s less Metro Mayor Tim Bowles and more Teapot Tim.

We need a commitment from Tim Bowles to allocate the £80M he has been given to walking and cycling, implement a Strategic Cycling Analysis exercise, and begin delivery of a complete cycle network across the west. This could be done this year.

A new parking garage in ’s-Hertogenbosch

When you look at Park and Ride facilities, as done by other countries you see an approach predicated on providing good connections via all modes of traffic, not simply use of bus. Given the square meterage of this parking garage, I’m surprised higher capacity was not achieved through the use of car park stacking systems. These building should, in effect be big hangars within which a car stacking systems are built. This would achieve a capacity of 4000+ cars and provide an charging point for each car. The thought and planning that has gone into the environmental impact of this building and how it has been connected to transport routes, be it by car, bus, foot, or bicycle, is simply brilliant. All it needs now is a tram connection 😉

BICYCLE DUTCH

The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch wants to have fewer cars in its city centre. To achieve that goal the city built a large car parking garage at the edge of the city, where people can transfer from their private car to a bus that takes them to the city centre. The city decided to build the so-called Transferium as green as possible in collaboration with a lot of stake holders. Cycling infrastructure is an integral part of the project. The building was opened last week with a bike-fest.

Once the outside is covered in green ivy this parking garage will be hidden in plain sight with all the green surrounding it. In the distance to the right: the city hospital. In the far distance: the city. Still from a video by the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch.

Some of you may wonder why I would show you a car parking garage on…

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Stop idling

BATH NEWSEUM

Gillian Risbridger writes to ask if Bath Newseum could give ‘Bath living Streets’ a shout and also mention their role in a campaign to help cut pollution and improve air quality in Bath.

She would like people to come and support the anti-idling initiative aimed at encouraging drivers to turn off their engines when parked. The next action day takes place on Saturday 28 April at 10.15am at the YMCA in Bath.

Gillian – who is the campaign organiser – writes; “Idling – running a vehicle’s engine when the vehicle is not in motion – increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air. The anti-idling initiative is organised by Bath Living Streets, a UK charity for everyday walking. 

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The first action day in March was a great success. After a short training session, volunteers – called Bath Clean Air Champions – went out to engage with drivers in…

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Bath Preservation Trust support for Clean Air Zone.

It’s good to see the Bath Preservation Trust calling for the hypothecation of revenue to prioritise the delivery of walking and cycling infrastructure.

BPT recognising that the Clean Air Zone does not change behaviour and does not get people out of cars really needs repeating. It does nothing to solve congestion.

I note that BPT says a CAZ tackles Air Pollution but a CAZ ONLY tackles NOx, not PM2.5/10 (brake ,tyre, road dust etc) pollution. BPT calling for the CAZ to be the largest and include private vehicles is something everyone should be telling the council. I really hope the council takes note of BPT’s statement. We need so much more from the council. The vacuum of political will is really not helping here.

We are in a Public Health crisis caused by Air Pollution and Transport related Obesity. We need so much more from our councillors.

BATH NEWSEUM

Bath Preservation Trust  has come out in support of the proposal by B&NES to introduce a Clean Air Zone in Bath (CAZ) – particularly because its boundaries take into account the through traffic crossing Cleveland Bridge and exiting the City along the London Road. 

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In a press statement – released today, Tuesday. April 10th – BPT say:

‘We support the highest category of restriction (category D) in order to encourage behavioural change for car users as well as commercial vehicles.

Bath traffic results in three problems which can damage the listed buildings and harm the amenity of the World Heritage Site: pollution, congestion and vibrations. The CAZ is primarily aimed at the former (pollution) though it is to be hoped that it will also change behaviours of both longer distance drivers and local users.

While the CAZ is therefore by no means a total solution to the traffic problems…

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Waltham Forest Mini-Holland (part 3) – Modal filters

I really think with sat navs and map apps giving drivers almost perfect information on an area, modal filters are a key cheap tool to reclaim our streets for residents and make them liveable places where it is pleasant to walk, cycle, and play.

Just Step Sideways

This is part 3 in my series of posts looking at Waltham Forest Mini-Holland, looking at modal filters.

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Don’t mention the helmets

I think if you’re trying to get people to consider cycling, the easiest option can be to get them to try an electric bike. BaNES council offers an opportunity to loan an electric bike for two weeks. Other councils offer similar schemes. The RAC in Australia offered a 10 week eBike trial at the end of which 50% of users bought the bike they had been using (https://rac.com.au/car-motoring/info/e-bike-trial).

Normal bicycles for many people are that little bit *too* hard to consider despite the immense time savings and health benefits, particularly if you live in a hilly areas. Whereas an electric bike magically flattens hills and gets you to work without being in a sweaty mess. They are just a joy to ride and people “get it” within seconds of being on one. They also give you similar health benefits to a normal bike 😉

If your company is already supportive of cycling, then it might be worth persuading the company to invest in a good quality eBike to loan out to employees to trial commuting by eBike. I’ve heard of places where there was a 90% take-up of eBikes once people had a chance to try one.

Wet, cold and angry

For a number of years now, a small group of keen cyclists (myself included) at my workplace have formed a cycling group. The original intention was to offer a place for all cyclists in the company to come together, do cycling things. It’s morphed, slowly, into a group that spends more time encouraging people to cycle to work, attempting to encourage the company to invest in cycling facilities and also working with the council to try and encourage better facilities. We talk to people to try and help them get past the barriers they erect for themselves to stop them riding to work, we provide an on site repair service which is very popular and we provide route guidance, facility support, purchase guidance…lots of things. I’d like to think we have made a difference but it’s hard to tell.

Surveys at work during events we hold have taught us that…

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Come talk about clean air.

When comparing some of the options that are being presented here it’s important to view these within the context of what other UK cities are doing. Exeter introduced Co-Bikes electric bike share, then with the same membership, are now introducing electric car share. I also think it is interesting that they use the phrase “Extend walking and cycling priority schemes and encourage greater modal shift. Provide a safer environment for cycling and walking.” Given the recent debacle in Keynsham, we need to enable people to make the switch, not encourage. You can give all school children Bikeability 3 training and encourage them to cycle to school, but you can only enable them if there are visibly safe cycle routes that get kids from their schools to their communities.

BATH NEWSEUM

The first set of events for people wanting to find out more about plans for a Clean Air Zone for Bath – including charging high-emission vehicles to drive into the city centre – are being held during April.

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Two public events have been lined up by Bath and North East Somerset Council with lots more being planned over the coming months.

The Council has been asked to take urgent action to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide levels in the city and has drawn up a shortlist of three packages of measures which are capable of reducing vehicle emissions and bringing about the required improvement by the 2021 deadline.

No decisions have been made at this time but the Council is legally bound to reach a decision on a preferred package of measures by December and it is seeking people’s views. Over the coming months, each package of measures will be examined…

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