Saturday, 21 December 2013

Fun with signs

There are all kinds of blog posts I should be writing now, about the new central London cycling grid for example.

Instead here are some pictures I've taken over the past few weeks. I've no idea who is/are responsible for all these sign stickers, or indeed if they're all by one person or group, but I'm enjoying spotting them so let's hope the trend continues. (update - many are the work of an artist called Clet Abraham)












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Sunday, 1 December 2013

CS5 Vauxhall to Victoria planned Route

From latest Mayor's Question Time:



Cycle route Victoria to Vauxhall

Question No: 2013/4071 Darren Johnson
Why are you proposing to divert CS5 onto Belgrave Road because the direct route would involve cycle
lanes which "remove some general traffic space on Vauxhall Bridge Road"?
Your cycling adviser says Belgrave Road has advantages because it is "fairly quiet, we wouldn't need to make any changes to the road, apart from intermittent markings." Rather than implement another second rate cycling safety scheme that will have to be fixed at a later date, why don't you do it right first time?

Written response from the Mayor 
The Vauxhall Bridge Road proposal was for cycle lanes which would not meet the standards laid down in my Vision for Cycling in this location. Given the volume of traffic on this road, and the number of buses using it, it would be impossible to do anything better. Therefore we have moved the Cycle Superhighway to Belgrave Road, which sees a much smaller proportion of motor traffic and, crucially, a fifth of the volume of HGVs. The new route avoids the need for northbound cyclists to filter into the middle of heavy, fast-moving traffic at Bessborough Gardens and avoids conflict with left turning traffic into Richmond Gate. It also allows cyclists to cross the Victoria area without having to negotiate the deeply unpleasant gyratory at Victoria station, a place made even more hazardous by building works. It provides a contraflow segregated track through to the north of the area and will connect with other Quietway routes. I am very surprised that you should describe it as a second-rate scheme

Monday, 25 November 2013

London Cycling Campaign and Lambeth Cyclists response to draft Nine Elms plans

Transport for London held a consultation, now ended, on the draft Nine Elms South Bank (or Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area in old speak) Design for Cycling strategy document.

This is the response, in full, jointly submitted by London Cycling Campaign and Lambeth Cyclists

London Cycling Campaign and Lambeth Cyclists response to draft
‘Nine Elms on the South Bank – Designing for Cycling’ strategy by TfL

Overall, we commend this as a hugely encouraging document and one that, in its final form, will hopefully set a standard for the future of London as it ‘goes Dutch’.

We applaud the use of the Dutch criteria, the intention to use filtered permeability; segregation where there are high motor traffic volumes; and the need for the cycle routes to be direct and efficient, and the provision of a finely grained cycling grid throughout the area.

Page by page comments are below, but there are some general points that we would like to raise:
  1. It has been said that the best cycling policy is a motor-vehicle policy. This document majors on cycling infrastructure but is light on detail concerning locations of filtered permeability and matching vehicle turning locations; taxi stands; loading/unloading bays; drop off points of passengers by drivers, and location of cycle parking in relation to car parking by shops. The design needs to ensure that space intended for fantastic cycling by the widest range of ages is not subsequently compromised by poor design for essential motoring needs, while reducing the need for motor vehicle journeys and making cycling the obvious choice for most journeys.
  2. There should be a map with local schools showing how Dutch quality cycle routes will reach them and permit independent travel.
  3. Given the length of time before the Northern Line Extension happens (if it is approved) and the indeterminate time-scale for completion of an uninterrupted linear park and Thames path, Nine Elms Lane should be made very cycle friendly as a priority in order to inculcate a cycling culture as soon as developments come on stream. We recommend considering making this part of a realigned CS8.
  4. The policy should be to design for clear pedestrian and cyclist priority over turning traffic at minor side roads and building entrances.
  5.  Where segregated tracks are used alongside a road, great care must be taken to make turning right using the track as efficient as turning right through being on the road. Hopefully a resolution will be identified as part of the revised London Cycling Design Standards with regard to the different rules for turning traffic that the Netherlands and Denmark have. Signal timings and banning certain turns for motor traffic may facilitate this.
  6. An appendix giving details on planning policies with regard to cycle provision (e.g. cycle parking for visitors) and motor-traffic reduction, with a statement on their quality in terms of the ‘Go Dutch’ ambition, may be useful.

P5 – ‘Characteristics of successful cycle routes’
Add to point 2) Directness: Where traffic lights for cyclists are required, the time on red should be kept to the minimum. There must not be more green time for road users than cycle path users.

P8 – ‘Initial Observations’
Should 2) Secondary Roads be amended to read ‘…well used by adult cyclists’?
Amend point 3 within Opportunities: Make cycling the easy option, whether adult or child’ for local journeys to shops, schools, friends and local services

P9 – ‘Diagram of principal through routes’
Should include Wyvil Road on secondary routes

P10 ‘Routes – existing’
Pts 1 and 2: CS8 and CS7 – add ‘not designed to be used by children under 14’
Pt 4 LCN route 37 – amend to very low quality. The bus lanes however are well used by adult cyclists.
Pt 6 cycle lanes on Vauxhall Gyratory ‘ Their low quality and time inefficiency compared with being on-road means they are under-used.
P11 Photo labelled 6: change under-used to ‘un-advantageous’

P12
1 CS5 – State whether or not this is designed to be used by under 14s.
3 Thames River Path – This has provision to be an excellent leisure cycling route, as long as faster/commuting cyclists are given a route they prefer to use, in order to avoid pedestrian conflict’

P14 ‘Cycle Parking’
Requirements – add ‘conveniently’ to cyclists needs list
Proposed – is sufficient cycle parking at grade for visitors and at commercial and retail developments being designed into developments?
Potential – Extensive secure and convenient cycle parking provision needs to be designed into proposed Northern Line Extension stations

P16
An exemplary cycling network  - Amend to include ‘makes walking or cycling the obvious mode for short journeys’
Objectives – Direct Routes – amend as on P1

P17
Add to potential options:
CS8 – re-route proposed alignment of CS8 along Nine Elms Lane and the Albert Embankment

P18 ‘Main Roads’
Treatment, Both
‘Junctions designed to ensure that cyclists on cycle facilities are not at a time disadvantage to being on road’

P20 ‘Quietways: Side Roads’
Treatment: 20mph speed limit; Motor traffic restricted to local access (filtered permeability).

P22 Greenways: Off-road tracks
Intro: Remove redundant ‘can’ or ‘to’
Characteristics
Coherent paths that are not linked to each other but seamlessly link to other parts of the cycle network

P24 Treatments – common to all routes
Signposting – Signs should be attractive, incapable of being swung around by wind, vehicles or the mischievous, and readable while on the move

Surfacing  - needs to be immediately recognisable as a place for cycling

P32
Demonstrates requirement to include Wyvil Road within this strategy

P38 ‘B’sea Pk Rd / Nine Elms Lane’
Make it CS8
Requirements:
Easy right turns onto side roads
Consider two-way cycle tracks on each side

P40 ‘Wandsworth Road’
Requirements:
Priority at side roads for main road cycle tracks
Consider banning certain turns by motor vehicles

P41 ‘Albert Embankment’
Make it CS8
Review options for stopping this being a traffic-choked A road, making it an attractive cycle and walking promenade with caf├ęs etc.
Remove coach parking on river side of road

P42 ‘Queenstown Rd etc.’
Requirements
Chelsea Bridge Road
Replace Queens Circus with a cross-roads

P45 ‘Phasing and Delivery’
Every effort should be expended to making this area cycling friendly from now onwards, whilst acknowledging that there is a high level of construction activity. To this end Nine Elms Lane should have Dutch standard cycle provision implemented as quickly as possible.

In conclusion, we hope that the above comments are constructive and helpful, and again wish to commend TfL on an excellent draft document.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Planning with our children in mind

The tragic deaths and injuries to people riding bikes and walking in London over the past week will have put a huge dent in the Capital's aspirations to get more people undertaking active travel.

We must not turn our back on these aspirations, because nurturing active travel is the easiest way to reduce congestion, tackle public health problems, cut CO2 and air pollution, improve people's finances and create a less noisy, calmer environment all in one. In short, create a more liveable London.

It is absolutely crucial that all parties involved in use of, or management of, the roads pull out all the stops to make our roads safe for adults and children to use, but I saw yesterday how far we are from that.

Around school ending time, I rode my bicycle along a short part of Lambeth's London Cycle Network route 3 (LCN3) from St Mark's Church of England  Primary School next to the Oval cricket ground up towards Oasis Johanna Primary School by Baylis Road in Waterloo.

London Cycle Network 3, mainly on back streets and with segregated space for cycling on busy streets, should be a prime example of a child-safe cycle route - important given that Lambeth Council intends the borough to be London's most cycle-friendly borough with cycling to school the norm.

I found that adults - certainly the builders perhaps with a council officer's consent - had facilitated the construction of Ethical Property's 'Foundry' development in Vauxhall Street through blocking the contra-flow cycle lane and directing children to cycle into oncoming traffic

On Baylis Road a delivery driver (employed by Kuehne and Nagel to deliver on behalf of Whitbread to, I suspect, Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee) had decided it suited him/her to park the lorry in the child lane forcing them to share the lane with lorries like the one passing
 I took the photo above at 15.10 and the lorry, below, was still there on my return at 15.26, still in the cycle lane on the double yellow no-parking lines right by the no-loading lines.

A little further along the road, construction work has led to the closure of the pavement, but an alternative has been found - the child lane can be closed:.
This allows the child lane to be taken over for pedestrians, while the children gather their wits about them (TM Boris Johnson) and jostle with the buses, vans and lorries.

On the other side of the road a driver for the official London Highways Alliance has decided to park his van to block the child lane. Clearly concerned that his van may be damaged by children who have not noticed his parked van, the driver has taken prudent precautions:

Could not the multitude of fencing have been put to better use by creating a child lane diversion around the van?

In the light of the appalling deaths and injuries this week,  I'm inclined to suggest that the professional, trained adults responsible for all the decisions above are guilty of child abuse.

After all, through their actions they either;
a) deter parents from letting their children cycle, impacting on their mobility, health and the planet they will continue to live on after us
or
b) place those children who do cycle in clear and evident danger.

It need not be like this. David Hembrow gives the Dutch example http://www.childhoodfreedom.com/ . In the meantime it is up to all of us to challenge the shoddy behaviour such as that I show above. To this end, I must commend Richard Ambler, Lambeth's Cycling Officer, who sent the following email to a colleague in Highways as soon as I sent him photos of the contra-flow blockage in Vauxhall Street:

 I have been sent the attached photos of Vauxhall Street. They show that the contraflow cycle lane is completely  fenced off, forcing people on bikes into the narrow lane of oncoming traffic. Not only is it dangerous, especially to children using the route,  it is also inconvenient and increases journey times for people cycling.
Given our road user hierarchy, our approach in this situation should be to maintain the pedestrian and cycle routes and close the road to motor vehicles except for access to the supermarket and estate.
We've been criticised in the past for our lack of consideration of cyclists at roadworks (Akerman Road; Baylis Road; Greyhound Lane) but I thought we had begun to remedy that. There are lots of examples of good practise regarding cycling at roadworks  across London which we could learn from, for example recently on Union Street outside Palestra.
Will you look into this urgently? It is important that we sort it out quickly as the current situation is unacceptable and I expect we will receive many more complaints.
I wonder if his colleague arranged for the hazard to be removed today?


Monday, 11 November 2013

Would one radical change improve walking and cycling in the UK?

On 3 September 1967 traffic in Sweden switched from going along the left-hand side of the road to the right. What I'm proposing isn't as radical as that.

In the past months I've visited Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark as a pedestrian and as a cyclist. It seems to me that those walking and cycling in these three countries gain great advantage from the different priority rules these countries seem to have at junctions.

Our Highway Code tells pedestrians,
If traffic is coming, let it pass. Look all around again and listen. Do not cross until there is a safe gap in the traffic and you are certain that there is plenty of time. Remember, even if traffic is a long way off, it may be approaching very quickly.
and
At a junction. When crossing the road, look out for traffic turning into the road, especially from behind you. If you have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, you have priority and they should give way
Motorists are told,

The implication is clear that pedestrians on the pavement and cyclists on pavement tracks approaching a junction should give way to road users wishing to turn.

As a consequence of this ruling, pedestrians walking or jogging along a main road have to slow down and check it's safe to cross, stopping and giving way to traffic wishing to turn. This burns a huge amount of energy, and also forces people chatting while walking along together to interrupt their conversation. 

In contrast, drivers going straight on maintain their speed and continue chatting with their passengers.

When the Highway Engineer designs a cycle track on a pavement, s/he will prudently place give-way markings wherever the main road intersects with a side road, however minor.


This makes the cycle track slow, uncomfortable (requiring the cyclist to twist their neck to see if traffic is turning in from behind), and demanding of great energy as Wikipedia explains:
Kinetic energy may be best understood by examples that demonstrate how it is transformed to and from other forms of energy. For example, a cyclist uses chemical energy provided by food to accelerate a bicycle to a chosen speed. On a level surface, this speed can be maintained without further work, except to overcome air resistance and friction.
The requirement to slow down at a junction then get back to cruising speed saps a cyclist's energy.

Given the disadvantages it is unsurprising that cyclists frequently prefer to use the road over cycle tracks in the UK.

The priority rule also has an impact on a parent's willingness to let a child walk or cycle along such a road, in fear that the child needing to cross a side road may incorrectly judge the speed or distance of a turning car, or even neglect (forget) to look at all. This impacts on children's mobility and their fitness and likelihood of walking or cycling in later years.
Amsterdam

In comparison, as I understand it, countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany give all traffic (including pedestrians on the pavement and cyclists on a track) equal priority going straight on. The onus is on the person who wishes to turn to ensure that there is nothing approaching that they may turn into, whether they're on the road, pavement or cycle track. The walker, pedestrian, jogger, cyclists or driver going straight on needn't vary their speed, strain to look back, or interrupt their conversation at the junction.
Groningen

To achieve this, those wishing to turn pay greater attention to pavements/cycle tracks and to lanes, including cycle lanes, so slow down to a greater extent than is customary in the UK. Equally drivers behind a turning vehicle seem much less likely to beep impatiently at a driver who is waiting for a reasonable gap.

This priority ruling brings further advantages at traffic light controlled crossings. In the UK we often have one phase of lights for road users going east-west or turning off, then one for those going north-south or turning off, then a separate pedestrian phase.The separate pedestrian phase means a long wait (two other light phases) for any user before it's their turn to go

The Danish don't use roundabouts, favouring cross roads as a safer option, and I observed a wonderful simplicity and efficiency in their system, due to the prioritisation I have described.

When the east-west road users have a green light, so do the pedestrians and cyclists on their pavement or track. The lights then change in favour of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists in a north-south orientation. This allows those going straight on, by whatever means, to make rapid progress, having only to wait one light phase before it's their turn.

Taking the junction above as an example of a typical crossing,  the cyclists and any pedestrians approaching us from the north have priority over the lorry driver wishing to turn right. If the cyclist coming towards us wants to turn left he will stop alongside the cyclists waiting at a red light to go west-east.

The prioritisation means no separate pedestrian lights phase is needed, and as light phases in each direction are designed to be frequent but not overly long, cyclists are less inclined to jump the red lights as there is little if any time advantage in so doing. Equally the rapidity of traffic light changes means that cyclists are happy to use the cycle track against an occasional and marginal time advantage in using the road and the hassle of mingling with and working their way across lanes of motor-traffic..

I'm not sure that the UK can achieve the levels of cycling that it aspires to, or better facilitate pedestrians, without a switch in priorities at junctions such as that described. It's got to be easier than switching the side of the road we drive on and that's been done successfully before.

TfL have recently sent engineers and planners to look at countries making real progress with cycling and it'll be interesting to find out their take on this issue.

To the best of my knowledge none of the campaigning organisations are asking for such a change. What do you think?




Monday, 21 October 2013

Join Lambeth Cyclists Architecture Ride, Sun 27th Oct, starts by Imperial War Museum

Join Lambeth Cyclists Architecture Ride, this Sunday,  27th Oct
 
Architecture, faith and community: Sunday 27th October 2013
 
This ride will explore the architecture of religious buildings as represented by some of the major faiths of London's diverse communities. We will explore how religious traditions and beliefs find expression in the architecture of church, synagogue,  mosque and temple. Some of the places of worship have been converted from their original use, reflecting successive waves of migration, carrying the religious symbols and customs of new ethnic groups which in contrasting styles bring together materiality with spirituality.
 
Meet in the Tibetan Peace Garden at the  Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ at 10.45am for an 11am start (remember clocks go back an hour the night before). Lunch will be in Brick Lane and the ride will end at approximately 4pm.

Please note that we plan to visit Sandys Row Synagogue which asks for a £4 donation from visitors. Some of the buildings also request that visitors dress modestly, which means no shorts.
 
The ride will be led by John Heyderman and Tessa Wright (tel: 07949 785258). No need to book, just turn up on the day with a roadworthy bike.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Is Nine Elms en-route to being more cycle friendly than Amsterdam?

Exciting stuff - the Barclays Hire Bike docking station has gone in opposite Battersea Power Station

Doubtless Wandsworth or TfL will soon put in a dropped kerb so you can comfortably cycle directly to Nine Elms Lane

The new blocks of expensive flats, some with an element of affordable housing, are going up. You can see Riverlight taking shape behind this sign, advertising imminent traffic delays

Embassy Gardens building work is taking place on the other side of Nine Elms Lane
and advice is offered to cyclists, so they're aware of turning lorries even if the drivers can't see them

I dropped into the Embassy Gardens Marketing Suite, taking my bicycle with me as there is no cycle parking outside
There's also none inside the grounds, but the sales clerk kindly invited me to bring the bike into the building
Having ascertained that all available flats had been sold, I continued up Nine Elms Lane towards Vauxhall, mingling with other proponents of active travel

towards The Tower

which planning conditions dictate has loads of cycle parking, plus a few car parking spaces. You get into the Cycle and Car Park here:
There are no guest Sheffield Stands for St George's Wharf Tower but there's much better than that - the gatekeeper assured me the concierge would arrange for the valet to look after your bicycle (don't ask how much the service charge is, if you can afford a flat here it's loose change)
Continuing to the top of Nine Elms Lane I tested my bike control skills around all the signs relating to the St George's development to take the segregated cycle path past Lassco
and when the van had gone I made my way back to Kennington

Across the river there's lots of discussion about the planned pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Thames http://www.warwicksquarepimlico.co.uk/1050/troubled-bridge-over-waters-nine-elms-bridge/

So, I think we can see that everyone's pulling their weight to ensure that Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea is well on its way to being 'Better than Amsterdam' for cyclists as Boris Johnson promised.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Temporary steps towards a cycle friendly Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea

Sainsburys Nine Elms Vauxhall has a large noticeboard in its entrance lobby about the imminent temporary store that will replace the big one while it is being rebuilt.


I can't help but doubt that Sainsburys shares the aspiration of Lambeth and the Mayor of London that this area will be super cycling friendly - in fact 'Better than Amsterdam - from that sketch and the accompanying Access information:

21 car parking spaces is way fewer than the existing store's several hundred spaces, plus the petrol station is closing, so this is presents a classic opportunity for Sainsburys to give a nudge to those currently shopping by car to switch to shopping by bike instead of losing these customers to a competing supermarket with a big car park.

The first thing to do is to ensure some cycle parking will be provided and tell people about it. But that's just a start. Don't show images like that above, but instead add lots of images of people shopping by bike; put panniers on sale by the tills, or whole shopping bikes ready equipped with rack, panniers, dynamo lighting and locks; give vouchers with the till receipts and petrol receipts offering a deal at local bike stores; and another voucher promoting Lambeth Council's free cycle training; run a Dr Bike in the existing car park and encourage drivers to bring their bikes to get them sorted ready for the big switch.

It's a real shame that the developers holding such sway here aren't pulling out every stop to nurture cycling as an everyday, efficient and less polluting means of transport in this area, right from the outset.

UPDATE
Sainsburys have replied to my tweet asking if they would amend the sign to give details about access by bicycle:
  1. ...throughout the build and that this will take a number of different forms including in store displays. Thanks, Mark 2/2
  2. Hi there, just to let you know that we will be keeping the community fully appraised of all aspects of the development...1/2

Transport Assessments feedback from Lambeth and Wandsworth

My recent posts on the numbers projected not to cycle to planned new Vauxhall and Battersea schools have attracted informative responses from Lambeth and Wandsworth, the respective boroughs.

The responses were kindly obtained, and sent to me today, by Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership (@NineElmsTeam) who introduce themselves as follows.
It might be useful to explain in the first instance who we are and what is our mandate. As the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership we are the informal partnership for the Nine Elms Vauxhall Battersea Opportunity Area (or VNEB, now known as Nine Elms on the South Bank), working with Wandsworth and Lambeth Councils, TfL, the GLA and the various large developers and landowners in the area. Our role in the Partnership Delivery Team is strategic, in that we aim to create cohesion across all partners and to bring all their plans together; our partners are delivering the regeneration of the area.
I reproduce the replies from each borough in full below. My interpretation of these replies (without re-reading the Transport Assessments)  is that the Assessments predicts what form of transport will be used for the new building, based on similar existing buildings in places with similar transport infrastructure to that which currently exists, but don't make a second prediction incorporating the planned infrastructure developments such as the new tube line or 'better than Amsterdam' cycling facilities, based on a location where such infrastructure already exists. It seems to me that the absence of this second assessment can lead to flawed decision making.

Lambeth Council replied as follows:
All large developments are required to submit a Transport Assessment (TA) as part of their planning application. The purpose of this document is to set out the existing baseline transport and traffic conditions of the surrounding area; to make a robust prediction on the number and type of trips to be generated by the proposed development and then to assess the impact that those new trips would have on the highway and public transport network.

Therefore the figures quoted in the Waterman Boreham TA for Keybridge House stating the number of people cycling to and from the new school are predictions based on existing levels of cycling at other schools in similar locations. It is important to note that they are definitely not intended to be a target and are certainly not an aspiration. Lambeth Council works with all its schools to develop bespoke Travel Plans that seek to increase levels of cycling and walking. This includes providing cycle training for anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough. Lambeth Council have recently adopted an ambitious Cycling Strategy and are actively working with TfL to deliver major improvements to cycling routes through the borough in the near future.

All developments within the VNEB Opportunity Area are required to make financial contributions to overarching public realm improvements across the wider area. Better provision for cycling will be at the very centre of these improvements with proposals for improved cycle routes as set out in the Lambeth Cycling Strategy, major infrastructure projects such as a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river from Nine Elms to Pimlico, and a requirement for cycle parking as part of all new developments.

In addition to this developments are also required to fund improvements to the public highway directly related to their site and this will be the same for Keybridge House with the likelihood of contributions towards public realm improvements on both Wyvil Road and Miles Street, including improved cycling infrastructure.

Options are currently being investigated to remove Vauxhall Gyratory and return the streets to two-way operation. This would lead to improvements for cycling and walking at Vauxhall and to reduce traffic dominance. This is in accordance with the Vauxhall SPD and the council's aim to develop a district centre at Vauxhall with significantly improved public realm and permeability.

For the 415 new homes proposed within Keybridge House only 115 car parking spaces will be provided which equates to less than 1 space for every 3 homes; conversely every home will have at least 1 cycle parking space with more provided for the larger units. The car parking ratio has been negotiated down by around 50% from the developer's original proposals. The application has yet to be determined but the council will work with the developer to ensure that a comprehensive package of sustainable transport measures are delivered.
 Wandsworth Council said:
The point of the TA is to use known data as a proxy for what might happen. TAs have to apply a methodology compliant with TfL's Best Practice Guidance

It is not for the TA to make aspirational assumptions about future cycle use as this could then underestimate the likely impact on the bus and highway network.

However, we expect schools to develop more cycling as a result of planning and transport policies (cycle parking/travel plan etc), investment in cycling and schools cycling, and the cultural/demographic shift to cycling. We are statutory required to increase cycling mode share in the Borough from 2.7% of all journeys in 2008/09 to 7% in 2031 and are well on course for that (currently 4.2%). Have a look at Paper 13-526, including Appendix 3.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

If you have a car please leave it at home

FindMyPast.co.uk recently tweeted this image of London Bridge in 1890, and it reminded me of the following passage from Jane Jacobs’ acclaimed (and still in print) 1961 book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’:

Automobiles are hardly inherent destroyers of cities. If we would stop telling ourselves fairy tales about the suitability and charm of nineteenth-century streets for horse and buggy traffic, we would see that the internal combustion engine, as it came on the scene, was potentially an excellent instrument for abetting city intensity, and at the same time for liberating cities from one of their noxious liabilities.
 Not only are automotive engines quieter and cleaner than horses but, even more important, fewer engines than horses can do a given amount of work. The power of mechanized vehicles, and their greater speed than horses, can make it easier to reconcile great concentrations of people with efficient movement of people and goods. At the turn of the century, railroads had already long demonstrated that iron horses are fine instruments for reconciling concentration and movement. Automobiles, including trucks, offered, for places railroads could not go, and for jobs railroads could not do, another means of cutting down the immemorial vehicular congestion of cities.
 We went awry by replacing, in effect, each horse on the crowded city streets with half a dozen or so mechanized vehicles, instead of using each mechanized vehicle to replace half a dozen or so horses. The mechanical vehicles, in their overabundance, work slothfully and idle much. As one consequence of such low efficiency, the powerful and speedy vehicles, choked by their own redundancy, don’t move much faster than horses.
 Trucks, by and large, do accomplish much of what might have been hoped for from mechanical vehicles in cities. But because passenger vehicles do not, this congestion, in turn, greatly cuts down the efficiency of trucks.



Monday, 16 September 2013

Not planning for a cycling revolution in Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea

Last week I wrote about a planning proposal for a new primary school, at the Vauxhall Gyratory end of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea (VNEB) Opportunity Area, to which no children are expected to cycle, despite Boris Johnson's statement that this area will be more cycle friendly than Amsterdam.

Bordering the other end of the Opportunity Area, Wandsworth have just granted planning permission for the St John Bosco College for 11-18 year olds to move into the former Salesian College site by Battersea Park .

The exact location is shown in red below, in the vicinity of the Royal Academy of Dancing, Health Centre, College, Sports Centre, and two other schools. The map also shows suggested cycle routes, one of which is Cycling Superhighway 8. This flat area must clearly be an incredibly splendid cycling location, and, yes, you can cycle through Battersea Park, away from the traffic, though it isn't shown as a cycle route for some reason.
Let's look at the planning application's Travel Assessment to see the projected number of cycle trips resulting from the 1300 pupil secondary school and 110 staff, and the occupants of 104 new homes, the majority having two bedrooms and presumably children living there:.
On weekdays just 30 out of 1500+ people, the vast majority too young to have a driving licence, are expected to cycle, with no-one cycling on Saturdays. I agree 'it is likely these possible figures could be higher for the Saturday results.' as they couldn't possibly go any lower than none.

Maybe a time-lapse sequence of photos could be taken over a few years of the 141 cycle parking spaces for the school and 116 cycle parking space for the 104 homes that are required to comply with regulations. 

The map below shows bus routes and red boxes according to how many pupils come from where. Over the near future the number travelling from the existing site near Putney will decline and the red boxes nearer the new site will increase.

How are the 11-18 year old school pupils expected to move around? 2% are expected to cycle, the same percentage as arrive by car..
68% however are expected to use one of the 110 buses per hour that run in the vicinity of the school.

For secondary schools with similar public transport provision in Wandsworth the picture is similar:

Perhaps a clue to the low number cycling is within this statement,
'Information of cycling will be provided on the school website and notice boards. This will include the free cycle training offered for those over 16 years old who live, work or study in the borough.'
Maybe if you're under 16 you're considered too young to cycle to school?

They're almost certainly right if the pupils are expected to share a cycling superhighway with the best part of 110 buses an hour. Could the cycling infrastructure be at fault?

The Travel Assessment does makes some recommendations for potential improvements that could be provided as part of the development:- providing contributions towards the improvement of local peak hour bus services and better pedestrian crossing facilities to improve pedestrian safety to and from the local bus stop. There are no recommendations for contributions to cycling.

And there you have it - at one end of the 'more cycle friendly than Amsterdam' VNEB Opportunity Area a primary school is being planned with the expectation that no pupils will cycle to it; at the other end a secondary school is being planned with 25 out of 1300 pupils expected to cycle.

Long live the cycling revolution.