Monday, 4 June 2012

Creating Space (rocket science)

We've been talking about this for decades in the UK: how to make cycling happen. The simple answer of course is giving space to bicycles, and that means taking it from our beloved motorcar. It's so so simple you almost want to cry.

1) Reduce driving space
- scale down on multiple lanes
- remove filter and turning lanes
- make one-way with cycle contraflow

2) Reduce on-street car parking space
- remove car parking bays
- paint double yellow lines
- use enforcement tactics

3) ...or any combination of the above

On the other side of reality...

My council is still in the 'road safety' business of removing cycle lanes. Bicycles used to have some space, now you see it, now you don't... reverse order of encouraging cycling.

The recent example is Scotwood Road where cycle lane continuity was removed in order to create space for drivers (a filter turn) making cycling - once more - into a specialist-skill activity - hop-skip-jump - on-off - never quite sure where you are supposed to ride.

And isn't that what the council leader said last year: “To be frank, that's one of the reasons why I stopped cycling in Newcastle because you never knew from one minute to the next whether you are going to be on the road, the pavement or the cycle lane. And I think this is one of those things which we got to get right.”

Scotswood Road is a relatively new development with on and off-road cycle facilities. Bit weirdly done, but as far as UK cycle design goes "ok". Well, until recently.

Excuse me, eh - I have to hop-skip-jump.

Ooops, missed that short section of a dogleg dropped kerb - aaah - I find myself cycling in fast heavy traffic and the car lane is narrowing, driver behind me is impatiently revving the engine - have they seen me? -  and preparing for a close-shave overtake... aaaargh... cycling in the UK!

Scotswood Road westbound
Scotswood Road, Newcastle - recent cycle lane removal

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