29 Mar 2013

Blog posts on bike infrastructure- something to think about

A couple of blog posts to have a look at and think about with reference to St Albans bike infrastructure and plans to improve it for beginners and children:

London-based As easy as riding a bike blogs about how road narrowing affects bike-friendliness of roads

"Beyond the fact that it makes it difficult or dangerous to filter through stationary motor traffic, it requires cycling bang in front of those motor vehicles to prevent dangerous overtaking. For people who are fast and confident on a bike, this isn’t necessarily too much of a problem. But I think it’s a big problem for people who don’t want to cycle fast, or aren’t confident, and don’t really fancy the idea of cycling slowly in front of buses, lorries or vans. These people will cycle next to the kerb, where some of these vehicles will inevitably squeeze past them, with little room to spare – just as intimidating and scary as cycling in front of them."

This is relevant to St Peters Street- a prime bike destination and through route and part of National Route 6. St Peter's street is fine if it's clear of traffic but once it's busy you need to take the lane to make it safer. Let's be clear- St Peter's street is not unsafe  but it's not attractive for people who don't like traffic. The carriageway was narrowed too much for safe bike lanes to be provided and there isn't much room for off-road lanes. We're pretty much stuck with what we have until someone bites the bullet and redesigns the carriageway, something that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Planning better routes which are suitable for the less traffic-confident is needed to make life better for existing cyclists and encourage non-cyclists to get out if their cars and take up cycling. This requires some hard judgements about our travel routes but if cycling is going to grow beyond the 4% share it currently has routes need to be direct and useful.

Cab Davidson of Cambridge Cyclists writes this:

"we have some decent stuff here in Cambridge, we're at least thought about by planners, but its very clear what planners want us to do. They want us to take circuitous routes around the city that take us from nowhere near where we're likely to live out to miles from where we're likely to work. And while there are some cunning cut-throughs and comfortable bridges (which, when you know about them, take lots of time from your trips and genuinely make cycling much more convenient) we're more or less stuffed if we actually want to go from A to B in anything like a straight line - the facilities that really work for us are widely separated and tend to be aids to permeability than actually routes as such. When it comes down to it the few cycle routes that exist on main roads are uniformly crap."

Enjoy your Easter break- the weather's not forecast to be particularly good but if you wrap up well you will be fine. How about riding down to try the new bike routes at Verulamium Park to see the Museum and dropping in at Inn On The Park or the cafe at Westminster Lodge for a hot drink to warm you up?

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