Showing posts with label london. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london. Show all posts

20 January 2014

The Ridiculous Sky Cycle by Norman Foster

Retro Design for Covered Cycle Tracks in Holland
Elevated cycle track network - Netherlands 1950s.

There's been a bit of chatter of late about a (not very) new idea for bicycle "infrastructure" in London. None other than architect Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, has dusted off a student's idea and launched it upon an unsuspecting world.


Rendering of the Sky Cycle

Now of course this isn't a good idea. This is classic Magpie Architecture. Attempting to attract people to big shiny things that dazzle but that have little functional value in the development of a city. Then again, Foster is a master of building big shiny things.

Ideas like these are city killers. Removing great numbers of citizens who could be cycling down city streets past shops and cafés on their way to work or school and placing them on a shelf, far away from everything else. All this in a city that is so far behind in reestablishing cycling as transport that it's embarrassing. With most of the population already whining about bicycles on streets, sticking them up in the air, out of the way, is hardly going to help returning bicycles to the urban fabric of the city.

With urban planning, now more than ever before, heading back to the future - back to when cities were life-sized places with rational and practical solutions for moving people around - ideas like these stand out like a sore thumb.

As Canadian author Chris Turner said on Twitter:

"You say that as if Foster and the starchitect league have ever attempted to understand how streets work in general."

Indeed.

Foster grew up on this street south of Manchester, back in an age when Manchester had around 20% modal share for bicycles. Instead of realising that modern urban planning is seeking to return our cities to their pre-car state, he insists on dishing up city-killing, Bladerunner fantasies. You would hope that Foster would seek back to his roots and embrace the kind of city he grew up in.


The first things that popped into my head upon hearing of this idea:

The Price
£220 million pounds for the first 6 km stretch from Stratford to Liverpool Street? Seriously? For that price any urban planning firm could propose a world-beating transport plan for London, the city could pay to implement it and there would still be change leftover for schools, social programmes or whatever else. What an obscene amount of money to spend on Magpie Architecture.

Bicycle Anthropology
I've read that the estimated average speed would be 24 km/h up there in the Sky. The average speed for Citizen Cyclists in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is 15 km/h. That's the speed that a few hundred thousand people sub-consciously settle upon whilst cycling through a city. There are those who go faster, sure, but understanding basic bicycle anthopology should be at the forefront of our thinking.

Bicycles belong at street level. Bicycle users are just pedestrians on wheels, not to be confused with motorised traffic. Creating safe, separated infrastructure on our streets is the way forward. Back to the future. Bicycles are the most effective and powerful tool we have for re-building our liveable cities.

The Sky Cycle seems to focus on the 1%. The spandexian demographic. It will never get built, of that we can be certain, but if play Foster's fantasy game, there would be a few bicycle users using it. But nowhere near the numbers that have been predicted.

The Sky Cycle idea also disregards another basic fact in city transport. Decades of experience in Denmark and the Netherlands has determined that the majority of bicycle users will cycle up to seven kilometres. The number of bicycle users drops dramatically in the 8-15 km zone. Indeed, under 10% of bicycle commuters entering the City of Copenhagen are coming from the 8-15 km zone. The Bicycle Superhighway project in Copenhagen, aimed at upgrading existing infrastructure in this zone in order to encourage more to cycle from this zone is a great idea, but they are only expecting an increase of about 10,000 cyclists when it's completed. A great number, to be sure, but unlike the Sky Cycle project that boasts of the 5.8 million Londoners living within 10 minutes of the Sky Cycle, they are realistic about numbers of potential bicycle users and their behaviour.

Oh, and in doing so they will spend between £45 million and £96 million. Not for a 6 km stretch, but for 28 routes through 20 municipalities of a total of 500 km in length that will span the entire network spanning the entire Greater Copenhagen region.

The Sky Cycle will be the greatest transport flop in history, simply because it fails to understand the importance of bicycle traffic in urban planning. Also because it's a stupid idea, but hey.

New Wine in Old Bottles
It's not a new idea. Look at the drawing at the very top. Stuff like this has been around for awhile. Has it ever been built? No. Rationality ended up winning the day. The California Cycleway in Pasadena, built in 1900, was a similar idea, one that provided an A to B route from Pasadena to Los Angeles, but even it only lasted a couple of years and ended up being sold for lumber.

The City of Calgary has had a pedestrian walkway system in their downtown core since 1970 called Plus 15. Another city-killing idea that strangles street life. I can recommend watching waydowntown, the urban planning mockumentary by Gary Burns, which is unflattering towards the Plus 15, to say the least.

Just Do What Other Cities are Doing
Funny how the rising stars of bicycle urbanism like Paris, New York, Chicago, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Dublin, Seville, etc etc, haven't bothered with lofty starchitect visions. They just rolled up their sleeves, dusted off their rationality and started tackling their urban problems with infrastructure and traffic calming measures.

While Foster and too many others are obsessed with commuting instead of bicycle culture, others cities are on the fast track to going back to the future. Using far less money and getting far better results much quicker.

Absolutely everything we need to reestablish the bicycle as transport and to modernise our cities into more liveable urban spaces has already been invented a century ago.

De 28 ruter på samlet set ca 500 km. rutenet, er vurderet til at koste mellem 413 mio. kr og 875 mio. kr - See more at: http://www.cykelsuperstier.dk/content/faq#sthash.yrYcuNX1.dpuf
De 28 ruter på samlet set ca 500 km. rutenet, er vurderet til at koste mellem 413 mio. kr og 875 mio. kr - See more at: http://www.cykelsuperstier.dk/content/faq#sthash.yrYcuNX1.dpuf
Unlike so many others dazzled by the fact that this idea has been pushed forward by Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, I refuse to be blinded. It's a ridiculous idea that shits all over the efforts of so many of my colleagues around the world who know better.

Remember, this, Norm... you're only as good as your latest idea.

09 January 2012

Congestion Charges Bring Life to Cities

Cycle Ballet
There is a constant flow of discussion at the moment about the proposed congestion charges in Copenhagen - one of the initiatives the current government had on their election platform.

Like in Stockholm and in London prior to implementation of their congestion charges, the debate is heated and often rather one-sided.
Copenhagenize is pleased to feature this guest article written by Natalie Mossin and Jane Sandberg. Jane is the CEO of The Danish Architects' Association and Natalie is the Chairman of the Board.

The Danish Architects' Association was founded in 1879 and works to promote the quality of planning and design of our physical environment and to improve and develop the conditions for the architect's profession.

We thought it appropriate to publish some rational thoughts about the congestion charges. Here it comes.


The City of the Future Requires Space for Life

Congestion charges are about what cities will be like in the future and which needs they will fulfill.

The congestion charges have been strongly criticised and they have been divisive. Just the name – 'betalingsring' – or 'pay ring' generate associations of the worst possible kind. Just for a moment let's look away from the debate's unilateral arguments about what we'll lose and instead look at what we will gain, if Transport Minister Henrik Dam Kristensen dares to formulate a visionary goal for the Copenhagen of the future and prioritise cheaper and better public transport.

Danish cities are old and they are certainly not built for our modern transport masses. There is a natural limit to how many motor vehicles that can drive through our existing urban areas. Merely adding more car lanes is not a viable solution. Therefore we need to develop the conditions for other transport forms.

The causality behind the congestion charges is simple: If it costs money to drive into Copenhagen, many people will leave the car at home and choose instead train, bus or bicycle. The result is fewer cars, lower pollution levels, more flow in the traffic and a better urban environment.

The desire for fewer cars on the roads is not a war on cars. It is a necessary regulation of the growing number of cars in the capital region so that the city's logistics – in the future as well – can work. If the congestion charges in Copenhagen are to improve the traffic environment in Copenhagen, a number of important steps must first be taken.

The first step is defining a vision for what kind of city we wish to have in 10, 20 and 50 years. We mustn't discuss congestion charges based on what Copenhagen is like today, but rather how we wish the city to be in the future, as well as which needs it must fulfill.

We're already seeing massive changes in many peoples working lives and everyday lives. It has become more flexible and less rooted to one location, in the way we have meetings on Skype and are online everywhere we go.

These new possibilities for movement and interaction place demands on the city's space, which no longer is merely a terminal for dropping off and picking up goods as well as transport. It is a centre for human meetings – a place for experiences and recreation with a lively street scene that also has room for the as yet undiscovered. This requires space.
Transport Integration
The next step is about public transport, which has to be better and cheaper in the capital at the very moment that the congestion charges come into effect. A large portion of the revenue from the congestion charges must be allocated to this.

The third step is about urban planning. In Stockholm they had a great deal of success with integrating revenue from their congestion charges with the national planning strategy. The local regions have therefore benefited from the revenue and have improved the general infrastructure. Why not do as the Swedes have done?

Improved accessibility on a national level could be a concrete place to start. Even though Denmark is ahead of the game regarding accessible cities, it remains difficult for many wheelchair users, elderly citizens and visual imparied to move around the streets.

Therefore, physical hindrances like lack of ramps on stairs, high curbstones, complex intersections and narrow sidewalks must be given serious thought so that the urban space can be more accessible for everyone.

There was a great deal of resistance when congestion charges were implemented in London and Stockholm. Since then, the negative perception has reversed. In 2006, 56% of Londoners were against the congestion charges. That has now fallen to 39%.

In Stockholm, only 40% were for the charges just before the pilot project was launched. The latest numbers, from 2010, show that 74% now support the congestion charges. If we are to follow in London's and Stockholm's footsteps, the Minister of Transport should take the necessary steps we have highlighted here. In addition, he should enage urban planners, architects and other stakeholders in a dialogue about the goals for the future of the city's life between houses and on the streets of Copenhagen.

It is also of utmost importance that he listens actively to the critics of the congestion charges. Not least the 15 mayors in the municipalities around Copenhagen, as they represent the citizens who will be affected by the new fees. Finally, it is important that we avoid an invisible ”city wall”. It shouldn't cost the farm to drive into Copenhagen.

There should be the possibility for differentiated payment. For example, using GPS technology that can be used with great precision in road pricing initiatives, as long as the cars have a chip that registers where they drive and sends the data to the tax authorities.

An alternative could be to divide the congestion charge between a number of zones in the city.

At the end of the end it is all about prioritising and daring to invest in the future so that Copenhagen, in the future as well, can be a city that inspires others, that is accessible to all, where there is a balance between transport forms and where there is space and life between the buildings.

If this doesn't happen, we will think back to the good old days when Copenhagen was voted the world's greenest city in 2009 and the world's most liveable city according to Monocle in 2008 and where urban planners from all over the world came to Copenhagen to study Copenhagenization and realise we dropped the ball.

Natalie and Jane's article was published in Politiken, the Danish newspaper last week. Here's the link to the Danish version.

12 January 2011

Attack from Mars - Humanity at Risk!

We are the Robots
Spotted this on in/camera's Flickr photostream. "Industrial robots from Audi's manufacturing line, used in an installation called Outrace by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram. Trafalgar Square, London."

Sure, it's an installation, but it's not exactly a barnstorming, humanising portrait of the automobile industry. Cars already suffer from a distinct lack of humanism and have bred societal segregation for decades. Now we see the monsterous robotic equipment that makes them fill up Trafalgar Square.

A momument to technology.

A threat to liveable cities and the people who inhabit them.

(Although it wouldn't be the same if the installation featured a couple of relaxed, soft-spoken guys at a table in the middle of the square, welding metal tubes together in a diamond shape, threading spokes and polishing a newly, constructed bicycle.)

30 December 2010

Modern Life

I'm in Calgary, Canada for Christmas so I haven't been updating of late.

How is everybody? Hope your holiday season was/is lovely.

I read something interesting the other day. Via Bill Bryson's book about Shakespeare I read about John Stow's mammoth work Survey of London.

In it he laments the development of modern life and how: "...the traffic in the city had grown impossible and that the young walked less than ever..."

The book was published in 1598.

:-)

17 November 2010

"Go Bicycle Before It's Too Late" Poster Exhibition in Copenhagen


This Friday, Sanitov Studios is opening their "Go Bicycle Before It's Too Late" exhibition here in Copenhagen, featuring artwork from a variety of artists and designers who designed posters based on a single theme. I have a poster in the exhibition, too.


Sanitov Studio and Sons of Studio are happy to invite you to attend the Sanitov Studios exhibition, “Go Bicycle Before It’s Too Late”. The exhibition will present art and design related to sustainable urban movement.

The subject of sustainable living has received much attention over the last couple of years, and rightly so. Unfortunately, the issue is often presented exclusively in quantitative terms, with quotas, percentages and pie charts taking centre stage. Sustainability, however, is an aesthetic issue just as much as a statistical issue. To demonstrate this, Sanitov Studio has invited artists from Copenhagen, Barcelona, Tokyo, Montreal and London to interpret two of the main components of modern living – the urban landscape and human movement – from an aesthetical perspective. The exhibition will exhibit the artists’ interpretations and the audience is invited to take home replica-posters.

Sanitov Studio is a think-tank developing theories and designs related to urban living and sustainability. It is currently developing design concepts for bicycles, accessories and houseboats, which can accommodate the needs of urban dwellers. The exhibition will provide the first sneak-peak of the Sanitov Cargo-cycle 1. 0, a modern bicycle developed from a traditional Chinese cargo bicycle. Sanitov Studio exclusively develops theories and artifacts, which contribute to improving our urban environment both aesthetically and in terms of performance. As such, a big part of Sanitov’s repertoire is centered around collaborations with artists, designers and theoreticians.


Here's Copenhagenize/Mikael Colville-Andersen's version of the poster.

What: Go Bicycle Before It’s Too Late
When: 19-21 November
Opening: 19.11.2010 at 5.30 PM.
Where: Sons of Studio, Kødboderne 14

15 October 2010

Bike Share Usage Comparisons

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 25_1DC SmartbikesParis Bike Culture - Vive la Vélib'Vienna City Bike Couple 2Dublin Cycle Chic - DublinbikesBarcelona Bicing CardGirocleta Girona 02
Paul Martin in Brisbane sent me an online toy this morning and I've been playing around with it. It's a live map of bike share system use in a variety of cities.

I decided to compare the levels of bike share use in 12 cities. Nine of them in Europe, as well as Melbourne, Montreal and Washington, DC.

I checked the levels of usage at 08:00 AM in all the European cities (I'm including London and Dublin under that label). The morning rush hour is beginning, people are heading to work. I checked the current weather conditions, too. It's late-autumn in Europe and morning temperatures are getting chillier.

So, here we go. At 08:00 in the morning local time on a Friday:


PARIS - VÉLIB [8 AM / 10°C / cloudy]
753 bikes in use
4.3% in use / Normal
753 is highest so far today

MILAN - BIKEMI [8 AM / 8°C / shallow fog]
110 bikes in use
9% in use / High
1142 is highest so far today

LONDON - BORIS BIKES [8 AM / 10°C / light drizzle]
404 bikes in use
9% in use / High
404 is highest so far today

BARCELONA - BICING [8 AM - 12°C / party cloudy]
847 bikes in use
17% in use / Extremely high
882 is highest so far today

DUBLIN - DUBLIN BIKES [8 AM / 6°C / party cloudy]
76 bikes in use
20% in use / Extremely high
78 is highest so far today

BRUSSELS - VILLO [8 AM / 9°C / mostly cloudy]
106 bikes in use
6% in use / Fairly high
106 is highest so far today

VIENNA - CITYBIKES [8 AM / 8°C / cloudy]
54 bikes in use
7% in use / Fairly high
72 is highest so far today

SEVILLE - SEVICI [8 AM / 15°C / fine]
265 bikes in use
13% in use / Very high
265 is highest so far today

VALENCIA - VALENBISI [8 AM / 16°C / mostly cloudy]
101 bikes in use
10% in use / High
175 is highest so far today

That brings us to the cities outside of Europe. In Melbourne when it's 08:00 CET, the time is 17:00. Rush hour going home on a Friday. Prime time for bike share system use. The weather is, coincedentally, very similar to many European cities. Drizzle in London, light rain in Melbourne.

There are comparable levels of bicycle-friendly infrastructure and a general perception of 'crazy drivers' in Melbourne and a number of the cities on the list, which makes an even better comparison. So how is their bike share system doing? Remember, Melbourne is the only city on the list that has an all-ages, mandatory helmet law (and one of the very few places that actually enforce it.)


MELBOURNE - BIKESHARE [5 PM / 8°C / light rain]
3 bikes in use
0.7% in use / Very low
7 is highest so far today

There is still little improvement in usage in Melbourne, despite enormous media coverage.

I checked out Washington, DC and Montreal as well. Please note that the time in these two cities was 02:30. Middle of the night. Was anybody using their bike share bicycles?


WASHINGTON - DC BIKES [2:30 AM / 11°C / cloudy]
7 bikes in use
1.2% in use / Low
38 is highest so far today

MONTREAL - BIXI [2:30 AM / 10°C / light rain]
20 bikes in use
0.5% in use / Extremely low
243 is highest so far today

Well... um... in the middle of the night in Washington and Montreal there are more bike share bicycles in use than in Melbourne.

Last year, Copenhagenize selected The World's Worst Bike Share Programme - Wheels4Wellness. It still may be the dubious winner of the title, but goodness me... Melbourne just may be gaining.

Just before publishing this, I had a look at the current levels at time of writing.

Dublin: 09:00 AM - 42% bikes in use!
London: 09:00 AM - 17% bikes in use!
Paris: 10:00 AM - 7% bikes in use - up 2.7% since an hour ago.

Check out the Oobrien.com website and see the current levels in all these cities and more.

28 September 2010

Meltdown

London Race
I picked up the new novel by Ben Elton - Meltdown - at the airport last week. Nothing to do with cycling, but there is a great passage that describes the culture of fear and lack of rationality inherent in modern society, not least in London.

"Monica [...] considered the genuine nightmare that awaited every driver who ventured on to the streets of London between the hours of seven and nine-thirty in the moring, as the usual heavy traffic of one of the world's busiest cities was supplemented by an extra half-million or so cars (often HUGE cars) each containing one one mum or nanny and one small child.

Now that both Jimmy and Monica appreciated the full horror of the school run, Jimmy couldn't help wondering why they didn't walk it. It was only a mile and a half and it would probably be quicker on foot. He had in fact suggested this idea to Monica but she had refused to even consider it.

'The streets just aren't safe', she insisted. 'What if Toby rain out into the road? He could be knocked down.'

'By a parent driving a child in a four-by-four?' Jimmy asked.

'Yes actually,' Monica replied angrily. 'Some of those mums drive like they're invading bloody Poland. It's incredible. I saw a cyclist go down last week. Horrible.'

'So we protect Toby from being knocked over by a frazzled, furious parent in a Range Rover by BEING that frazzled parent in a Range Rover?'

'Look, I don't care,' Monica said, the light of battle in her eyes. 'All I know is that if Toby's inside the Discovery, he is totally safe and if he's outside it he isn't. You can't argue with that equation, Jimmy! I'm sorry, but end of story. We may be poor but we're not going to let poverty kill our kids. He goes to school in a car. You don't compromise on safety. Ever.'

Monica, like every other parent in the same situation, presented this point of view with an almost evangelical zeal, her eyes ablaze with moral certitude, as if merely by conjuring up the word 'safety' she had trumped any and all other arguements.

'Monica!' Jimmy protested. 'That's the argument the police use when they close an entire motorway because somebody's having a piss on the hard shoulder. You have to quantify the risk!'

But Monica was not prepared to quantify the risk and so Jimmy joined the school run along with every other parent and nanny in London.

They screamed at taxi drivers. Taxi drivers and bus drivers screamed back. Tatooed and dreadlocked anarcho-cyclists banged bonnets. Leather-clad motorcycle dispatch riders chased leaping pedestrians through tiny gaps in the acreage of steaming, fuming metal. The very air throbbed with frustration and fury as Londoners young and old began their working day in the worst possible mood to do good business."

22 August 2010

Keep Posties Cycling - Bike Ride

Posten

On 27 August a group of cycling postmen and postwomen, politicians and cycling campaigners will deliver the letters to Royal Mail’s new Chief Executive Moya Greene. The event will create some media attention and hopefully lead to a reviewing of the Royal Mail’s arbitrary plan to phase out cycle delivery.

Keep Posties Cycling - Friday 27 August

A week today, CTC will deliver hundreds of protest letters to Royal Mail's new Chief Executive to demand she reconsiders the decision to phase out cycle delivery. Please send your letters in today (all you have to do is fill in our online form on www.ctc.org.uk/royalmail ). We will deliver the letters on Friday 27 August at 8.30am outside 100 Victoria Embankment EC4Y 0HQ. If you can join us, or if you own an old postal bike or old Royal Mail uniform, please get in touch (campaigns@ctc.org.uk). Act now or in the future all post will be delivered by van and over a century of history will be lost forever.
Postal Carriers
Spread the word - together we can Keep Posties Cycling! www.ctc.org.uk/royalmail

01 August 2010

London's Bike Share Programme








I've been in Melbourne to give a keynote at the brilliant State of Design Festival and then Abu Dhabi for some holiday and I regret the dry season on Copenhagenize.com. I arrived home a few hours ago and thought it appropriate to chuck a link up to a Guardian film and article about London's new bike share progamme, launched a couple of days ago. The Great Bike Hope for urban cycling in big cities, after the massive success of the Vélib in Paris.

The Guardian's Helen Pidd test drives the system in the film. Great insight into the bike share programme in the British capital. There's a bit of the typical whining about weight that is inherant in regions with too much focus on hobby cycling, but otherwise it's a great little film.


In other news, there is more Revenge of Car Industy with yet another car company continuing the regrettable tradition of promoting bicycle helmets. First there was the Volvo flop in the Netherlands and now FIAT is having a go. Yet another sign that the car industry feels threatened by bicycles and does all it can to brand cycling as more dangerous than it is.

While we're at it, here's an interesting article from The Herald about Melbourne's bike share programme flop. More on that, from my own POV, later.

18 March 2010

Copenhagen Mix - Links from around the world

Mix

International
My Bike Number is a free registration service where you print out a QR code and stick it on your bicycle. Link from An Affair With Fashion.

Sydney
The City That Hates Bikes. Link from Reuben.

And this article Safety Experts Urge Cyclists to Sit Up and Take Notice. Sydney will never be a bicycle-friendly city until it develops a ''second cycling culture'' which encourages relaxed European-style riding without the compulsory use of helmets, experts have warned.

London
Hackney, London is A Cycling Hell according to Crap Waltham Forest in this post called Crap Cycling and Walking in Hackney. Oft heralded as London's bicycling mecca, there's little bicycle infrastructure to speak of and that's a problem (surprise, surprise).

Australia
Green Lights for Bikes - Providing for bike riders at traffic signals. From Bicycle Victoria.

Bristol
The Bristol Bike Project is a short documentary about a bike recycling workshop on City Road in Bristol. If you know of anyone with an old or unwanted bicycle then you could consider contacting The Bike Project at www.thebristolbikeproject.org

London
What's Stopping Women From Cycling. Link from Mark at I Bike London.

Cambodia
Here's a BBC clip about the pedi-cabs in Phnom Penh. Link from Ed.

Portugal
A blogpost with cool photos about Scientists on Bikes.

San Francisco
Cycle Tracks - Smartphone app from San Francisco. Link from Greg.

Dublin
Contraflow lanes for cyclists being considered by council in Dublin, says Padhraig.

New York
Biking the Big Apple by James from The Urban Country.

Canada
Share the Road Green Paper in Canada. Link from Autumn.

First our Toronto bike sharing program comes under fire and now we learn that the police are "powerless" to enforce no parking in bike lanes. Link from Duncan.

12 March 2010

Copenhagen Blue Arrives in London

Copenhagen Signals
The trademark "Copenhagen Blue" ®/™ bicycle lanes that cross intersections - as above - have arrived in London, it appears.

As part of a test phase for the new 'bicycle highways'.

Not a particularly elegant paint job, but lovely all the same.

13 February 2010

Men of England Rise Up Against Reckless Motorists


This text was seen on posters circulated in London back in 1908. Quite visionary. Time for history to repeat itself? Time to reclaim our streets, not just for cyclists, but for all citizens?

As read in the book Death on the Streets - Cars and the mythology of road safety, as mentioned in the previous post.

14 January 2010

30 km/h Zones Work


As it turns out, I didn't get my christmas wish fulfilled. 30 km/h zone for motor vehicles in Copenhagen. Maybe the package is still in the post, but it isn't looking good here in mid-January.

Since wishing for 30 km/h zones - 20 km/h for school zones - there has been a bit of buzz about them. Barcelona is developing more 'Zones 30' based on positive results. A 27% reduction of accidents in one area of the city, for example.

Amsterdam has proposed a similar scheme, too and the Dutch Fietsersbond advocates them. The list of cities and towns lowering the speed limits is growing across Europe week by week.

In an inspired moment of excellent timing, The British Medical Journal published a paper about the effect of 20 mph traffic zones on road injuries in London. It was written by researchers at... The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine... which is strange, but hey.

Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006

Results: The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% (95% confidence interval 36.0% to 47.8%) reduction in road casualties, after adjustment for underlying time trends. The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries. There was no evidence of casualty migration to areas adjacent to 20 mph zones, where casualties also fellslightly by an average of 8.0% (4.4% to 11.5%).

Conclusions: 20 mph zones are effective measures for reducing road injuries and deaths.


Hang on... did they just say that we have an effective measure for reducing road injuries and death?! What are we waiting for then?

In this BBC article
, study leader Dr Chris Grundy, a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "This evidence supports the rationale for 20mph zones, not just in major cities in Britain, but also in similar metropolitan areas elsewhere.

"Indeed, even within London, there is a case for extending the currently limited provision of such zones to other high casualty roads.
"

He estimated that 20mph zones in London save 200 lives a year, but this could increase to 700 if plans to extend the zones were implemented.

Talk of 30 km/h zones is often associated with quiet residential areas, which is fine and logical. I'm looking forward to seeing them in place all over Copenhagen and Frederiksberg. These zones are most effective in densely populated urban centres.

We have a new city council here in Copenhagen, and a new Mayor in charge of the traffic department. Here's hoping that the bicycle/pedestrian visionary-ness of the past four years continues.


This graphic is from this article on SF Streetsblog shows how big a difference speed makes.


Even the Danish Road Safety Council, in their usual [and tiresome] 'try and scare the shit out of them' style which really is soooo last century, have previously tackled the speed issue with their "Take the edge off your speed" campaign. The caption reads "what's your pain threshold?"

[an odd campaign, by the way... who are they speaking to? Motorists or pedestrians? Isn't quite clear.]

Tom Vanderbilt has a write up about this 20 mph/30 km/h business on his always excellent 'How We Drive' blog here. He mentions a website called Twenty's Plenty. A group in the UK who are fighting for lower speed limits.

12 November 2009

93 Page Bicycle Manual for Police


Bicycle policemen.

"The Police Cycle Training Doctrine" is a 93 page instruction manual, produced by 'well-meaning officers' in the UK.

Basically, 93 pages - in two volumes! - about how to ride a bicycle. Needless to say, the British press are having a field day.

The Daily Mail's article is titled: Police officers get 93-page guide ... on how to ride a bike (and it cost thousands of pounds to produce) and The Guardian has its Police beat off criticism about 93-page manual on how to ride a bike article. The Sun is ... well... rather 'Sunnish' by writing, "The bonkers bike book for bobbies"

Taxpayers' Alliance campaign director Mark Wallace said: "This is an absurd waste of police time and thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money.

"Police officers are perfectly capable of riding a bike. It's no wonder we haven't enough on the beat if they are having to spend time and energy wading through this nonsense."

A Home Office source added: "Most of the red tape the police complain about is actually created by the cops themselves. This is a particularly bad example."


Giggle.

Thanks to readers Kevin and Padhraig for the tip.

04 November 2009

Oxford Circus


London unveiled a redesign of Oxford Circus recently. Diagonal pedestrian crossings modelled on the famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. Nice to see some focus on urban mobility in the British capital.

Whether or not pedestrians will be able to hire hiviz vests on each corner before crossing remains to be seen.

Nice photo, above. Although a bit odd that an initiative focusing on pedestrians shows busses roaring through the intersection.

Here's Shibuya Crossing:

03 November 2009

London Mayor Saves The Day on a Bicycle


Shame it's not an election year. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, [pictured] is credited with coming to the rescue of a woman being threatened by three youths. They were threatening her with an iron bar when Mr Johnson, who was passing by on his bicycle, rolled up scared them off.

According to The Guardian:

"The mayor of London was cycling through Camden, north London, on Monday night when he answered the cry of Franny Armstrong, a documentary maker and environmental activist who was surrounded by a group of hoodie-clad young girls.

Johnson stopped and chased the girls down the street, calling them "oiks". He then returned to walk Armstrong home. "He was my knight on a shining bicycle," she said today."


Brilliant.

Full article from The Guardian here. Thanks to Adrian for the link.

Bike Facilities and Infrastructure Important in UK

Cycle Chic Morning
According to an article in the London Evening Standard, estate agents are reporting that potential tenants and homebuyers are asking about local bicycle facilities such as parking and bicycle infrastructure.

Not a bad development.

Thanks to Adam at the CTC for the link.

20 October 2009

How Not to Promote Cycling in London


You really get the sense that the writer of this article in The Daily Mail hates cyclists and gleefully claps hands at a mind-bogglingly silly initiative like this one in Islington.

Oh goodness me.

Thanks to William for the link.

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.

04 September 2009

Dreams on Wheels Goes to London

London Cycle Chic 13
Hackney. Broadway Market. A day in July. London Cycle Chic, indeed.

Press Release from the Mayor of London
Tuesday 1 September

Dreams On Wheels rolls into City Hall

As part of London’s summer of cycling, an exhibition has been unveiled at City Hall exploring contemporary urban cycling culture in London and Copenhagen.

The exhibition Dreams on Wheels is organised by the GLA and the Embassy of Denmark, London, and is designed to share knowledge between the two cities where cycling is celebrated, and to encourage more people to try out two wheels.

The London incarnation, which will run from 1 September – 2 October, is part of the prologue to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year, and other versions have been shown around the world.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

There is more rain in Copenhagen than in London, yet cycling there has become part of the fabric of the city, whereas in London many are yet to join the cycling revolution.

London is now taking great strides towards becoming a true cycling city, with record investment going in to provide the infrastructure needed to make biking even safer, accessible, and more convenient. I hope that this exhibition encourages more people to get in the saddle and savour the city’s sights.

Ambassador of Denmark, Mr. Birger Riis-Jørgensen, said:

"The best way to get around London is on your bike, and I enjoy how the road users respect and consider each other in the traffic. Danes write poems about the wonders of cycling. It is great that Londoners and Danes can now jointly explore the joys and challenges of safe cycling. To the benefit of our planet and ourselves."

The latest figures show the number of Londoners who choose pedal over petrol is on the up – with cycling on the capital’s major roads rising nine per cent over the last year.

Transport for London is investing £111 million this year, providing funding for safety programmes, training, events, and landmark schemes such as cycle superhighways and a cycle hire scheme.

Notes
- Dreams On Wheels is curated by Etikstudio with photographic contributions from Mikael Colville-Andersen.