Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Predictable & Lazy End Of The Year Roundup: 2016

That's another year almost over and as I recharge the batteries for the start of 2017, I'm taking my annual look back over the last 12-months.

Because painted advisory cycle lanes
removes driver capacity.
The year got off to a ranting start with a post-Christmas, well post, which looked how taking an ideological position is far easier than taking an expert position, inspired by Twitter arguments with some long-blocked self-styled alliance representing the drivers of Britain. It was an omen for wider nonsense which has recurred the whole year away from the world of blogging. I then returned to the evergreen subject of barriers being installed on cycle tracks. The month ended as it had started where I looked at an ideological piece of nonsense from the Institute of Economic Affairs which doesn't like traffic regulations.

Vauxhall Walk.
First, I tackled the tricky subject of so-called "shared-space" and concluded there is no such thing. Next I looked at making areas suitable for cycling rather than routes (anticipating London's "Quietway" conundrum). I then looked at the death of a child who was crossing the A127 in Essex and asked why we don't invest in removing the severance these roads create. The month ended positively with a mooch around South London looking at some of the North-South cycle superhighway and the wonder piece of public space at Vauxhall Walk.

Raw cider.
The month started with a moan about the lack of cycle parking at my local B&Q (which is still non-existent today) and then the looming (and worrying) push for autonomous vehicles. I then debated whether leadership is a political or professional thing (at least for transport). In a departure from my usual writings, I then gave an account of how one can make cider at home before returning to the annual subject of our failure to invest in highway maintenance.

Kerb-nerdery abounded with a report on a London Cycling Infrastructure Safari first this month, followed by the depressing thought that the London mayoral candidates were generally ignoring the needs of children in their transport policies in favour of noisy adults. Next was a post with photos from my eldest daughter as her "story from the school run", before rounding the month off looking at cost and value.

Protected tracks makes cycling child's play.
The month started with the statistic that 66% of trips were below 5 miles and that transport investment should be made to enable shorter trips to be made by walking and cycling, although nobody had told the dinosaurs at the Chelsea Society. Next post on how cycling on the new central London cycle tracks were child's play for my daughter who rode then a week after learning to ride her bike. The month ended with me wondering how people think roadworks should take place by magic.

Kidical Massive!
The month started with some early summer reading and some street positivity in Cromer, before a moan about stupidly wide junctions and why engineers cling to old ideas of street design. A summer storm prompted some thought about the old boiling frog and flooding with the month ending with a wonderful Kidical Mass ride in central London, where I paused to thank campaigners and designers alike.

Quietway 1.
Another cycling infrastructure safari this month with a ride along London's Quietway 1 where there is some very good and very bad layouts. Next I wondered how spending £60m on a single motorway junction could ever be rational. Then there was a two part write up on the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain's AGM in Cambridge - Part 1 and Part 2

Australia Road.
London's Freecycle left me with mixed feelings at the start of the month. A site visit gave me the next post which showcased a project in west London which had transformed Australia Road into something rather wonderful. A trip to Walton-on-the-Naze saw an accidental discovery of some very well executed continuous footways and then the closure of a street to motor traffic in Clacton-on-Sea actually opened it for people to use.

I was really pleased to be involved with this.
First up for this month were some thoughts about transport resilience, following by a post on the concept of "space delusion" from those thinking we can build ourselves out of congestion by building more roads. Cycle To Work Day saw me review my own commute (with recently opened piece of infrastructure), with my 200th post on another Kidical Mass ride (on the International Kidical Massive day). The month ended with my praising the use of map type signs.

My first post of the month was back in London looking at a maintenance closure of Tower Bridge and how the space could be rethought and then I considered that change is difficult before considering on the rights of individuals, versus the wider community. Oh yes, I then upset a primary school before celebrating London's orbital car park.

High capacity cycle parking.
I revisited the primary school issue at the start of this month with some ideas on what school communities could so to change their local streets before reminding us that the word "enable" is far more important than "encourage". Next was a visit to the Ecocycle cycle parking pod in Southwark and then a post about transport carrots and sticks which was inspired by Stockholm. 

First this month, I considered filtered permeability and how we can accommodate service vehicles before shaking my head at another load of politically-motivated nonsense to "deal" with roadworks. I returned to trenches for a post about street works qualifications, before ending the year in lazy fashion.

It's been a busy year for me and with a great deal of frustration as an engineer. 2017 looms in front of us and with what is going on at home and abroad, it's hard to be positive. Local active travel remains poorly funded and poorly supported politically. 

I would like to end this roundup on a positive note, so I will extend a huge thank you to all of the wonderful people I have met this year, many have given their time and insight without wanting or expecting anything in return - this continues to make this blog possible.

Of course, I need to thank my family for putting up with my daft idea of a blog post a week, but at least they have been able to join me for some of the adventures I have written about.

This year, I would like to give a special mention to the people organising and attending our Kidical Mass rides. For me, to see the smile on the kids' faces as they bump along in the cargo-bikes or own their own mini-machines serves as a reminder why we must change our streets for people. Happy New Year!


  1. Thanks for another year of informative pieces, much enjoyed and appreciated.

  2. Oh how I wish I could come back to visit in Europe, well, at least for the time that Europe still includes the UK, that is unless Theresa May has gotten a hold of a jackhammer in the last half hour. I miss the time when walking a distance would be a meaningful way of getting around, and you never got to show me some of your other projects. When it actually felt comforting to just see the kilometres tick by with the overhead catenary wires passing by, and when I could understand signs even when written in French or Dutch. And of course, when I can actually understand authentic British humour. And a time when fearing nuclear annihilation from Donald Trump was outdated. I guess I have to make do with Vancouver and Toronto for a few years at least.

    1. Well, it was great to be able to show you a little bit of what's going on in a corner of London, although it is a huge city - probably take about 4 hours to cycle from side to side!