New Green Lanes area traffic consultation is now available. There are some good elements to it, worth supporting, and there are tweaks that are worth proposing. The consulation documents outline some complicated and contentious issues concerning bikes and parking on Green Lanes, and what to do with Wightman Road. Overall, however, the proposals are timid: they do not contemplate or attempt any substantial reduction in traffic, which is to say that they don’t really set out to solve the problem the plan is meant to address. Haringey surely can do much better. Continue reading
Sadiq Khan promised during his campaign to pedestrianize Oxford Street. That would mean no buses or taxis (black cabs, which is to say traditional London taxis, not mini-cabs or Uber), which are the vehicles allowed there now.
I’ve been ambivalent about this plan because there are a lot of buses on Oxford Street and it’s not clear how they could be re-routed, yet a pedestrianized Oxford Street would be a terrific improvement for central London.
In November, the first installment of the plan was unveiled in a Transport for London (TFL) consultation. TFL proposed changes to 17 of the bus routes that now use Oxford Street, perhaps this year. They calculate that these changes will require, every weekday, 17,200 riders who now ride through would need to change buses – that is if, with that added inconvenience and delay, those people keep riding buses at all. That represents a serious deterioration in bus service, but it’s not close to taking all the vehicles off Oxford Street, and actual pedestrianization remains a few years off.
One might say, well, baby steps. Yes, you’ve got to start somewhere, but why here? The fact is that a large share of the motor vehicles on Oxford Street are black cabs. Many of these taxis are dead-heading, no passenger, to the City or a train station. As buses thin out on Oxford Street, they are simply replaced by taxis – the road becomes a magnet for ever more taxis, a grand rat run through the West End. And the November consultation is all about reducing the number of buses, saying nothing about taxis. Continue reading
I am careful not to be too optimistic about the future of cycling on London’s roads, but I did have faith that with Khan as mayor, bus service at least was in safe hands. Now I’m not so sure.
Good cycling infrastructure is extremely important for increasing cycling and for reducing the use of cars in our towns and cities. On main roads, that means protected (segregated) cycle lanes; on side roads it means filtered permeability – pedestrians and cycles go through, cars and trucks don’t. There’s plenty of evidence for the importance of such infrastructure.
But when the UK cycling organization road.cc runs the headline “Cycle infrastructure responsible for 85% of cycling increase“, I have to object. This is the message of Infrastructure, Infrastructure and Infrastructure gone mad. If you read just that headline, you’ll be left with the impression that nothing much matters other than infrastructure. Even if you read the whole article, you won’t know why that interpretation is dead wrong.
Two densely populated countries in northwest Europe, with similar mild-if-dreary climates. The difference? Cycle infrastructure. It’s why “going Dutch” has become a motto for cycle advocates in Britain.
Who would benefit from going Dutch? From San Francisco to London (two cities I happen to pay attention to, for personal reasons), public concern about bicycle safety and infrastructure focuses on hardy adults, 18-60, at risk of being hit by motor vehicles – particularly trucks – when commuting. Sometimes we cycle commuters are not the most sympathetic lot, especially when pumped with adrenalin after a near-death experience on the road. For an excellent discussion of why quality cycle infrastructure is not about today’s cycle commuters but the much larger population of potential cyclists – disproportionately children and old people – see this post at AsEasyAsRidingABike. Continue reading
Here’s a beautiful map showing real-time bike share usage, station by station, in cities around the world. This is the publicly available data. The NSA, of course, tracks individual riders as they ride 😉
Available as a poster from Copenhagenize.com.
The Olympics have actually emptied much of London. I cycled in to work yesterday, and it was quiet. Russell Square, between the tube station of the same name and the British Museum, has been made into some sort of Olympic(TM) bus hub, with all the regular bus stops closed. There aren’t many cars about. A student came to see me at 5pm and had to get security to let her in because our building was locked up tight – usually, the front door’s open until 9. All very nice, if you’re riding a bike, though I expect most restaurants in central London will lose quite a bit from this big festival.