So, you want cycle infrastructure based on the Dutch model and Philip Hammond thrown on the fire behind me.....

Firstly, yet again a very big thank you for all the messages, debate and this wonderful blog post from Mark at IBikeLondon.

This is where we’re at so far as you deserve to be kept up to date;

Website & Forum: Under construction and the domain will be www.cycling-embassy.org.uk . This is obviously taking time (although to be fair, it was only set up on the weekend) as it is being hosted and created for free, but the best things come to those who wait. There are things that need to be sorted out such as editing capability and admin rights etc so it’s best to get it sorted out from the beginning. Anthony Cartmell, the creator is a cyclist through and through and his websites are as reliable and stable as the Batavus he rides. To assist, I may be learning Drupal as well as conversational Danish & Dutch.

So far I believe the website should comprise the following:

Mission Statement with key strategies/actions

A Forum

Document Library of Design Standards by Country

Map where people may report bad infrastructure (if we can find a server big enough) and also good infrastructure. There should be a facility that allows one to write why it works or doesn’t work.

Cycling Newsfeed

Suggestions always welcome

What you can do to help:

Whilst this is taking place, I’m collating design standards from the UK and other countries to put into a document library. If you can think of any links, data and info that you feel should be included, please let me know. This includes any urban planning and masterplanning documents or guidance that architects, engineers and designers out there might think are pertinent. Also, thanks to Freewheeler on Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest for this link to a very interesting document indeed.

What I especially want from you however is the following. Imagine you are sat on Santa’s lap – it could be Chris Hoy or Victoria Pendleton dressed in a Santa outfit. I don’t mind, whatever works for you – and you are asked what your wish would be for this new cycling campaign to achieve, what would it be? Basically, I’m developing a wish list and I need wishes. Wish away.

Onwards and upwards. In the meantime, enjoy your cycling and look out for the following:

Expert motorists who only need to clear the frost and ice from their side of the windscreen and nowhere else on their car (presumably so noone can see them operate a mobile phone).

Expert motorists who can drive well and truly under the influence of Christmas Cheer. Especially now the funding has been cut for awareness adverts.

Manhole covers. As my back wheel informed me twice this morning, they are very slippy.

20 thoughts on “Update”

  1. Great work so far. It will be good to see where this goes.

    (Drupal – groan. Opaque and frustrating every time I’ve tried it, so good luck to you).

    1. I’d be lying if I said that that wasn’t a direct inspiration for what’s [hopefully] about to happen.

  2. I have the Greater Bristol Cycling City Stakeholder Advisory Panel’s Cycling Strategy 2011-2026. An attempt to keep the momentum going in Greater Bristol after the Cycling City project money runs out in March 2011.

    It is a 12Mb pdf though. Let me know how best to get this to you.

  3. Very exciting stuff all this Jim 😀

    There are so many tools available to us now, unlike at any other time in cycling’s past, that I’m sure this idea can go somewhere fast!. At least I hope so, else we are just going to carry on going backwards.

    There’s massive pent up segregationalism out there and 99.9% of them don’t even know it. Just like I didn’t know it until I found blogging and Hembrowland.

  4. For the wish list, I’d ask for a set of enforcible standards for cycling infrastructure at a national level such that the Highways Department could be taken to court to rectify future work that wasn’t up to scratch.

    And this would cost very little to implement, even if it slowed things down because authorities are reluctant to do things properly. We don’t need anymore candidates for Facility of the Month, they’ve failed just as much as advocation of VC.

    Maybe I lack ambition, but I don’t belive in Santa. 🙂

  5. Dear Father Christmas
    I would like a retro front bicycle light that gives other road users some sense of my size as well as being bright but energy efficient. My LED lights are fab, but were I anywhere other than on Uxbridge Road I could be mistaken for a pair of determined but asthmatic fireflies.
    That’s the easy bit.

    I would like advocates from bike-friendly cities to be brought in as consultants, to put together a watertight portfolio of examples of “build it and they will come”. Mia Birk, Mikael Colville-Andersen, the Chicago planners who gave Lakeshore Drive to the non-motorised, those sort of people.

    I would also really like it if someone in charge of transport could take lessons in interdisciplinary economics / futures forecasting, so they can begin to realise for themselves the true cost of putting in and maintaining decent cycling facilities.
    If it costs £3m per mile of A road / motorway, but about 10% of that to install a mile of decent cycleway, with maintenance costs at an even lower percentage in comparison, why would you not build the cycle structures and plow some of the savings into promoting the bike in urban areas?
    When you then add on the savings to be made from promoting cycling over use of the car in urban settings in the fields of health, environmental damage and landmark restoration, it makes even more sense.
    (Preaching to the converted, I know, but if we spell stuff like this out in simple words, maybe Philip Hammond would understand)

    In the short term, I would like to see the 20mph limit *enforced* in built-up and central urban areas – I live in an area with several schools which is meant to be entirely 20mph, but I doubt more than 1 in 15 drivers obeys the limit; it would be an increase in average speed for central London.

    I would also like to see improved facilities on the rail network – both local and national. It varies massively from franchise to franchise, and even service to service (and let’s not mention the lack of cycle parking). Space for “up to four bikes” on a service that goes from London to beyond Glasgow is not enough – I’d love to take mine on adventures around the country, but it takes the kind of planning that puts me off, and casual cyclists won’t do it either.

    1. You’ve just spelled out the reasons behind the Embassy; to promote what is happening Worldwide in terms of infrastructure design, to point out that some areas are achieving modal shares that we can only dream of in the UK [if we keep campaigning in the same way we have for decades], and to question why rail companies seem to think that they can put crappy cycle parking outside a station to distract from their dreadful Cycle Policies and then give themselves a slap on the back at the National Cycle Rail Awards. With the help of volunteers to begin with, we have to hold the olive branch to organisations such as the Cycling Embassy of Denmark and Fietsberaad who are practically ignored by campaign organisations over here which is insane.

  6. Top of my wishlist would like Tali, be for the campaign to adopt a ‘Standard’ for public highway design – as you have suggested, something above and beyond the ‘Hierarchy of Provision’. From the perspective of a local cycle forum, it would be useful to be able to respond when hearing of impending road ‘improvements’, to have something to put on the table that is uniform with what is being asked for elsewhere in the UK, and for us to ask to be adopted and paid for by Section 106 funds in the case of new developments.

    Next down would be building on what Sam has just said about 20mph zones. I live in one that has a rat-run passing through the middle. Here I would put as part of the big plan, to encourage councils to eradicate rat runs, rather than aimlessly try & accommodate them.

    Third? Car parking. On road or on pavement. It’s a disease. Pavement parking is universally acceptable as far as I can see, and it will be just as acceptable to park on a segregated cycle path should it not be tackled. A curb is no deterrent to a 4×4!

    Luck with running the internet forum – don’t envy you there one bit & having one is the only bit of your plan I’m not so keen on ;>D

  7. I’m not quite sure that “Embassy” is what the UK cycling needs. I can see why Copenhagen has earned the right to have a Cycling Embassy – the city is a world leader in sustainable transport and has a lot to to share with the rest of the world. Who, precisely, would want to learn from cycling policy in the UK? Unless we’re talking about an Academy of Worst Practice to show everyone how not to do it.

    Semantics aside, and well meaning though it is, there’s little chance that another website, a mission statement, online forum and a digital library is anything more than a ‘make work’ project for hyperactive bloggers.

    Certainly, the CTC and the LCC haven’t got it all right, but they are there, they are established, they have expertise, resources, profile and reach. They are staffed by good people (who understand the difficult issues such as the vehicular/segregation debate). Moreover, they have tens of thousands of paid up members just like you and me. Why not join them and change from the inside, rather than taking away your toys to play in the ephemeral world of websites?

    1. They may be established with expertise but they are membership organisations led by vehicular cyclists who simply won’t acknowledge the kinds of modal shift experienced in other countries. Their hands are completely tied by entrenched views and the Charitable Status debate plus they don’t want to rock the boat. I know CTC is run and staffed by good people as I was one of them. But we have been down this route time and time and time again and I’m not prepared to chase my tail for the rest of my days.

      I also don’t like the implication that this is just for ‘overactive bloggers’ playing in the ephemeral World of websites. CTC started form humble origins and we are too. Had they had web tools available to them, they’d have used them.

      If we fail, then fine. But it will be on our terms and not a cycle campaigning estabishment that has taken decades to get to a 3% modal share.

      All the best

  8. Best of luck with this. The issue, though, is not a lack of reference material or technical know-how available, although working experience of quality cycling implementation in the UK could be more widespread. The issue is a political one, not a technical one. Whatever the UK cycling embassy turns out to be, in my humble opinion it first and foremost needs to have a sophisticated campaign strategy. It probably needs to be less about an organisation in itself but rather a coalition of like-minded organisations (cycling and non-cycling), although this has been acknowledged. Unless the campaign strategy is right, I see no reason why this initiative will face exactly the same issues that CTC, LCC, or any other cycle campaign group throughout the UK has faced.

    The ‘Hierarchy of Provision’ may well have been formulated with a strong ‘vehicular cycling’ perspective but the big reason why it is “too open to abuse or compromise by practitioners that know little about the requirements of cycling” is because highway authorities are unlikely to fulfil the aspirations expressed here and elsewhere regarding cycle infrastructure. Why? Not because the aspirations of cycle campaign groups may not match those who support this initiative (although despite the arguments I think they do in the long-term). But because highway authorities will be governed by wider influences and interests, which I don’t need to spell out to anyone here. When the UK cycling embassy comes up against council officers, councillors, and residents, and faces the same issues of compromise that has faced everyone else, what will it do that will be different? If you crack that, you’ll have done it, and I for one will applaud you. Good luck.
    (P.S. If I can offer anything helpful, I will.)

  9. I humbly offer my tuppenyworth:

    I have to say that I tend to (that’s in tend to, not entirely) agree with Jack Thurston and absolutely agree with Philip Loy (whom I have kbown for years).

    However, I am going to do the impossible and suggest a way in which a segregationsist project (and I tend NOT to agree with segregationism) could go forward – what a friendly guy I am!

    This is how: in London funding is now organsied into “Neighbourhoods and Corridors” in the Local Implementation Plan. Find out your London Borough’s list of these and, when consultation goes out on each one, submit your soultion with segregated cycle facilities. You can also advise the Council through one of the partnership bodies to select corridors where you would particularly like to see segregated cycle facilities. You might have to work ina formally recognised body – but you can set up one yourself if you don’t want to be in the LCC or CTC.

    That’s a way in which you could actually get some of what segregationists want. There is no other way in the foreseeable future. Then we could see how they work.

    That’s my suggestion.

    1. Why the hell are we talking about LIP? Who the hell cares.

      I haven’t read the mission statement in full yet, but….

      An Embassy sounds like a national/international level organisation, lobbying at the highest political level. Not porochial, local, tangled up in LIP territory. Leave that to LCC and CTC – they love that stuff – and are very good at it.

      If LCC and CTC had 30 seconds with David Cameron, what would they say? It’s a genuine question.

      Regardless of the political environment we find ourselves, lets not get bogged down in local political entanglement – it is, frankly, way too complicated. Leave that stuff to 3 brains Loy, or 6 brains Geffen, or 20 brains Davis. What I want is an organisation that takes the long view; 30,o00 foot view; family friendly view; that looks openly at other countries that have achieved major cycling success, countries that have achieved comfortable and enjoyable urban lifestyles – then lets advocate we do the same here. For God sake, lets not worry about local government politics – we have at least 2 organisations that do nothing but worry about that. The gap in the market is at the National level. Cycling England had its problems, but it has left a vacuum at the National level. That hole needs filling. The challenge will be to bring LCC and CTC into the fold at a National level. That, my friends, will be challenge enough.

  10. A scientific, peer-reviewed study which shows the benefits of 20mph, not to cyclists and pedestrians but to motorists. Like the variable speed limits on the M25 which actually increase average speeds.

    It might as well also throw in the other stuff like reduced congestion, less pollution (so much wasted energy in accelerate-brake-accelerate-brake). Oh, and reduced risk to vulnerable road users, as an afterthought!

    Someone might even take it seriously if it shows the benefit to the petrol-head!

  11. Segregated infrastructure is a must, especially if it also has the bonus of taking space away from motorised traffic. Even the least crap segregated cycling facilities in the UK always require the cyclist to give way at every side road, this is something to be avoided at all costs. Realistically, the main roads are where the attention should be directed at first, side roads can be improved with blanket 20 mph zones and enforcement via average speed cameras.

    A mandatory cycling component to the driving test and a strict liability law for motorists may help reign in some of their worst excesses, if coupled with Police and CPS enforcement. Motorist behaviour may also be modified in the long term by campaigning for some sort of bicycle related training to become compulsory in schools (today’s children are tomorrow’s motorists if we’re not careful) and increasing the minimum driving age to around 25. I suggest this not because I believe young people are worse drivers (honestly, the worst drivers I see when I am on my bike are usually in their 40s), but because young people are often more adaptable, policies which discriminate against them are politically easier because of their poor turnout at the polls and mainly because if you had to spend the first 7 years of your adult life without being able to drive you will become accustomed to living without the car-disease.

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