Vertical Sprawl – the Ultimate Definition

Vertical Sprawl – it’s a term used by some planners, and more often by opponents of higher density models of development, and some like to pretend that there’s no such thing, but I’d like to suggest that Tin Shui Wai new town in Hong Kong is the ultimate in vertical sprawl definition.

I don’t think that density is a bad thing, but simply because high density can be done very badly, just like anything else. The definition of sprawl, or horizontal sprawl if you like is reasonably well understood, namely:

Sprawl Definition

  1. Land hungry – sprawl is usually the result of building on previously undeveloped land.
  2. Low density development – large gaps between buildings, which are typically of a low height, often just 1-2 storeys.
  3. Single use – the zoning patterns of sprawl favour
  4. Heavy car dependence – because the land use patterns dictate that different functions must be in separate locations, and that these functions must inherently be far away from each other, lifestyles are almost entirely dependent on extensive private car usage.
  5. Poor architectural quality – even if this might be a matter of taste, sprawling developments tend to feature little variety, with houses often describes as being “cookie cutter” or “rubbed stamp” copies, or slight variations on the same model.

Vertical Sprawl Definition

It naturally follows that vertical sprawl, if we want to accept that such a concept exists, must fit the following description.

It naturally follows that vertical sprawl, if we want to accept that such a concept exists, must fit the following description.

  1. Built on a green field site
  2. High density
  3. Single use
  4. Transit dependence
  5. Poor architectural quality

Vertical Sprawl In detail:

  1. Built on a green field site – irrespective of density.
  2. High density development – typically tower blocks rather than individual homes.
  3. Single use – even though individual buildings may be close to each other, different usage types might still be some distance from residential areas, or even if they are close by, they are difficult to access due to the need to cross highways.
  4. Heavy bus, tram or taxi dependence – a “vertical sprawl” development might be situated on a direct metro link, but they are at or near the end of the line, and the only way to get around the development area is using buses or taxis. Private car usage is typically very low, leading to reliance on buses or trams which might only run along certain set corridors, and which only operate on a limited basis outside peak hours. Walking and cycling rates are low due to poor provision for them.
  5. Poor architectural quality – just because buildings are tall, this doesn’t mean that they are high quality, and with vertical sprawl, the same “cookie cutter” template might be used. In fact, because tower units need to be constructed on similar foundations, using similar spatial layouts, there may be even less variety on the number of different models made available to the cutter of the cookies – if any at all!

Tin Shui Wai – the ultimate in vertical sprawl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don’t be fooled by the idea that the only way to build a vibrant and attractive city is to encourage as many people as possible to live there by building high and building everything close together. The urban theory behind this says that if a city is built to a higher density, then this helps to conserve the scarce resource of land and it also helps to support local businesses and public services. The other idea behind high-density development is that if more people are closer together, then this makes it easier to build and promote public transport networks and it also makes it easier for people to walk and cycle, and therefore to be less dependent on their cars.

Tin Shui Wai in Hong Kong is the ultimate challenge to that idea, and this is essentially because it takes the idea of urban density to a ridiculous extreme, but ultimately because this vast city of 300,000 people was thrown up in just 5 years, and it’s was and it was built as cheaply as possible to cater for an expected surge in demand for light industry, as it is situated just below the border with Shenzen in neighbouring Guangdong province, China mainland in the Chinese mainland. Not only did these promised jobs never materialise, because this kind of facility these jobs instead shifted to the other side of the border, but the town that was created has ultimately become an example of vertical sprawl – instead of spreading out over hundreds of square miles and being completely car dependent, Tinsley why has been built right at the back end of the MTR system, and it’s been built in a way that residents have to take a tram just to get to this backwater Metro station. Thus, this is a true example of transit dependency, because even though many of the apartments here do provide car parking facilities, the taxes on first year car registration are so high that very few people drive. Tinsley why does have a token cycle network, but it’s a very difficult place to actually negotiate on foot or by bike, especially because it still has a massively over-engineered internal road network, meaning that the tram is needed even just to go to the school or to the shops.

PM Carpentry of Coventry UK tries to take Youtube video down

I’ve just seen an old notification, telling me that somebody filed a privacy complaint about my video of PM Carpentry of Coventry using his mobile phone and driving at the same time.

PM Carpentry of Coventry – The Law’s The Law

It’s a real shame that PM Carpentry of Coventry are trying to shut down legitimate debate about their driving habits, instead of learning to respect the rules of the road – you never know, that person you endanger by texting could have been your next customer PM Carpentry of Coventry.

I’ve also had a Youtube comment saying that I’m trying to ruin the reputation of PM Carpentry of Coventry. Quite the opposite is true! I want businesses in Coventry to respect their current and future customers by driving properly and not endangering other road users. PM Carpentry of Coventry have shown scant regard for the law, meaning that PM Carpentry of Coventry have got a ticket for this, and PM Carpentry of Coventry have then appeared in local media because of it.

Well PM Carpentry of Coventry, I’m very sorry for rubbing your name in the dirt. It’s your choice to break the law, not mine. Since I know PM Carpentry of Coventry has seen the original video, all PM Carpentry of Coventry has to do is drop me a comment or an email, agreeing that mobile phone use is dangerous, and I’ll happily remove this PM Carpentry of Coventry blog snippet.

James

  • Original post – http://www.pedalparity.com/pm-carpentry-coventry/
  • Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4cUunQ3_xA
  • Coventry Telegraph Article – http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/watch-pedestrian-berates-van-driver-11692969

 

Birmingham Airport Second Runway Plans – Candidates need to get real

Looking at the transport policies from the candidates of the three main parties, it’s clear that they all support Birmingham Airport’s second runway plans.

Commenting from the point of view of aviation economics, rather than just the environmental issues which naturally concern us all, I think all 3 candidates are dreaming, and not thinking this through. The calls for more investment in the West Midlands are absolutely valid for public transport and cycling, and especially the latter as no scaling is needed. London is always going to justify more rail investment, because the tube has that “critical mass”, but the disparity between the regions still remains enormous.

But when it comes to promoting air travel, there are some really serious flaws in the logic of the three candidates:

Birmingham Airport Second Runway Plans – the drawbacks

  1. Legacy airlines gravitate to hubs. Neither BA nor Virgin have ever wanted to even use Gatwick, but they remain there due to the pressures for space at Heathrow.
  2. The value of a hub airport for connections is the square of the number of destinations it offers (Broadly speaking). Birmingham isn’t, and can’t be a hub.
  3. Birmingham can be a base, and it can feed the hubs of other airlines, but these are basically private, commercial decisions. (A base is an airport where aircraft are typically stored overnight and where crew will start their day, a hub is a point for interconnection between different flights on the same ticket).
  4. Birmingham currently handles +/- 10m passengers per year. There is no local demand for 55m.
  5. HS2 goes past BHX via a shuttle transfer, just as it also connects to Heathrow, via Old Oak Common (~12 minutes).
  6. HS2 will make Heathrow more attractive to West Midlanders than BHX will be to Londoners.
  7. Birmingham Airport second runway plans forget that no airport in the world has expanded by distantly serving another city by high speed rail – this was tried with Ciudad Real in Spain. The airport is now deserted.
  8. Presence of even an established **regional** airport and high speed rail in the same space is no guarantee of interplay between the two – eg Lyon Satolas in France. People simply drive to use the TGV as a park and ride station, and many will use the TGV to go to Paris instead of flying, but interchange is minimal.
  9. The value of rail links to airports is often massively overstated. No airport has more than half its passengers arrive by rail. Even the high profile Hong Kong airport rail link, which runs over just 19 miles and goes right into the terminal, only handles 24% of the airport’s passengers.
  10. BHX can and should serve destinations where there’s local demand. For example, Berlin has been an on/off destination over the years. There is no place for an elected mayor to promote more flights to the German capital or anywhere else – it’s a simple commercial decision.
  11. For long haul destinations or those which can’t be served from BHX, London is always going to pick up the passengers. Birmingham is not Manchester – London airports (perhaps except Gatwick) are all within reasonable catchment of the Midlands. They might not be ideal in may respect, but they offer the routes, together with the frequency and the service standards. No amount of new runway can change any of this, because the highest value passengers are all in London and the Southeast.
  12. There is no mechanism to subsidise airlines, and regional funding for a small (and extremely under-used) runway extension is not going to be replicated to pay for a new runway.
  13. Airports are by no means automatic contributors to the local economy. Whilst BHX does indeed employ many people directly, it is a far larger exporter of tourism receipts than it is an importer of visitors to the West Midlands. The reasons for the local tourism deficit are also largely applicable at the national level (inability to issue Schengen visas).
  14. The Midlands already has a freight hub at East Midlands. It can operate 24/7, as it has a minimal noise footprint, especially when compared to BHX.
  15. In passenger terms, EMA, BHX and of course Coventry are all well under capacity. This cannot be changed by trying to induce demand with a new runway at BHX too.
  16. Contrary to popular belief, London is not short of airport capacity. London’s problem is one of a serious shortage of hub capacity close to the main centre of population (or too close as could also be argued). Luton and Stansted could both add new terminals without adding a new runway, whereas Kent Manston lies dormant, for similar reasons to those which would apply to “London BHX” – it is too distant.

In short, without any explanation of who will sign the cheque, a new runway would take anything from £5bn upwards, and it would ultimately deliver very little of value. Even if 55m people each year did use it, and they all arrived by train, why should Birmingham act as an air pollution proxy for London’s problem?

To think that the case for making our cities offer freedom of movement to everyone is based on spending perhaps £1bn across the whole region, it really is a shame to see all candidates support such a daft and economically unsound scheme.

Coventry PSPO is an embarrasment to the Labour movement

These comments are in addition to those already made by George Riches on behalf of the Coventry Cycling Campaign.

My comments related primarily to the consistent failure of Coventry City Council to even acknowledge the existence of the need to provide for cyclists with disabilities.

I object to the whole PSPO, on the following grounds:

A city centre hostile to people with disabilities

Firstly and foremost, as a cyclist with a very serious disability, I despair at the council’s recent complete dismissal of my complaint that it is failing to protect my rights as a person with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

Background – a city that doesn’t even care

A detailed submission was made in June 2016 (attached), explaining how the council fails to protect people who need to cycle, but who have protected characteristics including age (both young and old), gender and disabilities, including hidden as well as visible ones.

Having waited a full 6 months for any kind of reply, I was finally brushed off with an extremely blunt and dismissive email from Cllr Jayne Innes, in which I was rather bizarrely told that the Equality Act does not apply to modes of transport. This rather perverse logic would also imply that the council has no duty to provide disabled car parking spaces, because these are for the exclusive use by people with disabilities who are either driving or being driven.

Furthermore, tomorrow (Monday 16th January), the council starts on its completely reckless and ill founded removal of bus lanes, a procedure which has also been instigated with scant research, and without any kind of equality assessment.

A legally incompetent council

I simply do not believe that the council has the legal authority or ability to implement so-called public space protection orders in a way which doesn’t heavily discriminate against people who simply wish to go about their peaceful and legitimate daily activity of cycling around the city centre, whether they have a protected characteristic or not.

I note in particular that it’s very rare to see older people cycling in Coventry city centre, whilst there are also very few younger cyclists, and it’s abundantly clear that the vast majority of cyclists in Coventry are male – yet none of these discriminatory factors exist in a city like Cambridge.

Lawful excuses

In natural justice, there exist various defences of lawful excuse, usually based around the argument that committing one particular offence is necessary because it prevents a greater harm elsewhere.

I firmly believe that defences of this nature will be used to challenge PSPO tickets given for cycling in the proposed zones, and that such challenges will be upheld, because the council has consistently failed to provide safe segregated cycle paths in the city centre.

This proposal is particularly egregious, given that the council has now completed its round of highly dangerous and experimental shared space, whilst failing to add a single extra metre of safe and properly demarcated cycle path anywhere in the city centre at all.

Swimming against the tide

It’s completely outrageous that in a city which has such a strong cycling heritage, the council is continuing to indulge in measures to prevent and punish cycling, when in so many other places in the UK, including relatively nearby cities such as Birmingham and Leicester, cycling is being actively encouraged and allowed to flourish, through the effective provision of segregated cycle paths.

To the best of my knowledge, in 2016, Coventry City Council installed just 30m of new cycle path, this being paid for by the new Aldi store at Cannon Park.

Coventry City Council is utterly negligent in its duty to provide this safe cycling space in the city centre, because it has pursued a thoroughly narcissistic and vanity driven agenda to impose shared spaces on vulnerable users,.

Legal Quagmires

The city centre, despite looking nice, is ultimately set up for failure, and the PSPOs are an unwelcome diversion from the core issue, which is the failure to provide adequate traffic filters. In this hostile environment, there can be no confidence that Civil Enforcement Officers (CEO’s) will exercise discretion between people who are cycling in one area to avoid a dangerous road, and those who are being genuinely dangerous, an offence which can already be prosecuted by the police.

In fact, under the offence of “dangerous cycling”, a cyclist would need to be shown to be acting in a way which is below what would reasonably be expected of a competent cyclist. Such a description would not apply to cycling across a traffic free bridge to avoid a shared space junction, because that would be a demonstration of competence. Thus, the PSPOs have a very real risk of becoming legal non sequiturs, because such a demonstration of competence would result in a fine, whereas cycling through a dangerous junction would not. Whereas self representation on a point of principle should be looked on favourably by a magistrate, the council will have to incur thousands of pounds in legal fees to pursue criminal cases for which there is no need and no purpose.

Moreover, at a national level, police have been advised to take a completely hands off approach towards cycling on the pavement. This is understandably not an ideal situation – cyclists should really be on a safe protected cycle path, or where such a path isn’t necessary, they should be on the road.

In a few rare incidences where cyclists have been prosecuted for riding on the pavement and they have then resisted such tickets, these cases have then been dropped by the courts because they have not been deemed in the public interest.

Yet a £100 fine for cycling in the city centre with the potential for it to rise to £1000 if taken to the courts, as is already the case in Mansfield, is completely disproportionate, when drivers are killing and maiming, sometimes even through drink or the negligence of mobile phone use, and being given fines which are smaller than this.

Moreover, even at £100, the fine is double the £50 fine for non-serious parking offences and still nearly 50% more than the £70 fine for serious parking offences, including parking in bus stops and parking on pedestrian crossings and outside schools. Yet even at this level, these fines are processed as civil offences, not criminal ones.

This PSPO will undoubtedly be met with civil resistance, and the opportunity to go to court will attract attention and it will highlight the complete and utter incompetence which has been displayed by Coventry City Council in recent months when it comes to looking after the basic needs of some of the city’s most vulnerable road users.

Meanwhile, attempts to impose the same fine structure for begging also show the callous nature of how the council is currently thinking. Moreover, the council has completely failed to understand the difference between a societal annoyance and behaviour which actually puts people in danger, namely careless and dangerous driving, and the development of  a road network which does little to prevent it.

Out groups

In respect of skateboarding, another “out group” activity, whilst I can understand that this upsets some people, there is just no evidence whatsoever that it poses a significant accident risk. The last case I can find of a skateboarder actually killing a pedestrian goes back to 2011, and this was in California on an open road, not in a public square with no slopes.

Pedestrians in the city centre are of course entitled to feel safe, but it has been suggested that cycling should be banned because “senior citizens are using bus stops during the daytime hours”. The solution to this problem is not to pit one vulnerable road user against another, but instead to provide a safe environment for all, including bypasses around the bus stops where needed. In the meantime, it is not acceptable to fine people for cycling in these areas as a means of covering up the council’s own choice not to invest in safe road layouts.

As long as I walk around Coventry City centre and see cars parked on pavements, cars parked in bus stops, drivers whizzing through so-called shared space with phones in hand, and perhaps worst of all, cars repeatedly blocking the emergency exits of the SkyDome complex in Spon St, then antisocial cycling, pales into insignificance compared to these very serious issues.

This whole process should be rejected in its entirety.

The fact that this is being done in the name of a Labour controlled council should leave party members utterly ashamed of themselves.

Coventry Bus Lanes – so many unanswered questions

As Coventry City Council marches full speed ahead with its drastic bus lane axe tomorrow, next week sees the final two sessions of the public inquiry into the local plan. Some fundamental questions remain unanswered:

  1. How can any of the council’s figures be robust, now that bus lane removal has started (as of Friday 13th)?
  2. How can the council still refer to bus lane removal as a mere “trial”, when the Cabinet Member has full delegated authority to remove all bus lanes?
  3. How can the council promote bus rapid transit and slash bus lanes at the same time – this approach is entirely inconsistent.
  4. How can a “growing city” expand without putting more emphasis on space efficient modes of transport, and especially on buses and cycling?
  5. Why has no consideration been made for the dangers which cyclists now face, even during the “trial” period?
  6. How can the local policy of making walking, cycling and bus usage the “default choice” for journeys up to 5km now be upheld?
  7. How can new developments be set up with attractive bus provision, if they are at the far reaches of the bus network, yet they no longer have the time saving of using bus lanes?
  8. What does the council mean by “balancing the needs” of road users? Is there any evidence base to support this, or is this just transport populism?
  9. Why is the council only using one city (Liverpool) in its transport modelling in respect of bus lanes? Why have no other cities been looked at?
  10. Why is there no mention at all of the bus lane axe in the recently update transport modelling documents?

Jayne Innes snaps back on cycling in bus lanes

In November last year, a last-ditch message was sent from the West Midlands cycling campaign chair David Cox, endorsed by Living Streets (largely a pedestrian lobby group) and the Campaign for Better Transport, who focus on buses. In short, the message had been backed by a wide coalition of concerned groups and individuals, who did not want to see Coventry’s bus lanes removed, even on a trial basis.

The message was sent out late on the evening before the cabinet meeting, and Cllr Jayne Innes replied first thing the next day, stating as follows:

Dear Mr Cox,

Thank you for your message.

I think it is important to point out we are trailing the suspension of some of our Bus Lanes, not our Cycle Network.

In Coventry we have roughly 880KM of roads, 44KM of cycle network and 8KM of bus lanes.  Of this 8KM out 6 month trial suspends just 2.5KM.

I note your comments, but we have Traffic Management duties to ensure effective traffic flow, and responsibilities on Air Quality; and if Liverpool’s experience is replicated in Coventry, withdrawing Bus Lanes will improve both without increasing bus journey times.

It’s also important to remember this is just a trial, and we are working with Coventry-serving bus companies National Express and Stagecoach, plus Travel for West Midlands (formerly CENTRO) on it.

I do think it’s important we continue to trial innovative policies in Coventry.      One of my colleagues recently referred to Bus Lanes as a 20th Century Solution to a 21st Century Problem, and I do believe he is right.

And, of course, we continue to bid for new monies to further improve our cycle network.

Kind regards,

Jayne

Aside from the obvious rushed nature of this response, Cllr Innes has missed a number of very key points:

  1. The bus lane network is part of the cycle network. It isn’t perfect, and everyone knows this, but since cycling is permitted in bus lanes, removal of such can only be detrimental to cycling, never positive.
  2. In any city, there is going to be a network hierarchy – merely stating that bus or cycle lanes only form a small part of the overall network simply shows just how little we actually have, hence the need to protect it!
  3. This is not a trial that anyone can trust, as Cllr Jayne Innes now has the complete power to do as she wishes with the results. We know from her comments to date where this is most likely to end up.
  4. The assertion is then repeated that bus lanes cause traffic congestion and pollution, yet throughout this whole sorry process, not a single shred of supporting evidence has been provided to show this.
  5. The relentless obsession with Liverpool is somewhat bizarre. Liverpool is one of the most poorly perfoming cities in Europe in terms of providing a balanced transport mix – despite having a much more substantial urban rail network than Coventry. It is odd that Jayne Innes seems hell-bent on continuing this race to the bottom.
  6. Both Centro and National Express Coventry have made negative comments about the “trial” – even if neither has been very vocal so far.
  7. Innovative? If bus lane removal is worth doing because it’s genuinely counter-intuitive, then let’s see the figures behind this. For some reason, Liverpool won’t release them!
  8. As for bus lanes being “20th century”, that would be fine if the council had a smarter traffic management system, which enabled prioritisation according to an in-cab system. Of course there is no such scheme, and all we are really doing is rolling back to the 70s.

We’re told that there may be some cycle lane investment on the way. If and when this happens, it will be very welcome, but the real worry is that the bus lane removal being trumpeted by Jayne Innes could actually make it a great deal harder to build new cycle lanes. Who is going to want to see verges or other non-road space turned into cycle lanes if they think the council will then come back in a few years’ time and turn them into general road way? Why should any central government mandarins trust a council that is ripping out the £40m PrimeLines bus lane scheme after such little time?

 

If you have a disabilty, you have no right to cycle

At the end of May, I submitted a detailed complaint to Coventry City Council, highlighting multiple reasons why they were failing to protect vulnerable road users, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. This highlighted the four key areas where I believe discrimination takes place, in accordance with “protected characteristics” as defined by the act.

Protected Characteristics

These are:

  1. Disability (as this one affects me personally).
  2. Gender (because there is a massive discrepancy between male and female cycling rates, and this does not appear in other modes).
  3. Age – this affects both the young and the old, both of whom are massively under-represented.

Futhermore, discrimination is compounded in the case of (1) and (3/4), where the protected characteristic means that the person is unable to drive a motor car – and this is also something that affects me personally.

Discrimination is deemed to take place when any person is shown to be at a massive disadvantage when compared with somebody who does not have that characteristic. In the case of the gender imbalance, this is becaue 75% of adult cyclists are male. This imbalance does not exist in Cambridge, where a substantial amount of infrastructure has been provided, whilst early counts on the new London cycle ways also show a much closer gender balance. In the Netherlands, cycling is slightly more popular amongst women, with males aged 18-44 with no disability being the least likely to cycle.

Nobody has any rights?

Having waited 6 months for a reply, at the end of last month, I finally got a response from the Cabinet member for city services, Jayne Innes (@jayneinnes), as follows:

I have spoken to our Legal Team, who have confirmed that the form of transport a person chooses to travel by does not of itself give him or her protections under the Equality Act 2010.

So by extension:

  • The council will start ripping out all blue badge parking spaces from Jan 1st – since disabled drivers or passengers “choose” to use their cars.
  • Virgin Trains can save thousands in lift maintenance and cleaning – taking the train is also a choice.
  • No more adaptable taxis are needed – just don’t tell that to the London Taxi Co.
  • No airline should ever bother offering in-flight meals for anyone who merely “wishes” to have them for health or religious reasons.
  • We can also rip out all dropped kerbs and tactile paving – walking is also a choice.

This is simply not the case. A person with protected characteristics is entitled to use any public service, subject to the get out clause of “reasonable adjustments”. This means that the council cannot be reasonably expected to convert the whole city overnight to one which is safe for everyone, but it absolutely means that the city can and must have a plan for doing so. If this excuse had been used on the tube, then wheelchairs would remain banned, as they were until 1993. The tube also demonstrates that access cannot always be perfect – yet TfL are continuing to progress (slowly) on making their stations more accessible. The reasonable adjustment clause might also be used to justify the inability to install lifts at a station like Oxford Circus, if TfL does not own the land above the station from which lift shafts might be sunk.

However, the right to cycle is absolutely enshrined in various laws regarding freedom of movement, from a national level through the EU (for now) and up to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. To deny this rights on the grounds that cycling is not “of itself a protected characteristic” completely misses the point that mobility is a fundamental right. It is the selfish minority of drivers in this city who continue to drive dangerously on roads which make it easy for them to do so who are denying others their basic rights to movement. Coventry city council urgently need a plan to change road layouts, so this stops being the case. It may take a decade, probably two, but they need to make a start on this, instead of further marginalising cycling by ripping out bus lanes and banning cycling in many parts of the city centre.

Update 20th December

I have just had a further reply from Cllr Innes, stating:

Having carefully considered your further email, the Council’s legal team advise me you have offered no new evidence. Therefore our original reply stands.

In other words, the council’s legal team have found a piece of the Equality Act which specifically excludes cycling. I’m very curious now – just where exactly does such a clause exist?

Why I’m really not a cyclist!

In the last week I have been a passenger in a car, taxis, on buses, trains, planes and a ship.

Professionally, I have had clients in the airline industry, and to a lesser extent in rail and car hire. I have also conducted numerous parking and highway studies on behalf of various paying clients.

I just happen to keep lobbying for better cycling facilities in and around this city, because I believe that this benefits everyone, current “cyclist” or not. A city with more people using their own two feet is better for everyone.

I have also spoken out vehemently against Coventry’s disgraceful and thoroughly un-researched scrapping of bus lanes, a so-called “trial” of which starts next month.

Yet for some people, I will always just be a “cyclist”, because I dare to point at the gaping holes in their Emmental policies.

In truth, there is no such thing as a cyclist, other than professional sports people who dedicate everything to it. For everyone else who uses two wheels, a bike is just a means of getting around, nothing more, nothing less.

The fact that some of us are so “vociferous” is merely an indication of just how bad our cities are, and just how much work needs to be done.

Coventry is making some hints at new money to be found next year, but this needs to be backed up by scrapping the toxic bus lane removal policy, which cannot possibly work in tandem with any claims to either promote cycling, to promote public transport, or to promote a cleaner, greener city.

not-a-cyclist

 

 

Note – on a day-to-day basis at the moment, I typically walk, jog and use buses. I used to cycle regularly until a string of incidents locally combined with a violent attack in London by a Fedex driver made me stop. Since then, I have only cycled using hire bikes on protected lanes in London, and on a recent trip to Spain. I intend to try cycling locally again in the year, so am still very much a “person who desires to use a bike”.

Balancing the needs of all transport users

How often have we heard that our cities need to “Balancing the needs of all transport users”, when all this really means is that they are only thinking of car drivers – a strategy which can only mean that even they can’t be satisfied. What if Balancing the needs of all transport users actually meant what it said? This is easy enough to determine by looking at outcomes, and then working out how cities got there.

On the left, there are cities where less than 25% of journeys are by car – and oh yes, although the Swiss capital Bern has an amazing tram network, it’s also an admirable performer for cycling, even with all those hills! Yet if we’re going to look for places with an even mix, it’s better to look at somewhere that has bars which are as close as possible to equal in length – that’s Dresden, where just over 60% of journeys are made on foot, by bike or by public transport (nowhere has an exact 4 x 1/4 split, but Dresden is closest to this).

Then towards the right, we have the car dependent cities – Coventry is already well to the right, but look further still and find Liverpool, the city we are using as a model to remove our bus lanes!

I’ll let the graph do the rest of the talking.

balancing-needs

Notes:

  • Table taken from Wikipedia page on overall mode share – some of these dates are old, but this is the best data I can get hold of.
  • Coventry and Liverpool have been added, using latest available figures.
  • The original table contained some cities in North America and Australasia – I have removed these to enable easy comparison.