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Why don't we advocate Segregated cycle routes?

Discussion in 'Advocacy and Cycling Safety' started by chap, 14 Feb 2010.

  1. chap

    chap Senior Member

    London, GB
    Why are we not campaigning for more segregated cycling facilities?

    Unfortunately, there is more focus on 'shared' spaces, seemingly on the understanding that critical mass shall ensue, cyclist will adopt a Cyclecraft approach, and motor-vehicle drivers will be hunky-dory with that.

    The problem is that cycling is (probably correctly) perceived to be a dangerous activity by the general population. This is perhaps due to a lack of regard or consideration for anything other than the motor-vehicle.

    After all:

    • Roads offer the most direct routes to resources (e.g. Town centre, shopping centre, cinema, leisure park)
    • Flesh and Bone is no match for Steel
    • Poor infrastructure arrangements plague the country (e.g. fenced junctions)
    • Cyclists face many obstacles on the road, especially at junctions
    • HGVs are allowed into the city centre and several cyclists have died as the result of accidents at fenced junctions
    • Cycle lanes are in many cases ad-hoc car parks
    • Many cycle lanes are discontinuous, too narrow, in bad condition, and used by motorists nonetheless
    We could argue that it is a 'culture' issue, however by campaigning for workable, proven, and often segregated lanes, this will help us achieve anything approaching Critical Mass.

    To claim that this will reduce our standing on the road makes little sense, we already have little standing as road users - just read the commuting section! Advocating shared usage in a hostile environment is not likely to be scalable. However, with some decent effective infrastructure behind us, physically segregated paths, and workable shared space, we at least are then on the right path.

    It has been proven on the continent that segregated cycling works, one needn't look further than the Netherlands, Germany, and around even around Paris where car-free/limited plots have become more common and many bus lanes have been widened not as a ideal solution, but as a last-resort for narrower streets.

    Few disagree that cycling is a sustainable form of travel, that it improves ones health, and we as a country definitely need to become healthier; even politicians are getting in on the game. However, we still have lacklustre ill-thought 'solutions' where it seems that the only winners are the consultants and the local council who are let off the hook.

    Several non-cyclists (and actual cyclists) agree that they would prefer segregated and direct routes for cycling, therefore it comes across as incredibly arrogant that despite this demand, those that really ought to know better still advocate 'elitist' solutions like the route in the picture above.

    I know this debate has been touched upon many times, however given the incompleteness of many proposed solutions, perhaps pushing for segregated cycle lanes with proven safety features (e.g. at junctions) really ought to be where we are headed.


  2. marinyork

    marinyork Resting in suspended Animation

    Cost. Segregated runs in at huge gargantuan cost. At some point the segregated runs come into conflict with the same set of issues when they rejoin the roads/junctions and the cash runs out. I'd much rather the money was spent on the conflict points which cyclists will inevitably come to. I have no problem with money being spent on infrastructure such as short cuts, bridges, toucans whatever where the case can be made for use. So for example I have no problems that an eye watering £4m was spent on the millenium bridge in York because as any fule know who looks at a map, North Yorkshire has a dearth of bridges and you had many peds/cyclists wanting to get from one area to another fast. Similarly I have no problems over the multimillion budget earmarked towards the Tissington trail and others in the Peaks so the bloody things actually link up.

    The problem is every time one asks for segregated one has to budget in £90,000 for a brand spanking new toucan crossing, £20k for an existing set of traffic lights to be converted, resurfacing at a cost as high as £100,000 for a couple of hundred metres. For that kind of money I can open an entire route through a park which is an incredible gift to children and people learning to ride.
  3. dellzeqq

    dellzeqq pre-talced and mighty

    The Cable Street scheme cost £900,000. It's rubbish. The 'upgrade' of the Wandle Way cost £1.3M. It's rubbish.

    Nobody can afford it, and very few cyclists use them. For every cyclists that goes down the Wandle Way about 50 go down Garratt Lane. If you really want to follow the argument through consider this - £140M has been spent on LCN+. Even the LCC now recognises that this was money down the drain. Or, to put it another way - where did all the 'bomb-dodgers' go when they took to bikes - straight down the very roads that the DfT considers should have seperate provision - those roads with over 10,000 vehicle movements per day.

    Oh. Milton Keynes. 'Nuff said.
  4. PK99

    PK99 Guru

    Yebbut, the Wandle way is a leisure foot and cycle path, not an AtoB route (apart maybe from the Plough lane to wandsworth stretch), to compare it to Garret lane is flawed.
  5. OP

    chap Senior Member

    London, GB

    I see your point, athough these fiascos are the result of bad-judgement (presumably from people not listening nor acknowledging the actual issue.) The fact that they still exists, means that they can still be implemented.

    If these segregated paths were to be placed along the busy routes you mention, in such a manner that they enhance the journey for cyclists, then surely they would be welcomed and used then.

    Likewise, with these Cycle super highways, which appear to be the same ill-thought out cycle lanes (minimal clearance, discontinuous, etc) but in blue. If proper facilities were put for cyclists, then surely that would benefit the route.

    Agreed not every place can be physically segregated, however many suburban to central routes really could, many parts of the city center could also benefit from such measures, even if they be short-cuts through parks. In those places where space is too tight, perhaps widening bus lanes, creating one-way streets (2 for cyclists), and affording general traffic-calming measures would be as good as, if not better than segregated cycling.

    A lot of these things cost money, however they are ultimately an investment if done right. Had the proposed schemes you identified been properly thought out, then surely there would be more impetus and support to roll this out.
  6. dellzeqq

    dellzeqq pre-talced and mighty

    that's what it is - but it's not what it was sold as. And I say this having been on the TfL Greenways Committee at the time.
  7. dellzeqq

    dellzeqq pre-talced and mighty

    Chap - the LCN+ cost one hundred and forty million pounds!!!!! How much more support and impetus do you want?

    The current thinking is that 20mph zones and home zones will increase the competitive advantage of cyclists, and, in reducing ratruns for cars, make back streets safer. There's a good deal of sense in this - but, again, ask yourself where cyclists are. Where did the 'bombdodgers' who were in mortal fear of their lives go? Answer - straight down the main radial roads.
  8. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    City cycling is already established and the traffic flow is slow enough that cyclists can mingle with relative safety. Sheer volume of, everything, causes some problems, motorcycles in bus lanes some other issues and the ever present left turning lorries. But there just isn't the space or the will to create the sort of cycling infrastructure that some dream of. The other aspect is that city motorised traffic makes the environment extremely unpleasant for all. I'm always amused by those that argue for the right to drive anywhere yet make all sorts of sacrifices to distance their living from main roads.

    Whereas out of town could do with some attention, proper 'on road' lanes added to major linkage roads. One of the reasons the night rides are so nice is that you actually get to cycle a significant distance without suffering high speed close passes. I was on the daytime Southend ride and it was nowhere near as pleasant as the night one. At least out of town there is enough space to add in cycle lanes. When I cycle up to London some of the stretches of the A30 have great cycle lanes. But I also do a lot of cycling on roads that are only really suited for small cars, despite being 'main' roads. Throw in larger cars, lorries and much higher speeds and it can all get a bit hairy. Anyone daring to venture onto these roads, cyclist/pedestrian/jogger, really needs to have their wits about them, especially when there are no pavements.

    I sometimes wonder if they could convert the whole road network to one way systems for motorised vehicles. Then line each side of the roads with lanes for non motorised use, obviously two way. Maybe a bit of a logistical problem but the drivers would soon find their way round their new routes:biggrin:
  9. OP

    chap Senior Member

    London, GB
    The LCN+ is something I will have to admit to being rather ignorant about, although from my understanding the LCN (is this the same?) does not seem to have delivered many well planed segregated paths (physically, or painted.) My understanding is that the picture in my Opening Post was an LCN route.

    Normally, if something is done half-heartedly, then it is best not done at all. I am in favour of home-zones and one-way (2-way for bike) solutions. This is a great start, however for longer journeys (primarily to the CBD) there needs to be proper facilities.

    Poor management is not an excuse, if any solution is undertaken in this manner then it shall fail.

    The 'bomb-dodgers' were simply citizens (understandably spooked by Britains first suicide bombing) who decided to commute using a perceptibly safer means. It is not impossible to cycle through London at the moment, in fact it is quite pleasant in many parts, but the general perception is that it is unsafe, and this is because of many easily avoidable and redeemable features such as complex junctions, railings along side the road at turns, and an abundance of ill-suited fast roads.

    By segregated cycling, we can have a connected network of paths where it counts whether they be physically separated lanes, wide cycle lanes, or widened bus lanes. All these things would facilitate cycle journeys, so long as they were:

    • Connected - no 10m cycle paths
    • Direct - will take one where they want to go without meandering
    • Safe - wide enough, and not leading to dangerous junctions, treated as double-yellow lines
    • Good quality / Maintained - Cleaned, and come winter they need gritting
    Then again, you know what I hope for, I would be interested to learn what you would judge the best solution (not as an offensive, merely to learn.)
  10. Mister Paul

    Mister Paul Legendary Member

    There isn't room.

    If there was, and it was built, and we still had the choice of whether to use the road or the cycle facility, that would be fantastic.
  11. jonesy

    jonesy Legendary Member

    Chap, these are all characteristics of a good cycle route, and very similar to the core principles set out in all the guidance on cycle friendly infrastructure. I commend Cycling England's summary and checklist here if you haven't already seen it:

    But what you need to consider is how practicable is it to install segregated infrastructure that meets these requirements in the majority of built up areas? Where is the space? How are junctions and crossings of the road network to be treated? And what's the cost? While there are some very nice traffic free routes on the NCN it has to be remembered that, despite Beeching's best efforts, there are only so many disused railways waiting to be converted, only so many tow paths, and only a few parks across which nice short cuts can be built. One of the concerns I have about the NCN is that too much emphasis is put on the relatively small part of the network that is truly traffic free, when this is not representative of the network as a whole, let alone the sort of infrastructure that can realistically be provided in most areas.

    Furthermore, even where suitable corridors for high quality off-road routes are available, they are not necessarily in the right place or direction to meet the directness criterion, which is fundamentally important if cycling is to be advantageous over driving. Journey time is a very important factor in travel choices. Cycling is generally used for relatively short journeys in places where it is time competitive with driving. There are of course lots of other factors that affect modal choice, but you simply aren't going to get a high modal share for cycling to work for journeys where it takes twice as long as driving. So even where there are lots of cycle paths, like Milton Keynes and Bracknell, the car based nature of development, the extensive road network and indirect nature of the cycle network mean that cycling is not time competitive with driving for most journeys. Conversely, as soon as conditions like congestion and lack of parking make cycling advantageous in comparison with driving, as has historically been the case in Oxford and Cambridge, and is becoming so in London, then people will cycle in large numbers without requiring a separate network. So I'm perfectly happy to have segregated routes provided where they provide advantage and if they are built to a good standard, but for most of the road network, and most journeys people are likely to make by bicycle, we have to find ways of providing direct, continuous, safer routes as part of the road network.
  12. marinyork

    marinyork Resting in suspended Animation

    Chap. I did some cycling in London recently and the place is remarkably easy to navigate compared to many other cities. I think you're worrying a bit too much, it's not the least surprising that newbies use these simplistic corridors, nor can I see much wrong with it. Looking at maps there are some horrendously nasty junctions but many of these are few and far between relative to other cities.

    Newbies will be intimidated but just imagine what £140m could do in terms of cycle training, secure cycle parking, sorting out conflict areas, few short cuts, free bike maintenance courses, lessons for adults, subsidised bicycles, whatever...
  13. shouldbeinbed

    shouldbeinbed Rollin' along

    Manchester way
    Agree with the above posts. Generally London is far more pro cycling than the other major urban conurbations.

    My local commuting from a satellite town of Manchester to an unremarkable suburb of it is by necessity going to be road based. Despite the fact I work close to the Fallowfield loop, I live way off it so it's not much use to me for my commute, also I'm commuting early in the morning and late in the evening, I want directness and in reality there simply isn't the space, money, political will or cyclist numbers wanting to get from my A to B to make it happen.

    Round the north side of Manchester many roads are in a poor state and have traffic calming on even the most inappropriate and unnecessary stretches at antagonistically frequent intervals and what cycling provision there is is often pretty useless.

    The thinking on cycle lanes has been muddled, even with consultation with cyclists, the political will is for speed bumps and pinch points, if there was spare money for transport improvements and it didn't go on making the roads even just adequate, there would be a massive outcry from the motor brigade that makes up the vast vast majority of transport use (and votes). I suspect many cyclists too would rather have an all round improvement in the multi modal roads than money poured into some segregated bike only provision that may or may not be nearby and of any use to them.

    Chap your ideas are great in principle, perfect blueprints in a perfect world of unlimited space & money and fine for the leisure cyclist happy to ride with no destination or purpose other than the joy of the ride, but in the real world of people cycling to and from specific destinations for a specific purpose; especially outside of bike friendly towns and cities including London; there's more holes in them than a string vest.
  14. Origamist

    Origamist Guru

    Unlike some, I can see that some towns and cities can be connected by segregated facilities (retro-fitting) but most will need onroad facilites as well, creating a patchwork of the two. However, it would need a radical overhaul of transport and land use policy, anti-car measures, a sizeable pot of money, and most importantly, the political will to make it happen. Can you imagine the outcry if off-street parking was heavily restricted, widespread congestion charging came into effect, car-free days were implemented and carriageways were narrowed in order to build segregated paths – most politicians would view such a policies as electoral suicide. Segregated paths will work in some areas but there would have to be a host of attendant measures in order to entice people away from their cars.
  15. MacB

    MacB Lover of things that come in 3's

    Land mines?