Monday, 26 November 2007
Date: 28 September 2001
From: Ken Livingstone
To: Lynn Featherstone
I am writing regarding the 'Take-a-Bike' cycling initiative forwarded to my policy adviser, Mark Watts, by Denys Robinson, RSO to the Liberal Democrat group.
I share your view that cycling has a specific role to play in increasing the overall effectiveness of London's transport systems, in particular by offering an additional choice for those working in and visiting London. An early task for the Cycling Centre of Excellence (CCE) is to develop an action plan to guide the introduction of a range of cycling initiatives during the Mayor's first term of office, and a key issue will be the measures that are needed to provide for [an] increased use of bicycles in central London.
A new approach to the management and delivery of the London Cycle Network has been agreed with the London boroughs. In the current financial year a high quality, high profile cycle route is being developed from the Elephant and Castle to Euston. As part of the Mayor's plans for congestion charging TfL is looking at boundary points on the Inner Ring Road and how onward travel from [the] central London stations might be developed. The initial focus of the station demonstration programme is Waterloo and Liverpool Street.
To assist those new to cycling, or to cycling in London, TfL is supporting the publication and provision of free cycle maps. The full range of London Cycling Maps, which have been developed in close collaboration with the London Cycling Campaign, will be launched in the spring next year. There is a strong market research base for this initiative.
A number of individuals and organisations have put forward ideas for developing a 'town bike' and a smart card based parking, rental or hire scheme for central London. I understand that Mr Parker has already discussed his ideas with my colleagues at Street Management. Before I am able to recommend that TfL give support to a scheme like 'Take-a-Bike' which is likely to make considerable demands on the use of public space, I need a better understanding of the market potential and the likely impact and the effectiveness of different proposals when introduced in London. Please be assured that CCE is now investigating radical measures to raise the profile of cycling in central London. It is already clear that once the costs, benefits, implications and take-up are better understood, and wider support secured, introduction could be achieved relatively quickly.
Mayor of London
Friday, 23 November 2007
1. The essential tools are a person or unit responsible for the pro-cycling policy and a committee
A 'key action' of the Mayor's transport strategy was the establishment of the Cycling Centre of Excellence, with the appointment of Rose Ades as its head. But right from the start I found it very, very difficult even just to see Rose.
In 2001, I was corresponding with Lynn Featherstone, who at that time was Chair of the GLA Transport Policy Committee. Her researcher, a chap by the name of Denys Robinson, emailed Rose on 21 September 2001 requesting some professional guidance on whether such revisions to the LCN as I proposed were practicable and desirable, but he got no response. On 11 October, Lynn herself wrote to Rose repeating that request. Again, no response.
Then Lynn tried a different tack. She got in touch with Susan Kramer--the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London in 2000--who, it seemed, not only went to the same school as Rose, but was also in the same class!
Using this 'old girl' connection a meeting was set up. Then, horribile dictu, Rose turned up on the wrong day and at the wrong time. Oh no! Having made this mistake, there was simply no way she could rearrange things to turn up as scheduled.
Nothing much came of the meeting I had with Lynn, and so on the morning of 7 January 2002, I waited for Rose to turn up to work. When she arrived on her bicycle, I approached her and asked her straight: Would she look at my work? No, she answered, she would not. As she explained, she didn’t have time at the moment to take on anybody else’s agenda. And in any case, no one had asked me to do all this work. (I always did get the feeling that she wished I hadn’t bothered.)
In his letter to me dated 18 February 2002, Mark Watts, a policy adviser at the Mayor's Office, endeavoured to keep things entirely reasonable. 'Unfortunately,' he told me, 'CCE is not resourced to meet with individuals to develop their ideas.’
It wasn't until 10 March 2003 - more than two years after Rose was appointed to her post - that I had my first meeting with her. Attending that meeting were John Biggs AM (who arranged the meeting--by this time John was Chair of the GLA Transport Policy Committee, having taken over from Lynn), Lynn Featherstone (who was now Vice-Chair), Chris Bainbridge (Chair BCOG), Rose and myself.
About a month after this meeting came the offer to participate in the Wandle Trail Signing Study, which I declined (See 'Swandle').
Halfway through 2005 I took a break. When I returned at the start of 2006, I asked Chris Bainbridge to confirm the boroughs' position, which he kindly did.
Date: 24 February 2006
Our Ref: sp0206
The proposal for a minimum functioning network was discussed at the London Boroughs Cycling Officers Group on 23rd January. We had previously expressed our support for this scheme, and had submitted a package bid to TfL in 2003 suggesting a feasibility study, but this was unsuccessful.
We maintain our in-principle support, but unless TfL direct us otherwise, we cannot make this a high priority because of the need to implement the LCN plus. However, a significant number of boroughs are keen to pursue the idea further.
Chair, London Boroughs Cycling Officers Group
Having established that BCOG's view had not substantially changed, I wrote to the TfL Board a few days later. What happened thereafter I will relate on another occasion (see 'On a one-to-one basis').
But where is the committee comprising representatives of the electorate, the boroughs and other stakeholders? Who exactly is responsible for scrutinising the work of the CCE? If the 'CCE is not resourced to meet with individuals to develop their ideas', how can I as an individual get my ideas properly considered? What did the Mayor mean when he said that he would put people first and give them a say in how services are run?
2. The level of minimum functioning is a prudent course to follow
I have already discussed the idea of Minimum Functioning in quite some detail (See 'Any path is only a path' and 'A price too high'), but consider this quote taken from the above-mentioned section in Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities ...
'Studying the feasibility of a network is of a similar importance to setting up a cycling unit or appointing a cycling coordinator.'
3. Thinking in terms of a 'network'
Ideally, one should start by studying a cycle network which, as a priority, is designed for beginners and hesitant cyclists ('tortoises'), but which must, if possible, also be able to satisfy the requirements of swift and experienced cyclists (hares).
The results of a study of this kind go much further than a strictly pragmatic and ad hoc approach and the existence of a plan increases the effectiveness of each intervention made in favour of cycling by the mutual consolidation of the various measures taken or features installed.
Using a carefully drawn-up plan as a basis, it should be possible to examine closing certain roads to car traffic, creating traffic loops or comparing various options to remove obstacles to cyclists' mobility. A total absence of hindrances and a bicycle's size make it easy for cyclists to 'go off the beaten track'. Itineraries in a cycling network may therefore include shortcuts and even small detours which are inaccessible to heavy vehicles.
There are a number of places in towns where prohibitions to cycling could be lifted: foot bridges and pedestrian streets, alleyways, paths in parks, pontoons, parking areas and cul-de-sac roads, one-way streets, towpaths, small steps to be equipped with ramps, etc.
i. Public relations
ii. A prime information tool: a special map for cyclists
'Right from the start,' the Europeans point out, 'even if no particular measures have been introduced yet, publishing a specific map for cyclists can easily be justified [...] Such a map can always be updated later when new signposted [routes], bicycle parking areas, cycling lanes and cycle tracks, etc. have been introduced.'
5. Involving the private sector
Visit http://www.oybike.com/, or http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/bike-rentals-on-the-way-for-london-12017, or http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article2080595.ece
6. Involving associations
On 6 July 2006, David Rowe, the then Head of Project Development at TfL Street Management (and Rose's immediate boss), wrote to me as follows:
'TfL works closely with LCC, who provide a useful means of determining cyclists' views on different proposals (together with market research that TfL commissions directly with users). Clearly if a wider network of routes was to be pursued it would not only require support from the boroughs, but also from key stakeholder groups like LCC. I forwarded the information you sent to LCC who shared it with members of their Planning & Engineering Group. I met with LCC officials yesterday (5 July 2006) and they advised their priority is for TfL and the boroughs to complete LCN+ by 2009/10.
'In light of the views expressed by the London Cycling Campaign [...] TfL cannot proceed further at the current time with evaluating the case for your proposal.'
In reaching this conclusion, David Rowe appears to place more confidence in the judgement of the LCC than he does in the Borough Cycling Officers' Group.
Bureaucracy, properly defined, is '(Government by) a central administrative group, esp. one not accountable to the public etc.; officials of such a group collectively; excessive official routine.'
Democracy, comparitively, is defined thus:
1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the power resides in the people and is exercised by them either directly or by means of elected representatives; a form of society which favours equal rights, the ignoring of hereditary class distinctions, and tolerance of minority views.
G.M. TREVEYAN An age of transition from aristocracy to democracy, from authority to mass-judgement. B. CASTLE The Labour Party ... rank and file were ready to defend the unions to the death as a vital expression of democracy.
2. A state or community in which the power of government resides in or is exercised by the people.
C.S. LEWIS All nations, those we call democracies as well as dictatorships.
Can anyone guess how 'mediocracy' might be defined?
The following is an extract from an email I sent to Dave Wetzel (Vice Chair TfL Board) on 30 November 2006:
Just imagine, said the Italian writer and philosopher, Umberto Eco, what it was like when the airship was invented. What a wonderful thing to be able to travel through the air, just like a bird, people thought. And then it was discovered that the airship was a dead-end invention. The invention that survived was the aeroplane.
When the first airships appeared, people thought there would subsequently be a linear progression, an advancement to more refined, swifter models. But this did not happen. Instead, at a certain point, there was a lateral development. After the Hindenburg went up in flames in 1937, killing 35 people, things began to move in a different direction.
At one time it seemed most logical that you had to be lighter than air in order to fly in the sky––but then it turned out you had to be heavier than air to fly more efficiently.
The moral of the story, says Eco, is that you must be very careful not to fall in love with your own airship.
Dave concluded his reply thus:
Everyday TfL is forced to make difficult decisions. Unfortunately, some people, like yourself are disappointed.
I’m sorry I don’t know much about airships but my grandson is teaching me something about flying kites!
I replied on 4 December 2006. Under a sub-section entitled 'Flying kites' I wrote the following:
The thing I don't understand about this is, what would you have me say to the media that you could not just as easily say to them yourselves?
I will talk to them if I have to, but why should I have to? If this is the only way in which the TfL Board can hear my petition, then I wish it to be known that there is a part of me which is not being represented.
As it happens, I am moving to a new WWOOF host tomorrow morning and will not, I know, be in any position to contact the media until the New Year at the earliest. If you won't help, I'll have to see what I can do about things then.
I am writing to you, and you alone, because I believe in you, and because I like you: you make me laugh for one thing, but more than that, I can see that you're a family man. Spare a thought then, for the family of the cyclist who, if the past five years is any guide, will be killed between now and Christmas.
You say that when TfL is forced to make difficult decisions, some people, like myself, end up disappointed. But don't worry about me. I'll get over it. As my dad says, It's no worse than being made redundant.
But then again, I'm an optimist, and if things work out as I hope, then maybe we can meet up in the New Year and you can tell me what your grandson knows about flying kites.
Dave replied two days later:
Simon Parker writes: "I notice, for example, that you chose not to refute my assertion that it was not just inappropriate, but entirely unnecessary for TfL to have abandoned two-thirds of the London Cycle Network (LCN) just in order to create a slimmed-down network of high profile, highly-engineered cycle routes (LCN+). Does this mean that you accept the point, then?"
Simon, on 13 November you wrote "Dear Dave, Further to recent correspondence, could I please ask you to investigate the possibility of securing the necessary funding for a SMALL trial of my ideas," (my emphasis on SMALL).
On 30 November you stated "Dave, I have never, ever suggested that my ideas should take precedence over your existing business plan, or anything like it, and it grieves my poor, bleeding heart that I have been so badly misrepresented again."
and "So there we have it, Dave: in addition to and not instead of. That is my proposition, and not as you have said."
Now you say below:
"Probably this would amount to something like £500k," and "then very obviously the necessary funds for a small trial could easily be released from the existing cycle budget."
DW: £500k SMALL? Maybe by your standards - not by mine.
And then first you say not out of the business plan and now out of it.
DW: Contradictory or what?
Simon Parker writes: "You were Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow between 1987-91 and, amongst other things, you introduced recycling to the borough and established the Feltham Urban Farm. My man! However--and I have no wish to diminish your achievements in any way ..."
DAVE WETZEL's response:
nothing you say Simon could ever diminish the achievements of the Socialist council in Hounslow that I led during the years that the Tory governments were trying to destroy local democracy. I'm proud of our many achievemments including the introduction of equal opportunities, involving the community in our decision-making, attracting businesses, starting the first wheelchair accessible scheduled bus service in the country, improving education, social services and leisure services etc. etc.
I'm not prepared to continue with this correspondence.
After Dave had sent this, but before I'd had a chance to check my emails, I spoke to his PA, Vicky Jennings, on the phone.
I told her that when Dave was talking about flying kites, I thought he meant that I would have to talk to the national press. For reasons which I may talk about on another occasion, I didn't want to do this. However, on the bus from one WWOOF host to another, it occurred to me that I could present my proposal to the London Cyclist magazine, and this (I told Vicky) I now intended to do.
Vicky then phoned me back to say that Dave had not properly understood what I was saying, and could I put something in writing to clarify my position?
Thank you for your latest email.
When I spoke to Vicky earlier today, I had no idea that you had responded in this way.
She tells me you did not quite understand what I was saying, and would I mind putting something in writing.
Briefly, I had intended to write an article for the London Cyclist, which is the LCC magazine, with a view, firstly, of putting my proposal in the public domain, and secondly, of seeing if the LCC membership were happy to support my proposal.
Do you think this is worth the trouble?
Dave responded as follows:
You don't need my permission to write articles on this and other subjects.
As I feared, one cyclist was in fact killed between 4 December and Christmas. Rather depressingly, the accident involved a left-turning Heavy Goods Vehicle:
THU 21/12/06 09:17 .. LIGHT .. GOODS WAY/CAMLEY WAY
POLICE - AT SCENE .. ROAD - WET .. WEATHER - RAINING
SINGLE CWY .. T/STAG JUN .. AUTO SIG .. PEDN PHASE AT ATS
V1 TURNED LEFT AND RAN OVER V2 WITH NEARSIDE REAR WHEELS
VEHICLE 001 GDS => 7.5T .. (51 Yrs - M .GU35) .. BT - NEGATIVE
VEHICLE 002 PEDAL CYCLE .. (56 Yrs - F . NW3) .. BT - NOT APPLICABLE
V002 .. B .. 308 (FOLLOWING TOO CLOSE)
V002 .. B .. 406 (FAILED TO JUDGE OTHER PERSON'S PATH OR SPEED)
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment. (Edmund Burke)
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12: 48)
Thursday, 22 November 2007
In a paper written for the Borough Cycling Officers' Group in November 2002, I said one or two things which I now believe to be incorrect:
'The temptation to consider what ought to be the case is difficult to resist. Of course the LCN ought to be be able to 'cater for all age groups whether they are new to cycling or are already existing cyclists.' The reality, unfortunately, is that this is far too difficult to actualise in anything other than the very long-term.
'The question, For whom is the LCN being designed? is fraught with pitfalls. If we design a cycle network with one group in mind, it is conceivable that we would discriminate against another group. Still, the above-mentioned catchall phrase is glib and largely meaningless.
'The provision of journeys to school is best undertaken at a local level--in terms of planning at the very least. Assuming that you are prepared to accept this way of thinking, then straightaway we can dismiss this blanket notion that the LCN 'should cater for all age groups', at least in the short-term.
'Amongst adult cyclists, we can--at a very simplistic level--divide them into two groups: the tortoises and the hares. The LCN+ has clearly been conceived with the hares in mind, presumably because they have the loudest and most co-ordinated voice. And yet, at the last BCOG meeting, Rose Ades tried to have us believe that, somehow, the LCN+ is going to be suitable for journeys up to four miles. I wish her no disrespect, but who is she kidding? If it looks like an elephant, if it sounds like an elephant, and if it feels like an elephant, why don't we call it an elephant? If the LCN+ is a 'slimmed-down network [...] reflecting key strategic commuter routes', why do we try to pretend it is something else?
'I believe it is more useful to design facilities with tortoises in mind, for several very good reasons. More than anything else, we want to attract new cyclists onto the road, because this creates a virtuous circle: more cyclists, fewer cars, better quality of alternatives, more cyclists, fewer cars, better quality of alternatives ... New cyclists are most likely to be tortoises first and then, if they proceed at all, hares second. If cycle schemes are created only with the hares in mind, it is conceivable that new cyclists (tortoises) may not feel comfortable with such facilities and will therefore not be enticed onto the roads.
'Worst case then, it is possible that the number of cyclists in London will continue to fall--there being very few new cyclists to replace those that have called it a day--with the result that only a hardcore minority will remain. Prejudices against cyclists may therefore harden, rather than soften, and then where will we be? Even if you reject this rather bleak picture, it seems silly to design cycling facilities for hares when the tortoises represent the mainstream and, thus, the more engaging element of the cycling fraternity.
'To conclude, it is reasonable to suppose that facilities and/or routes designed for tortoises could be useful to hares, but it is unreasonable to suppose that facilities and/or routes designed for hares could be useful to tortoises.'
'More than anything else,' I was saying in November 2002, 'we want to attract new cyclists onto the road.'
This way of thinking was informed by the concept of 'critical mass', whereby one thing--more people cycling--leads to another thing--safer cycling for everyone.
In November 2002 I could see the virtue of this idea. By August 2004 I had abandoned it.
On the 26th of that month, I wrote to Ken Livingstone reminding him that the complicated engineering works that are a necessary feature of the LCN+ would take time to deliver.
'Whilst this process is ongoing,' I continued, 'it ought to be remembered that there are already 650,000 cyclists in London, and their needs are more pressing than the needs of would-be or might-do cyclists. So perhaps it would be more prudent to sort out a network that would be useful to existing cyclists first.'
The single biggest problem with the old LCN was that too many of the routes were poorly signed, which meant that cyclists were only able to use the network by referring to a map every five minutes. (In effect this meant they weren’t really able to use it at all.)
For example, a study conducted by Southwark a few years ago determined that three in five cyclists were not even aware that a cycle by-pass at the Elephant & Castle had been constructed. Now, with respect, there doesn’t seem to be very much point in spending loads and loads of money improving the basic cycle infrastructure in London if too few people know that the work has been done.
And yet, if the network were to be well signed, I feel certain that cyclists would use it: just because they use Route X now, let's say, does not mean they would continue to use it if Route Y became available.
Some people say that the entire road network should be safe enough for cyclists of all age groups to use. I agree. Now, where did I leave my magic wand?
Or else, how do you 'create an environment where both goods vehicles and cyclists can safely share the same road space'?
In the final analysis, it should always be remembered that the whole point of having a cycle network is to show people which routes are the most suitable for cycling. If not now, then at least at some point in the future, these routes need to be safer, relatively, than other routes.
Despite all the will in the world, it is unrealistic to expect that the entire road network could be made safe enough for, say, an unaccompanied twelve year-old child to use, at least in the short-term.
If this is accepted, who would then deny the utility of ensuring that as many routes as possible are made safe?
The cycle network needs to be comprehensive and city-wide. Indeed, the European Cycling Federation--the world's largest cycling advocacy organisation, which counts Sustrans, LCC and CTC among its members--assert it as 'a basic precondition'.
I have tested my design using the origin and destination examples of a thousand bus journeys, and, on paper at least, I have yet to find it wanting. This is not something to be sniffed at.
As I said in my first letter to the Mayor, it should be our very earnest desire to ensure that no one is killed or seriously injured whilst using the routes on the London Cycle Network. Accidents will happen, of course, but if cyclists would use the network that has been created for them, and if no one were killed or seriously injured thereon, then, as surely as a dog follows its nose, the number of cycling casualties would fall.
Ah, but there is 'a much more extensive network of functioning routes,' as shown in the London Cycle Guides.
If you are one of the significant minority who cannot read a map, to what extent is a route already functioning if it is not well-signed? How would you distinguish a particular back street (as it is marked on the map) from any of the others?
Lest we forget, the London Cycle Guides show routes which are 'less well known, and less obvious' (Julie Bernard).
If a route is meaningful and direct--and (safe and) pleasant--it is likely to be extremely useful to cyclists.
Strange to tell, but even though such routes already exist and are already functioning, many of them are not well-signed. Why not?
Is it simply because, to quote Rose Ades, 'there are significant issues around signing [...] that make it impractical (because the costs outweigh the benefits) to sign a more extensive network'?
No, not even the stanchest advocate of the London Cycle Guides would deny that to read a map whilst cycling (i.e. moving) is almost impossible to do safely. Of course a comprehensive and city-wide cycle network should be properly signed.
Nigel Butterworth at Westminster has long advocated marking the routes on the LCN by painting 'markers' onto the road surface (thereby reducing the clutter caused by an excessive use of street signs).
Good enough for Westminster but not good enough for TfL? How odd.
Another mistake I made in my paper to the Borough Cycling Officers' Group in November 2002 was to say that if the plans for a spine network were carried through, 'it is possible that the number of cyclists in London will continue to fall'.
I am really disappointed with myself at this because I ought to have known better. For example, a comprehensive survey carried out by the DoT in New York at the time established that 45% of the population would be prepared to use the bicycle for journeys of up to five miles, whereas just nine per cent would use it for journeys of five miles or more.
Therefore, on completion of the LCN+, it is probable that there will still be an increase in the number of cyclists, even if that increase is only about a fifth of what it might otherwise have been ...
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, told USA Today that the number of cyclists in the capital had doubled over the last five years (See 'The Right Impression').
Actually, in the past five years London has seen recorded journeys by bike double. 59 000 cycle journeys a week were recorded on Transport for London’s road network (TLRN) in 2000 compared to 119 000 a week in 2005 (BBC London website, 15 November 2007).
As I understand things, the 2001 census showed that 650 000 cyclists in London made an average of 300 000 cycle journeys a day.
BBC London now report that 60 000 more journeys are made by bicycle each week.
This equates to 12 000 more journeys each day, let's say.
Thus, the number of cycle journeys has increased by only 4%.
I have not been able to confirm if the number of cyclists in London has doubled over the last five years, as the Mayor claimed.
The European Commission publication, Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities, suggests that creating facilities for cyclists 'requires a certain amount of skill, entails explainations, and has to be implemented gradually.'
When this was written, the greatest danger to cyclists was reckoned to be deeply-held prejudices. Whether or not this is still the case, I do not know; but that the development of a meaningful cycle infrastructure is a marathon and not a sprint is absolutely not in dispute.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Stiffer punishments for drivers promised as cyclist deaths soar
Motorists who kill cyclists could face jail in an attempt to ensure dangerous drivers face tougher punishment.
Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald is to tell prosecutors to charge more motorists who cause fatalities with dangerous driving--which has a penalty of prison--instead of careless driving, for which offenders can only be fined.
He also wants the Crown Prosecution Service to make full use of laws coming into effect next year that will introduce an offence of causing death by careless driving.
It will carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail. Mr Macdonald's comments came as new figures from Transport for London revealed a sharp rise in the number of cycling fatalities. There were 21 deaths last year, up from eight in 2004.
The accidents have prompted increased concern about the lack of awareness displayed by some drivers and demands for stiffer punishments for those who kill on the roads.
Mr Macdonald said he believed the public were now less tolerant of motorists who caused death or injury.
"Society's view of drivers who behave carelessly or dangerously has toughened up and, in my view, prosecutors need to toughen up too and so do sentences," he said.
Mr Macdonald said although a review of prosecution policy towards drivers who kill had still to be completed, it would result in a more robust approach.
This would apply to drivers who kill pedestrians, other motorists or cyclists but he acknowledged there were specific concerns about the number of cycling fatalities.
He said he had personally known three cyclists who had died in collisions with vehicles.
"If you are driving at 40mph in a 30 limit and you go within a few inches of a cyclist that is dangerous in my opinion and we should prosecute accordingly," he said.
Mr Macdonald said the new Road Safety Bill had created the new offence of causing death by careless driving.
Although the actual sentences imposed for drivers convicted of it would be a matter for the courts, he said prosecutors would be determined to spell out where a driver was particularly negligent and why they deserved a custodial sentence.
London's cyclists have been hit by a spate of deaths and serious injuries in recent months.
Amateur bicycle racer Patrick Goodacre, 28, is in a critical condition in hospital after a collision with a car in Richmond Park.
Fatalities this month alone include Chelsea FC events manager Victoria Buchanan, 28, who was struck by a lorry at traffic lights in Fulham Road, and a woman who was killed in a collision with a Smart car in Talgarth Road, Hammersmith.
Also among this year's deaths are Naqibullah Aman, 25; Wendy Gay, 42; Andrew Rawling, 38; Patricia Mcmillan, 32; Darren Hughes, 28, and Charlotte Morse, 27.
At least one cyclist was killed or seriously injured every day last year, with 372 casualties.
TfL refused to publish precise data for this year but early indications are of another year-on-year increase as more commuters take to two wheels.
TfL admits the high casualty rate among cyclists has cast a shadow over a 45 per cent reduction in all road casualties in the past decade.
The Mayor of London has ordered TfL to halve the number of cyclists killed and seriously injured in the capital by 2010.
In 2003, 19 cyclists were killed on London's roads. Before that figures were recorded in financial years - there were 19 deaths in 2001/2 and 14 in 2000/1.
The London Assembly Green Party said that of the 87 deaths between 1999 and May 2004, 49 involved a collision with a lorry.
These were most likely to happen during the morning rush hour and at junctions and crossings.
More than half involved vehicles turning left when either the cyclist or lorry--or both--was stationary at traffic lights.
Green Assembly member Jenny Jones, the Mayor's road safety adviser, said lorry drivers had to learn to take responsibility for 'vulnerable' cyclists.
TfL said: "We will continue to work to improve road safety for all users."
London Commuters Opting to Pedal to Work
LONDON — For years, Jon Wright considered commuting the 10 miles to work by bicycle. But it wasn't until the terrorist bombings on London's subway and bus system on July 7 that he finally decided to make the leap.
"It should have really taken less than the threat of being blown up to make me jump on a bike, but I'm now recommending it to everyone I see, much to their annoyance," says Wright, 32, a hotel manager. He says he has lost 7 pounds and saved $185 a month in public transportation costs.
It's not quite Amsterdam or Copenhagen, where commuting by bike is the norm, but London is quickly becoming a major cycling city. Much of the shift is a direct result of the bombings, which killed 52 people.
On cycling websites, London's new cyclists such as Wright refer to themselves as "bomb dodgers."
No hard figures are available on the number of cyclists in the city. A census in 2001 found that 300,000 daily journeys were made by bicycle. The Transport for London office estimates cycling has increased 52% in the capital since then, based on the number of cyclists crossing bridges over the River Thames.
Still, only 2% of Londoners cycle to work, compared with 20% in Copenhagen and 28% in Amsterdam.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a bicycle enthusiast, wants to increase cycling 80% by 2010. "Cycling is the fastest, cheapest, most healthy and environmentally friendly way to get around London, and more and more people are taking it up," Livingstone said by e-mail. "The number of cyclists has doubled over the last five years, while those killed or seriously injured ... has fallen by 40%."
Under the London Cycling Action Plan, Livingstone envisions transforming London into a world-class cycling city to reduce congestion and pollution. London now has 273 miles of bike routes, half built since 2000. The goal is 560 miles by 2010.
The sudden influx of cyclists after the July attacks took London by surprise. In July, the number of bike commuters was 26% higher than the same period last year, according to the transport office. On the day of the bombings, which crippled the transportation system for weeks, bicycle shops sold out of their stock within hours.
"We had adults buying children's bikes just so they could get home," says Andy Guard, a salesman at Evans Cycles in London's business district of Holborn. "Since the bombings, our business has been up every day. It seems like everyone has abandoned the Tube (subway) and is cycling to work."
Adam Coffman of the Cyclists Touring Club, Britain's largest cycling advocacy group, says the real turning point came in February 2003 when London implemented the Congestion Charge, a $9.25-a-day day fee to drive a car into downtown. The aim: to reduce traffic and pollution. The fee increased to $14.80 on July 4. Rising gas prices--now at the equivalent of $7 a gallon--and a nationwide battle against obesity also have spurred commuters to switch to bikes or walk, Coffman says.
The jump has jammed bike paths during rush hour. Veteran cyclists bemoan newer riders, who they say lack skills and etiquette. "They're not very good. They just push off without looking," says Nayla El-Solh, who commutes 7 miles to work each way.
Police launched a campaign last week against aggressive cyclists. In the first four days, 153 bikers were cited for running red lights, riding on the sidewalk and other infractions. Offenders had the choice of paying a $50 fine or attending a 15-minute safety lecture.
The presence of more cyclists has not translated into more accidents or fatalities, even though bike helmets, which are not required, are not routinely worn. Eight bicycle fatalities were reported in 2004 in London, down from 16 the previous year. One cyclist died this year.
"We and other cyclists say that more cycling equals safer cycling," Coffman says.
Salesman [Andy] Guard says the biggest mistake new cyclists make is not realizing they must obey the same road rules as motorists. "I've actually had people tell me that they thought red lights did not apply to them," he says.
Demand for bikes means thefts are up. More than 15,000 are stolen every year in London, Coffman says. Bikes are chained--often illegally--to just about every fixed object, from lampposts to private fences.
"Most of us accept the fact that eventually your bike will be nicked," Louisa Cook says as she shopped for a new bike recently. Cook's bike was stolen last month outside a pub even though she had secured it with two locks and removed the seat.
Guard says he has lost three bikes in two years to thieves. He has switched to a foldable bike he can carry and store inside.
Cook and Guard both had bike insurance, a standard purchase for bike owners. In central London, insurance costs about $75 a year for a $600 bike.
With the weather cooling and the public regaining confidence in subways and pubs, the cycling frenzy has stabilised. Transport for London reports that bus and subway ridership is back to normal levels.
Carlton Reid, editor of the trade magazine BikeBiz, says the goal now is to keep the new cyclists riding despite London's notoriously chilly, wet winter weather. "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment," Reid says.
He hopes at least 20% of the new cyclists will bike through the winter. Cook echoes his sentiments. "It doesn't matter to me whether it's rain or shine, I still have loads of fun out there."
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Peter had been invited to take part in a phone-in for the Radio 4 programme You and Yours. Herefollows a transcript of the relevant section:
Host: Let me bring in Peter Wright, who we've been talking to earlier on this morning. Peter is a vehicle safety expert but also sadly his daughter died in a cycling accident earlier this year. Peter, what happened in that situation?
PW: It happened early in the morning when Rosie was on the way to work. She was riding down the Pentonville Road in London and at a place where all the traffic is forced to go left down the Pentonville Road--except for cyclists and buses, which are allowed to go straight ahead. She was on the inside. There was another cycle with her--a guy on a cycle--which cleared ahead of her and then I guess the lorry thought ... 'cause he saw one cycle clear ... the lorry turned left into her and ran her over.
Host: We've been talking about Cyclebility--I don't know if you heard the report as it went out--talking about positioning in the road. Do you think that the accident that Rosie had could have been prevented?
PW: I've been to the junction. I've sat and watched what happens at that junction, which is pretty frightening. If I were a cyclist I would find it terrifying. I'm told by the police that there've been 27 reported collisions at that junction in three years. It seems to me that with that awareness that there's a problem, and the awareness of the report that came out a little bit earlier this year from Transport for London, there is a very major problem, and while I think that training and awareness and experience are very, very important for cyclists, I don't think it fixes the problem: it puts all the responsibility onto the people on bicycles and they're the people who always come off worse in a collision and in an accident, and I think there needs to be a more up-to-date approach which there is in other countries such as Holland that recognises that vulnerable road users such as cyclists ... they have to actually build a system that makes it possible for cyclists to use the road network and survive.
Host: And what would you see that system as being?
PW: I think there is total incompatibility between trucks and cyclists. I think it's impossible for cyclists to make eye contact with truck drivers--they're not at the same level. Rosie was on the inside; there's no way she can make eye contact with the driver of the truck. I don't think he did anything other than he was just unaware that she was there: he couldn't see her. I think basically, as in, for instance, Holland, cyclists need to be separated from that sort of traffic, not included in it and effectively have to make their own way through it, particularly in difficult areas such as that particular junction where most of the traffic is forced to turn left but she is able to go ahead.
Host: Peter, stay with us. Let me bring in Philip Darnton on that situation. There is incompatibility, as Peter rightly says, between cyclists and these huge lorries. Should they be separated?
PD: I wouldn't like to comment on the particular case. I know that Transport for London--who are separate from Cycling England--we don't have a responsibility there--have been looking very carefully at the question of trucks, and it is the case that probably the worst accidents--and indeed more than half of accidents--have been ones with cyclists involved with trucks, so I think it's something that really merits very, very careful investigation by experts. I'm certainly not one of those but I absolutely understand the point.
Host: So how can somebody like Peter Wright take this further, or get something done?
PD: Again, that's outwith my area of expertise, I'm afraid. I'm not just ducking the question--I simply don't know.
Host: Peter, what is the situation now? What are you doing?
PW: Well I personally am not involved in that aspect of road safety. However, the organisation I work for, the FIA and the FIA Foundation, is overall involved in road safety. We will be trying to increase awareness within the UK of this particular issue--among others--and really try to sort of get a debate going about the approach to road safety, because we believe that there are some more sophisticated, more up-to-date approaches going on in other places in the world that have addressed these issues and have found solutions that work; and I don't want to understate how difficult it is to carry out these sort of changes, but it concerns me that with cyclists being encouraged to get onto the road ... round about the start of the Tour de France, Ken Livingstone was saying how he hoped that this would encourage cyclists to come out, the six out of seven people who own cycles and don't use them on the road ... I think we have to build a system that is safe for these people before we encourage them to come and make their contribution to reducing global warming. I think that's all correct, but we have to make it safe for them.
A few minutes later, the chap from Cycling England added the following:
I would just to comment, if I may, that one of the things that people are talking about is just how dangerous the main roads are. One of the things that's so vital and has happened in London is that very, very good cycling maps have been produced. It's not just learning how to ride, it's knowing which way to go.
In a letter to me dated 18 February 2002, Mark Watts, a Policy Adviser at the Mayor's Office, explained: 'Publication of the London Cycle Guides in April and supporting publicity will help to increase awareness of the many back streets and short cuts where it is already advantageous to cycle.'
On 13 October 2004, Julie Bernard, Customer Services Manager at TfL Street Management, pointed out to me that the London Cycle Guides 'show routes recommended by cyclists under current conditions (the emphasis here is on back streets), as these routes are less well known, and less obvious--but no less meaningful for that.'
On 6 August this year, the Today programme on Radio 4 reported that a survey of motorists indicates that more than a third of them can't read a basic road map. A thousand drivers were questioned for an insurance firm. Fewer than one per cent knew enough to earn a Cub Scout map-reader's badge.
Our ref: T:CCE/LETTERS/089ra
Date: 22 March 2002
Dear Mr Parker
The review of walking and cycling referred to in [Mark Watts'] letter of 18 February is intended to build on the good work of the past without being afraid to change direction where schemes have been less successful. [Hip, hip ...]
The first stage of the review process confirmed the value of a cycle network. [... Hooray!]
There is widespread agreement on the need to increase coherence and improve the planning, design and implementation of the network, including a clear and consistent signing strategy. [Yessss!]
This means a systematic approach to direction signing, the size and location of signs as well as any additional symbols, colours or coding. [Bravo!]
Given the size and complexity of the cycle network with the River Thames running through it, it is essential that the coding system is flexible, as well as being easily intelligible. [Hear, hear!]
To meet the needs of the very broad range of people who might be encouraged to cycle more requires a clear understanding of the various options, their effectiveness and people's response to them. [Well said!]
Decisions on the most appropriate way to sign cycle routes will be informed by best practice from related systems. [Hurrah!]
Whilst I do not share your conviction that colour coding is the solution, your views have helped to push this issue to the forefront, confirmed my view of the need for good practice guidance but also the importance of market research. [Boo! Hiss!]
On the TfL website now is a quote from Bradley Wiggins, a gold medal winner in the 4km individual pursuit at the Athens Olympics.
He says, 'London is a fantastic city to cycle around--it's pretty flat, usually dry and there are lots of signed cycle routes on quiet roads that make cycling in the Capital a real joy.'
I have twice written to James asking him to tell me how he came to report a fall in the number of cycling fatalities. He has chosen not to respond.
James also reported that the number of people using their bikes to get around had almost doubled. Not true. Actually, it is the number of people cycling on the TLRN (red routes) that has almost doubled.
The long and short of all this is that since the Mayor took office (or thereabouts), the number of people riding their bikes on London’s busiest roads has risen by a significant amount, and, correspondingly, cycling fatalities have also risen by a significant amount.
How did this state of affairs arise?
You may recall that before Ken Livingstone was first elected he promised to complete the London Cycle Network (LCN) by 2004.
On the one hand, the Mayor clearly stated: 'Although cycling may not be appropriate for some journeys, there is a real potential to increase the current low levels of cycling in our Capital. Half of all trips currently made in London are under two miles, easily within cycling distance' (London Cycle Guides). On the other hand, all the effort went into providing for commuter journeys (i.e. journeys in excess of two miles). Why? Fourteen million journeys a day in London are less than two miles. Why did not the LCN+ also target this sort of journey as well as commuter journeys?
Well, one of the reasons must surely have been because TfL felt unable to deliver a more comprehensive cycle network within a reasonable timeframe. And so, learning from what they called ‘world best practice’ (London Cycling Action Plan, 2004), a much reduced ‘spine’ network was launched.
Interestingly, the London Cycling Action Plan referenced only one publication which was produced outside of the UK , namely, Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities (European Commission, 2000).
The Europeans point out in the chapter entitled HOW TO START?, in bold print, ‘The level of Minimum Functioning is a prudent course to follow.’ Had TfL taken this advice on board––or even considered it––there’s no evidence they discussed it as a possibility––they would surely not have found it necessary to abandon two-thirds of the LCN.
Minimum Functioning requires only that, in the first instance, the barest minimum be done to make the network functional.
As Adam Bows, a former Cycling Officer at the London Borough of Brent, remarked in an email to me dated 14 January 2003:
'A dense network of signed routes covering a large area of London picking up all the rail and public transport interchanges and town centres has much to be said for it. A comprehensive study of signing costs for such a low-engineered but meaningful route structure, serving local journeys, would indicate to the Boroughs and TfL where the best value for money lies. This is particularly relevant in terms of meeting the needs of those journeys currently under one or two miles for which, after all, we are trying to encourage a transfer to cycling. It seems a reasonable argument to suggest that a more comprehensive network will be in a better position to serve these journeys than the current LCN+ concept; no matter how high quality these routes are, they will still serve a lower number of journeys.'
'Brent is at all times looking for the Best Value for Money in any scheme, and a more geographically extensive network of low intensity, signed cycle routes could be a way to ensure Best Value in cycling.'
Roger Warhurst, the Cycling Officer at Greenwich, echoed these views in an email dated 17 January 2003:
‘I would also support a study to ascertain whether a denser but less heavily engineered network across London, comprehensively signed, would attract more people to use their cycle for short and medium length journeys, and be a better use of limited resources than the current LCN+ concept, which concentrates resources on a few routes aimed largely at commuter cyclists to Central London […] I know a number of Boroughs are uneasy about the LCN+ concept.’
Richard Ambler at Lambeth summed everything up in his email dated 15 January 2003:
‘The main advantage of [Minimum Functioning] is that a more extensive, but less heavily engineered cycle network can complement, rather than replace the current LCN+ proposals.
‘In the absence of complicated engineering works and controversial consultations, a network could easily be implemented that would cover every corner of London . All that is really needed are the signs.’
These views, I have to say, are fairly typical. They counted for naught at TfL.
By the way, you may recall that James Daley also told his readers that Ken had invested millions of pounds in the capital’s cycling infrastructure. ‘Do you know where?’ I asked him. No answer.
It takes time to develop routes to the high levels of engineering that the LCN+ demands. Conversely, the Borough Cycling Officers do not even need planning permission to develop routes to the level of Minimum Functioning.
Before I bring this blog to a close, there are two basic questions that still need to be answered.
1. For whom is the London Cycle Network being designed?
2. What purpose would be served by its completion?
1. For whom is the London Cycle Network being designed?
First and foremost, I believe, the LCN should be designed for existing cyclists. I say this because, since the Mayor has taken office, more than one hundred people have been killed whilst riding their bikes in London.
So that there is no doubt about this, my number one priority, clearly stated, is to reduce cycling fatalities amongst existing users.
Now this might seem a rather obvious thing to say: after all, we can hardly reduce cycling fatalities amongst people who don’t yet cycle! But why is it then that TfL seem to be so keen to develop a cycle network for people who don’t yet cycle?
'The Mayor's vision is to make London a city where people of all ages, abilities and cultures have the incentive, confidence and facilities to cycle whenever it suits them.'
I share this vision; but it is easy to forget, perhaps, that this is a long-term aspiration. In the short-term, there is a much more pressing requirement.
Indeed, in the final analyis, it all comes down to a question of priorities.
As a minor aside, we know that most cycling fatalities involve HGVs. There are two obvious responses to this situation then.
The first was enunciated by TfL following the death of a cycle courier, Sebastian Lukomski. 'The best solution,' they said, 'would be to create an environment where both goods vehicles and cyclists can safely share the same road space.'
HGVs are big and dangerous. Cyclists are small and vulnerable. Getting them to share the same road space is an accident waiting to happen.
My response to the danger posed to cyclists by HGVs is not to create an environment where they can both 'safely' share the same road space, but to try, wherever and as much as possible, to keep the two apart.
Thus the routes on the LCN largely avoid the routes that HGVs would use.
Incidentally, the same TfL web page which pointed out that there are literally thousands of short cuts and roads that only bikes can use, further remarked that the capital's eccentric and unique streets, scattered parks and network of waterways are some of the best in the world for cycling.
Suffice to say, there is a significant resource here, and it would make an awful lot of sense to exploit it to the fullest of its potential.
In my first letter to the Mayor dated 6 September 2000, I said:
'Redesigning the LCN is more akin to piecing together a mammoth jigsaw-puzzle. The trick to solving jigsaws, as I am sure you know, is to find the corners first--Wandsworth Common and Hyde Park, for example--then all the borders--mainline stations and certain Tube stations--and fit these together. This provides your framework. What you are left with, of course, is a jumble of pieces all of a similar size, colour and shape. Picking the right one out is very often a process of trial and error. Sometimes, despite looking hard, it takes an awfully long time to find it; but once it is discovered, you are always amazed you didn't spot it sooner, so obvious is it.
'In one other regard, however, our jigsaw is different to most others: not all the pieces fit together. A back street can easily be made to join up with another, but unless these two can be joined to a third or these three to a fourth, and so on, sooner or later you end up with a route that ultimately goes nowhere. This is probably quite acceptable at a local level, but such a feature has no place on a strategic network'
2. What purpose would be served by the LCN's completion?
The London Cycle Network is a strategic network in the same way that the Main Bus Network is a strategic network. It is, truly, the London Cycle Network.
I used to live in South Wimbledon, and sometimes I would catch a bus from Wimbledon Station to my home.
The bus I would catch was engaged on a strategic journey--it was going from Kingston to Clapham Park, for example, or from Putney to North Cheam--but I was only making a local journey.
Still, it served me just as well, thank you. Not quite door-to-door, you understand, but quite good enough for my needs.
In my first letter to the Mayor I also wrote:
'The LCN should have greater substance at its core. The LCN should be grid-like. The LCN should be the bedrock around which local schemes--kids to school and mums to shops--are built. The LCN should be safe, pleasant, direct, comfortable, joined up, meaningful, sympathetic, well publicised, well marked and realistic. The LCN should be able to be used by an unaccompanied twelve year-old child. Indeed, it should be our very earnest desire [to ensure that] that no one is killed or seriously injured whilst using it.'
If I was writing that list again, I would say that the LCN should be:
Pleasant (where possible)
I would argue that, as a rule of thumb, a route which is not meaningful and direct now will never be meaningful and direct; but a route which is not seamless, smooth and safe now can, in time, be made seamless, smooth and safe.
In a similar vein, a route which is not pleasant now is unlikely to be pleasant for some time, if ever, and because cycling very often gives pleasure, this feature is also highly placed; wherever and as much as possible the routes on the London Cycle Network should be (safe and) pleasant.
However, this should never be to the detriment of the first two-listed factors. After all, a route may or may not be pleasant and still be useful; but a route which is not meaningful and direct has extremely limited value on a strategic network, no matter how scenic it is.
Well, no. It takes a long time to develop routes to this level; a very long time, in fact. And whilst this process is ongoing, other more immediate work may be undertaken.
Robert Gifford is the executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. Writing in The Independent recently, he said that the provision of cycle routes ‘must be consistent and comprehensive.’
If we should accept this advice, and if we should also accept that Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying is, who could then deny the utility of Minimum Functioning as a means towards a common end?
Establish the network! Get it up and running! No matter that bits of may not yet be safe enough for an unaccompanied twelve year-old child to use; that day will come. But get the network functioning!
Peter Wright is a vehicle safety expert whose daughter, Rosie, died in a cycling accident earlier this year.
On 17 July 2007, he took part in a phone-in on cycling for the Radio 4 programme You and Yours. I would like to leave the last word to him:
‘Round about the start of the Tour de France, Ken Livingstone was saying how he hoped that this would encourage cyclists to come out, the six out of seven people who own cycles and don't use them on the road ... I think we have to build a [network] that is safe for these people before we encourage them to come and make their contribution to reducing global warming. I think that's all correct, but we have to make it safe for them.’
Sunday, 18 November 2007
In her letter to me dated 26 April 2004, Victoria Hills pointed out: 'I understand that TfL [were] working with Sustrans to develop signage on routes, which include[d] considering opportunities for the colour coding of routes, and that you were invited to participate in this work but were unwilling to do so.'
The Customer Services Manager at TfL, Julie Bernard, explained to me in a letter dated 13 October 2004: 'A study report was received earlier this year which investigated cycle route signing including your colour coding proposals. Consultants advised that there were few practical benefits and that such an approach would add to [the] complexity, confusion and cost. The proposals for which you are now seeking a feasibility study are essentially the same. It is a pity that you declined to participate in that independent study when the opportunity arose.'
On 14 August 2006, Dave Wetzel, Vice-Chair of the TfL Board, asserted: '[W]hen TfL offered you the chance to test your ideas in the Wandle Valley you rejected it on the grounds that it had to be the whole thing or nothing.'
Time and again the fault was deemed to be mine. But there are, as ever, two sides to a story ...
On 8 April 2003, the then London manager of Sustrans, Isobel Stoddart, emailed me to say: 'I have been asked by Transport for London to evaluate your colour system with a view to assessing its suitability as part of a signing schedule on one of the National Cycle Network routes.'
Isobel and I subsequently discussed this offer on the telephone. Then, eleven days before I sent off my letter to John Biggs, Isobel summarised our position in an email to Rose Ades:
From: Isobel Stoddart
To: Rose Ades
Subject: Wandle Trail Signing Strategy
Date: Monday, 14 April 2003
Bretts are now well into the signing schedule report for the Wandle Route.
I have spoken to Simon Parker re. applying any of his concepts to the demonstration signing programme on the Wandle and he doesn't feel that it would be appropriate to try and trial it here. I also find it difficult to decipher how it might be applied in this situation.
If Isobel could not understand how my signing strategy might be tested during the Wandle Trail Signing Study, and if TfL would only speak to her, then where did that leave me?
The main reason Isobel and I found things 'difficult to decipher' was because two months earlier, on 11 February 2003, the Chair of the Borough Cycling Officers' Group (BCOG), Chris Bainbridge, had written to Rose Ades as follows:
Proposal for a Colour Coded Network of Cycle Routes
As you know, Simon Parker’s concept of a London-wide network of colour coded cycle routes was discussed at the BCOG meeting last October, and to a lesser extent at the January meeting.
There was a great deal of interest from boroughs in the idea of using colour coding in some way to distinguish cycle routes and help cyclists get across London, and we believe that the idea should be studied further. I attach a table of the views of those boroughs who have written to me. Some have reservations, but about a third of boroughs have written in to me expressing general support. I attach a table summarising these responses.
Simon himself, who has put a tremendous amount of work into developing his ideas, has suggested a possible feasibility study, which I attach [not included here]. My own view on this is that it should have two additional aims at the beginning:
· Establishing the desirability and feasibility of using colour coding for cycle routes in London.
· Establishing the most appropriate means of doing this.
Chair, London Boroughs Cycling Officers Group
Barking & Dagenham: Colour coding should be decided at borough level, with zoning system similar to travelcard
Brent: Supports concept & feasibility study
Greenwich: Support for concept of colour coding & Feasibility study
Hackney: Supports investigation of concept
Lambeth: Supports concept, integrate with LCN+
Lewisham: Supports feasibility study into colour-coded maps and signs
Corp. of London: Support concept of colour-coding and feasibility study
Southwark: Support further investigation of concept
Tower Hamlets: In favour of carrying out further investigations into colour coded routes
Westminster: An idea worth investigating further
Wandsworth: Support concept & proposal for a feasibility study
In typical fashion, Rose did not reply to this letter. The boroughs and Isobel and I were all waiting for an answer. Isobel, for instance, had told John Biggs in an email dated 27 February 2003: 'I would like to express my interest in seeing how Simon's proposal could be taken forward and what the likely benefits are.'
Anyway, on 27 May 2003 Rose did write to John Biggs. I have already quoted from part of this letter. This is how it was concluded:
'However I am happy to consider proposals for 2004/5 from Camden, a group of boroughs or an individual borough for a pilot scheme for an innovative approach to route signing.'
Thus it was that on 22 July 2003, five borough cycling officers met at Bedford House, Camden, and agreed a way forward 'for a pilot scheme for an innovative approach to route signing.'
Subsequently, on 22 September 2003, Chris Bainbridge wrote again to Rose, as follows:
Proposal for a Colour Coded Network of Cycle Routes
Further to my letter of 11 February, and your response of 27 May to John Biggs, I attach a bid for a feasibility study into the colour coding of cycle routes which covers the boroughs of Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth. Bromley, as the south east sector leader, will be the lead borough for the project.
This study is the outcome of work undertaken by the five boroughs, with Simon Parker, who first proposed the idea, and would meet the immediate aspirations of BCOG.
I hope that you will be able to look favourably on the bid.
Chair, London Boroughs Cycling Officers Group
BSP 2004/05 Supporting Information
Total Scheme Cost: £60k
Scheme End Year: 2005
Main Scheme Elements:
1. A Feasibility study on a colour coding scheme to complement the LCN existing routes. It will indicate route direction on existing borough cycle routes. This will be the basis of minimal functioning. The opportunity to improve signage where necessary can be incorporated into this study.
2. This is a cross-borough pilot scheme taking place 'in Lambeth, Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark and Wandsworth. Agreement on the format of the study has been agreed by all the boroughs in the South East Sector and the London Borough of Wandsworth in the South West Sector, copied to Sustrans for information. The study needs to cover a reasonable area taking in all the different directions of the routes.
3. This study has been requested by members of the Borough Cycling Officers Group in order to determine the impact on cycle routes throughout all London boroughs on a comprehensive cycle network.
4. This scheme will assess if and how this idea could be applied over a larger area.
Links To Other Schemes:
This scheme could also incorporate route numbering and linking where appropriate into existing cycle route schemes.
A feasibility study is proposed in order to assess the viability of:
i. A colour coding system which informs the user of their direction of travel, in terms of coloured routes;
ii. Minimum functioning, which allows for a comprehensive network and which is intended to complement the LCN+ and other existing cycle routes.
To improve the clarity and usage of cycle routes London-wide in line with the Mayor for London's transport strategy.
Details Of Any Consultation or Committee Approvals To Date:
The background to this scheme has already been put forward to TfL earlier this year, after discussions at two previous BCOG meetings.
Benefits on completion:
To enable a comprehensive assessment to be concluded on how full implementation of the scheme would effect the network with its overall impact and cost.
The maintenance aspects of this scheme would need to be considered, but are likely to be in line with the expected costs of the existing signage and markings of existing routes in London.
As before, Rose failed to respond. I had to wait more than a year to hear the fate of that BSP bid. It was Julie Bernard, the Customer Services Manager at TfL, who told me what had happened in a letter dated 13 October 2004. Let us remind ourselves what she said:
'A study report was received earlier this year which investigated cycle route signing including your colour coding proposals. Consultants advised that there were few practical benefits and that such an approach would add to [the] complexity, confusion and cost.'
What I found out afterwards was that, 'the focus of the [Wandle Trail] study was revised and the consultants asked to take a wider view of signing on shared-use paths in London.' In other words, the Final Report became, at least in part, a Strategy for Signing in London.
What the consultants had advised, apparently, was that there were few practical benefits associated with my signing strategy. For this reason the BSP bid from the boroughs was rejected. I smelled a rat.
I got back in touch with Julie. Could she please send me a copy of the consultant's report?
From: "enquiries" @ streetmanagement.org.uk
To: Simon Parker
Subject: FW: Study Request - SM003663/3
Date: Tuesday, 14 December 2004
Dear Mr Parker
Thank you for your email. I am very sorry that you have not received the requested information in the post.
My colleague in the CCE Department definitely sent out the above as I called to confirm this with her, at the time. She has yet again, confirmed this afternoon that she posted the information to you. Please see her message below.
Please find attached, a copy of the information as per Victoria's email.
Again, I apologise for this postal problem that has occurred regarding this issue.
Customer Service Advisor
Please accept our sincere apologies. I have given up on replying on the post - as this is now the fourth time I have sent this to you.
Cycling Centre of Excellence
What the report actually said:
4.2 Alternative uses of colour
Proposal for colour graduation of whole LCN
During research into the Wandle Trail PBA [Peter Brett Associates] were advised of a proposal received by Transport for London (TfL) from an independent consultant regarding colour coding of the entire London Cycle Network. This proposal was highly complex, based on the use of different colours for each and every route that forms part of the LCN [my emphasis]. The colour selected for each route would then be used on every sign along that route, and in all maps and publicity of the LCN. It is understood that one element of this proposal suggested that each route should be resurfaced in the chosen colour.
Further complications were added by plans for the colours to be selected in a graduation across the city, which would lead to adjacent routes using only slightly different colours, rather than a noticeable contrast.
It is considered that the above proposal, although known only in outline, would appear to create a very complex and potentially confusing network. While a continuously coloured surface could become a relatively easy visual target to follow, the similarity between the colours of routes through adjacent parts of London could reduce greatly the effectiveness of this element at points of interaction between the routes. Secondly, by encouraging users to follow a coloured line continuously for route identification, there is a risk that advanced perception of risk could be compromised by the attraction of cyclists’ gaze downward instead of ahead.
Maintenance of the scheme would also be difficult, where new routes are proposed: a new colour would have to be found that ‘fitted in’ between the other local colour graduations.
It is considered that this proposal would lead to complexity and cost, while lacking sufficient clarity, and would not be of benefit at this time.
Throughout all my dealings with Rose, she behaved like a dog asleep in the manger. She did not eat the hay, and neither did she allow me, a member of the herd, to eat it.
Once, in between naps, she threw me a crumb.
The general view of the five boroughs which met in Camden was that a large area was necessary to determine the viability of my proposal. As the BSP bid says, 'The study needs to cover a reasonable area taking in all the different directions of the routes.'
To be clear, it is difficult to see what value there would be in investigating a signing strategy comprising five different directions of travel, each with its own colour, as part of a study which was designed to look at only one route.
Rose Ades suggested that if I had taken part in this study, TfL would have had a better idea of the different options, costs and benefits. Like she gave a shit about that.
I do not know how or why consultants were asked to look at my signing strategy, or by whom, but it is clear that the author of the above report was not shown any of my maps. Had this happened, I fail to see what substantial difference it would have made whether I personally took part in this study, or not.
Time and again the fault was deemed to be mine. But there are, as ever, two sides to a story ...
One could just about understand TfL's righteousness, I suppose, were it not for the fact that my proposal was so wantonly misrepresented.The case is, TfL deliberately chose to mislead consultants--and by extension, everybody else.
Hee, hee, hee! You guys. Few practical benefits. Add to the complexity, confusion and cost. Yeah, nice one. You really had me fooled for a while there.