Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Thinking in terms of a network

If we were to 'get started on building a network of high-quality segregated cycle tracks,' asks Vole O'Speed, 'where should we start'?

According to Camden Cyclists, 'David suggested that the LCC should campaign to raise the Cycling Superhighways to Dutch Standards'. For their part, Camden Cyclists 'felt that this was a good idea', but they 'also wanted something for Camden, based on the idea that the Mayor of London should be persuaded to fund one Go Dutch scheme in each borough.'

I'll come back to this, but whilst I was having a butcher's through the Camden Cyclists' report, my attention was directed towards a presentation that Jim Davis of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain gave in April, and which I had come across before, but not with the accompanying slides.

Once Jim had established that the streets here in the UK are very hazardous places, particularly for children - the most dangerous in Western Europe, believe it or not - he sought to ascertain what lessons could be learned from the experiences of the Dutch and the Danes. He noted that, in the post-war years, the rise in 'car culture' was not just limited to the English-speaking countries, and that during the period 1950-1975 the bicycle was pretty much excluded from any transport policy anywhere in Europe. But two things happened at the beginning of the '70s that triggered change. The first was a steep rise in the number of deaths on the roads, particularly in Holland, and the second was the OPEC oil crisis.

A total of 450 child deaths were recorded on Holland's roads in 1973, and this prompted the foundation of a new campaign organisation, Stop de Kindermoord. This group successfully petitioned the Dutch government to make the money available to pay for the development of some segregated cycle paths.

Also around this time, there emerged a grass-roots movement concerned to get away from oil dependence, as more and more people began to realise that fuel shortages could lead to further hikes in the price of petrol.

If you haven't already done so, would you please watch this video.

In 2004, the modal share of cycling in Copenhagen was approximately 36%, as we can see from this table. At roughly the same time, one of the interviewees, Soren Elle, was indicating that cycling numbers had doubled during the previous twenty years. Even by the mid-1980s, then, there was a considerable level of cycling in Copenhagen.

I believe that the traffic engineers and town planners in Copenhagen began by developing a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network to a minimum level of functioning. That was their first step. Inevitably they would have placed a heavy emphasis on those routes which were already safe and pleasant, although I think it is reasonable to assume that they would also have found it necessary to construct some segregated cycle tracks from place to place (as happened in Holland, following Stop de Kindermoord's successful campaign). By the mid-1980s, however, it became apparent that some of the back-street routes were not being used; rather, significant numbers of cyclists were heading down the main arterial routes into the centre of the city. And so, as Jim explained, if only a little uncharitably, 'they started building infrastructure, not where they thought cyclists should go, but actually where cyclists were going.'

After a couple of minutes of the Contested Streets video, we see Jan Gehl stood alongside one of those main arterial routes. He explained that it used to be a four-lane highway with traffic and noise and lorries and 'the whole hula-boo'. It has now been 'reconfigurated'. Interestingly, 'when everything is made up about this street, it has the same capacity as before'.

Roads such as this have their equivalents in London, of course, but at this early stage, how much bang would we get for our buck if these were developed to European standards? What would be left in the pot for other schemes once these works had been completed? How long would they take to deliver? Would schemes such as this form part of a 'realistic five-year programme', in the style of a glory project such as the LCN+?

In the mid-1980s, when the Danes started looking at major roads such as these, there was already a significant body of cyclists. I resolutely believe that we would be well-advised to follow Copenhagen's example and do as much as possible with whatever funds might be available, in the expectation that this would still result in a healthy increase in the number of cyclists, and in the hope that the Euston Road, say, would one day have segregated cycling.

It wouldn't much matter if, as in the case of Copenhagen, some of the formative routes fell by the wayside. The Darwinian bottom line - be good at it or make way for something better - should always come into play sooner or later. What does matter, however, is that a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network be established.

Darwin also showed us how something such as an eye evolved to its present level of complexity. He suggested that the earliest eyes would only have been able to distinguish light from dark. But from such rudimentary beginnings as this, of course, it was mainly a question of time as to what happened thereafter.

So anyway, let me just say that where the routes go is more important to me than what the routes look like. I am not at in any way qualified to speak on the subject of urban design, but I have spent a fuck of a long time drawing lines on a map.

And so, to get back to David's point, if we were to set about developing a network of high-quality segregated cycle tracks, where should we start?

Please click here to see a map which shows a proposed trial area.

Map Legend:

CS routes: black

London Cycling Network routes: colour coded (please fill in any gaps)

Local routes: not shown

I don't know about you, but having sat in front of this map for five minutes or so, I think I could convince myself of just about anything. Indeed, the only conclusion I did reach was to reaffirm my conviction that somebody else needs to have a bloody good look at this. As Cycling: the way ahead points out, 'Studying the feasibility of a network is of a similar importance to setting up a cycling unit.'

Before I go, I would like to point out that the Camden Cycling Campaign proposal for Tottenham Court Road is, in fact, a micro-measure, aimed at improving a specific situation. I concede, it makes a lot of sense to consider this section of route, particularly since Camden Council are also looking at it, but I also believe it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture, and so I wonder if it might be a better idea to plan the whole route from top to bottom, that is, from the junction of Lots Road and Cheyne Walk all the way up to Kentish Town Road and beyond (via Trafalgar Square).


Jan Gehl reminded us that Copenhagen was one of the first cities to take an interest in public spaces. And if he were to give advice to a city - it could be any city in the world - what would he say? He would say, Try to take the people more seriously, just as seriously as you've been trying to smooth the traffic flow.

All cities have their traffic departments, he explained, and they get all this data all the time about the traffic; they know everything there is to know about it. But when it comes to people in the city, he said, they know nothing.

Jim said, 'The movement for mass cycling has to come from the people, and not just cyclists.' He also said, 'For journeys under five miles, people should be able to consider cycling or walking.' And, 'The creation of a cycling culture is not that difficult to achieve - it just simply takes a consistent policy developed over years.'

This is from one of his recent blogs: 'If we don't do something to a decent standard, and think in terms of [a] coherent network instead of piecemeal 'solutions' that act like a Band-Aid on a laceration, then cyclists using the open road in the meantime will get continuing and unwarranted abuse as more junk gets built and the bicycle will continue not to be taken seriously as a mode of transport.'

This seems like a good place to bring this posting to a close.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Luving money

This week's Any Questions featured Margaret Doyle, a Tory Councillor in Westminster with a special interest in sustainable transport. She was on the panel primarily because of her considerable economic expertise; she writes for Reuters' Breaking Views.

Question: Is a tax on junk food likely to be effective in tackling obesity?

Presenter: This, of course, raised by the report that's been out this week saying that, I think it's 40% of us will be obese by the year 2030, or something horrifying of that kind. It raises a health question, it also raises an economic question about the way taxes work. Margaret Doyle, what's your view?

Margaret Doyle: Well, as an economist I certainly believe that taxes work. You know, we respond to incentives, so I suspect that we would see people eating less junk food if it weren't relatively so cheap compared to healthier foods. I'd also like to see kids in school learning a little bit more about how to cook. In other words, not to automatically assume that the easiest thing to do is, you know, buy a burger and fries. And I'd also like to see more exercise. So that's the other side of the equation, and I'd like to see that starting early on, with children walking and cycling to school, which I'm afraid has really decreased.

(A round of applause from the audience.)

The views of the other panellists are heard, and then ...

Presenter: Margaret Doyle, you sounded as if you had a little bit of a moral, sensorious tone in what you were saying, and that you did believe a little bit of it is down to us and the way that we behave.

Margaret Doyle: I do, and I think if you look at, say, how a generation ago children were taught at school to learn how to cook. And junk food possibly isn't actually cheapest over the long-term, certainly not for a family. I mean, for a family it would probably be cheaper to cook a chicken and then boil up the bones for stock. But how many people do that anymore? So I do think that part of it is about education about healthy food. But I do want to emphasise that a lot of it is also about exercise, and I don't think we have yet made our roads safe enough for children. You know, too many parents think they've got to chauffeur round their kids in cars, whereas actually they should be off walking and cycling to the school, to the youth club, to their friends.

I know that Mark Ames from i b i k e l o n d o n would agree with this last point of view, as he explained here.

I have every reason to believe that the majority of Londoners would also agree. So why is it, then, that Westminster and TfL are quietly making things worse?

According to Benjamin Zephaniah:

Every government will tek what dem can get
Every government is quick to feget
Every government can make money by killing
Every government luvs money, no kidding

I do not know how much income the central London boroughs and TfL earn from the car, but I remember something from a few years ago to the effect that Westminster alone generated £60m a year just from car parking / fines. That's a lot of dough.

The case is, developing the proper cycling infrastructure no doubt represents something of a double whammy for a borough like Westminster, because not only would it cost them to build it, it would also cost them in lost car parking fees! Little surprise, then, that somebody such as Margaret Doyle would probably find it easier to be heard on national radio than in council meetings.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Permaculture. These days it stands for 'permanent culture', but when the term was first coined (by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the late-70s) it was a contraction of 'permanent agriculture'.

Modern permaculture is a system design tool loosely based on the adage, 'Maximum contemplation, minimum action'. It is a way of:

1. looking at a whole system or problem;

2. observing how the parts relate;

3. planning to mend inefficient systems by applying ideas learned from long-term sustainable working systems; and,

4. seeing connections between key parts.

At the foundation of permaculture design are three ethical principles common to most traditional societies: care for the earth, care for people and fair share. As you can see from the image below, these ethical principles are very much at the centre of permaculture design, and they inform and underpin our consideration of each design principle.

Permaculture Ethics and Design Principles

The design principles themselves, as David Holmgren explains, 'are thinking tools that, when used together, allow us to creatively redesign our environment and our behaviour.'

Beginning with observation, we can move through each one, considering how all twelve design principles might apply to the task at hand. This process would naturally lead us back to where we started, 'reminding us that designing often involves many iterations or cycles before we are happy with an outcome.'

Intriguingly, permaculture principles lead to the conclusion that the most efficient way for people to flourish in the modern world is for the majority to live in towns and cities - reducing the amount of travelling needed - and to organise our food production cooperatively.

So much for the theory. See for yourself how TfL would score according to the twelve permaculture design principles:

i. Observe and Interact

For beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Photo credit: Joe D /

ii. Catch and store energy

Make hay while the sun shines.

iii. Obtain a yield

You can't work on an empty stomach.

iv. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

The sins of the fathers are visited on to the children unto the seventh generation.

v. Use and value renewable resources and services

(Image from i b i k e l o n d o n)

Remind me again, what are those things with the two wheels called? You know. The things with bells on. Ching, ching!

vi. Produce no waste

A stitch in time saves nine.

vii. Design from patterns to details 

I am obviously delighted to learn this, but David Holmgren cautions, 'In any design process it is important to consider all twelve principles together, as they provide different perspectives that restrain and balance one another. Without an intuitive grounding in whole systems thinking, application of one of the design principles can lead to dysfunctional or even unethical decisions and actions. Nevertheless,' he continues, 'it is useful and often necessary to focus on one design principle at a time,' which is what we're doing now, so let's move on.

viii. Integrate

Many hands make light work.

ix. Use small, slow solutions

In other words, Slow and Steady Wins the Race. Just ask Jan Gehl if you don't believe me.

x. Use and value diversity

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

xi. Use edges and value the marginal

Don't think you are on the right track just because it's a well-beaten path.

xii. Creatively use and respond to change

Vision is seeing things not as they are but as they will be.

(Image from Vole O'Speed)

I too am impatient for change. I first developed an interest for mass cycling in 1999. I had spent the summer hiring out bikes to people in Richmond Park, and was blown away to see so many smiles. These guys had just been for an eight-mile bike ride, and they loved every minute of it. Anyway, I began looking at other parks and things snowballed from there, really.

I too believe that current rates of cycling in this country are too low, that targets to increase them are miserably unambitious, and that a decent rate of cycling should be nearer 30 or 40% of all journeys. I too believe that this can only be achieved by the provision of dedicated safe cycle infrastructure, in line with the best practice found around the world. And finally, I too believe that this is worth it, because I too believe that cycling can contribute to making Britain a less congested, fitter, leaner, greener, cleaner, quieter and above all happier place.

Okay, I agree with all that. But how?

Let's remind ourselves what Andrew Davis said:

The difficulty is we're starting from here, and we as an organisation for twenty years have been pointing out that we're going to have a problem if we don't address things earlier. If you're dealing with these problems in a recession it's always very difficult for people to make changes: people are up against it, and so this is the last thing on their agenda, quite understandably, and that's why we've been warning, let's do it early, let's do it slowly, let's see what the targets are, and aim for them. It's ... the difficulty is in the big cities is probably the mix of how we travel is wrong. We need to encourage people to cycle and therefore we need to make the roads safe, and to do that you have to plan, not just one year, it's year on year, it's decade on decade, and other cities manage to do it, and we could do it too. It's very difficult to change the road layout for cyclists in a matter of months; it does take a long time planning, and it can be done, and it's done effectively across Europe. 

And then:

The problem is that we are up against a war. If we took action twenty years ago it would be very gentle, but the later we leave it, the worse it's going to get for everyone, and we'll be dragged there screaming and kicking.  

Whilst I agree with the first part, I don't agree that we need to be dragged there kicking and screaming. I know what the opinion polls routinely say. I imagine, if you asked the electorate, 'Would you like London to be a more cyclised city?', about 70 to 80 per cent would say, 'Yes!' We can show those people a vision of what the future might look like. We can do that.

David Arditti and marion (one of his correspondents) are both right of course: it is very hard to enthuse people about campaigning for the scraps which fall off the motorist lobby's table. The fact of the matter remains, however, we're not always making the best of what we've got. That's bad permaculture.

Good permaculture

I would be delighted to see London develop a European-style cycle network, such that any route could be used safely, of course I would. I acknowledge that this undertaking is an ambitious one, necessitating, as it does, a radical shift in the allocation of space on many main roads. But to focus only on this puts all our eggs in one basket, and also, crucially, ignores the margins, which 'are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system'.

I can show you what I mean by showing you a map of my six most often-used routes. You can see that I am mainly using so-called 'quiet' routes to get to the places that I want to get to. Unfortunately, and somewhat paradoxically, it becomes harder and harder to find these quiet routes out in the more remote suburbs.

Christian Woolmar: 'My gut instinct is that the £140m being spent on the [bike hire scheme and cycle superhighways] is not the best way to deliver cycling improvements in the city. The cycle hire scheme is in the mould of a grand projet, an attempt by a politician to grab the headlines with a high profile scheme, rather than doing the patient donkey work to slowly develop cycling. [...]

'I live in Islington where over the past decade or so, a cycling culture has emerged stimulated in great part by the efforts of the council. It is the road hump capital of the world, and that has changed the whole feel of the area. They have made it safe to cycle down roads which previously were death traps, attracting thousands of tentative cyclists back in the saddle. Seeing the streets dominated the other morning by the glorious combination of Lycra-clad and business-suited cyclists darting around the cycle routes, the back streets and the bus lanes is a testimony to a radical change that has taken place since I moved to the borough a decade and a half ago.

'This is very different from the cycling superhighways [...]. These are supposed to give cyclists direct routes into and out of central London along main roads but from the initial descriptions, they seem little more than a navigation scheme. Certainly, there seems to be nothing ‘super’ about them. They will [...] apparently be continuous, but there will be no segregated sections and virtually nothing will be done to help cyclists at difficult junctions. This too is designed to attract those lost cyclists with rotting bikes in their garages, but unlike in Islington, where the traffic has been slowed down, the philosophy at Transport for London under Boris Johnson is that all road users should have equal access to available space.

'Both cycle hire and superhighway have the feel of being rushed in to suit a political agenda, rather than being part of a sustained plan to boost cycling in the capital, especially as other [factors], such as cutting back spending on the London Cycling Network, [...] seem to be [taking us] in the opposite direction. I hope I am wrong and that both succeed in generating more cycling, but I suspect that there will have to be a considerable rethink about both projects before [we get more] bums on saddles.'

Azor_rider explained that we can improve subjective safety by encouraging local authorities to reduce speed differentials (more 20mph limits). Not that local authorities always need much encouraging. Southwark, for example, would open up all one-way streets to two-way cycle traffic as well as implement a 20mph speed limit on all residential streets. Fine, Boris says, as long as the people of Southwark are prepared to pay for it themselves. (Curious that he would say such a thing, when TfL so massively underspent.)

Azor_rider also suggested that we can develop cycle routes which run parallel to arterial roads, in the way that the Dutch do (i.e., by closing off rat runs but allowing 'permeability' for cyclists). Now, it has been pointed out to me that routes of this sort can suffer from lots of priority interruptions at junctions, but that's something that could be attended to. They can also be made much smoother in places.

Do you come this way often?

We should hope for more, I agree. As they say, Shoot for the moon, and you'll hit the top of the tree; shoot for the top of the tree, and you won't even get off the ground. That last was a note to self, by the way.

To learn more about Permaculture Design Principles, please click here.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Thought for the day

If you do something that makes the traffic congested, then you're contributing to pollution in the city (said Andrew Boff).

Increasing the capacity of the road network makes the traffic congested, and therefore contributes to pollution in the city.

The Loud Minority

Head up, Gilles

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Back to Boff

We've got to make it easier for people to say, 'We're going to choose the bike.' And it's in the interest of motorists for people to choose to use the bike. As I always say to fairly uncompromising pro-car users, 'It's worth you putting your hand in your pocket to pay for more cycling facilities, because every single person in front of you in the queue, every single person in front of you who decides, 'Actually, next morning I'm going to cycle into work,' makes it an easier journey for you, because there are going to be fewer people on the roads, and you can drive. Because there's some people who will never cycle. You know that. We're fooling ourselves if we think everyone is going to cycle. They're not. Some people like that womb-like security of their car and we're never going to change it. But we've got to make it easier for the people who are on the cusp of that decision. Safety is the primary reason ...

I am very interested to know, firstly, what these uncompromising pro-car users think is so brilliant about driving in built-up areas, and secondly, whether the people who like the womb-like security of their car would actually deny cyclists the wind-in-your-hair-sunshine-on-your-face-like security of a segregated cycle lane.

But anyway, I agree with Mr Boff when he says that not everyone is going to cycle, and on a number of other issues as well:

1. He thinks it is the complexity of the junctions north and south of Blackfriars Bridge that makes it so dangerous. His particular concern is that it is very difficult for cyclists  to know where to position themselves, especially on those right turns.

2. He regards the debate over the 20mph speed limit as something of a distraction, although he personally thinks 20mph is best. However, he's cycled on roads that are 30mph and he hasn't had a problem. And if you look at a city like Copenhagen, where there is lots of segregated cycling, the speed limit there is 50km/h (just over 30mph). So it can be done, and people shouldn't just be saying that the only contribution that can be made to improve the safety of cycling is to reduce the speed limit down to 20mph.

3. Regarding TfL, he agrees that they are a law unto themselves, and thinks they need to be accountable to a body that can say no. He says that they need to be more open and less opaque. He also says that they are too big, that they try to do too much, and that they duplicate a lot of the work that is going on in the boroughs.

4. He says that since cyclists and pedestrians are so vulnerable, particular attention should be paid to their safety.  

5. He cycles into work because it's the 'easiest way' for him to make the journey. An increasing number of Londoners also recognise this, as Mr Boff acknowledges.

6. He says the Cycle Superhighways are not perfect, but they are an incremental step forward.

7. He points out that the problems affecting cyclists in London are not simply restricted to the central area: the suburbs have to be made more cycle-friendly as well.

Having listened to this interview maybe six or seven times now, the only criticism I have is that since both Charlie Lloyd and Mark Ames had indicated at the start of the programme that if you make it easier for cars, then all you get is more cars, that this would have been a good point to put to Andrew Boff, because whether or not you regard this as a problem seems to me to be at the heart of the debate.

I have already commented on Mr Boff's thoughts about the economy, and the way that he conflated the extremely extreme view that all cars should be banned with the more mainstream demand to 'Copenhagenise' or 'Go Dutch'. I have nothing more that I would wish to add about this.

So that just leaves what, exactly? Well, I too am really surprised that Andrew Boff wasn't hung, drawn and quartered at the LCC meeting, when he told them, 'You do realise that the changes that the Mayor is doing with regard to cycling have nothing to do with you at all? They're nothing to do with the people who are already cycling, apart from making it safer. They're about building a constituency of people [...] who realise that this is the best way to get into work. I think that's the sales pitch that you've got to [put] to people'

Firstly, 'the people who are already cycling' are the only ones who are being killed on their bikes, and if you make it safer for them, then the new cyclists will follow. Indeed, apart from making it safer, what else is there to do really? Nothing so difficult, surely. Secondly, why is it down to other people to do the sales pitch? What do the politicians have to do then?

Which leads me on to this:

AB: I live in Hackney. You know, virtually everybody cycles in Hackney. I mean, there's very few car-users. [The real problems with regard to cycling in London are] out there in the suburbs, where there isn't a constituency of cyclists who are lobbying for better facilities. In order for the suburbs to become more cycle-friendly, you need this lobbying constituency of people out there saying, I want to be able to cycle from, you know, Romford to Upminster, I want to make it easier to cycle there. I want to be able to cycle from Croydon to Sutton and the facilities aren't there at the moment - putting pressure on their local authorities to do that. At the moment local authorities out in Outer London don't have that weight of people saying, We need these facilities. And that's some of the changes that Boris is really contributing to, especially with the cycle hire scheme, 'cause more and more people are realising - who have never been - haven't since they were a kid got on a bike - are now getting on the bike for the cycle hire scheme.

JT: And the boroughs, and the outer boroughs, the politicians and the planners out there, they're not enlightened enough to realise this is a good thing without being marched up by a lobby to do it? That's disappointing, isn't it?

AB: No, the way democracies work is that they respond to the needs of their electors. We've got to get away from this idea that we politicians go 'round telling people what to do. I get a bit annoyed with politicians who go around saying, You should be doing this because it's good for you and it saves the planet. Allow people to realise that [for] themselves, and then enable people to be able to change that for Outer London.

JT: But I think it's a bit more of a latent desire, that people don't know they've even got. You know, if you take someone from Sutton out to Holland, and they look at what they've got in Holland, they'd probably get on a bike. But they're not going to think that that is even vaguely possible in Sutton, are they?

AB: No, most people in Sutton are now coming in their jobs during the day, might be commuting into London, are realising going from branch-office to branch-office, it's easier doing it on a cyc--on a Boris Bike. And actually, they suddenly realise, This isn't that bad, I could do with this going down to the shops, in Sutton. I could do with it - well, wherever - I don't want to diss Sutton. You know, I don't want to diss any Outer London borough. But the fact of the matter is, is that there isn't that lobby, and when local councils come to deliver priorities, they are guided by their residents, and if their residents aren't speaking up on behalf of cycling then it's not going to happen. The bare minimum will be done. But if you've got some bolshy people out there saying, 'Hold on, I want to be able to cycle to the shops, rather than having to get in the car, because that's the only safe way to get in.' That's where it happens. As I say, politicians have got to stop going around telling people - we aren't philosophers, for goodness' sake. We're here to deliver what Londoners want us to deliver. And my - as far as I'm concerned, the cyclists who have talked to me want safer cycling in London and that's why we're working on it.

JT: I guess there's a difference there between politicians who lead and politicians who follow, but that's for the political scientists to discuss at greater length.

AB: No, politicians who lead purely on their own set of priorities aren't politicians at all; they're dictators.

I remember attending a seminar on Land Tax a few years ago, and Chris Huhne was one of the speakers. It wasn't a bad presentation by any means, but for some reason the only thing he said which stuck in my mind was something he mentioned right at the beginning: "I know my audience," he said. I presume that Andrew Boff knows his audience as well. So he'll appreciate how fussy we are about things like facts, and probably won't need me to tell him that, during the day, most people in Sutton are not coming into London, and using a Boris Bike to get from branch-office to branch-office. No, during the day, most people in Sutton are in Sutton. But his soundbite, if you like, is that the politicians are there to deliver what Londoners want them to deliver.

Funny, I had always thought that the politicians were there to consider the arguments on both sides, and then to pursue the policy that would best serve the public interest. Turns out that's not the case. So be it.

That being so, the unacceptable fact of the matter is that they have not taken the trouble to find out what Londoners actually want. Indeed, TfL hardly consulted on this matter at all. It was assumed, somehow, that what Londoners most want from TfL is for them to smooth the traffic flow, and without any justification to speak of, save only an unspecific concern to ensure that we don't shoot ourselves in the foot, they have proceeded with their outrageous plans to convert London into a Motorway City.

I don't know about you, but this doesn't seem to me like democracy in its most honourable state. An unelected, unaccountable body deciding what is best for the heart and soul. Hardly compelling, is it?

I'm not happy about it. But it doesn't suit my personality to grumble for too long. I reckon what we need then is an alternative plan for Londoners to consider. For nearly ten years I've been seeking to make the minimum change for the maximum effect, and although the boroughs have mostly been up for it, so far TfL have always found a way to apply the hand-brake.

New Road, Poplar
Like it or not, the only practical way to develop a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network is to do as much as possible at least cost first. I plan to talk about this in another blog, but for the moment, that's how it is. Still, I recognise that we would need to quickly move through the gears, quicker probably than I was contemplating, and so I think we should agree on a vision for what London could look like in five or ten years' time, given a mandate from the electorate.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

We're all in this together

The real difference between an advanced city and a backwards city is not, as they think in developing countries, that it has highways or subways. No, the real difference is that high-income and low-income people meet as equals in public spaces. Access to public space is perhaps the most important element to create inclusion and equality, and that in turn helps to lower the crime rate and to reduce violence.

Things that will make a city better are things that make a city more egalitarian, things that get rich and poor meeting together as equals, things that make a city more friendly to pedestrians, that restrict more and more car use, a city more for the most vulnerable citizens, for children, for the elderly. If children can be safe in more areas of the city, if people can ride bicycles safely in more areas of the city, if a city is friendlier to the elderly, to the children, to the lower-income people, if you can create more integration, if you can improve public transport, this will make a city that is better, I think a city that is more fun. And I cannot go into specific projects, but what is it that we need? We need not to feel inferior, we need to play, we need a city which is good for the more vulnerable citizens, for the poor, for the elderly, for the children. We need to have contact with nature, with trees, with grass, with water. We need to see people - we need to see people - so we need density. We need to be able to walk to buy milk and bread. If somebody needs to get into a car to go and buy milk and bread then the city is not working. These general principles work for any city anywhere in the world.   

I never knew a city which looked upon itself more negatively than Bogotá. People thought their own city was horrible, and that it was going to get worse. They had no self-esteem, they were completely without hope, and what we did completely transformed - maybe not so much the city - but people's attitude, so that they began to feel it was possible to improve, to dream and to make their dreams come true.   

Our main driving force was to construct equality, and in cities, public space is equality. I mean, you may think, 'Is this an important thing for a country where there is so much poverty, to think about these apparently ridiculous things?' But on the contrary. During work time, both the high-income people and the low-income people are more or less equally satisfied or dissatisfied. It's when they go into their leisure time that there is a huge difference. The high-income person goes to a large house with a garden, to restaurants, on vacation, and so on, but the low-income person, and his or her family, go sometimes only to a room where the whole family lives, or at least, at best, to a very small house, and the only alternative they have to television for their leisure time is public space. So you see the least of the least that a democratic society must offer its citizens is the possibility to walk, to be able to go around the city safely, to - hopefully to ride a bicycle. 

A segregated cycle path is a very powerful symbol of equality in a city, because it shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally as important as someone in a $30 000 car. I would say the increasing use of bicycles in Bogotá was as much due to the fact that we increased the social status of cyclists. I mean, before people were ashamed to use a bicycle.

To have the infrastructure, to have the segregated cycle paths, completely gave a new importance to cyclists. They had never imagined that they had a right to these things. 

The foregoing is a précis of an interview that the former Mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, gave to Sustainable Cities. What he is saying towards the end is particularly familiar to me. As the University of Lancaster study acknowledges: 'Many people barely recognise the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transport: it is either a toy for children or a vehicle fit only for the poor and/or strange. For them, cycling is a bit embarrassing, they fail to see its purpose, and have no interest in integrating it into their lives, certainly not on a regular basis...'

The situation in Bogotá was, it seems, fairly drastic when Mr Peñalosa took office. He had to do many things in a relatively short space of time, and it was, he says, 'difficult and painful'.  For fifty or sixty years the largest roads had been built without pavements. Where there were pavements, cars would park on them.

One of the first actions he took was to prescribe limits on the number of cars allowed to use the roads during the morning and evening rush hours. Of course, imposing such restrictions was very difficult, because in a city like Bogotá it is only the upper-income people who own cars. But what was amazing, to keep the story short, was that afterwards even these people grew to see the changes in a positive way.

Another project they undertook was to develop a 24km pedestrian and bicycle street through some of the poorest areas of the city. It is like an elongated plaza. It is 15m wide. The effect, as you can imagine, has been utterly transformative.

Mr Peñalosa is the first to acknowledge that these changes were forced through. There was not much in the way of democratic debate. They did what they thought was right. Sure, they had evidence and reason on their side, but nevertheless it was still a risk.

Now, much as I would like to see a similar sort of step-change here in London, I recognise that the nature of our planning process necessarily means that high-engineered solutions take time to deliver. The important thing, in my opinion, is that we take a purposeful step towards the development of a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network, and having done so, not allow ourselves subsequently to be 'thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails', but to keep going, gently and resolutely, and keep on going, until London has a very decent cycle infrastructure.

I accept that these sorts of changes 'must go hand-in-hand with planning for a prosperous future.' As Andrew Boff explained, 'The reason we're able to pay for things like the Blackfriars development and improvements is because we are in an extremely wealthy country, in the wealthiest part of that wealthy country, and the reason we're wealthy is because of the economy, and if we start taking steps that damage the economy of London then we're shooting ourselves in the foot. There will be no more future improvements if we make this place poorer as a result of decisions about traffic.'

This is important. But if that is Mr Boff's final word on the subject, as it seems to be, then he's taking a very narrow view, and it leaves me wondering where exactly his priorities lie.

One of the things about travelling by car is that you are, to a large extent, cocooned from the outside world. No problem for you then, if you're travelling back and forth between the big house with the garden and the office. No problem at all. But spare a thought for the 'communities' that you drive through, and the poor buggers who have to deal with the shit and stink that you leave behind.

The LCC's chief executive, Ashok Sinha, writing in the latest issue of London Cyclist, points out that the capital's poor air quality leads to an average reduction in life of 11 years. But here's another statistic you might find just as startling. As a teenage boy in an inner city, you are twenty times more likely to commit suicide because of depression than be stabbed in gang-related violence.

As the Prime Minister said recently, 'Whatever the arguments, we all belong to the same society, and we all have a stake in making it better. There is no 'them' and 'us' - there is us. We are all in this together, and we will mend our broken society - together.'


Friday, 12 August 2011

A segregated space for cycling

Following the death earlier this year of a 20 year-old student, Paula Jurek, on Camden Road, Ken Livingstone called on Boris Johnson to do more for cyclists. However, expressing what I imagine to be the default position for all Mayoral candidates, he said, 'In a perfect world we would have hundreds of miles of segregated cycle routes, but we have to face the reality that this is very difficult on many of London's roads.'

Please click here to see a map showing a proposed cycle network for the central London area. LCN+ routes are shown in dark green, LCN / CS routes in light blue, and borough / advisory routes (plus one or two of my own) in deep red.

Developing such a comprehensive network to European standards takes time, money and commitment, and there's only so much that Borough Cycling Officers can do in the current economic and political climate. But let us consider some tangible examples that have been discussed in recent weeks by everyone's favourite blogger, freewheeler, beginning with Russell Square.

I think if I was in charge of planning at Camden I would be looking to return the road Woburn Place / Russell Square / Southampton Row back to two-way motor traffic, and to remove (or unwind) the one-way section around the Square itself. Obviously I would be looking to plan for 'people and places', so no car parking really, limited access to motor vehicles, including maybe even blocking off certain sections of the Square (but keeping in mind that there is a cabman's shelter in the NW corner). That's what I would do, anyway.

Another one that caught freewheeler's eye was Vernon Place. As you can see from the map, this is actually part of an LCN+ route, and as the photo below shows, it looks like you might just be able to squeeze in a segregated cycle lane somewhere.

Vernon Place looking west (photo by freewheeler)

In the 'perfect world' that Ken Livingstone was talking about, we could lose a traffic lane, probably, and have a segregated cycle lane on either one side of the road or the other. That doesn't seem to me to be at all contentious, particularly given the fact that this is an LCN+ route. I suppose, if we actually went ahead and did something like that, we would need to consider whether it would cause any damage to the economy, as the Mayor's cycling ambassador, Andrew Boff, fears it might. Or else, what exactly is 'the reality' that makes it 'very difficult' to install a segregated cycle lane on a route such as this one?

Vernon Place looking east (photo by freewheeler)

Freewheeler reports that two cyclists, both female, have been killed at this junction in recent years: one was going straight on (probably) and was killed by a left-turning lorry, and the other was turning right and was killed by a right-turning bus. Freewheeler has blogged about this second fatality, and I was astonished by his report. For one thing I don't see why a cyclist should be expected to wear high-visibility clothing, even at night. The lights on her bike were working. She was wearing a white hat. The street was well-lit. No problem.

The Evening Standard reports that the bus-driver said, 'I always knew in my heart that it wasn't my fault, but I felt so guilty. I think about it every single day. I went into the office and they told me they had seen the CCTV and that I was at fault. I was treated like a murderer. They told me I was sacked and to give back my uniform.' Freewheeler reports that the driver was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but that this was subsequently reduced to a charge of causing death by careless driving. The jury took just 40 minutes to reach a verdict of not guilty.

A few years ago, Stuart Jeffries from The Guardian wrote an article about a cycling holiday he took in Paris:

'In London," said Michel Noë before we set off on our cycling excursion around central Paris, "you have to be too much, you know, the Mad Max. The attitude, the clothes, all of this. You have to be a little bit crazy. In Paris, it is different. Here we have not the helmets, the Lycra. It's much more relaxed."
And it's true. I pulled on my black helmet, slipped on my black waterproofs, appliquéd all this with fluorescent strips and sashes. [...] I appeared, no doubt, completely bonkers and, yet, to my mind, quite voguish in a proto-Hitler Youth kind of way. For his part, Michel looked worried: "Now you are him! The Mad Max! This is how you roll in London. I see it now!"
By contrast, everybody else on this tour was dressed as though they were going to appear in Five Go Cycling in Dorset. Some wouldn't have looked out of place in pleated skirts and straw baskets filled with fresh produce. And that was just the men. Not that the women were any more butch. They looked as though they wouldn't be up for giving a bus driver the finger or a choice piece of Anglo-Saxon if they were involved in an altercation at Highbury Corner. I was the only one in a helmet. Amateurs, the lot of them!

But the point is, of course, if we don't dress up like this, like the Mad Max, and somebody runs us over, and kills us, then it's nobody else's fault but our own. That's the clear, unequivocal message from both the legal system and our politicians.

The cyclist, Dorothy Elder, was, by some quirk of fate, killed outside the college where she was a student. I haven't been able to establish where exactly she had come from that evening, but I do know she was on her way home, and that she lived in Whitechapel. At the very minimum, she should have been able to make that journey using a functioning cycle network.

On 30 October 2006 I wrote to the Vice Chair of the TfL Board, Dave Wetzel, as follows:

'The Europeans say that a basic precondition for a high level of cycle use is a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network. They also say that, in developing such a network, the level of Minimum Functioning is the most prudent course to follow. This is the first and major part of my proposal.'

A couple of days later I received this reply from the Interim Head of Cycling, Walking & Accessibility at TfL, Peter McBride:

'There is currently little or no support within TfL for your proposals and little or no prospect of this situation changing in the near future. This position is partly derived from concerns over the appropriateness and efficacy of what you have proposed and partly from our priorities and resources being focused elsewhere.'

If you want to read his reply in full, please click here.

The other route that freewheeler blogged about was Blackfriars Bridge, which again is part of the LCN+. Freewheeler's assessment is spot-on, and the only thing that I would wish to add is that even Andrew Boff thinks this route is too dangerous to cycle on. And that was before TfL decided to make conditions even worse for cyclists.

There needs to be some changes at TfL. They need to held accountable for their decisions.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Boff Interview

The more comprehensive and city-wide a cycle network is, the more journeys it can provide for. This seems to me to be a wholly legitimate point of view. If you want more people to drive their cars, for example, then you build more roads (or increase the road capacity). If you want more people to fly, then you build more airports. If you want more people to read books, say, as the Victorians did, then you build more libraries. 

I regard this as a very straightforward premise. Similarly, I think that if you're going to encourage more people to cycle - the latest target is for an extra million journeys to be made by bike by the year 2026 - then there needs to be some sort of plan in place to ensure the development of the appropriate infrastructure. 

I think both of these ideas are entirely reasonable. Conversely I regard as witless any suggestion that every single road should be closed and every single car banned.

Having already indicated that this is what cycling campaigners are seeking, Andrew Boff then goes on to say:

'The fact that we're spending so much time [discussing Blackfriars] I think is because actually some people expected more of Boris. Perhaps cyclists expected him to ... erm ... stop all the traffic going over Blackfriars Bridge. That's not going to happen. I wouldn't support a measure to make this a cycling-only bridge. It's ridiculous. I know they're not saying it, but if you look in the background of the arguments, every single argument that some of the - some of the lobbyists put, is actually geared towards, 'We don't want cars on here at all.' Well, that's not something I can subscribe to, you know. We want to make this the safest environment for all users of the bridge. And cyclists, and pedestrians, being the most vulnerable ... we have to pay particular attention to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, but that doesn't mean we have a hierarchy, that doesn't mean we have, that we have a car ban or anything - restriction on cars. What we say is that [cycling] is the way in which Londoners have chosen to get to work and we've got to - our job is to make them safe in doing that.'

Phew. Right, so no car ban then? What a relief. I mean, I was worried there for a second. A car ban. Wow. Who would even think of such a stupid idea?

Personally I think the reason that we're spending so much time talking about Blackfriars is because the people who are making the decisions about this are not giving any serious regard to alternative proposals. 

Andrew Boff again: 'There is common sense in smoothing traffic flow: the biggest pollutant is idling traffic. If you do something that makes that traffic congested, then you're contributing to pollution in the city, and we already know we've got a problem with air quality in London, so we don't want to go and take any actions that's actually going to make that worse. So, that's one of the things they [TfL] got to take into consideration. They got to take into consideration the egress of the pedestrians who are pouring out of that station; we've got to take into account the safety of cyclists to ensure that they've got a safe route north and south over the bridge; and we've got to look at traffic flow as well, because, you know, the reason we're able to pay for things like the Blackfriars development and improvements is because we are in an extremely wealthy country, in the wealthiest part of that wealthy country, and the reason we're wealthy is because of the economy, and if we start taking steps that damage the economy of London then we're shooting ourselves in the foot. There will be no more future improvements if we make this place poorer as a result of decisions about traffic.'

I dunno, but I reckon that decisions about whether the economy may or may not be damaged by altering the layout of a bridge over a river have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with TfL. A traffic engineer can only tell you about the traffic, after all. And if you ask a traffic engineer a particular type of question then I imagine you'll get a particular type of answer. So for Andrew Boff to be saying that London might be poorer (in the strictly monetary sense) if more emphasis were placed on alternatives to the private car, then this must mean that he has been talking to some economists. Remember, he's just an Assembly Member. He's just a bloke who happened to get elected, so he's no expert on this. All he can do is go on the advice of others. Because politicians who make decisions purely on their own set of priorities aren't politicians at all; they're dictators. 

Andrew Boff rightly points to the opaqueness of TfL whenever they make a decision. Of course we need the data on which they base their decisions out in the open. Of course we do. How astonishing that we even tolerate such secrecy. The case is, TfL are a law unto themselves, and they need to be more accountable. I don't care that they are experts in traffic engineering. That doesn't impress me at all. What does it matter that they know all about traffic if they know nothing about people?

'Vancouver killed the freeway,' said Ventura City Manager Rick Cole, 'because they didn't want the freeways to kill their neighbourhoods. The city flourished because making it easier to drive does not reduce traffic; it increases it.' The former Mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, said, 'We can have a city that is very friendly to cars or we can have a city that is very friendly to people. We cannot have both. Anything you do to make a city more friendly to cars makes it less friendly to people.' The Director of the Project for Public Spaces, Fred Kent, has said, 'If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.' 

Meanwhile, our beleaguered Mayor has been telling BBC London News, 'People have got to understand that there are consequences for behaving like this.' 

An example of a 'shelf' cycle lane from Dublin.

Andrew Boff said that we've got to make it easier and safer for those people who are thinking about cycling to do so. The important thing is that we continue to take incremental steps forward.

The other thing, apparently, is that we have to do this in a way which is not going to harm the economy. I have no problem with this, but if we are going to be saying things like that, then we need to be able to back it up with some facts. We can't proceed on mere assertion, after all. How do we know that encouraging alternatives to the car would be bad for the economy? What evidence is there for this?

What I find so disappointing about the Blackfriars decision is that it is a step backward. Motorists have been using two lanes on the bridge for I don't know how long, so why do they now need three lanes? There has to be a reason, and we're not being told what that reason is.

To hear the interview in full, please click here.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Additional thoughts on Blackfriars

There are many reasons why it was a mistake to have increased the speed limit and the number of traffic-lanes on Blackfriars Bridge, but to mention just a few, it encourages the irresponsible use of the motor car, and is therefore an appeal to the worst instincts of man, and not the better; it will make no discernible difference to the smooth flow of traffic, or to the easing of congestion on journeys in and out of London (considered in the round, it may even make things worse: as Glen Heimistra noted, 'Adding lanes to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to solve obesity'); it can't possibly make London a better place to live in (Londoners are already breathing in some of the most polluted air in Europe); and it is in conflict with several worthy targets (including one to generate an extra million journeys by bike by the year 2026).

There was a time when the route over Blackfriars Bridge was part of the London Cycle Network (LCN). Then there was a time when it was part of the LCN+, a network 'characterised by high quality routes'. Not that long ago, Ben Plowden, TfL's Director of Better Routes and Places, said that the LCN+ is 'a core element of TfL's commitment to invest in cycling.' But now?

Over the years, I have discovered that TfL commitments on cycling are worth about as much as the Zimbabwean dollar, so it is no surprise to me to learn that things like 'core elements' can be discarded on a whim and without explanation. I think a major part of the reason that TfL are able to behave in this way is that they are, to a very large extent, unaccountable.

When Mark Ames from i b i k e l o n d o n made this point on BBC London Radio, Paul Ross (the presenter) was quick to jump in: 'They are accountable, with respect,' he said, 'they are accountable to the London Assembly.' Now I am not sure that this is correct, and I have written to the BBC asking them to confirm whether or not this is the case. According to Wikipedia, 'TfL is controlled by a board, whose members are appointed by the Mayor of London.' But were it true that TfL are accountable to the London Assembly, then why are they being allowed to proceed with their plans for Blackfriars Bridge, given that Assembly Members recently passed a unanimous motion demanding a re-think?

Talking of re-thinks, it wasn't that long ago that Ben Plowden had his wages paid by the Pedestrians' Association (now Living Streets). More recently, of course, he's started working for TfL, and so nowadays he finds himself obliged to say things like, 'The only reason you'd put in a permanent 20 mph speed limit' on a bridge like Blackfriars would be if there was a 'history of speed-related crashes.'

A 20 mph speed limit reduces noise and air pollution and improves the sociability of our streets. Accident rates go down. If you are hit by a car at 35 mph your chance of survival is 50:50. Heads or tails? What do you call? Not heads, surely. You wouldn't want to have to wear a helmet, after all. Might even discourage you from cycling, I dunno. Could be that you're one of those people who thinks that wearing a helmet makes you look stupid.

Every schoolchild knows that speed kills. The case is, if you are hit by a car at 20 mph your chance of survival soars up to 97%, so why should you even need to wear a helmet? Indeed, with a 20 mph speed limit, accidents are less likely to occur in the first place, because drivers would have more time to respond. In these circumstances, I think a lot more people would be prepared to give cycling a go. This can lead to a virtuous circle: more cycling, fewer cars, better quality of alternatives.

Normal people understand this, of course. Indeed, every time I see a survey about this sort of thing the result is always pretty much the same:

'Several surveys have specifically measured the acceptability of measures to reduce car use. Politicians and technicians are more timorous than any other group of persons questioned, including motorists, perhaps because they confuse their own mobility requirements with those of the average citizen. But the public is in fact ready for a change of attitude from the authorities, and it is the latter who are lagging behind public opinion. Even the British Automobile Association sees the bicycle as as asset not to be neglected.' (Cycling: the way ahead for towns and cities, EU, 2000)

Another thing to say is that, contrary to the impression given by TfL's traffic engineers, a 20 mph speed limit smoothes the flow of traffic. Traffic travels much better when it's going slower. By reducing bunching at junctions, the traffic is able to merge better, and this means that motorists get out of junctions faster.

Just think about it for a moment. If you could travel at twenty miles an hour in London, then you should be able to make a five mile journey in fifteen minutes, which in my experience you can rarely do. When I first started this, I worked as a mini-cab driver out of Kingston. The best jobs were to and from the airport. The journey-time was reasonably predictable - about 40 minutes in the case of Heathrow - and this meant you could relax, and have a decent chat on the way. The worse jobs were the trips to the theatre. Normally they would want to eat first, so this meant taking them in for about 6 - 6.30pm. That wasn't so bad, but then you had to come home again, with all the rush-hour traffic. To be quite honest with you, the journey back used to take for-bleedin'-ever. The only plus side was that you would usually pick your theatre-goers up again at the end of the evening, and normally that meant a tip.

Cycling: the way ahead again:

'In all European countries, the majority of the population believes that, when there is a conflict between the needs of cyclists and [those] of motorists, it is cyclists who should benefit from preferential treatment [...]. [Not that such a strict distinction is usually required.] Very often, measures which promote cycling will not in fact penalise private cars. A reduction in the maximum authorised speed, for example, affects the average speed only slightly; it even improves the fluidity of the traffic and reduces the hazards to which motorists themselves are exposed. Similarly, opening one-way streets to cyclists not only presents no objective danger - except in some situations where the introduction of facilities will be necessary - but it also in no way obstructs the normal circulation of cars.'

Now, it simply cannot be the case that the advice outlined above and the advice that TfL's traffic engineers recently gave to the Mayor are both correct. They're saying different, contradictory things. One of them has to be wrong. They can't both be right. TfL's secretive nature leads me to the conclusion that they have something to hide, like a lack of evidence. Does anyone know if Jenny Jones received the letter that the Mayor promised her?

Monday, 1 August 2011

City of tiny lights

In my last blog, I quoted a former European Commisioner with responsibility for the environment, who said that the worst enemies of the bicycle in the urban environment are not cars, but longheld prejudices. The handbook in which those words were written was aimed at elected representatives and traffic engineers. But prejudices against cyclists run deep, and these are further exacerbated by an environment which routinely brings the cyclist and the motorist into conflict with each other.

The green car should not have pulled out. Was the cyclist signalling his intention? Looked as [though] the green car thought he was going left, not straight on. As a motorist it is difficult to tell, [particularly] when these mountain bikers [?] are so focused on speed not safety. I bet he will pay more attention to safety equipment and signalling in future.

Most cyclists I see just expect everyone will obey the rules of the road, which will never happen.

Gotta love how you didn't stop at all... just proceeded through the intersections like the laws don't apply to you.......... you deserved this.


I blame you, andyb0000, for your own accident. You should know people in cars are blind to cyclists, and you should of [sic] slowed down until you know he has slowed down or stopped.

In my opinion, he was riding too fast for the conditions and had not made allowances for the car driver not registering how fast he was travelling. My vehicle is 11 feet high, 8 feet wide and painted bright yellow. After a crash a few years ago, the car driver said... sorry mate, didn't see you. What hope do cyclists have? The car will win any crash!

What a dumbass on the bike. Should have seen that coming a mile away. I never assume I can be seen. Car was moving slow too. Could have easily veered.

Classic cyclist error. The driver didn't see him. It was obvious, but he didn't slow up / ride defensively. An audible warning (horn) would have helped. This is basic stuff. You learn to get a motorcycle license but any half-wit can put a bicycle on the road. Yes, he had [the] right of way, but it's no consolation if your [sic] injured or worse. Riding like that, he's going to end up on his face every time he meets a bad driver - or a good one who makes a mistake. Riding in London ... I don't like his odds!

Looks like you turned towards the car.

Was you wearing highly visible cycle clothing???? 'Cos I see stupid cyclists everyday wearing there [sic] own cloths [sic], like black T-shirts, etc. It's no wonder they get hit!

Aren't you ment [sic] to go a spead [sic] that you can stop, because you were going to [sic] fast

Fucking idiot rides into the middle of the road, in traffic. He got what was coming to him.

Ahahahaahahhaahahha buy a car and pay road tax if you want to be recognised on the road, you self richeous [sic] eco-twat.

Your [sic] not wearing high-visibility clothing; your [sic] wearing a red top and, as the cctv confirms, approached that roundabout to [sic] fast. Yes I agree the car is at fault, but as a cyclist on the road you need to expect the unexpected - not presume! You have learned a lesson the hard way, my friend. 

Guess what, assclown, there are speed limits for bikes inside city limits and riders are required to maintain a safe practice while riding. IF the rider had paid attention he could have avoided the car easily, but since he's a self-involved asshole he kept going. Serves him right. I just wish it had been a bigger car.

There were lots and lots of comments about this, and to be fair, the overwhelming majority were sympathetic. But one thing I am pretty sure about: if the cyclist had been travelling at the same speed in a car, then many of the people who commented above would be up his arse, telling him to 'get a fucking move on'.