Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Top ten priorities and quick fixes

December 13th, 2016 No comments

Streetview2-textSouthampton Cycling Campaign have created a list of suggested improvements to key routes or junctions that would not only make life easier and safer for current cyclists, but once carried out would encourage new people to cycle. This would contribute to the improvement of the air quality and would be a significant step towards Southampton becoming a cycle-friendly city. The list comprises locations and suggestions for improvement  submitted by members and is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather the start of an on-going project aimed at transforming the city environment for the benefit of all. Southampton Cycling Campaign looks forwards to consultation on the locations included in the document.

A separate document has been created describing suggested improvements to Shirley High Street/ Shirley Road.

Our streets are too narrow for cycle paths. Not!

October 30th, 2014 No comments

The Netherlands based British blogger, David Hembrow, explains how Dutch streets are no different from any other streets in Europe.  They were built to allow two horse and carts to pass. So the reason there’s space for cycling is that a conscious decision was made not to prioritise motorised traffic above any other form of transport. Simple really. Can we make the change?


What an RAF pilot can teach us about being safe on the road

January 1st, 2013 No comments

RAF fighter pilotLondon Cyclist featured this fascinating article on the limitations of human visual perception, and how these affect cyclists’ safety.

“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. Is a catchphrase used by drivers up and down the country. Is this a driver being careless and dangerous or did the driver genuinely not see you?

According to a report by John Sullivan of the RAF, the answer may have important repercussions for the way we train drivers and how as cyclists we stay safe on the roads.

John Sullivan is a Royal Air Force pilot with over 4,000 flight hours in his career, and a keen cyclist. He is a crash investigator and has contributed to multiple reports. Fighter pilots have to cope with speeds of over 1000 mph. Any crashes are closely analysed to extract lessons that can be of use.

Read the full article on the London Cyclist web site or download an extended version here.

Bike maintenance training for Bike Week – only £5!

May 22nd, 2012 No comments

MechanicDear all,

We’re offering two-hour bike maintenance training sessions during Bike Week for only £5: Monday 18th, Tuesday 19th, Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st June, 7pm-9pm.

The courses are open to anybody over 16 years old who are living, working or studying in Southampton (subject to availability).

To register your interest, please contact Sustrans on 02380 83 4219 or email

Please see the poster attached for more information. Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

Best wishes,

Thea Bjaaland
Active Travel Project Co-ordinator
Sustrans, Southampton City Council, Floor 4, One Guildhall Square, Southampton, SO14 7FP

Thoughts on the Parliamentary debate on cycling – 23 Feb 2012

February 25th, 2012 No comments

Cyclists at ParliamentI’ve just read through the transcript of the debate, prompted by The Times “Cities fit for cycling” campaign. You can read it yourself here: Part 1 and Part 2.

I found it extremely encouraging. Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, who secured the debate summed up neatly.

I am delighted by the largely consensual nature of the debate. If all debates in the House of Commons were like this, we might make more progress on a number of issues. This shows that the Government have a clear mandate to act now and act strongly. I hope that the Minister for Cycling wins the fights that he will have to have with the Treasury and all sorts of people to make much further progress on all these issues, which all hon. Members care about so much.

Though there were a very small number of predictable digs — jumping red lights, terrorising pedestrians, and failing to use lights or to wear hi-vis — these were mercifully few (and deftly defused in hilarious annotations by Andrew Avis). By and large the consensus was that cycling is a generally safe and healthy activity, that it needs to be encouraged and facilitated, but that there are aspects that need attention: among them HGVs, problem junctions and half-baked cycle lanes. Several MPs lamented the demise of Cycle England. Many called for expanded training schemes.

Of local interest, Winchester MP Steve Brine highlighted the threat to NR23:

I thank the hon. Gentleman, with whom I enjoy working on the all-party group. I want to back him up on his points about the Prime Minister having the power, and about Departments working together. In Winchester we have works above junction 9 of the M3, which are needed and wanted, and have been campaigned for by Members of Parliament; but they threaten to put a stop to national cycle route 23. With a little more thought and planning we can avoid such situations. Such not-joined-up thinking is literally getting in the way of cycling.

Brine also praised the contribution of local heroes Sue Coles and Jacey Jackson.

One comment made by Maria Eagle, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, struck a familiar chord for SCC members:

First, we have heard that our roads have simply not been designed with cyclists in mind, which has been the case over many decades. We will need to spend significant sums of money to address the deficiencies. Therefore, as a first commitment, let us at least agree that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past, and let us start taking into account the impact of road design on cyclists. I propose that we subject all future road and other major transport schemes to a cycling safety assessment before approval, in the same way that all Government policies and spending are subject to an economic impact assessment and an equality impact assessment. That might enable us to avoid some of the mistakes that we have made over the past decades.

All-in-all a very encouraging development. I’m looking forward to 2012’s summer of cycling.

Big Bike Celebration

June 12th, 2011 No comments

Come and join the annual Big Bike celebration taking place on Saturday 25 June at Weston Shore, Southampton.

Organised by our Sustrans Active Travel team, this is a day not to be missed as it is full of a range of activities for all the family including:

  • Bike stunt displays
  • Children’s cycle training
  • Crazy bikes to try
  • Led bike rides
  • Kite making workshops
  • Face painting
  • Circus skills

and lots lots more….

The day runs from 11am – 4pm.

For more information please email Thea or call 02380 608891.

The Problem of Cycle Complaining

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Provocative thoughts from Andy Allan, the co-creator of the OpenCycleMap project.

I’ve been involved in a small amount of cycle campaigning over the last few years, and one theme comes up over and over. To coin a new phrase – there’s too much “cycle complaining” and not enough “cycle campaigning”. By “cycle complaining” I mean where well-intentioned people just draw attention to problems – poor junction layout, narrow lanes, aggressive driving – without either talking about the good stuff or actually doing anything to help fix the problems they identify. It also gives other cycle campaigners a bad name, since the complainers come across as confrontational and obstructionist, and I only need to read my twitter feed to realise that most times cycling campaigning is mentioned, someone somewhere is complaining about something and concrete suggestions are few and far between.

One example that particularly struck a chord was when I went along to a local campaign group meeting to discuss some new developments our local highways authority (in this case TfL) were making. On one road the proposal was to remove a 1m wide “cycle gap”, and the 3ft steel bollard that was slap bang in the middle of it, and add a proper contraflow cycle lane instead. The campaign group were going to formally object to the improvement since it the resulting lane wasn’t quite wide enough for their liking – despite it clearly being an improvement over what was there already. I was slightly shocked, but on further discussion realised that their position was more of a battle-hardened “cycle complaining” mentality than anything they could rationally justify about the matter at hand. Which got me thinking.

Cycle campaign groups are at a huge disadvantage when discussing plans with local councils. Even when TfL showed us some sneak peaks of the roadway engineering diagrams it was tough for the campaigners to deal with them effectively – they were just printouts, not the actual files; even if they had been CAD files there was nobody there who would be able to examine them or draw the suggested amendments. Ideally a campaign group could respond by saying “here are the places where the proposal doesn’t meet standard X, AND here are our suggestions for improvements we’d like to see”.

This works on a wider scale too. If a council approaches a cycle group to ask where they would like more bike parking installed, the cycle group are unlikely to be able to help much more than just saying “roughly here” (even supposing they maintain a list of sites), rather than “here, have some CAD files for our top ten sites prioritised using density analysis of existing locations” . If a cycle group want to approach a council to convert one-way roads into two-way, they are unlikely to have the traffic simulations to show the five most useful changes. There’s just a huge gulf in tools and technologies available to each side, so when the only way things work is for one side to suggest and the other to accept/refuse, it’s easier to see where so much reactionary complaining comes from.

Enter the guys behind CycleStreets, with their “Helping campaigners campaign” proposal. You can read it for yourself, but in summary is a web-based tool to track, manage and develop solutions to infrastructure problems facing cyclists. While it’s not a panacea for everything I’ve discussed, I think it’s a hugely important step forward for all cycle campaigning groups. Their proposal has been short-listed for the GeoVation awards finals in two weeks’ time and I wish them the best of luck, the funding from that would really kick things off. If you want to show your support then go for it, through your blogs, twitter or however you see fit. Even if they don’t manage the grand prize I hope to see their proposals come to fruition in the near future, especially given their track record of getting things done. I hope to get the opportunity to help their ideas see the light of day – it will be an excellent tool to help turn cycle complaining into the results we want to see.

Does your Local Transport Plan include cycle training?

December 5th, 2010 No comments

English local authorities outside London are writing their Local Transport Plans (LTPs) and putting them out for consultation. At a time of cuts, it is vital that all cyclists make sure cycle training and other smarter choices are included in the plan.

Find out what is in your LTP and check its contents against CTC’s guidance leaflet on the subject.
There is also an in-depth guide (22 pages) to why cycling should be included in an LTP. If you are not happy with your local LTP, contact your local authority or your CTC Right to Ride rep.


November 3rd, 2009 No comments


Change4Life is here to help families eat well, move more and live longer. A great way to keep active and stay healthy – and spend time together as a family – is getting out and about on a bike.

Nearly anyone, at any age, can learn to ride a bike. Bike4Life offers useful cycling tips and information, from advice on buying a bike to fun ways to make a trip even more enjoyable.

For ideas to help families in your area get on their bikes, visit and click on ‘partners and supporters’ to download the Bike4Life toolkit (or follow our link on this page).

Cycle Design

December 13th, 2007 Comments off

From the Cycle-Planning mailing list, a selection of viewpoints on cycle facilities.

link selection
rise in usage in newcastle
against pavement conversions
the hierarchy for 2 groups of users

«A word of caution.

If you have been asked to design a cycle path, the first question you should ask is not “how wide should it be ?”, what you should ask is “is a cycle path the appropriate solution, will it benefit
users or will it just become another deterrent to cycling ?”.

Sadly, a very large proportion of what we think of as “cycle infrastructure” is of no benefit whatever to cyclists and is often a source of antagonism and danger. Roadside pavement conversions are a particular source of problems and are very rarely beneficial or appropriate. They are a last resort, and only really appropriate for busy roads with few side turnings.

What cyclists want and need is a safe and pleasant highway network, not cycle tracks. Cycle tracks can be part of that network, but are usually only going to be a very small part of it.

Any guidance is only as good as the guy who interprets it, and that is where the problem often arises. Designers often just cannot (or will not) understand the effect of their decisions on the hapless users of their work.

If you want good guidance then the UK is not the best place to look for it. Look across the North Sea, you can buy a copy of the Dutch CROW institute’s updated design guide “Design Manual for
Bicycle Traffic” from:

Sustrans’ guidance is as good a source of guidance as you will find in the UK. Not just the excellent NCN Practical details and guidelines, but also a number of information sheets on a variety of issues. All are free to download from Sustrans’ website. They are generally more comprehensive but complementary to CFI. Another two very useful sources of guidance are the London and
Lancashire design guidelines. The London guidelines are very comprehensive, with a manual of “typical details”, the Lancashire guide has excellent coverage of basic principles and some very clear illustrations. Again, they are all free to download.

The Department for Transports own guidance, which defines such things as lane and path widths, geometry etc can also be downloaded for free. It isn’t as well presented as the others but contains some important additional information. Dimensions and design of off road cycle tracks are in LTN 02/04 (has some very useful info and diagrams). Basic geometry in DMRB Vol 6 sect 3. A draft version of the new Local Transport Note for Cycle Infrastructure Design was recently published for consultation and has much useful guidance.

Last but not least, Cycling England has some excellent guidance on a range of topics on their website.



«I have to take exception by this continued belief that cycleway and road side conversions are and I quote “of no benefit whatever to cyclists and is often a source of antagonism and danger. Roadside pavement conversions are a particular source of problems and are very rarely beneficial or appropriate. They are a last resort, and only really appropriate for busy roads with few side turnings.” Please see our recent press statement about the rise in cycle numbers


The opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge has led to a huge increase in the numbers of people using their bicycles to cross the River Tyne, according to figures released by Gateshead Council.

Before the iconic bridge opened in 2001, around 50,000 cycle trips were made each year over the Tyne Bridge. Whilst that figures remains broadly the same today, an additional 94,000 cycle trips are now being recorded each year over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge – an increase of 186% in cross Tyne traffic. (A CONVERTED BRIDGE PATH AND A SHARED PATH)

Other Gateshead cycle routes have seen similar increases in use. The Derwent Walk, which forms part of the world famous C2C cycle route from Whitehaven to Tynemouth, has seen cycle trips increase more than double in the last three years – from 19,710 in 2004 to 50,735 in 2007, an increase of 157%.( SHARED USE PATH)

The Keelman’s Way along the riverside from Hebburn to the River Derwent has also seen a large increase in cycle trips by both commuters and leisure cyclists. Since 2004, the number of cycle trips have risen from 23,725 to 37,230 in 2007 – an increase of 57%.(a SHARED USE PATH)

The East Gateshead Cycleway, which links White Mare Pool with Gateshead town centre, has seen cycle trips rise from 10,950 in 2004 to 12,410 in 2007, an increase of 13%.( A ROADSIDE SHARED USE PATH)

The data on cycle trips has been obtained via a network of automatic counters built into the cycle routes, together with a number of manual counts.

In 2000, a Tyne and Wear wide survey found that 92.9% of the population were in favour of creating safe routes for cyclists and walkers, and 63.8% thought local councils should improve
the facilities for cyclists. Since then, Gateshead Council, along with other Tyne and Wear councils, have been actively extending and improving their cycle networks.

Between 2004 and 2007, the number of journeys made by bicycle in Tyne and Wear has increased by 21%.

Therefore I would like to see evidence that cycle tracks are unpopular as it appears they are very popular with the public with all our major increases in cycle use happening on cycle tracks and not on road facilities.If we are to see an increase in cycling we have to realise that while many experienced cyclists on road bikes may wish to be on the road , many of the people whom wish to cycle view this as a risk to far and want to be segregated from all motor traffic.

Is it not true that sustrans mainly off road network has shown a 17% increase while DFT figures indicted a fall in on road cycle trips?»

«Roadside cycle tracks languish at the bottom of the hierarchy of provision with very good reason. Despite this they are often the first or only choice of many designers working on “cycling provision”. I suspect that the reasons behind this selective disregard for the guidance are not always good ones.

I will stand by my statement that pavement conversions are rarely appropriate in urban situations unless there are few side roads to negotiate and ample visibility. They are deeply unpopular amongst regular cyclists, who make up the bulk of utility cycling, and what little research has been conducted into the safety aspects of roadside tracks has not shown them in a favourable light.

This does not mean that they are never appropriate, indeed there some in Cambridge that I will tolerate rather than subject myself to the inevitable aggression that accompanies riding in the road alongside a substandard cycle track, and there are some that I will use out of choice. These are however the minority and, like many regular cyclists, I will actively avoid using roads that have poor quality pavement conversions alongside them because they are dangerous, useless and you suffer unprovoked aggression just because you aren’t using them – in other words they act as a deterrent to cycling.

Please note that two thirds of Sustrans’ National Cycle Network is on road. A substantial proportion of the remainder is on railway paths, canal tow paths and other traffic free routes away from the roads. Only a small proportion of the NCN consists of pavement conversions and I suspect that if you asked regular utility users (as opposed to occasional leisure riders) you will find that these are the bits that they really do not like. I have contributed to the building of the NCN with my own bare hands, but the very poor quality of stretches on pavements puts me off using that network.

So just to refresh, roadside pavement conversions ARE at the bottom of the hierarchy of provision with good reasons. If you have reached that point you need to thoroughly re-appraise the options; there is usually a better solution, although it may not be as politically attractive. Where roadside cycle tracks truly are the best option (usually fast, busy inter urban roads with few side turnings) then visibility and side road crossings need to be carefully addressed, and not by just placing all of the burden of responsibility on the cyclists.»

«”…What we appear to need is a national study of what the public want from a cycle network and for the designers like myself to give them what they want”…

I could go out tomorrow and conduct two surveys, and be quite confident
of the findings.

Survey 1. Posted on the CTC and Cambridge Cycling campaign websites.
People will favour on road cycling, with “no facilities” being better than “bad facilities”. These are people who ride most days, in any weather, to get from A to B. Their kids cycle too.

Survey 2. Interview people outside my childrens’ school. People will want cycle tracks, their own space, separate from the traffic. Most of these people will ride a bike only a few days of the year, mostly in summer, with their families around Grafham water having driven 50 miles to get there. They do not allow their children to cycle unaccompanied.

Our objective (in transport, health and environmental terms) is to get group 2 to behave more like group 1. If we persuade group 2 to ride more by building more segregated cycle tracks, unless we build to a high standard they will discover, as they start to use cycling more for transport than merely leisure, why group 1 is so sceptical of “cycling infrastructure”. What looks so good from behind a car windscreen is never quite as appealing when you ride along it and it swings off
suddenly in the wrong direction, abandoning you at a dismount sign.

So “cycling infrastructure” needs to be inclusive, it needs to satisfy both groups. For group 2 it needs to have little or no traffic, and for any traffic to be moving slowly and considerately. It needs to be attractive and physically undemanding. Railway paths are ideal. For group 1 “cycling infrastructure” needs to be quick, direct, hazard free but not necessarily traffic free.

What facilities satisfy both groups ?

Pavement conversions don’t. Even good ones are never as quick as riding in the road, and they can be very difficult and hazardous to negotiate. Group 1 hates them.

Cycle lanes on hostile roads don’t. The lanes give you no physical protection and anecdotal evidence suggests that cyclists get squeezed more in narrow cycle lanes than they would in open traffic. Group 2 is too frightened to use them.

So what works for both ? Everybody is happy to cycle in low speed / low traffic environments. Home zones, 20 mph zones etc, shared spaces and so on. These are inclusive, everybody will use them (parking on one side for a moment the issue of visually impaired people and shared spaces)
from the most nervous parent to hard nosed commuters. And they don’t just benefit cyclists, they benefit everybody, making streets safer, nicer places in which people can live their lives, not just drive their cars.

That is why we have the hierarchy of solutions with area wide, inclusive, widely beneficial solutions (traffic speed and volume reductions) at the top, local traffic management (eg junction improvements) in the middle, and cycle specific, user specific solutions (cycle tracks and cycle lanes) down at the bottom. Pavement conversions are right at the very bottom because they can be actively detrimental to many supposed beneficiaries – regular cyclists because they get harassed if they stay in the road, frail old ladies who don’t like sharing pavement space with cyclists.

So, I can do you a survey. Tell me what you would like the conclusion to be and I can arrange the survey to confirm that position by the simple means of asking the right people. That is the beauty of marketing – you never need get the answer wrong.»

«I agree with [the above], although the Tyneside path from the Staiths into the bridges area is pretty good and convenient. I am still ambivalent about segregated paths. Twenty years ago in Copenhagen, I ‘marvelled’ at the outrageous shifting of marked car-parking bays outwards, from the kerb, by a couple of metres to make a segregated path. Most of those implementations are now more physical with at least a cobbled outer edge. Riding in this ‘third way’ seemed to work fairly wonderfully. So I was quite shocked by the English extract of the Copenhagen experience, that the rate of accidents increase significantly (? cannot read the Danish and I can’t find a free, automatic, web translator) but riders feel safe and ridership has grown. Their conclusion, that life years gained exceeds years lost, is rather bolted onto the conclusion although it seems reasonable in practice. I guess one of the points is the impact on ‘environmental psychology’, experiencing such an amount of provision is itself an encouragement.

But another point is the growing impact of that emotively named bunch, Guide Dogs for the Blind, who in their own blinkered manner are seeking to prevent any shared paths anywhere. I guess that also means much of Connect2 and most of what Sustrans have built so far. I imagine they have their ‘sights’ set on kerbing every country lane too. I think they are wrong… »