Monday 11 August 2014

A lost vision of the 1980s

Cyclist's Britain, Richard Ballantine 1985. A £7 atlas on how to cycle round the UK. Routes mapped out, with not a helmet in sight.

Some things stand out. This section would have Hembrow reminiscing about why he left, Freewheeler expressing despair. Read it all

Summary, cycling is under threat, children and the elderly aren't cycling, what to be done

  1. Cycle lanes and ASLs
  2. A network of Quietways with light-controlled crossing of major roads, cut throughs of parks and contraflows
  3. traffic management in residential areas (including road narrowing, landscaping and speed bumps)
  4. off-highway routes, especially welcomed by cycling novices, children, parents and the elderly, calling out the railway path project.
With hindsight 
  1. Cycle Lanes and ASLs: a waste of paint. All they do is encourage drivers to swear at you for not being there.
  2. A network of quietways needs a network and the rat-runs eliminated. Nobody ever did that.
  3. Traffic management? Narrowing and landscaping creates pinch points, and speed bumps don't work. 
  4. Off-highway routes, especially from the railway paths.
This vision sounds good. and the railway path grew to becoming Sustrans. Which is now the obstacle, as they are endorsing quietways which don't kill the ratruns, turbo roundabouts and now gravel tracks that only a subset of bicycles can ride.

Finally, the page covering "Avon". What's changed since then?

  1. The A4174 Ring road no longer stops at the M32, it carries on all the way round to the A4
  2. There's a new crossing of the Severn, and a new branch off the M4 to reach it
  3. There's a new motorway, the M49, from Avonmouth to the Second Severn Crossing.
  4. The railway path continues from Soundwell to almost but not quite the city centre
That's it. Tens to hundreds of £millons on motorways and bridges, new ring roads. And we get: a slightly longer railway path and a sustrans whose endorsements are becoming a farce.

And that railway path is the showcase of the railway routes. It's incredibly popular in gets those children, the families, the elderly, the disabled. But it also highlights that we got what: yellow paint, signposts to back roads and next-to-fucking nothing in terms of cycle infrastructure that's usable.

Paint on the roads: we should come out and oppose that outright. All it does it provide short-stay parking for drivers, and somewhere for other drivers to expect cyclists. ASLs? Nothing. Quietways? Maybe with the cut-throughs —but only if the rat runs are eliminated. But they aren't infrastructure -they can get stolen on a whim, painted out one day, or destroyed by some new building work. And because those things are shit, they don't get the familes out, and they don't get anyone defending them.

What went wrong? Lack of focus, and failure to get the funding. Which means: failure to shout large enough compared to the motorway lobby.

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