Friday 22 July 2016

The Flat Of The Land: The Cycling Embassy Of Great Britain's 2016 AGM (Part 1)

Last weekend saw a warm and sunny visit to the City of Cambridge for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's AGM. Naturally, the event included some cycling around looking at stuff and a big thank you must go to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign for being wonderful hosts.

I'll blog some thoughts over this week's and next week's post because there is a lot to cover. My health warning is that I saw the city on a weekend and of course weekday highway conditions are usually different.

I would love to have a quarter of what is going on in Cambridge in my area and so people throwing stones in glass houses would be a legitimate repost! You may also wish to read the view of a former Cambridge (and now Netherlands) resident, David Hembrow, on far wider issues than I will cover, but the high levels of cycling in the city is not wholly tied to the infrastructure, but to demographics. However, where stuff is built, people clearly want to use it!

So anyway; this week I will show some of the big interventions and big roads.

Cambridge is pretty flat (don't write in!) and at least on the rides I went on, I barely changed gear. Where I did change was on the approaches to many of the bridges the city has to offer. For people walking and cycling, the city has the River Cam, railways and roads to contend with and so there are plenty of bridges, many built purely for active travel. The first one to mention wasn't on one of the tours, but I accidentally found it (and it was a shortcut for me). The Tony Carter Bridge connects south-east Cambridge to the city over the main railway and gives easy access to the station;

The bridge was opened in 1989, which probably explains the colour scheme, but is wonderful to ride over. The cycle track is red and stepped down slightly from the footway to give clear space and some work is underway on the western side to improve the ramp detail. The bridge is covered from the elements, although one would get wet when not on it! I wonder if the closed-in feel affect social safety at night?

A little more modern (2008) is the Riverside Bridge to the north of the city. It connects Chesterton with the city centre and there is some nice modal filtering, especially on the southern side by the river which provides a splendid approach to the bridge as you can see in the photographs below.

As one heads onto the bridge, one comes across a split with walking going left and cycling going right. It's a gimmick but a bit of fun too. The deck could have been a little wider and the parapet rails not bent in (reducing working width), but there was no silly zag-zags and it flows along the desire line.

It wasn't all wonderful bridge-wise, with the example above not really suitable for cycling, but don't let that put you off, it's great to see active travel bridges being provided on their own merits.

Main Roads
I'll cover side roads in next week's post, although they have long been used as cycling infrastructure in Cambridge. Main roads, on the other hand, haven't had much investment and so many are awful;

The photo above is of Hills Road (A1307) at its junction with Station Road branching off. I took the shot at about 9.45 on the Sunday morning when there was a steady stream of people cycling and few cars. It's 1970s engineering, designed for motor traffic throughput. The left turn into Station Road is left-hook territory and it is the same as we see up and down the UK. Cycling here is despite the conditions.

Further south, there is a substantial investment ongoing along Hills Road where former (narrowish) mandatory cycle lanes are being replaced with cycle tracks complete with floating bus stops. The photo below shows the assembled kerb nerds looking at the difference between the old and the new.

The tracks are 2.3m wide and are uni-directional (so one each side of the road running in the same direction as traffic). The tracks have taken a little more carriageway than the old lanes and are nibbling away at the old footways (some actually giving more pedestrian space as old shared-use segregated cycle tracks are coining out) and verges (without affecting pedestrians). The floating bus stops are welcome and vital for a modern layout; dare I say getting a little boring? (It's a good thing, it means we are seeing more around the UK!)

The bus stop islands have been arranged with the shelters opening towards the cycle track which keeps the views between people walking nice and clear and humped (but uncontrolled) pedestrian crossing points are provided roughly where the bus stops. Whereas the generally wide tracks allow side by side cycling (or single line cycling and overtaking), the track narrows to single line cycling presumably to slow things a bit to keep it safer for pedestrians.

The photo above shows the old shared/ segregated track which will be turned over fully to pedestrians soon. The verge area is actually a narrow strip of sedum matting which gives some separation between people walking and cycling (and provides space so people can use the whole track width. The red surfacing and double yellow lines give good visual priority on the track.

It all seems great so far, but I'm going to have to talk about kerbs and it's a criticism I'm afraid. Cambridgeshire County Council worked with supplier Aggregate Industries to come up with a gently ramped kerb which would give vertical separation, but be safe to cycle up and down. I heard about this a long time ago and thought it was being used for the kerb between the footway and cycle track (known as a "forgiving" kerb as it doesn't throw you off); in essence, a small step down from the footway to the track but using a gently ramped kerb. This is how they do it in the Netherlands and as it happens, in Leicester as I saw on last year's CEoGB AGM tour.

The "Cambridge" kerb has a slope of 22.5 degrees on its top surface giving a step of about 35mm. It is made from the same basic UK kerb dimensions and formed in a mould put through a hydraulic press. The different kerb profiles are created using formers placed in the basic mould. The manufacturer has developed profiles for some of the London cycle superhighway schemes and can competitively produce a run of about 500 metres.
For Hills Road, the kerb is for the cycle track/ carriageway interface which I thought was strange (and I still do). The official reason is as follows;

The raised cycleway option would allow emergency vehicles to pass more easily than the kerbed segregation option. This option would also be less visually intrusive than the kerbed segregated option.

I'm an armchair pundit on this I admit. I'm not the designer and I'm not party to the discussion and debate which led to this layout. A stepped track does provide more usable space compared to a kerb-protected track. Yes, it is less visually intrusive than a kerb-protected track, but we are talking about a busy A-road which carries lots of traffic which is presumably visually (aurally, nasally and pulmonary) intrusive and getting out of the way of ambulances near a large hospital is plausible. 

However, I look at it two ways. If motor traffic is not stuffed, then an emergency vehicle on blues-and-twos will get round. If motor traffic is stuffed, then speeds are slow enough for drivers to mount the kerb if they really have to and that assumes both directions are stuffed. Stepped tracks don't have to have a high kerb (although higher might give more protection) and so if we had a 60mm general upstand, dipping to 25mm at private accesses, the levels can be made to work and drivers could bump up if they really had to.

Because of the use of the forgiving kerb on the carriageway side of the tracks, I'd have to class them as giving "light" separation. I did cycled up and down them and barely noticed and on my way home from the weekend, I probed them in the car (not at a great speed and when there was nobody cycling near me I will add) and they were hard to detect.
I'll let you be the judge, but, on the flip side, I saw nothing by high compliance and the space felt comfortable to use, even near buses as the photo below shows.

I am not able to vouch for the junctions in detail, but the track dropped (35mm) to the carriageway at side roads. For private accesses, the Cambridge kerb was maintained which is absolutely fine to drive over to park up on one's driveway! As far as I could see, there are no plans for the big junctions just yet.

To the north of the city, a similar main road treatment is taking shape on Huntingdon Road (A1307) and this includes a parallel zebra crossing bu Oxford Road which I think is another road used as a key local cycling route as the crossing helps movements into and out of the side road.

The photos above show Oxford Road approaching Huntingdon Road, left onto a shared area/ adjacent track, the parallel zebra  crossing and the view back. Apparently, because traffic is often stuffed at peak times, people use the track and swing right into the crossing to then head the other way (essentially a right turn out of Oxford Road). There is a centre island in the crossing (about 3m wide), although it does mean some drivers might treat it as two crossings. My view is that it's a layout which doesn't immediately come across as intuitive to all road users.

One last main road to look at is Gilbert Road which (after a modal filter) leads north-east from Oxford Road onto a more residential street. The treatment here is red surfacing inlaid into the carriageway with advisory cycle lanes (common in the city). The centre line has been removed and the overall idea is that this reduces traffic speed and is more likely to keep drivers out of the lane.

Again, traffic was light and drivers tended to give us space. I'm not sure if that's because we were in a group or if its how people drive in the city; it was notable that driver behaviour was far better than my local area (yes, anecdata alert!)

Cambridge Guided Busway
The busway connects towns and villages around the city into the centre via the station. We had a look at the section south of the station because rather wonderfully, a very nice service road-cum cycle track has been provided next to it!

The busway itself has concrete "tracks" used to guide the buses in a kind of tram-like fashion. It's all nice, but the cycle track is the thing we were interested in. It's fairly wide, smooth and lit and so very usable (although it could perhaps feel lonely at some times of the day/ night I'd imagine). We took a spur to the Addenbrooke's Hospital complex which featured a rare climb overt the mainline railway. This is a route which can be walked, but really, it's a cycle route and was very good indeed. I think my only slight concern is the track is right next to the busway and some separation would have been welcome.

A 1970s Throwback
Cambridge has a ring road, although it is essentially a groups of roads acting as such and not a purpose-built road. On the north-west side of the city, the Ring Road (A1134) was an attempt to solve the problem of not having a proper continuous ring road with an elevated dual-carriageway (going over the River Cam). It's of 1970s heritage (give or take) and it shows. Cycling is relegated to a shared cycle track which is basically the concrete flagged-footway with some shared use signs.

To the south of the Cam, we have an excellent example of 20th Century anti-people distopia where people walking and cycling are expected to dive into narrow and intimidating subways which open up into a concrete open space. Well actually, Kevin couldn't get his recumbant tricycle down there which is a sod because it is his mobility. It's truly awful.

The sole benefit of this motor-nightmare is the bridge over the Cam gives wonderful views along Riverside which links to the Riverside Bridge which I referred to in the first secton.

Despite the high levels of cycling, Cambridge is a city trying to come to terms with the private car. On the one hand, there are large interventions to try and civilise main roads or provide good links away from busy roads. There is also the busway which aims to provide a quick run into the city

On the other hand, it is a growing city where people drive in and this in turn leads to a demand for parking and more roads; there are city centre car parks which raise revenue for the City Council which means reluctance to lose funds which I can understand.
Next week, I'm going to look at some of the smaller things we saw and some cycling infrastructure which is a little further out from the city.


  1. worth noting in the picture of the third bridge- the painted over "No cycling" plate. Used to be picked out in white; at the last heavy maintenance (bridge shut for a few weeks!) which included the current ramp and cattle grid it was just not restored. Obviously ideally there would be a considerably wider bridge, but that will likely have to wait until the steelwork is life expired...

  2. BTW Ranty. I suggest that you angle normal kerbs next to road carriageways as well whenever you work on them. When cyclists are expected to share with motor traffic on the low speed low volume roads, angle them at 30 degrees so that cyclists can hit the kerb and not fall over and on normal carriageways where cyclists are not expected to use for whatever reason, angle them at 45 degrees. The Dutch are using this more and more, it helps to cut down on insurance problems, damage to vehicles and allows a narrower lane when needed. And your reasoning with emergency vehicles would hold up too for even normal roads.

    Do you have any road design projects that you are going to be working on soon that means that you get to try to incorporate a Dutch style cycle track into the final design, possibly with a protected junction or something like that? I hope so.

    1. There's no point trying to run when we haven't got the hang of walking yet! Amongst the last things we need are shallow kerbs which Ranty feels entirely comfortable `probing' with his motor car---quite why he felt the need to take it to a CEoGB junket is not explained. You can be fairly certain that his less socially-conscious fellow motorists will be even more entirely comfortable `probing' them whenever they feel the urge, including overnight. Ultimately, `light' separation is no separation at all as we are seeing in the Enfield I-can't-believe-it's-not-a-mini-Holland proposals ATM---where the TROs for supposedly mandatory cycle lanes have almost blanket exemptions for motoring along and obstruction (and a reasonable expectation that transgressions by the non-exempt won't be enforced in any meaningful way).

      I realise that all you kerb nerds are obsessed with this aspect of continental European highway design, but I would far rather have each side of the carriageway narrowed by ~500 mm to make way for a >=75° kerb with an upstand of at least 200 mm and a row of closely-spaced Tobies to discourage cyclists from going anywhere near it. At least until we have the same sort of legal sanctions against those operating and abandoning motor vehicles within cycle tracks and footways as the continental Europeans do...

    2. I took the car because it was more convenient for me to use the motorway network than the rail network.

      I am interested in how things work and how they fit together; the fact I had the car and that I was on my way home gave me the opportunity to probe.

      Personally, I prefer to cycle with full-height, kerbed islands next to me as can be seen in Central London or at least a stepped track with some kerb height; there are technical reasons for choices.

      I am less convinced about the ambulance argument. At low speeds a 60mm+ kerb face can be safely mounted if emergency access is genuinely needed. Of course, motor reduction in towns and cities must be part of the thread, along with decent alternatives such as proper cycle networks and decent bus services.

    3. Perhaps it should be renamed Motorailing Embassy of Great Britain? I live ~35% of the way between London and Cambridge and routinely cycle to either for an evening in the pub, so know it is a `convenient' ride, too. The vast majority of central London (and Cambridge) is still [non-]separation by paint, if that, of course. So; do these novel Cambridge kerbs demarcate a cycle track or merely a pointlessly expensive advisory cycle lane, which predictably shan't enable (and sustain) any new uptake of cycling, like the Armadillos/ Orcas proposed in Enfield? We can infer the answer from whether your motoring permit was cancelled as a result of this `probing'...

      If `ambulances' are a valid excuse, there appears to be plenty of space to make it one-way for private motoring with a contraflow emergency services and/ or bus lane and much taller conventional kerbs/ islands to provide actual separation. But as Cycling in Edmonton points out, this argument applies equally to roads not near large hospitals. I, personally, favour just giving ambulances (and fire engines) buffers to shunt smallish motor obstructions out of the way---although the patients inside might disagree!

      As for motor traffic vaporisation, presumably excluding your own: are you actively seeking to persuade Cambridgeshire council or were you hoping they would spontaneously figure it out for themselves?

    4. For me, I would have had to go into Central London and then come back out to get to Cambridge and it would have cost me about £40. Taking the car was quicker and cheaper. Had there been no parking for me at my hotel, I'd have used the park and ride. Had there been no park and ride, then yes, it would have had to have been the train.

      Cars are a great tool and they will be with us for the foreseeable future. The issue is driving them every day for all journeys.

      The CEoGB is a serious organisation which is trying to push good practice and I think you are doing them a disservice; I mean "junket" - really? The group is funded on a shoestring and certainly didn't pay for my travel and accommodation (and nor would have the idea even flashed across my mind, I was there because I was interested and there are interesting people to talk to.)

      My own probing was on the kerb and done do very carefully to understand the physicality of the layout which I think I have been clear on; the ambulance issue is reported as we were told it; I am not the designer and so I couldn't tell you the full background.

      As for traffic evaporation, I switch from car to bike 5 years ago for my work travel. For my day job, I try and push for walking and cycling infrastructure, but it is a political decision. As for Cambridgeshire and anyone else, I'm not a campaigner and it's not my job to persuade them; as a professional engineer, it is my job to try and educate the public at large - hence this blog.

  3. I believe the reason the Carter bridge is covered is not to keep people dry - it's to stop people throwing themselves onto the tracks. I suppose there are other ways to make it safe without a full ceiling, though.

    Disadvantage is that it has nothing open to the air except the ends: it is like a greenhouse in summer.

  4. "Again, traffic was light and drivers tended to give us space"

    I think this is the problem with cycling around on a weekend in the summer. I'm willing to believe Cambridge drivers are not quite as ill-equipped to deal with people cycling as elsewhere in the country, but I wouldn't confuse that with actually good.

    On my commute, if I take the main road, I can guarantee multiple poor passes, cutting-up, ASL blocking, obstructive parking and all the rest on any given trip. I've observed that drivers will often give you lots of space if it's there (opposite carriageway clear, as in the photos you post), but if there's isn't space, there are certainly enough people who will push past anyway.

    Even on weekdays the roads are relatively quiet at the moment: schools are out, people are on holiday, more people cycle in the summer (though still plenty in winter).

    1. Handy example from my commute this morning: was aware the van behind me was slowing down, even though there was plenty of room to pass. Was pleasantly surprised to find out this was because he was turning left *and not left-hooking me*! Which was nice. This was immediately followed by another van who sped past within inches, and then a scaffolding truck which passed me through a pinch point.

      However, what does work in Cambridge is the quiet secondary network. I can avoid most of the driver stupidity by taking the quiet route to work. But it's a mile longer, and slower as mostly shared with pedestrians.

    2. It is difficult as I tend to go and look at stuff in my own time which is the weekend and I don't often get to see stuff at peak weekdays (although I have seen some of the new stuff in London at peak and it's great!)

  5. The shared-use pavement on the ring road bridge actually works quite well - it's nice and wide and not that many people use it. The problem is where cyclists are forced back onto the carriageway on the north bank! The bridge is easily one of the best parts of the ring road for cycling - the rest is mostly awful.

    1. It's the sort of thing which could be easily improved during footway reconstruction works someday; yes if lightly used by pedestrians it will be fine, but shouldn't be the long-term and default treatment.

    2. I suggest a law change. If there is a cycle path or cycle lane, but no footpath, then pedestrians must use the footpath. If there isn't a footpath or cycle path or lane, then pedestrians (and cyclists) must use the road. It works well to help in the countryside or in places with low pedestrian volumes. Nothing about the cycleway changes, it's designed like it normally would regardless of pedestrian footways or not (except for some zebra crossings where there is a footpath), but it legally becomes a footpath as well (but pedestrians must give way to cyclists, well, walk on the right side of the cycleway, facing cycle traffic). It works the same way in the Netherlands.

  6. Thanks for writing up the whole CEoGB AGM, very good to know what I missed!

    And thanks for covering the Hills Road “cycleway” – I put it in quotes because it's not really a cycleway, is it? It appears to offer no protection at all. What's the benefit of it over a painted line? Other than that there may be some psychological effect due to its appearance, I can't see any.

    It offers no protection at all against an errant driver. I can't see why anyone would push for such a weak scheme. I suspect there may be some VC placation going on there!

    Also, are the humps at the bus stop bypasses as steep as they look? They should be much smoother. I like the idea of a level crossing for people using the bus stop, but I'm not sure what the point of such a harsh hump is, other than to inconvenience people cycling. The ones on Embankment in London are absolutely awful. much worse than the ones in your Cambridge photos!

    1. The little scheme I've been working has a 60mm kerb face, dropping to 25mm at driveways and I've no doubt that at slow speeds, drivers can mount it to let an emergency vehicle through; my scheme is on a road which has tidal traffic flow and so in the event the emergency vehicle is going in the same direction as rush hour, the drivers can go on the off-side as well.

      The best answer would be to have a 500mm strip between the track and the carriageway which would allow a constant track level with the vehicle ramps being in the 500mm, but it's a trade-off between usable track width, protection and vehicle access.

      The "Cambridge" kerb has roughly a 35mm upstand on a slope and so that is why I've called it as "light" protection; one doesn't normally need to mount the kerb, there is a ridge and the track is red, but a lack of vertical upstand doesn't create protection.

      To be honest, the hump height wasn't notable and I'd say they're fine as it's a low height and long ramp.

    2. Alternative Department; be fair now! It will also have transferred a load of cash into the pockets of the favoured contractor in return for some moderately easy work and at the same time disposed of a large chunk of the pesky cycling budget, so it can't be used for anything else. A double win: trebles all 'round :-).

      The only concession to the anti-infrastructurists (strict subset of VCs) will have been to surface it with red asphalt and/ or paint bicycle symbols on it. That shuts them up every time. They have no more direct influence than that---those who do exist are just useful idiots for the UK highway engineers who really came up with this. As ever, their overriding consideration (literally, in this case) is: always, always, ALWAYS do what is most convenient for Mr. Toad. Anything less than complete reign over the full 1930s (or WHY) width of the carriageway for their fellow motorists is simply unthinkable. But the footway retains its proper kerbs so that motorists are encouraged to use it only in an `emergency'---such as a desire to double-`park' or do some loading. At best, consequences for would-be cyclists were probably not even on the RADAR---at worst, something much more malignant... All that is then needed is a plausible cover story, such as `ambulances' and the job's a good 'un.

      Ranty; yes, very much not a junket for them. Reclaiming expenses never crossed your mind, yet it was you who brought it up and devoted a passage of your comment to it. You could have gone by a mode considerably less costly than motor train or motor car---can you guess what that might be? The short daily motor journeys of others are no more or less worthy than your longer occasional ones. Attempting to distance yourself from `campaigners' now is all quite magnanimous. But with supporters like this, who needs detractors---apart from defarmers, obviously? That you fancy yourself as a public educator: disturbing!

    3. You've looked at the definition of junket I take it? - you used the word; you brought it up - "a pleasure trip, funded by someone else". That's why I refuted your comment.

      Cycling to Cambridge would have been 50+ miles and several hours on awful roads on a route which is not direct (about 15% longer). I cycle a few miles a day for utility transport, I'm not a regular long distance cyclist so the point is pretty daft.

      I've never claimed to be a campaigner, not a public educator. I am an engineer who thinks we should do things differently, but coming from a totally anti-car position will not advance the argument and that can be why that some campaigners are dismissed. I'm for solutions which enable choice as where proper change is made, people switch to the comfortable and convenient (and this is above price and an "eco" conscience for most people).

    4. A [Chambers] dictionary offers `A feast or merrymaking, a picnic, an outing, a spree, now (esp. N. Am.) one enjoyed by officials using public funds'. Hope that helps. London--Cambridge is not `long distance' (for everyone, even if it is for you) and cycling it not `daft'. Thankfully you are not a `campaigner'---just imagine the chants:

      Subversive; What do we want?

      Ranty; Unrestrained motoring for distances over (and, axiomatically, under) 5 km plus a little bit of cycling at the margins, where `convenient'.

      Subversive; When do we want it?

      Chorus; Always and forever, as long as it is clearly understood that the `convenience' we are talking about is that to the motorist!

      Well, we have had that sort of cycle(?) campaigning for upwards of half a century---and look where it has left us. Coming from a totally pro-car position doesn't advance the argument, either. Your comments have been full to bursting with such sentiment and the fanatical motor lobbying is possibly so ingrained that you don't even realise you are doing it. `Not direct'/ `awful roads' (for cycling): all [re]designed as such by your `industry', although it's `not your job' to tell your colleagues. Yet an aspect to your professional vocation is to `educate the public' (was news to me, even more disturbing if applies across your engineering institute)---a bit of a disconnect, there! You `try to push' for change in your immediate back yard, but if no-change pushes back, then that's that. These 25 mm rising to 60 mm upstands you are vaguely `working on' ATM: which side of the cycle track are they on?

      I'm actually just pro-cycling (what's not to like?) and wouldn't care less about motoring if its harmful unpleasantness weren't constantly inflicted on everyone who doesn't get asked. A Hobson's `choice', appropriately enough here. If that makes mine a `totally anti-car position' as a crude smear, then so be it. I'm not a `campaigner' either but am considering becoming one following this post... But; how to begin? Obviously, there is more than one way to skin a 'crat. If all the UK highways engineers have is obstinate dismissal, then it might well be easier to replace or entirely remove than try to reform them.

    5. Yeah, so "one enjoyed by officials using public funds", so you were incorrect to suggest it was a junket then? Take the rest of it up with CEoGB.

      I haven't written about the scheme I have been working on, but the 60mm upstand is on the carriageway side dropping to 25mm at driveways. There is a forgiving kerb on the other side between the track and verge/ footway -

      There is a uni-directional track on each side of the road and from a cycling point of view, it provides fair physical protection, but not as much as one would get from a 2m wide verge with kerbs between the track and the carriageway.

      Pro-cycling is a good thing, but in my opinion you need to be careful as not coming across as anti-car otherwise you *will* be dismissed as a crank by Joe Public - that has held back campaigning from what I can work out.

      In my view, it is more than pro-cycling, it's about liveable places and giving people safe, comfortable and convenient alternatives. My anecdote is that I have realised it is easier to cycle to work rather than drive (my route is not fully safe or comfortable), but it is easier to drive to Cambridge than it is to cycle or get the train. Give me a safe, comfortable and convenient route to Cambridge and I'll give it a go. Price me out of parking and/ or reduce train fares and I'll get the train to Cambridge. 50 miles + on awful and non-direct country roads is not going to appeal to mass transport.

      As for the 'crat', yep, I think the scheme is awful for cycling, but the endorsement of it by campaign groups is their business.

    6. People who are pro cycling don't need to be completely anti driving. It's better to be given reasons to do something than reasons not to do something if you can. I plan to find a job, doesn't need to be fancy for a 16 year old, a Tim Hortons (if you have no idea what this is, you need to open your eyes and let your mouth go wild) job after school in September works, that's 3 km away and it works quite well for cycling, as there is a completely separate path away from traffic that makes it pleasant to cycle on, even over the motorway, and it should give my muscles and my omafiets something to do, something I know I'll lack otherwise. I plan to drive myself and my brother (two people in one vehicle, saves on money, probably would be less than bus fare) the 12 km to school. I would cycle, but there are a number of segments where I'll have to mix with traffic where I don't want to and an absurd amount of traffic lights to stop at and awkward turns on a route that could be made much shorter, about 8 km and with just 4 signals to potentially deal with (from an original 16, all with long signal cycle times), and much more pleasant to cycle on.

      Yesterday my cousin had a seizure as a result of Tourettes. She's alright now, I thought that she was choking at first or having an allergic reaction, but it reminded me of the fact that she can't drive, and she's about my age. It's a huge limiter for her in my city. She can ride a bike safely, but not drive a car. She has family who understands and can drive her around, but how classy is it in our society for a girl to be driven around by her at at 15, nearly 16 like me by her parents? If it was the Netherlands I'd be less worried, David's put at least ten times the millage on his bicycles than his car, probably at least 50 times, and gets petrol maybe once every year or so, but until our society recognizes how limiting car dominated cities and countries are, it will be a major burden to her as she gets older and supposed to become more independent. There are other ways of becoming independent as I am learning for myself, and even people without legs can get by, but it so often sucks for them to have to wait for a ride, be it from the bus or a friend or family member.

  7. Various comments about 1970's design, 80's colours got me thinking.

    I have trained as an energy efficiency auditor and one of the first things you do is define the animal you are looking at, Victorian terrace, 1960's flat roof etc.

    I suggest the same "mapping" exercise is required for all rods, and then creating detailed maps showing what is there, what age, how is it been changed, what are the management and maintenance regimes.

    I think there are technical professional terms for what I am talking about ........

    The next step is scoring, where does this go on a scale that brings together all the various factors.

    Actually, I have just realised, does this exist for roads? Most of the U.K. Housing stock has been audited and scored using these types of principles, does it exist for life between buildings?

  8. What's the legal status of this parallel zebra crossing thing ? I saw it in the flesh and though WTF ? Cyclists have no priority on a zebra, mounted or otherwise, so I don't understand the utility of a cycle lane beside a zebra (unless it has traffic lights).

    1. As of March this year, parallel zebra crossings (to give them their proper name) were enshrined in the Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions 2016 and are entirely lawful. They operate as with pedestrians so once you are on one with a cycle, you have priority.

      I've used three so far and what is clear is is you need to slow down/ stop before crossing to make sure drivers have stopped, but you would generally do the same on foot - you would just step out without checking.