Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A clarification on my opinions of vehicular cycling

I would just like to add to my blog post, I am not entirely against Vehicular Cycling.

It is a good mechanism for coping with the conditions we are faced with.

But it is not a panacea.

It has not enabled the mass uptake of cycling. It works for those people confident and dare I say, brave enough to share the road with motorised traffic.

But it shouldn't get in the way of demanding better.

Like car manufacturers shouldn't give up trying to make cars safer still, even though some clever so and so invented seat belts or air bags. It has its place in helping the 2% who use our roads do so more safely. But this is not enough.

We shouldn't be asking people like me (or probably you) what we need to do to get people out on the road. We should be asking the 98% who aren't out there cycling.

If Vehicular Cycling was the solution, then in Trafford where I reside you wouldn't be able to move around secondary schools for the amount of bikes. All year 6 pupils before they leave primary, get Bikeability training. So why aren't they continuing to cycle?

Probably the same reasons friends of mine who are confident capable club cyclists gave.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Chris Thingy and the VC Mob

I thought it sounded like the title of a band or an album

Warning: This blog post requires a small pinch of salt

So a few days ago, this Chris Thingy bloke posts a video.  You know, these bloody ninja cyclists that go everywhere with a camera strapped to their heads. Militant bunch they are.  They go looking for trouble.

Well based on a few things my new bestest mate Maggie Richardson had to say, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell Chris Thingy that he is a shit cyclist.

I don't care who he thinks he is the jumped up flaming leftie.

A short journey from British Cycling on Vimeo.

Now, where do I start? According to my new mate Maggie, anyone who talks about cycle lanes is clearly a crap cyclist.  I don't know who this guy is but I have to agree with her.  Look at his positioning on the road.  not once does he take the lane.  And then like so many dreadful cyclists hopping on and off the pavement.  you'd never see anyone from the CTC or British Cycling doing that.

There would be no need for a cycle path next to this roundabout if this Chris Thingy cycled according to the laws of Vehicular Cycling! What he should have done was position himself in the middle of the road and taken the lane, then proceeded to carry on as if he were a car across the roundabout.  SIMPLE!

And without the need for any of this cycle lane nonsense.


The problem is, he is only small compared to those large cars and even smaller still to a HGV driver.

Most collisions where cyclists are involved take place at junctions, where drivers simply do not see them.  We can talk until the cows come home (which will be a long time as I do not own any cows) about better training for drivers, but the basic biology is that our eyesight has not evolved enough to see everything we 'think' we are seeing.  Our eyesight is made up of where we are looking now and peripheral vision. When we scan a junction we do not look at each individual point we look back and forth and the scanned image is mainly made up of fuzzy peripheral shots and put together by our brain.

No amount of training is going to force us to evolve quicker.

Would you let your child cycle around this roundabout?

This has to be the litmus test for anywhere we expect people to use a bike.

Oh and Chris Thingy happens to be one of the best cyclists this country has ever produced.

PS I am not longer in touch with Maggie. ;-)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Dear Highstreet,

Dear Highstreet,

I read recently that the boss of Tesco has said a few mean things about you, like calling you medieval. But my mum always taught me not to call people names. 

Actually that’s not true. 

She was a Scouser with a vicious tongue and wit to match, so if she’d have thought it was funny, you’d have been called much worse than medival.

I wanted to give you my humble opinion.

I am not as important as the big boss of Tesco, but I hope you will take the time to listen to the people you are calling on in your valiant campaign to get people to #shoplocal.

You are probably quite intelligent and have realised that I cycle a bit.  The clue, after all is in the blog title.  But I also drive.  I used to drive in the T.A. and have a love of Landrovers and big trucks.  Now I drive two (albeit not at the same time) 4x4’s.

Often I have to ‘fire up the Quattro’ just to nip to the shops.

When I get there it’s a flipping pain in the arse.  Finding somewhere to park, often having to get change for the parking.  And the Quattro is ruddy enormous, I often drive round and round trying to find a big enough space.

To be honest, once I am in the car, I may as well go somewhere that is free to park and has a big multi-storey carpark.  

Does this sound like somewhere familiar?  You see, the moment I utter the words ‘FIREUP THE QUATTRO!’ you have lost me.  

The money it will cost me in petrol, insurance, parking, etc etc I may as well go a bit further afield and get a few more things.  Shopping that I know will probably go off and be thrown away before I eat it, but hey, I was there, it was on special offer……..

As for clothes shopping….I mean… you've seen the Trafford Centre right?  And if my kids wanted to spend the day shopping, would I let them go on the bus into town? Hell no! I would escort them directly to the door of <insert local indoor massive shopping mall> and arrange to pick them up later. They are dry, safe, etc etc.

But I don’t want to do that.

I want to go to my local Butcher and buy tonight’s tea. Not £150 of over manufactured crap. I want a steak, or some sausages. I want to go to a proper Greengrocer for the veg.  I would like to go on my bike, not have to worry about parking or change. I just want a nice trip to the local shops.

I would like it to be a nice place to go. I don’t want to have to cross roads and negotiate busy junctions. A town centre choked to death by cars is not a pleasant place to be (there aren't any cars in the Trafford Centre right? Well OK one, but that’s a Bond car and it’s not going to run my kids over)

Don’t believe me huh? Mad Manc Bike Mummy you’re thinking?

In the voice of Through the Keyholes Loyd Grossman "Lets look at the evidence".

A study by the New York City Department of Transportation found that small businesses near protected bike lanes installed in 2007 saw sales grow much more sharply than the borough average. Another study by Portland State University found that people in Portland who drove to local businesses spent more money per visit than bicyclists, but cyclists visited the same businesses more often and spent more overall.

ok yep *nods*

A study by the Frontier Group think tank last year found that annual miles travelled by car among 16- to 34-year-olds dropped 23% from 2001 to 2009.
It also found that people in that age group took 24% more bike trips in the same period. A 2011 study by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that the percentage of young drivers with licenses is declining.

So young people aren't driving as much. So they must then chose to live somewhere that makes non car ownership easier.

 "I think a lot of cities have found that bike infrastructure helps you keep your highly educated young people in the city after they graduate."

Keeping highly educated people. That sounds like a good plan. They've got dosh right?

But you still want to focus on more parking and cheaper parking do you??? OK we can continue……

Jobs. Who doesn't want to create more jobs?

Overall we find that bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. 
Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million.
Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million. 

On average, the 58 projects we studied create about 9 jobs per $1 million within their own states.  University of Massachusetts

Create more jobs, shop local! They go hand in hand!

Evidence shows that for every £10 spent in an independent shop £25 is generated for the local economy compared to £14 spent in multinationals.
Getting to local shops easily is especially important for elderly, vulnerable and those without transport. Keeping your shops open by buying locally helps the whole community.

This is my favourite one so far…..

Research in Leicester has found that as motorised traffic flow increases so does the proportion of vacant shops along that particular street.
“Leicester Environment City Trust, 1993 Streets, traffic and trade: A survey of vacant shops sites in Leicester City Centre. Leicester: Leicester Environment City Trust.”

Yet here is Mary Portas completely ignoring the evidence and saying the opposite.

 “changing planning rules to allow councils to provide more parking spaces in town centres so they can compete with out-of-town supermarkets

She goes on to say about her project “ensuring its sustainability". How do you do that if you are increasing the use of cars?

Still unsure? 

How about a good old fashioned case study? Everyone likes a case study.

Valencia Street, Mission District, San Francisco

Traffic lanes in this street were slimmed to slow down cars and accommodate other users. Merchants reported that street changes enhanced the area. Nearly 40 per cent of merchants reported increased sales, and 60 per cent reported more area residents shopping locally due to reduced travel time and convenience. 

Overall, two-thirds of respondents described how the increased levels of pedestrian and cycling activity and other street changes improved business and sales. A network of complete streets appears to be more safe and appealing to residents and visitors, which is also good for retail and commercial development.

What's even better, they close some of the roads for a couple of Sundays in the Year.

If you wouldn't want this happening outside your shop, restaurant or bar, on a Sunday, maybe retail isn't for you!

What a wonderful sense of community, but Hightstreet you probably don't care about that, just look at the HUGE FOOTFALL!

I shall continue.....

A German study showed that:
·         Motorists are not better customers than cyclists, pedestrians, or public transport users. 
·         Because they buy smaller quantities, cyclists shop more frequently (11 times a month on average, as opposed to seven times a month for motorists).
·         Approximately 75 per cent of motorists purchase two or less bags of goods, and so could carry their goods by foot or bicycle.
·         Most shopping trips involve distances that could be walked or cycled

MORE MORE!!! Give us more case studies!

Changing car parking to bicycle parking in Lygon Street, Melbourne, Australia

Lygon Street, Carlton, is a popular cycling route near Melbourne University. It is a mixed use mainstreet – groceries, cinema, comparison goods, cafes, etc.

It has few bicycle parking spaces.  Surveys have shown that the average cyclist’s expenditure is 73 per cent of a car user’s, but space required to park a bike is only 12 per cent of the space required to park a car. Cyclists spend more on comparison goods, such as clothing and eating out, and less on groceries/cinema per visit.
In Lygon Street:

•           Each m² of space allocated to cars generates $6 per hour.
•           Each m² of space allocated to bicycles generates $31 per hour.

Put another way, the researcher estimated that:

•           1 car space produced $27/hr retail spend, but
•           6 bike spaces replacing the car space would produce $97/hr in retail spend.

The report concludes that incrementally replacing car parking with bike parking would therefore make economic sense

So, to cut to the chase my lovely dear highstreet, we all want you to survive and do well. 

You make where we live individual and a nice place to be.  I don’t want to live in A.N Other copycat town. I want you to be special.  

We should be joining forces. The people asking for better cycling provision and the #shoplocal brigade. WE ARE ON THE SAME SIDE!

But it’s a two way street. 
You must listen and evolve.  
You must stop competing for more motorised traffic.
Because therein lies your ruin.

Some references and just good old bedtime reading