Thursday, November 6, 2008

Boris Publishes Transport Paper

The London Mayor Boris Johnston has published what he calls a transport vision, which has some passing comments on cycling. Apart from an annoying pre-amble about aggressive cyclists on pavements, the main elements are:

• Launching a full-scale cycle hire scheme by 2010 in nine London boroughs
• Creating dedicated routes that give nervous cyclists the confidence they need
• A big increase in cycle stands and secure parking for cyclists
• Helping to create cycle hubs and hire schemes in the outer boroughs
• Considering the possibility of allowing cyclists to turn left on red

There are no details about the dedicated routes, although he does say, 'It is an utter disgrace that there is no decent cycle lane on the Victoria Embankment or on the north side of the Park – and I cannot understand the ban on cycling virtually everywhere in the Royal Parks.'

This vision document is a precursor to a strategy and consultation paper due next year with a final publication next winter. So there is a while to wait.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Does Boris Actually Care About Cycling?

Boris’ first three months as mayor are up and what do we have?

1. The proposal for a £25 congestion charge for Chelsea tractors is scrapped and £400,000 in legal fees are paid to Porsche.

2. Plans to transform Parliament Square into a pedestrianised piazza are shelved over concerns that it might cause more jams.

3. He is considering allowing motorbikes in bus lanes.

We are still waiting for details of the Velib bike hire scheme - and that is about it.

Boris says that he wants to treble cycling in London and create more secure bike parking, but he sees his role as coaxing action out of the boroughs. There is no sign that he is actually doing this. Sure TfL’s cycling budget of £55m will have an incremental effect in the boroughs, but where is the grand plan?

Do you remember the excitement over Ken’s proposal for 12 cycle motorways in London? That generated headlines all over the world. Of course it was headlining and showmanship, but it help create a mood.

Despite his flamboyance, maybe Boris doesn’t have the vision to be a natural leader.

- cycling numbers continue to rise, no doubt driven by the price of petrol;
- police, especially in the City, crack down on cyclists jumping red lights or mounting pavements while ignoring drivers using their mobiles and stopping in the Advance Stop boxes.

Is everyone getting the politics wrong? 25% of Londoners say they would cycle if it were safer, yet the politicians still treat cyclists as a fringe underclass. We are a big lobby, yet somehow we are not heard.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quirky Statistics from World Watch

Here are some quirky statistics from the World Watch website. The passenger density and the calories per mile are good.

Bicycles per 1,000 people:
United States 385
Germany 588
Netherlands 1,000

Percent of urban travel accounted for by cycling:
United States 1
Germany 12
Netherlands 28

Percent of adults that are obese
United States 30.6
Germany 12.9
Netherlands 10.0

Total spending on health as percent of GDP
United States 14.6
Germany 10.9
Netherlands 8.8

Persons per hour that one meter-width-equivalent right-of-way can carry, by mode:
Auto in mixed traffic 170
Bicycle 1,500
Bus in mixed traffic 2,700
Pedestrian 3,600
Suburban railway 4,000

Energy used per passenger-mile (calories):
Auto 1,860
Bus 920
Rail 885
Foot 100
Bicycle 35

Monday, March 3, 2008

Boris Backs Bikes (a bit)

Boris has launched his transport manifesto and has made some more commitments to cycling. In summary:

- a London cycle hire scheme
- 20 mph zones where appropriate (whatever that means)
- 10,000 cycle stands (with some options on secure cages)

That is about it. I can’t help feeling somewhat underwhelmed.

We’ve all read about Ken’s promise of 12 major cycle routes into London and £500 of investment. Despite the lack of detail and the lack of consultation with the boroughs, the scheme has attracted headlines from all over the world. I suspect it will generate momentum that will override the refuseniks in the boroughs.

There is little else for cyclists. There is nothing on Brian Paddick’s website but he is quoted in the press as promising “an extra £50m on cycle lanes for all Red Routes.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ken Pledges Dedicated Cycle Routes

The headlines are good – 12 bicycle motorways through London – but we’ll have to wait for the detail. Routes ‘around’ Croydon are all very well but the main pressure in London has to be for a West-East route across London and there is no mention of that yet.

I recently wrote to Sustrans asking about this and they replied, “But you're absolutely right, it would excellent to have high profile direct commuter routes on the main transport corridors with dedicated space for cyclists. Unfortunately, at the moment, this probably is a bit too ambitious though. It is extremely difficult to get TfL and the boroughs to reduce road capacity for cars. And one of the reasons that they cite is the current relatively low levels of cycling compared with other modes. This is obviously a frustrating chicken and egg situation.”

Edmund King, of the AA, is quoted as saying, "I think separating out cyclists can only be good for everyone.” No – we need to reduce provision for cars and have lower speed limits, not separate them all out.

Geoff Dossetter, from the Freight Transport Association, says, "The other concern we have had in the past is the behaviour of cyclists.” How about some cycle awareness training for lorry drivers?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cycling Ignored in London Mayoral Election Campaign

According to the Evening Standard a quarter of Londoners would cycle to work if the roads were safer. If that were true one would expect the candidates to include safe cycle routes in their manifestos. Sadly not.

There is only one line in Boris’ manifesto that refers to cycling. He writes, “Cycling must be made easier and safer.” Hurrah for that, but it seems a little short on detail.

Meanwhile I can’t find much from the LibDem’s Brian Paddick other than, “We need to encourage cycling in London and do whatever we can to make it safer.”

Ken’s website is similarly short on detail.

Even the London paper lacks commitment. The Evening Standard recently ran a poll on the “issues” for Londoners. The poll showed that transport, at 36% was the most important issue for Londoners but when it got into the detail cycling was lumped under “other”. So much for their commitment to Safer Cycling.

You might expect the London Cycling Campaign to be more ambitious. There is nothing wrong with their manifesto but it just seems so unambitious - 20mph speed limit, more training, more parking and more PR.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Newsnight: Shared Space: getting rid of traffic lights

Newsnight ran a report last night on improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians by getting rid of traffic lights and other street furniture. You can see it again - about 30 minutes in.

The campaign against lights is championed by Martin Cassini, and built on the shared space ideas of Hans Monderman, who died recently.

A case study is shown in the Swedish town of Skvallertorget. It probably only works because there are so few cars: pedestrians and cyclists take priority. Maybe it could work here in London with a more draconian congestion charge.