Monday, 29 July 2013

Why Can't We All Just Be Nice?

The "Nice Way Code" website and campaign, which fortunately (for those of us living below Hadrian's Wall) has only gone live in Scotland is a terrible piece of patronising drivel, which has been widely criticised by anyone with a serious interest in cycling.

My comments weren't exactly the most complimentary that I have written, but it looks like a few of us have tried, but not yet been published.

So, for the record, this is what I have to say about the #nicewaycode:

There is nothing nice about this at all. It is just patronising drivel and a complete waste of money.
What is needed is well designed space for all road users, and that includes double segregation so cyclists have their own space, safely away from traffic where needed and also where there is no space conflict between them and pedestrians.
Simply telling us to stop jumping lights will have zero effect on the minority that do this, as they will keep doing so anyway. However, you can learn from what the Dutch do and design out the need to do so by creating traffic light bypasses on t-junctions, and massively shorterning wait times at junctions, or replacing terrible toucans with zebras.
Equally, this campaign will have no impact on the minority of drivers who pose a serious threat to other roads users by speeding or driving aggressively.
It will just appeal to those who are already “nice”, and is therefore totally pointless.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Bus flags or Bicycling Nirvana?

The bulk of this post has been moved to -

My visit to Centro towers for the Transport Planning Society's discussion on local sustainable transport funds revealed a great deal about how the organisation currently prioritises its work. 

The first piece of evidence was the row of just 4 cycle stands outside their offices, with only one of them actually being used, despite the event being specifically about local transport infrastructure, of which cycling is a very major part (in our defence, the two of us known cyclists at the event came from Coventry and Wolverhampton - a distance which might be child's play on the Dutch network, but which is torture in the West Midlands). 

Let's hope that next time Centro give us a slide on the issue, they include some or all of the following as absolute bare essentials for a cycle friendly city:

  1.   Fully segregated routes.
  2. Cycle lanes on roads (where the 3v's are lower than above – volume, velocity and vehicle size).
  3. Junction improvements (essentially more important than both of the above).
  4.  Filtered permeability – without understanding this crucial part of the urban planning process, the more visible cycle lanes are a waste of time).
  5. Secure cycle parking.
  6. Green corridors and linear parks.
  7. Using the planning process to get the best quality urban environment.
  8. Automated cycle hire.
  9.  Integration between cycle networks and public transport.

When these core issues are each addressed, then we are well on the way to developing a cycling Nirvana. At this point, I would love to see Centro install some solar powered cycle counters, as these are the our equivalent of those bus flags.

Centro cycle schemes to result in 2 million bike trips per year

According to figures given by Centro at last week's Transport Planning Society debate, the combined benefits of all the local sustainable transport fund projects across the West Midlands will be an increase of 2 million bicycle trips per year. As a headline figure, anything with millions in it always looks good, but let's break this down:

The West Midlands "County" covered by Centro has a population of 2.7 million, so the net gain from this investment will be less than one trip per person per year.

To break it down by modal share, if the average person in the West Midlands makes 3 trips per day overall, then there are just under 3 billion trips per year across the Centro network, so these new schemes will add less than 0.1% modal share gain in the bicycle's favour.

We still have a VERY long way to go!