Monday, 24 January 2011

An example of a 'major scheme' - how the Square Mile doesn't fit cycling into its transport spending

Moor Lane - viewed today. Pretty ugly. But not bad to
cycle in. Not too dreadful to walk either.
The Barbican area strategy is one of the 'major schemes' that the City of London will be spending its transport money on. The major schemes make up nearly 26% of the money budgeting in the City local implementation plan. As such, they're hugely important to cycling as they represent the largest bulk of City spending on new streetscapes.

Moor Lane - the future. Lots of pedestrian space. Good.
Lots of trees. Good. Nowhere to cycle? Bad.
Moor Lane isn't a hugely nice environment at the moment, I'll be the first to admit. But one benefit is that you can cycle along without getting squashed by a taxi as it's wide enough for them to get past you on your bicycle.

The plan is to spend rather a lot of money making this street (and others around the Barbican to follow) look like a nicer place that has plants, trees and bat boxes.

And a massively narrowed road space.

Which will mean that cycling along here could become one of two things:

a) much more pleasant because motor vehicles won't use it as much and will travel more slowly
or
b) pretty horrific as vans driving to the phone exchange or taxis using the road as a rat run get even more impatient with people on bicycles blocking 'their' road space and preventing them from getting past. The net effect is that if you're on here on your bicycle, you become a living, breathing and moving speed hump.

How Germany does it. Lots of space for
walking. Good. Lots of trees. Good. AND
plenty of space for cycling. Good.
Very different to the City.
The City clearly thinks the former. It describes how the scheme will "encourage sustainable forms of transport". It will clearly become a slightly nicer place to walk. And that's a good thing. But this is the only sensible north-south route for cycling between the Museum of London and Moorgate. And I can't really see how it makes cycling - surely also a sustainable form of transport - much nicer. In fact, I fear it will make it worse.

On the left is a similar sort of space in Berlin. The footpath runs alongside the buildings. Then some trees and bike stands. Then a bike path. And then the road space.

The project is under valuation. Stakeholders, mainly Barbican residents and the people building the new residential tower block at the end of this street, from what I can tell, will be invited to comment over the next couple of months. The fact that 248 responses were sent and 'the majority' were positive seems to suggest this scheme will be going ahead.