Monday, 27 December 2010

Help persuade Westminster Council that bicycles are a better solution than cheaper taxis

London Taxi - blocking a bike lane near you...(courtesy PRlog.org).
As I reported back here, Westminster Council seems to have total and utter antipathy towards cycling.

Funny then, that as part of their recent parking survey here they ask this question:

"If you ever drive into the West End at night, e.g. to visit the theatre, eat at a restaurant, go to a night club, or visit a casino, what, if anything, would make you leave your car at home and use an alternative form of transport?"

You then have a choice of options. Not one of the options involves cycling. In fact, cycling hardly ever appears in the survey. So, I've filled out the survey trying to explain things like:

- If the roads weren't so unpleasant in the West End on a Friday or Saturday night, my partner might be convinced to cycle in with me rather than drive
-If the approaches to Westminster (bridges, main junctions) weren't so dismal, I'd feel happier cycling in normal clothes for a night out in the West End

Things like that would make me and people I know leave their car behind. The only options this survey considers are things like

"First class travel on public transport"

or

"Cheaper taxi fares"

If you have a spare five minutes to fill out this highly irritating survey, I suggest you might consider doing likewise. People who use bicycles and don't think cheaper taxi fares are part of the solution need to fill out these sorts of surveys, if only to make the report mention cycling. Otherwise, we might be getting more of this sort of classic parking infrastructure, as blogged by Crap Waltham Forest here.

So, if you have a chance, click on this link here and tell Westminster Council that they really need to get their heads in gear. The survey is open until January 7. You just need some sort of connection to Westminster (like working there, visiting pubs, theatres or any such thing). Not difficult to do.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Pedestrians injured by people on bicycles - 28% or 0.3%?


The City of London Police meeting in the Barbican area in October saw one resident claim some statistics showing that 1,000 pedestrians had been injured in the City in the past nine years, 28% of whom were injured by pedal cyclists. 

I've no idea where the statistic came from. I don't know how genuine it is. The numbers are very rounded up too. Exactly a thousand injuries. 

What's more, the report doesn't note that the majority of pedestrians injured were by something else. Because it doesn't say what that 'other' is. 

I quote from here

"A member of the meeting gave the following statistics:

 One thousand pedestrians had been injured within the city of London in the past nine years.

 6% were injured by motorised cycles
 Taxis injured 11%
 Pedal cyclists injured 28%"

I wonder if the missing 55% might be, err, other motor vehicles? Quite likely. Slightly disingenuous of the Chairman of the meeting to ignore that number perhaps? But equally very disingenuous of the Police to seemingly, if the minutes are accurate, let that statement go unchallenged. You'd almost think there was a conspiracy to make people feel that cyclists are the bad guys. 

It's funny then, that the London Assembly Member John Biggs asked just this question of the Mayor recently. 

"What record do you (and other London bodies of which you are aware) keep of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians? Including of the severity of injury suffered. What are your latest figures? Have you identified any particular spots where such collisions are happening, for example places where cyclists and pedestrians share the same space?


Answer from the Mayor
TfL receives details of all road traffic collisions reported to the police in the Greater London area that occurred on the public highway and resulted in injury to one or more persons.  In the latest 12 months to 31 August 2010 (the latest data available from the Police), there were 138 collisions in which a pedestrian was injured by a pedal cyclist – these collisions resulted in 139 pedestrian casualties (1 fatal, 30 serious and 108 slight injuries). 


During this period, the total number of reported casualties in which a pedestrian was injured by a pedal cyclist represented less than 0.3% of the total number of pedestrian casualties within Greater London.  Due to relatively small numbers, there is not sufficient statistical significance to identify particular hot spots.  Please be aware that all 2010 data is provisional and may be subject to change prior to the year being finalised and closed."


28% or 0.3%? I think I trust the latter more myself. 

Community partnership meetings in the City - residents hate people on bicycles

I'll let this one speak for itself. Pasted below, are the minutes of the local community partnership meeting for north City, including the Barbican. This is where the residents of the area set the priorities for local policing for the next six months. As you can see, it makes for fairly nasty reading. Cyclists are fairly universally hated, according to the minutes.

In fact, there are only two policing priorities for this area:

  • " Address poor road user behaviour at Beech Street/Aldersgate Street and South Place/Moorgate                                                      

  • Address anti-social behaviour in and around Gold Lane Estate and the Barbican"           

Note that the priority is to police poor road user behaviour. And then note how many times a road user other than a cycling road user comes up in the minutes below.

I think this one speaks for itself, frankly:



Minutes of Community Partnership Meeting
Monday 12th October - 1930 hours



5.Update on the priorities set at the last meeting

Inconsiderate road use


Christine Phillips provided details of actions taken by City of London Police and TFL tackling traffic offences.  It was stated that since the last meeting there had been a continued effort to have more uniformed officers and junctions.  Education was underlined with OP Atrium where tickets were issued for cycling offences and rescinded if offenders attended road shows designed to highlight dangers on the road.

Questions and comments made by residents

1) Has the Barclays ‘bike scheme ‘ impacted on the number of traffic offences within the city? 

Stuart Sanger stated that only a handful of cyclist using these specific pedal cycles were caught riding on the pavement but on the whole most are compliant within the boundaries of the law.

2)  Police Officers should be positioned better as he has witnessed pedal cyclists committing offences along Beech Street tunnel with officers present and no action taken.  He said that he passes through the junction twice a day and has only seen officers there once in the last three months.   Westminster is more effective at tackling these issues and the Cycle Squad have little impact. As this is one of our main priorities, the City of London Police should be more prepared for meetings with statistics, as he believes nothing is being done in regards to this priority and stated these were requested at the last meeting.  

Christine Phillips and Stuart Sanger said they would make enquiries to obtain tickets for that specific junction. 

PC Adams introduced himself and gave an in depth overview of traffic statistics compiled over the last three months in the TFL operation.
  • Between 19-29 July - 323 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued to pedal cyclist within the city of London.

On the 30th of July 186 people attended Op Atrium with 155 tickets rescinded.

  • Between the 2nd –11th of August 147 penalty tickets were issued for contravening red lights and 1 was issued for cycling on the footpath.
  • On the 6th of October 8 penalty tickets were issued

3) Happy with location of meeting and attended after seeing the priorities which were set at the last meeting, he put forward the question ‘ how do we measure if we are succeeding in our priorities?

Christine Phillips stated that she would get in contact with TFL to obtain a breakdown of when and where offences are taking place.
Iain Simmons, Local Transportation Planning Manager, Guildhall provided details of work that has been undertaken by the Corporation at the junction over the years to improve the flow of traffic and safety of all road users and pedestrians and how this has impacted on the way cyclists and drivers behave at the junction.  He also provided details of the efforts, initiatives, successes and safety in the city compared with other areas in London and answered questions about the Beech Street/Aldersgate Street junction and the timing of traffic lights.

4) Have seen more uniformed officers at the Beech street junction however not many at the Moorfields.  PS Keith Redman-Henry stated that this location is under review by the Corporation as they have had a number of complaints from cyclists regarding the issuing of tickets in this particular area where the cycle path runs through the walkway.

5) A member of the meeting gave the following statistics:

 One thousand pedestrians had been injured within the city of London in the past nine years.

 6% were injured by motorised cycles
 Taxis injured 11%
 Pedal cyclists injured 28%

5) A point was made that the signage at the Moorfields junction should be clearer. Gordon Griffiths stated that this is not a police matter but a corporation matter.

6) Police officers have a responsibility to safeguard roads and more importantly pavements.  This is due to people as when they get older they are more reluctant to use pavements, as they are full of risks and trying to access all the hazards that are on the pavements (Beech street). Also a member of the meeting witnessed police officers dismissing an offence, which a pedal cyclist had made.

PS Keith Redman-Henry stated that awareness is being circulated by officers going into businesses and providing education and residents may not be aware of behind the scenes activities.

7) Bethnal Green police have made cyclists more aware of safety issues handing out ‘jingles’ so that pedestrians are aware when cyclists are within the vicinity.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

If you think designing roads "for the needs of all road-users" is just a giant con, you're going to have to help shout about it

According to the City of London's transport plans for the next few years, ""Projects implemented within the cycling revolution programme will nevertheless be designed with the needs of all road users in mind."

Here's one we made earlier at Farringdon Street, heading towards Blackfriars Bridge.

As you can see, all road-users are taken into account.

Let's see what this street scene shows us.

a) A central reservation that is wider than a normal traffic lane contains parking spaces for motorbikes and taxis.
b) A bus lane that is used by bikes, buses and taxis. But is free for anyone to use outside of the bus lane hours.
c) A couple of lanes of general traffic
d) A man on a bicycle squeezing between the bus and the lorry tanker

So it ticks all the boxes. A road that takes all road users into account and doesn 't prioritise the bicycle user.

If we allow the City's politicians to vote for this policy in February, then this is what we're going to see for the next five years as well. More roads designed for all road users. I think you'll find that 99% of the road is designed for motor traffic.

Because there is in fact, the tiniest proportion of cycle infrastructure to be seen here.

If you look carefully, you'll see an advisory bicycle lane. The lane is sort of squished into a normal traffic lane. So anyone overtaking you in that lane as you pedal along will invariably try and just squeeze past you and perceive that you're 'taking their lane'.

But what's that I see in the bike lane? A van. Parked perfectly legally in the parking space that completely blocks the advisory bike lane.

The City is planning to spend a whopping 0.45% of its transport money over the next few years on the cycle revolution. Which is just about enough to pay for some more of these advisory cycle lanes. This is what road space for all road users looks like. And this is what 0.45% looks like.

If you don't like the idea of seeing more of this sort of crap infrastructure (to borrow from freewheeler here) being built in the name of sustainable/smarter/eco travel, call it what you will, and you just want to see safer, more sensible conditions for cycling, then join us in writing to the City in January. Here's the timetable and how you can help.

Is overengineering the reason that TfL doesn't understand cycling?

Stonecutter Street, City of London. The street heads up the hill from Farringdon Street.

It's a one-way street where it joins Farringdon St but is two way roughly from the point where you can see the lorry in this picture.

A number of people have been trying to push TfL allow cycles to turn into Stonecutter Street. If you work at Deloitte, for example (just up the hill here) and want to get to work from the north, you have to go through some circuitous back route instead of just turning right from Farringdon Street.

There's also the daft situation that if you're cycling on a hire bike, you can't legally get your bike to the docking station unless you jump off in the middle of the A-road and wheel it along the footpath.

All it would need is a drop kerb and a no turn except cycles sign. But, oh no, TfL seems to feel it must be much much more complicated. Here's the response they sent to someone who cycles in the City and forwarded it to me:

"Thank you for your email dated 11 November 2010. We are very pleased to hear about your commitment to cycling as Transport for London encourages employers to promote smarter and more active forms of travel.


As you are aware as part of the introduction of Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in Central London we have introduced a cycle hire facility on Stonecutter Street. To make this site more accessible, as well as to improve cycling on Farringdon Road, we have considered the introduction of a contra-flow cycle facility to allow cyclists to enter Stonecutter Street.


Unfortunately, it became apparent that with the traffic light phasing at the junction of Farringdon Road and Stonecutter Street it would be difficult to allow cyclists to turn left or right into Stonecutter Street without either reducing the amount of time pedestrians have to cross Stonecutter Street or the capacity for general traffic on this strategic route on the Transport for London Road Network. Further modelling is required to assess how best we could provide for this, and Transport for London and the City of London will continue to work together to progress this scheme. Although we are unable to provide a firm programme at this moment in time we would hope that this could be implemented in 2011 or 2012."

Make of that what you will.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Time to speak up: Countdown to how you can get involved

This entry is by way of a large thank you to everyone who pitched up on Monday night to talk about the City’s local implementation plan.

Very briefly, we agreed the following plan.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know about the local implementation plan. It's important because it sets out the City's spending on transport infrastructure for the next few years. And this article here tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how the City is going to fail cycling well into the end of the decade if we let this plan go ahead unchallenged. The key points are:

The City wants 10% of all journeys in 2020 to be on a biycle. Hooray. But cycling gets 0.45% of the tranport budget and the document does not prioritise cycling in any way. In fact, it basically says cycling will have to muddle along on the roads as they are, with a few gestures like better advanced stop lanes and contraflows but no actual joined-up plan. Much worse, though, is that all the transport money is ploughing into major street redesigns that will essentially narrow the road space, cramming bicycles and motor vehicles even closer together, while committing to not slow down motor traffic any more than 2010 average speeds.

Over the next couple of weeks, we are drafting an email to the City politicians. The email will include various points you can raise to object to the plan.

We are hoping to send it to as many people as possible who cycle in the City of London.

And we’re going to encourage you to edit and personalize the letter and send it to specific City contacts.

We’ll have everything ready in the first week of January and we hope as many people as possible will get involved.

You can get involved by simply reading the letter, adapting it to suit you and popping it off by email.

Or you can get involved by forwarding it to everyone you know who already bicycles in the City or people who would like to bicycle in the City but feel too scared to, and you can encourage them to get involved.

Thousands of you cycle in the City of London every day.

We need you to spend 10 minutes in early Janaury preparing an email to stick up for yourself. We'll provide you with all the background you need and the template you can work with.

But don't just stick up for yourself. Stick up for your colleagues who cycle. Or for your friends or family who would like to cycle and don't because they're scared. Good luck!

Cycling is going to get 0.45% of the City's transport budget

For those of you who’ve been following the blog, the local implementation plan will be finalised in January. The version that we’ve seen here and here is a draft. This is the document that sets out the City’s transport plans for the next few years.

We’ve been told by people close to the City politicians that, unless large numbers of people write in to complain about the plan, it will be nodded through in February.

There are a number of reasons that the plan doesn’t work for cycling. Although the intentions are good, we’ve been told that the plan has actually been watered down to make it less controversial to the existing situation of taxi rat runs, clogged streets choked with motor traffic. So we end up with two farcically contradictory statements:

Good intentions: “The City’s longer-term target (to 2020) is to continue to increase the numbers of cyclists at a similar rate, i.e., reaching at least 62,800 crossings of the screenlines [from nearly 25,000 in 2010] by cyclists by 2020.”

Versus

Lack of political will: “Projects implemented within the cycling revolution programme will nevertheless be designed with the needs of all road users in mind”

Let’s just be clear about this. There are two issues here

The first is that cycling is supposed to increase. But the second is that City does not seem to think that it needs to prioritise cycling on its streets to achieve that goal. In other words, the roads will continue to be roads for motor vehicles. Cycling will be squeezed in on a couple more contraflow streets and we’ll get a little more bike parking and a few advances stop lines.

And that’s it.

And just to make that really clear, let’s look at the way the City plans to spend its transport money:

Cycling revolution programme - £528,000 over three years

Road danger reduction programme (that’s City police and stopping ‘road users’ to you and I) £780,000

Maintenance and general street upkeep-type projects - £85million

And then we have ‘Major Schemes’ £30million

What is a ‘major scheme’?

A major scheme is something like the new street layout at St Paul’s. Have a look here for the St Paul’s plans. Basically, what's happening is that the City is slicing up major parts of its streets where it builds wider pavements, narrower roads, lays down all sorts of architectural treatment like the daft brickwork on the road at Queen Street. Cycles are then squeezed into narrower lanes for road traffic but at least we get some additional advanced stop line treatment and everyone can say the City is doing things for the bicycle.
Alternatively, have a look at the Cheapside major works here that are being built at the moment. Exactly the same thing is happening: Narrowing of the road space means there is now nowhere to get past stationery motor traffic and nowhere for impatient taxis to get past people on bikes. But very wide pavements indeed.

And the tragedy is that the City thinks it is really doing something to help reach that 10% of all journeys being made by bicycle.

The fact is that these major works create streets that make cycling less pleasant and feel more dangerous but under the pretence of better streetscapes and safer journeys for everyone. What it means in reality is more pavement and cycling can just squeeze into narrow and dangerous road space. If you’ve ever cycled along The Cut on the south bank at rush-hour, you’ll have a feeling for what’s going on.

Cycling would help the City meet several of its local targets, such as lower particulates in the air, safer journeys, faster journey times, less congestion, healthier people.

But cycling gets just 0.45% of the budget in this plan. And most of that will be on bike parking.

If you want people to be able to cycle in spaces that are less clogged with motor vehicles; if you want your mother to cycle into town with you; or your children or girlfriend, then just think about how this local implementation plan is going to help them feel safe to cycle on the City's roads. It's not. Nothing is going to change and it’s just going to get worse. But it will make for some nice architectural drawings.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

London Wall crossing - new north-south cycle route from next weekend

This has been rumbling for years and years and years. And, finally, I hear that the new crossing of London Wall at Coleman Street should be in place by the end of next weekend. The first works start this Saturday, unless it snows.

What this means is people will be able to cycle in a continuous line from Bank parallel to Moorgate all the way up to Old Street, without having to play hopscotch with buses and aggressive taxi drivers along Moorgate itself.

I first mentioned the details of the new link here where you can also see a more detailed map of the newly accessible route and more information about where to find the crossing point.

Assuming no further glitches, this new development brings to an end several years of letter-writing, protesting, campaigning and general antagonism about something as utterly banal as installing a permission for cycles to use a crossing that always used to be a road and was then converted to a pedestrian crossing but no-one really knew why cycles weren't allowed to cross, other than a few grumpy people who didn't like people when they got on to the back of a bicycle.

It also brings to an end a period of issuing countless, completely pointless fines for cycling on a pavement (Moorfields) that was never officially a pavement.

Hoorah.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The City's transport plans are too timid. Get ready to help persuade the City to take cycling more seriously.

This is my first reading of the City's plan for cycling in the City of London over the next few years, as represented by the local implementation plan here. This is a first comment. Following on from this posting I'll be doing more analysis.

Some of us are also planning to meet soon to decide how to encourage as many people as possible to respond to the City and push for better than this. Full details on that coming soon.

However, if you're interested in coming along to meet and discuss in more detail, please message me at cyclistsinthecity@gmail.com. We're hoping to meet on Monday next week after work.

And so to the plan and, first of all, the good news:


The City "is anticipating a significant increase in the numbers of cyclists in the City. Provision for them needs to to be planned for now or unacceptably poor condition will result or intensify. Standards that were possibly acceptable when cycling was a minority activity, such as narrow cycle lanes, shallow or non-existant advance stop lines and minimal levels of employee and visitor parking provision will not be adequate." All good stuff.

So, cycling is very definitely on the agenda. The City recognises that cycling has the best chance of any transport form to meet some of the Mayor's objectives of reducing congestion, increasing the health of Londoners and all sorts of other targets.

It talks of a "step-change increase in cycling" being essential to improve the City s transport objectives. And the numbers it waves around are fairly honourable. The number of cyclists in the City of London has increased from 7,664 per day in 1999 to nearly 25,000 this year. The City is expecting that to grow to 36,000 by 2013 but then for the growth rate to contract rapidly and increase to nearly 63,000 by 2020. Let's just put that in context though: In the hour 5 and 6pm on an average weekday, there are 4,500 taxis prowling the streets of the City. On that basis, 63,000 bicycles in an entire day at some distant point in the future is not enormous. What the City is talking about is an increase in cycling from 2.4% of journeys to and from the City (including walking) at present to a 'potential' 10% by 2020.
With all this in mind, you'd expect the City to now start saying it's time to prioritise the bicycle. But let's look at the City's chief transport goal in detail. Here we go:

It is to: "make the City's streets safe and accessible for all road users , engender considerate behaviour, function effectively, feature exemplary design and maintenance and, where practicable , meet the needs of the City s communities. There is however not the capacity to give all road users the space and facilities that they want." I fear that means, there's no space for cycling facilities on the City's streets.

And, lo and behold, that's indeed the case. Here's a classic indication that nothing much is going to change:
"Projects implemented within the cycling revolution programme will nevertheless be designed with the needs of all road users in mind." What that last bit means is cycle infrastructure squashed into motor traffic lanes and bicycle traffic put on pavements as at Queen Street. It means continuing to wobble over to the right hand lane on Blackfriars Bridge while a large proportion of the motor traffic whizz past at 45mph. It means some tiny alleyways being technically cycle and pedestrian zones but in reality not really usable by bikes. If you want to see what 'the needs of all road users' looks like in reality, then look here, If you want to encourage your kids to cycle to school in the City, your mother to cycle with you to the Museum of London or your boyfriend, wife, husband or girlfriend to take up cycling to work, then this plan isn't going to help you encourage them.

Let's compare the City's plan with Paris for a moment. In Paris, the plan is to prioritise the bicycle over and above other road users. The mayor of Paris states that absolutely explicitly here. There is none of this balancing the needs of everyone on the street. It's clear that Paris is saying it wants cycling to have priority over other transport forms.

The City of London's plan simply feels to me like a fudge. The plan is littered with references to lack of capacity to create space for cycling. Yes, there are positives. For example, there is good reference to increase permeability in the City, which will mean more contraflows. And there is talk of more cycle parking, cycle training and nebulous reference to other smarter travel initiatives.

But there s nothing about the issues that will actually encourage people to feel safe cycling in the City s streets. Nothing at all.

Let s just remind ourselves of the key issues that came out of our poll here of 140 people who cycle in the City. The priorities are a) routes through the City that allow people to cycle on safe, direct trajectories where they have a consistent degree of space away from the motor traffic b) more cycle hire docks and c) completely segregated cycle lanes (which is basically a different interpretation of the first point.

People highlighted the lack of consistent, clear, safe routes for cycling through the City with particular focus on bridges and at junctions but also lamented the fact that routes stop and start. What that comes down to for many people is road design - removal of pinch points, ability to access junctions without having to duck and weave between rows of non-moving motor vehicles, safer design at the end of bridges to facilitate turns across several lanes of traffic and also slower motor traffic, in particular on the bridges.

But none of this looks likely from this plan. Yes there is some positive noise in the plan. There are definitely some positive statements. But where's the commitment to reducing traffic speeds with a 20mph zone across the City? Actually, the plan commits to no change in average car speeds. Where's the commitment to clear routes that prioritise cycling? Non-existant. What about safer bridges to cycle in and out of the City? No comment. Segregated cycle lanes, away from motor vehicles? None of that either.

Perhaps the most positive clause in the documentation is this one: The City is "anticipating a significant increase in the numbers of cyclists in the City. Provision for them needs to to beplanned for now or unacceptably poor condition will result or intensify. Standards that were possibly acceptable when cycling was a minority activity, such as narrow cycle lanes, shallow or non-existant advance stop lines and minimal levels of employee and visitor parking provision will not be adequate"

It's hard to disagree with the statement. But read between the lines and what this plan suggests is more of the same. Some more contraflows. Some more bike parking. Some bicycle training. A few better-designed advanced stop lines.

I think we're going to have to shout very loudly if we think cycling needs something better than that. And if the City wants 10% of journeys to be by bicycle, then this plan isn't bold enough. It delays that reality to 2020. A decade away.

Some of us are working on a summary of the local implementation plan. We're going to highlight key things to object to. And we'll give you details on who to write to. And we're hoping as many people as possible will write in.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Breaking News: Draft LIP published and road safety update

For those of you who are following the discussions about the Local Implementation Plan, the draft document has just been posted online here and you can download supporting documents from this page here.

Background on the LIP process is here and here

There's also a new report here about additional cycle hire scheme docking stations here with a recommendation to "Seek to provide additional docking points, through the expansion of existing sites and the introduction of new sites". Stonecutter Street, Wood Street and Guildhall come in for particular mention. The suggestion is for: "five to eight new sites providing some 150 docking points with the remainder of the 90 docking points asked for being provided through the extension of existing sites"

There's also an ominous update on road safety here, in which some of the language hints that the blame for collisions involving cycles is the fault of, guess who, only the cyclist. Text like this, for example: "The main contributory factors identified in cyclist casualties attribute “turning right”, “changing lanes”, “opening vehicle doors” and “undertaking of large vehicles turning left across cyclists path”. The last factor being the most significant in KSI casualties". Large vehicles never overtake cyclists and turn left, of course.


Berlin vs London - doubling of segregated bike lanes in three years

Many thanks to German blog http://www.rad-spannerei.de/blog/ for this.

A Green Party member in Berlin asked some questions to the senate about cycling recently. Claudia Hämmerling wanted to know more about Berlin's bicycle infrastructure. The source document is here.

What the answers reveal is that Berlin has more than doubled the amount of segregated bicycle lanes in the City in the last three years to 400km of segregated paths by the end of 2009. It has over 250km of contraflow streets (one-way streets where cycles are allowed in two directions). And note that there hasn't been any increase at all in that classic London piece of cycling kit, the shared space bike lane on the pavement, something much loved by London boroughs as it means they don't need to remove space from 'the motorist'.

Here are the stats

Comparison of bicycle routes in kilometres from 2006 to 2009


Bike lanes that are part of the bus lane: 70km to 80km
Bike lanes that are part of the main carriageway, separated by a white line: 80 tyo 125km
Bike lanes on pavements: 50 to 50km
Bike lanes segregated from streets: 190 to 400km
Contraflow bike lanes (one-way streets that are two-way for cycles): 200 to 250km
Contrast with London where the money is piling into Cycle Superhighways which are, for the most part, not even vaguely segregated.

And yet, if you look at Waronthemotorist's excellent summary here, the one thing that cyclists who use the superhighways want is, well, more segregation from motor traffic.

Our poll of people who cycle in the City here says exactly the same thing.

And here's a post from someone new to London and seemingly new to cycling.

You see, a lot of people who cycle regularly would rate this facility as pretty much useless. But what they keep forgetting is that those of us who cycle regularly make up a tiny percentage of people as witnessed by the TfL monitor of cycling trips here. And it's the vast and largely untapped pool of people who would like to cycle but don't because they're scared of London traffic that are going to create the real 'cycling revolution', rather than those of us who already pedal London's streets. A lot of people want more of these facilities.

Berlin seems to understand segregation is the way forwards. And it's putting that theory into deliverables on the ground. Londoners seem to be asking for the same thing (a view not shared by our cycling campaign groups the CTC or LCC, if you read here, mind you).

It's not all that long ago that there weren't any pavements, except for on a few very upmarket streets. And then came segregation of the pedestrian and the horse-drawn. Time for the next phase of segregation perhaps?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

TfL's cycling revolution is complete garbage


The Local Implementation Plan - which is the means by which boroughs seek to obtain their funding for local transport - involves each borough having to set targets for cycling. We haven’t seen the City’s LIP draft yet but some data is dribbling out. The targets are important. They define how much each borough is going to ask for and get to spend on cycling initiatives and the like. 

It’s rather pleasing to see that the City of London is setting a fairly pacey target for cycling. It expects to see an increase the number of cycles observed at its cycle counting points from just under 25,000 per day in 2010 to over 36,000 per day in 2013. Specifically, this is the number of cycles passing the City’s 12 survey sites between 0700 and 1900 on a single survey date in 2010. It's a chunky enough growth rate, I think. 

So it’s rather surprising that it seems our friends at Transport for London wanted the City to adopt quite different targets. According to the base lines set by TfL, City of London residents make absolutely no journeys by bicycle. 0% is what is says on page 70 of the recently-published Transport in London report here. Even put charitably, that must be complete and utter garbage. Just look at the number of City of London residents who have signed up to the cycle hire scheme here. More than 10% of City residents have signed up to the scheme and are therefore 'cyclists'. 

Admittedly, the statistics in the report show the 2006/7 to 2008/9 average when there was no cycle hire scheme. But even so, this just feels downright wrong. 

What's worrying about the statistics is that they're actually really important. 

TfL gives these base figures to each of the boroughs and from what I understand, the boroughs are obliged to base their cycle targets on these numbers. In other words, if I get this right, TfL specifically asks the boroughs to use these numbers as the starting point to set their cycling targets for the next few years. And if you look at the numbers, a fair few of them show 0% or 1%. 

Apparently, if the boroughs don't want to use these numbers, they must have an almighty fight with TfL and prove to TfL that they're talking garbage. Some boroughs won't bother to do that. 

At least the City has decided to ignore the report as far as cycling is concerned. And hats off to them. But word on the street is that other boroughs are using these statistics to base their LIP plans. What that means is that they're planning their budgeting requests for the next few years on these numbers. 

So, that means cycling would, by rights, get 0% of the transport budget in Newham, if you believe these numbers.

So we have a Mayor who is championing a cycling revolution. But his transport body seems to be working in almost the exact opposite direction. For if the boroughs really do take these base lines seriously, then the budgets for cycling are never ever going to materialise. Because it appears that TfL is asking boroughs to build cycling targets on an assumption that, in a large number of boroughs, precisely no-one cycles.  

Thumbs up to the City for ignoring all this. But that cycling revolution we keep hearing about is never going to happen, is it? 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cycle hire stats: More "cyclists" than "motorists" who live in the City of London

A total of 1,000 City residents have already signed up for the Boris bike / cycle hire scheme.I know this because I was kindly allowed a glimpse at some data from TfL. 


That's a whopping percentage, considering there are only 9,300 residents in the City of London. According to this document here, approximately 1,000 of those residents are aged between 0 - 17. Given that the scheme isn't available to people under the age of 14, let's assume that the total population of the City that is eligible to use the humble Boris bike is around 8,500 people. So, one in eight and a bit people who lives in the City of London has taken up the cycle hire scheme. That's a stonking large percentage in such a short amount of time. 

To put that in context, if you look at the 2001 census results here, only 1,400 households in the City own one car. And 230 households own two or more cars. 

I think it wouldn't be too fantastical to assume that maybe a further 500 people who live in the City also own bicycles. So let's say 1,500 people who live in the City of London are therefore classifiable as "cyclists". Well, I think that's giving the people who live in the City of London and are classified as "motor-owning households" by the census a bit of a run for their money. 

The question is, then, why is the City still such a motor-centric place? Could it be anything to do with the fact that motor vehicles are simply bigger, noisier, pushier and take up more space on the road? Or could it be because City politicians think bicycles and motor vehicles should fight it out for space on the road? Our City politicians, even those that are not averse to cycling, still think that competition for road space can be conveniently fought over, day by day, by people on their bicycles, literally battling for space on the road against motor vehicles. See here for evidence of that thinking. In Paris, their politicians are pretty clear about who should win the competition for road space. They want to prioritise the bicycle, as you can see here. And they're prepared to make cycling spaces to do that. And to take road space away from motor vehicles too. Rather than in the City, where they take space away from pedestrians or sort of squeeze you in to a standard traffic lane. Compare a Paris cycle lane here or a New York cycle lane here with what we get in London.



76 bike parking spaces near Blackfriars launched this week

After my recent updates here and here about  the new bike parking in Baynard House car park, I received a note from the City yesterday saying the new bike park was alive and kicking. There's even a whizzy poster to advertise the new facilities below.



Monday, 29 November 2010

"There is competition for road space. And it is unlikely to get any easier." In other words, nothing's going to change.

Ah the joys of cycling in the City of London. Once you've managed to brave the right-hand turn over Blackfriars Bridge, you arrive here on Queen Victoria Street.

As you can see, there's lots of room for cycling in. As soon as the traffic lights go green, the cars will magically move over to give you lots of room as they overtake, obeying the Highway Code requirement to give you as much space as they would a car, in fact more than that as you are a vulnerable road user.

The problem is that our politicians just don't get it. They do understand that more and more people are cycling. They do understand that they need to provide some sort of facilities to cater for that change. But they don't understand that they actually need to prioritise cycling over other forms of vehicular transport.

Here's a fairly typical comment from a City councilman sent me by another cyclist in the City over the weekend. It's a pro-cycling comment but it's what's missing that bothers me:

"However, the fact is there is competition for road space, and it is unlikely to get any easier.  The traffic jams will get worse, and yet more people will decide to use a bicycle as a means of getting through the traffic.  The City is not going to resist this trend, but will seek to manage the street space we have in the best way possible....We are looking to increase the number of advance stop lines to make it safer for cyclists at traffic lights, and for the police to enforce compliance by motorists."

All good stuff.

Pro-cycling. Aware of cycling. Aware of compliance issues.

But advance stop lines are not the solution. Because as soon as you pull away from this junction, what you get is parked cars on the left, buses on the right. And cyclists squeezed dangerously between the two. Here's what I mean in this picture on the left, just slightly further along from the traffic lights.

The situation here is actually about to get worse. That taxi rank on the left hand side is going to become a coach park. Reason for that is that the coach park at St Paul's is for the chop. See here for those plans.

So, even more squashed cyclist space.

Someone else wrote to me over the weekend. A new boris bike user:

"As my commute passes right through the city once or twice a week on a BorisBike, I'd love to see a real segregated superhighway from Blackfriars to Liverpool St... "

Fat chance, I'm afraid. You see, the City acknowledges it has more and more people cycling. It acknowledges there is more competition for that space between motor vehicles and people on bicycles. But the plan is for more of the same. "It is unlikely to get any easier".

Let's just remind ourselves what the status quo looks like, perhaps here, here or here.

And let's just remind ourselves again how Paris talks about cycling as I posted here some time ago:
"Pour se déplacer en ville ou dans les bois de Boulogne et de Vincennes, la Ville de Paris aménage des espaces dédiés au vélo pour favoriser et faciliter l'usage de ce moyen de déplacement calme et écologique."

Paris is committed to developing spaces where cycling is prioritised and made easier than other forms of transport because Paris wants people to get about the city calmly and sustainably.
 
The City's politicians are saying "there is competition for road space, and it is unlikely to get any easier". In other words, London is shrugging its shoulders, and pleasing no one by trying to please everyone. Politicians seem almost scared of upsetting the motorist. But if you want to cycle, you're just going to have to lump it. There will be more and more cars. And you'll just have to all muddle along.
 
Screw that. I want a Paris politician. I want the City to actually stand up and say it wants the City to be a place where walking and cycling are more convenient than driving. Like Paris is doing.
 
But that's not going to happen. Unless a lot of us (and I mean hundreds of us) start writing to our councilmen and demanding something changes.
 
Question is, will you accept the status quo, or are you prepared to start writing? About everything and anything that bugs you in the City as you cycle through it.

Friday, 26 November 2010

"Mass public response" - save the date for January meeting

Since my post earlier this week about the Local Implementation Plan, I’ve followed up with the City on what’s happening and when.
I’ve had the following response:
“Members have now determined that they do not want us to consult on the LIP until early January, to avoid people missing the consultation during the distractions of the Christmas and New Year period. You can see the basic details of the consultation, including dates and submission methods, on the City's website at http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lip2011. I will therefore be writing to all interested parties to let them know about the commencement of the consultation on Monday 10 January 2011.”

Looking at the City's website, it now has a date for submission of comments, February 21. So there's a six week window to get hold of the Plan, digest it and respond to it. Not long.

Many thanks to the many nods of support and emails I’ve had in response to this post here about a need to generate a mass public response to the Plan from people with cycling at heart.

Having chatted it through with a couple of you, I’m going to suggest the following: What do people think?

The consultation commences on 10 January.

Some of you have rightly said that it would make sense to coordinate a response. When I talk to people in the City, that is exactly what they don’t want to receive from us. What they need to hear is individual voices. So it’s crucial that this doesn’t become a political or theoretical ping pong game about we want segregated facilities, for example. But I agree it does make sense to help give some context to this so that as large a number of people as possible can easily get involved without having to spend an age reading burocratic documents and gettin their heads around local planning regimes.

So, my proposal is this:

A Cyclists in the City meeting on Wednesday 19 January in a City pub at 7pm. I’ve chosen that date as I know a few people will be able to make it, myself included and that also gives people a week to read the document

Purpose of the meeting is three-fold:

• Agree a synopsis of the LIP report to communicate to people who read this website and get our emails
• Create a cluster of issues we think are worthy of comment or criticism
• Get a team of people together who are prepared to help coordinate the message out to other people they know who cycle and to encourage them to write in.

I think this will work but I’m happy for comments on the above.

In the meantime, I’ve also kicked off some correspondence with the City’s LIP team. As soon as that becomes a bit more substantive, I’ll post the feedback I’m getting on to the site.

I’m really encouraged by the notes of support for this. Thank you everyone!

Wood Street goes two-way

Good news for people heading north-south through the City. Wood Street (click here to see what I'm on about) is going two-way either next month or during January.


The top half is already two-way for cycles between London Wall and Gresham Street. Now you'll be able to cycle in a straight line down to Cheapside rather than having to turn left to the traffic lights when you reach Gresham Street and then south down Queen Street. It offers a way to avoid sitting in the endless traffic lights along Queen Street and an alternative to the neighbouring gyratory, if sprint-cycling isn't your thing.

Good stuff I think.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

"Mass public response" to improve cycling needed soon.

In January, the City of London kicks off its LIP programme. LIP stands for Local Implementation Plan. This is where the borough sets out its ambitions for future years and requests funding to match those ambitions.
Now, here's the ominous bit. Only a few thousand people live in the City. They all get a chance to influence the LIP by commenting on it.

As we know, a lot of them are vocally anti-cycling.

Hundreds of thousands work here, though. And the real problem is hardly any of those people get involved in helping change the City. If you want cycling conditions to improve, you're going to have to write letters when the time is right.

And this is why:

I was talking with a senior City official last night about our recent cycling poll here. And he was very supportive of the poll.

But these were his important words:

"I suspect that mass public response to the LIP consultation may be the only way to effect some of the changes that your survey identified."

The LIP comes out in January. We're going to need hundreds of people to write to the City about cycling if we have any hope of having a say in how cycling is developed over the next few years. Not a handful of people. A few hundred is what's going to make the difference. We'll need people to just write letters. To write in and complain about conditions for cycling in the City that are relevant to their individual experience. And I'm crossing my fingers that some of you will be prepared to do that. But I'm beginning to realise that crossing my fingers isn't going to be enough. What we need is people to act as evangelists and encourage other people who cycle to get involved. Its not going to take ages and ages of their time. But we need to get as many people as possible involved.

Over 150 of you responded to the survey. And I know of a few people who've written in to TfL or the City as a result of this site. The question I'm facing is how to get 150 people to write in to the City when the LIP consultation comes out in January.
 
I'm hoping that a few people who read this blog will be prepared to give up an evening to meet in a pub in January and then commit to helping convince other people they know with cycling and City of London connections to write letters, emails and comments on the LIP.
 
If you're swayed by the idea of lending a helping hand, please get in touch.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

St Paul's Churchyard gets the architecture treatment - comments invited

The City is planning to re-model the street just to the south of St Paul's cathedral, namely St Paul's Churchyard. If you're not sure where we're talking about, click here

I've uploaded a copy of the plans here (thank you sharesave!) and apologies, it's saved sideways.



To anyone who cycles along this stretch regularly, I'd really appreciate your feedback so that I can send a summary response to the City on people's behalf by next week. 

The primary aim of the design is to widen the footway on the north side of the street. So, the cycle lane that currently exists heading east is removed and replaced by footway. What you get heading east is a bus lane and a secondary lane, only both slightly narrower than now. And then a formal cycle lane leading up to the traffic lights at New Change which is arguably much better than the current set-up. The bus stop near New Change is moved west, so that you won't constantly have buses stopped near the junction. Those two measures seem good to me but does anyone have any comments on this? I'm worried about the overall narrowing of the road making for squashed cycles.

Less good is the situation heading west. The current bus stop on the south side of the street is moved further away from the junction with New Change, which is very positive as it makes the junction easier to negotiate when heading west. But I'm not sure of the need for the fairly abrupt tightening of the carriageway and resulting pinch-point just before the new bus stop, caused by the pedestrian crossing refuge. 

One thing that might interest cyclists heading west is that technically, the space that used to be YHA Lane, where the City has unveiled its newly restored Victorian drinking fountain is actually 'shared space'. You are allowed to turn left / south off St Paul's Churchyard over what looks like pavement just by the fountain thing and on into Carter Lane. In fact, you'd have to be pretty eagle-eyed to spot it, but you can head along that recently paved stretch in both directions on a bicycle. I reckon most pedestrians probably think this is a pedestrianised zone, though. It looks like one. It feels like one. I always feel this sort of thing just makes pedestrians dislike people on bikes for cycling on what they might regard as 'their' space. Mind you, the fact that it's almost impossible to tell you can cycle here might make this less of an issue. 

I just think it's rather sad that the City could have created an obvious route for cyclists heading from Mansion House to Blackfriars Bridge, say, to whizz along Cannon Street here and then turn south west into what was formerly YHA Lane and down the back route to the bridge. Instead, what it has created is something you'd have to be a complete genius to spot and means most cyclists will struggle on along Ludgate Hill, one of the most clogged up bits of street in the area and then turn left along Farringdon Road to the bridge. A real wasted opportunity to create sensible, easy-to-find, quiet routes for cycling. 

Oh, and cycle parking. There's none anywhere near St Paul's at the moment. And none on these plans either. 

The City is inviting comments. I'm planning to summarise a response by early next week. I'd really appreciate feedback either in the comments box or feel free to email me at cyclistsinthecity@gmail.com


Monday, 22 November 2010

Queen Victoria Street - the racks go in

Baynard House car park - new bike zone
I'm slightly obsessing about these new bike racks. But only because I hope they'll be the start of many new bike parking places around the City. First mentioned here, the racks finally went in last week. They're still cordoned off for reasons I don't quite understand. More details about the location here. As you come into the carpark, you need to glide down the ramp in front of you, and there they are, all shiny and new. All 76 spaces.

Imagine that, though: Four car parking spaces equals 76 bike parking spaces. Just imagine how different London could be if there were a switch from cars to bikes in those kinds of ratios.

The only downside I can think of: Where do I leave a lock overnight on these sorts of racks? Anyone with any inspired suggestions? I don't really want to have to lug my lock back every night...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

And lo! the cycle contraflow was approved

Sorry, corny headline for today's update. But good news from the City of London this week.

I reported back in October here that the City's Planning and Transportation Committee had approved the concept of "normalising" the implementation of two-way contraflows for cycling. What I hadn't realised at the time and subsequently posted here was the measure also needed approval by the Policy and Resources Committee as well before it could be formally adopted. That committee met on Thursday last week. And somewhat unceremoniously also approved the measure.

What that means is that we can expect more wicked one-way streets to revert to two-way contraflows for people on bikes. The reason is that the approval allows for contraflows to be implemented as a normal part of the road design process. Previously, each contraflow needed a myriad of additional levels of approval from various interested committees and a range of costly measures to ensure everyone was aware of the changes. So, for example, the City last year had to spend thousands handing out flyers to tell local residents that tiny Fann Street was now two-way for cycles. The associated costs of implementing contraflows was therefore unnecessarily high as the City had to cover its back with safety measures and work to obtain internal approvals due to the perceived risk of the schemes. And, fortunately, those risks have remained just that: perceived and not actual.

Much of the press was absolutely complicit in hyping those 'risks' as was the AA as the links here show. And nothing happened. No increase in accidents. The new contraflows have allowed people to cycle on routes they feel are safer or more convenient, exactly as was intended.

And the approval of this new measure means we can expect more contraflows. Because now they'll simply be expected to be part of any normal street planning process. No extra hoops to jump through and no unnecessary burocracy or costs. Very good news indeed and I'm looking forward to seeing some new two-way cyclable streets in the nearish future.



Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Boris bikes are a strain on the road network, apparently.

Only a brief update this:

Transport for London has City has been asked to provide locations for 200 additional cycle hire docking stations. Those might be extensions of existing stations or entirely new ones.

As I reported here, however, the City is making a lot of noise about not having sufficient space for all these new docking stations. I know that a few people have written in to the City to pressure their local councilmen to ensure these docking station do actually happen. See the response below, which someone posted to the Boris Bikes forum here and the parts I've highlighted in bold.

Basically, the City seems to think pedestrians are different to people who cycle and fails to recognise that some people who walk will be the people who walk to cycle docking stations.

But most frustratingly, the City seems to think that its road usage is simply a status quo that is never going to change. The implication is that Boris bikes are just adding to a constrained road system. There's no concept of restricting motor vehicles further. Only some statement about the fact that people cycling might present problems for people walking and that the safety of pedestrians is paramount.

This all feels like a bit of a smokescreen to me. Cycle hire stations are blocked because they might cause a potential danger or obstruction AND because too many bicycles might be used, which would eat up space on the road? Any idea how many bicycles you can fit in the space of one bus?

Dear Mr XXXXX



I have asked the Corporation’s Director of Planning and Transportation who has asked me to reassure you that the City of London is fully supportive of the Mayor’s cycle hire scheme. He has given me the following information on the City’s involvement with the Scheme.

“Mayor Johnson has now completed phase 1 of his cycle hire scheme. The City Corporation approved almost all of the docking stations which the Mayor's staff at TfL requested within the City. Only a handful were rejected - where they would have caused potential danger or obstruction. The scheme has proved to be very popular and demand has outstripped supply in some areas.


The Mayor has now embarked on phase 2, which will extend the scheme into East London in time for the 2012 Olympics and expand provision in Central London. The Corporation looks forward to responding to TfL proposals for additional and extended docking stations within the City. Each installation will be considered in relation to the needs and safety of pedestrians and other road users. Wherever possible the Corporation will approve these installations at or near the requested location.
In some instances, especially near to stations, pavement and road space is already used to full capacity during peak hours and the potential demand for cycle hire would be too great to accommodate. Over 90% of all journeys made within the City are on foot and it is essential that we protect the needs and safety of pedestrians. Unlike suburban locations, City cyclists are abandoning public transport rather than cars so no free road space is created to accommodate the extra cyclists.

We will continue to support the Mayor's cycle hire scheme and make every effort to assist in meeting the demand for this facility within our extremely constrained highway network.”
I do hope that this will provide you with assurance on the Corporation’s position.

Regards

Delis






Thursday, 11 November 2010

Waterloo new giant cycle hire station details

AMENDMENT: For an update on the City's cycle docking situation go here.

If you want to write to someone in the City about this, then write to the relevant council man for your ward. The list of council men is here. Select the ward relevant to you from the map link at the bottom of the page
-----

I was sent this by another person who cycles in the City last night. First view of the new Boris bike station at Waterloo and TfL's email on how it's going to work, when it will be switched on etc.

For those keen to know more, see below:

Thank you for your email dated 2 November, regarding the Barclays Cycle Hire docking station at Waterloo.

TfL has been working in partnership with Network Rail to install a docking station at Waterloo Station which will consist of 128 docking point. The station will be located close to the main entrance of Waterloo Station and will be the first to be installed at a mainline rail station. Construction started on 1 November and the station is expected to be operational by mid-December 2010.

Please find attached the plans for the station. The cycle lane will be changing use to a shared use surface and will be made wider. This will be highly beneficial to the area as it will formalise what currently happens with pedestrians and users of the other cycle parking facility who currently walk up the cycle path.

Thank you once again for taking the time to contact us and I hope my email has answered your questions.

Two bits caught my eye:

The station will be located close to the main entrance of Waterloo Station and will be the first to be installed at a mainline rail station

There was nothing in yesterday's announcement here about more docks at mainline rail stations. However, is TfL suggesting there may be more to come at the likes of Euston and Paddington?

Sadly, there's also more mention of removing the bike lane and introducing shared-space, a concept so beloved of UK urban planning but seemingly a near-unknown elsewhere.

The cycle lane will be changing use to a shared use surface and will be made wider. This will be highly beneficial to the area as it will formalise what currently happens with pedestrians and users of the other cycle parking facility who currently walk up the cycle path.


Basically, the bike lane that leads up from York Road is going, most of it to be filled with bike docks. Instead, there will be a large pedestrian and cyclist shared space leading down the ramp from the station with a short bit of bike lane immediately next to the docking station to indicate where you're supposed to be. What I can't quite make out from the plans is whether the service road that leads into Waterloo and crosses the existing bike path (currently somewhere where taxis try to barge in front of people on foot or on bikes) is still going to remain or not. It looks like it might be for the chop, which is good news for anyone not inside a motor cage.

If someone could tell me how to upload PDFs into blogger, I'd be able to show you what it looks like.

AMENDED

View the plans on this PDF here (apologies in advance for the ads on the zshare site. It's free after all....)