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Posts from the ‘Cycling’ Category

Twenty times more English children could cycle to school with better transport planning

The Conversation, 18 March 2019

Only 2% of pupils in England cycle to school, even less than the 3% of adults who cycle to work. Similarly low rates can be found in other wealthy countries, like the US and Australia, although some European countries have much higher levels.

Hostile cycling environments, where riders are expected to mix with buses and other large vehicles, are off-putting enough for commuters, let alone for children (or more accurately, the adults deciding whether or not their children can cycle). Lack of provision for cycling may also help explain the comparatively low rates of cycling in England among women, who are more likely than men to be travelling with children.

Yet planning for school cycling barely exists. Most effort across the country goes into teaching children cycling skills, via the national Bikeability programme. While it’s important to ensure children can ride a bike, often little is done to ensure they have somewhere to ride. At school run times many neighbourhoods are traffic clogged, with drivers parked on double yellow lines and zig-zags, at times even driving on the pavement in the rush to drop off.

There hasn’t been much incentive for this to change. Transport planning has generally marginalised cycling, with planning tools and models focused on private motorised traffic. More broadly, commuters and to a lesser extent adults making other utility trips are prioritised over children’s mobility, independence, and well-being. These two factors have combined to mean that child cycling has not reached the mainstream transport planning agenda.

Cycling potential

Leadership and funding are crucial in changing the situation. But data and planning tools also matter. We saw an opportunity to use data to improve planning processes. Part of the problem is that we don’t know how many children might cycle to school. We don’t know which neighbourhoods could have high levels of child cycling, nor which routes within an area have the greatest potential.

Making that invisible potential visible is the challenge. And one that we’ve met through developing a new modelling tool, part of the Department for Transport-funded Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT). The analysis is based on the National School Census within which data on travel to school was last collected in 2011 for all state primary and secondary schools in England.

The analysis shows that if children in England cycled to school at the same rates as Dutch children do (for trips of the same distance and hilliness), more than two in five children would do so. The model uses data from the Dutch travel survey, which shows for instance that while around a third of Dutch primary school children might cycle 2-3km to school, these rates drop to one in nine when distance rises to 4km. Realising the “Dutch” potential would mean a 22-fold increase from the current levels of one in 50 children cycling to school.

Even today’s best performing areas would see growth. For example, in Cambridge (with the highest levels of cycling across the country), the amount of children cycling to school would rise from 30% to 53%. All areas see substantial increase, even rural and hillier places; and no English local authority would have fewer than 16% of trips to school cycled.

At present, child cyclists are almost absent from most of our streets, and this amount of child cycling is hard to imagine. To help planners visualise and plan for growth, the PCT maps cycling to school, along routes, in neighbourhoods, and for individual schools. Some roads might have as many as 500, 1,000 or more children pedalling along them, if we were able to create conditions that prioritise children over cars. “School streets” are one such policy, restricting car access at school times, leaving streets clear for children to walk, cycle, play, and socialise without fear of traffic injury.

Other options are to create more widespread interventions. For instance, London’s mini-Holland programme (in Enfield, Kingston, and Waltham Forest) involved closing some neighbourhoods to through motor traffic. Replacing rat runs with planters, play areas, and bike parking, the scheme is already resulting in an increase in walking and cycling.

Health and climate benefits

What might the benefits be of getting more children to ride to school? Many benefits can’t easily be quantified, such as the impacts of redressing long-term decline in children’s independent mobility. For children, available space has too often shrunk from whole neighbourhoods, to streets, to front or back yards – with the greatest impacts on children without access to private outdoor space.

But some impacts can be quantified. The PCT shows that if England achieved its school cycling potential, the benefits could be huge. The calculations suggest that achieving the scenario outlined above would increase physical activity from school travel among pupils by 57% and reduce transport-related carbon emissions by 81 kilotonnes per year.

These benefits vary by primary versus secondary school. Primary school children would see a 9% increase in physical activity from school travel (largely because many walk at present, with distances short). Secondary school children would see a 97% increase. Using World Health Organisation physical activity targets, the proportion of secondary school children getting at least half their recommended physical activity from active school travel would increase threefold, from 13.6% to 40.4%.

We’ve got a long way to go before cycling to school is normalised. If we get there, the benefits are great: improved health and well-being, cars off the road, greater child (and parental) mobility and independence. This will involve a shift in mindset, prioritising children’s health over adults’ car-driving convenience. The new PCT layer contributes to an emerging evidence base to help local policymakers plan for, and prioritise, child cycling.

https://theconversation.com/twenty-times-more-english-children-could-cycle-to-school-with-better-transport-planning-113082

Cycling now the most popular form of rush hour transport on London streets, report shows

Cycling Weekly, 19 February 2019

City of London report shows four-fold increase in cycling in City in last 19 years

Anyone in London will be able to tell you about the surge in cycling numbers in the capital in recent years, but the latest survey of transport modes in the capital has shown in stark detail just how popular cycling has become.

The City of London Corporation has been running its Traffic in the City study for the last 19 years, with its survey of traffic at 15 locations in the City of London showing loud and clear the huge uptake in cycling over those years.

Since 1999 all modes of above-ground transport have reduced by 25-50 per cent, with the exception of cycling, which is now four times as popular as it was 19 years ago.

What’s more, at peak times (between 08:00-10:00 and 17:00-19:00) the numbers of cyclists exceed the numbers of cars, taxis, buses, motorcycles, or goods vehicles.

However it’s not all good news when it comes to the level of cycling in the City of London, with the report pointing out that the increase in cycling numbers has slowed since 2012.

“While this is not a extrapolatory exercise”, the report states,” it does appear that the City counts have reached ‘peak cycle’ over the last five years, suggesting that significant changes in cycling infrastructure provision and/or travel behaviour may be needed to spur further growth in cycling on City streets.”

The report has also included pedestrian numbers for the first time, and points out how the large amount of space dedicated to private vehicles carries a relatively small number of people.

“Private vehicles – cars, taxis, and motorcycles/mopeds – utilised the most street space of any mode – over 53 per cent – while only carrying an estimated quarter of all people travelling on City streets,” the report continues.

“While buses only made up two percent of all counted vehicles, they carried an estimated 19 per cent of all people travelling on City streets (compared to 21 and 19 per cent for private vehicles respectively).

“Buses and private vehicles carried approximately the same number of people in the City while making up an estimated nine and 53 per cent of total street space usage respectively.”

Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists

The Conversation, 8 February 2019

Designing for bikes has become a hallmark of forward-looking modern cities worldwide. Bike-friendly city ratings abound, and advocates promote cycling as a way to reduce problems ranging from air pollution to traffic deaths.
But urban cycling investments tend to focus on the needs of wealthy riders and neglect lower-income residents and people of color. This happens even though the single biggest group of Americans who bike to work live in households that earn less than US$10,000 yearly, and studies in lower-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Boston have found that the majority of bicyclists were non-white.

I have worked on bicycle facilities for 38 years. In a newly published study, I worked with colleagues from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Boston groups focused on health and families to learn from residents of several such neighborhoods what kinds of bike infrastructure they believed best met their needs. Some of their preferences were notably different from those of cyclists in wealthier neighborhoods.

Cycling infrastructure and urban inequality

Bike equity is a powerful tool for increasing access to transportation and reducing inequality in U.S. cities. Surveys show that the fastest growth in cycling rates since 2001 has occurred among Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American riders. But minority neighborhoods have fewer bike facilities, and riders there face higher risk of accidents and crashes.

Many U.S. cities have improved marginalized neighborhoods by investing in grocery stores, schools, health clinics, community centers, libraries and affordable housing. But when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, they often add only the easiest and least safe elements, such as painting sharrows – stencils of bikes and double chevrons – or bike lane markings, and placing them next to curbs or between parked cars and traffic. Cycle tracks – bike lanes separated from traffic by curbs, lines of posts or rows of parked cars – are more common in affluent neighborhoods.

Compared with white wealthier neighborhoods, more bicyclists in ethnic-minority neighborhoods receive tickets for unlawful riding or are involved in collisions. With access to properly marked cycle tracks, they would have less reason to ride on the sidewalk or against traffic on the street, and would be less likely to be hit by cars.
In my view, responsibility for recognizing these needs rests primarily with cities.

Urban governments rely on public participation processes to help them target investments, and car owners tend to speak loudest because they want to maintain access to wide street lanes and parallel parking. In contrast, carless residents who could benefit from biking may not know to ask for facilities that their neighborhoods have never had.

Protection from crime and crashes

For our study, we organized 212 people into 16 structured discussion groups. They included individuals we classified as “community-sense” – representing civic organizations such as YMCAs and churches – or “street-sense,” volunteers from halfway houses, homeless shelters and gangs. We invited the street-sense groups because individuals who have committed crimes or know of crime opportunities have valuable insights about urban design.

We showed the groups photos of various cycling environments, ranging from unaltered streets to painted sharrows and bike lanes, cycle tracks and shared multi-use paths. Participants ranked the pictures according to the risk of crime or crashes they associated with each option, then discussed their perceptions as a group.

Studies have shown that awareness of criminal activity along bike routes can deter cyclists, and this is an important concern in low-income and minority neighborhoods. In a study in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, I found that African-American and Hispanic bicyclists were more concerned than white cyclists that their bikes could be stolen. Some carried bikes up three flights of stairs to store them inside their homes.

From an anti-crime perspective, our focus groups’ ideal bike system was a wide two-way cycle track with freshly painted lines and bike stencils plus arrows, free of oil or litter. Conditions around the route also mattered. Our groups perceived areas with clean signs, cafes with tables and flowers, balconies, streetlights and no alleyways or cuts between buildings as safest. They also wanted routes to avoid buildings that resembled housing projects, warehouses and abandoned buildings.

For crash safety, participants preferred cycle tracks separated from cars by physical dividers; wide cycle track surfaces, colored red to designate them as space for bicyclists; and bike stencils and directional arrows on the tracks. In their view, the safest locations for bike facilities had traffic signals for bikers, clearly painted lines, low levels of traffic, and did not run near bus stops or intersections where many streets converged.

Rules for the road

We compared our results with widely used bicycle design guidelines and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles to see whether those sources reflected our participants’ priorities. The guidelines produced by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the National Association of City Transportation Officials provide engineering specifications for designing bicycle facilities that focus on road elements – paint, delineator posts and signs – but do not describe design features that would protect vulnerable humans bicycling through an environment at night. Our study asked people about what kinds of surface markings and features in the surrounding area made them feel most comfortable.

As an example, our groups preferred street-scale lighting to brighten the surface of cycle tracks. In contrast, tall highway cobra-head lights typically used on busy urban streets reach over the roadway, illuminating the road for drivers in vehicles that have headlights.

In higher-income neighborhoods, cyclists might choose bike routes on side streets to avoid heavy traffic. However, people in our study felt that side streets with only residential buildings were less safe for cycling. This suggests that bicycle routes in lower-income ethnic-minority neighborhoods should be concentrated on main roads with commercial activity where more people are present.

Decisions about public rights-of-way should not be based on how many car owners or how few bicyclists show up at public meetings. Our study shows that city officials should create networks of wide, stenciled, red-painted, surface-lighted, barrier-protected, bicycle-exclusive cycle tracks in lower-income ethnic-minority neighborhoods along main streets. This would help residents get to work affordably, quickly and safely, and improve public health and quality of life in communities where these benefits are most needed.

https://theconversation.com/bike-friendly-cities-should-be-designed-for-everyone-not-just-for-wealthy-white-cyclists-109485

E-Scooters Could be a Last-Mile Solution for Everyone

ITDP, 14 December 2018

Like docked and dockless bikeshare before them, dockless electric “kick” scooters are taking off in popularity, responding to a strong and growing need for urban car alternatives like transit and “last mile” connections. As part of a menu of urban transportation options, scooters have the potential to reduce short-distance, single occupancy vehicle and TNC (Transportation Network Company, e.g. Uber, Lyft, Via) trips, reducing urban congestion and emissions.

Scooters provide a low cost, flexible mobility option for short trips, particularly those connected to transit. Bikes have long provided an excellent option for last-mile trips, and they continue to do so. However, the popularity, and user-friendliness of e-scooters may offer an even easier option for the first and last mile.
Scooters, particularly e-scooters, offer an option that pretty much anyone, regardless of fitness or ability, can ride for short trips. As with shared bikes, cities have an opportunity to leverage scooters, and other privately-operated, shared modes in a way that more directly encourages their use in coordination with transit. For example, cities could work with operators to subsidize scooter and bikeshare rides that start or end at transit using common payment options. This level of targeted integration benefits cities by expanding access to transit at a relatively low cost per mile (compared to building new stations, adding buses, etc.), benefits users by making sustainable, multi-modal trips more streamlined and affordable, and benefits companies by establishing a loyal, diverse customer base.

Scooters, bikes, and other technology-enabled shared modes have a role to play in shifting the paradigm away from personal car ownership. Cities can take advantage of this opportunity by understanding the demand for car-alternatives for short trips, and setting smart, goal-oriented regulations that help address that demand. Data from Portland’s scooter pilot shows that 34% of resident scooter riders would have otherwise driven a personal car or taken a taxi or TNC if a scooter hadn’t been available for their most recent trip. While this is promising support for scooters helping to reduce car trips, the data also indicates that 37% of respondents would have otherwise walked if a scooter wasn’t available. When asked how often they rode a scooter to or from a transit stop, 61% responded ‘never’. These last two data points underscore the need for cities to ensure that scooters support public transit, walking and cycling, instead of competing with these modes.

More, and longer-term data on scooter trips could help cities decide whether scooters are, in fact, providing a first-last mile connection to transit, substituting car trips, or pushing pedestrians and cyclists away from biking and walking.

Funding the Last-Mile Solution

Cities are now more prepared for the “ask forgiveness, not permission” attitude of privately-operated mobility services, and are responding to the unpermitted launch of e-scooters much more quickly and systematically than with transportation network companies like Uber, or even dockless bikeshare companies. While a few cities have outright banned scooters, most have launched pilots to test regulations and evaluate potential for long-term integration of scooters into the transportation network. In some cases, such as in Austin, Denver, and Los Angeles, cities are moving to combine permitting of dockless bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters under a common regulatory scheme.

Other cities are taking more concrete steps to improve scooter and bike riders’ comfort on the street by requiring private operators to help fund infrastructure and other road safety improvements. Indianapolis is the first city to require scooter operators to pay $1 per scooter per day into a fund for road safety improvements for cyclists and scooter riders. Scooter operator, Bird, has volunteered to pay a similar amount for infrastructure improvements in other cities (many of which have been hesitant to accept Bird’s offer) however, some reportedly do not have a process in place to accept this type of funding from the private sector. Regardless, this new model of collaboration between cities and private companies to fund projects that make choosing a scooter or bike as a last-mile solution safer could prove successful, as long as cities are clear about what their goals are and why they are asking companies to share costs.

Encouraging the use of dockless scooters as a first-last mile option could also help connect people living further from the city center to public transit. Residents who live in outer neighborhoods tend to have fewer transit options, and likely require both a first and last mile solution for their trip. These residents stand to benefit the most from improved access to reliable, affordable first-last mile options.

Cities and e-scooter operators have an opportunity to learn from bikeshare by recognizing the demand – especially in neighborhoods further from downtown – for low-cost, reliable transportation options that aren’t private vehicles. It’s also critical for cities to realize their role in supporting sustainable transport like bikeshare and e-scootershare with protected infrastructure that can serve cyclists and scooters well, along with cost-effective and convenient connections with transit. Technology and private capital offer cities great tools to improve the lives of their residents, and taking full advantage of these tools means making space on our streets for many mobility options: scooters, bikes, transit, and shared vehicles all have a role to play in a healthy, vibrant transport system.

E-Scooters Could be a Last-Mile Solution for Everyone

How your personal information funds share bike schemes

Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November 2017
You’re 25, you ride your brightly-coloured share bike across the city to get dinner and drinks with friends at the same pub every Friday, you take the same route home, and leave the bike near your house each time. That kind of portrait is legally captured by the navigation systems and phone apps linked to the dockless share bike schemes quickly spreading across Australian cities, and is a valuable source of income, especially when they charge as little as $1 per half hour.
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Perth bike paths fail to meet lighting standards

The West Australian, 13 December 2018
Large sections of Perth’s most popular bike paths are poorly lit, with many failing to meet Australian lighting standards. Research commissioned by the RAC examined 67km of inner-city bike paths and found almost 60 per cent had substandard lighting.
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Oslo prepares for ‘war on cars’

New Mobility News, 25 September 2018
Oslo, with its 675.000 inhabitants, is preparing for ‘a war on cars’ and ‘is seriously violating freedom’, critics in the Norwegian capital say, now city government is forcing the car – including the electric one – more and more out of the city centre. “We have to give the city back to the people, to let children play in security and let elderly people find a bench to sit on”, Hanna Marcussen, ecologist and in charge of urban development, says.

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Driverless car hype gives way to e-scooter mania among technorati

NBC News, 13 October 2018
When Michael Ramsey, an analyst for technology research firm Gartner, started in February to put together his 2018 “hype cycle” report for the future of transportation, he had plenty of topics to choose from: electric vehicles, flying cars, 5G, blockchain, and, of course, autonomous vehicles. But one type of transportation is conspicuously absent from the results of the report: electric scooters.

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Rising cyclist death toll is mainly due to drivers, so change the road laws and culture

The Conversation, 18 September 2018
Recent reporting paints a picture of surging road deaths and failing safety strategies for cyclists. The Australian Automobile Association’s Benchmarking report records 1,222 road deaths in the year ending June 2018. And cyclist deaths in particular remain stubbornly high, even as average speeds, which affect road deaths, continue to decline. If cars are much safer than 25 years ago, why are cyclist deaths increasing, from 25 the previous year to 45 this past year?
Of the untimely road deaths the AAA reports, 1,100 are due to how drivers were driving. In Australia, drivers are to blame for at least 79% of accidents with cyclists. And roughly 85% of reported cyclist casualty crashes involve another vehicle, not a bike or a pedestrian. Driver distraction accounts for roughly 25% of accidents.
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Trees make way for bike path in Cottesloe

Western Suburbs Weekly, 20 July 2018
GREEN-LEANING councillors face having to agree to cut down about 50 trees to get a long-delayed commuter bike path through Cottesloe that will eventual connect to Fremantle. “I saw the plan this morning, and it was a pretty lazy piece of town planning as it’s just a straight line that doesn’t seem to take into account the trees in the way,” West Tree Canopy member Peter Dickson told communitynews.com.au.
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