Wednesday, December 8, 2010

City Cycling

A good article from the Standard's Ross Lydall, quoting the Cyclists in the City blog. It seems that the disobedient population of London are causing significant problems by cycling in considerable numbers into the City, getting in the way of motor vehicles and generally disrupting the traffic flow.

Let's look at how people travel in the City. According to TfL figures for 2006/07 to 2008/09, the percentage of trips originating in the City by main mode was broken down as follows:

Rail 19%
Underground/DLR 27%
Bus/tram 7%
Taxi/Other 6%
Car/motor-cycle 3%
Cycle 3%
Walk 35%

These are old figures. With Cycle Hire and the general increase in cycling since 2006/7, cycling will account for rather more than the 3% share given above. The City's own official predictions are that cycling will increase by a further 30% or so between 2010 and 2013.

Even using the unmodified figures above, cycling makes up 25% of all road-based private transport. It's not unreasonable to think it will be above 30% by 2013 based on the City's predictions.

Does cycling get 30% of the priority or 30% of the roadspace? Does it get a weighting of 30% when road users are consulted or when the strategy is drawn up for highways, or when roads projects are planned? I'll give you a clue - the answer isn't 'yes'.

This is not just a City problem. The councillors and highways department bureaucrats in boroughs all across London are very happy in their car-centric comfort zone. They like to pretend that no-one cycles, or on the rare occasions that they consider cycling, that it can be 'fitted in' around the more important modes of transport. This position is becoming more and more untenable as the number of cyclists rises: on many key routes the number of cycles approaches the number of motor vehicles at peak times.
It's clear that current roads are designed almost exclusively for motor traffic, and this isn't adequate for today's cycling levels. Yet roads should be designed to accomodate, and to encourage, the future increases in cycling that the Mayor is targeting. The population of London is expected to rise, London's air pollution and carbon emissions need to come down. So there's three good reasons why the authorities should be encouraging cycling. Meanwhile,  London's public transport is unreliable, bursting at the seams, and becoming increasingly expensive, so it's no wonder people want to cycle.

And yet still, in a feat of willful blindness worthy of Lord Nelson, the authorities "see no cycles".

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