Chris Boardman calls for more ambitious cycling provision outside big cities

Starts with ideas for his own home town of West Kirby

by John Stevenson   May 23, 2014  

Chris Boardman at the Get Britain Cycling Inquiry

Olympic gold medalist, Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey holder Chris Boardman has called on towns across Britain to be ambitious about designing cycling back into roads and junctions.

Wearing his hat of British Cycling policy advisor, Boardman said that the focus on improving facilities for cycling has been on major cities, but that a “true cycling revolution” needed towns and cities to be on board too.

Speaking during a tour of his home town of West Kirby, Boardman said: “A lot of the noise around cycling is about what our major cities can do to kick-start real culture change and get masses of people cycling. But if we want to inspire a true cycling revolution, we have to make sure that hundreds of towns and villages are being just as ambitious.

“Two-thirds of people in this country have said they would get on a bike if the environment was more appealing for cyclists. Councils across Britain should be prioritising cycling as a form of transport and seeing it as a wider solution to problems such as obesity and congestion.

“This isn’t about finding new money. This is about a reallocation of existing funds and a conscious decision to create more pleasant places to live.”

As an example, Boardman presented MP Esther McVey and Wirral Council with a set of proposals that could kick-start a cycling transformation in the town from just £3,000, and that provide examples of the kind of changes that can be made in any town to enable cycling.

The suggestions include:

  • Two-way cycling on South Parade (currently a wide one-way street) and the Promenade for a cost of £4,000
  • Speed reduction and convenient crossing from a cost of £5,000
  • Linking the Wirral Circular Trail at a cost of £3,000
  • New layout of the central area of the town including a shared space design from a cost of £41,000
  • Removing motor traffic from the Crescent area of the town for a cost of £12,000

Boardman has long said that government plans for cycling should be properly costed and detailed, rather than just involving vague pledges. The plans for West Kirby were drawn up with British Cycling’s infrastructure expert, Adrian Lord to demonstrate how some simple changes to road design could have a transformative effect, giving the town’s residents the choice of travelling by bike.

The proposed changes, he said, could increase takings for local businesses by 50% and at the same time reduce accidents by two-fifths. By making the town centre more of a shared space, the number of cycling trips could increase by 20% in the first year. All of this could be achieved by reducing the number of car parking spaces by just 2.5% across the town centre.

13 user comments

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Hats off to Mr B for using his prominent public profile to the aid of people on bikes everywhere.

And he's right. Properly costed, realistic plans, not vague pledges.

Vague pledges routinely turn into rapidly forgotten lies in most council chambers (many such pledges are lies from the start).

posted by severs1966 [84 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 16:48

22 Likes

I kind of hope Mr. Boardman develops a Hulk-like alter-ego and starts smashing stuff up soon. The guy's said just about every sensible thing about cycling there is to say, in the most pragmatic and honest manner I've ever heard. He's doing more for decent campaigning for everyday cycling in this country than any other person I can think of. But his powers are pretty much limited to words -- he doesn't actually run the country. So either he turns into the Hulk and goes around smashing stuff and rebuilding in and rebuilding it in the image of beauty, safety and common sense; or we elect him Prime Minister. I'm not sure which I'd rather see.

More seriously, I'm glad this is getting specific. It's easy to wave one's hand around in agreement. It's harder to get away from action when the options are stuck in front of your nose.

posted by Quince [146 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 18:27

15 Likes

Chris is a good bloke, no question....but he is no Graeme Obree!

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [550 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 19:06

9 Likes

The side heading on the webpage says Chris Boardman is calling for 'facilities'. Reading his words, I don't think he's asking for facilities per se. All the things listed are, it seems to me, measures which are conducive to everday cycling. Even 'provisions' is arguably stretching it a bit. Very often changes which are good for the broader community, ambience and urban vitality are good for cycling, (e.g. 20 mph & permeabilty) so much so that it can sometimes queer the pitch if cycling is overmentioned, even more so if the word 'cyclist', with its tribal out-group connotations, is used. Where facilties are called for they need to be of top quality to genuinely help the broad range of people cycling and wanting to cycle. Much if not most UK stuff lulls the less experienced into false secutiy and actually impedes the experienced sporty types - who need to be careful what they ask for. On Quince's comments, I'd agree Chris has a good grasp of the issues; I've seen him playing the room with a sizeable group of MPs and actively endorsing last year's parliamentary Get Britain Cycling report - which is as good a basis as any at present for garnering political will & committment. More power to his elbow would be nice though.

orpen

posted by orpen [6 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 20:33

11 Likes

So... Boardman, how about you put your money where your mouth is and donate half the profits from Boardman bike sales to infrastructure projects, road safety adverts and a fund for helping cyclists with the legal costs of pursuing justice after collisions where a driver was at fault?

posted by Initialised [120 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 21:46

9 Likes

Initialised wrote:
So... Boardman, how about you put your money where your mouth is and donate half the profits from Boardman bike sales to infrastructure projects, road safety adverts and a fund for helping cyclists with the legal costs of pursuing justice after collisions where a driver was at fault?

Yes, he's clearly not doing enough through his role as Policy Advisor to British Cycling, and should therefore use money out of his own pocket to finance projects that would normally be organised and undertaken on a governmental level, and with funds on a government scale.

In fact, anyone who calls for better cycling infrastructure should have to pay for it from half their own earnings. Which means you do too. And now me. Oops.

And we should get all the funding for motorways from Jeremy Clarkson because he has money and likes cars, right? If he REALLY likes cars, he will build all the motorways for us. Thanks Jeremy! Oh, and teachers should pay us to teach our children. If they really care about our children's education, that is.

posted by Quince [146 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 22:32

27 Likes

I spent a weekend in the Wirrel near Heswell, must say I was impressed by the cycle track.... and the number of people using it.

If there were options like it around South Cumbria I'm sure a lot more people would take the two wheel option.

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [219 posts]
24th May 2014 - 8:17

3 Likes

banzicyclist2 wrote:
I spent a weekend in the Wirrel near Heswell, must say I was impressed by the cycle track.... and the number of people using it.

If there were options like it around South Cumbria I'm sure a lot more people would take the two wheel option.

That would be Wirral and Heswall Smile

Glad you liked it around here Cool

dodgy's picture

posted by dodgy [122 posts]
24th May 2014 - 10:57

5 Likes

If Boardman can get councils to actually think about what they're doing, rather than just paint the gutter green or put a picture of a bike on a footpath, that would be a success.

thegibdog's picture

posted by thegibdog [72 posts]
25th May 2014 - 8:40

5 Likes

It never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to get good sensible practical infrastructure and how cheap it is.

You could probably build one mile of good cycle track for the cost of one inch of crappy urban motorway.

How difficult or costly would it be to say that every road scheme where the speed limit is over 40mph must include a two-way 3m wide segregated cycle track running parallel to it on at least one side of the carriageway?

How difficult or costly would it be to say where the speed limit is under 40mph then a 2m wide protected cycle lane must be provided on each side of the carriageway in the direction of travel?

We also need to deal with the problem of side roads. A protected priority for the cycle lane/track would solve the problem of cyclists being forced to stop at every junction in order to perform observations. The stop-start nature of most cycling infrastructure is one of its greatest problems.

It is easier, cheaper and with a better result to design in features than it is to retro-fit features afterwards.

Retro-fitted cycling infrastructure is nearly always either a shared footpath or a bit of paint squeezed to the side of the road and we all know how crap that is.

posted by levermonkey [368 posts]
25th May 2014 - 9:21

5 Likes

Initialised wrote:
So... Boardman, how about you put your money where your mouth is and donate half the profits from Boardman bike sales to infrastructure projects, road safety adverts and a fund for helping cyclists with the legal costs of pursuing justice after collisions where a driver was at fault?

and couldn't you chip in also - how about you hand over half your wages... no seriously hand over half your wages, after all it is only fair if you want Chris to hand over half his profits that he needs to make his business viable then you should hand over half your wages... you don't need it for anything sensible... you could only be wasting it on another silly bike that you don't need because you already own one and don't need another and if you had another you would only be clogging the road up with it.

posted by leqin [107 posts]
25th May 2014 - 10:29

8 Likes

Good stuff from Chris, as usual. I was going to have a go at 'initialised' but it's been done already. Applause

posted by Tony Bell [1 posts]
25th May 2014 - 11:52

2 Likes

I followed the debate on Sustran's design handbook with utter bemusement as everybody seemed to know what was wrong with it (in terms of the individual designs depicted) and nobody seemed to be pointing out the apalling truth that the question of how to design in cycling (retroactively and in new projects) had essentially been left for charities to answer. It is too important to be left to charity.

Exactly the same applies to suggestions that Chris should personally stump up funding for his suggestions - cycling is too important, to necessary, for it to be left to charity.

As he points out, there are existing pots of money dedicated to moving people around and making areas more liveable. Cycling needs to be funded out of those. Otherwise you end up with large pots of money being expended on the construction of business-as-usual cycling-hostile roads infrastructure, and small drips and drabs of funding being spent on patchily mitigating (and at times even exacerbating) the worst offshoots of the former.

posted by bambergbike [85 posts]
27th May 2014 - 8:15

2 Likes