Thursday, 17 December 2009

Funding cycle infrastructure

I spent a day in birmingham at the Sustrans office learning about the process for bidding for funding for Sustrans infrastructure.

Perhaps one of the big differences in between the Netherlands and the UK, and indeed probably all of Europe, is the funding of cycling infrastructure.

Sustrans is a charity and its aim is to promote sustainable transport in the form of walking, cycling and other low impact methods.
It is probably best known for its National Cycle Network which is gradually emerging across the UK both on and off road. It probably says more about the attitude to cycling from governments than anything else that it falls to a charity with no income other than its  supporters and any fund raising activities to instigate the National Cycle Network.

A large amount of the funding for the initial phase of the network came from the National lottery, although this had to be match funded from other sources.Local Government has contributed to the development in many cases - more of this later - and the tax levied on landfill has helped in others.
Each local Authority has to produce a Local Transport Plan which usually last for 3 to 5 years and is OKd by the department for Transport. These determine the amount of money to be spent on all forms of transport, including roads, and cycling gets a small percentage.

When funding from this source the main things being looked for are travel to work and shops, safe routes to schools and a little for recreational cycling. So where the National Network leaves urban areas the chance of funding from LEAs is low as there is a very limited annual budget.

A section of the national Cycle Network passes through Leamington. It is part of route 41 which begins in Bristol and ends in Rugby. There is a section running from Bristol to Cheltenham and a few short sections, both on and off road, up to Stratford on Avon where it is then sign posted on minor roads to Warwick.
From Warwick it is mainly off road to Leamington

 and then leaves Leamington on the canal

until it joins the old rail bed towards Rugby.

This section runs for about 3 KM before it ends at the Fosse way where a bridge was removed when the railway closed. This road is busy and fast, although only a single carriageway and crossing at road level is very dangerous.

So far any attempt to get a bridge and then surface the remaining 8 kilometres that are unused has been unsuccessful due to no funds being available from either the Lottery fund or Local Authorities.
We are now starting a campaign at local level t
o try to get funding - probably upto £2 Million with a bridge, £1.25 without is a guestimate.

Whilst this section of the route would not be particularly useful for commuting or schools it would provide a long safe off road recreational and touring route, some 18 miles of off road.
What would have happened in the Netherlands? Well the funding seems to be very different, either National or Regional Government and I understand that monies from housing developments has to subsidise recreational routes, not in town as here.
Perhaps David Hembrow can comment on the funding differences?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

20 mph speed limits and cycling

George writes "I see this as a much more practical way forward for British towns and cities than hoping for a network of cycle tracks:"

In other words a 20 mph limit would result in increased cycling and a much safer environment for cycling and walking.
A recent report seems to support that view  - "The introduction of 20mph speed limits in areas of London has contributed towards a 50 per cent reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured on the roads.
Research published online in the British Medical Journal examined casualty rates between 1986 and 2006 and found that in spite of a steady decline in the number of road casualties in London, the additional effect of the 20 mph zones was a reduction in casualties and collisions by an amount that has taken over 20 years to achieve on roads without them."
However similar results have not been apparent in the Netherlands. As David Hembrow reported  on his blog in May "recent report from the Fietsberaad shows that merely having lower speed limits is not quite enough to get adequate safety for cyclists.

The Netherlands now has over 30000 km (18000 miles) of roads with a 30 km/h (18 mph) speed limit. These roads are safer than 50 km/h ( 30 mph ) roads, but not as safe as they used to be. The number of cyclists and pedestrians injured and killed on them is rising as drivers become more familiar with the lower speed limits and break them more often. In the last ten years the figures have risen from 2.4 to 11.7 serious woundings per 1000 km of road. Two thirds of accidents involving children 11 and under occur as they cross the road."
So it appears that whilst lower limits are to be encouraged, especially in towns and residential areas, they will not on their own result in more cycling and less accidents.

The Parade in Leamington is perhaps a good example of the problems associated with a 20 mph limit. When the scheme was being planned it was intended that all town centre roads would have a blanket 20 mph limit but this was quickly dropped when then police said it would be unenforceable.
Apparently if 20 mph limits are set they have to be "self enforcing". In other words lots of bumps and other features to slow traffic. If they are to be enforced by traditional means then frequent repeater signs are needed as 30 mph is the default limit. The dEpartment of transport also requires that the speed before the implementation is sufficiently higher than 30 mph - " if the observed 85th percentile speed is within 7 mph or 20% of the proposed limit, the new limit may be introduced. For 20 mph speed limits it is recommended that the 20% figure is applied. If observed 85th percentile speeds are above 24 mph, then it is unlikely a 20 mph speed limit would be appropriate, unless traffic calming measures can be provided."
SO with minimum humps or other slowing features the speed is often above 20 mph and the police will not enforce.
Other problems with such a limit seem to me to be that fit sports cyclist will often exceed 20 mph so can be slowed by cars and an everyday cyclist may ride at 10 mph so the speed differential is still great and being hit by a tonne of car at 20 mph will still hurt - a lot! 

So by all means press for 210 mph but what we really need is decent cycling infrastructure.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Cycle Accidents - poor infrastructure = more

Two recent reports highlight how with good separate cycle infrastructure you can reduce cycle accidents dramatically.Here is a report on cycle accidents in the UK :

Department for Transport figures released today show that 820 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in the three months to June this year, a 19% increase on the same period of 2008. More minor injuries rose 7% over the same period.
During the same three months pedestrian deaths and serious injuries dropped 8% year-on-year, while those for car drivers and passengers fell 4%. Motorbike users saw a 5% rise, however.

The CTC  noted that statistics gathered by Transport for London showed that in recent years around 5% of cyclists killed in the capital had been jumping a traffic signal at the time.
"It's not a big factor, but it could be something. It is fair to say that particularly in London, riding behaviour has deteriorated in recent years."

Compare this with the Netherlands :

Nationally the total of bicycle accident deaths hovers around 200.
In Amsterdam about 6 people die in bike-related accidents yearly.
16 million Dutch own 18 million bikes.
About half the population of the NL rides a bike once a day.
The average distance traveled by bike per person per day was 2.5km in 2006.
The bicycle is used for almost a quarter of all journeys, and 35% of journeys below 7.5km.
Overall traffic safety in NL is the best in Europe with 45 deaths per million inhabitants per year.
You’re more likely to die of murder in the US than by cycling in the Netherlands.
You’re more likely to die by drowning in the Netherlands than by cycling.

As the main difference between the two countries is in the cycling facilities and the larger number of cyclists that these encourage I can only conclude that if we are to cut deaths and injuries for cyclists here in the UK we need to spend real money on real facilities, not token white lines on roads.
This of course means a complete sea change in attitude and approach from both National and Local government, and from some of the cycling organisations here in the UK.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Cycle infrastructure - Assen v, Leamington

A recent post on David Hembrow's blog shows some before and after photographs of provision in Assen

If I compare these with the situation in Leamington it seems that the local authority is more likely to build infrastructure like that in this photo

Than this

Yes they are before and after photos!

I will get out and about and post some photos of recently built examples soon.

Whilst trying to establish just how much is spent on cycle infrastructure in Warwickshire (unsuccessfully)  i came across this document which gives the Counties plans for cycling.
Note that the figure for cycling to work - and that may well include schools! - in Warwick District is 3.5%.

Cycle use targets 2006-11
There is a need to set targets which are realistic yet sufficiently challenging within the given timescales.
Cycle use in Warwickshire has been steadily declining for a number of years and mirrors the national decline in cycling levels. Census data shows that cycle use for journeys to work has declined from 5.6% in 1981, to 3.8% in 1991 and to 3% in 2001. This continued decline marks a movement away from our stretching target set in 2000 to double cycle use in major urban areas by 2006 and double it again by 2011.
The adoption of this ambitious local target demonstrated our commitment to help meet the national target of tripling the number of cycling trips by 2010 compared with a 2000 base. Performance against both the national indicator and our local indicator has been disappointing; indeed the national target was abandoned in 2004, being replaced by a general aim ‘to increase walking and cycling in the next 20 to 30 years’.
Cordon count data points towards declining cycling levels between 2000/1 and 2003/4. However, in 2004/5, cycle flows into town centres increased from the previous year to levels close to those recorded in 2000/1.  Similarly, whilst all three of the automatic counters in place prior to 2004 recorded a decrease in cyclists between 2002/03 and 2004, an increase was recorded at six out of the seven automatic counter sites between 2004 and 2005. Although these results are encouraging, it is clearly too early to know whether this marks the start of a positive upward trend in cycle usage. It is against the longer term background of declining cycling levels in Warwickshire that it has been decided to set the following five year target for cycle usage:
‘To maintain the amount of cycling in Warwickshire at 2004 levels by 2010’.
In addition to past cycle usage data, a range of factors have been considered when setting this target, including car ownership levels, cycle network density, barriers to cycling and impact of promotional activity. It is considered that increasing cycling levels is a long term challenge and will depend both on behavioural change and achieving a density of cycle route networks, both of which will take a number of years.
Progress towards this target will be monitored through data collected from the existing 7 automatic counters and will form the baseline against which progress on increasing overall levels of cycling is measured. The target will be reviewed regularly through the Annual Progress Report process.
Cycle usage on new and improved cycle routes
Whilst cycling levels across the County have been steadily declining for a number of years, investment targeted at key routes where demand for cycling is greatest could bring about a localised increase in cycling levels.
Therefore, in addition to the overall target for cycle usage, we will also set a target to:
‘To increase cycling by 5% by 2010 along routes where new cycle infrastructure has been introduced’.
This target will be monitored by carrying out pre-implementation and post-implementation counts of cyclists along new cycle routes, to monitor the impact of new infrastructure on cycling levels. On new off-carriageway routes, automatic cycle counters will be installed to monitor increases in cycling. However, it is not possible to install automatic counters on new on-carriageway cycling infrastructure and therefore manual counts will be carried out.