Monday, 7 November 2011

DIY street design

Last year, Glebe Way in Histon had some new road markings to help cyclists.

40mph zone, 116cm cycle lane at its thinnest
point, with hatched central area.
Before the markings were changed it was a standard single white centre line road - I rarely had trouble.  As soon as the new layout went in drivers I had some issues.

I started to ask question the safety and was told by the council that my comments would be put forward for the "safety audit". I dug deeper and was disappointed to find that the safety audit was conducted to make sure the road layout was safe for cars.

That was a small insight into how car centric our councils are.

[To be fair, Cambridge has dedicated cycling officers who have been improving their designs over time (such as the shared use path on this very road) using quite limited budgets. Lessons were being learned and were starting to stick.  Then Cycling England was disbanded along with funding and the council has been trying to cut dedicated cycling officer posts]

What I have noticed over time is that our largely car centric councils (or is that housing developers?) keep coming up with car centric designs for infrastructure, then cycling and walking campaigners complain and the car centric planners get their pencils out again.

Recently though, I have seen some encouraging and inspiring blog articles that could be the start of a new trend - the community making their own designs and showing their councils how it should be done.

Of course, there is the excellent and well established A View From the Cycle Path showing how the Dutch have made their cycling infrastructure the envy of the world.

Recently, the London Cycle Campaign have redesigned the Blackfriars junction for walkers and cyclists.  Transport for London were unwilling or unable to do this with their focus on smooth traffic flow for motor vehicles.

Here is a post on Vole O'Speed - Cycle of Decline in London - long but very interesting, especially the comparisons and ideas for real outer London Streets.

At War With The Motorist have a series titled What would you do here ? My personal favourite is On the Village High Street, particularly the roads with their width artificially restricted.  Also in that series is On Rural Main Roads and On Country Lanes.

Edit: How could I forget the very inspiring Beach Croft Residents Association story.  A street who pulled together to redesign their own road using planters and a 'road carpet'.

I am suitably inspired, and have some the local knowledge about where walking and cycling is difficult in my village, and now I am starting to think about ways to improve my community.  There is no easy money about right now, but pots of money do appear, and when they do, perhaps we can have the car centric infrastructure designers on the back foot.


  1. Heh, reminds me of the road safety audits for a junction near me, where I was knocked off my bike, and the local cycling group asked the council to do a safety audit for the junction, however the safety audit, which we had to use a FOI to get, didn't cover cycling at all. Rather only mentioned two wheeled vehicles may have an issue with a manhole cover, thus should get anti-skid surfacing.

  2. Now you've just reminded me of the wire cheese grater fences on motorways. Cheaper to install but lethal to motor cyclists. Cambridgeshire has a nice fluffy motorcycle strategy (PDF) but safety goes out the window so easily when balancing the books.