Baby steps for Boris & his Draft Cycle Safety Action Plan

Time is running out for you to have your say on Transport for London's draft cycle safety action plan.

Safety is a big concern for all cyclists, and most importantly for those who'd like to cycle but are just too afraid. The new draft makes some excellent observations that are right on point; "The Mayor wants to transform London into a cycling city but this must be supported by new safety initiatives to ensure that casualty rates do not rise as a consequence." However, other areas leave a lot to be desired.

Most tellingly of all, of the 7 key proposals put forward by the draft, 3 are in direct relation to taking action on HGVs on our city's roads. This despite the fact that Boris Johnson is planning to close the Metropolitan Police Commercial Vehicle Inspection Unit which checks over lorries for safety defects and encourages safer driving.

Inevitably, the draft also focuses strongly on the London Cycle Hire Scheme which is due to launch here in the summer of 2010 and the so-called Cycling Superhighways, the first two of which will also launch next year. The hire scheme will, apparently, be accompanied by a video encouraging responsible and safe use and a 'code of conduct' for users.

There are lots of co-operative and voluntary projects between various cycling stakeholders proposed, and some cheap but very effective ideas such as the introduction of concave mirrors at traffic lights to allow high-sided vehicles to see into their own blind spots and see any cyclists stuck down their sides.

It also mandates for the continuation of free cycle training for adults across London, which is an excellent project, and spots some encouraging trends such as the 107% increase in numbers of cyclists between 2000 and 2008.

Perhaps most sadly, the draft has a pitiful target of 5% mode share of journeys by bicycle by 2026, which is less like a velorution and more like a wet Wednesday matinee of Les Miserables. (Copenhagen is currently working towards 50%)

If Boris really is as passionate about cycling in the city as he makes out to be I’d expect this draft to have lots of proposals (at least proposals, even if they aren’t followed through!) on advance traffic lights sequences for cyclists, upgrades of existing cycle lane infrastructure to segregated cycle ways, stricter penalties for infringing motorists and much more that seems to be sadly lacking from the draft in it’s current form.

If Boris really is as passionate about cycling in the city as he makes out to be, I’d expect him to be thinking big, not small as he currently is.

For those wanting to comment on the draft, you have till just the 11th of December to write in person and can do so here.


David Hembrow said...

The article is a bit confused about what is meant by "modal share". Usually people talk about a share of all journeys. That's the case for the Netherlands, for instance, where 27% of all journeys are by bike. Around 38% of all journeys within Amsterdam are by bike and the world's highest rate of 59% of all journeys by bike is in Groningen.

However, you also mention Copenhagen's 50% target. This is a target only for commutes, which are much easier to achieve than shares of all journeys.

Currently that city gives only its commuting rate, 37%, while keeping quiet the overall modal share of around 22%. They are a very long way off achieving even 30% of all journeys, let alone 50%, so the difference is not quite what it seems.

If London can get to 5% of all journeys, you're looking at a rate of cycling which is a fifth that of Copenhagen, not a tenth. However, Groningen, and in fact many other Dutch cities, are still way, way out there...

ibikelondon said...

Thanks David for the clarification. I do sometimes feel like I'm mixing my similes and metaphors when looking at cycling statistics - the whole modal sharer / share of all journeys thing can get a bit confusing at times!

With regards to Copenhagen, I know that their cycle rates don't bear up to scrutiny when compared to those of most towns in the Netherlands. However, I think it is still worth celebrating a large capital city that has 22% modal share of journeys. Outside of the Netherlands this is still very much a rarity.

Of course we should all aim to adopt the Netherlands model, but if we fall along the way and only end up with cycling levels similar to those of Denmark... well, with just 1% of journeys in the UK by bike at present that would be a good thing :o)

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