Sunday 30 June 2013

I am not a cyclist

Our local community news people JesmondLocal had a Listen Up! day - I was invited. And here's what came of it.

Added 10 Novembner 2013. I am still not a keen cyclist. Start at 10:35:

Link to the webpage including other's stories here

Sunday 23 June 2013

Social laboratory: urban roads

It's time that we cease the experiment in the social laboratory that is our urban roads. It's time to call a halt and announce that the let's-share-and-care experiment has failed. After all this experimenting, the UK should be one of the best by now. Yet we are one of the worst when it comes to integrating anything other than the private car. The voices of vested interest were not assessed adequately at the outset and their effect underestimated. We missed to understand their skewing effect on the entire experiment.

The circumstances under which we call off the experiment is that
  • it is inherently cruel on its participants
  • the original premise was proved wrong (the test bed never was a level playing field)
It's therefore good to know that solutions are widely available (see liveable cities, Amsterdam, Copenhagen etc).

Tankerville Terrors
Kid bike chained to bend railing, Tankerville Terrace, Newcastle

Saturday 15 June 2013

Austrian forays

Through Dad's German bank account I am registered to receive Radwelt (Bicycleworld) - equivalent to the CTC cycle magazine. This edition of Radwelt contained an intriguing article on Velo-City Vienna. It was discussing soft measures (promo particularly, as they do not get hung up about adult cycle training as much as we do in the UK) vs hard ones.

Radwelt June 2013
After describing a lot of promotional activities
such as (parades, readings, films), it reads like this.

The bicycle official Herr Blum is also aware of the dangers of an over-staging of cycling.  If the infrastructure doesn't not grow along all the intellectual events, then Vienna's bike-friendly bubble risks bursting. "You need both. The people have to feel that cycling is taken seriously by the city's decision-makers. And it is this visibility that we are aiming for" explains Blum.

Alec Hager explains how important this push is "We know that the majority of the strategic cycle routes, built in the 80s and 90s, are jammed up." For example Margaretenstra├če:  the narrow two-way cycle paths is one of the arterial routes into the city centre. Since 2002, cycling levels have doubled. We are striving for 10% bike modal share, and that means that the number of people cycling will double again. "This is why Vienna must develop bike-highways of four metres width - like they have in Copenhagen." continues Herr Hager.

Newcycling had a lovely Vienna article this week too and Seville also a city of the same modal share of Vienna.

That's Austria covered. As for Germans? They are scared.

Thanks for Cyclist in the City for uploading and Vole O'Speed (for the tweet). If anyone wanted a translation, let me know.

Tuesday 11 June 2013


Why would they show a bicycle on here?

Google Bike

Seen on The Andrew Marr Show - 09/06/2013

Sunday 9 June 2013

<< PARK HERE << - >> WORK HERE >>

Park here - Work here
Dean Street, Newcastle [without words]
Newcastle is stubbornly hanging on to the myth of free parking and even subsidises this...

Newcastle council tax subsidises city centre car parking at £100k a year (used to be £150k in previous years). I wonder what policy/policies, rationale, studies or any other evidence supports that decision? Below is council's reply to this question. [Full FoI here.]

Car park
Dean Street, Newcastle

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request regarding the above.

I can confirm that there are no formal policies or studies that supported the decision to introduce the "Alive After 5" initiative.

The initial request for the introduction of free parking after 5pm came from NE1 Business Improvement District who believed that some incentive parking during the evening would support proposals to introduce late night shopping in Newcastle. The broader rationale and aim of the proposal was to help provide a bridge between the daytime and evening economy in Newcastle as a similar scheme in Manchester had also proven successful.

The Council considered this request very carefully and following a series discussions it was agreed to introduce free parking from 5pm in our multi-storey car parks as we believed that this would:
  1. Support the "Alive After 5" initiative and help bridge the gap between the popular daytime and evening economy.
  2. Support extended shopping hours in the city centre.
  3. Help create employment opportunities during a challenging economic climate.
As part of the discussions it was estimated that the reduced income would be in the region of £300,000 per annum and NE1 agreed to contribute £150,000 towards the "Alive After 5" project. As part of the Budget 2016 process NE1 have agreed to increase their contribution to £200,000 to help reduce the impact on the Council and maintain the free parking in our multi-storey car parks from 5pm.

Through discussions with NE1 we have been informed that this has been well received by businesses and shoppers with significant increase in footfall across the city centre and Eldon Square. In addition, businesses are reporting that there has been an increase in trade which will help sustain employment and ensure Newcastle remains an attractive place to visit and shop.

We see Alive after Five as an economic investment - it sustains and creates jobs, keeps our shops busy outside their core hours and attracts people into our city centre. Due to the success of the initiative it is proposed to retain the current arrangements in the short term.

For the avoidance of doubt the car parking account is not subsidised by Council Tax payments.

I trust this answers the points you have raised. 

Answer? No. 

All based on anecdotal 'evidence'.

I prescribe a dose of Shoup and Streetfilms.   

Altogether, nothing a bit of grooming couldn't sort.

Auto culture
Halfords shelf

Auto culture
Car shampoo anyone?


Sunday 2 June 2013

CEoGB resolution

Excuse the LOW resolution photos, the meeting was certainly HIGH resolution, I can report to you. Just a few impressions (in temporal order).

After a soggy start (here in front to St Nicholas, Newcastle's Cathedral)

Infra safari (roaring roads)

Things did brighten up (for the rest of the weekend - and in all respects), when it promptly was time to get off our bikes to push them down Northumberland Street (situation report here and here)

Infra safari (roaring roads)

Canny view from the meeting room, overlooking said shopping street (and top end of tarmac-heavy Pilgrim Street too)


The meeting


Some impressions from the second day out:

John Dobson Street

Infra safari (Sunday)

John Dobson Street at St Mary's Place - hopefully the Dutch will sort out this messy junction in November, no pressure. Civic Centre (seat of Newcastle City Council) in blue-sky background.

Infra safari (Sunday)

Great North Road, going North going from 30 with path (let down by Blue House roundabout - only navigable with a philosophy-degree education or insanity ensues)...

Infra safari (Sunday) 30 on road

...deteriorating to 40 on road aaaargh 

Infra safari (Sunday)

Brunton Lane towards Great Park (we had just past the wonderful Land of Rising Bus Bollards where we observed a restraint in car use)

Infra safari (Sunday)

Kenton Road

Infra safari (Sunday)

Town Moor

Infra safari (Sunday)

Arty short of horrible Percy Street

Infra safari (Sunday)

Yes, we do have ASLs - they turn out to be good locations for photos. And meeting places bike folks. Spot the odd one out.

Infra safari (Sunday)

  • The full set of (mostly shot from on the bike) photos is here 
  • Route for the first day here