Design led cycle safety: how the cycling community came to value urban design

I was in Oxford on Friday - city of dreaming spires and rusty bicycles!  But I wasn't just there to admire the colleges or check out the cycling culture; I was speaking at the National Conference on Urban Design at the Said Business School at the University of Oxford.  Put on by the Urban Design Group it brought together a wide variety of speakers and participants; from housing developers to local authority leaders, from highway engineers to children's playground designers - all keen to meet and learn from each other about the value of urban design, both in terms of economics and in terms of value to the participating community.

My talk was on exploring how cycle campaigning has changed in recent years and has begun to recognise the value of the urban realm more widely in helping to bring about safe and inviting conditions for cycling.  I talked about how cycle campaigning is changing as the internet becomes a more powerful tool; both in terms of helping to organise campaigns, and in terms of helping to highlight the best examples of successful cycling cities around the world.  I demonstrated how the proposed design interventions at Blackfriars Bridge last year helped to spur on the cycling community and inspired them to a series of protests, campaigns and actions which crescendoed this year with the "Love London, Go Dutch" rides.

I finish my talk by showing how design professionals have a box of design tools available to them to ensure that they "design in" equality to our public realm, and that they need to think about how it will feel to walk and cycle through the new streets, towns and cities they are creating.

Unfortunately there was no video of the conference, but here's the audio matched to the slides for you to muse over - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

I'm next speaking at Street Talks by the Movement for Liveable London on Tuesday, November 6th.  The talk is free and open to everyone and in the upstairs bar at the Yorkshire Grey pub.  The bar opens for food and drink at 6PM with my talk at 7PM followed by Q&A.  I'll be talking about how cycling is a key indicator of a healthy public realm and a liveable city, and what we - as liveable city campaigners - need to do next to really take cycle campaigning to the next level.  You're all very welcome!

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Azor_rider said...

Really good talk.

I enjoyed the open air swimming metaphor and the explanation of Dutch provision was concise and accurate.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Azor Rider, that's very kind of you. I always start my talks with the swimming analogy - it's a fun way of getting people to participate and sit up and pay attention, and I also think it's a pretty good reflection of how our approach to cycling goes when it comes to dealing with conditions on the road. Thanks for your feedback!

Anonymous said...

Very good Mark! A clear and impressive message. I just had to hear the whole story out! And nice to see some pictures you took in my presense ;-)

ibikelondon said...

Thanks @bicycledutch Mark! I wondered if you'd recognise that bicycle parking. I still have a whole host of posts to write up about my Dutch experience, including the incredible work happening with the Ultrecht inner ring road. Just need to find the time to squeeze everything in!

Jon said...

Brilliant Mark, really good talk.

Fruity Blue said...

An excellent presentation, Mark. As you say, by 'thinking bike' at the planning level, it can be done.

Andrea said...


Pity that the Battle of Blackfriars has not led to a "London spring", yet.

Everytime one sees the pictures of crap British cycling facilities, one feels that it is a form of violence not very dissimilar from apartheid.

Is your Street Talk going to be similar?

ibikelondon said...

@Thanks Andreas. Your analogy with the Arab Spring is interesting - I was thinking about the same thing when I wrote the presentation and was wondering how far momentum could take us.

My talk at Street Talks will cover some similar areas but will be quite different, but just as vehement!

ibike said...

A very eloquent summary of the state of UK cycle campaigning. I‘ve been quite depressed recently, what with cycle lanes being threatened and TfL’s pathetic junction review, but you’ve inspired me once again!

I was interested in your comment about the “myth” of cycle lanes having to give way to property access. Recently I was speaking to a County Highways Officer who was adamant that when a cycle lane crosses access a property, the cycle lane must always give way. What guidance/legislation are you referring to?

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