Sunday 7 October 2012

After British cycling's Arab Spring: the storms

The first half of 2012 has to go down as British Cycling's Arab Spring. Consider:

  • The Times making cycling safety a key issue for the paper.
  • Mass protests round London about junction safety.
  • The CEoGB changing the agenda from "right to die on dual carriageways" to "right to get to school alive"
  • All the London Mayoral Candidates having to make a promise towards Dutch Cycling.
  • A change in the thinking of the LCC towards safe infrastructure, and even the CTC considering it.
  • TfL promising to review its most dangerous junctions.
  • Mass protests to Addison Lee about their "just use the bus lane" policy and a U-turn on that.
  • The Sky cycling team finishing the Tour de France in yellow
  • The UK olympic team finishing with lots of gold.
That was the spring. Now: autumn. And its storms.

We have already seen the press pushing back, NYC-style "bikelash" articles usually referring to Wiggins or that MP and then somehow blaming every cyclist for existing, while the councils and TfL continuing to do nothing dutch-style for their regions.

Now it is getting worse. The councils are moving beyond indifference to cycling to adding features that make things worse -prioritising more motor traffic at the expense of the inconsistent, incomplete and usually shit cycling facilities we get today.
What little leftovers we had on the side of junctions is being taken away to add extra traffic lanes.
Twickenham is the most well known example right now: a council working with TfL to convert a bus lane into an all-traffic lane, omitting all consideration of cycling -and when pushed back saying "it's too early for detailed planning". Except we all know, that that phrase will suddenly change to being "it's too late" -which is already where it is in the minds of the road planners. This also shows a key flaw in all on-road bluewash paint-jobs: it only takes another layer of paint for it to go away. At least proper infrastructure takes effort to destroy -someone really has to want to do this.

Here, South Gloucestershire council has started exactly that at the BAE/Airbus Roundabout on the A4174, where the A38 Northbound crosses the ring road. On the E. and N. sides -dual carriageways. On the W. and S. sides: single lane traffic jams -better to cycle through as the stationary traffic makes it easier to negotiate.

The Road Planners wanted to widen the road by taking away the parkland, the we want your shubbery debacle.

They went back to the drawing board, listening to Filton Council's suggestion of "use the pavement".

Now they have returned, with a plan to exactly that -remove the shared pavement cycle path to make a driving lane. 

The proposals are online in a three week long consultation.

If you look at the plans, you can see a wide bit of pavement being cut away.

If you look at google streetview, you see something different. You see a cycle path on the pavement, helping people cycle over the overbridge to the shopping centre on the other side, or to the crossing lights. As only the bold use the road here, this (shite) pavement infrastructure is the closest the area has to utility cycling. It's not great, but between junctions it is survivable.

Once the council take this away, you will get dumped onto the ring road, now forced to cycle over a junction which has an extra lane of traffic trying to feed left. Or you will just give up cycling altogether.

This is beyond indifference. This is beyond ignorance. This is a wilful removal of off-road cycling infrastructure to add extra traffic lanes.

If they can do it here, they can do it anywhere in the area -and the whole ring road cycle path is at risk.

Here comes the storm.

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