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Cycling in and around Birmingham England

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/04/tech/city-cycle-super-highways/in...

How to fix Brum's non-existent cycle network problem - elevated cycle tracks above roads, railways and canals.

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Looks like London to me.

It's a stupid idea.  Cycling works better at a level grade, down out of the wind, and you can't close a couple of park gates or block a turn from a main road to create a cycle route without NIMBYs and endless legal challenges.  Nobody's ever going to build flyovers for bicycles.

Easily enclosed if worried about wind or rain; but nobody is going to build a cycle network worth the name in Brum, of any description. Though £46 million suggests plenty of money to be made from selling white paint to the Council.

I’m in agreement that £46m spent on white paint is stupid. 20mph zones don’t work. There is no plan for for future road developments to include cycling provision. We need on road segregated cycle lanes not stupid infrastructure that won’t get built because of the NIMBYS

It is good enough for the Dutch - Eindhoven so why not us, surely far better over the massive islands we have on the middle ring road which chokes cycling off 

Kim is correct.   The example above is not in fact elevated.   What they have done is kept the cycleway more or less at ground level and the roads are in cuttings.   That way cyclists don't have to expend their limited power on climbing gradients.   Motor vehicles have more spare power available, so they get to climb the gradient.

However, this example is just a piece of bling - something that comes out of the money freed up by the huge benefit to cost ratio of building for cycling.   More usually the Dutch raise the roadway above the ground, and the cycleways pass beneath it.   They do it this way round because cycles require less headroom and width, so the build cost is less.   Note that cyclists don't pass through grotty, narrow  subways with a blind bend at each end as they would in the UK, but effectively under open bridges, just as the motor vehicles are doing in the example above. 

It's also worth staying that most Dutch cycling infra is not bling.   Rather it is very mundane but well thought-out engineering.   For example, a few strategically placed bollards can make an entire area cycle-friendly (this is called filtered permeability).   Much of the space for cycling they have is available to them because they build for journey capacity, not motor vehicle capacity, and cycles are way more efficient in their use of space.   We waste huge amounts of space and money in attempting to design for every journey to be made in a motor vehicle.

Looking at it on Streetview, I think this one is actually elevated (I'm assuming the level of the ground floor of the nearby buildings is the datum), it just appears that the road is in a cutting because the embankments supporting the cycleway are so long on the approach.

https://goo.gl/maps/k2sbH2ETXSy

In my limited experience of cycling in the Netherlands, where cyclepaths do have to change level, they try keep the gradients to the sort of thing that's safe and achievable by a normal person on a gaspipe single-speed with rubbish brakes.  The occasional exception (usually crossing drainage infrastructure in more rural areas) comes as a bit of a shock to the system when you've been riding all day!


Robert said:

Kim is correct.   The example above is not in fact elevated.   What they have done is kept the cycleway more or less at ground level and the roads are in cuttings.   That way cyclists don't have to expend their limited power on climbing gradients.   Motor vehicles have more spare power available, so they get to climb the gradient.

I stand corrected (though it took me some time to find a reference point).   As you say, gradients don't go down well with Dutch cyclists, so they've had to build enormously long ramps.   That tells you why this isn't a good idea.   Even if the road is kept level and cycle path is taken under it, that is better as you benefit from picking up momentum on the way in to the underpass, something that doesn't work if you have to climb up over the top of the motor traffic.

That's an excellent point.  And of course relies on there being good enough sightlines that you can carry the momentum without endangering anyone.

Robert said:

Even if the road is kept level and cycle path is taken under it, that is better as you benefit from picking up momentum on the way in to the underpass, something that doesn't work if you have to climb up over the top of the motor traffic.

This is a few Km from where my sister lives. It is slightly elevated, but the gradients are gentle. Cyclists can go either way round.


ian robathan said:

It is good enough for the Dutch - Eindhoven so why not us, surely far better over the massive islands we have on the middle ring road which chokes cycling off 

LOL! Cycle lanes made in Birmingham. Sure maybe in 100 years. LOL

doug salmon said:

Easily enclosed if worried about wind or rain; but nobody is going to build a cycle network worth the name in Brum, of any description. Though £46 million suggests plenty of money to be made from selling white paint to the Council.

Elevating a cycle route limits the access points and thus level of service to reach the diverse places diverse people want to get to on the diversity of the core street & paths network at ground level. If you want a case study in the futility of such concepts visit Underground Seattle if you can bear to visit WA in USA in the current climate.

Seattle was built by the immigrants at the foot of cliffs in a swamp, basically because they didn't need to drive out the natives, who had the sense not to live there. As the city developed it became clear that the streets would benefit from being raised, and this would be delivered by knocking the top corner off the cliffs. Unfortunately the footways were the responsibility of the frontagers, and when the carriageways were raised - often substantially - the frontagers refused to raise the footways. Thus to cross the street involved using 2 ladders, or going up to the first floor and out through a converted window. Eventually frontagers capitulated, and this left a subterranean arcade, conveniently delivered for the period of prohibition, and use of the former ground floor premises as speakeasies, with their waste plumbing systems raised on plinths to handle the backing-up when the tide came in....

Clear see-through underpasses are perhaps the better option for grade separation when the ultimate traffic hazard removal is required (eliminate the conflicting movements), as an underpass (2.4m Minimum height) only needs to get 3m below the road level, but to provide a bridge without a height restriction you'll need to go up at least 6 metres and those structure tend to be basic ugly & functional, unless you are VERY lucky, That said you can occasionally seize an opportunity, perhaps 'winning' a concession from Ballymore to have a formal route connected to the railway viaduct at Snow Hill to connect from the City to the Jewellery Quarter over the ring road.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         across the      

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