Plus Ça Change

I’ve been invited to the Big Cycling Debate on Monday and was asked to submit a question to the panel of MPs representing the three ‘main’ parties:

“The Get Britain Cycling report contains many images of bicycles on the cover and within its pages. Should it be more accurately titled Get Britain Bicycling?”

I was asked by CTC to submit a different question – referring to a 2 year old report from the last big cycling debate involving parliamentarians has no relevance to their respective policy positions on cycling. I guess things must have moved on.

This is the invite to the event.

big_cycling_debate_invitation_final copy

I started counting bicycles in the images of cycling policy and design documents last year and it’s turned me into an annoying little boy who can’t see the Emperor’s New Lycra. Every time a new one appears, the big cycling orgs stand around it, nodding appreciatively, and I’m left pointing and stuttering “b-b-but…”

What’s odd is I know for a fact that four of the organisations endorsing this debate are actively trying to do something for the riders of trikes, handbikes, tandems, tagalongs, cargobikes, etc (CTC alone held two Inclusive Cycling conferences this week) but ask one of them to come up with an image to represent ‘cycling’ in the national media and all of that’s forgotten. In fact I’m not sure why I’ve been invited.

Cycling: the more it changes, the more it stays the same.

1 thought on “Plus Ça Change

  1. livinginabox

    Cycling infrastructure, so far as it exists, is often so badly designed that it’s often difficult to negotiate even when riding on a normal, solo bicycle.

    These are but a small selection of appalling cycle infrastructure ‘design’
    Deliberate width restriction surely intended to deter use and tricycles

    A flight of stairs, try this with a heavily laden bicycle, or a trailer or cargo bike.

    Tramlines – These traffic engineers are either incompetent, or hate cyclists

    Cycle path (red) rendered useless by a row of twelve median bollards. On the other side the same trick with perhaps 28? bollards. Not much use for any kind of bike.

    Of course, many on road cycle lanes that are dangerously narrow, encouraging dangerous close passing and are predictably subject to vehicle intrusion because of poor road-layout and or proximity to dangerous pinch-points and chicanes
    see literature
    Plus many cycle lanes are rendered useless by the presence of parked vehicles.

    But add panniers (that contain stuff); or attempt to tow a trailer (whether for load carrying or transporting children); or ride a tricycle or hand-cycle; or a tandem; or a cargo bicycle; or a recumbent bicycle or tricycle and it’s likely to be completely impossible.

    The effect of cycle lanes on the proximity between motor traffic and cycle traffic – John Parkin Ciaran Meyers
    An experiment collected proximity data of motor traffic overtaking cycle traffic on roads with and without cycle lanes using an instrumented bicycle. The work enhances previous research which has considered the riding position of the cyclist and whether or not the cyclist was helmeted, while controlling for vehicle type.
    The analysis shows that significantly wider passing distances are adopted by motorists in the condition without a 1.45 metre cycle lane, with posted speed limits of 40mph and 50mph with a 9.5 metre wide carriageway. These findings were not replicated for a similar width road with a posted speed limit of 30mph and a 1.3 metre cycle lane.
    The results suggest that in the presence of a cycle lane, drivers may be driving within the confines of their own marked lane with less recognition being given to the need to provide a comfortable passing distance to cycle traffic in the adjacent cycle lane.

    Click to access index.php

    The Effect of Cycle Lanes on Cyclists’ Road Space – Pete Owens – October 2005

    Click to access cycle-lanes.pdf

    Ciaran Meyers, University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies
    Dr John Parkin, Reader in Transport Engineering and Planning, University of Bolton

    Click to access Meyers-Parkin.PDF

    Pinch-points are extremely dangerous for cyclists, especially when combined with driver overtaking psychology.
    Bad infrastructure design often utilises central traffic islands as pinch-points. Drivers approaching the pinch-point typically won’t slow-down, they merely drift away from the island towards the kerb, irrespective of whether there’s a cyclist there or not. Cycle-lanes without physical protection make no difference to drivers, but they are a matter of life and death to cyclists.


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