Real bicycle culture

Amsterdam: It’s billed as the cycling city of the best cycling nation in the world and it’s not hard to see why. There is simply a culture of cycling which is quite wonderful. It’s just a natural thing there for people to use a bike to get around.

A major part of this is the provision made for cycling – there are cycle streets, cycle paths – people are catered for on bikes. It’s part of the culture because it has been accommodated – there is space for cycling, so it becomes a pleasant way to get around. More people get moderate daily exercise just from cycling to and from places resulting in a healthier population and better air quality as there’s less pollution from cars.

Why can’t we aim to develop a similar culture by building and incorporating such infrastructure here in NE Lincs?

Click to enlarge the photos:

The bike parking near the central rail station.

The bike parking near the central rail station.

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A cycle road, separate to the walkway and the road for vehicles.

A cycle road, separate to the walkway and the road for vehicles.

 

In the queue of cyclists waiting for the change of lights on the cycleway in the busy centre of the city.

In the queue of cyclists waiting for the change of lights on the cycleway in the busy centre of the city.

A father with his children in their cargo bike. It's perfectly safe to travel this way because there is safe cycling infrastructure all over the city.

A father with his children in their cargo bike. It’s perfectly safe to travel this way because there is safe cycling infrastructure all over the city.

Another cargo bike.

Another cargo bike.

This is a minor quiet one-way road where cars are guests and are expected to give priority to cyclists.

This is a minor quiet one-way road where cars are guests and are expected to give priority to cyclists.

Steps in and out of a rail station with provision for wheeling a bike at the side. It's little things like these that add to the bicycling culture. Nice to see the bike being wheeled here is a Brompton! :)

Steps in and out of a rail station with provision for wheeling a bike at the side. It’s little things like these that add to the bicycling culture. Nice to see the bike being wheeled here is a Brompton! 🙂

Bikes everywhere!

Bikes everywhere!

You can ride right through the Rijksmuseum (State Museum), recently reopened with a cycleway through the middle of it!

You can ride right through the Rijksmuseum (State Museum), recently reopened with a cycleway through the middle of it!

And to finish with a nod to Cycle Chic, the ubiquitous 'girl on a bike'!

And to finish with a nod to Cycle Chic, the ubiquitous ‘girl on a bike’!

 

Poor infrastructure leads to accidents

It’s simple: poor infrastructure leads to accidents. The pathway along Ploggers, between Love Lane Corner and Humberstone Rd in Grimsby is simply not wide enough. It’s supposedly a shared path between cyclists and pedestrians, but when it’s full of parents walking their children to school in the morning, there’s nothing else a cyclist can do but to ride on the grass.

Of course, council vehicles also drive along here to empty the waste bins and they leave ruts in the soft ground. As the weather warms, the grass grows and the ground hardens and these ruts become concealed and become a serious hazard to cyclists, as proved the case this morning:

The bike where it was brought down causing the fall onto the pathway along the Ploggers near Old Clee School and King Georges sports stadium.

The bike where it was brought down causing the fall onto the pathway along the Ploggers near Old Clee School and the King George sports facility.

In passing a group of people walking along this path this morning, my wife had to ride on the grass, but her wheel got caught in one of these ruts and this brought her crashing down, hitting the concrete pathway. She could easily have broken her arm in the fall. As it was, she suffered painful cuts and bruises.

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There's ample room for the necessary improvements to be made here.

There’s ample room for the necessary improvements to be made here.

I’ve written before about this pathway. There is ample space to put a separate cycle lane alongside the path, so that cyclists can actually have their own space. Having just been to the Netherlands and seen how much cyclists are cared for there, it’s disgusting to see how little provision there is made here. There’s simply no excuse for not giving space for cycling. It’s time the local authorities woke up to their appallingly neglectful attitude in this regard!

This is an example of what is needed along the Ploggers - it's not rocket science! (This stretch of pathway links Beverley Crescent with Weelsby Rd.)

This is an example of what is needed along the Ploggers – it’s not rocket science! (This stretch of pathway links Beverley Crescent with Weelsby Rd.)

Home Zone

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This is a quietened street in Grimsby, near the junction of Victor St and Oxford St, and it represents a step forward! It’s signed as a ‘Home Zone’ street, where children can play, where car access is restricted and slowed and where residents generally enjoy a more community-based environment.

It would be even better if there was no through access for vehicles. For instance, a row of bollards placed mid-way would enable cycling and walking through but would  prevent cars and vans from making it a short-cut.

It’s a creditable initiative and one that should be replicated on more residential streets.

Painted lines are not infrastructure

Excerpts from Jon Snows comments to the Transport Select Committee in 2012.

Jon Snow presents Space For Cycling

Jon Snow, the news presenter and CTC president, in an excellent short video focusing on the space needed to accomodate everyday cycling.

The Travelling Cyclopolitans – Part 2: In Sydney

Follow Mark and Jenny in Sydney.

Off-road cycleways: the good, the bad and the ugly!

It’s fair to say we don’t have much by way of off-road cycleways in NE Lincolnshire! And what we do have are largely left-over walkways that have been redesignated ‘shared-use’ for both walking and cycling. This means if you want to cycle there are often pedestrians in the way, and if you’re walking there’s often pesky cyclists trying to get past! In other words, not good for either user-group!

Add in to the mix the surface of these shared cycling/walking ways is usually atrocious and you have a fairly unsatisfactory state of affairs. It’s clear from these just how little the local council values cycling. Yet it’s the one mode of transport that could revolutionise the area.

However, it’s not all a slough of despond! There are elements that are actually quite good, and these demonstrate the awareness of what to do and how to do it is there, if only this awareness could meet with some joined-up thinking and a dose of serious political will!

Firstly, then, the good:

The separated pathway and cycleway that takes you from Moss Road (off Doughty Rd) under Peakes Parkway, past B&Q, and exits onto Catherine St.

The separated pathway and cycleway that takes you from Moss Road (off Doughty Rd) under Peaks Parkway, past B&Q, and exits onto Catherine St.

This is a really well designed piece of infrastructure: it separates walkers from cyclers, the surface is smooth and it's lit. The problem is it doesn't connect with a road that's prioritised for cycling (Catherine St), and it's not connected to a cycling network.

This is a really well designed piece of infrastructure: it separates walkers from cyclers, the surface is smooth and it’s lit. The problem is it doesn’t connect with a road that’s prioritised for cycling (Catherine St), and it’s not connected to a cycling network.

Another good one - the cycleway through Ainslie St park, connecting Wintringham Rd with Doughty Rd.

Another good one – the cycleway through Ainslie St park, connecting Wintringham Rd with Doughty Rd.

The cycleway between the Asda store and Victoria St. Another example of the council knows how to do it when it wants to!

The cycleway between the Asda store and Victoria St. Another example showing the council knows how to do it when it wants to!

 

Another good example - the link-way between Beverley Cres and Weelsby Rd.

Another good example – the link-way between Beverley Cres and Weelsby Rd.

Then there’s the bad:

You don't have to go far to find these things - anti-cycling devices (ACD's)!

You don’t have to go far to find these things – anti-cycling devices (ACD’s)! This one is on ‘The Lane’ between Ploggers and Ladysmith Rd.

They're planted by the Anti-Cycling Brigade (ACB) and they spring up everywhere people try to cycle away from cars! This one is where a separated cycle/pathway meets Littlefield Lane.

They’re planted by the Anti-Cycling Brigade (ACB) and they spring up everywhere people try to cycle away from cars! This one is where a separated cycle/pathway meets Littlefield Lane.

They are not only a hazard for cycling, but for everyone, especially people in wheelchairs.

They are not only a hazard for cycling, but for everyone, especially people in wheelchairs.

 

And lastly, there’s the ugly:

The cycleways that do exist are in many cases badly maintained with broken surfaces, litter and broken glass. It would not take much to ensure they are maintained to a good standard of surface and that they are regularly road-swept. Perhaps it’s the anti-cycling barriers that prevent the mini road sweepers getting in there to tidy up!!

This is supposed to be cyclable! It's an appalling surface -the cycle/walk way between Littlefield Lane and Westward Ho.

This is supposed to be cyclable! It’s an appalling surface -the cycle/walk way between Littlefield Lane and Westward Ho.

 

Fine design here (if you discount the barriers out of shot), but fullof glass and litter. Would you want to use this underpass on Patrick St?

Fine design here (if you discount the barriers out of shot), but it’s littered with glass and rubbish. Would you want to use this underpass on Patrick St?

The cutting between Garden St and the train station car park. Dark, dirty, full of glass! Not exactly inviting!

The cutting between Garden St and the train station car park. Dark, dirty, full of glass! Not exactly inviting!

Not the worst by far, but nontheless badly maintained (not maintained at all, it seems) link between Patrick St and Park Drive.

Not the worst by far, but nontheless badly maintained (not maintained at all, it seems) link between Patrick St and Park Drive.

The message of many of these examples is that, although there has been an effort made (even a good one in parts), overall the local authority does not value you as a cyclist and does not care if your cycling experience is a bad one!

However, if the good parts could be joined up with roads that actually prioritise cycling over motoring and actually go where people want to go; if the anti-cycling barriers could be removed and if the surfaces could be maintained properly so they’re pleasant to use, we actually could have something very good on our hands here! Please, NELC?

 

Dutch cycling city nominees 2014: Eindhoven and Almere

These are the final two videos in a series of articles on Bicycle Dutch, looking at this years contenders for Cycling City 2014.

 

You can read the full articles here and here.

 

The Travelling Cyclopolitans!

Follow Mark and Jenny as they begin their cycling tour from Auckland, New Zealand, to Melbourne, Australia.

What is a Cyclopolitan, you may ask? Find out here! In search of bike culture!

Bargate

Cycling along Bargate, an arterial route into and out of Grimsby centre, is truly to take your life in your hands. There is simply not enough room to squeeze four lanes (and at one stage five lanes) of traffic into this road. The route heading out of town becomes two very tight lanes of traffic between Welholme Rd and Nuns Corner. In the other direction, there is a bus lane for a short distance.

Reclaim the inside lane for space for cycling. At present there is nowhere for cyclists to go. Is this really acceptable?

Reclaim the inside lane for space for cycling. At present there is nowhere for cyclists to go. Is this really acceptable?

This is the same road linking the University Centre of Grimsby College with the town centre, and is frequently filled with students. Yet amazingly there is almost no provision for people wanting to use a bike along this road.

Instead of cramming Bargate with four lanes of traffic, why not make it three lanes and a space for cycling? Reduce the outbound direction to one lane for traffic and convert the other lane into a separated cycle lane, from just before Welhome Road (where it becomes two lanes) through to Nuns Corner. This would create a safe space for people to cycle towards the college.

Begin the separated cycle lane here, just before Welhome Road junction (outbound from town centre)

Begin the separated cycle lane here, just before Welholme Road junction (outbound from town centre)

By also providing a cycle path from Chantry Lane through St James Square to Wellowgate and on to Brighowgate, this would then create a usable through-route for people commuting to & from the industrial areas of Pyewipe and the Humber Bank factories through the town centre and on to the residential areas beyond Bargate.

The sign says "In the interests of safety, cyclists please dismount." What is so unsafe in having a cycle lane on one side of this underpass and through St James Square?

The sign says “In the interests of safety, cyclists please dismount.” What is so unsafe in having a cycle lane on one side of this underpass and through St James Square beyond it?

Riding into town from the college cyclists have the Bus & Bike lane as far as the junction with Westward Ho. What happens when a bus wants to pass a cyclist or group of cyclists? At least it’s meant to be a car-free space. From Westward Ho junction onwards there is no Bus & Bike lane, so create a separated cycle lane by taking space from the two lanes of traffic up to Welholme Road junction, and extend it from there on up to the junction with Dudley St.

At present there is no provision along this stretch for cyclists. The road space does squeeze up as it passes Westlands Ave and onwards, but that is no reason not to provide a space for cycling. The present arrangement of squeezed lanes on Bargate between Welholme Rod and Nuns Corner sets the precedent for ‘thin’ lanes, so there’s no excuse for not having a ‘thin’ lane in each direction between the Westlands Ave junction and the junction with Dudley St/Cartergate/Deansgate/Grosvenor St, so that space for cycling can be accommodated. This stretch of thin-laned road could also incorporate a 20mph maximum speed limit to increase safety.

These changes would make cycling along Bargate safer and would therefore encourage people to use their bikes more to come into town and to commute through it. The changes would not cost a vast amount and could be implemented quickly. They would also show the council are serious about prioritising cycling in North east Lincolnshire.

 

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