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Aims to grow cycling in the city to mimic the likes of Utrecht and Berlin

Transport for London (TfL) has commissioned a study into global best practice for infrastructure, to best understand how to progress safe cycling in the capital.

Taking lessons from cities including Utrecht, Berlin, Stockholm and Cambridge, the study looked at what works best in cities where mass cycling is well-established, and what factors were successfully being applied by cities lower down the curve.

Phil Jones Associates and Urban Movement visited each city for a couple of days, taking part in cycle itineraries of around 40-50km. The authors noted that: “the many and varied differences between cities, and indeed between individual streets in the same city, mean that the best design solution in any location will arise from the context-appropriate application of sound principles and good standards; not from the cut-and-pasting of rigid design templates.”

The report did however make a number of recommendations for the type of conditions needed to create a world class cycle city.

They were as follows:

1. There is strong, clear political and technical
pro-cycling leadership which is supported
through all parts of the lead organisation.

2. Cycling is considered an entirely legitimate,
desirable, everyday, ‘grown up’ mode of
transport, worthy of investment, even if current
cycling levels are comparatively low.

3. Increasing cycle mode share is part of an
integrated approach to decreasing car mode
share. There is no intended overall abstraction
from walking and public transport; and improving
cycle safety and convenience is not intended to
diminish pedestrian safety and convenience.

4. Loss of traffic capacity or parking to
create better cycling facilities, while often a
considerable challenge, is not a veto on such
action.

5. There is dedicated, fit-for-purpose space for
cycling, generally free of intrusion by heavy and
fast motor vehicle traffic. In cities where the
aim is to grow cycling rapidly, simple, cheap
and effective means of securing this space have
been used as first steps, with more permanent
solutions following in due course.

6. There is clarity about the overall cycling
network (including planned future development),
with connectedness, continuity, directness and
legibility all being key attributes.

7. There is no differential cycle route branding,
simply three principal types of cycle facility
that make up well-planned and designed cycle
networks:

a. Paths/tracks/lanes on busier streets which
provide a degree of separation from motor
vehicles that is appropriate to motor traffic
flows/speeds and the demand for cycling.

b. Quiet streets/’bicycle streets’ with
30kph/20mph or lower speed limits and
often restrictions on motor vehicle access,
particularly for through movements.

c. Cycleways/‘greenways’ away from the main
highway (e.g. bicycle-only streets, paths in
parks and along old railway lines and canals),
but still well connected to the rest of the
network at frequent intervals.

8. There is clear, widely-accepted and
routinely-used guidance on the design of cycling
infrastructure.

9. The frequency of occasions when cyclists need
to give way or stop is minimised. This means that
people cycling are able to make steady progress
at a comfortable speed.

10. At least subjectively, where the cycle mode
share is greater, the driving culture (and indeed
city culture generally) is more respectful of the
needs of cyclists. Local traffic laws often play a
part in this.

11. Making better provision for cycling, even
in the most well-cycled cities, is an ongoing
challenge; with growth in cycling, and of city
populations as a whole, requiring clear forward
planning.

The Mayor of London has set a target to increase cycling by 400% from 2001 levels by 2026.

The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling document, launched in March 2013, states that:  “There will be more Dutch-style, fully-segregated lanes and junctions; more mandatory cycle lanes, semi-segregated from general traffic; and a
network of direct back-street Quietways, with segregation and junction improvements over the hard parts.”

“Where it is not possible to segregate without substantially interfering with buses, we will install semi-segregation: shared bus and bike lanes, better separated from the rest of the traffic with means such as French-style ridges, cats’ eyes, rumble strips or traffic wands in the road.”

John Dales of Urban Movement told BikeBiz: “Some cities, such as New York and Seville have shown that it is possible to grow cycling levels significantly over just a few years by employing pragmatic, relatively inexpensive, and sometimes intentionally interim measures of securing space for cycling.

"Spatial separation and protection from motor traffic is seen as one of the most crucial and quickest methods for increasing cycle use; while there is also clear recognition that the value of good infrastructure is undermined if provision gives up when the going gets tough.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

24 comments

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Quince [381 posts] 2 years ago
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Hooray!

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HarrogateSpa [451 posts] 2 years ago
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I wouldn't disagree with any of this. Whether you need to be a consultant to come up with it is doubtful.

To summarise, build decent cycle infrastructure, not the sort of rubbish that we have got in 98.2% of cases in the UK.

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horizontal dropout [286 posts] 2 years ago
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Before people comment that it's just words, the consultants and 15 TfL officers cycled 40-50kms in 14 cities around the world. In addition they had already done studies in Amsterdam and Copenhagen in 2013. I think that is a good demonstration of commitment.

The report is well worth a read. It reflects what campaigners have been saying for ages but have not been heard from politicians, so it's exciting that those things are starting to be recognised.

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arfa [841 posts] 2 years ago
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All makes sense but it has to be implemented or else we will continue to see more paint being wasted on London's roads

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Brooess [85 posts] 2 years ago
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Looking at that list of requirements, we have a hell of a long way to go in the UK...
At the moment the cycling revolution is being driven from the bottom up by regular cyclists being bloody minded and carrying on regardless of the anti-cycling attitude that seems culturally acceptable in the mainstream media
In part our dominance at the professional level has helped but no thanks from strong leadership from central or local government.
For what it's worth I think drivers are beginning to get used to the additional number of people riding and are taking more care than they did a few years ago to keep back or pass well - but that's an individual choice from people who're fundamentally decent rather than any concerted campaign from either the Police/the courts or any government-sponsored national campaign...
Either way, we've come a long way with mass participation since 2008 with little proper support from government and from the number of people who turned out for our club ride this morning in mucky conditions, the revolution is going to continue to be driven by the people regardless  1

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horizontal dropout [286 posts] 2 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:

To summarise, build decent cycle infrastructure, not the sort of rubbish that we have got in 98.2% of cases in the UK.

Love this bit in the report, I think they agree:

"Finally, we have also added a category of ‘UNCOMMON TECHNIQUES’ to highlight specific features that were almost completely absent in the non-UK/Irish study cities, but which have been common practice in the UK for many years. However well-intentioned, these features are usually signs of cycling not being taken sufficiently seriously as a valuable, everyday form of transport."

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Username [204 posts] 2 years ago
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12. No pathetic reliance on hi-viz and helmets and victim-blaming.

13. A criminal justice system which actually prosecutes dangerous driving.

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jacknorell [969 posts] 2 years ago
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There's no secret to be uncovered. The designs for infrastructure, laws, and traffic enforcement are easily available across Europe.

As of now, all that's missing is the political will to change the status quo. I see none of that amongst the established political class.

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Glasgow Cyclist [33 posts] 2 years ago
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14. Get rid of that anti-cyclist fuckwit Brian Cooke MP from the board of TfL.

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dazwan [322 posts] 2 years ago
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Horizontal Dropout, they should just send this page to every planner in the UK and put giant posters up in every planning dept. basically this one page sums up the vast majority of UK infrastructure and people wonder why cyclng is so crap on UK roads.

What really needs to be done is to get designers and planners from other countries to come in and train our planners and road designers how to design infrastructure correctly. It's clear that what we do in this country is make a half assed copy of what works in other countries. It's like those people who buy counterfeit designer headphones for £20 off the market and can't understand why they don't sound as good as the real thing.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 2 years ago
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Glasgow Cyclist wrote:

14. Get rid of that anti-cyclist fuckwit Brian Cooke MP from the board of TfL.

Oh good grief, the man's not an MP! What a frightening thought.

Let's hope he decides to jump before whoever follows Boris has to give him a shove. Although managing to get fired from two public service positions would be a nice epitaph for such numbnut.

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pikeamus [48 posts] 2 years ago
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horizontal dropout wrote:

Before people comment that it's just words, the consultants and 15 TfL officers cycled 40-50kms in 14 cities around the world. ...

So it was words, and some people got a nice holiday out of it? Actually, that makes me feel worse about this. Not only is there little of anything new in the study, but it obviously cost more than I had originally thought.

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ibike [159 posts] 2 years ago
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An excellent report. It manages to be both depressing and uplifting at the same time!

Depressing because it nails down precisely why we aren’t doing very well in this country. How many UK highway authorities score more than 1 or 2 on the 11 pre-conditions for creating a world-class cycling city?

Uplifting because it shows how it can be achieved.

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JonD [448 posts] 2 years ago
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pikeamus wrote:
horizontal dropout wrote:

Before people comment that it's just words, the consultants and 15 TfL officers cycled 40-50kms in 14 cities around the world. ...

So it was words, and some people got a nice holiday out of it? Actually, that makes me feel worse about this. Not only is there little of anything new in the study, but it obviously cost more than I had originally thought.

What do you expect them to do - assess various schemes from a bunch of pretty pictures ? FFS...

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Quince [381 posts] 2 years ago
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pikeamus wrote:
horizontal dropout wrote:

Before people comment that it's just words, the consultants and 15 TfL officers cycled 40-50kms in 14 cities around the world. ...

So it was words, and some people got a nice holiday out of it? Actually, that makes me feel worse about this. Not only is there little of anything new in the study, but it obviously cost more than I had originally thought.

Yes, people went somewhere relevant, performed an in-depth 'field study', and came away with 'words'. I think that's the general gist of what a 'report' should be.

The fact that these people - working for a major British transport body - drew essentially the same conclusions as those which campaigners and volunteers have been reporting for years, is a Good Thing - is it not?

It takes what many people have known (or at least assumed) all along, and verifies it in an official context. This should bring those facts a lot closer to being accepted within the halls of TfL, and therefore closer to being actually acted upon.

It's not just what the report shows that's important; it's who it shows it to. Without this, TfL may have little impetus to do anything other than continue designing Cycling Infrastructure based on its own inexperience and ignorance. And I certainly feel I've had enough of that.

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edster99 [338 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't understand people having a downer on this report. This is now the official TfL stance, right? In what way is that a bad thing? And it's something that can be pointed at when in discussions with other local authorities. Surely better that this is in place than a stance that says 'paint is all you need', or nothing at all?

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wycombewheeler [1035 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the downer is the cynicism that anything will actually come of this, because good infrastructure costs more than white lines on the road or occasional blue circles on lampposts along the pavement.

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londoncommute [85 posts] 2 years ago
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Don't like the sound of:

"more mandatory cycle lanes"

Bit of a slippery slope when you start to say bikes don't have a right to use roads.

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gmac101 [163 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the phrase "Mandatory Cycle Lanes" as in cars are required to stay out of them, ie they have a solid white line (rarely seen in the UK which is why most drivers ignore them) and as opposed to the advisory cycle lane which cars can enter if "necessary" which means they ignore them completely.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh dear, the fact that even cyclists can misunderstand what "mandatory cycle lanes" are suggests they really need to be renamed.

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londoncommute [85 posts] 2 years ago
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bikebot wrote:

Oh dear, the fact that even cyclists can misunderstand what "mandatory cycle lanes" are suggests they really need to be renamed.

Oops, sorry for being dozy there (in my slight defence though I don't drive so don't have to worry about which bits I'm not supposed to swerve into or park in "just for a minute"). I'm just slightly worried that sort of thing is round the corner if cycling infrastructure ever gets built. The idea of being forced onto rubbish shared paths covered in glass/detritus and having to dodge slower cyclists isn't a great one.

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ibike [159 posts] 2 years ago
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londoncommute wrote:

The idea of being forced onto rubbish shared paths covered in glass/detritus and having to dodge slower cyclists isn't a great one.

High quality cycle infrastructure caters for all people on bikes. This is what we should be asking for.

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Edgeley [442 posts] 2 years ago
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If TFL are really committed to 3 and 4, which say that a decrease in car use ought to be a part of the strategy to increase cycling, then it is actually a step forward.

In places like Utrecht, it isn't just that cycling is easy. It is that driving is made difficult, which makes the space for cycling.

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severs1966 [384 posts] 2 years ago
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I confidently expect any such report being ignored if it is ever sent to most other municipalities in the UK.

arfa wrote:

All makes sense but it has to be implemented or else we will continue to see more paint being wasted on London's roads

This applies everywhere. London might get serious about cycling and read the report. In cities such as Leeds and Bradford, where they are pressing ahead with building a path from one city to the other, spending £30million, the councils have decided to only build it to a suitable standard for about a third of the route. The rest of the route will be a mixture of inadequate standards, including a brick-carriageway "shared space" monstrosity in an area of very, very high density, high volume motor traffic.

I understand the idea of spending thruppence-ha'penny on a painted line on the tarmac and pretend it is a cycle facility, because it is cheap. I fail to understand authorities who spend vast amounts of money to build death traps.

Therefore, well done London for actually bothering to try to do it right.