Friday, 21 September 2012

CTC in a policy muddle

There's been a certain amount of CTC-bashing here of late, and also in other places. But I think CTC have a very difficult job to do. I really do. They have to be an "inclusive church". They have to reflect a very broad spectrum of views from within their ranks as to what cycling policy should be. This is in contrast to the position of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, which started as a movement of bloggers and cycle campaigners dissatisfied with the policies and performance records (in terms of improving cycling conditions and getting more cyclists on the roads) of existing organisations, like CTC, LCC and Cyclenation, and thus started from an ideological (in the best sense), not an inclusive standpoint. The Embassy doesn't have to reflect the views of those who disagree with it. They can just not support it, as they wish.

And some UK cyclists, quite a lot in fact, do not support the Embassy's, and this blog's, pro-cycling infrastructure stance. Some take a spectacularly different view. In response, I think, to my post yesterday, where I called on the new Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond, to
achieve far more emphasis on the provision of safe, high-quality, separated cycling infrastructure for cyclists in the UK
I had a Tweet from Andy Kewell (@VexedVeloist), who had this to say:
Sorry, but I want to ride where I want when I want by whatever route I want. I totally disagree with CEGB's segregation policy.
 I responded with:
Have you actually seen what it's like in the Netherlands Andy? How you have a great choice of routes, and they're all safe.
To which he responded:
Segregating cyclists off the roads is victim blaming, restricts choice of route and panders to drivers 'owning the road'.
After I retweeted his original tweet to my follwers, there developed an enormously long Twitter argument between Andy and others of the "Embassy persuasion". It would be too cumbersome to try to reproduce this here, and inappropriate, but I mention this for several reasons. One reason is that I know that this blog has quite a few Dutch readers. It is often very hard for the Dutch to understand quite what the "problem" is in UK cycling circles – to understand where the argument around separated infrastructure comes from in this country – and why cyclists here (and perhaps even more in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) can't seem to speak with one voice to government to demand clearly what they want.

I would like them to be able to appreciate it, for the more they do, the more, perhaps, they will be able to help us.

For Andy's views, which are not that unusual amongst UK cyclists, of course, embody a total, profound misunderstanding of the nature of the Dutch cycling solution, or paradigm, and a complete misunderstanding of what the Cycling Embassy and allied groups are campaigning for. Nobody holding these views can possibly have read thoroughly, and understood, the arguments advanced in this blog, or on the Embassy website, or on the Dutch-based English-Language cycling blogs A View From The Cycle Path (David Hembrow) or BicycleDutch (Mark Wagenbuur).

Moreover, they clearly can't have experienced cycling in the modern Netherlands themselves. Well I happen to know that Andy lives in Southend, Essex, which is just a shot train journey, or a 60 mile bike ride, from the port of Harwich (the ride would be partly on very dangerous and almost unavoidable trunk roads, of course, like the A120, for this is the UK). From Harwich one gets in one sea hop to the Hook of Holland, and from there, on wide, convenient, safe, fun, cycle paths, of course, to the rest of the Netherlands. I hope Andy makes that journey some time.

It can be quite difficult, because of the culture differences, not because of the reality, to deal with this "big issue" some British, North American and Australasian cyclists have about the "choice of route" and "being banned from roads", if they have not seen and experienced the reality of cycling in the Netherlands for themselves. David Hembrow has a good stab at getting over this mental block of theirs in his post on unravelling of modes:
Should our intrepid cyclist defy the sign and cycle with this bus and van [behind the noise barriers], he/she would simply find another set of traffic lights four hundred metres from this one.
Fighting for the "right to ride" on roads such as this one would be a meaningless gesture. No-one is interested in doing so, because it makes no sense at all to prefer to ride in those conditions. This is a road which exists to deal with the consequences of cars.
Another way of putting it was stated by a Dutch person on a blog comment I read somewhere, sometime, which I recall as something like:
For a British cyclist to come to the Netherlands and say to a Dutch cyclist "How do you cope with being banned from so many roads?" is a bit like an American coming to the UK and saying: "You know that socialised national health system you have over here? Does it actually prevent you from doing open heart surgery on your grandfather in your garden shed if you want to?" 
Laugh Out Loud: the point being that both questions prove to be comically irrelevant to the person to whom they are addressed, who understands the national infrastructural and cultural background.

Sorry, "right to the road" freaks, but cycling is banned on this road in Assen because it makes sense to ban cycling here. The road is going into a tunnel under a railway, but the excellent two-way cycle tracks on both sides of the road make the ban completely irrelevant. But such examples, away from the motorway network, are rare.
Though I don't know if he is member of not, the CTC clearly feels it has to accommodate the under-informed views of people like Andy. Hence, I suspect, their problems and contortions around policy. These have been extremely-well illustrated by the correspondence recently on a post of The Alternative Department for Transport blog, in which I and the two senior policy-makers at CTC, Roger Geffen and Chris Juden, have had their say.

The discussion there got on to the CTC and DfT-approved formula for cycle provision in the UK known as the Hierarchy of Provision. I, and the Embassy, are opposed to the Hierarchy of Provision. We think it makes no sense at all as a policy. For a clearly-argued dissection of why this is, see At War With the Motorist (Joe Dunckley). Here is the Hierarchy, lifted from the CTC website:

Consider first
Traffic reduction

Speed reduction

Junction treatment, hazard site treatment, traffic management

Reallocation of carriageway space (e.g. bus lanes, widened nearside lanes, cycle lanes)

Cycle tracks away from roads
Consider last
Conversion of footways/footpaths to shared use cycle tracks for pedestrians and cyclists

A correspondent on the Alternative DfT blog questioned why Dutch-style high-quality segregated cycle tracks on main roads, which seem to to be, to so many people, the critical "missing ingredient" that the UK needs to adopt to begin to properly accommodate cycling, appear to be discouraged by CTC by being either placed near the bottom of the Hierarchy, or not mentioned at all, depending on your interpretation of what the unclear terms in the last two rows of the Hierarchy actually mean. (If they are cycle tracks, they are not away from roads, those are cycle paths, and if they are shared use, they are not proper Dutch-style dedicated cycle tracks.)

This is the kind of thing for which the CTC/DfT Hierarchy of Provision seems to find no place, the segregated but not shared-use cycle track alongside a road, in this case, Royal College Street, Camden, London.

Chris Juden then came up with this reply, which I quote in full:

The Hierarchy of Provision is lifted straight out of DUTCH planning advice. THEIR top priority is to create calm neighbourhoods where people can live, play, walk and ride bikes in safety and only drive motor vehicles with great caution. They call it a Woonerf. Outside the Woonerf, if the traffic speeds and volumes are low, they still don’t separate bikes from cars on quiet country lanes for example. Slightly busier low-speed roads get on-highway cycle lanes (a whole lot wider than UK ever provides of course), but Dutch PRIORITY is to make those roads less busy: interrupt them (not for bikes though) and send through traffic another way. 
Separate sidepaths are a last resort for the Dutch too. They are provided where the road simply must carry significant traffic at a much higher than cycling speed. 
All this is in Hembrow and Wagenbuur, but they concentrate on the separate sidepaths because that’s the most concrete difference between what they have and what we don’t have. 
No actually it isn’t. There’s something else, involving a whole lot more concrete that Hembrow and Wagenbuur completely ignore. The Dutch motorway network. The Dutch can close roads to through motor traffic to create Woonerfen and reduce capacity on other roads to make room for high quality off carriageway cycle tracks because they have not been shy about building ring roads and motorways for the displaced traffic. Go onto Google maps and check out any Dutch city. I challenge you to find any part of any city that is more than 10km from a motorway or does not have a complete ring road. Now go look at London on the same scale. Or any British City. They all still depend upon general purpose roads to get traffic around through and out of the city, roads on ancient alignments that provide the line of least cycling resistance but intersect in maelstroms like Bow and cannot be equipped with good quality cycle infrastructure so long as so much motor traffic has to go that way too. It’s a problem for anyone who wants cyclepaths but opposes new road schemes, which is probably most cycle campaigners.

It's hard for me to know where to begin in trying to answer Chris here. I can live (as I have to) with the odd correspondent on Twitter, like Andy Kewell, completely misunderstanding the Dutch paradigm, but when an almost equal incomprehension is displayed by a senior policy person at the UK's largerst cycling organisation, it is deeply disappointing, and it shows all too clearly why the Embassy had to be founded.

So let's start at the beginning, and take this apart bit by bit. It's going to be a long process.
Juden: 
The Hierarchy of Provision is lifted straight out of DUTCH planning advice.
Words may have been copied, but nationally-specific understandings and assumptions often underlie simple words, and mislead. Clearly a massive misinterpretation has taken place in translation from whatever the "Dutch planning advice" was to its interpretation in CTC/DfT policy, as the Dutch do not "consider last" segregated cycle tracks as a solution for busy main roads which cyclists need to use. Such tracks are near-universal in the Netherlands now on such roads.
Juden: 
THEIR top priority is to create calm neighbourhoods where people can live, play, walk and ride bikes in safety and only drive motor vehicles with great caution. They call it a Woonerf.
Complete nonsense. The Netherlands is not some fairy-land dedicarted to "calm neighbourhoods where people can live, play, walk and ride bikes in safety and only drive motor vehicles with great caution". The Netherlands is a modern industrialised nation with everything any other similar nation has: high-speed roads, railways, tram and busways, industrial waterways and docks, and huge-scale industry, retail, and industrial agriculture. This is all accomodated by Dutch planning. It ain't a fairyland. It's a working and very economically successful country, surprise, surprise! But the overriding principle, where cycling is concerned, is separation from motor traffic. Anyone who spends any time cycling there can see that, and feel and experience it – whatever the CTC, or even contextually misunderstood Dutch planning guidance, say.

Amusing cartoon, CTC, but let's have a bit less of the fairyland, and a bit more understanding of how it actually works in a real country only 127 miles away.
True Woonerven cover a tiny percentage of the area of Dutch towns and cities. They are areas where the streets are dedicated to walking and play, the top speed is "walking pace", and they have nothing whatever to do with the facilitation of fast, efficient bike journeys on the high-quality, backbone cycling infrastructure, which will be elsewhere (though small cycle paths will always connect housing in the Woonerf to that infrastructure). They are not the normal or default treatment for residential areas either. There is a total misunderstanding here of the nature, scale, and role of Woonerven evidenced in Chris Juden's statement.

This is serious transport infrastructure in the Netherlands, this kind of thing is a "top priority" there (to mimic Juden's language of claimed priorities) and it has absolutely nothing to do with woonerven. If you think this is not Dutch "top priority", consider, why was the canal on the right moved two metres sideways at vast expense to accommodate this cycle track?
Juden: 
Outside the Woonerf, if the traffic speeds and volumes are low, they still don’t separate bikes from cars on quiet country lanes for example.
Actually, they do if they need to! Go and look. It depends what you mean by "quiet", of course, but, if there is demand, if it is an important road for cycling (especially for children to cycle to school on) and there is, by UK standards, any significant motor traffic on it at all, they separate. Everywhere.

There's only a few cars a minute on this country road near Assen, but that's enough to warrant separation with cycle paths.
Juden: 
Slightly busier low-speed roads get on-highway cycle lanes (a whole lot wider than UK ever provides of course), but Dutch PRIORITY is to make those roads less busy: interrupt them (not for bikes though) and send through traffic another way.
No it's not. Dutch priority is to separate cars and bikes. Go and look and experience. Juden is confusing several classes of solution here: cycle lanes on roads that have significant traffic (usually in suburbs, where the roads have not yet been rebuilt to the latest fully-segregated standards), cycle lanes on roads that have nothing except a small amount of essential access traffic on them (usually in town centres), and cycle lanes on "bicycle roads" that have to provide access to a few residential properties as well, and are there to emphasise the "cycle priority" aspect of the road. In all cases it's not about "making roads less busy" in the sense in which that phrase would be understood in the UK context. It's about reliable, full separation.

Here's a "bicycle road" with cycle lanes that turns into a totally car-free cycle path. It is only not totally car-free for the section in the foreground because it provides access to some houses, but it's virtually as good as if it were, and the advisory cycle lanes indicate cycle priority.
Juden: 
Separate sidepaths are a last resort for the Dutch too. They are provided where the road simply must carry significant traffic at a much higher than cycling speed.
I've already dealt with this one. (But I am not sure why Juden adopts the American terminology, from Forester, of "sidepaths". We call them "cycle tracks" in the UK.) It makes no sense to call something a "last resort" where it is the automatic, univeral solution for a certain type of road. To put it like this, in English, and in the British context, is simply misleading. The whole concept of a hierarchy of provision makers no sense, from this perspective. Decisions on appropriate solutions for any road have to start from a decision on the function of a road, not from a universal template hierarchy. The Netherlands is a modern industrial nation, as I have said. It needs big, fast roads for transport. Sometimes, as in the UK, these have to coincide with the only available cycle route, for reasons of geography or history. The difference is that the Dutch always provide the high-quality cycle track, the British almost never do.

A cycle track like this on a major through-road like this (between Assen and Groningen) is not a "last resort" in the Netherlands, it is the only solution that is used in these circumstances.
Juden: 
All this is in Hembrow and Wagenbuur, but they concentrate on the separate sidepaths because that’s the most concrete difference between what they have and what we don’t have.
Well, no they don't, and no it's not. Read them and make your own mind up. If you search A view from the cycle path under "segregation without cycle paths" (one of the options offered in the right-hand menu) you get article after article explaining most carefully the other options in the Dutch cycle planning armoury. The differences in the way minor roads are organised in towns and cities is at least as profound a difference between Dutch and British practice as is the provision of cycle tracks. As Hembrow explains:
Over the last few decades, the Netherlands has unwoven the networks of car and bicycle routes. If you compare routes for the same journey by bicycle and by car, then in very many cases you will find that the two routes are very different to one another.
Again, the over-riding policy is the separation of bikes from motor traffic, whether its through cycle paths, cycle lanes, cycle tracks, cycle roads, or separated routes that use a whole battery of measures in their completion.
Juden: 
No actually it isn’t. There’s something else, involving a whole lot more concrete that Hembrow and Wagenbuur completely ignore. The Dutch motorway network. The Dutch can close roads to through motor traffic to create Woonerfen and reduce capacity on other roads to make room for high quality off carriageway cycle tracks because they have not been shy about building ring roads and motorways for the displaced traffic. Go onto Google maps and check out any Dutch city. I challenge you to find any part of any city that is more than 10km from a motorway or does not have a complete ring road. Now go look at London on the same scale. Or any British City. They all still depend upon general purpose roads to get traffic around through and out of the city, roads on ancient alignments that provide the line of least cycling resistance but intersect in maelstroms like Bow and cannot be equipped with good quality cycle infrastructure so long as so much motor traffic has to go that way too. It’s a problem for anyone who wants cyclepaths but opposes new road schemes, which is probably most cycle campaigners.
No, Hembrow and Wagenbuur don't ignore motorways. You can search A view from the cycle path again for references to motorways, and a huge number of illuminating articles come up, often on topics most British cyclists would never have thought about, such as how noise from motorways is kept away from cyclists (and residents). And you can read BicycleDutch's explanations of how cyclists are guided through, over and under motorway junctions and networks.

But once again, here, there are errors and misinterpretations in terminology leading us astray. For while the Dutch do have the huge roads that we in the UK call "motorways", of course, most of their "motorways" are not this. They are the equivalent of a certain type of British A-class road. The Dutch do not have an equivalent category of road to the UK "A" road, because the UK's category would be too broad for them, covering, as it does, such a vast range of road-types, from six-lane, "motorway-in-all-but-name"-type trunk roads, through densely-active shopping streets in towns, down to heavily-trafficked two-lane country lanes and little-used single track roads in remote areas such as the Scottish Highlands.

The Dutch have built the bypasses and ring-roads as the British have. But they did something crucially different at the same time. They made motor traffic take those new roads, and didn't leave the old roads open, without altertation, in the fatally-flawed way that the UK did, so just adding motor capacity. At the same time, Dutch planning, over many decades, separated roads by their function, so those roads defined as "motorways" (which need not be very wide roads) were specialised only to take through motor traffic, not to provide direct access to shops and schools and workplaces. The category of "access roads" was developed to do just that, provide that access, but not to transfer traffic at the same time between districts.

The doctrine of the mono-functional road became part of the framework of sustainable safety, and cycle networks were enabled in large part by the removal of much traffic from roads defined as outside the motorway network by this ongoing programmne of the separation of functions of the diffrerent classes of road. The process is not complete of course, and is not perfect. But it has created "main roads" strikingly different from their UK equivalents, where so many functions are attempted to be accommodated on such roads simultaneously: through-traffic movement, access to shops, schools and businesses, bus routes, cycle and pedestrian routes.

The DfT website has this picture as a banner on their "roads" pages as I suspect illustrating something they think well-designed, but it's  a typical British multi-functional road (The Cut, London SE1), attempting to do too many jobs ineffectively.
So nearly everything now seems to be different in the Dutch road and street fabric from how it is in the UK's. It is hard to adequately summarise the differences in a short essay, and, again, I urge everybody to go and see it for themselves. The huge contrast, with so many things being different at once, poses a challenge of interpretation and explanation to UK audiences, and it becomes remarkable to reflect that these nations are only separated by 130 miles of sea. People like Juden are confused because so much is different, and they pick out certain things which they think are critical differences, when they need to better interpret the whole.

Where Juden says:
I challenge you to find any part of any city that is more than 10km from a motorway or does not have a complete ring road. Now go look at London on the same scale.
I do so, and I find that because of the separation of functions on Dutch roads, large and small, and the differences of road definition, this is not a meaningful challenge. There are places in London more than 10km from a motorway (but not my house, which is 2km from the M1). But they are not more than 10km away from a road that Dutch planners, in all probability, would have re-interpreted and planned as a "distributor road", gradually removing its direct access functions, over time, had they been in charge here since 1950. So we've got a long-term planning challenge here, of that there is no doubt.

I am certain that we will never make the UK's roads quite like Dutch roads. It's a different country, and differences, including some major differences, are certain to always remain, for reasons cultural, topographic, geographic, economic and political. But we could start to take parts of their best practice and interpret them as best we can into what we have. As I have seen done in some of the very different cities of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany, and has no doubt been done in many places that I haven't visited. To start with, we need to stop so strenuously finding reasons "why it can't be done here". Come on, CTC, let's have some vision!

Segregated cycle track on main road, near Geneva, Switzerland. It's not flat here. And it's not Cycletopia, but it's much better than the UK.

39 comments:

  1. Great post, so much to digest.

    I agree about the confusion in the UK though, because having cycled for weeks in the NL I didn't really recognise the term segregation. There is an awfully good balance, and you don't necessarily feel "segregated" when the road isn't suitable anyway. There are plenty of roads in the UK where cycles aren't allowed. It's just there aren't suitable alternatives, you're just fucked, and people DO NOT cycle around many motorway intersections with any frequency, so the nay sayers are actually expressing a preference for no cycling. Thanks for the post.

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  2. I missed the back-and-forth debate on the Alternative Department for Transport blog, but this from Chris Juden made me chuckle -

    "The Dutch can close roads to through motor traffic to create Woonerfen and reduce capacity on other roads to make room for high quality off carriageway cycle tracks because they have not been shy about building ring roads and motorways for the displaced traffic."

    Which, by implication, suggests that the British *have* been "shy" about building ring roads and motorways. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

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  3. An absolutely outstanding article David. Thank you.

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  4. I personally think that any road with a speed limit of over 30 mph should be legally confined to motor vehicles only, but with the proviso that there is a legal requirement for an alternative route of sufficient quality for non-motorised traffic. Cycling around London is not great (if you are a fit young(ish) bloke like me it's generally OK if you keep your wits about you, to borrow a phrase), but for me going on more rural A-roads with cars whizzing past at 60+ mph is serious brown-trousers time. During a recent cycling trip to East Anglia my girlfriend was in tears as we rode on the only road between two towns, she was so scared. And this is someone who cycles to work through London's unwelcoming streets. I really do not understand how people can want to cycle on roads like that.

    It's also a lot easier sell to the general population if you say that you want to get bikes off the road. That is much easier for people to sign up to than blanket reductions in the speed limit, or measures to actively make things more difficult for car users, which seems to be the top priority for the CTC (I'm not sure how you can achieve 'traffic reduction' without this).

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  5. Great article David.

    Chris Juden misunderstands the Netherlands. The CTC has a record of viewing the world of cycling through "right to ride" goggles & this has happened repeatedly.

    Their ignorance is not entirely the CTC's fault. Dutch over-confidence in English and lack of experience of British context leads to disasterously confusing mistranslations of their own documents. It's very easy to misunderstand unless one has lived in both countries for a long period of time and few people have the opportunity to walk a mile in the other person's shoes.

    We must not paint all CTC members with one brush. The vocal few who write articles and set policy influence others, but not all members share their opinions. One past National Council member and Director of CTC advocated Dutch infrastructure. He had lived here and came to understand it better than most.

    Chris either has not read or not understood the articles that I wrote to explain why having "only" 30000 km of high quality cycle-path in a country with 120000 km of road does not mean cyclists "sharing" with motorists as in the UK. Where routes are common, there are cycle-paths. Where there are no cycle-paths, the modes are unravelled and the road is not "shared".

    It's true that I've rarely covered motorways on my blog except, as David points out, to illustrate management of noise and how plans to build them were a subject of campaigning in Groningen.

    When driving in the Netherlands, apart from start & end points, cyclists are rarely seen. Unravelling on a country-wide scale. Driving routes use roads from which cyclists are banned, including motorways. Drivers stay on these roads. Cutting cross-country for a "straight line" route results in a much lower average speed. Country roads exclude drivers, have low speed limits and prioritise people.

    The CTC advocated motorways to reduce the motor traffic on roads used by cyclists. In the Netherlands, roads were made relatively inhospital for cars and this actually happened.

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  6. It is extraordinarily sad that CTC presents nonsensical arguments against successful Dutch policies. For 60 years the UK's largest cycling organisation emphasized a combination of "right to ride" campaigning and training children while cycling in the UK has been in steady decline. By comparison, NL suffered a similar post-war decline but a change in policies resulted in four decades of growth despite considerable demographic challenges which come only from whole population cycling.

    In summary, much is lost in translation between the NL and the UK. This is why we do tours. Sadly, the tours have not been popular amongst CTC types opposed to Dutch cycling infrastructure, so the opportunity to explain and demonstrate how it works so well to people like Chris does not arise.

    p.s. Chris, you've missed the boat on woonerven, which were popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. New housing developments don't look like that. However, they do use a range of methods to attract people to cycling.

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  7. A very learned disquisition which nonetheless seems to me to suffer from the delusion afflicting much of the Embassy end of the campaign.

    I have debated elsewhere (http://lyricalcyclist.tumblr.com/post/12159030999/lanes-paths-and-blind-alleys) about the exact degree to which Dutch practices can be directly applied to the UK. In general, I am in favour of applying Dutch practices more or less wholesale, but there seems to be widespread confusion about the context in which that infrastructure came to be applied in NL.

    My fundamental point of disagreement is this. Do you think provision in UK is so poor because:
    a) politicians are unaware of the detail of Dutch infrastructure, and are simply waiting for a weighty tome from the GB Embassy to set them straight on how wide a cycle path should be, etc?
    b) civil servants are quavering at the prospect of a unified front between CTC, GBEmbassy etc, at which point they will immediately comply with our requests?
    c) most politicians don't, fundamentally, give a toss about cycling provision and aren't going to do anything substantial about it because there simply aren't yet enough regular, committed cyclists to make a difference at election time?

    Yes, it looks good for politicians to ride a bike (even if they use it as an excuse to be rude to the police). Yes, they like having a picture taken with Brad and Vicky. But are they really going to annoy the road lobby, the Daily Mail etc, by redesigning the road network, and, inevitably, taking road space from cars? Of course not. Look at Boris: he's used all of the positive imagery of cycling to his favour, while doing virtually nothing of any substance to improve conditions for cyclists.

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    1. You criticise Boris in your post for doing 'virtually nothing of any substance to improve conditions for cyclists' and then immediately praise the London cycle hire scheme (which you call Boris Bikes) in the second half below. I know the scheme might have originally been dreamt up by Ken, but it was basically ripped off Paris anyway and Boris has been instrumental in its continued expansion (which is undergoing phase 3 in 2013/14).

      Moreover, the (admittedly PARTIALLY) segregated cycle lanes introduced by Boris as the cycle superhighways (yes I know they're crap in many ways) have seen increased numbers of cyclists on both them and parallel routes, AND much of this increase has come from NEW cyclists.

      You say we need to 'build mass support among people who haven't previously cycled'. Well, clearly both Boris bikes and Boris's cycle superhighways (especially for the sections in which they are segregated) have been instrumental in doing this in London.

      So why this exaggerated claim about Boris?

      Moreover, you say that Britain does not have anyway near the cycling modal share NL had when they put in segregated lanes. This is valid.

      However, it is NOT a valid reason for CTC not to prioritise segregated lanes.

      If CTC have to then make a political concession and only get a 20mph speed limit instead, fine.

      But the FIRST objective should always be segregated lanes, not traffic reduction.

      (If anything traffic reduction is harder to implement politically anyway!)

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  8. Part 2


    This is where comparisons with NL are really important. In 1970s, when the Dutch began their cycling infrastructure, modal share across the country was approx 25%. It had come down from over 50% in the previous 20 years. So, there was a massive voting population of active and recently active cyclists who could see the benefit of, and vote for, improvements in facilities. We have, what, 3% share, if we're lucky. That's the important comparison with NL, not nit-picking about ring roads. And until we get over 10% we are unlikely to have much impact with politicians. In that respect, CTC is right. We have to use quick and simple

    Of course, if we implemented a Dutch policy in UK overnight, we would have more cyclists. That's obvious. But it's not going to happen without a much broader base of political support. We all know there are important long term benefits to public health, the environment, even the economy, by encouraging cycling. But anyone who thinks politicians are interested in a 20-year time-frame has surely been living on Mars.

    In general, I think the GBCE does good work. But it has, for me, a flavour of worthiness and self-congratulation. Look how clever we are, it says, we know exactly how wide an approved Dutch cycle path is. It is preaching to the converted. I'm sure that feels good. I'm also fairly sure that it will have very little long term effect.

    Look at what has made a difference in the past couple of years. The Times' campaign, a mainstream campaign that reaches out beyond special interest groups to influence mainstream opinion. Olympic and TDF success, which projects a positive image of cycling before a mass audience. Boris Bikes, which give people the chance to see how quick and enjoyable cycling can be without making any kind of commitment. We need to build mass support among people who haven't previously cycled. Two campaigners, who both cycle regularly, arguing about woonerfs (or even about woonerven), will not, with all respect, change anything at all.

    There are lots of things we can do quite quickly, which will build up cycling numbers to the level at which a serious, engineered network of cycle paths will have a chance of success. A serious crack-down on dangerous driving, which will banish horrors like the recent £350 fine for deliberate assault; 20mph limits; two-way cycling in one-way streets; better secure cycle parking in cities; an improved cycle to work scheme; easing restrictions on cycling in parks (in London, anyway); more child cycle training; closing one end of residential streets to create quiet back routes; I even think a properly-implemented LCN network, one which was intelligently designed and signposted, would make a big difference. In lieu of decent physical signposts, there must be IT solutions to create quiet routes on GPS or smartphone.

    All of the above could be implemented in six months, and most of them would have an immediate benefit. As I say, I'm sure a full Dutch solution would encourage even more people to cycle. But then, the Dutch had at least 25% modal share when they started building their infrastructure. That's why Dutch studies matter.

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    1. Where does this 10% figure come from? Is is something which has been demonstrated elsewhere?

      Despite the fact that cycling in the UK has decreased in popularity to a level the Dutch have not seen since the bicycle was new, there are still a number of voters, in the most reliable demographics for voting, who have fond memories of when it was relatively normal to use a bicycle as a mode of transport.

      Your two-part comment seems to be little more than an exercise in finding reasons why the UK is a doomed cycling nation. We have little evidence to suggest that a pick & mix approach will be the right way to go. We do know what works, and it seems better to focus on getting that message out there than coming up with reasons why it can't be done here.

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  9. Thanks for the compliment about the "learned disquisition" Matthew, and for yours.

    Unfortunately there in nothing new in all of what you say here. I, and the Embassy founders, have heard all these arguments hundreds of times before. We founded the Embassy because we found fault with these arguments. We noted that they had been getting put for decades, with almost zero success.

    I guess you don't actually have the practical (and ongoing) campaigning experience that I have. Your views sound highly theoretical to me and not grounded in the reality that I experience. For, to take your a(a), (b) and (c) points, I know for a fact that there are a great many politicians at local and national level who wish to radically improve cycling conditions in the UK. And I know for a fact, from daily conversations that i have, that a major problem holding this back is actually a lack of technical understanding amongst road engineers and planners of how successful cycling infrastructure works. Inadequate guidance from the DfT to local authorities is at the root of so many poor cycle facilities and wasted money. So this area of work, spreading of knowledge, that is a major part of what the CEoGB was set up to do, is absolutely vital.

    There are problems with your prescription of "lots of things we can do quite quickly". If all of these were so easy to do quite quickly, they would have been done long ago. People have been saying for many decades "a crack down on dangerous driving would be a quick and easy solution", but it never happens, because the idea is politically naive. Most people do not look upon "dangerous driving" as the problem that cyclists do, and this is not going to change quickly. You talk of a "delusion affecting the Embassy end of the campaign", but this is the much bigger delusion affecting your end of the campaign (whatever end that is). Other of your points are just parts of the Dutch paradigm (contraflow cycling on one-ways, filtered permeability) that are being argued for here, so we have no disagreement on those.

    The sad part about your contribution though its its defeatism about spread of good practice. Senior figures in CTC and other organisations often strike a similar tone. That's one of the things the Embassy was set up to fight against, and fight it we jolly well will. I've discussed such defeatism before here and here. Iv'e argued that this defeatism is part of our problem. Because if you look at the experience, you discover that we CAN bring high-quality infrastructure to the UK as a FIRST STEP, and it can work, and everything else follows from that – including, I believe, some of the growth of cycling that we've seen in London in the last few years.

    Good practice in infrastructure is essentially just a form of knowledge, and knowledge spreads fast these days. The spread of good practice in cycle infrastructure design is I believe a natural and inevitable process. The CEoGB and LCC are trying to help it along and speed the process, but iI believe it will come anyway. That is my view, which is the polar opposite of your political defeatism.

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    1. (Continued)

      Trying to build up the numbers first, through "soft measures" such as training and "cycle to work" schemes, without changing the environment, doesn't work. CTC has been promoting that failed strategy for a very long time. Your idea that "all of the above [your suggested solutions] could be implemented in six months" is an idea pulled out of your head that bears no relation to the practical experience of campaigners in London or elsewhere.

      Your carping criticism of the CEoGB is misplaced and ill-informed. "Preaching to the converted" is exactly what we are not about. Just look at the CEOGB "news" page and see what we have been doing – a list that is quite impressive for an organisation less than two years old I think. And more things go on behind the scenes. I believe (am pretty sure in fact) that The Times campaign, and subsequent parliamentary and London Assembly debates, would not have been as they have been had it not been for Embassy influence, which has, I believe, been quite extraordinary considering the newness of the organisation.

      The Embassy will work with all organisations and individuals who have the same goal as us, mass cycling in the UK. If all UK cycling organisation had a unified front, no it would not make "civil servants quiver", but it would make the progress I believe we will inevitably see come rather quicker. Why don't you join in constructively?

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    2. I don't indeed have your experience of practical campaigning, David, and I wish you every success with your good work. I do still have some queries about how a Dutch system can work in UK. They may be theoretical, but I'm sure you'd agree that a secure historical grasp of what happened in NL is necessary to replicate their success here.

      I have cycled extensively in NL myself, and find that one of the best features of its provision is that it is a continuous, integrated network, so that whether I cam cycling through the middle of Amsterdam, or a tiny village in Friesland, well signposted and co-ordinated cycling routes will take me anywhere I need to go. So, even if we can install sections of Dutch-style infrastructure, it won't constitute a properly Dutch system until whole towns and cities (even - just think of it - countryside) are linked by safe, traffic-free routes. And I don't see that happening for a long time.

      Nor has anyone I've read explained how we can seriously expect to implement a fully Dutch system with only 2-3% of modal share, when the Dutch had 25-50%. I just don't think we have the necessary influence to have the road network systematically re-designed, and space taken away from cars. I think that's a realistic assessment, based on a statistical grasp of where cycling is, rather than defeatist.

      The big problem is, surely, political will. If DfT engineers were told by DfT politicians and civil servants to pull their fingers out and design cycling infrastructure properly, I'm sure they could. My simple measures - the 20 limits, cycling element in the driving test, change to the law re using a car as a weapon etc - have not been implemented not because they wouldn't work but because we haven't even got the political will to confront the road lobby even to the extent of punishing gross acts of violence, let alone taking away road space up and down the country for bike infrastructure. Quite simply, there aren't enough cycling voters to make our voice count, yet. I'm sure there are politicians who would like to help (though only the Greens actually carry their ideas through, in my experience), but when hard decisions have to be made, they look at the voting numbers, and instead of a significant, engineered solution, we get a silly piece of fluff like this Think campaign.

      I accept, of course, that the Netherlands offers the most complete model of how to cater for cyclists, but given where we are in the UK, I wonder whether other international models might not be used as an interim measure to get cycling to the 10-20% share at which we would have real political influence. The obvious example is Portland, of course, where within ten years they have increased cycling from almost nothing to 10% or so, within a more aggressively car-centred transport culture than we have here, by using a network of quiet back-street routes not so very different from a well-designed LCN. There are others we might look at as well, like Ferrara in Italy, or Osaka in Japan, which - I believe, I haven't cycled there - has a nearly 25% cycling share with fairly minimal infrastructure.

      Don't think I don't like infrastructure. I would love to wake up one morning and find it installed across UK. But I also think we should look at quick ways to build cycling numbers, which will then get us the influence we need.

      I also think we should acknowledge more widely that despite the problems, things have improved substantially already. CTC may not be perfect, but I believe they deserve some credit for this. I heard Rob Penn once describe how, as a cycle commuter in Nineties London, he knew every other cyclist in Hyde Park by name, there were so few. That situation seems as distant from where we are now as the Dutch system does.

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    3. I wonder what the modal share for driving when the motorway network was first being seriously drawn up...?

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  10. People can criticise the CEoGB all they like, but it's the only organisation in the UK (actually I can really only speak of London) that I feel fully represents my views.

    Although the LCC seems to be moving in the right direction, I find that despite what the CTC says these days, when I look at their website I still find it full of the usual crap giving the government an excuse to do almost nothing: training and cycle promotion. And this bloody "right to ride" looming over everything which encourages people to try to come up with two-tier solutions which cater for the "fast commuter" crowd separately from normal people, and screw things up for everybody in the process.

    Does anybody who cycles here HONESTLY think that there is a good understanding of proper cycling infrastructure in the UK? If there were, then we wouldn't have the complete crap that we do, even when vast amounts of money are spent on major road redesigns.

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  11. I live in Holland and I don't feel restricted at all when I ride my bike to, sometimes, distant places. Segregation is great, not just for cyclists, but for other road-users as well. It makes cycling safer and more pleasant.

    The nay-sayers should visit the Continent and see how it's done over here.

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    1. Yes, and in contrast to the UK, provision is often (usually?) made for cyclists (and other non-motorway traffic too) by the side of the motorways that Chris Juden is keen to introduce into his arguments, e.g.

      http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ll=51.980228,4.39642&spn=0.080145,0.135441&t=m&z=13&layer=c&cbll=51.980804,4.396161&panoid=ujAz4cqSRvNxHkgsL-QtXw&cbp=12,326.49,,0,11.06

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  12. I know this blog has reservations about sports cycling, but bear with me. I watched a lot of the cycling world championship today ( held in NL for those who don't follow). What struck me was how much of the road (blocked to cars for the day) had seriously good cycle paths at the side. There was the glorious sight of competitive dad on a tandem, with kid on the back, on said cycle path trying to keep up with the pros on the main road. He did pretty well - Dutch cycle paths ain't slow.

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    1. Luke,

      Dutch cycle paths ain't slow. The paths usually lay pretty still on the ground, here on the continent.
      Sometimes the cyclists on it are, I admit: I sometimes end up behind a granny (>50) with full-loaded bags in the city. I politely tag along, because I know that can happen on the more densily ridden parts of my commute. Or schoolcrowds, riding 2 or 3 abreast, swearving the total width.
      That's what you get, when you allow non-fit non-dedicated people to get on bikes.
      And all of those people fit on the path, fit together to make
      traffic (that's a different word than your traffic. I found London only bearable as a pedestrian)

      Delete
  13. Just noticed on this page:
    http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4928

    The title on the actual page is:
    "The Hierarchy in Practice"

    But the title tag (displaying in the title bar) is:
    "What's wrong with off-road?"

    A minor oversight I'm sure. :)

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  14. It may seem that campaigners for Dutch style cycling infrastructure are banging their heads against a brick wall when faced with attitudes such as those personified by the Vexed Veloist. However, as one of those routinely labelled as a MAMIL by certain sections of the media, and a formerly self-professed "vehicular" cyclist I have been reformed, both by what I read here and on other blogs; and through my own experiences. I suspect that VexedVeloist is assuming that being "forced" to ride on segregated paths would be analagous to the parlous situation which extends in the UK. Of course, the situation is so completely different to this perception that it beggars belief that an intelligent person could ever prefer to ride on British roads to the Dutch integrated cycle network. In other words, keep it up. The message is getting through!

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  15. Probably CTC have made it too easy for people to be able to criticise them, but at least they have a Hierarchy of Provision. As far as I can tell, this is more than other organisations can claim. I am guessing that David Arditti would have the development of high-quality infrastructure at the very top of his list, but as to what would follow, I can only guess.

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    1. What I support is principles of separation. That is, you first decide what type of road it is and what its purpose should be in both the car and bike network, and the treatment of it follows inevitably from that, not from a hierarchy or list of options (because giving options means we always get the worst one in our current climate of low priority for bikes). The Danish Principles of Separation specify how much separation you need as a function of the speed and volume of traffic on the road.

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    2. The problem with the CTC's Hierarchy of Provision is that instead of demanding concrete infrastructure which would make cycling safe, fast and convenient it dissolves into windy platitudes.

      It also downgrades the Dutch principle of separation to the end of the Hierarchy.

      The CTC also idolises York as a place which implements the Hierarchy. If you think York is a great city for cycling then I am afraid you have completely lost the plot. Sadly, there is no shortage of cycling bloggers and cycling activists who have.

      David Arditti is an impressive campaigner because he has shown what can be achieved at a local level (i.e the segregated cycle paths in Bloomsbury). And as he has previously shown, among the biggest obstacles to good cycling infrastructure are cycling campaigners committed to the 'share the road' philosophy.

      Personally I'd like to see the entire CTC staff exercising their "right to ride" on the A3 around Guildford once a week. I would be willing to contribute to subsequent funeral expenses.

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  16. Hi

    I would really like to see some pictures of the separation principle applied in towns where there is not the acres of space there apears to be in the photos in this article. I've tried to imagine it where I live but can't visualise how it would work. Even if you shut roads to create a network of cul-de-sacs, with access for bikes, that doesn't achieve it, does it? Thanks if you have any links to things like this.

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  17. Amsterdam? Certainly not acres of space there. Or is there? The trouble is that anywhere that's well-planned will look like there's acres of space in photos. And anywhere that's badly planned will look like a congested, constricted mess. When you take all the parked cars out of a typical British city street, it always looks like there's acres of space suddenly.

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  18. Those Amsterdam one look great but, apart from the second one down, they still are wider than most town streets here: you can see arrangement of 2x cycle track, 2x pavements, 2x parking bays and then the road one lane each way. I could see you could get that by converting a dual carriageway. Or maybe if the 'one lane each way' space was squeezed more than traffic planning usually allows? To me that seems to be the nut to crack in this country - showing what is possible in more difficult sections of road.

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  19. This is a very pervasive idea, that streets in the UK are narrower than those elsewhere, butI don't think anybody could possibly show it. I don't think anybody has ever measured the widths of all the roads and streets in a British city (say Manchester) and averaged them out, and then done the same in Amsterdam, and showed that Dutch streets are wider. I think it extremely unlikely that if this exercise was carried out it would show anything significant at all. There are streets of all widths in Dutch cities, as there are in British. But the space is used differently in the Netherlands. Yes, in general I think they allow less width for the vehicle lanes (which makes for slower traffic). And also they do not tend to waste so much space as we do with centre islands and hatchings.

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  20. Thanks for that. (IMHO the principle of segregation is the only way forward to mass participation as you describe, so I'm not trying to argue against it). But what highways engineers need placed in front of them is how to apply the principle in practice in less-than-easy places, eg, where there is an 8-metre wide road with two 1.5-metre wide footways - & they are not unusual dimensions. It is stretches like that where there will be implementation failure and gaps in routes. If constraints like this have been overcome by the Dutch it would be great if the CEoGB could get hold of examples.

    I think, even with the political will in place, the three most common arguments against good segregation are:
    1. there just isn't enough space.
    2. we can't remove the parking.
    3. we'd have to take out the bus lane.

    I find these arguments quite difficult to counter (I don't claim to be an intellectual giant!) so some very specific examples would be excellent.

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  21. I fully appreciate what you are saying. When CEoGB went to the Netherlands we did in fact measure various road widths, and pavements. There are plenty of narrow roads there.

    It's really quite simple. Where the road is narrow, a decision is taken if it absolutely needs to be part of the through-traffic system. If the answer is "no", it is taken out, by means of closure at one end, or an arrangement of one-ways that stops through traffic. Then you only have access traffic, and then there is no need to segregate (though bike lanes might still be marked, and these prevent parking in the Netherlands, by law).

    If the road is narrow and has to be a road for through traffic (most likely in town centres) the most likely option is that it will be converted to one-way working (along with another one working in the opposite direction) and a cycle contraflow will be provided, which may or may not be physically segregated, depending on the volume. Sometimes you see the situation on narrow one-way roads where the with-flow cycle traffic is segregated, and the contraflow not, which is the reverse of the general idea in the UK, but is actually quite sensible – the danger/aggression on narrow, heavily trafficked roads for cyclists tends to come from the cars behind, not the cars facing you.

    An effect of all this is to tend to make motor journeys longer than cycle journeys – which is part of the idea, of course.

    I really do recommend the David Hembrow study tour, as he demonstrates all this on the ground. It really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. You then start to see how unnecessarily badly our roads are used, and how we waste space here.

    It's easy to understand the segregation from pictures, but a major part of the paradigm is reducing the possible through-routes for motor vehicles, where it is is less obvious what's going on without close study of the system.

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    1. The Dutch have the "advantage" in the sense that they are under a legal obligation to classify their roads according to type, which makes the decision about what to do with them much less complicated. I do accept your point, however.

      For a more theoretical response to Anonymous's question, he/she might find the second half of this blog useful.

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  22. A (realistic) fear I think of many people in Australia is if we pursue the segregated cycle paths option we will end up with either more leisure paths that is paths which wander quietly through parks and are shared with walkers, dogs, kids, prams, joggers etc or more unkept cycle paths where the grass edges are never mown, the tree roots have pushed up the asphalt, broken bottles have been strewn across them etc. Neither of these options are useful for those of us who commute.

    Michael

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  23. One of the things I find really odd is the "Cycle Touring Club", hasn't gone cycle touring on the continent and found this things out be experience, Ho Hum.

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  24. David writes

    "It's really quite simple. Where the road is narrow, a decision is
    taken if it absolutely needs to be part of the through-traffic system.
    If the answer is "no", it is taken out, by means of closure at one
    end, or an arrangement of one-ways that stops through traffic. Then
    you only have access traffic, and then there is no need to segregate
    (though bike lanes might still be marked, and these prevent parking in
    the Netherlands, by law)."

    This is actually the essence of the Hierarchy of Provision - the top
    measure of which is "Reduce Traffic".

    The problem is in the UK and Ireland if there is no official
    acceptance of any need to restrict how cars are used, then roadside
    segregated routes will inevitably be constructed for the purpose of
    removing restrictions on car-travel - eg "cyclists"

    It all ties in together.

    Regards

    Shane Foran

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    1. Yes, reducing traffic will obviously result in more cycling, that's almost a trivial truism, given that people have to travel somehow, but what I am really saying is that highway authorities need clearer instructions on where and how exactly they should be reducing traffic. This requires a strategy on the use of the roads overall that takes cycling into account. Just saying as a blanket thing "Consider first reducing traffic" doesn't really help, in my view.

      For example, in my area, London Borough of Brent, there are lots of main roads that cyclists have to use, because there are no alternatives, and all the other traffic has to use them as well. These are the critical problem roads that hold back cycling. Just saying to the local authority "reduce traffic" will get you nowhere. There, is in practice, in the present situation, virtually nothing they can do to reduce traffic on those roads. The only solutions are segregated cycle tracks, or new cycle-only routes with major new infrastructure such as new bridges across railways. So, for Brent, downgrading that class of solution to the bottom of the hierarchy is no help to campaigners or anyone.

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  25. Just for the record: I have often cycled in the Netherlands and love it. What they have is great and I want it here. Denmark and Germany too. The German facilities aren't as good but they're way ahead of ours and I'd happily settle for that.

    Trouble is: when someone campaigns for a cyclepath 'just like Holland', their demand is almost invariably downgraded by the British system to blue signs and a bit of white paint on the footway, which I think we all agree is the worst thing.

    I already take a longer and hillier route to work to avoid being bullied by close-passing and shouty motorists to get off the road onto a footway that sprouted blue signs a few years ago. How can the so-called Embassy guarantee that their demands will not simply lead to more of that crap?

    This road with the crap shared-use footway is not, by the way, the A3. It is the A3100, the road the A3 was built to take traffic away from. If this were the Netherlands the A3 would be a motorway with an alternative road for slow traffic for its entire length. But it aint, and there are stretches of the A3 with no alternative at all - not even a crap shared footway. The A3 needs paths, that is not controversial. But almost nobody cycles there anymore so the Highways Agency says there's no demand. Got a solution to that catch-22 anyone? (Preferably a solution that doesn't involve the CTC staff riding up and down it untill we're killed!)

    Back to the A3100, which is limited to 30mph and 40mph, with a few bits of crap path beside the latter. To make that crap into a proper Dutch cyclepath we must persuade the powers that be to purchase long strips of land and gardens from several owners, buy and demolish a few buildings, widen a railway bridge... all possible of course, but likely? In stoney-broke Britain? Just for bikes?

    I reckon we stand more chance of getting the speed down from 30 to 20 in the built-up area and 30 elsewhere. It's not Holland but a step in the right direction that does NOT make cycling a misery for those already doing it. That should persuade more drivers to use the A3 instead. And if the A3 doesn't go their way, then it's up to motorists to campaign harder for the southern bypass Guildford needs before all the other roads through that bike-forsaken town can be made through roads only for cycles and buses.

    The point I'm trying to make is that the disentangling of the cycling and driving networks entails quite a bit of demolition and new road construction. It did in Holland and it will here. As cycle campaigners we cannot ignore that aspect and just wish the traffic away.

    Or there's the Greek solution. I hear the number of bike repairers has doubled in Athens!

    Oh, and one other thing, I don't have any more influence over CTC policy than any member does. Not even in the technical area apparently. Goodness only knows why I am still so loyal.

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    1. I did make a mistake in my writing of this blogpost in that I was confusing you, Chris Juden, with Chris Peck, who actually does have a policy role in the so-called CTC, so apologies for that.

      My conviction (and also that, I think, behind LCC's Go Dutch campaign), is that we should actually ask for what cyclists really need. That's the only way we will get it. And sometimes, in my personal experience, we have asked for that, and we have got it. Not much of it, but I think we have shown that it is not so impossible as you seem to believe.

      When you say "this demand is almost invariably downgraded by the British system to blue signs and a bit of white paint on the footway", this is actually a description of what has happened in the past when cycling policy was supposed to be governed by DfT guidance like LTN 2/08 and the Hierarchy of Provision, supported by the so-called CTC. The stewardship of CTC over UK national cycle policy lobbying has corresponded to the golden era of crap cycle lane creation. This is the stuff we have been getting anyway long before the so-called Cycling Embassy of GB was thought of!

      I really don't wish to be antagonistic to CTC, but I think there is a better way. It's the unclear, confused and over-compromised policies of the past (like the hierarchy of provision) that have "made cycling a misery for those already doing it", not the ideas of campaigners for Dutch-style infrastructure. OK, the so-called Embassy may not get its way, but we're not going to make things any worse. I really don't see how we could.

      I agree we need lower speeds, but one lesson I took from the Netherlands is that we need those slower speeds plus segregation together, in the same places. They have segregation even on many 30km/h roads, and they insist in many places on reducing speeds to 40km/h even where there is a substantial grass strip separating the cycle track from the road, just to improve the peace and subjective experience of the cyclists (as well as to deter motorists from using those roads if they can avoid them). It's really hard to get mass cycling in a population that can afford cars – the Dutch have shown that the measures needed are totally extreme by our standards. All the more reason then why we shouldn't aim low. It will do no good.

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    2. CTC has never aimed low. If anyone is to blame for crap farcilities it's the diverse local cycle campaigns that sprang up in the 1970s and 80s. These groups initially measured their success in miles of facility, never mind how crap it was. At that time I was in Nottingham where thanks to 'Pedals' one could enjoy the delights of Castle Boulevard's tree dodging course! Pedals and the rest eventually learnt from these mistakes and came around to CTC's way of thinking, that if we all we can get beside roads is crap paths, we had better concentrate our limited resources on other measures.

      Unfortunately, once planners had discovered that a starving man will eat crap, they kept on serving it up. And they could always find a bunch of cyclists who'd never experienced anything better, who would be grateful for it. I don't know what you do about that. So long as planners can see grown men riding bikes illegally on narrow pavements they'll assume that any demand for paths can be satisfied with white paint and blue signs, and up to a point they'll be right.

      That's what worries me about CEoGB's clamour for facilities. We've been here before and I'm not convinced that all of their followers are as uncompromising on quality as the leading bloggers.

      However we are starting to see some better quality facilities in Britain, enough now that CTC can showcase them in Cycletopia. Yes I know we could have featured a 'Fietstopia' any time in the last 30 years, but Dutch examples don't cut much ice with British planners. It helps enormously to convince these guys that they CAN do it here, when you show them an example that HAS been done here.

      Credit where it's due: bloggers are spreading the words and pictures of what a proper bikepath looks like. And I'm sure these blogs are helping CTC and other campaigners to get those better facilities, by making it harder for planners to find apologists for crap. Keep up the good work, and for goodness sake stop blaming your friends for failing to drain the swamp when they were up their arses in alligators!

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  26. Well the National Transport Authority in Ireland could take a few notes from Holland and learn that provision for cyclists is precisely that, not an excuse for traffic stopping measures like removing left hand lanes (equivalent to removing right lanes in Holland) or tightening up corners so that buses/trucks can hardly negotiated them (yes, I'm serious). Transport policy in Ireland is not exactly the most intelligent or ambitious (apart from the motorway programme (now stalled ATM for economic reasons)). We're still stuck in the past with this anti-car nonsense amid the powers that be (especially in urban areas) rather than moving on to proper integrated transport policy. Very little in the line of rail investment has been done in Ireland - but hey, our National Transport Authority) would rather car bash than do something positive and meaningful.

    Irishman

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