Friday, June 17, 2011

Network Operating Strategy - Consultation

As has been pointed out elsewhere, TfL have a consultation on its new Draft Network Operating Strategy. Yes, that's 'draft', not 'daft', although you might think otherwise after reading it. What is a Network Operating Strategy? It's quite simply, how TfL run the road network, which is, from a cycling point of view, not very well, and the new strategy does nothing to improve a woeful record. It's written, one gets the impression, by people who've cut-and-pasted a few 'green' paragraphs from other places but whose mindset is stuck in the 1980s 'predict-and-provide-more-urban-motorways' school of thought.

Remember that the City of London's LIP received 110-odd comments, most of which were from cyclists, and TfL were deluged by cyclists' complaints about Blackfriars Bridge. It does make a difference. It is essential that you comment here before 15 July and let 'em know we're out there.

The document acknowledges that cyclists are the least satisfied road users. That matters because the Mayor wants to increase cycling, which could be rather difficult if all other transport modes are more satisfying. Although in a couple of places the document talks about promoting walking and cycling, and modal shift, there is very little in the strategy to actually achieve this: it talks the talk, but quite literally doesn't walk the walk or indeed ride the bike.

The strategy measures journey times, but it ignores the journey times of cyclists, who make up more than 30% of traffic on certain routes at peak times. It completely ignores the cyclist's perspective on how good the road network is - it does not measure subjective safety. It does not talk about using lower speed limits or other traffic-calming features to make roads less intimidating. In fact, throughout the document it not only doesn't mention speed limits, it exclusively refers to 'speed' as a positive aspiration and not once does it refer to excessive speed of traffic as a problem. The tone of the document is almost all traffic flow - that is - more, faster motor traffic. There's no acknowledgement that encouraging cycling would be good for traffic flow as it would take cars off the road.

The document does not acknowledge that there is a conflict between measures that make cars go faster and the interests of cyclists. This document effectively allows TfL to continue to ignore cyclists, because there is nothing in the strategy that requires them to consider cyclist safety or even cycle journey times when designing roads. In short, this is a recipe for more Blackfriars Bridge junctions, rather an attempt to fix the historical strategy which has been an attempt to create urban motorways whereever possible.

1 comment:

  1. It's quite easy to comment: none of those leading questions which offer four choices of answer but not the one you want to give. You just have a white space to write your own remarks in free form.

    You only need to skim the document to get its drift, but some noteworthy points: cyclist satisfaction with the network is way lower than the average for other road users (67% - sounds implausibly high to me); cyclists' attitudes to the motorbike in bus lane trial are cunningly concealed in a meaningless statistic that "51% of cyclists, car and van drivers who were aware of the trial" approved of it - so a bare majority of other road users and I dare say a small minority of cyclists say aye; 1,000 pedestrian/traffic light phasings have improved flow for motor vehicles without adverse effect for pedestrians, but adverse effect is measured in terms of waiting more than one light cycle to cross (virtually no pedestrians before or after) rather than total time having to wait for one phase to get a green light.

    Otherwise, cyclists and cycling get a mention roughly every third page but it is the usual meaningless ecofluff.