Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cycle hire stats: More "cyclists" than "motorists" who live in the City of London

A total of 1,000 City residents have already signed up for the Boris bike / cycle hire scheme.I know this because I was kindly allowed a glimpse at some data from TfL. 


That's a whopping percentage, considering there are only 9,300 residents in the City of London. According to this document here, approximately 1,000 of those residents are aged between 0 - 17. Given that the scheme isn't available to people under the age of 14, let's assume that the total population of the City that is eligible to use the humble Boris bike is around 8,500 people. So, one in eight and a bit people who lives in the City of London has taken up the cycle hire scheme. That's a stonking large percentage in such a short amount of time. 

To put that in context, if you look at the 2001 census results here, only 1,400 households in the City own one car. And 230 households own two or more cars. 

I think it wouldn't be too fantastical to assume that maybe a further 500 people who live in the City also own bicycles. So let's say 1,500 people who live in the City of London are therefore classifiable as "cyclists". Well, I think that's giving the people who live in the City of London and are classified as "motor-owning households" by the census a bit of a run for their money. 

The question is, then, why is the City still such a motor-centric place? Could it be anything to do with the fact that motor vehicles are simply bigger, noisier, pushier and take up more space on the road? Or could it be because City politicians think bicycles and motor vehicles should fight it out for space on the road? Our City politicians, even those that are not averse to cycling, still think that competition for road space can be conveniently fought over, day by day, by people on their bicycles, literally battling for space on the road against motor vehicles. See here for evidence of that thinking. In Paris, their politicians are pretty clear about who should win the competition for road space. They want to prioritise the bicycle, as you can see here. And they're prepared to make cycling spaces to do that. And to take road space away from motor vehicles too. Rather than in the City, where they take space away from pedestrians or sort of squeeze you in to a standard traffic lane. Compare a Paris cycle lane here or a New York cycle lane here with what we get in London.



76 bike parking spaces near Blackfriars launched this week

After my recent updates here and here about  the new bike parking in Baynard House car park, I received a note from the City yesterday saying the new bike park was alive and kicking. There's even a whizzy poster to advertise the new facilities below.



Monday, 29 November 2010

"There is competition for road space. And it is unlikely to get any easier." In other words, nothing's going to change.

Ah the joys of cycling in the City of London. Once you've managed to brave the right-hand turn over Blackfriars Bridge, you arrive here on Queen Victoria Street.

As you can see, there's lots of room for cycling in. As soon as the traffic lights go green, the cars will magically move over to give you lots of room as they overtake, obeying the Highway Code requirement to give you as much space as they would a car, in fact more than that as you are a vulnerable road user.

The problem is that our politicians just don't get it. They do understand that more and more people are cycling. They do understand that they need to provide some sort of facilities to cater for that change. But they don't understand that they actually need to prioritise cycling over other forms of vehicular transport.

Here's a fairly typical comment from a City councilman sent me by another cyclist in the City over the weekend. It's a pro-cycling comment but it's what's missing that bothers me:

"However, the fact is there is competition for road space, and it is unlikely to get any easier.  The traffic jams will get worse, and yet more people will decide to use a bicycle as a means of getting through the traffic.  The City is not going to resist this trend, but will seek to manage the street space we have in the best way possible....We are looking to increase the number of advance stop lines to make it safer for cyclists at traffic lights, and for the police to enforce compliance by motorists."

All good stuff.

Pro-cycling. Aware of cycling. Aware of compliance issues.

But advance stop lines are not the solution. Because as soon as you pull away from this junction, what you get is parked cars on the left, buses on the right. And cyclists squeezed dangerously between the two. Here's what I mean in this picture on the left, just slightly further along from the traffic lights.

The situation here is actually about to get worse. That taxi rank on the left hand side is going to become a coach park. Reason for that is that the coach park at St Paul's is for the chop. See here for those plans.

So, even more squashed cyclist space.

Someone else wrote to me over the weekend. A new boris bike user:

"As my commute passes right through the city once or twice a week on a BorisBike, I'd love to see a real segregated superhighway from Blackfriars to Liverpool St... "

Fat chance, I'm afraid. You see, the City acknowledges it has more and more people cycling. It acknowledges there is more competition for that space between motor vehicles and people on bicycles. But the plan is for more of the same. "It is unlikely to get any easier".

Let's just remind ourselves what the status quo looks like, perhaps here, here or here.

And let's just remind ourselves again how Paris talks about cycling as I posted here some time ago:
"Pour se déplacer en ville ou dans les bois de Boulogne et de Vincennes, la Ville de Paris aménage des espaces dédiés au vélo pour favoriser et faciliter l'usage de ce moyen de déplacement calme et écologique."

Paris is committed to developing spaces where cycling is prioritised and made easier than other forms of transport because Paris wants people to get about the city calmly and sustainably.
 
The City's politicians are saying "there is competition for road space, and it is unlikely to get any easier". In other words, London is shrugging its shoulders, and pleasing no one by trying to please everyone. Politicians seem almost scared of upsetting the motorist. But if you want to cycle, you're just going to have to lump it. There will be more and more cars. And you'll just have to all muddle along.
 
Screw that. I want a Paris politician. I want the City to actually stand up and say it wants the City to be a place where walking and cycling are more convenient than driving. Like Paris is doing.
 
But that's not going to happen. Unless a lot of us (and I mean hundreds of us) start writing to our councilmen and demanding something changes.
 
Question is, will you accept the status quo, or are you prepared to start writing? About everything and anything that bugs you in the City as you cycle through it.

Friday, 26 November 2010

"Mass public response" - save the date for January meeting

Since my post earlier this week about the Local Implementation Plan, I’ve followed up with the City on what’s happening and when.
I’ve had the following response:
“Members have now determined that they do not want us to consult on the LIP until early January, to avoid people missing the consultation during the distractions of the Christmas and New Year period. You can see the basic details of the consultation, including dates and submission methods, on the City's website at http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lip2011. I will therefore be writing to all interested parties to let them know about the commencement of the consultation on Monday 10 January 2011.”

Looking at the City's website, it now has a date for submission of comments, February 21. So there's a six week window to get hold of the Plan, digest it and respond to it. Not long.

Many thanks to the many nods of support and emails I’ve had in response to this post here about a need to generate a mass public response to the Plan from people with cycling at heart.

Having chatted it through with a couple of you, I’m going to suggest the following: What do people think?

The consultation commences on 10 January.

Some of you have rightly said that it would make sense to coordinate a response. When I talk to people in the City, that is exactly what they don’t want to receive from us. What they need to hear is individual voices. So it’s crucial that this doesn’t become a political or theoretical ping pong game about we want segregated facilities, for example. But I agree it does make sense to help give some context to this so that as large a number of people as possible can easily get involved without having to spend an age reading burocratic documents and gettin their heads around local planning regimes.

So, my proposal is this:

A Cyclists in the City meeting on Wednesday 19 January in a City pub at 7pm. I’ve chosen that date as I know a few people will be able to make it, myself included and that also gives people a week to read the document

Purpose of the meeting is three-fold:

• Agree a synopsis of the LIP report to communicate to people who read this website and get our emails
• Create a cluster of issues we think are worthy of comment or criticism
• Get a team of people together who are prepared to help coordinate the message out to other people they know who cycle and to encourage them to write in.

I think this will work but I’m happy for comments on the above.

In the meantime, I’ve also kicked off some correspondence with the City’s LIP team. As soon as that becomes a bit more substantive, I’ll post the feedback I’m getting on to the site.

I’m really encouraged by the notes of support for this. Thank you everyone!

Wood Street goes two-way

Good news for people heading north-south through the City. Wood Street (click here to see what I'm on about) is going two-way either next month or during January.


The top half is already two-way for cycles between London Wall and Gresham Street. Now you'll be able to cycle in a straight line down to Cheapside rather than having to turn left to the traffic lights when you reach Gresham Street and then south down Queen Street. It offers a way to avoid sitting in the endless traffic lights along Queen Street and an alternative to the neighbouring gyratory, if sprint-cycling isn't your thing.

Good stuff I think.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

"Mass public response" to improve cycling needed soon.

In January, the City of London kicks off its LIP programme. LIP stands for Local Implementation Plan. This is where the borough sets out its ambitions for future years and requests funding to match those ambitions.
Now, here's the ominous bit. Only a few thousand people live in the City. They all get a chance to influence the LIP by commenting on it.

As we know, a lot of them are vocally anti-cycling.

Hundreds of thousands work here, though. And the real problem is hardly any of those people get involved in helping change the City. If you want cycling conditions to improve, you're going to have to write letters when the time is right.

And this is why:

I was talking with a senior City official last night about our recent cycling poll here. And he was very supportive of the poll.

But these were his important words:

"I suspect that mass public response to the LIP consultation may be the only way to effect some of the changes that your survey identified."

The LIP comes out in January. We're going to need hundreds of people to write to the City about cycling if we have any hope of having a say in how cycling is developed over the next few years. Not a handful of people. A few hundred is what's going to make the difference. We'll need people to just write letters. To write in and complain about conditions for cycling in the City that are relevant to their individual experience. And I'm crossing my fingers that some of you will be prepared to do that. But I'm beginning to realise that crossing my fingers isn't going to be enough. What we need is people to act as evangelists and encourage other people who cycle to get involved. Its not going to take ages and ages of their time. But we need to get as many people as possible involved.

Over 150 of you responded to the survey. And I know of a few people who've written in to TfL or the City as a result of this site. The question I'm facing is how to get 150 people to write in to the City when the LIP consultation comes out in January.
 
I'm hoping that a few people who read this blog will be prepared to give up an evening to meet in a pub in January and then commit to helping convince other people they know with cycling and City of London connections to write letters, emails and comments on the LIP.
 
If you're swayed by the idea of lending a helping hand, please get in touch.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

St Paul's Churchyard gets the architecture treatment - comments invited

The City is planning to re-model the street just to the south of St Paul's cathedral, namely St Paul's Churchyard. If you're not sure where we're talking about, click here

I've uploaded a copy of the plans here (thank you sharesave!) and apologies, it's saved sideways.



To anyone who cycles along this stretch regularly, I'd really appreciate your feedback so that I can send a summary response to the City on people's behalf by next week. 

The primary aim of the design is to widen the footway on the north side of the street. So, the cycle lane that currently exists heading east is removed and replaced by footway. What you get heading east is a bus lane and a secondary lane, only both slightly narrower than now. And then a formal cycle lane leading up to the traffic lights at New Change which is arguably much better than the current set-up. The bus stop near New Change is moved west, so that you won't constantly have buses stopped near the junction. Those two measures seem good to me but does anyone have any comments on this? I'm worried about the overall narrowing of the road making for squashed cycles.

Less good is the situation heading west. The current bus stop on the south side of the street is moved further away from the junction with New Change, which is very positive as it makes the junction easier to negotiate when heading west. But I'm not sure of the need for the fairly abrupt tightening of the carriageway and resulting pinch-point just before the new bus stop, caused by the pedestrian crossing refuge. 

One thing that might interest cyclists heading west is that technically, the space that used to be YHA Lane, where the City has unveiled its newly restored Victorian drinking fountain is actually 'shared space'. You are allowed to turn left / south off St Paul's Churchyard over what looks like pavement just by the fountain thing and on into Carter Lane. In fact, you'd have to be pretty eagle-eyed to spot it, but you can head along that recently paved stretch in both directions on a bicycle. I reckon most pedestrians probably think this is a pedestrianised zone, though. It looks like one. It feels like one. I always feel this sort of thing just makes pedestrians dislike people on bikes for cycling on what they might regard as 'their' space. Mind you, the fact that it's almost impossible to tell you can cycle here might make this less of an issue. 

I just think it's rather sad that the City could have created an obvious route for cyclists heading from Mansion House to Blackfriars Bridge, say, to whizz along Cannon Street here and then turn south west into what was formerly YHA Lane and down the back route to the bridge. Instead, what it has created is something you'd have to be a complete genius to spot and means most cyclists will struggle on along Ludgate Hill, one of the most clogged up bits of street in the area and then turn left along Farringdon Road to the bridge. A real wasted opportunity to create sensible, easy-to-find, quiet routes for cycling. 

Oh, and cycle parking. There's none anywhere near St Paul's at the moment. And none on these plans either. 

The City is inviting comments. I'm planning to summarise a response by early next week. I'd really appreciate feedback either in the comments box or feel free to email me at cyclistsinthecity@gmail.com


Monday, 22 November 2010

Queen Victoria Street - the racks go in

Baynard House car park - new bike zone
I'm slightly obsessing about these new bike racks. But only because I hope they'll be the start of many new bike parking places around the City. First mentioned here, the racks finally went in last week. They're still cordoned off for reasons I don't quite understand. More details about the location here. As you come into the carpark, you need to glide down the ramp in front of you, and there they are, all shiny and new. All 76 spaces.

Imagine that, though: Four car parking spaces equals 76 bike parking spaces. Just imagine how different London could be if there were a switch from cars to bikes in those kinds of ratios.

The only downside I can think of: Where do I leave a lock overnight on these sorts of racks? Anyone with any inspired suggestions? I don't really want to have to lug my lock back every night...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

And lo! the cycle contraflow was approved

Sorry, corny headline for today's update. But good news from the City of London this week.

I reported back in October here that the City's Planning and Transportation Committee had approved the concept of "normalising" the implementation of two-way contraflows for cycling. What I hadn't realised at the time and subsequently posted here was the measure also needed approval by the Policy and Resources Committee as well before it could be formally adopted. That committee met on Thursday last week. And somewhat unceremoniously also approved the measure.

What that means is that we can expect more wicked one-way streets to revert to two-way contraflows for people on bikes. The reason is that the approval allows for contraflows to be implemented as a normal part of the road design process. Previously, each contraflow needed a myriad of additional levels of approval from various interested committees and a range of costly measures to ensure everyone was aware of the changes. So, for example, the City last year had to spend thousands handing out flyers to tell local residents that tiny Fann Street was now two-way for cycles. The associated costs of implementing contraflows was therefore unnecessarily high as the City had to cover its back with safety measures and work to obtain internal approvals due to the perceived risk of the schemes. And, fortunately, those risks have remained just that: perceived and not actual.

Much of the press was absolutely complicit in hyping those 'risks' as was the AA as the links here show. And nothing happened. No increase in accidents. The new contraflows have allowed people to cycle on routes they feel are safer or more convenient, exactly as was intended.

And the approval of this new measure means we can expect more contraflows. Because now they'll simply be expected to be part of any normal street planning process. No extra hoops to jump through and no unnecessary burocracy or costs. Very good news indeed and I'm looking forward to seeing some new two-way cyclable streets in the nearish future.



Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Boris bikes are a strain on the road network, apparently.

Only a brief update this:

Transport for London has City has been asked to provide locations for 200 additional cycle hire docking stations. Those might be extensions of existing stations or entirely new ones.

As I reported here, however, the City is making a lot of noise about not having sufficient space for all these new docking stations. I know that a few people have written in to the City to pressure their local councilmen to ensure these docking station do actually happen. See the response below, which someone posted to the Boris Bikes forum here and the parts I've highlighted in bold.

Basically, the City seems to think pedestrians are different to people who cycle and fails to recognise that some people who walk will be the people who walk to cycle docking stations.

But most frustratingly, the City seems to think that its road usage is simply a status quo that is never going to change. The implication is that Boris bikes are just adding to a constrained road system. There's no concept of restricting motor vehicles further. Only some statement about the fact that people cycling might present problems for people walking and that the safety of pedestrians is paramount.

This all feels like a bit of a smokescreen to me. Cycle hire stations are blocked because they might cause a potential danger or obstruction AND because too many bicycles might be used, which would eat up space on the road? Any idea how many bicycles you can fit in the space of one bus?

Dear Mr XXXXX



I have asked the Corporation’s Director of Planning and Transportation who has asked me to reassure you that the City of London is fully supportive of the Mayor’s cycle hire scheme. He has given me the following information on the City’s involvement with the Scheme.

“Mayor Johnson has now completed phase 1 of his cycle hire scheme. The City Corporation approved almost all of the docking stations which the Mayor's staff at TfL requested within the City. Only a handful were rejected - where they would have caused potential danger or obstruction. The scheme has proved to be very popular and demand has outstripped supply in some areas.


The Mayor has now embarked on phase 2, which will extend the scheme into East London in time for the 2012 Olympics and expand provision in Central London. The Corporation looks forward to responding to TfL proposals for additional and extended docking stations within the City. Each installation will be considered in relation to the needs and safety of pedestrians and other road users. Wherever possible the Corporation will approve these installations at or near the requested location.
In some instances, especially near to stations, pavement and road space is already used to full capacity during peak hours and the potential demand for cycle hire would be too great to accommodate. Over 90% of all journeys made within the City are on foot and it is essential that we protect the needs and safety of pedestrians. Unlike suburban locations, City cyclists are abandoning public transport rather than cars so no free road space is created to accommodate the extra cyclists.

We will continue to support the Mayor's cycle hire scheme and make every effort to assist in meeting the demand for this facility within our extremely constrained highway network.”
I do hope that this will provide you with assurance on the Corporation’s position.

Regards

Delis






Thursday, 11 November 2010

Waterloo new giant cycle hire station details

AMENDMENT: For an update on the City's cycle docking situation go here.

If you want to write to someone in the City about this, then write to the relevant council man for your ward. The list of council men is here. Select the ward relevant to you from the map link at the bottom of the page
-----

I was sent this by another person who cycles in the City last night. First view of the new Boris bike station at Waterloo and TfL's email on how it's going to work, when it will be switched on etc.

For those keen to know more, see below:

Thank you for your email dated 2 November, regarding the Barclays Cycle Hire docking station at Waterloo.

TfL has been working in partnership with Network Rail to install a docking station at Waterloo Station which will consist of 128 docking point. The station will be located close to the main entrance of Waterloo Station and will be the first to be installed at a mainline rail station. Construction started on 1 November and the station is expected to be operational by mid-December 2010.

Please find attached the plans for the station. The cycle lane will be changing use to a shared use surface and will be made wider. This will be highly beneficial to the area as it will formalise what currently happens with pedestrians and users of the other cycle parking facility who currently walk up the cycle path.

Thank you once again for taking the time to contact us and I hope my email has answered your questions.

Two bits caught my eye:

The station will be located close to the main entrance of Waterloo Station and will be the first to be installed at a mainline rail station

There was nothing in yesterday's announcement here about more docks at mainline rail stations. However, is TfL suggesting there may be more to come at the likes of Euston and Paddington?

Sadly, there's also more mention of removing the bike lane and introducing shared-space, a concept so beloved of UK urban planning but seemingly a near-unknown elsewhere.

The cycle lane will be changing use to a shared use surface and will be made wider. This will be highly beneficial to the area as it will formalise what currently happens with pedestrians and users of the other cycle parking facility who currently walk up the cycle path.


Basically, the bike lane that leads up from York Road is going, most of it to be filled with bike docks. Instead, there will be a large pedestrian and cyclist shared space leading down the ramp from the station with a short bit of bike lane immediately next to the docking station to indicate where you're supposed to be. What I can't quite make out from the plans is whether the service road that leads into Waterloo and crosses the existing bike path (currently somewhere where taxis try to barge in front of people on foot or on bikes) is still going to remain or not. It looks like it might be for the chop, which is good news for anyone not inside a motor cage.

If someone could tell me how to upload PDFs into blogger, I'd be able to show you what it looks like.

AMENDED

View the plans on this PDF here (apologies in advance for the ads on the zshare site. It's free after all....)

"It could lead to more crashes as motorists fail to detect an unlit boulder"?!

Yesterday's Daily Mail quoted Andrew Howard here (if you search the site, the man is quoted fairly regularly in fact), head of road safety at the AA on the subject of local councils turning off or dimming some streetlights, which is fairly standard practice all over Europe but seems to be triggered alarm here. I don't really understand why everywhere needs to be floodlight at night.

That aside, I have to say that once upon a time, I actually took the Daily Mail semi-seriously. But this quote, I'm afraid, feels to me like sheer delusion:

‘Local authorities have to get the right balance between plunging people into darkness and saving money. It is not just road safety but a question of security in residential areas.



‘There is a fear that it could lead to more crashes as motorists fail to detect an unlit boulder or a drunk pedestrian dressed in dark clothes. Lighting can improve safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians as well as deterring street crime.’
 
A drunk pedestrian dressed in dark clothes? It's bad enough that children are being forced to wear bright clothes to make sure drivers can see them. We couldn't make it government policy that drivers ought to slow down or that recognises that drivers are the hazard, could we perhaps? Nope, the DfT would have you believe that small children that are the hazard and are now told here they must be wearing brightly coloured or fluorescent clothing in the dusk. But if it's dark, oh little five-year olds, you need to dress up like traffic lights so that the nasty drivers don't squash you:
 
"If you're out and about when it's dark, wear reflective gear to make sure you can be seen in car headlights. Reflective vests, sashes or wristbands work well. Remember, fluorescent clothing doesn't work after dark!"
 
It feels like the same mentality as the cyclist and lorry-driver posters in London that I previewed here. The mentality is all about making anyone not in a car feel like they are responsible for what the people in cars are doing. It's almost as if the government is saying this: five-year squashed by speeding driver? It's the kid's fault. They weren't wearing hi-viz. 
 
I sometimes cycle without a helmet. I love it. And think more people should do the same. But the political establishment seems to havehijacked the cycling debate as a helmet debate. Witness this debacle here.
 
If the Department for Transport is happy to put out press releases about five-year old pedestrians needing to wear hi-viz, you do start to wonder if it won't be long before anyone not inside a motor vehicle cage will be reprimanded for not wearing safety gear to walk about the streets. Hence, the AA chap's fear of 'drunk pedestrians in dark clothing' perhaps?
 
And don't even get me started on unlit boulders. I'm not sure when you last saw one sauntering over the A25?
 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

New bike park on Queen Victoria Street - the first pictures

After flagging this up back in August here I was beginning to get worried it would never happen.

But snapped this morning, a first glimpse of the new bike parking zone in the Baynard House car park on Queen Victoria Street.

No bike stands in there yet but I hope those will be installed this week. And hey presto, 76 new bike parking places.

It's a shame these spaces are being taken from motorbikes and mopeds rather than cars. But by my reckoning this is about four car parking spaces. So, that's maximum 16 people at a push. And now it will be used by up to 76 people instead.

Our petrol-head transport minister Philip Hammond talks about about using the existing network more efficiently. Well, Mr Hammond. Perhaps you can do the mathmetics yourself?

Photo thanks to http://www.localdatasearch.com/
Baynard House carpark in the flesh. It might not be beautiful but it's about to become the best public bike park in the City. That's good enough for me.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I wonder if this is why there's no interest in cycling from government?

I was copied in on an email exchange today by someone who works at a large City of London employer with a few thousand employees. The email was to Transport for London asking why TfL has blocked the City from making Shoe Lane, currently a one-way street leading down to Farringdon Street, into a contraflow for cycling.

One point raised in the email was this:

"My firm and others including XYZ employ several thousand staff in offices along Shoe Lane, Little New Street and New Street Square.  A significant number of those travel to work by bike, and the firms provide indoor cycle parking facilities, which are substantially over-subscribed, and showers etc. "

I've highlighted the bit where the writer of the email talks about cycle parking facilities being substantially over-subscribed. If you look anywhere in the private sector in the City of London and around, the cycle facilities are bombarded. I know in my own team, that one-third of us now cycle to work most days. On sunnier days, that can climb slightly higher.

But when I talk to colleagues who work in senior civil service posts or in local government, none of them cycles. And none of their colleagues cycle. Not even the ones who cycle for pleasure seems to cycle to work.

And then I spotted this in the Hansards record of the recent debate about installing a cycle hire docking station near the House of Lords (hoorah, does this mean you'll be able to park a bike when visiting a Whitehall department one day soon? You can't at the moment, as far as I can tell):

Lord Brabazon of Tara (Crossbench)

My Lords, clearly, looking at my weight, I do not use a bicycle in London, but significant numbers of Peers and staff do. Of course, most of them own their own. This scheme operates only within zone 1 in London. Seventy-seven bicycle spaces are available to Members of the House and the staff. Seventy-seven bicycle spaces are available to Members of the House and the staff. They are not currently used to capacity, but they are available and there is no shortage.

Visit any company in central London and you'll find a lack of sufficient cycle parking. Demand far outstrips supply. In the company where I work, there are over 900 London employees. Taking the ratio of my own team, one in three cycling to work, we'd easily use up 77 bike parking spaces. And yet Whitehall has not a single public bike stand. The Houses of Parliament have 77 but no-one uses them.

I know there's an increasing perception in the media that politics is out of touch with the non-political world. But is there really something so different about our politicians and our civil servants that makes them less prone to cycling bicycles? Whatever it is, it hardly helps the rest of us when we're trying to encourage better cycle facilities.


Monday, 8 November 2010

Southwark Bridge to Queen Street. Plant pots and barriers coming soon

Queen St as it used to look
Some months ago, Transport for London spent £250,000 or so improving the pedestrian and cycle crossing between Southwark Bridge and Queen Street. I first wrote about this here.

I'd argue that the the old juntion was pretty nasty. Pedestrians had to cross in cattle pens. People on bikes had to weave between a fence and some railings.

Queen St as it is now
What that money did was to replace a fairly people-unfriendly junction with a rather more user-friendly junction.

This is what the design looks like now. It is much easier to cross as both a pedestrian and on a bicycle. Certainly, the big lump of paving over on the western side (left side of this picture) isn't hugely attractive but the scheme works. It can also cope better with the fairly large number of cycles that queue here at rush hour to access Southwark Bridge to the south (the superhighway design at the north end of the bridge leaves a lot to be desired but I'm not going to cover here).


Queen St with gates and potplants coming soon
So, you'd think the City might be content to leave it alone? No chance of that. Apparently, there's a lot of conflict between people on foot and people on pedal cycles here. Myself, I'd say the conflict here is actually between people in motor vehicles who get several lanes to themselves and the priority traffic light phasing vs everyone else who's not in a car. But, not the City. They want to spend, and have approved, as far as I know, a further £184,000 on :

"proposals aimed at reducing conflict between cyclists and pedestrians and measures to reduce cycle speeds. Proposals include the introduction of carefully positioned planters, together with associated paving and other street furniture and the introduction of a raised area of carriageway on the north side of the space."
Queen St slightly further north as it is now

What that means in reality is more of this: Welcome to the City of London on your bicycle. Once you've crossed the motorway on Upper Thames Street, welcome into a shared space where your path is aided by a giant gate. Then you can dodge some plant pots and then worry about where to cycle so as not to knock off pedestrians.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Shared space. Germany's version.
Here's how the Germans would design a space like this. Here's a crossing in the centre of Berlin, near the main shopping area. Clear, marked cycle route. Shared with pedestrians, yes, but clear and easy to follow. No gates. No pot plants.
 
London's politicians clearly have an issue with cyclists going too fast. They don't seem to have much of an issue with motor vehicles going too fast. The City has resisted a 20mph zone for years, for example. But they'll happily put people on foot and bikes in the same space, make them compete for a fraction of the space given to motor vehicles and then force people to cycle like space invaders dodging plant pots.
 
I noticed in my correspondence with Kate Hoey MP that her problem was 'commuter cyclists'. And it's kind of true. I hear that sort of attitude again and again within the City as well. Locals hate people in lycra with helmets cutting them up and cycling too fast. That is what people perceive as 'cyclists'. There's an excellent piece on At War with the Motorist here about the 'cyclist'.
 
I too want to cycle to work in my suit or to town in my jeans of an evening. I'd like to cycle into the City with my five-year old niece actually. But there's a disconnect. On the one hand, we have road safety people insisting we should wear helmets, wear hi-viz, cycle by "taking the road" and behaving like under-powered motor scooters. Sorry, but my niece ain't going to do that.
 
On the other hand, those tiny bits of cycle infrastructure that we do get, are designed for the exact opposite. Cycle extremely slowly, have no priority anywhere, weave in and out of people on foot. Wait ages at traffic lights for motor vehicles. And now, dodge the plant pots too. I tried to encapsulate the problem here and here. Maybe I think too much about these sorts of things. But it's baffling to me that the area of non-motorised transport is so utterly lacking in any sort of direction that the whole thing just doesn't hang together.
 
I dislike the policies of Barnet councillor Brian Coleman with intensity but on one thing he's right: "My priorities are roads, roads, roads and roads." With that one statement he sums up exactly how most people think. And I can't help but wonder if it's because there's no-one and nothing at the top joining the infrastructure, the rules and the regulations together that would enable people to make a really genuine choice about whether they drive on a road or whether they walk or cycle instead. Because the whole thing just doesn't hang together if you're on a bike or on foot whereas it does if you're in a car. No wonder people vote for Coleman. They just want to get to work or to school or out to play. And he's right. Roads are there, the infrastructure and the systems are there. If you want to cycle or walk, those features just aren't there to the same degree. And so plant pot dodging is what you get instead. Depressingly.
 

A busy South Bank for banning people using bicycles

South Bank 8am on 8th November
The South Bank at eight o'clock this morning.

Apologies for straying outside the City of London again today but I wanted to refresh  my memory about why I cycle to work along the South Bank some mornings, especially on a day like today on a cycle hire bike. It's far preferable to being soaked by and squeezed by lorries on the slippery and broken brickwork of Belvedere Road.

Apparently, Lambeth councillors, the people who run the South Bank and Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey think there's not sufficient room for people to use bicycles here and want to ban it. As you can see, at 8am, it's terribly busy and there's no room for people to use their bicycles.

See the correspondence with Kate Hoey here. If you have any connection to Lambeth and feel this is important, perhaps you might consider writing to Kate Hoey about this as well.




Friday, 5 November 2010

Kate Hoey MP: ""There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital"

For those of you who ever cycle along the South Bank, this email exchange might be of interest. My emails from yesterday and Kate Hoey's response. I was alerted to this issue by Lambeth's branch of the London Cycling Campaign. And by an initial email sent to Kate Hoey by Jack Thurston which I copy below. Jack runs the bikeshow on ResonanceFM here.

Make up your own mind what you think about this. It's not strictly City related but close enough. For more excellent coverage on the banning of bikes on the South Bank, read KenningtonPeopleonBikes here and here.

Sometimes I use the cycle hire bikes to come to work along the South Bank in the mornings. It's usually around 7.30am. Kate thinks that should be banned. Read the email trail below and decide for yourselves:

From: HOEY, Kate [mailto:HoeyK@parliament.uk]
Sent: Thu 11/4/2010 9:12 AM
To: Williams, Danny

Subject: RE: Letter from constituent re south bank cycling

Dear danny thanks. I was not talking about any part except the road  behind St Thomas' which in my view is  quite a good bit  for cyclistsImproving roads for cycling is a separate issue and campaign than keeping the river walk safe for pedestrians. The river walk below st thomas' and in front of County hall are packed with pedestrians and not compatible with comuter cycling in the view of many many local people Thank for letting me know your view. Best wishes kate
------------------

-----Original Message-----
From: "Williams, Danny
Sent: 04 Nov 2010 08:49
To: "HOEY, Kate" <HoeyK@parliament.uk>,
Subject: Letter from constituent re south bank cycling

Dear Kate Hoey
You recently responded to an email about cycling along the river front on the south bank to Jack Thurston. Jack forwarded that response to Lambeth Cyclists.
I live in Stockwell and cycle to the City of London along this route daily. You mention that the route along the main road parallel to the river is a sensible alternative. The words you use are: "There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital."
The cycling route between Blackfriars Bridge and Vauxhall is truly not 'excellent'.
A number of examples:
Roundabout at Lambeth Palace - the road layout is designed in a way that maximises danger for cycles. On a bicycle, you are expected to waddle between cars and buses queuing at the lights as the cycle facilities stop well before the roundabout (not to mention how unpleasant and difficult it is to turn right if you're heading soutbound on Lambeth Bridge).
Vauxhall gyratory is frankly terrifying on a bike. There are some bike lanes around this gyratory. But these are shared with pedestrians and there simply isn't space for both groups. For example, there can often be half a dozen cycles plus 20 or more pedestrians crammed on the narrow pavement outside the Royal Vauxhall Tavern waiting to cross. Of course, cars have only six lanes to themselves and priority on the traffic lights as well. There would be plenty of space for everyone if one of these lanes was removed from motor vehicles but the priority seemsd to be about making motor traffic flow smoothly, not about making the area accessible for everyone, on bike, on foot, on a bus etc.
Along the road behind the former GLC building: This road is a joke, I'm afraid. There are barriers, ropes, no clear cycle route through here at all.
Along the road behind the National Theatre: Poor quality road means that you spend your time swerving to avoid loose brick work which is highly dangerous here as this route is frankly a rat run for aggressive taxi drivers. It;s deeply unpleasant. The Cut is also not particularly nice. I'd say one in three times I use it, a motor vehicle will try to overtake but then realise they can't due to the humps. They will typically then drift into the side of me when I'm cycling. The way that the side of the carriageway now meanders in and out means I'm also forced to weave along the road, highly confusing to anyone behind me.
In short, this route is designed in a way that slows motor vehicle at parts, which is good. But by no means does it make conditions cycle-friendly. Meanwhile at othger points, eg Vauxhall, the road layout is designed to allow cars to trave as if on a motorway. Neither seems right to me.
I cycle in various forms. On a Borisk bike in my suit. On a fast road bike in cycling gear. And on a Dutch-style sit up bike. On the Boris bike and my Dutch bike, I take the riverside. For the simple reason that I don't want to have to cycle in the traffic in a way that I have to pretend to behave like a car, travelling at speed. For that is how this 'excellent' parallel route really functions. I wear a helmet on my fast bike. I simply don't want to on my other bikes. I'm using them to go out on those occasions, and would rather drive than wear a helmet. I drive this route most weekends and can assure you, it's designed for motor vehicles and not as a serious cycle route.
If you are serious about allowing more people to cycle in Lambeth, perhaps you should join me on a Boris bike on my morning commute to work and see for yourself just how inadequate this route is for cycling. It doesn't feel safe or encouraging to the cyclist at all.
I like a lot of what you stand for and I voted for you. But on cycling, I'm afraid you have it completely wrong.
Best regards
Danny



Begin forwarded message:
> From: "HOEY, Kate" <HoeyK@parliament.uk>
> Date: 3 November 2010 19:44:35 GMT
> To: "'Jack Thurston'"

> Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Jack Thurston
>
> Dear Jack
> Thanks you for your e mail.As you  may know cycling on the river bank has been a subject of great interest to residents for a long time with the issue constantly raised at the Forum meetings. St Thomas' hospital are particularly concerned about cycling along the stretch under their wall and there have been a number of incidents. Some of the landowners already have signs erected but in  the part owned by lambeth the signs had been removed. That is why the notices that used to be there -NO CYCLING-  are now being put up  again. There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital. Pedestrians need protecting too and it is not anti cycling to be pro pedestrians. I can assure you  that,I personally have had dozens of letters predominately from older people complaining about being frightened by some cyclists speeding along the river. I have also  copied in your local Councillor Peter Truesdale who  is aware of the history of all  this from the Lambeth Council presepective.
>
> Best wishes Kate
> PS Your comments on 'your co-alition friends' was presumably meant to annoy me but I can assure you it did not
>
> ----
> From: Jack Thurston
> Sent: 03 November 2010 15:52
> To: HOEY, Kate
> Subject: Letter from your constituent Jack Thurston
Wednesday 3 November 2010
>
> Dear Kate Hoey,
>
> As your constituent and a member of the Vauxhall CLP, I am writing to urge you to oppose the proposed ban on cycling on the Thames path along the South Bank, from Westminster Bridge to the Oxo Tower.
>
> The path is widely used by cyclists, the vast majority of whom are sensible and courteous to others. The uncourteous few are unlikely to be deterred from their inconsiderate behaviour by a ban. The only result will be that courteous, law-abiding cyclists are pushed onto roads which are less safe and less pleasurable to ride along.
>
> I am also concerned that this ban is being proposed without any proper assessment of the cost and benefits. How many collisions have there been on the path? How many of those are the fault of cyclists? How many deaths and injuries would be avoided by a ban? I suspect no assessment of this kind has been carried out at all.
>
> It is my understanding that many of the recent developments on this stretch of the Thames (such as County Hall) entered into Section 106 agreements which included making provision for cyclists to use the Thames path. It is extremely ironic that the managers of these developments are now among those who are pushing for a ban.
>
> I think this ban is being proposed by a minority of people who are simply anti-cycling.
>
> It's quite possible for everyone to get along. Just look at how the Royal Parks manages its shared use paths, which are far narrower than the vast expanse of the Thames Path on the South Bank. Or look at how British Waterways manages its considerate cycling policy on the canal towpaths. Look at Berlin, Paris, where they have cycling on pavements and people are quite sensible about it.
>
> This looks to me like a profoundly illiberal measure. As your coalition friends put it 'we're all in this together'. So why can't we get along together.
>
> Considerate cycling policy: YES
>
> Blanket ban: NO
>
> I would be grateful to know what action you are taking on this issue and I hope I can count on you to represent my views to those who are responsible for making a decision on this matter.
>
> Yours sincerely,
>
> Jack Thurston

Cycling poll priorities - give us more space to cycle in. And take it away from motor vehicles.

A few weeks ago I popped up the poll on what people felt were the biggest priorities to improve conditions for cycling in the City of London. Over 140 of you responded and more than 60 of you sent some pretty detailed comments as well. It's really amazing to have such a wealth of reponses and thank you to everyone who participated.

Over the next couple of weeks I plan to review the responses to the poll here and try to give them some shape.

Some people were critical of the struture of the poll and I admit it could have been better. But it has thrown up some interesting results and it's the general nature of the responses that I hope to get across.

City of London. Welcomes cyclists with a giant gate.
So here goes. For the first set of results, let's just look at the top three things that people think need to change to make the City of London a safer and better place to cycle. This is looking specifically at what attracted most votes for change. The poll yields some very different results when you start looking at averages in particular as some initiatives drew a lot of negative vote as well as positive.

So I am going to split the poll results up. For now, this article talks about what people selected as their top three requests. In later articles, I am going to pull together a more detailed review that shows what initiatives would get broad overall support.

But for now, here's some headline grabbers.

In first place

Create a proper east-west route through the City on main roads that gives cyclists more priority.

In other words, give space to cyclists on routes like Holborn Viaduct where we are currently squeezed between two lanes of buses and taxis. If you think Holborn Viaduct is cycle-friendly, have a look at Vivian's video here.Or make space for us on Cheapside. Stop squeezing bicycle traffic into ever narrowing road space like this example here and thinking that makes it a sensible cycle route.

This comment was about Bishopsgate and travelling from Hackney and on westwards through the City: "Bishopsgate is horrible, filled with potholes , ironworks, pinchpoints, heavy traffic". What people mean by a "proper" route varies. But this response is interesting because it throws up just how many different sorts of obstacles you face cycling down Bishopsgate. They are partly down to traffic but a lot of it is down to bad road design and poor road maintenance.

In second place

Install more Boris bike docks.

Actually, this could be equally well re-stated as have more availability of cycle hire bikes.

And in third place, something highly contentious:

Create properly segregated cycle tracks through the City.

This one really split people. And a subject that's clearly up for much debate in the cycling world, if you look at Mark's bikelondon site here and the sorts of comments his article elicits.

When I look at the results of the poll, almost as many people believe segregated lanes would be a complete waste of time as voted for it as a top priority. And I think that represents the split in the different communities that responded to the poll. I can tell that a large number of people entered the poll from the borisbikes forum here but these responses were more than balanced out by participants from the London fixed-gear and single-speed forum here and from the bikeradar commuting forum here.

What seems to be happening in the results is a general convergence on a need for better routes to cycle through the City. And broadly-speaking the split is really simple. Those people who commute to work want to continue to cycle on the road but have more priority at junctions and safer routes across bridges and some main roads. Those who are a bit newer to cycling tended to identify themselves by not wanting to wear cycling clothes or not wanting to travel particularly fast. But they uniformly don't want to cycle in traffic.

And I actually do think there's overlap on these two views. And that's in the area of creating dedicated space for cyclists kept apart from motor vehicles. And that's visible in responses like this:

"The intersection at Monument coming from London Bridge is often very congested with busses completely blocking the left turning lane which is narrow and segregated with the police box on its right side. Better, or some safe, filtering options would make it much better."

or

"The cycle lane on the north end of Bishopsgate is downright dangerous for a start! It would be better to simply have a wider bit of road to allow bikes to get past cars."

Whether you believe in segregation or not, what's clear is that almost everyone wants space to be taken away from motor vehicles and given to prioritise cycling. They articulate that either by asking for segregation or by asking for filtering. The two concepts aren't all that dissimilar in some ways. All we're talking about is a space that is dedicated to allowing people to cycle without either getting caught up in motor traffic queues (for the more confident commuter cyclist) or to cycle without being scared by motor vehicles encroaching on the space you're cycling in (for the perhaps less confident Boris biker). Either way, the poll suggests to me we want to be given space dedicated to us and not dedicated to motor vehicles. Controversial? Probably.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Southwark Bridge Road minicab encroachment

Not strictly the City, I'm afraid, but along Cycle SuperHighway 7 leading out from the City is Waterloo Cars. A scene which typically looks like this.

Kennington People on Bikes has written two articles on Waterloo Cars who routinely park all over the SuperHighway. And there's a link for how to complain about it here.

I cycle along here a few times each week. If it's bugging you as well, perhaps add your voice to the TfL complaints page after reading Charlie's article.

Two-way streets contraflows. Spoke too soon?

Last week I reported on how the City's Planning and Transportation Committee approved two-way contraflows for cycling here. Great and encouraging stuff. Some people in the City were quite surprised at how easily the measure was approved and expected far more resistance.

What I hadn't realised at the time is that there's one more committee hurdle to go. After a quick chat with the City's cycling officer, I now realise that the measure also requires approval by the Policy and Resources Committee on November 18th when the committee meets after its annual dinner gathering the night before. The Planning Committee is the one with the money. It has some pro-cycling faces on it but not lots.

Annoyingly, I'm not going to be able to attend but the meeting is open to the public and if anyone fancies attending and listening in or reporting back, please email me at cyclistsinthecity@gmail.com and I'll send further details as soon as I have them. The meeting will take place from 13.45 to 16.00 on November 18th and you'll only need attend the contraflow bit, not the entire session.

The other 49%: Why we need mothers, children and grandparents on bikes. And why TfL doesn't want that to happen.

"Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in London are all being encouraged to Share the Road - the title of a new and ongoing Transport for London (TfL) campaign, launched by the Mayor of London today." 

That was back in 2006.

But the messaging is still pretty much the same. There's bugger all about cars or other motor vehicles having to "share the road" in reality. They're bigger, fastier and noisier than a pedal cycle. Try changing lanes on your bicycle across a five lane race-track at somewhere like Vauxhall Cross and then tell me that sharing the road works in practice. It doesn't. With some exceptions for a few cyclists who like taking on cars at their own game, most people don't really like the idea of taking on five lanes of motor vehicles racing past them at least 10mph over the speed limit as they wobble from one lane to the next. 

So, it's most entertaining to look at the Cycle Hire safety tips see what's changed since 2006. 'Share the road' has sort of slithered off into 'protect yourself against motor vehicles'. Look at the Cycle Hire safety advice here and you'll notice  that every single recommendation is about how you, the cyclist, are obliged to make sure you stay out of the way of other road users that might cause you serious damage. So we have this list of things not to do:
- Be careful around Lorries, which have numerous blind spots, and never pass them on the left just before, or at, traffic lights - Don't get too close to parked cars - Watch put for other vehicles and pedestrians and give clear hand signals to show your intentions - Make yourself seen at night by wearing reflective or fluorescent clothing 

And so the reality of 'vehicular cycling' in London really means - stay out the way of parked cars, out the way of moving lorries, out the way of moving cars, out of the way of pedestrians. And while you're about it, dress up like a traffic light to make sure none of these people can miss you. Fabulous. I can hardly wait to hit the road.

So let's remind ourselves how 'not get too close to parked cars' and how to 'never pass lorries on the left just before, or at traffic lights'. Here's a typical rush-hour example. The junction between Queen Victoria Street and Blackfriars Bridge.
Friendly cycling for a 10-year old at Queen Victoria St
There's an advisory bike lane. But lo, there are cars parked in the bike lane. On the hatchings as well as in the bike space, in fact. I'm sure that's probably not legal, but never mind. If you cycle in the advisory bike lane, the cars just around the corner of this image actually take up the entire cycle space. The fact that these cars and vans are here every single night doesn't seem to bother anyone. But remember folks, especially the novice vehicular cyclist, Transport for London urges you: "Don't get too close to parked cars". Build the infrastructure, TfL, and then maybe we won't have to get too close to parked cars. Either that or enforce those hatchings properly. Your police forces are keen enough on targeted 'illegal' cycling. But traffic wardens rarely patrol at night around here. So what's illegal parking becomes perfectly sanctioned in practice, even if not technically 'legal'.


While we're dodging the parked cars, we also need to remember not to pass large vehicles on the left hand side, especially when we're near traffic lights or junctions. Well, look at that! I know there aren't any lorries in this picture but there are plenty of coaches and lorries using this junction any time of the day. And the road layout is specifically designed to encourage you to cycle to the left of these giants.

There's a complete disconnect between the PR guff and the reality in London. The reality is that people feel unsafe around too many motor vehicles when they are on their bikes. Same way they would if they were pedestrians in the middle of the road. David Hembrow bangs that point home again and again, possibly at its best here where he talks about subjective safety and then need to feel safe on a bike. To feel you don't need to be constantly thinking "I would like to cycle but I'm scared of the traffic".

It was a comment on the LoFidelity Bicycle Club that got me thinking about this today, the first comment on this article here that talks about how we need a group of mothers to start moaning about this sort of thing. Imagine a scene of mothers and their children standing in front of this junction. And then demonstrating to the willing press a couple of 10-year olds trying to navigate their way between what that nice lady over at TfL's road safety team is telling them about how to stay away from parked cars, not undertake lorries at junctions and so on while they confront the reality of what TfL builds on the ground. Either that, or how about we have a bunch of elderly cyclists, let's say your and my grandmothers, cycling gently through this scene here, wobbling to the left hand side of some HGV racing at 45mph down Queen Victoria Street to catch the lights. Because that's the reality of what it's like to cycle here. And that's why you'll never see a gaggle of 10-year olds or of 70-year olds for that matter, pootling down here on their bikes.

Over at the London Cycling Campaign, there's a whole debate raging about space for cycling. Whether that space should be segregated; aside from; or just part of the vehicle flow.  The fact that after decades of campaigning, the LCC doesn't know what form of cycling it wants, is slightly troubling. And, although he's talking primarily about a different cycling organisation, the CTC, I think LoFidelity does an excellent job here of dissecting a similar issue by querying why the campaign groups that represent cycling, don't really know whether to support vehicular or segregated cycling.

The thing is, vehicular cycling is what we've got now. And it's because of vehicular cycling that most people who cycle in central London aren't 10-year olds or 70-year olds. They're youngish adults, generally (but by no means always) male, generally wearing specialist cycling kit. True, the Boris bikes are beginning to change that but I have begun to feel more and more that we get a certain type of cyclist because we have a certain type of cycling infrastructure and a certain set of rules.

Those rules are rules of the road that completely and utterly favour the motor vehicle, force the onus of 'road safety' on to the cyclist and then institutionalise insane road infrastructure like this junction approach that utterly contradicts everything the same authorities bang on about when they dish out safety advice.

As someone who works in the City wrote to me today about the plans for Cheapside which I previewed here last week: "The carriageway has been narrowed by 40% which must surely make conflict between bikes and cars more likely.  The occasional islands no doubt will encourage aggressive overtaking of bikes with a  sharp pull-in-front to avoid whacking a nice new granite island kerb..... I can see some virtue in a structure which ensures that once behind a bike,  motors must stay there (even if the reverse is true), although that doesn’t seem to me to help novice riders who don’t feel comfortable with the idea of occupying the lane – they will get squeezed like lemons – and I am much more interested in them than in vehicular cyclists."

I couldn't agree more. There's no reason that 49% of people wouldn't cycle in London if the conditions were right. Those are the people we all call 'novice cyclists' at the moment (and more on that concept another day). I'm going to 'out' myself as also being much more interested in those 49% of would-be cyclists than in the handful of us who already brave London's streets at the moment and put up with the conditions of vehicular cycling. I think cycle campaigning should be about the other 49%. Because it's only when they join us, with their 10-year olds and their 70-year olds, that anything is truly going to change here. 

So, back to that TfL statement at the very top. I don't have a 10-year old son or daughter. But if I did, I'd be saying 'boll-cks' to sharing the road. And I'd be thinking something like this: I'm not having my 10-year old cycle down there any more than I'd want my granddad cycling down there. If that's the sort of infrastructure and rules of the road you get when you say 'share the road', then you can take a running jump. There's nowhere on that road for them to cycle and feel safe, so I'm just going to get in my car with them instead. I'd like us all to cycle. But you've made it feel safer for us to get in the car.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Poll: What you think the City should be doing to improve cycling

Update: View our campaign page here

A couple of weeks ago, I popped a poll on to this site here asking people to nominate what they thought were the top priorities for improving cycling conditions in the City of London.

And so far, we've had over 140 responses, which is great.

A lot of people have put considerable time into responding and given detailed written responses in addition to filling out the online poll.

I'm really delighted as this represents a fairly sizeable group of people with intimate knowledge of cycling in the City of London.

I've been able to track where people are coming from and feel that the poll is quite representative of all sorts of different cycling tribes. We have responses from people who look at or subscribe to this blog but in addition, there's a good pool of Barbican residents from the BarbicanTalk forum, a good chunk of cycle hire users coming in through the Boris Bikes forum and at the opposite end of the spectrum from the London fixed-gear and single-speed forum. There's also a handful of people coming through the bikeradar forum and then through a range of cycling club pages as well. So, all in all, it feels like we have everything from new cyclists in the form of Boris bikers to fixed-gear junkies at the opposite extreme.

And what's really interesting is that the votes are not very polarising at all. There is a general trend towards pretty much the same top-three priorities, namely:

Top request) Implementation of a decent north-south route along main roads through the City where cyclists have proper space on the road and priority
Second request) Exactly the same but east-west
Joint third) More availability of Boris bikes
Joint third) More contraflow streets
Joint third) Segregated cycle routes along main routes

The numbers are moving about a little as more people submit their views, so this isn't yet definitive but it's interesting that what people are saying is that they want complete and obvious cycle routes through the City. Some people told me they thought the poll would fill up with people griping about a particular junction or a particular bridge. And some bridges and junctions do come in for heavy criticism but people seem to be saying (perhaps not surprisingly) that they see these junctions or other obstacles within the context of a desire for a proper route through the City where they get some proper road space and proper priority.
There's much more detail to it than that, particularly on how different people define what 'proper' road space for cycling means but the results are pretty conclusive.
I'll be analysing the data and trying to put some of the responses in context over the next couple of weeks. But for the meantime, if you haven't had a chance to fill out the poll, please add your thoughts here.