CTC rep to talk cycle paths and segregation in Scotland this Saturday

Interesting... Following on from my post last week "Is the LCC pro-cycle lanes or not?" and the responses I received from readers to that, I noticed the following session hosted by the CTC's Roger Geffen will take place at this Saturday's Spokes Cycle Nation Conference in Edinburgh, :

The segregation debate: reflections from Copenhagen
Roger Geffen, CTC

There is a long running debate among cycling protagonists about the pros and cons of segregated cycle facilities. They are often hailed as the solution for getting more people cycling. CTC and most local cycle campaign groups are sceptical, citing the conflict they create with pedestrians, and some evidence suggesting that any safety gains for cyclists between junctions may be outweighed by increased conflict AT junctions, where around 70% of cyclists’ collisions occur.

This year’s annual international ‘VeloCity’ conference took place in Copenhagen, and many UK-based cycle campaigners attended. Speaker after speaker talked about the fantastic growth in cycle use achieved through
providing quality segregated facilities, not only in Copenhagen but also in cities as diverse as New York, Melbourne and Bogota. There is little doubt that Copenhagen’s segregated facilities are part of the reason why so many more people there are happy to cycle and to let their children do likewise.

But would this approach work in Britain? Are there differences in UK driving culture or law which would need to be addressed before we could embrace continental-style segregation? Or is segregation – leaving most of the roadspace available for motor traffic – quite simply the wrong answer in principle, at a time of growing awareness of the need for drastic cuts in CO2 emissions?

Sadly, dear readers, I have a prior appointment with a multi pack of discount value fireworks this weekend so won't be able to pop up to Edinburgh to find out for myself what the outcome of this talk is, but if anyone does happen to be going (or even has advanced access to the slides!) I would be most interested in finding out more.
Cycling in Edinburgh... never mind the buses, look out for the tram tracks!
I'd be particularly interested to hear how creating proper cycle lanes (which often involves taking back a lane of traffic from motorists or removing car parking, as anyone who has read their Jan Gehl design standards would know) can be portrayed as "leaving most of the roadspace available for motor traffic."  I'd also be very interested to know what, without such infrastructure, the CTC proposes to do to introduce mass cycling (ie 30-40% modal share) especially considering that cycling has statistically been proven to be steadily decreasing for the past 15 years whilst since 1997 private car ownership has increased by 25% to a record 63% of the national modal share of all journeys - that's more than air travel, ferry trips, buses, trains, trams, walking and bikes put together.  For more worrying and troubling data such as this see my previous post "The National Travel Survey: cycling's canary in the coal mine?"
Meanwhile if any well-intentioned cycle campaigner has the pleasure of attending Saturday's conference in Edinburgh and can see themselves as ibikelondon's Scottish delegation acting as a roving reporter on our behalf please do get in touch!
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Tim Lennon said...

Ditto, Mark. As a CTC member I'd be very interested to hear the content of the talk. I'm going to ask Roger if there's a presentation, summary, etc., that he can share.

The more I cycle, the more I think segregated infrastructure is an absolute necessity for us to increase cycle usage. It'll start off by annoying drivers, but not once we persuade them to cycle a bit ...



christhebull said...

Well, if you paint a white line down the middle of a pavement and/or paint bicycles on it; and call it a "cycle path" - of course there will be conflict with pedestrians. However, if you do it properly like in New York (of all places) then this is less of a problem.

I also think that proper cycle infrastructure would allow cyclists to bypass the semi permanent traffic jams where there is no room to filter, like on the Strand.

Carlton Reid said...

I think Roger is being realistic. We ain't gonna get the sort of cycle infrastructure we'd all love. Ever.

In such a car-centric society as the UK it would be next to impossible to take meaningful space away from cars. We also have a lot less room: it's a small country with narrow roads already.

Roads go everywhere; segregate cycle facilities never would. They don't in the Netherlands or Copenhagen. Check out vids or go there: yes, there are some great segregated facilities but there are also lots of times cyclists mix it with other traffic.

Other traffic allow for cyclists. This doesn't happen in UK cos not enough cyclists. Chicken and egg, of course, but clamouring for segregate cycle facilities as be all and end all risks ghettoising cycling.

As roads go everywhere, we need to keep access to those roads.

As you know in London, there are an amazing amount of new cyclists appearing. On the roads. More cyclists = safety in numbers.

On some stretches of road, segregated facilities make sense but to aim for an infrastructure spend of billions when cycling isn't even getting millions is folly.

As a practical and responsible organisation, CTC has to work with reality, not pipe-dreams.

I, too, hate and bang on about dangerous driving, but siphoning off cyclists is not the answer.

I am not a 'vehicular cyclist'. I like segregated facilities but no UK Government is going to build a perfect cycle network from my house to every single destination I ever want to go to.

However, there's an imperfect road system that does this and I want myself and my children to keep the right to ride on roads.

Campaign to curb idiot motorists, don't fall into the trap of 'demanding' facilities that motorists have long campaigned for: getting cyclists off the road.

ndru said...

@Carlton Reid
I couldn't disagree more. You are doing three things here:
1) You are saying it can't be done, so why bother. The thing is no one has ever tried.
2) You are repeating the same old slogans that got cycling nowhere in uk. Safety in numbers, we don't have enough room, we must educate drivers and cyclists. This is an example of "How to do nothing and look like your doing something". I't not working!!!
3)Implying that separate cycling infrastructure will mean banning cyclists from the road. This is of course wrong again.
LCC and CTC have such a bad track record of promoting cycling that it should finally admit the mistakes they've made and think of a different strategy. It seems there is a huge difference in what people would like to have in order for them to cycle and what CTC and LCC thinks they need. Einstein said that doing one thing over and over again and expecting different results is true madness. Go figure

Anonymous said...

I will campaign for exactly that: getting cyclists off the roads. Why? Because I don't like riding on the road and nor do people with kids, older people, many women and MOST MEN TOO. Only the hard-core will ever enjoy being on the road. I have no car so I'm definitely not wanting this to be kind to motorists!

All countries were car-centric to begin with. Most still are, but the others have changed. Change is possible.

We have space-a-plenty in central London. Central Amsterdam has plenty of cyclists, and virtually no cars. That's the key.

In narrow streets, the ultimate segregated facility is a street which is closed to cars. Segregation is not impossible.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks for stopping by Carlton. I know you have many years experience dealing with our cycle campaigns and do some great work and I respect your opinions enormously, but it worries me immensely when I hear phrases like "it would be next to impossible to take meaningful space away from cars" - this is settling for second best, Carlton. If they can do it in New York, or Melbourne or even Sydney (the most car-centric city I have ever had the pleasure of cycling in) WHY NOT here in the UK?

Of course dangerous driving is a nuisance and we should campaign to reduce it, and of course building the kind of infrastructure we are talking about will be fraught with difficulty, not to mention costs.

But that chicken and egg situation you refer to is what worries me the most. Because this is how it has been for the past 80 or so years. We've been banging on about road danger since the car came along, we've been talking about our rights to use the road for just as long - over and over again our cycling campaigns have campaigned about lorries, cycle parking and all the rest of it. And where has it left us? Statistically cycling has never been in worse shape on a national level whilst there are record amounts of cars on the road. The majority of people (those who you see at bus stops and wonder why on earth they just wouldn't ride a bike?) are not prepared to ride a bike in those conditions. Even in London, where the so-called cycle revolution is taking place, modal share remains at a pathetic 2%. So we can keep on doing what we do, but how is that going to change the bigger picture? I like to assess things on performance and by all accounts our cycling campaigns haven't done too well over the past 80 years in my books.

You raise a number of prescient concerns about infrastructure but considering the current state we are in what else do you suggest to bring about mass cycling in this country? Nothing we have done so far seems to have worked. Or, are the aims of our bike campaigns actually not to bring about mass cycling at all, but to recognise that we are a slowly dyeing breed on the roads and to make our inevitable departure as painless and happy as possible??

I respect all of our campaigns - I'm not being rabid or foaming at the mouth here, Carlton. I know that there are a lot of people who are really dedicated to cycling and invest a lot of their time and energy into making things as good as they can for us all. But I worry, immensely, that what is being done at the top level is not enough, is it unfair to raise that concern or must our campaigns be now as they ever were? If there is potential for change I think that's something worth pursuing. If there's potential for a bit of education along the way (Roger thinks cycle lanes will increase CO2 emissions - eh?!) then I think that is something worth pursuing too. What I don't think is acceptable, whatever the outcome of these discussions, is the current status quo.

Kim said...

It is a shame you can make it to Edinburgh Mark, there are some interesting proposals from the council for increasing cycling here. Whether these proposals come to anything, remains to be seen.

As Carlton says there is more to increasing cycling than just providing separated cycle lanes. If these lanes are to work they need to take space from motor traffic. There is also a need to tame the motor traffic, this is in the interest of everyone. At sometime in the day we are all pedestrians.

One of the proposals in Edinburgh is to introduce a compulsory 20mph speed limit across a large part of the city. However, this is already being fudged as "arterial" roads are staying at 30mph, which is pointless.

It remains to be seen if Edinburgh will be able to live up to its commits under the Charter of Brussels.

WestfieldWanderer said...

Depressing comment from Carlton. Sums up all that is wrong with cycle campaigning in this country and the attitudes that are holding it back. Makes you want to pack up and leave.

Ah well. KBO.

ibikelondon said...

@Westfield Sadly, we can't ALL 'do a Hembrow', and besides have you ever tried speaking Dutch? It's like chewing on marbles. ;-) No, if Mohamed won't go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mo!

WestfieldWanderer said...

You're right of course. Netherlands is a small and overcrowded country with ancient cities with narrow streets. No room for any more cyclists... :-)

As I said last time: KBO. We'll get there in spite of, not because of, the likes of CTC.

Tim Lennon said...

Hi All,

After my first comment, I thought about this a bit more. Much as I agree that it could well prove difficult to get "proper" segregated cycling infrastructure set up, it is our responsibility to make the case for proper infrastructure rather thsn make the case for why we can't have it.

We need to try to win the argument, annd then act on that. By saying "Oh yes, it will be hard to sort out our roads, so we'll accept something else" we're just undermining our own position. And I mean no offence to Carlton, the CTC, and so on, because they spend all day thinking about cyclists and working for them.

We must shout from every rooftop "Cycling is a good thing we should encourage at all times. Full stop. Period. Whatever."

Carlton Reid said...

My dream is to be 6ft3 and play centre-forward for Newcastle United.

However, there are obstacles in my way. I'm 5ft 6. I haven't played football for 20 years.

But, still, I'm going to keep believing one day my dream will come true.

Crass example? Of course, but it's one thing to have an achievable goal, another to realise that reality sucks.

If the current Gov feels like it can easily chop off cycling's money yet give £5000 sweeteners to rich buyers of electric cars and spend billions on roads, we're not going to get very far by demanding infrastructure and demanding it now.

There are 245,000 miles of roads in the UK. Are those in favour of widespread segregation on here expecting 245,000 miles of segregated routes? That would cost billions upon billions.

No? Are people on here therefore asking for some lesser mileage of segregation? Yes? Me, too.Go back and read my first posting. I said I was in favour of some segregation, but even in the Netherlands segregation isn't everywhere. We need to change motorists' behaviour, not just have miles and miles of curbs and bollards.

This too is a much of a pipe-dream but try campaigning for something more achieveable, such as the introduction of 'strict liability'.

This, along with segregation and other measures, is what makes the NL such a strong utility cycling country.

Segregation is merely one part of a much bigger picture.

ibikelondon said...

Carlton, you do yourself a disservice. You are at least 5ft 6 and a half... :O)

Of course we need to campaign for strict liability (let's hope the EU forces the UK's arm on that eventually anyway) and 20mph zones and all the rest of it, and the campaigns do a fair job of this. But you must admit that the radio silence on segregation - or worse, actively seeking to portray it as a bad thing for cycling in the UK - does them a disservice and, even if they haven't a hope in hell in achieving it, surely it is something worth calling out loud for?

To take your analogy and turn it on it's head my dream is for HGVs to be banned from central London during the peak hours. It's almost insurmountably impossible a dream to try and achieve but that's not to say I still don't think it's right and worth saying so out loud.

townmouse said...

I suppose it comes to this: we need to be asking the powers that be (which seems to be councils now that the national cycling bodies appear to be being dismantled):do you really want more cycling? And what % of trips do you think should be done by bikes locally? Because it seems to me that when cyclists talk about 'more cycling' they're thinking 'something a bit like the Netherlands' whereas when councils talk about 'more cycling' they're thinking at the most 'doubling the number of trips taken by bike' (which given our 2% share at the moment is pretty pathetic). It's only once that is out in the open that we can start having a debate that makes sense. If they're only looking to double cycling, then exhortations, bike schemes, the odd contraflow lane and training all makes sense - they might even actually achieve that target, especially if you look at what's happened in London. It's only when you start talking about aiming for 20, 30, 40% of journeys done by bike - which is what the Netherlands have achieved - that you have to start seriously inconveniencing motorists with loss of lanes and parking and speed restrictions. Unfortunately, I don't get any sense that there are any councils with that level of ambition out there so maybe we're fighting the wrong battle. Before starting a fight amongst ourselves about lanes vs. training etc. we first need to build the desire among councils (and the people who vote for them) to see cycling at much higher levels - say 10%. Given the level of discourse you see about cyclists (pavement hogging smug red light jumpers etc.) this is going to be the really hard bit. But until we've done that, we're not going to see one metre of road removed to make room for bikes.

How to do this? I don't know. The Dutch were a nation of cyclists, it's always been part of their identity in a way it hasn't been for us. The only thing I can suggest is that as a nation we are still great walkers, so perhaps the campaigning always needs to be in terms of 'cyclists AND pedestrians' rather than trying to tackle cycling alone. Of course there is a ton of conflict in poorly designed shared use facilities and I'm not suggesting we advocate that. But maybe if we can make the case for 20mph zones, traffic-free routes, green ways, car-free school zones etc. a generation will grow up who are used to using their bikes who can take the battle up further down the road.

freewheeler said...

If you look at who is represented at the ‘UK Cycle Campaign conference in Edinburgh’ you will see it is just the usual tired representatives of Britain’s failed cycling establishment together with a representative of that obstacle to mass cycling, car-centric Transport for London.

I laughed to read that “Edinburgh has signed up to the Brussels Charter target of 15% cycling share by 2020.” Edinburgh is a failed cycling city with a risible modal share and it certainly won’t reach its target in 8 years time through the kind of crap cycle lane which is proudly displayed on the conference website that Mark links to. Fifteen per cent modal share in 8 years is a hugely ambitious target and the ONLY way to achieve it is through segregated infrastructure. But we all know what will happen. Edinburgh will remain a car-centric city without segregated infrastructure and the target, having not been reached, will quietly be shelved in 2020 and a new one invented.

It is quite inappropriate to have “the post-Copenhagen segregation debate, presented by Roger Geffen from the CTC” because Geffen, apart from being hostile to segregation, plainly doesn’t understand it. No surprise there since the CTC virtually never references Dutch cycling policy documents.

The comments from Carlton Reid are very, very revealing, from the tired old claims about Britain’s roads being too narrow for segregation and the ‘safety in numbers’ myth to the uncritical embrace of TfL propaganda about “an amazing amount of new cyclists appearing”. You would never know that cycling was in its death throes in places like Newham and Enfield, or that modal share will always remain lodged firmly at one per cent in crap cycling boroughs like Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

I love the way Roger Geffen says that segregation is “often hailed as the solution for getting more people cycling. CTC and most local cycle campaign groups are sceptical.”

That’s right, Roger – establishment cycle campaigning in Britain doesn’t worry about empirical evidence like modal share, it prefers to stick to its prejudices.

Nor is it true that “There is a long running debate among cycling protagonists about the pros and cons of segregated cycle facilities”. The debate is quite a recent one, and it is being fuelled by the internet. More and more cycling bloggers are expressing their dissatisfaction with the old, failed cycle campaign strategy of organisations like the CTC and LCC. Mark does us all a favour by bringing this to a wider audience.

When Carlton Reid says that “Segregation is merely one part of a much bigger picture” I think he’s quite wrong. It’s absolutely fundamental to transforming cycling in London and it is the first and most basic demand any campaigner should be making. Everything else, including 20 mph zones, is ancillary. By not making it central to their campaigning strategy the LCC and CTC remain obstacles to mass cycling, not enablers.

Paul M said...

Cheesy proverb: every journey starts with a single step.
* Stats tell us that most car journeys (by number, rather than mileage) are less than 2(?) miles, an ideal distance for cycling
* Most short journeys are going to urban/suburban trips (I live in the country, almost everything is at least 10 miles away!)
* the worst road congestion/pollution/noise is in urban, mainly city, situations
* most latent or novice bikeriders are going to do shortish trips, to the office/shops/sports club/school. They are not about to enter a Sportive or Audax.

CTC's name (Cyclists' Touring Club)is a giveaway. It is still mainly about long-distance out-of-town rides, cycling holidays and bike camping etc. I am sure they are right to regard segregated cycle paths as unrealistic if you are talking about 245,000 miles of them, but who needs 245,000 miles? London and other big cities represent only a few hundreed miles at most, and non-arterial, small cross streets generally wouldn't need these.
My limited Google research tells me that a cycle path, including purchase of land, typically costs about £250,000/mile. A motorway costs £30 million/mile. slicing off a strip of urban road has no land cost (the council already owns it) so I guess the cost should be less. I just don't buy the idea that this is unaffordable even in such straightened times, and so it is not such an unachieveable dream.

I have given up on CTC and LCC, so I am trying a new approach - I am lobbying my employer's corporate social responsibility csar to see if they will take a public position on cycle infrastructure improvement in London/City. Trutch is that governments of allpolotical stripes don't listen to lobbyists for individuals, they listen to business. If business can be persuaded that cycle infraastructure is good for business, we will get somewhere.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Paul, that's a really interesting way of looking at numbers. And of course (don't know why I haven't mentioned this till now) money DOES get spent on cycling. The first 2 Superhighways cost something like £30M and the Hire Bike Scheme about £200M.

And you are right; the biggest growth market for cycling is in urban areas where distances covered by bikes is manageable.

christhebull said...

Well, the best start would be a "no more gutter lanes" campaign to improve the worst cycle lanes and paths that are already in existence. As far as most councils are concerned, "segregation" means painted lines on pavements.

Carlton Reid said...

We're all arguing about numbers of angels on the head of a pin.

No need to get fractious. We all want more cycling.

Taking potshots at me or the CTC is going to achieve what exactly.

Freewheeler: aim your venom elsewhere, attacking cyclists is what I'd expect from petrolheads not fellow pedallers.

ibikelondon said...

I'm with Carlton in that I want this debate to remain civil, cordial and engaging for all. No need to be personally vindictive towards anyone. As Gary Fisher once said "Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine"

That said, I wholeheartedly support the right to question the CTC, or LCC or British Cycling or this blog or anyone else involved in cycle campaigning on a diplomatic footing because that, after all, is what democracy is all about. If behaviour deserves to be questioned we all have the right to question it. It might achieve change, it might not. It might achieve a more open and accountable campaign. Then again, it might not. But it's worth exploring!

Kim said...

@townmouse well said, maybe we need to take a broader approach and think more in terms of active travel, there is more to live than segregated cycle lanes.

@freewheeler I find you comments rather depressing, but then I cycle in Edinburgh and not in London. If you look around the world you can find cities where cycling has expanded rapidly as a percentage of modal share. There are a lot of thing in Edinburgh which are far from perfect, but that doesn't make it impossible. At least CEC did sign up to the Brussels Charter, which is more that you can say for any other UK city.

What we really need to do is make cycling normal and stop harping on about how dangerous cycling is and how we have to be protected. Cycling is no more dangerous than walking.

ibikelondon said...

@Kim I agree that it is important that cities sign up to such 'desirability agendas' and it's a small step as part of a big step towards achieving those aims. But don't be surprised if it doesn't pan out that way on the ground. (Anyone remember the National Cycling policy set up by the last Government which was quietly shelved when it failed to achieve it's aims?)

I agree with you on normalising cyclin (I strive to portray riding a bike as everyday and ordinary on this blog), and I also think we need to encourage active travel, better bike parking, permeability and all the rest of it. Of course we do! Segregation isn't a golden bullet we do need a textured approach, but fear of cycling in traffic is what is keeping cycling numbers down and Dutch-style infrastructure is the only thing I can see that has a proven track record of changing that.


Philip Loy said...

Shame I can’t make the Edinburgh conference but hopefully a webcast or something will go up afterwards. Actually I think all the points raised above as obstacles to segregation can be addressed, more or less. It’s just that it requires a long-term strategy and indeed vision over something like 20 to 30 years, maybe more, and having a good picture of how and where to prioritise various types of facilities or solutions. The earliest example I’ve seen of the cycling ‘segregation debate’ dates from the 1930s, and it has been hotly debated on and off in LCC circles for the past 10 years or so I’ve been involved. Anyhow, a general campaigning strategy should involve collaboration with interest groups with similar aims (e.g. Living Streets) as has been alluded to, and being a bit canny about political influence, as the issues are really political rather than technical. I think most people agree that a multi-faceted approach is required for cycling; it’s not an either/ or debate. Segregation, permeability, cycle training, Dr Bikes, fashion shows and all the rest of it are required. The skill is knowing what to use where, and more crucially, what should be done in the interim with a view to a better longer-term solution in the future. And there is a cycling future, it’s just up to us to make it happen.

Bert said...

@ibikelondon - "That said, I wholeheartedly support the right to question the CTC, or LCC or British Cycling or this blog or anyone else involved in cycle campaigning on a diplomatic footing because that, after all, is what democracy is all about. If behaviour deserves to be questioned we all have the right to question it. It might achieve change, it might not. It might achieve a more open and accountable campaign. Then again, it might not. But it's worth exploring!"

Well said. It is a common tactic for the estabilished hiearchies to complain thay are being attacked when it helps them to avoid answering the question.
If it wasn't for the legal cover still being good value I wuldn't bother with the CTC anymore.


Carlton Reid said...

Those choosing to attack the CTC/LCC etc have an option. They could stand for election to those orgs and then change from within.

Or is it easier to write a few words and then let others to do the on-the-ground graft?

freewheeler said...

As I'm not a member of either the LCC or the CTC this would be rather difficult.

It is not clear to me what the feelings of the mass membership of either organisation are with regard to segregation and it would be interesting to know. But of course this would depend on what you mean by segregation. I mean the Dutch version.

Everything that is wrong with British cycle campaigning is summed up by the photograph on the conference website which Mark links to above. This is represented as best practice and a campaign achievement. But what is it? A classic British cycle lane which drivers can legally drive into. The vast majority of the British public have no interest in cycling on rubbish infrastructure like this. The final irony is that this photo shows a long line of cars and just one solitary cyclist. By campaigning for rubbish infrastructure like this, and ignoring the highly successful Dutch example, British cycling campaigners simply perpetuate the status quo. Most local authorities are happy to put in token cycle lanes like this.

By the way Carlton Reid has expanded on his understanding of segregation here. I would urge everyone interested in this debate to read it.

If I understand him correctly, Carlton Reid believes that things are on the up and up in London, and that a significant rise in modal share will be achieved without segregation. I believe both propositions are false. Time will tell. In the meantime car ownership keeps rising.

rogerhot said...

Campaigning for what’s possible or achievable right now is surely the most sensible approach.

For example, strict liability, 20mph (or less) limits, restricting HGVs during rush hour, cycle lane and ASL enforcement would offer an immediate and significant impact.

Segregation wont happen in London for the foreseeable as there isn’t the political will or popular support to make this happen.

Chris said...

I think it's already been pointed out on this thread, but I'll reiterate: lets live in the real world shall we? Why? Let me demonstrate. What do people on here think the overall combined cycling campaign budget per annum is in the UK? (CTC+LCC+Sustrans+UK Levy+BC etc). I say 500K.

Keep that number in mind while I try and persuade you why we have things terribly wrong on the campaigning front.

Bikeability, cycle awareness, bike theft, SMIDSY, HGVs - clearly, these are important issues. But should we focus on these at a national level? At a grassroots level, yes. National, no.

At a national level, and with only 500K , how many bullets do you think we can afford? Pea shooter anyone? The myriad of campaigns we rollout at a national level, along with our Vehicular Cycling philosophy does us absolutely no favours. The budget simply isn't big enough.

See where I'm going with this?

If you want another crass analogy, this time to highlight all that's wrong with campaigning in this country, try this cycling related one. Back in the day... when BC were looking at funding their talent program for the Olympics...they took an unusual step - instead of spending 26 million quid (or whatever it was back then) spread thinly across 50 athletes (all with differing chances of medalling), they chose, instead, to fund just those athletes (say 20ish) with a real prospect of attaining Gold. It was a bold move - it took balls. They focused on Gold. On the other hand, what do we do? We fund a myriad of Vehicular friendly campaigns, each individually having their own merit, but collectively produce no result - and we wonder why we're left with 1% modal share.

I believe our focus should be: high modal share. That is our Gold. So, if we're to attain high modal share, which athletes should we invest in? First we need a model. Is there a model out there that works? Anyone think of a country with high modal share? We all know the answer to my question, so I won't bang on about it.

But what I will say is this: the 500K should be spent on a political play, promoting, at it's core, Dutch Model Infrastructure. Why? Because, as Carlton rightly points out, the problem in the UK is one of a cultural/political nature. We need to get a lot better at spending what little we have on areas that will eventually pay the biggest modal dividend. We may not win the battle in the short term (years), but I think if we're consistent (and persistent) the political landscape will eventually swing our way, and we'll achieve high modal share. The problem right now is we offer such little resistance in terms of challenging current transport thinking that we'll never (ever) be taken seriously when true political change presents itself. We simply will never (ever) be credible Dutch Model advisors, not while we stay wedded to Vehicular Cycling.

I'm not talking about 'demanding', or foaming at the mouth campaigning. I'm talking about firmly promoting Dutch Model Infrastructure every time there's an opportunity, like: lobbying in Westminster; or participating in national media debates on posh 5 year olds from Dulwich cycling to school accompanied by their 8 year old sibling; helmets; HGVs etc etc.

This fascination with the right to ride on the road has done us absolutely no favours at all - in a perverse way it's pitted us directly against the car lobby. With absolutely no modal benefit. If you're going to take a shot at an elephant, namely the car lobby, at least make sure you're aiming for Gold.

christhebull said...

On the issue of the right to use the road - I highly doubt that anyone from the Highways Agency will ever be riding on these lanes provided for cyclists to cross over slip roads. Of course I have a "right" to ride on dual carriageways that are effectively motorways; some of which are historic rights of way dating back hundreds of years, others more recent - but I have no intention of doing so, regardless of the vague gesture provided by the occasional sign or marking in the hard strip.

Other roads are certainly not as bad, but the cyclist fatality rate on rural A roads is higher than that on other rural roads (the reverse is true for cars) - this is due to the high speed and volume of traffic on these roads. Unless proper infrastructure exists outside of towns along major roads, rural England will remain isolated and car dependent.

Charlie Holland said...

I'm in favour of pushing for segregation,if e.g. we want pre-teens to happily cycle independently, but to work the right-of-way rules/culture in this country need to be changed to the Dutch model.

My take on this is at

There is no need for segregation on many quiet roads given strict liability, 20mph limits, filtered permeability etc. But on busy, main roads then it's got really good points - if you don't have to stop at every side road for motor traffic turning off the main road, and if the cycle lane isn't really a parking lane like the Superficial Highways.

ndru said...

I wanted to point out one thing. The issue here is that this discussion is between people who already cycle and want to do so. Because let's be honest about it 90% of people reading bicycle blogs are people who are into riding bikes. However it's not us that Carlton Reid, LCC, CTC and others have to convince that segregation isn't necessary - it's all the people who don't cycle yet. This should be the goal of these organizations. Go and tell a mother with a young child to cycle on the road on an advisory cycle lane, remind her about safety in numbers and about the fantastic road network we have, then give her all the hi-viz. and helmets and she'll send you to hell. Why? Because people don't feel safe. They don't feel cycling is convenient. On the other hand driving a car is - you have safe, separate facilities of good quality, continuos and leading in all the right places. People tend to do what's more convenient for them and not all like to suffer for greater good. Sure - bicycles can also use these roads, but not all people want to for reasons mentioned above. So Cycle Campaigners are preaching to the already converted nothing is being done to simply make it convenient to cycle for normal people. And there's no better education for a driver then when they cycle themselves even occasionally.
It's time for a reality check. Let's see how the measures so glorified by the campaigners are perceived by people already riding bikes. Let's see how these measures are perceived by people who might want to ride bikes. Let's see if they are effective, enforced and really make cycling easier. Because it might turn out that what campaigners congratulate themselves on means nothing for everyday cyclist and it means even less for a person that doesn't yet cycle, but who might have been if there were the right facilities.
To sum up - Cartlon it's not us you have to convince that segregation is not necessary - it's all the other people - those who don't cycle.

townmouse said...

But the first thing is we have to create the desire among non-cyclists for bikes to have a higher modal share, because honestly that's really not there yet (talk to any committed driver about Boris bikes in London and they're certainly not celebrating the fact that there are all these extra bikes on the road). What there is is a desire for fewer cars (especially other people's cars). So perhaps if there's only a little money nationally it should go into campaigns like the German 'Kopf an Motor aus' (Brain on, motor off) or the Swedish 'ridiculous car journeys' one, both of which were highlighted on Copenhagenize recently. Once you've got people to think about not driving, then actually bikes become the obvious alternative as riding a bike is actually much more like having a car than something like walking or (horrors) taking the bus.

ndru said...

Perhaps it would be a good idea to start with nice cycling routes leading to schools. What's a better way to promote cycling then by enabling mums to cycle with their kids. It's been shown that once mums take to cycling it becomes contagious. I guess it's the persuasive nature of women.
Social campaigns are good of course, but posters without anything to back it up. People will see cycling as troublesome - they have to take kids to the school, do some shopping etc - if they can't do it easily with a bicycle they will stick to cars no matter how many posters you're going to put up on walls and bus shelters.

Neil said...

Perhaps the terminology is not the greatest - segregation (dutch style paths) is not the same as segregation (shared use pavements).

Would anyone really object to having properly implemented Dutch style paths?

I think one key point is the right of way at side roads. There is absolutely no point in campaigning for paths that have to give way at every side road.

So much of cycle infrastructure relies on getting the details right. It needs to be very clear what details make a path good and what make it cr*p.

Chris said...


I think you've almost hit the nail on the head - I agree with you when you say that no-one would disagree with campaigning for segregated infrastructure (Dutch Model Style) - and before everyone flames me for being a Segregationist, I'll simply point out that Dutch Model infrastructure isn't all about segregation (but I'll leave it to the more knowledgeable hembrow to fill in the details there http://hembrow.blogspot.com).

So, if we're all in agreement, why aren't we campaigning for it? If you look at UK national campaigning there is near complete radio silence on the subject.

In fact, at an estimated combined UK campaign budget of only 500K - why the hell aren't we campaigning for the only thing that's going to achieve 15, 20, 30% cycling modal share?

It's mystery to me.

ibikelondon said...

@Neil @Chris @Everyone

Which is exactly the point I'm trying to make! Why the radio silence indeed?

don_don said...

I find myself in complete agreement with ndru and freewheeler. Like freewheeler (if I recall his blog correctly) I am an 'integrationist turned segregationist', prompted partly by the arrival of children in my life, who are now almost old enough to ride to school.

I think that any criticism of freewheeler's comments need to be taken in context. He appears simply to be one of the more vociferous critics of the current situation. Personally, I am grateful for that. He accurately reflects the frustration that I (and I suspect many others) feel about the domination of transport policy by the motor car. When no-one wants to listen then sometimes you can't help but shout.

I think ndru is right. In a way, the views of us 'Cyclists' are unimportant. I will keep cycling because I need and want to. Its the other lot that don't currently cycle that need encouraging, and all the signs indicate that segregated infrastructure is the only way to really achieve this. Personally, I would love for my children to be able to enjoy cycling in the Dutch style, and I know I would enjoy it myself.

Carlton Reid talks on his blog about the immense cost of putting segregated facilities on ( or more accurately beside) every road in the country. This is not the point. He himself accepts that the Dutch don't have that sort of situation because they don't need it, and neither do we. All we need is to stop arguing, accept that what the Dutch et al are doing is right, and copy them. I refuse to belive that this is impossible.

In the meantime, the hugely professional and highly organised motoring lobby lights another collective cigar and sits back, laughing at our dis-unity and inability to agree.

ndru said...

Apparently it's something that we will never get, no matter what we try - this is what Carlton Reid said. And I believe this is what other campaigners think. So while they say they do want segregation (for the sake of keeping members) they are not going to waste time campaigning for it. Quite disappointing.
However this is not to say that campaigners don't have a clue. Carlton reminded my about the strict liability law, which would also give an impulse for mass cycling.

townmouse said...

I was thinking about how best to campaign for strict liability law (I agree that would do a huge amount for cyclists and pedestrians). It's a tricky one because it's hard to sell to the Mr. Toads - it's foreign for a start, and it doesn't come across as being particularly fair. Instead of campaigning for a 'Continental-style strict liability law' (might as well give up from the start) we should be campaigning for 'bring the (implied British) law of the sea onto our roads' - at sea, steam gives way to sail, because the the faster and more powerful vessel always gives way to the less so. And play up on the fact that it applies to those mythical demon cyclists terrorising little old ladies on the pavements, as pedestrians are considered more vulnerable to bikes.

Chris said...

Cycle campaigning needs to get really, really focused at a national level. Cycling simply cannot afford to have half a dozen different campaigns running simultaneously.

Vehicular cycling campaigns have had their day.

It's time that CTC, LCC, Sustrans, and (even) BC stand together and declare that the Dutch have it right. Lets not advocate spending yet more money on schemes that essentially say: you'll live longer; be more assertive; wear hi viz; watch-out for that HGV; watch-out, the sun is low in the sky today; safety in numbers!

@don_don made a very good point about kids cycling which I would like to pick up on.

The state of cycle campaigning in the UK was neatly summed up recently with the case of the Schonrocks - not one of these so called cycling organisations had anything meaningful to say as to why most parents do not allow their children to cycle to school (accompanied or unaccompanied). Why the hell weren't they shouting from the rooftops about the Dutch Model (and the Dutch way of life)? As a group, cyclists were unable to defend a 5 year old. Unbelievable isn't it. Essentially, people like Carlton Reid would have 5 year olds riding on the road to school - just so his adult, but minority right to ride on the road can be preserved. What he's essentially saying is: my right to the road is so important to me that any kind of campaign for Dutch Model Infrastructure is incompatible with my rights. Don't believe me? Well, with the reality of a tiny and yet fragmented UK campaign budget of only 500K - this is exactly what he's saying. The debate doesn't move on - stalemate. Vehicular Cycling prevails.

With attitudes like this - what hope 30%?

don_don said...

To be fair to the CTC, they did show strong support for the Schonrocks on their own and other cycling websites. However, Boris Johnson's comments unsurprisingly gained far more media attention.

Chris said...

@don_don I was simply pointing out that CTC and LCC had nothing credible to say about why most people decide not to allow their children to cycle to school. It's all very well to assert that children have the right to cycle to school - it's quite another to assert that it's safe for other people's children to cycle to school - they are quite different arguments. The later being an argument the cycling establishment have spectacularly lost. Parents simply prefer to drive.

My point is that LCC and CTC allowed one of the best opportunities to talk-up Dutch Model Infrastructure (for years) sail silently into the night. To be fair, they are hamstrung - they're wedded to Vehicular Cycling.

I would argue that, despite the stats, it's quite dangerous for children to cycle to school. Why? The current mortality rate for children on the roads is misleading. The numbers are simply too low to be statistically significant. It's bit like saying there are no Polar bear deaths on the roads today, therefore it's perfectly safe to release 300,000 Polar bears on the roads of London and expect no Polar bear deaths. If we dropped 50% of school children on the roads tomorrow, without any kind of compensating infrastructure, there would be absolute carnage - deadly carnage. Carnage over and above the rates we see today. I can hear the middle classes saying: No safety in numbers for my child thank you very much. Vroom Vroom.

Run with the bulls, anyone?

Anonymous said...

townmouse said...
I was thinking about how best to campaign for strict liability law (I agree that would do a huge amount for cyclists and pedestrians). It's a tricky one because it's hard to sell to the Mr. Toads - it's foreign for a start....

My ex MP says it will never happen because our law presumes innocence until proven guilty.

Anonymous said...

@billy isn't there strict liability concerning horses? could be wrong...

Surely, campaigning for segregated cycle lanes like the Dutch is a difficult prospect, nonetheless one worth campaigning for. However, surely creating cul-de-sacs with bollards cutting off the rat runs and dropping speed limits in these areas is also part of their plan. This surely would be easier to campaign for initially. It could be sold to parents as reducing traffic in their area, slowing what traffic there is, safer for the children etc. Also, it's more likely to be approved as a few thoughtfully placed bollards here and there and some different speed limit signs would surely be relatively cheap. If these aspects could help raise cycling's modal share then we'd have more support for stage two, campaigning for proper cycle lanes.

SteveL from Bristol Traffic said...

This is an interesting discussion. As a former edinburgh resident, I pine for their functional public transport as well as a town that is OK for adults to cycle round. Here in bristol we lack the public transport, though cycling is improving, piece by piece -though how to get the masses out of their cars is still a big question.

But I don't care about modal share. All I care is about a safe route from home to school for my son, who is getting too big for the tagalong, and then a route to work that isn't unpleasant. That means bike lanes that don't have cars in them (stokes croft?), roads where I don't have to worry about oncoming cars trying to clip their mirrors on my handlebars.

The only way to do this is to take space away from the car. Not much. Start with the bit marked "school keep clear". Enforce it. Councils to do drive-by ANPR scanning of parked cars, tickets in the post. If the council does a drive-by once a week, parents will soon stop parking there, start walking from houses 500m away instead. Same for bike lanes. The lost-lanes of stokes croft could come into existence, all it needs in the council will to enforce the rules.

If enforcing today's double yellow lines, solid bike lane lines and school keep clear zones means taking space away from cars, so be it. I opt not to feel guilty.

SteveL said...

One thing I want to add is that the council's fears of upsetting motorists push them to choose transport options -for buses and bicycles- that don't upset cars. This is why bike paths and lanes vanish when you get near inner cities, why plans fall apart when they get controversial (e.g portsmouth seafront path). They start on the politically easy bits but that gives people a chance to put together the opposition and kill the plans that would be useful, leaving a broken network. Better to be aggressive and make useful routes -then improve them- rather than gold-plate stuff nobody uses.

gone said...

Sorry to join the party rather late, but that's sort of me all over.
I started cycling properly just over a year ago, after my holiday had taken me to Chicago. Now *there's* a car-centric city. But it also has extremely egalitarian planners, who realised they had this beautiful 20-odd mile lakeshore that everyone should be able to enjoy. In came a ban on building along it, and long paths and plenty of access points so cycling 26 miles up and down it was an absolute doddle, and thoroughly enjoyable. I've always loved being on a bike, but good grief, this was something totally new and wondeful. (It also helped that after years of riding a cheap-for-halfords-style bike I got back in the saddle on a supremely comfortable Trek, so my day wasn't spoiled by a sore backside.)
Had I not had the segregated (but pedestrian shared) path to get my pedals spinning again, I probably wouldn't have bothered - after all, I've been in plenty of other cities with bike hire but not taken it up.
It's not like I'm scared of traffic either. I drive a little car in a fairly sedate manner and that tends to get you honks and flashes aplenty from reps and minicab drivers, so I've developed a thick skin. Bring it on; I'll cycle in the middle of the lane if I have to. But that's after years of being relatively protected from abuse by the ton of metal surrounding me - and that I can do it doesn't mean I should have to.
When I'm abroad, I'm like most people in the UK. My perception is different. To me, this is because everything in my head is geared to being on the left of the road, and suddenly everything's on the right. My brain can't cope with the amount of extra processing involved, and I get nervous to say the least. Chicago and Portland were *normal* for me because they let me focus on the cycling, not all that other stuff. In chicago segregation helped. In Portland it was having a cool local guide (who rode on the pavement sometimes, tsk tsk), and infrastructure that meant cars *had* to respect you (and enforcement of the laws backing up that respect).
Here I see crappy or nonsensical infrastructure, like the tiny cycle lane going up Notting Hill Gate when the pavement is wider than one vehicular lane and could be easily shared - or no respect for the measures in place to help bicycles - parking in cycle lanes is my current bugbear, I've given up on ASLs. Yesterday I found myself utterly confused and frustrated by the 'closure' of the cycle paths through Green Park and St James' Park - no more than a few cones at each end and signs saying they were shut. I wouldn't mind so much if there was a visible explanation as to why.
So: I want segregation wherever possible, enforced cycle lanes and stop zones where we have to share. Drivers to be taught cycle sense as part of their lessons, and tested on it. If a road is wide enough for parking on both sides, take the parking away on one side and redistribute the roadspace so there's a cycle lane in both directions.
I also want to be able to eat chocolate without it going straight to my thighs, so I know I'm probably asking a lot. But chocolate aside, these things are entirely possible - it's the probability we need to work on.

billy said...

Anonymous said...
@billy isn't there strict liability concerning horses? could be wrong...

Don't know. Would it be something to do with the law being an ass?

Surely, campaigning for segregated cycle lanes like the Dutch is a difficult prospect, nonetheless one worth campaigning for.

I agree with that :0)

Anonymous said...

@Townmouse - Strict Libility

"My ex MP says it will never happen because our law presumes innocence until proven guilty."

Your ex MP doesn't understand the difference between Guilt and Liability. One does not have to be found guilty to be liable under strict liability. If you brought the car onto the road then you are liable for its effects unless you can show that someone else was negligent. There is as presumtion of liability in favour of the vunerable, which is the opposite of the situation now. It is a civil not a criminal matter which mainly bears on insurance. Actually, it's a bit of a non issue with respect encouraging mass cycling. The campagin could be a PR disaster as most people misunderstand or misrepresent it.

I like the thrust of what is being said here but untill cyclists represent a larger group, local councils CAN NOT allocate the kinds of funds needed for good lanes. We are a minority, sadly. I know council officers who would love to put in more infrastructure but are constrained by democracy... They say things like, "please get more people to ask for it". Remember, there are many people who are anti ANYTHING that constrains motorists. They write letters too.

Also, as a London cyclist of 30 years, please let me assure you all that cycling has grown loads in London recently. Nationally it is not such good news though. So, yes cycling is growing in London but the national figure pulls the average down and indeed our modal share is pretty flat... sigh.

- Dr Moohahaha