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TOPIC: Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1

The view from the saddle 18 Jan 2016 18:47 #1945

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Mr. March are you suggesting this sad state of affairs is my fault? Impossible sir, I was at home when the snow came.

Posted by Hughes the saddle-sore and all round nuisance on the streets

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The view from the saddle 22 Jan 2016 21:45 #1952

The driver of the car is probably saddle sore if they have had to revert to their bike!

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The view from the saddle 09 Feb 2016 00:05 #1993

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
This weekend the Observer carried an article written by a London Cycle Courier following the publication of her book: "What Goes Around: A London Couriers Story". For the casual uninvolved reader it was probably a pleasant enough piece, but I sat up and took notice when she got to the last paragraph: "I wouldn't go back to the bad old days, when cyclists were dismissed as a bunch of bearded eccentrics, and roads were designed to keep traffic fast rather than keep people safe. I welcome the long overdue improvements to cycling infrastructure, even as I secretly, somewhat guiltily, mourn the days when I used to have the traffic to myself.".

For me what's interesting and arresting is that her pleasure in cycling in London was despite the selfishness and sense of entitlement of drivers, which in turn shows that it is possible for the two to coexist. For her cycle lanes haven't been essential - presumably because of her skills and awareness - and I take it as read that her presence will have made streets that little bit safer for others because drivers had to take account of her lower speed and higher vulnerability. Not an outcome easily transferable to a seven year old on a bike, but inside that situation is a clue to the fact that sharing the streets could work, and does work already in formal Shared Space schemes if speed with its big-brother a sense of entitlement, is kept low. Fortunately very few people actually want to kill someone so eventually a sharing scheme is bound to become self-enforcing.

By contrast the cycle lanes schemes planned locally - which reluctantly I support because something has to be done - will certainly risk a stimulating effect on car speed/driver entitlement except where there are calming measures, and will also promote a cyclists' sense of entitlement ..........and bikes are so quiet.

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The view from the saddle 09 Feb 2016 19:24 #1994

The topic of shared space briefly came up in conversation when I was at the Fox Lane and District Residence Association last Wednesday. I know it appeals to people as it seems like an easy option but unfortunately it is largely discredited now. We can thank the Dutch for this as unlike us, they are willing to experiment with their road layouts. They have concluded that segregation is the only way you will make cycling safer (or feel safer) and so encourage active travel. It doesn't take long searching on the internet to find this example

and this as an example of cycling on shared space in the Netherlands....
"For me, cycling in places like this is the closest I come in this country to the conditions in cycle unfriendly towns of the UK where cycling is a fringe activity. I find I am happy to be out of it and back on the normal Dutch provision as shown here further along in Haren."

So I am not sure what you are proposing to do with the £42million? It seems like a lot of money but if you look at how expensive removing pavements or raising roads is, it won't go far. I think if we settled for shared space we would end up with 20mph zones and white bicycles painted up and down the road (and I think SOGL would even object to this). I regularly ride through Islington, where interestingly enough, they have 20mph zones and plenty of white bicycle signs, I can tell you I don't sigh with relief when I enter the borough. I still get the close passes at over 30mph - the so called punishment pass (perhaps I have dared to take my allocation of road space). As you put it, drivers still have the same sense of entitlement.

What is interesting is that two people can gain different things from reading an article. I was thinking, she must be one gutsy women to handle and enjoy cycling in London as it is not something the average person wants to do. It is mostly a male activity and many are unpleasantly aggressive out of necessity. So she is unusual and you cannot take her attitude and apply it to other cyclists and then say it is possible for cyclists and drivers to coexist as things stand. And I do object to cyclists being used for traffic calming as you suggest. We do NOT choose this role and it is thoroughly unpleasant! By the way I objected to the Dutch roundabout instead of the Triangle for this very reason and I am glad it has gone (as well as it being ugly).

Finally you rightly say that most drivers are not out to kill or maim other road users, however MOST is not enough. There are enough drivers out there who have no regard for my life or those of other cyclist or pedestrians to make life outside the car pretty unpleasant.

We have been discussing the MH for so long now and nobody has come up with a viable alternative to segregated lanes. So we have ended up with two positions. The SOGL position of the status quo "we don't mind cyclist but not on our roads" and the MH scheme. if you follow the link below you will understand why so many are objecting to it (especially the over 60's) and it probably a good thing as it shows something new is being proposed.

PS I love your view from the saddle - keep it up.

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The view from the saddle 09 Feb 2016 23:35 #1995

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author
Hello Hal.

I don't share your view that formal Shared Space is discredited, but in fact I wasn't referring to formal schemes. I was trying to say that arrangement which tended towards consensual sharing would be better overall than cycle lanes which, in social areas like high streets, can be a nightmare for pedestrians. Stockholm and Copenhagen terrified me.

My favourite cycling city is Strasbourg with its muddle of different type of solutions for cyclists. I never once felt threaten by a car or a bike there.

Islington's and Camden's 20mph limits are generally not calmed so the sense of entitlement is not much challenged except by bikers and the few drivers who conform. However I'd bet that average speeds have dropped a bit, though of course more calming should be installed.

Worth noting that Britain is experimenting with the removal of road markings and some signs to increase drivers sense of uncertainty. That's a tentative step towards Shared Space principles. I'll take a bet that it will work........a bit.

More another time. I have a piece under a new thread: Creating Living Environments, which looks at Kendal's efforts to create a serene town. The importance of getting speed down is looked at in that.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1 10 Feb 2016 10:26 #1998

Tom Mellor Tom Mellor's Avatar
I have to agree with Hal - very few people would agree with the author's view, even among the ~2% who do cycle. The new cycle tracks along the Embankment are not even open yet and people are already using them.

I think this photoshopped picture epitomises why shared space would not work:

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1 10 Feb 2016 12:34 #2000

Hi David,

The problem I have is shared space only works on quiet residential roads and cannot work on thoroughfares. I would be up for it as part of the quieter neighbourhood on, for example, the Lakes estate. We will probably have to accept that Green Lanes is a thoroughfare as it stands at the moment. Have a read of this report as it explains why it ends up working badly for all road users.

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Cycling in Enfield - the view from the saddle - Episode 1 10 Feb 2016 23:17 #2002

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author

We're clearly not going to agree on Shared Space, either on the facts or our personal approaches, but in a way it doesn't matter to our local issues or to our discussions because I have a persona concept of sharing.

In only the last few weeks I've come to think that the zenith of car use has passed, and that the future is for the taking.

Just bye-the-bye the Poynton main road scheme seems to have gone down well. Myrna, my wife was in Exhibition Road this morning and thought that all seemed to be running smoothly.

I'm going down a road unusual for me now. Having read Tom Mellor for some time I think he shows signs of the sense of entitlement for cycling that so many car drivers feel for their activity. Sure cycle lanes are big improvement for bikers, but in some settings they are not good news for walkers in general nor children on foot. The schemes we come up with really must balance all the needs in any particular setting.

The Mini-Holland bid gave the impression that Shared Space ideas would be part of the Quieter Neighbourhood proposals, but when I was last engaged with the idea the Council had departed a long, long way from that. I agree that The Lakes Estate ought to have been organised in that way.

I won't burble on now because it's late and our computers are going to a man who will be giving them a good dressing down. I may be back on line late on Friday.

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