19 September 2009

Sign Petition for Bike Lanes

Pink and Copenhagen Blue
Sustrans, the UK's leading sustainable transport charity, has started a petition on their BikeBelles website that encourages women to cycle.

They interviewed 'over 1000 women to find out what they believed would most persuade them and other women to cycle more'.

'Overwhelmingly women wanted more cycle lanes separated from traffic, so Sustrans has launched our Motion for Women petition calling on governments to prioritise the creation of environments that encourage and support cycling, including cycle paths separated from traffic, as a way of enabling many more women to travel by bike.'

As a result, Sustrans has started a petition to show support for safer bicycle infrastructure.

You can sign the petition until November 29, 2009 right here.


Adrienne Johnson said...

I am always saying, if you want bicycle infrastructure, you have to target the Moms. If you can get Moms to ride, you will get all the infrastructure you can imagine, because there is no power like the Mom power.

townmouse said...

Have signed it. Not sure why it has to be a woman thing, but whatever works...

Anonymous said...

I'm the person sustrans is talking about. A couple of months ago, before I got a bike, I'd have signed this petition in a flash. Now... I don't know. Probably not, because I think Sustrans is proposing is more of what singularly fails to work in the UK already.

It's important to remember that in the UK, in practice, "cycle path separated from traffic" means (a) painting a line on the road that drivers take as a car-parking sign or (b) painting an extra line on a footpath with a give-way sign or "cyclists dismount" sign at every single entryway - 50 metres apart, usually.

Sustrans's stamp of approval only allows city authorities like mine to designate random half-metre wide pavements, fragments of obscure riverbank or meandering park walks a "cycle lane separated from traffic". When they do incidentally head anywhere useful, they INVARIABLY dump you into traffic at the very point in the road where the road itself has become tricky - BECAUSE it's narrow or complicated. Their true function is to allow town councils announce that they've "made" x kilometres of cycle routes.

At its best, UK cycle provision takes the longest possible route to nowhere particularly useful - and this is largely because of Sustrans influence. Doing even more of it really isn't going to help, is it?

It's just going to dismay and deter novice cyclists like me when we try to get to work or get the groceries home.

Sorry, but as far as I can see, Sustrans influence works to drain resources from the very people who could most benefit from cycle transport - people who live in the public-housing estates or in the built-up, densely populated mixed residential/commercial places - frankly, the poorer areas where people already have less access to cars. These neighbourhoods are so typical of Britain, cut up and marooned by motorways. Sustrans seems positively determined that cycle provision shall avoid these places.

I think Sustrans policies are at this point counterproductive. Besides, as far as I can see, unlike other cycle organisations, Sustrans is still not even a democratically-organised body; if COULD have had a democratic say in drawing up their petition, I'd be more willing to sign it.

What would help me more as a new cycle-user: Cycle traffic-trainers in every town, for adults as well as kids: a 30kph urban speed limit on all but specifically designated major roads: and compulsory cycle training for able-bodied learner drivers.

Those three things would do more for sustainable transport in my city than years of expensive conniving in the cycle-path fiction.
- WeeE

townmouse said...

WeeE - I can see your point, but unfortunately not signing it won't be taken as meaning 'people in Britain want first class cycle provision not half-hearted lines in the road' but 'people in Britain don't want any cycle facilities at all'. It's not like you're giving money to sustrans, just standing up to be counted.

William said...

- WeeE

Thanks for sharing your point of view. That was interesting.
It's always good to learn something new.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, townmouse & william.

I so want bike paths really: but I just feel other stuff needs to underpin it from the start or it'll be a disaster. There's not a single bike path in my city that works like a road for bicycles, and I don't know of any in the UK that can - because the traffic laws don't allow it.

Even on a separated bike path, even going downhill, you have to pause to defer to cars popping out of entrances and car-parks to cross in front of you; where the cars beside you carry on, you have to dismount in obedience to signs.

So, again, Sustrans hasn't achieved what it would take to make a single bike-road function as a road for bikes. It hasn't even achieved a national design standard or build standard - or not one that's enforceable.

It's not that I think bike paths are a bad idea - I would dearly love to have them, because I'm really not very fit yet at all, and feel all the more vulnerable in traffic because of it. And I'd love to have streets as convivial as those in Amsterdam or Copenhagen.

But UK bike paths as they are they're worse than useless; I'd rather get the horse before the cart and the cart fixed.

Maybe I'm just being selfish, since any money spent on building new bike paths isn't gonna be spent in my unscenic residential/industrial/commercial urban neighbourhood anyway - but money spent changing traffic laws and signals and standards - that benefits everyone in every part of every town.

Kim said...

WeeE is absolutely right, in the UK many of the cycle lanes are down right dangerous. They are not about prioritizing cyclist the way they are in Denmark, they are about keeping cyclist out of the way of the far more important (to policy maker) motorised traffic. Just take a look at Cycle Facility of the Month and you will see what I mean. To make matters worst, many of these "Cycle Facility" where put in by Sustrans, a well meaning but badly misguided organisation. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

WestfieldWanderer said...

Maybe that's why we need this petition - to encourage proper funding into properly designed implemented cycling facilities. Whether Sustrans or the Department of Transport is the implementer doesn't matter a jot.
The reason we end up with the half-baked trash that Sustrans are blamed for is that Highway Authorities and the spineless apologies for politicians that are supposed to tell them what to do are really not interested in Copenhagenizing (or whatever you want to call it) Britain. Mainly because a considerable segment of the population of Britain are little more than ultra-conservative reactionary bigots who prefer to have their opinions fed to them by the tabloid press.
It has always been thus. And probably always will be.

Anonymous said...

Lol, Kim, your assessment of Sustrans as "well-meaning, but" prompted me to take a closer look at their site:
Here's Sustrans' marvellously diverse "panel of women from different backgrounds".

Compliance Administrator for Triodos Bank
Data and Digital Marketing Officer
Supervising renovation of a listed property
Management Accountant
Part-time Project Manager for the Energy Saving Trust
Development worker for a charity
Travel Plan Support Officer
Full-time student
Production journalist
University Lecturer
Print production co-ordinator
B&B Manager


kfg said...

The problem is that a bad bike path is worse than no bike path at all. Rather than encouraging cycling long term, it encourages people initially, who then feel their worst fears are confirmed, and quit cycling; forever.

If you ALREADY have something of a cycling culture going than a bad bike path raises the same public ire that a bad motor road does, but if you're trying to jump start a cycling culture all a bad path does is shut it down harder than it was before as people now "know" that cycling is dangerous and impractical even when given cycling specific infrastructure.

From what I have seen of Sustrans from across the pond it is an organization that began as an open cyclists advocacy group, by the cyclists themselves, but has since degraded into a closed political lobby, fully integrated into the political status quo, which is a CAR culture.

They promote the sort of "cycling infrastructure" best liked by MOTORISTS, which are, at best, useless and at worst death traps.

If you are in a place that has good cycling infrastructure beware of assuming that infrastructure being promoted elsewhere is going to be anything like the good facilities you are used to. As often as not, it is not.

As to the issue of funding I note that well funded crap is simply more EXPENSIVE crap (with the very real possibility that the extra money went into funding the "cycling advocate's" Jag, not the facility). The issue isn't funding, the issue is caring. Where there is caring the funding will appear and the facilities will be well designed.

What if Sustrans, as Anon 12:43 and many other British cyclists aver, give you the trash they do because they ARE the spineless apologies for politicians? That they just don't care? You may find that you have to do what led to the founding of Sustrans in the first place.

Organize YOURSELVES and take the fight directly to the people and the politicians. And you're not going to get good shit simply by demanding good shit, you have to tell them, clueless as they are, what good shit IS.

townmouse said...

I'm really loth to start an argument on someone else's blog, and there are many good points being made here, but the fact is that if we don't sign petitions like this, then when we do go to organise something for ourselves, the powers that be will point to the fact that there's no point providing any facilities, of any kind, because the public don't want them.

Realistically, Sustrans are far more likely to get a lot of weight behind something like this than I am on my own, so far better to add my puny weight to theirs, than to sit in my principled corner saying 'well, I didn't sign the petition because I didn't like the way Sustran set up their advisory panel'. Actually, if you read the design guidelines published by the Department for Transport (hostage to the car culture that it is) you'll find that it says things like pedestrians and cyclists should be considered first when designing facilities (and drivers last), and that slowing traffic and cutting traffic are prefered to putting in poor-quality bike lanes. Sure that doesn't always show on the ground, but as so often the political will would be there if only the authorities could be convinced that the popular will was there also. So, hold your nose if you have to, but sign it - go on, I dare you.

(sorry Mikael, I'll stop cluttering up your comments box now!)

kfg said...

". . .if we don't sign petitions . . ."

I did not in least suggest that you shouldn't sign petitions.

". . .far more likely to get a lot of weight behind something like this than I am on my own,"

And I explicitly stated that you should NOT do something like this on your own, although the possibility exists that you may be in a position where someone has to stand up FIRST and that that someone might be you.

If you do not take at least some trouble to get what you like, you may find yourself in the position of being to like what you get, like it or not.

"I'm really loth to start an argument on someone else's blog . . . sorry Mikael, I'll stop cluttering up your comments box now!"

Ahhhhh! Honestly meaning no offense whatsoever (which I understand doesn't in the least mean I won't give it) your view seems to be colored by - fear of having a voice.

What do you suppose the political processes and comment sections are for? How do you propose that they have any functional value if you do not "clutter them up"? "[AOL] OMG! Me TOO!!![/AOL]" gets us all nowhere and if you rely on others to speak for you you may well find that they have been speaking for no one but themselves all along.

Stand up. Speak out.

Anonymous said...

@kfg,westfield & townmouse - this is a really good discussion, with loads to think about. I sympathise with everything you say, townmouse, I'm just not sure that I agree with your ideas of strategy.
kfg - spot-on with your assessment of the dangerousness of crappy & incoherent cycle lanes.

The reason I probably won't sign the petition is that though Sustrans doesn't itself spend our money, it influences how our tax money is spent.

Spend it on improvements that do improve things; 20mph signs, say. Otherwise, to please Sustrans and their petition, and tick their boxes and save themselves thinking, councils WILL fritter infrastructure money away on yet more crap. (Never mind the quality, voters, add up the fractions of miles.)

I'm afraid that three years on, they'll turn round and say - "Look, you wanted cycle paths, we built them and no-one uses them any more. Cycling's obviously not what Britain wants."
- WeeE

Morten Lange (Reykjavík) said...

So let's make attempst at contacting Sustrans.

Two, three of you who live in the UK preferrably.

Incidentally I think that several "leaders" within the CTC agree with you about the very, very poor quality of the "paths" being built. I am sure Sustrans has some OK counterarguments, that should be listened to, though.

missy mookins said...

I've emailed Sustrans explaining my dilemma of wanting to promote cycling at Whitehall but not believing cycle paths are the way forward. Will see if we get a reply.

Does anyone have a link to any info as to how Copenhagen copenhagenized itself? I looked on the city website but that was just about the stuff that was going to happen in the future! Wouldn't it be wonderful if we convinced Nick Clegg he could be next PM as long as he promised to copenhagenize the UK!!

the opoponax said...

I'm divided on this. A couple years ago, the way some of you feel about UK bike infrastructure was how I felt about my local (New York City) bike infrastructure. Bike lanes were poorly installed and maintained roads to nowhere which weren't respected by other road users. And because of that, and the fact that I was really not up to just jumping in there with the car traffic, I was afraid to ride a bike in the city.

Two or three years later, that is starting to change here. And it seems to me that we had to go through that awkward transitional "roads to nowhere" phase in order to get where we are now. The city is starting to build physically separated lanes, connect the existing painted line lanes into useful routes, and add supporting infrastructure.

I'm not saying "crap bike infrastructure, yay!" or anything, but you've got to start somewhere.

And, yeah, getting it out to the poorer neighborhoods is a huge hurdle here, too, because the poorer neighborhoods were explicitly designed to be isolated and inaccessible. I don't know how you change the infrastructure there without addressing the root causes - and that's a lot bigger than signing a petition or not.

William said...

@Missy Mookins.

I think this post, or something like it, is what you're looking for:_

Also, I'm certain that if you google "Jan Gehl", you'll be able to find some good interviews, with him detailing Copenhagen history.

What I recall (and I'm too young to recall), was that all cars were removed from one of the most central roads.

Kinda like as if the PallMall/Picadilly/Regents/St. James square was deemed pedestrians/bikes only.

MarkA said...

Thanks all for taking the time to comment on this - it's a fascinating debate, and I'm sure Mikael doesn't mind - this is just the sort of thing that gets everyone's juices going!

Regarding Sustrans I think there are a number of issues here - for example their national cycle route is a great scheme (like long distance cycling routes), but they are not so hot on campaigning for the implementation of quality cycling infrastructure where it matters or is hard ie. central London / big car congested towns and poor areas. And I agree they really do need to be more democratic and open. Still one national organisation is better than none...

What I think is very telling here is that so many people are obviously terrified of cycling in the road.

I see designated cycle paths being of use either A.) as a switch-back or cut through to join up one area to another which you wouldn't be able to do if you were following the road, or. B.) where there is such a volume of bikes that the separate bike paths acts as a 'bike road' in itself (like Cable St in London for example, although this of course has it's own design issues!)

In all other cases.... just hop into the road! Seriously, it's not nearly as terrifying or as dangerous as it is made out to be, and with good cycling proficiency you'll find it's easy. I was terrified of cycling till I started because I believed all the nonsense about the likelihood of getting into an accident or confrontation but now I cycle 10 miles a day through central London to the poor old East End and have always found drivers to be considerate if I cycle considerately myself and take the assertive road position where necessary.

WeEE, you say: "There's not a single bike path in my city that works like a road for bicycles" but surely you are missing the point here? The road IS for bicycles and you are better off and safer there than you are on any badly designed cycle lane anyway, oh, and it's your right too!

There just isn't the capital or will to build a network of bike-exclusive roads and whilst I do think planning laws should be changed to make more provision in them with new infrastructure, in terms of the existing roads let's just all share the tarmac together - trust me, you'll still get there faster than the cars and the buses!

the opoponax said...

MarkA - to clarify about something I said regarding being afraid to bike on the road without a bike lane: this was something I definitely felt when I was first thinking about getting a bike, and the first time I had a bike in the city and tried to ride it from place to place. I really wanted to rely on those lanes, and it freaked me out when they weren't there for me or when they weren't as safe as it seemed they should have been.

After my second attempt at biking in the city (after NYC had started putting in better infrastructure), I was able to use the better designed/maintained bike lanes to transition into feeling safe on the street. Gradually over about a month I discovered that it's really just a stripe of paint in the road, and there's no difference between being in a bike lane or not being in a bike lane. Now I'm not afraid to ride on streets that don't have them, and am getting a lot better about "claiming my lane" and the like.

However, having bike infrastructure was still an integral part of feeling free to bike in the city in the first place. And I do still choose separated paths when they're available, mainly because they're relaxing and fun. Who wants to be in traffic if you don't have to be?

Anonymous said...

MarkA says, "The road IS for bicycles and you are better off and safer there than you are on any badly designed cycle lane anyway, oh, and it's your right too!"
- Yep, that's what I started my first post by saying, only I said it in more of a grumpy Scottish, glass-half-empty way.

"it's not nearly as terrifying or as dangerous as it is made out to be, and with good cycling proficiency you'll find it's easy."
- I don't have good cycling proficiency. So...maybe not so easy.

I'm new to being on roads at all, not just new as a cyclist. A lot of households here are carless; I'm not unusual in that. The sensation of being in the middle of the road without a bus driver in front of me, being aware of traffic all around, going downhill, processing what some sign means - all this is new to me. It can be fun, but it can stop being fun and start being scary with just one impatient driver. And I'm ashamed to admit, but I'm hazy on traffic signs - road markings in particular. On a road, it just doesn't look, or work, like it looks in a book.

So - get good cycling proficiency. Yes. I thought this would be easy to find. Still trying to locate whoever trains adults, if such exists; each bike group or civic department I've asked so far thinks someone else does it...though maybe not just now...uh, in the spring....? Meanwhile, I happen to read that it's normal for trucks to have HUGE blind spots (Argh - what?!!!) At least I didn't find it out from a truck.

Also still very slow. Still no stamina. Not enough power to make it up an average, modest hill but - hooray! Recovery time seems to be improving.
(Get fitter - get a bike. It sounds so simple and logical! It IS simple and logical; just not so easy to bootstrap in a built-up area.)

Do you sense my commitment wavering? Frankly, it IS scary when a car overtakes and jams on the brakes just as the road narrows at a traffic-calming, and you know you don't have the athletic wherewithal to jink out of tricky situations or accelerate out of trouble, and you're too puny to even slap a car-roof with impunity. We're not all warrior-athletes.

(How did it come about that we feel like we have to be? I know it wasn't like that when I was a kid. Grown-ups on bicycles wore pea-jackets and bunnets and carried their lunch and the paper under one arm.)

So - you're so right it's annoying. Me - I'm one sign, one road, one junction and one truck at a time, pissing off drivers and getting cyclists like you a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign the above - WeeE.

the opoponax said...

WeeeE - do you have friends who also cycle, who might be more experienced? That's what really helped pull me out of my nervous nelly "but where is the Bike Lane???" fears. I have some friends who've been riding around the city much longer than me, and I got them to start inviting me on rides. So I didn't really have to take lessons, per se, I just copied what they were doing, and tried not to be afraid if they weren't afraid.

missy mookins said...

@William - thanks for the link, am now trying to track down the Jan Gehl books (for less than £400!!)

@WeeE - have you seen "Cyclecraft" by John Franklin. Like you say, it's very different out on the road than it is in a book but this is a _very_ good book. Cycle proficiency training for adults does exist. It's referenced in Franklin. Try searching for "Bikeability for adults"

I got a reply from Sustrans on the same day. I was happy with their response and have signed the petition!

James Andrews said...

Sustrans are just a business designed to hoover up money from government.

Non cyclists like cyclepaths. I say we already have a national system of routes for bikes between everywhere I'd like to go. They are called "roads". The sooner roads are made safer for cycling on the better.

If you want to join a campaign with this as the aim the CTC are on the case:


Mikael said...

bike lanes are a century old concept. nothing new.

there is no real alternative to bike lanes that is anything more than a theory.

the "we have bike lanes, they're called roads" is a cutesy idea but this male-dominated theory will not encourage regular citizens to ride.

if you want to make a difference and get 10% + modal share for bikes, you build bike lanes.

MarkA said...

WeeE (funnily enough this is the noise I make whenever cycling down hill - the 4 year old within me can't help it!) Don't let your commitment waiver - I'd bet that just by getting yourself a bike and getting on it you are heads and shoulders above so many others. You are doing the right thing by getting out there and trying, and going at your own speed too (am a HUGE advocate of going as slow as you need to - you should see me cycling into the head wind on the approach to the Barbican tunnel in London - I'm practically stationary, but I'm still getting there, slowly) So good for you.

Some of the points you raise are perfectly valid btw, and having a fear of the road is valid too - when I said 'hop into the road' I should have clarified and said 'hop into the road with a good awareness about you and an understanding of how it works'. If you've not been a driver before or if roads are totally new the HIghway Code is definitely worth a study (I know, it sounds boring, but will tell you everything you need to know) as is "Cyclecraft" form the HMSO... and hey if you really don't know your way round the road, hire a driving (as in car) instructor to take you out for an hour or two and show you how it all works - trust me, you'll learn a lot. Other than that try searching 'Bikeability" (usually run by your local council) or call British Cycling and go out with cycling friends, these people all can help. You're not giving any cyclists a bad name so long as you are being proactive in improving and doing your best to learn - but the onus to do that will be firmly on your shoulders, no one will do it for you.

I agree with most here that cycle lanes can be a joy and sometimes a pain, but you can't just rely on one - there are never going to be enough and so we must all take our rightful place on the road. I also agree with some of the comments on here that say 'if a bike route is crap we should be telling Sustrans ourselves' - we need to be proactive in helping these guys do what they do and campaign for better facilities for us all at the same time. But, as Mikael has just pointed out you do need them to increase modal share of cycling by all - but you need them to be GOOD and therein lies the rub.


Oh, and btw, I almost got mown down yesterday by an idiot council van driver in Soho who didn't even look down the one way street from the giveway position before pulling out and onto me - he came so close that I was able to kick his van wheel whilst still on my bike (swearing loudly as I did it, glad I wasn't under his wheel). It's my first (and hopefully last) cycling 'near miss' in miles of safe cycling, and no amount of green paint on the floor would have saved me had it been a cycle lane... food for thought? I might even have been concentrating less had it been a cycle lane (as Opponox says "And I do still choose separated paths when they're available, mainly because they're relaxing and fun") in which case I would be under that van by now - so that's another reason why they're not always safe (a bit like Mikael's theory he has expounded on here that helmets make you a complacent cyclist) All types of road user are at a certain amount of risk whilst on it, which is why we must learn the 'rules of the road' - I'd have thought that was a given whether you are a 'warrior athlete' (whoever that is, not me for sure!) or your granny on a Pashley...

Sorry for the length of this post - it's a bit epic!!!

Anonymous said...

I commented on segregated facilities on another post, but I just thought I'd reiterate it here.

Firstly, segregated facilities require very careful planning in order to make junctions safe. Otherwise they make junctions less safe. Mikael had a post about how this has been done in Copenhagen, so I'll bow to him and concede that it can be done.

Secondly, unless the people designing the facilities have cyclists very much in mind and care about making cycling easier and more convenient, facilities can be primarily used to take cyclists right of way away, making them give way at every junction, and even driveway.

This is exactly what's happened in Ireland. Perfectly safe roads that cyclists have used for decades are now roads where cyclists are shunted off to one side where they travel along 80-cm wide paths and have to approach every side road and driveway cautiously, sometimes giving way every 20m or so.

I guess everyone here agrees segregated facilities work in Copenhagen so I'll also concede that. However, that doesn't mean they won't be deeply counterproductive elsewhere. Such as Ireland.

Cycling is finally starting to rise again in Ireland, but it's to do with cycling being in fashion, the Dublin Bikes scheme and a profound recession. Segregated facilities were extensively added to the cities in Ireland throughout the nineties as cycling numbers dropped like a stone.


Anonymous said...

Just to add, in case it's not obvious, the cycle facilities in the Republic of Ireland have nothing to do with Sustrans, so I'm not commenting on anything Sustrans have done, or have failed to do.


the opoponax said...

"we have bike lanes, they're called roads"

Yes, and here in America they tend to be clogged with angry alienated drivers who not only don't want to share the road with cyclists but have a habit of not even respecting our safety or our lives.

I'm not really sure what the solution to this is, but yes, it is a problem that actually exists. "Just ride in the road with the cars, ya pansy!" is not a realistic response.

the opoponax said...

Mark - the relaxing and fun separated paths I was referring to are not ones that are shared with car traffic. I'm talking about NYC's Hudson River Greenway, for instance. It's a bike/ped only roadway which travels the entire length of Manhattan, making it kind of an expressway for human-powered traffic.

Obviously in an on-street lane you are still part of traffic and need to behave accordingly.

Anonymous said...

"do you have friends who also cycle"
No. But I'm beginning to connect up through cycle websites with groups who do sort of informal group "no-one left behind" rides. It's just that, as yet, they WOULD have to leave me behind, very soon, or literally pick me up and carry me.
(It's not necessarily about being out of breath - it can be a lightning-strike, knackered-in-quicksand, turned-to-jelly super-wuss effect. I have to just get off for a bit.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, missy - I'll see about getting hold of this book.

Anonymous said...

Damn, and I thought the secret of my screen name was safe. Actually, this was the biggest surprise to me, that wonderful feeling of flying along. It's more exhilarating now that it was when I was a kid! You've made some really good suggestions - thanks for taking the trouble.

@james - I'll take a look at CTC - thanks!

This is all very encouraging - thanks, everyone!

townmouse said...

Can't resist wading in once more...

It's very easy, having seen what passes for a bike lane (or a bike path) in the UK to be cynical about bike lane provision and write the whole thing off. But this would be like saying 'look at this crap bike, bikes are crap, therefore I'm not going to get a bike.' Please, please, please, before you write off bike lanes, go and look at the videos on David Hembrow's blog - there's a couple of recent ones, one a route to school, and another one with a bike friendly roundabout. Then if you still think you and your kids and your granny would be better off cycling mainly on the roads in the UK than on paths like that, then fine. Otherwise, go and sign the petition (and lobby Sustrans to raise their game if it makes you feel better).

Anonymous said...

Buggerit, townmouse, that was so eloquent you've got me swithering now... hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign again, sorry - WeeE.

And thanks again folks, for all the advice.

Just a cyclist said...

Really interesting comments here that may shed some light on why segregation of cyclists are controversial for some vehicular cycling advocates.

"Segregation" of cycling from motorised traffic has, for me, no negative connotations and I do find it difficult to swallow that, for some, it has.

Cycling facilities of inferior standars do pose dangers and they may indeed be a symptom of tepid ambitions for cycling in traffic planning.

However poor as it may be it still indicates an ambition to put emphasis on the presence of cyclists for motor traffic and for the society as a whole. This, at least, is a good start.

But I guess that only when that is done may ambitions for Copenhagen-style measures like traffic lights prioritising cyclists or dedicating whole car lanes to cycle traffic become feasible.

MarkA said...

Lots of stuff to think about here - I love how well informed and intelligent the level of debate on this blog is - makes a change from the usual '2 wheels good, 4 wheels bad' or 'cyclists are red-light jumping, non-tax-paying, soap-dodging pedestrian killers' nonsense that you so often get elsewhere online...

I think I agree with a lot here - TRULY segregated facilities (ie genuine cycle super highways) are a great thing - there are some that exist in London & they're a joy to ride, especially when they are busy and buzzing with bikes - I can see no reason why these are only a positive thing and wouldn't advocate cycling in the road alongside them when the option is there to use them. However, more often than not cycle lanes here are just painted lines in the road, often ill-thought out and ill-designed, not enforced in any way (so people drive or park all over them) and they're usually full of drains and pot holes or stop dead and chuck you into the traffic anyway when they reach a difficult bit (read: too expensive to alter, like traffic lights), in which case they're practically worthless or worse, more dangerous than cycling in the road proper - this is the point I have been trying to make. To bring all this back to the original blog and the petition - what Boris Johnson is proposing in London are 'wider' versions of these paint-on-the-road cycle lanes - not truly segregated paths (which, of course, cost lots lots more to build and design in). These facilities, done well, will of course, encourage more women cyclists (and children, and elderly and everyone in between) So.... yeah, I'll sign the petition because if they got these 'cycle superhighways' right Britain (or anywhere else) would be a GREAT place to cycle - all we need to do now is find the money..... hmmmm........ It's all well and good building bike paths, but they've got to be GOOD bike paths, this is exactly what the London Cycling Campaign is lobbying for right now before construction begins on London's cycle superhighway scheme next year... so I'll sign their petition too! It's here:

MarkA said...

OK, so our little discussion has been making waves on the blogosphere with people talking about it on Mike Rubbo's blog in Oz and further afield. I want to make the point that I'm not a lycra-clad head-down kind of cyclist, in case I've come across like that in the past. Anyway, David Hembrow's blog has summed up my feelings on cycle lanes and their potential vs present reality wonderfully on his blog, here:

Happy Fridays everyone!