Author Topic: Building the Ultimate cycle path  (Read 1807 times)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2019, 10:24:05 pm »
London centric, they talk about cycle super highways and quietways. Where other than that London have such things?
Cycle superhighways are AFAIK only in London (perhaps also Manchester?) but the Quietway name and concept are more widespread. Certainly we've had some in Bristol for ten years or so. I think the Quietway name was only recently adopted here, previously they were known as Greenways and Link routes (still are, I'd say, in general terms) but the routes were here already.

Greenway makes me think of greenlane, or a rutted mess only passable to progressively more offroad capable 4x4 as the season goes on.

Quote
Yes. Well I'd look beyond cycle paths, including ways of making the roads we have more pleasant and usable for everyone. Bear in mind that any solution taken from one place to another changes a little in translation, because traffic and travel aren't just engineering, they exist within a cultural and behavioural environment.

Yes, This is something I've been talking about with people who pick up Dutch infrastructure, copy it physically, but fail to understand the cultural and legal structures that go with it.

Quote
That's a good example of the kind of thing they didn't look at all. An interurban or rural route.

My experience of sustrans interurban or rural routes is that they are not designed as transport, but rather as a nice place to take the kids for a bike ride on a Sunday afternoon. This really annoys me, as once built, people seem to think they are the only ones you should use. In Canterbury they built a cycle route along the river from the village upstream of Canterbury all the way to the edge of the city. Only problem is, for about 3 months of the year it's only suitable for kayak or possible fat bike. The same is true of the length that goes down stream of the city, the first part is through unlit dark woods that most people find too scary to cycle through at night, and then onto the flood plane at Fordwich, I had to repack all the bearings on my Brompton after cycling across this section in the dark, what I thought was about 50mm of water over the path turned out to be deep enough to cover the bottom bracket.  Having reached Fordwich, if you wanted to continue to follow NCN 1 to Sandwich, it takes a very indirect route down pot holed country lanes. It's very beautiful on a sunny Spring afternoon, but the rest of the time it's just an indirect mess. If you use a cycle route planner like cyclestreets, it's really hard to it to plan a route using NCN1 from Canterbury to Sandwich as it's just so damn indirect. Head north from Canterbury and you have the crab and winkle way, This isn't a bad path, it's kinda direct (for values of), but it's unlit, so not something most people want to use for their commute. Fall off on a corner in the dark and you've got bugger all phone reception, and you're half a km from the nearest road. Head south and you're on RCN 16, this uses parts of the North Downs way, and has sections that aren't ideal for road bikes. Part way to Dover RCN 16 forks off RCN 17 towards folkestone, this has a fancy new bridge over the A2, but it follows a pretty remote country lane down through the Elham valley, past Pett Bottom (nice pub). It's a nice route for a Sunday ride, but I'd hate to have to commute on it in winter in the dark.

Oh, and you can be reasonably certain all of the above are not gritted, meaning they are impassible when the temp drops.

So yes, I feel my cynicism about sustrans has some basis in reality. I'm sure there are people there who are good people working hard in difficult circumstances, not helped by nimbys and local authorities. But the quality of what they produce is pretty damn poor, so calling them designers of the ultimate cycle path, pah.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2019, 11:14:56 pm »
Quote
Yes. Well I'd look beyond cycle paths, including ways of making the roads we have more pleasant and usable for everyone. Bear in mind that any solution taken from one place to another changes a little in translation, because traffic and travel aren't just engineering, they exist within a cultural and behavioural environment.

Yes, This is something I've been talking about with people who pick up Dutch infrastructure, copy it physically, but fail to understand the cultural and legal structures that go with it.
That's kind of the reverse of the what I was thinking of (that when you copy the physical infrastructure, the effect is different because of the different cultural, legal, etc background) but equally valid and more useful. Of course it's easier to reproduce physical "solutions" than non-tangible ones.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2019, 07:58:28 am »
We can ruminate about best practices and ideas until the cows come home, but it all comes down to funding - which is next to non-existent outside of London or Bristol.

I remember we had a 'consultation' some years ago in my area to link the major towns with the major employment centers with more adequate cycle infrastructure. The plans included some great ideas, like a cycleway alongside the railway & putting an all-weather surface on the current NCN mudbath. Snuck into the 'options' was a plan to simply add bicycle signage to the posts along the A roads that cyclists are already forced to use. Guess what won?

The local sustrans group were exhibiting at my workplace a year later and I asked them about it. They admitted that the entire regional budget barely covered the cost of that one consultation.

Pissing into the wind.


Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2019, 09:16:50 am »
We can ruminate about best practices and ideas until the cows come home, but it all comes down to funding - which is next to non-existent outside of London or Bristol.

I remember we had a 'consultation' some years ago in my area to link the major towns with the major employment centers with more adequate cycle infrastructure. The plans included some great ideas, like a cycleway alongside the railway & putting an all-weather surface on the current NCN mudbath. Snuck into the 'options' was a plan to simply add bicycle signage to the posts along the A roads that cyclists are already forced to use. Guess what won?

The local sustrans group were exhibiting at my workplace a year later and I asked them about it. They admitted that the entire regional budget barely covered the cost of that one consultation.

Pissing into the wind.
I think this is another aspect of the culture/law/politics that just doesn't transfer. Which isn't to say it couldn't transfer, but we'd have to all (significant numbers of UK population including politicians and businesses) want it to.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Adam

  • It'll soon be summer
    • Charity ride Durness to Dover 18-25th June 2011
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2019, 11:40:48 am »

So yes, I feel my cynicism about sustrans has some basis in reality. I'm sure there are people there who are good people working hard in difficult circumstances, not helped by nimbys and local authorities. But the quality of what they produce is pretty damn poor, so calling them designers of the ultimate cycle path, pah.

J


The biggest problem, as always, is money.  Sustrans only actually own about 500 miles of the 14,000 or so miles included in the National Cycle Network.  Although they get paid to act as consultants to provide advice on implementing a route, the actual surface of any route is entirely in the hands of the landowner(s).  And often, they will demand no gravel or tarmac is used "for environmental reasons" when they agree to allow a permissive right of way to go in for a shared use path across their land.

They may not have been particularly vocal about it in the past, but Sustrans have always wanted to use tarmac or equivalent hard wearing surface as far as possible, but of course that costs a lot more than crushed limestone or even mud.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2019, 11:48:42 am »
I reckon what's needed is a cultural change, away from cycling as a special thing you do for cyclists, or a way to bolster your green credentials, to cycling as a tool used by transport planners to improve network capacity and improve air quality.  It doesn't need special funding, just a reasonable proportion of the existing highways budget.

How to achieve that?  We need engineers to optimise for people rather than motor vehicles, with an awareness of strategies that do and don't work.  And we need politicians who can make courageous decisions in the public interest rather than pandering to the motor lobby.

How do you get to that point?  Getting businesses to lobby for cycling infrastructure seems to be a good strategy in urban areas, as politicians are more likely to listen to $evil_bank than $crusty_cycling_hippy.  Central government dictating a consistent strategy, rather than passing the buck to local authorities would seem like a good idea.  But I think we mostly need better politicians, which appear to be in short supply.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2019, 03:42:37 pm »
I think this is another aspect of the culture/law/politics that just doesn't transfer. Which isn't to say it couldn't transfer, but we'd have to all (significant numbers of UK population including politicians and businesses) want it to.

Exactly. Level of funding for active transport in .NL vs the UK is just in a different league. But it's also approached differently. Most Dutch employers give you €0.19 per km to cycle to work, they've also removed a lot of city centre parking, made what there is more expensive. It's both carrot and stick.

The biggest problem, as always, is money.  Sustrans only actually own about 500 miles of the 14,000 or so miles included in the National Cycle Network.  Although they get paid to act as consultants to provide advice on implementing a route, the actual surface of any route is entirely in the hands of the landowner(s).  And often, they will demand no gravel or tarmac is used "for environmental reasons" when they agree to allow a permissive right of way to go in for a shared use path across their land.

They may not have been particularly vocal about it in the past, but Sustrans have always wanted to use tarmac or equivalent hard wearing surface as far as possible, but of course that costs a lot more than crushed limestone or even mud.

Why does sustrans own the cycle infrastructure? Surely that should be funded, owned, and maintained by the local council?

I reckon what's needed is a cultural change, away from cycling as a special thing you do for cyclists, or a way to bolster your green credentials, to cycling as a tool used by transport planners to improve network capacity and improve air quality.  It doesn't need special funding, just a reasonable proportion of the existing highways budget.

Agreed

Quote
How to achieve that?  We need engineers to optimise for people rather than motor vehicles, with an awareness of strategies that do and don't work.  And we need politicians who can make courageous decisions in the public interest rather than pandering to the motor lobby.

As we are seeing with the current state of UK politics, this seems unlikely. Politicians know how to do the right thing, they just don't know how to get reelected afterwards. And that's the problem.

Quote
How do you get to that point?  Getting businesses to lobby for cycling infrastructure seems to be a good strategy in urban areas, as politicians are more likely to listen to $evil_bank than $crusty_cycling_hippy.  Central government dictating a consistent strategy, rather than passing the buck to local authorities would seem like a good idea.  But I think we mostly need better politicians, which appear to be in short supply.

Cos that works? How many businesses of all sizes have told the current government that it's actions are going to be catastrophic to the country? Yes to an extent business trumps cyclehippy, but only so far. Politicians still need reelection. You know what the Dutch don't have? First past the post voting system...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2019, 03:49:25 pm »
Quote
How do you get to that point?  Getting businesses to lobby for cycling infrastructure seems to be a good strategy in urban areas, as politicians are more likely to listen to $evil_bank than $crusty_cycling_hippy.  Central government dictating a consistent strategy, rather than passing the buck to local authorities would seem like a good idea.  But I think we mostly need better politicians, which appear to be in short supply.

Cos that works?

It appears to have been effective in getting the Embankment superhighway built in That London, in the face of considerable opposition from the black cab lobby and whoever it is that commutes from Park Lane by limo and owns half of Canary Wharf.

https://cyclingworks.wordpress.com/



At a local level, business has some clout.  Certainly in the context of cyclists vs NIMBYs, getting the BID on side appears to be a useful approach.  Unfortunately, many of them subscribe to the our "customers are motorists" assumption, or don't want cyces cluttering up their not-actually-public spaces, which makes them a large part of the problem.


Quote
You know what the Dutch don't have? First past the post voting system...

Fuck yes.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2019, 03:54:42 pm »
Quote
How to achieve that?  We need engineers to optimise for people rather than motor vehicles, with an awareness of strategies that do and don't work.  And we need politicians who can make courageous decisions in the public interest rather than pandering to the motor lobby.

As we are seeing with the current state of UK politics, this seems unlikely. Politicians know how to do the right thing, they just don't know how to get reelected afterwards. And that's the problem.
And to an extent at least they recognise this, which is why Westminster politicians keep offloading their responsibilities in this (and other) matters to various levels of local authority. Which of course also means the things don't get done, because LAs have no resources.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2019, 04:11:50 pm »
I was imagining the ultimate cycle path would be the last one you ever used.

Down here, Exeter is stringing together bits of quiet road, park paths and alleys to make a tortuous 'cycleroute' into the city from the East.  They've also built a two-way cycle-lane alongside the one bit of road that was wide enough not to really need it (but also the only road wide enough to accommodate a cycle-lane). 

It all smacks of just doing something to claim the funding.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2019, 06:39:27 pm »
Every blurb I read about town development plans etc. (outside of London anyway) is completely bogged down with parking issues. Towns will die if we don't kneel before this altar. I can only assume the people who say this (shopowners, local businesses, councillors) have never been to one of the few successful town centres and noticed the one thing that's missing. If you're obsessed with facilitating traffic, you're mostly facilitating people driving somewhere else. The best you'll get a line of convenience stores and fast food joints mortared together with charity stores. Where no wants to go, everyone is just passing through.

The same attitude is at play everywhere, near complete subservience to one form of transport and local authorities plan with this in mind, they're figuring out how to get walking and cycling without inconveniencing drivers. This mode of thinking is doomed to failure. For cycling and walking to be effective, something needs to be taken from drivers. In that respect, any scheme that does make black cabbies and the usual suspects angry would be, in a word, worthless. In fact you can measure the utility of a cycling scheme using their blood pressure. Above a certain value, you're onto something.

Yes, it needs cultural change. I'm not sure how some of the local infrastructure ever got built, from Croydon's solitary bicycle traffic light, to the random stretches of unconnected bike lane on the A22 (you'd be lucky to get to them alive, and they don't exactly offer solace to the justifiably terrified cyclist).

A failure of Quietways is that core design ethos seems to be minimize upsetting car drivers. That and dread endless consultations.
!nataS pihsroW

Adam

  • It'll soon be summer
    • Charity ride Durness to Dover 18-25th June 2011
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2019, 08:37:16 pm »
Why does sustrans own the cycle infrastructure? Surely that should be funded, owned, and maintained by the local council?

[/quote]

Er - they don't.  As I stated, they only own about 500 miles - so just 3.5% of the entire Sustrans Network, with most of that 500 miles gifted.  Everything else with a Sustrans route number on, is owned by councils and other landowners.   And Sustrans don't own any parts of anyone else's cycling infrastructure.

In an ideal world, councils would also maintain the cycle network as well, but generally they don't.  Some more enlightened councils will find money from a capital budget to fund a new cycle route, but then to a large extent after it's built, they don't bother looking  in a proactive way.  If it's been adopted by Sustrans then depending upon location, there may be a group of volunteers prepared to look after it.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2019, 12:00:39 am »
I have seen the plans (sshh - they aren't supposed to be out till tomorrow) for the community links plus bid. The statement from Sustrans who hold the purse strings are that money will not be given for projects that do not a) take road space away from cars and are b) optimal cycle routes. Ie they have to be bold.

So the plans proposed include a 3m segregated two way path down an A road which will narrow each lane to 3 - 3.5m instead of 4.5+, lots of engineering to make it happen and no doubt a huge complaint from drivers. Many junction treatments. One of the big challenges is bus stops. For some less used ones there is a table in front of the bus stop over which the cycle path goes and a suitably large refuge on the motor side. For busier ones where there is more space the cycle path goes behind the bus stop.

It links up at each end with routes into the city centre and to further afield.   It looks like the best of the cycle superhighways.  And will probably be ravaged by the council.
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Re: Building the Ultimate cycle path
« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2019, 03:35:00 pm »
Meanwhile, outside the CBD, Singapore is digging up miles of crappy meandering, narrow, cycle paths and replacing them with this kind of thing.





The first one runs for more than 3 miles as part of a mostly decent route that now runs for at least 20 miles, not counting the many branches. It was quite suitable for averaging 20mph. The bottom one links up two formerly disconnected sections of good quality cycle route.

Unfortunately they are a bit slow to use after 5am because of the pedestrians and joggers who prefer them to using the footpaths :facepalm: But I'd still chose the new routes to cycle to work, and for utility or family cycling.