Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Predictable & Lazy End Of Year Roundup

As 2014 comes to a close, I predictably and lazily offer my review of the past 12-months. It has been a mixed bag, but always interesting and sometimes frustrating. Here we go.

As a way of blowing away the cobwebs after the Christmas excess, I took the kids on the Dangleway and wondered if public transport was for profit or people. I then opened up the traffic signal pie with a first slice looking at signalised crossings which generated some interesting debate in the comments section. 

Next, I had a whinge about the stupid SkyCycle scheme for London, the first of a few moans about the ideas of Showmen Designers. Then I raised the issue of barriers (the literal ones) to walking and cycling. Finally, it was a look at Scotland's daft "Niceway Code" which went off to the knacker's yard fairly quickly.

First up, was a little report on a presentation I gave at a local school travel conference where most people agreed that they would cycle to school if only we provided proper infrastructure. The middle of the month was more solemn when I joined Stop Killing Cyclists at Ilford, East London, to remember Kevin Lane, the first cyclist to be killed on London's streets in 2014. Then it was the curious take of the West Dunbartonshire ramp, a short post about access to buildings.

The start of the month saw a long technical post about road closures and the associated traffic orders. The second slice of the traffic signal pie came next, looking at the SCOOT system which is being rolled out across London. In my next post, I wondered how campaigners and engineers could work together to a common goal.

Away from the technical, I gave my first thoughts on attempting the London to Surrey 100 later in the year, swiftly followed by one of my favourite posts covering surfacing materials. Remember kids, machine-laid 55/10 HRA is rather nice!

The first post of the month was about where clutter on our streets comes from and how we can reduce it, plus, how I took on BT over an advertising panel in an unauthordox way and won! Next, was a short moan about the annual ALARM survey showing road the road maintenance backlog in England & Wales going from £10.5bn to £12bn in a year.

I then posted about the highlight of my year, the birth of my third child, Poppy, where I wondered how my mobility would change when pushing her in her buggy and in fact, covered it in my next post

The month got off to a ranty start where I decried the lack of Government leadership in providing decent guidance for designing for walking and cycling which has lead to all sorts of organisations going it alone and with varying results. This led nicely into election time where I explained that I was voting for #space4cycling and covered the main topics of the campaign and trailed the London Cycling Campaign's Big Ride, with photos of the event a week later.

The politics of cycling continued in my next post and then to round off the month, I got the hump.

The summer started with a short post on Permit Parking Areas, a little known way of introducing permit parking with the minimum of street clutter. The rest of the month was taken up with three posts review the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's AGM and Gathering in Brighton & Hove. Part 1 included floating bus stops, Part 2 looked at some street layouts and Part 3 looked at a cycle track. Looking forward to the 2015 AGM!

My first post of the month looked at Eric Pickles MP making it up as he went along, followed by a pop at David Cameron

Next, a technical post about protected junctions and simultaneous greens, with a view on how they could work in the UK (you read it here first!) in the third slice of traffic signal pie. I then ranted about a "customer" I dealt with and their 1,500 metre drive, rounding off with how beer (and other) deliveries can continue with protected cycling infrastructure.

The month started with a glorious Ride London FreeCycle, followed by the London to Surrey 100 (well, 86) through Hurricane Bertha where I was named "The Hybrid Hero" by a drunk! 

Then, a post about the Mayor of London's flawed consultation on new river crossings for motor vehicles, followed by a technical post on the value of the Road Safety Audit process. To end the month, I covered the misguided Guide Dogs survey where their credibility (and that of the London Cycling Campaign) took a bit of a knock - we have a lot in common of course.

I started the month with an account of my own Cycle to Work Day, followed by a moan at large destinations designed to attract car use. I then thought about the wider benefits of the proposed north-south and east-west cycle superhighways in London, followed by a rant after a hard week at work. The month ended with some discussion on the publicly available DfT traffic data.

After a sunny safari in Southend-on-Sea, I looked at the impact on Government cuts on highway maintenance (it will get worse) and rounded off with an open letter to London's professional institutions asking them to support #space4cycling and the proposed cycle superhighways in London.

First, some navel gazing with my 100th blog post which I followed with a critical look at a stupid idea of a Greater London Authority Member to turn off traffic signals in London (with research and everything) - still no response from him! I then covered the reannouncement of the £15bn road building programme for the UK.

More solemnity followed with the astounding Funeral for the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence organised by Stop Killing Cyclists. I then had another pop at Showmen Designers who liked to polish turds and even with the polish still damp, TfL published a list of schemes to be funded through the Future Streets Incubator Fund. It included a bloody trampoline, which has since dropped off the list!

The month started with me contemplating the demise of the local authority municipal engineer who may be the last line of defence in trying to stop mass advertising on the roadside (well, a losing battle anyway). As the year drew to an end, I went on a wonderful day trip to Bruges which is streets ahead in providing for cycling compared to most of the UK.

So, dear reader, thank you for sticking with me for another year. If people didn't read this blog, I wouldn't produce it and so it is heartening to get so much feedback both within and on Twitter (where I spend too much time). 

I would like to give special thanks to the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, not only for involving me in its AGM this year, but also for keeping me inspired where cycling infrastructure is concerned and for including me in the weekly blog roundups. I should of course mention Highways Magazine which has given me a more traditional spleen-venting platform in my articles this year.

I would also like to mention Stop Killing Cyclists and CyclingWorks who have different approaches to campaigning, but who are working hard to try and improve conditions for those who cycle in London. I have also met lots of interesting people this year and I hope to meet more in 2015.

I will round off with a thank you to the long suffering Mrs Ranty Highwayman who puts up with my hours of typing to meet stupid self-set deadlines and me stopping to take photos of "interesting" infrastructure.

See you in the saddle!


  1. It has been interesting following your blog this past year(s), thanks for the hard work in doing it.

    In 2015 I'd be really interested in a post about "Things that can be said to a Highways Engineer to get them to consider alterations to their scheme".

    I've found that at consultation the Local Authority already think they have the right answer and aren't willing to make changes.

    Also with the specificity of project budgets, ie a scheme to improve traffic flow/reduce congestion at a junction or a high street regeneration scheme, cycling infra will be a marginalised 'nice to have' and will only be introduced if it isn't a detriment to the main thrust of the project.

    So a blog post containing the magic phrases to get the scheme redrawn would be great. ;)

    1. Thanks for the ideas - I will add them to the drafts pile and do my best!