The barriers have gone up along a section of Worthing seafront. Splash Point is being redeveloped to a design by Craft:Pegg Landscape Architects. It could have been a bone of contention for cyclists and pedestrians as it links the point where the Brighton – Worthing stretch of National Cycle Route 2 meets the promenade where the Borough Council recently voted to reinstate cycling.
However, the scheme that’s going ahead has a greater chance of succeeding than most for a simple reason.
The Landscape Architects directly consulted cyclists!
If that doesn’t make you reach for a paper bag to ease the hyperventilating then read on…
They listened and adjusted their design accordingly!
Craft:Pegg gave a presentation at a Worthing Cycle Forum (which is open to the cycling public) which was impressive enough and then they listened, in particular to the fact that a marked narrow cycle path would be undesirable as it would encourage people to cycle more quickly thereby increasing the scope for conflict.
I think one of the representatives said she was from Denmark, she cycled extensively around London where she now lives and works and wanted to make this scheme work for cyclists. I think it was that level of excitement that triggered my nosebleed.
This was of course just part of a range of consultation exercises being carried out but it just goes to show what happens when a bit of effort is made. In this instance, the end users feel as though they are part of the process, we learn what the designers aims and ambitions are and the designers pick up advice for free to guide their design. In this case [and in my humble opinion] it was already a great design that we merely helped make more robust.
Which begs the question as to why County Councils seem incapable in actively engaging cyclists in the same way, leading to this, or this, or this or all these. They do try in all fairness but there has to be a more clearly defined consultation route so cycling facilities can have proper input from cyclists as well as others that may come into contact with a piece of infrastructure such as pedestrian and disability groups.
A lot of architects I know are cyclists, and it shows. Highways Departments aren’t cyclists, and it shows, often dangerously.
5 thoughts on “Consultation”
Great result, shows how you need to be at the table. Decisions are made by those who show up. My only sadness is that if only some of the negative posting by many bloggers and those on forums was channeled towards the sort of work you’re doing, imagine the change we could have.
Thanks for the kind words.
I can’t claim to take much credit for any of this. It comes down to political will amongst local councillors and a core of cyclists that are willing to put in the voluntary time to promote the cause of cycling, be it with a Sustrans, CTC, 20’s Plenty or any other hat on.
We certainly need to get all agencies connected with cycling talking, particularly as funding is being devolved to the regions. In Worthing, I re-activated a campaign group, calling it Worthing Revolutions and with the help of a very strong team of volunteers, set up a quarterly cycle forum so councillors (and the County Cycling Officer) could meet the cycling public. Worthing Revolutions meets informally every month so people can chat about cycling and it acts as a steering group for the Forum, which is held in the Town Hall (again, thanks to Local Councillors).
We feel its better just to get everyone talking about cycling even if they’re not cyclists yet. 🙂
I find it incredible that cyclists were consulted, well I suppose there has to be a first time for everything.
In Byfleet, Surrey I was asked for my opinion concerning a forthcoming cycle facility by our local cycling group. I replied that I didn’t cycle there often, so my opinion wouldn’t be of much use. But I added, that it was nice that the council were consulting cyclists. I was told, no, the council weren’t consulting cyclists, they had already decided that they were going to install this facility anyway.
Looking at other cycle facilities in the locality, that rings very true. It’s crap & inappropriate cycling facilities as usual. No thought of what cyclists might actually use these facilities for, let alone integrated into a useful, safe transport network.
For example the most impressive local cycle facility is this:
You will see a broad road with 650 metres of off-road cycle paths on each side.
Where does it go? It passes the local sports centre, and endas at the river Thames and its towpath. There is also a football club and pub further down the road, but you’ll have to cycle on the road to get there.
Is the road busy? No, there’s no through traffic, it’s a cul-de-sac.
Is it useful? I hardly ever see any cyclists here at all, never more than two or three.
I wonder how much this incredible folly cost!
More typical is this:
This example is close to Hampton Court, which lies just over the river, beyond the bridge, seen between the trees. You will note that the on-road cycle path is very narrow, certainly no wider than handlebar width. Added to that, is the frequently overhanging vegetation, which adds a hazard of its own and reduces the usable width by around 50%. This road is of course far, far busier than my previous example. The logic apparently being, cyclists on busy roads get less space. Huh?
Thanks for the comment.
Please note that in the instance I was writing about we were consulted by Landscape Architects that had some interest in cycling and so really was a one off. As far as Council Highways Departments are concerned, your experiences are the same as mine and anyone else’s for that matter. When I sat on the Surrey Cycle Forum, we protested about a cycle path that was to put on an uneven pavement alongside Meadrow (a stretch of the A3100 between Godalming and Guildford) which was a perfectly wide stretch of road, perfect for a decent piece of Dutch style segregated infrastructure. The Council Engineer stated that he wanted cyclists off the road so he could feel safer about his daughter cycling. I informed him that if he stopped driving everywhere in his executive coupe like a wanker, she might have a better chance. He didn’t reply.
It is the sheer contempt that amazes me and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency because the installation of dangerous rubbish is not abating. Cyclists views are ignored and abused. When infrastructure is provided and people choose not to use it, they are subject to abuse from expert motorists who think they should be on the slalom course of a ‘cycle network’.
This has to stop. Cycle facilities are being designed by people who don’t cycle with the express intention of clearing cyclists off the road and for no other reason – certainly not to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.