Sunday 6 January 2013

New Cycle Park 2: Push Bike Along Pavement, THEN Upstairs

Couldn't make it up.

Here's the animation for how to get to the proposed bike park by Cambridge Station.

So, building this from fresh, I've got to ride or, I assume, push my bike 50-100m along a pavement slaloming parked cars, pedestrians and trees, and then I've got to dismount and push or carry my bike up the stairs?

Bugger that for a lark. Unacceptable. Oxford Architects? The clue is in the name - this is Oxbridge sabotage gone mental. Go back and start again from scratch. What we need is PERFECTLY simple - a cycle park we can blody well cycle to, and in which we can cycle to get somewhere near the locking spaces. You wouldn't build a car park where the driver has to get out and push, if you think its appropriate to ask cyclists to do so you're a grade 1 idiot.

This. Is. Not. Good. Enough. Fix it.


  1. How come your post doesn't reference the fact there is a new road to the left, just opposite the entrance, at 0m27s?

    1. You mean, the above titled video called 'Cycle Park Station Road Approach', showing us the cycle park to be constructed off Station Road, is not in fact showing us the approach to the cycle park but is in fact showing us another route?

      If there is access to that (new?) road from Station Road then the developers site hides that very well indeed. Where is that?

      And I could of course give them the benefit of the doubt; as they're building a cycle park where I'm expected to take a bike upstairs (try that with a trailer, a recumbent, or even if you don't get around so well!) I'm not inclined to do so.

    2. I'm far from the only person that currently uses Devonshire Road -> station carpark -> south busway as my commute. There's also, obviously, quite a lot of people accesing the station from the south busway, which will soon massively increase thanks to the huge housing developments. Is Anonymous (and the developers) suggesting that we need to go via Tenison Road and Station Road? Because that's a ridiculous idea.

  2. I am appalled by the standard of the "cycle route" portrayed in the first forty seconds of the above-shown animation. It's an absolute disgrace. Here is an opportunity to make Devonshire Road -> station carpark -> south busway into a high quality route, at no extra cost at all - there is clearly the space available as well - and yet, surprise, surprise, the whole thing suggests an entirely new interpretation of the phrase 'no-brainer'.

    There is a drop kerb at 7 seconds and another one at 28 seconds, neither of which are in the right place! Why design 'conflict' into the scheme? Well, we know the answer. "The best guarantees for finding intelligent solutions," Cycling: the way ahead explains, "which must very often be adapted to the specific situation in hand, include taking into account the experience of people who cycle on a daily basis, and the imagination and subtlety of analysis of those in charge of the projects. Only by studying a cycle route network, however, will it be possible to truly grasp the situation, [...] and to act in a targeted and highly efficient fashion."

    This map here shows what I believe to be all the primary and secondary routes in the area around Cambridge railway station. (If the cycle network is like the blood system, these routes are analogous to the arteries and arterioles. Not highlighted are the 'local' routes, or 'capillaries'.) The authorities should provide for cycle traffic on these routes in a way that doesn't put cyclists into conflict with other users.

    The problem the authorities have is that they have inherited a cityscape from a previous generation, whose priorities were, to put it bluntly, not adequately focussed on active travel. But as George Eliot pointed out, "It's never too late to be who you might have been".

    Where I am prepared to cut the authorities a bit of slack is on the existing urban environment. They need to change that, for sure, but with respect, this cannot be done with a click of the fingers. In this realm, therefore, and for the time being, this means YES to improvements that are only OK (as a means to an end). But with new developments the same constraints are not in place. In the case of this section of route, the carte is blanche, and the world is their oyster. They ought to be able to do much better.

    The important thing, to my mind - the most important thing - is the study and introduction of a network. This is something that can be done over the next year or two. Obviously all new schemes must be developed with active travel in mind, in addition to which, I would regard it as a massively wasted opportunity to dig up a road and then put it back exactly as it was. But we have to be honest enough to admit that Going Dutch is going to take at least twelve to fifteen years. The case is, there is a great deal that can be done at least bureaucracy now. Advocates of mass cycling would do well to bear in mind that pursuing this approach is regarded by the Europeans as "a prudent course to follow".

    1. Bikemapper - you speak a lot of sense, but I can't agree to accepting bike facilities that are 'ok'. Thats precisely what we're doing wrong - doing so sets a standard for what we are then expected to accept as best practice, and that continues to fail us.

      I've been watching as 'cycling revolutions' unfold every few years in the UK and go nowhere - enough is enough. Schemes like the one above HAVE TO provide the best possible outcomes for cyclists or we should oppose them in their entirity - no more half measures.

    2. Cab - "Schemes like the one above HAVE TO provide the best possible outcomes for cyclists or we should oppose them in their entirity - no more half measures." I totally agree. But this is an isolated case. Are you suggesting that the development of a continuous network of consistent quality is best approached one piece at a time? Please answer the question.

      You write: "I can't agree to accepting bike facilities that are 'ok'. That's precisely what we're doing wrong - doing so sets a standard for what we are then expected to accept as best practice." If I may say so, this sentiment betrays a lack of trust on your part.

      Please do not forget that the approach recommended to the GLA hearing by Steffen Rasmussen, Head of Traffic Design at the City of Copenhagen - to wit, a holistic approach and then a separation of functions - has never been tried in this country.


    3. Well, yes. That does display a lack of trust on my part. Largely because those providing cycling provision here have time and time again demonstrated that they can't be trusted to do so.

      Should development of a consistent network be a 'one piece at a time' thing? Turn the question around; will the emerging network of cycling facilities in Cambridge be worthwhile unless we demand that each part of it is constructed to a higher standard? I'd argue that no, it won't be. Every time we accept a sub-optimal facility we reinforce the idea that such is all we need; we've been doing that for too long, where has it got us?

    4. Of course each part of the network must be constructed to higher standards, but this takes nothing away from the fact that the introduction of the whole of it to a minimum level of functioning is "a prudent course to follow."

      I say again: the study and introduction of the network need only take a year or two. It is probable that a few parts of it would be developed to a high standard during this time, but it is certain that not all of it would.

      The bottom line is that, according to the European Cycling Federation, the development of a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network is a basic precondition of mass cycling. In the first couple of years, the authorities are simply not able to get all of the network functioning so that women, children and the elderly feel confident enough to use it. But what is that to the purpose? Don't you believe that the basic preconditions should be met first?

      If you feel uncomfortable agreeing with me, would you be happier to agree with the casual indifference that the Cambridge Cycling Campaign attach to the importance of cycle networks? Their submission to the All Party Cycling Enquiry contains just one mention of the word 'network' (on page 16 of an 18-page report). Words like 'coherent', 'connected' and 'joined' are not mentioned at all (within context).

      To all intents and purposes, their Cycle Vision for 2016 is a bits-and-pieces approach. Do you think this is a better way forward?

    5. What is a 'minimum level of functioning'? Do you mean such as on Gilbert Road, on which cyclists still decide not to ride on the pavement and thus incur the wrath of local police? The same councillors who approved the scheme instructed the Police to target 'antisocial' cyclists who demonstrate by riding on the pavement that this facility is not good enough. You can create as broad a network like that, but that won't get us top the end point we both want. Each time we accept a bad facility we reinforce the perception that this is all we need. Constructing a bad network is not a stepping stone to a good network.

      I agree that an holistic approach to journeys is needed - a great bit of cycle lane isn't enough if its flanked at either end by a terrifying junctions. But I can't support the idea of a poor cycle network as a stepping stone towards a good cycle network - acceptance of bad facilities seems here to beget MORE bad facilities, why would universally bad facilities in Cambridge be better?

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    7. You can create a broad network, but that won't get us to the end point we both want.

      Yes it will.

      Each time we accept a bad facility we reinforce the perception that this is all we need.

      No it doesn't.

      Constructing a bad network is not a stepping stone to a good network.

      Who can refute a sneer? But rather than talk about "constructing a bad network", I would prefer to say that introducing a thoughtfully-designed and easily-navigable network to a minimum level of functioning is a stepping stone to a good network. Of course it is.

      Matthias Doepke from Northwestern University has said: Once there is a coherent network, the attractiveness of cycling goes up a lot. At some point all the pieces need to be joined up. Why should this not be done in the beginning?

    8. No, it won't work.

      Changing each road layout in the UK is a once in a generation thing; our geology and our hydrology are basically stable, we don't dig up roads as frequently as in the Netherlands which means our road designers aren't so encouraged to be experimental or innovative. Look Gilbert Road in Cambridge; that took more than a decade, it isn't going to change again for at least another decaded, and while being insufficient its still probably the best on-road route on Cambridge. Accepting Gilbert Road is, ultimately, a failure, and it isn't going to lead to a better network.

      A grid of bad routes is not a 'netowrk' in any useable fashion, and where a cycle route is not individually good enough to encourage people on to the cycle lane they're targetted as 'antisocial' cyclists; don't just take my word for it, thats the record on the ground.

    9. "You can't change everything at once, and it is important to realise how the Dutch got to where they are now. They started by doing the easy things, and that is what we will have to do in the UK. They then kept working on it and improving things, little by little." (David Arditti, LCC's Go Dutch advocate)

    10. "Going Dutch is not really about segregation. It is about planning for people to have easy, safe access to wherever they want to go." (Charlie Lloyd, Campaigns Officer, LCC)

    11. "The final problem is the lack of strategic plans, and it is often left up to engineers to try and plan at a strategic level. We are good at it, but it would be so much better if there was a plan which we could implement over time and do it properly." (Mark, an engineer in one of the Biking Boroughs)

    12. "The maxim, 'Nothing but perfection', may be spelled, 'Paralysis'." (Winston Churchill)

    13. "Perfection is the child of Time." (Joseph Hall)

    14. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets. When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime. By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations. Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure. I have read in a Hindoo book, that "there was a king's son, who, being expelled in infancy from his native city, was brought up by a forester, and, growing up to maturity in that state, imagined himself to belong to the barbarous race with which he lived. One of his father's ministers having discovered him, revealed to him what he was, and the misconception of his character was removed, and he knew himself to be a prince. So soul," continues the Hindoo philosopher, "from the circumstances in which it is placed, mistakes its own character, until the truth is revealed to it by some holy teacher, and then it knows itself to be Brahme." (Henry Thoreau)

    15. What I had hoped to read was a suggestion that changes of a piecemeal kind, however well-designed, can add to our problems not reduce them. Bristol offers a highly visible warning about the confusion, frustration and downright bewilderment that can arise from idiosyncratic designs and an accumulation of unfinished or unsustained plans. It would take a long essay to spell this all out, but my point is that the development of a settled culture of city transport will depend on consistency, predictability and regular physical cues. Consciously wondering what rules or possibilities are likely in a given situation, while trying to find a route or deal with an immediate problem overloads the attention span, increases anxiety and increases errors – for all. (Sam Saunders, Bristol)

      I think that’s exactly right. The only reason this hasn’t written about here – by me at least – is that it I have assumed it goes without saying! (Mark Treasure, aka aseasyasriding)

    16. "Do not under-estimate that you have to come a long way, but if you can accelerate that, mainstream, do it." (Roelof Wittink, Dutch Cycling Embassy)

    17. "A grid of bad routes is not a 'network' in any usable fashion ..." I think what you meant to say here was, "A grid of low-engineered routes is not a 'network' in any usable fashion ..."

      For the overwhelming majority of people who currently cycle in Cambridge, yes it is! For you it would be. For every one of your readers it would be.

      Like Ely Cycling Campaign, my proposal is initially aimed at just two main groups: "those people who would cycle more if there was adequate provision (inc. children), and those who already cycle as part of their daily routine (i.e. commuting)."

      This is to say, The Enthused and the Confident, and The Strong and the Fearless. Getting people from The Interested but Concerned to cycle more is my ultimate aim.

      Incidentally, what is meant by the term "adequate provision"? Well, as Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize has said, "'Badly-behaved' cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure."

      If people are riding on the pavement because they are intimidated by the road conditions, they ought not to be going fast. If people are riding the wrong way up the same one-way street, this should be sorted out and made to work in both directions.

    18. Don't bombard my blog with so many comments all at once - each gives me an email alert, to post in this fashion is rude and unhelpful. Your input, your opinions, are welcome here, but if you contribute in that fashion I will block your posts.

    19. The direct comparison with Dutch infrastructure doesn't always hold true; the lifespan of many roads over there is much shorter than in the UK, high water tables see to that. That makes road planners more experimental - here in Cambridge we've got absurd excuses such as 'its a WW2 tank road, thats why it crumbles' being used by planners (e.g. Milton Road). Wholesale re-design, even simple space allocation, comes up for most roads once in a generation if we're very, very lucky - design in bad infrastructure and we're stuck with it. Design in a network of bad infrastructure and we'll be stuck with that.

      Even journeys where all or nearly all of the journey can be done on such infrastructure (where effectively said network already exists) that is not encouraging people to use the infrastructure and, in fact, that is being used as an excuse to target cyclists who DO NOT use it rather than as evidence that said routes are not good enough - while we have an failing infrastructure design culture we don't achieve anything through extending towards such network - thats the evidence we have, on the ground, right now.

      And you're saying ignore the evidence of what happens where we've got such routes already and construct a whole network of them? No, sorry, thats not reasonable.

    20. Cab, your talk of the lifespan of roads being different in the Netherlands might be true or it might not be true. You don't reference your arguments, and I can find nothing on the internet about it, so I really only have your word for it.

      But even if it is true, so what? I mean really.

      Consider again what I am saying:

      1. Think in terms of a network.

      Only by studying a cycle route network will it be possible to truly grasp the situation (p.40, Cycling: the way ahead).

      2. Plan the network.

      Analyse journeys — origin/destination (headcounts, statistics, interviews) (p.56, Cycling: the way ahead).

      Design from patterns to details.

      3. Study the feasibility of the network.

      Studying the feasibility of a network is of a similar importance to setting up a cycling unit or appointing a cycling coordinator (p.57, Cycling: the way ahead).

      4. Introduce the network.

      The level of minimum functioning is a prudent course to follow (p.56, Cycling: the way ahead).

      5. Develop the network.

      Strengthen the network further on the basis of priority interventions and a timetable. (p.56, Cycling: the way ahead)

      Step 5 does not say: Wait for road surfaces to wear out and then reconfigure the streetscape, so I don't regard what you talking about to be in the least bit relevant.

      You keep saying things like, "Design in a network of bad infrastructure and we're stuck with it", or "A grid of bad routes is not a 'network' in any usable fashion", or "Constructing a bad network is not a stepping stone to a good network". I can't imagine why you insist on using this word. I find it quite insulting, actually.

      It's like you don't want to have to blunt your sense of right too much by explaining it exactly as it is:

      "Design in a network of low engineered infrastructure and we're stuck with it." No, Cab, we're not.

      "A grid of low engineered routes is not a 'network' in any usable fashion." Yes, Cab, it is.

      "Constructing a low engineered network is not a stepping stone to a good network". Yes, Cab, it is.

      As for your second and third paragraphs, you do appreciate that I am proposing to increase the extent of the network, I hope. I thought the animation sequence I had previously posted on your blog was sufficiently clear about this, but in case there is still any doubt in your mind, this map shows which bits are new.

      Clearly you and I are not going to agree. But the funny thing is, I don't even know what your five- or ten-year plan is! What do you propose be done in Year One and Year Two, and how do you suggest things should proceed thereafter?

    21. The 'road lifespan' argument is one I've personally heard from road builders from the Netherlands - I have never seen a need to question the argument based on underlying conditions so I've never referenced it.

      You, however, repeatedly cite as evidence other opinions to back up your own opinion. Which isn't particularly helpful. While ignoring the evidence thats on the roads - that where 'network' conditions already exist (i.e. where other than perhaps the back street you start on the whole journey is on cycle 'facilities') that is NOT encouraging greater cycling nor making cycling safer here, and in fact the presence of said conditions is used to actively persecute cyclists who are still, quite reasonably skeptical. I don't need to see further experiments - its already clear.

      My plan? On each occasion, on every road, at every time, require that safe provision be adopted at the earliest possible time. And accept no half measures any more - a bad cycle facility in the UK will persist for years and is an obstruction to getting a GOOD facility. This is not complicated.

    22. "We do have a £10 billion backlog on local road maintenance" ('Today', 10/01/13, at 2 hours 46 minutes).

      "One in six of Surrey's roads is in poor condition, according to the County Council. Now that's higher than the national average of one in ten. The worst problems occur in low-speed residential and rural areas, and it would take 13 years to clear the backlog of repairs. Well, now the Council has come up with a plan to start dealing with it ..."

      "If Surrey County Council were to repair all of its roads, it would cost £200m and take 13 years. Instead, the council aims to repair 10% of its worst roads in the next five years. The council's plan is to work efficiently ..."

      (BBC South Today, 10/01/13, at 10 minutes 24 seconds)

      You have said: "I agree that an holistic approach to journeys is needed", and: "I don't oppose doing the little things to help us". Your oft-repeated point that low-engineered infrastructure does nothing to encourage more cycling is well understood, though I would argue that it does make cycling safer, if only just a little bit. (I hope to be able to prove this some time quite soon, so please don't rush to judgement just yet.) Like you, I scorn the attitude towards those cyclists who do not feel confident enough to use these facilities. But what, practically, can we do about it?

      You write: "A bad cycle facility in the UK will persist for years and is an obstruction to getting a GOOD facility. This is not complicated." True, but it is a matter of opinion, and not a matter of fact.

    23. I don't disapprove of little things that make our lot better. I disapprove of their implementation at the expense of doing things that make riding A LOT better - Gilbert Road is an excellent example. I rode it yesterday - of the 15 cyclists I saw there (including myself) 7 were riding on the pavements. It hasn't worked, it doesn't work.

      If you don't believe that a bad facility will persist for years in the UK you're ignoring evidence on the ground - Milton Road is an example of a dreadful facility that has been that way for over a decade. Cycle routes that fail us in Mitchams Corner are what, 7 years old and it'll be another 5-10 before any further changes are made. The cycle lanes along Histon Road are I think older than either, and there are no proposals to change them - note that the these routes form a contiguous route in from Histon or Milton for cycling to the middle of Cambridge and there remains no plan to upgrade them - we're talking about a generation (ANOTHER generation) lost to bad design. This isn't an opinion, its a fact, right there on the road.

      Milton Road in Cambridge has had NO substantial re-design since the second world war - it is still what is referred to as a 'tank road', its got a hard, impermeable sub-surface for taking the load of armoured artillery - thats why its crumbling, again. You can see the old road surface through the pot-holes. We don't design, maintain or re-build British roads on a short cycle, we don't really do so at all. Typical changes persist for decades - and you want to change things to still not good enough? No, sorry, thats entirely counterproductive.

  3. Dont see anything wrong with the stairs. That's normal in Netherlands too. But the pushing along pavement is just perverse

    1. Its not that such stairs can't work, my problem here is that we're designing with a blank slate - there is no reason why such stairs MUST be installed. Why not have a spiral route up with a more gentle incline all the way? Why not have stairs and a gutter down one side of the space and an incline to ride on the other? Its feasible to have a better solution here, so lets not just settle for not quite good enough.

  4. One solution to the whole stairs thing would be lifts that are big enough to get a couple of bikes in at once. For normal people who have a large amount of bags etc on their heavy, old-fashioned cycle.

    The first couple of seconds made me laugh - they must know Cambridge well as there is pedestrians in the cycle path.

    Well done on blocking anonymous people.


    1. Another idea is a travelator, as shown at 2'15" on this video.

    2. Yes, a travelator (so we can pretend to be on Glatiators!) would do it - I'd hope a lift wide enough for bikes should be installed as a matter of course, else people with child trailers that convert to buggies (for example) will have a hell of a problem.

      Also don't discount those folk who don't get around so well on foot - lots of them cycle here. They're not going to want to push a bike upstairs, but they'll manage a bit of a slope on their bikes.

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