Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

Thoughts on the Cycle Revolutions Forum meeting

I wrote a blog about the recent Forum meeting about Birmingham's bid for funding it's Birmingham Revolutions project.

I have mixed feelings about it all. Please take a look at my blog.  

http://blog.cycleinjury.co.uk/2013/04/cycle-forum-discussion-of-bir...

I appreciate that there is a strong tradition of assertive or cyclecraft style cycling and I heard that voice put pretty forcefully in one of the small groups that I took part in. I respect that opinion but I don't think it's the way to encourage non-cyclists to get cycling. 

I find myself in the pro-Dutch camp following a recent trip to the Netherlands because I think that Dutch style cycle lanes are, long term, the way to go to get those reluctant to cycle to get out there.  But I also think that when we talk about "cycle lanes", we need to be sure about what we are talking about, because cycle lanes in the Netherlands are very different to the cycle lanes in the UK. 

Anyway, please feel free to comment on my blog.

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Great blog post Tim. To encourage non-cyclists there needs to be engagement with non-cyclists to determine why they don't cycle and what would make them. The main reason is they think it is too dangerous and the solution is separation from motor traffic. It is often said that Birmingham is 10 years behind London so it will be 2022 before the Dutch approach is adopted here.

I'm pretty sure  the comment on a slide that was read out at the forum was one of mine, "more people on bikes will make Birmingham a nicer place to live and visit" (or something like that). 

The reason for  people not cycling is clear; they don't feel safe.   There's even a term for it, "subjective safety".   That is one of the things that the Dutch have addressed.   It's important to understand that Dutch infrastructure is not just cycle lanes with brass knobs on.   They engineer their entire transport infrastructure so it works co-operatively, and the cycle lanes are a part of that.   One aspect of that engineering is that whereas we build cycle routes to get bikes out of the way of cars, the Dutch build car routes to get the cars out of the way of bikes.   This is something the vehicular cycling lobby just don't recognise.   Up to a certain speed limit you can cycle on-carriageway in Holland if you really want to, but it's just plain pointless because it will be slower than taking the cycle route.   The Dutch no more want to cycle slowly than we do.   Vehicular cycling as a solution just excludes most of the population from cycling because it completely ignores subjective safety (I would argue that the objective safety is questionable too).

David Hembrow is highly critical of what is going on in London.   He says despite the slogan what they are building just isn't Dutch.   One of the reasons for that is that they are compromising their designs to appease the vehicular cycling lobby.   I'll try to explain this with an analogy.   The world has moved on to LED lighting on bikes, but suppose there was a highly vocal incandescent lighting lobby as there is in the world of domestic lighting.   The LCC are effectively saying, yes, let's have LEDs in our lights, but we'll also include an incandescent bulb to keep everyone happy.   The net result is a cycle lamp that is just as heavy on the batteries as old cycle lamps, but is now optically compromised so it doesn't work very well.   We do not want to copy that paradigm.

The vehicular cycling lobby are stuck in their ways, afraid of change & progression..... similar to the council.

Arguing against infrastructure that can be used safely by all is selfish.

I could not agree more with Robert on his post, particular this bit ......"They engineer their entire transport infrastructure so it works co-operatively, and the cycle lanes are a part of that.   One aspect of that engineering is that whereas we build cycle routes to get bikes out of the way of cars, the Dutch build car routes to get the cars out of the way of bikes.   This is something the vehicular cycling lobby just don't recognise.

 

Over Easter, I was in the Netherlands and saw it first hand and took some photos and some headcam footage. I have been working on a blog about it. I will post a link when it's done.

 

One of the thoughts that popped in to my head at the meeting the other night is that if you had been transported, Star Trek style, in to the meeting and looked around, you would have known without hearing a word, that this was a group of cyclists. In the Netherlands, people get to business meetings by bike without hi viz, without helmets, without worrying were to park their bike, without wondering if they can get a shower, or taking their "normal" clothes to change in to. They wear normal clothes because cycling is not something you have to get in to special gear to do. I have heard Chris Boardman on this topic whenever helmets are mentioned and of the sporting cyclists, he talks the most sense. You should not have to get in to special protective or high vis clothing to cycle. Cycling on the continent is normal. People do it because it feels safe and normal to do.

I am sure that if you transported in to a similar sized meeting room in the Netherlands you would not know from their garb that those attending came by bike, but the majority of them would have done.

Looking at my avatar, perhaps I need to change it to show a normal person in normal clothes without  a helmet?

... sadly, reality is that we in the UK (other than in, possibly, completely new towns) are NEVER going to get cycle lanes in the Dutch or German style .. the built up areas we have are much, much more dense and there just isn't the space.  

The challenge is for new development to have a "cycling first" ethos ... but that takes up space that developers could stuff more houses/buildings on to ... and most planning authorities are pretty spineless in getting good quality infrastructure from developers' Sect 106 funding - the developers agree and then change what they've agreed to .. and the LAs just roll over.

Rob

Stop wearing the hi-viz and plastic hat and then post a photo :-)

Tim Beasley said:

Looking at my avatar, perhaps I need to change it to show a normal person in normal clothes without  a helmet?

@Tim.   I was there in jeans and a sweatshirt.   My only cycling gear was a helmet and some padded mitts (to prevent numbness in my hands), and the latter are intended for wheelchair users.   I use the same mitts when I go kayaking.   So do liberate yourself from the hi-viz.   I don't have a helmet when I cycle in Germany, and I don't miss it.   However, not only do I not have to ride in heavy traffic, I don't have to ride through the winter.

@RobG.   The density argument is a myth.   This could be the top end of Kings Heath, but it isn't, it's Utrecht.   Note the segregated cycle lanes, one in each direction.   Also the Dutch achieve some of their segregation through unravelling of modes (ie bikes will take one route, whilst cars are forced to take a longer route that doesn't interfere with the passage of bikes).

Rob, this is bullshit, as Robert posted above.

Also, it's not all about cycle paths. It's also about creating through-routes for cars and leaving the rest to other users through things like filtered permeability and lower speed limits. I know, because I'm Dutch born and bred.


RobG said:

... sadly, reality is that we in the UK (other than in, possibly, completely new towns) are NEVER going to get cycle lanes in the Dutch or German style .. the built up areas we have are much, much more dense and there just isn't the space.  

Robert/Renee, I I think Push Bikes are looking for a new Secretary....

And here's an example of contraflow cycling in Lübeck, a German city that dates back to 1143.   Parts of the original city still survive, though most of it is a little later (albeit very carefully rebuilt exactly as it was just before being bombed in WWII).   It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so planning is very strictly controlled.   Someone on this forum told me people cycle there because there are no hills.   It has hills (I've been up them), and they're cobbled.

Heh. I've already been asked to join CEoGB which I might do once I've finished my uni course. (Uni + full time work = not much time left). Plus I live in Wolverhampton!

Rich22222 said:

Robert/Renee, I I think Push Bikes are looking for a new Secretary....

I couldn't possibly comment ;)

Rich22222 said:

Robert/Renee, I I think Push Bikes are looking for a new Secretary....

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