cycle infrastructure

A global transition is needed to shift linear economic models typified by carbon intensive energy consumption and significant environmental impacts, where we ‘take, make and dispose’ natural resources- to circular models with reduced energy requirements from low carbon renewable sources, with minimal environmental impacts, and where natural resources are recycled and reused, and products are maintained and re-manufactured. 

Investing in projects and schemes, and across a range of sectors and scales, that align with this transition can have significant environmental benefits, as well as other positive sustainability related outcomes. Consider, as examples, the range of environmental, social and economic benefits that can be achieved at both a regional/national, and global, level of investing in cycling as a mode of urban transport- or by designing and engineering natural infrastructure that works in harmony with existing natural systems.

Thousands of cyclists hold up their bicycles after riding around the Hungarian capital Budapest on April 25, 2015, to demonstrate critical mass and demand that the city, where hundreds of thousands of people regularly use bikes to get around, develop more cycling infrastructure. The Bernadett Szabo photo was selected as one of The Atlantic’s Photos of the Week.

For all its problems, it’s nice to see that Belfast’s cycling infrastructure does consider cyclists from time to time. On Castle Street in City Centre, there are some nice cycle traffic signals. They’d be better mounted a little lower down, but they’re nice to see. Unfortunately just down the street are confusing “No vehicles” signs which give the impression that cycles may only proceed if pushed by a pedestrian, whereas approach from the other side says both buses and cycles are welcome on the road. The signage around the Streets Ahead programme and the City Centre as a whole would benefit from standardisation.

It makes me want to cry...

At the weekend we decided to go for a “family bike ride”. That thing that other people think we do all the time, because they see us riding bikes. Most of the time in our house, a “family bike ride” is the school run or a trip to the shops, going on a “bike ride” is something we rarely have time to do.

We went to try out the Monsal Trail and thought we’d cycle from Thornbridge to the L’Eroica Festival, which I’d estimated as a 6 mile round trip and just about doable by a 6 year old. The trail is Derbyshire’s flag ship cycle route, hailed as ideal for family cycling and indeed there were plenty of families out cycling on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Almost all on mountain bikes, helmeted and nearly half with wrap around glasses on!

The Monsal Trail is depressing on many levels. It is yet another railway line that was victim to this country’s short sighted transport policy that means rural areas are almost entirely car dependent. The “redundant” railway line has now been converted to “leisure use”, meaning it is shared use path and full of dog walkers and no-one keeps vegetation under control. It’s clearly not considered as a route that could replace any form of vehicular travel. This is reinforced by the poor quality surface that has been put down - a half hearted attempt at compacted gravel. In some areas ok ish, but in many areas large pieces of loose stone making it down right dangerous.

After a brief glimpse of it a few weeks ago in torrential rain (full of puddles) I realised it certainly wasn’t going to be Brompton friendly, so I took my vintage Raleigh Roadster, thinking that the roadster, designed for rubbish roads and perfectly capable of handling Sheffield’s potholes, would be fine. I was wrong. The Schwalbe Delta Cruiser tyres were skating all over in the gravel and far from being a nice relaxing ride, most of the time I had to keep all my concentration on my steering. (I certainly wasn’t going to risk taking photos)

That was bad enough, but the dust, after a few days without rain, was terrible. The bikes were covered in it, we were covered in it and I realised the wrap around glasses would’ve been handy the amount of grit that kept flying in my eyes. I was glad I was wearing soft contact lenses, with gas permeable ones I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing!

Another thing Derbyshire have skimped on is the signage, which is also poor and hard to see. We ended up adding an extra 2 miles to the trip because of it, which was a bit much for the 6 year old, who really struggled with the last mile back to the car.

The final straw was the end of the route, just outside Bakewell, which ends with cyclist dismount signs because the path becomes to steep. And by steep I mean ridiculously steep. Going downhill was bad enough, but uphill was something else. Youngest daughter could barely walk up it without her bike. Eldest daughter kept sliding backwards pushing her bike up it and I was really struggling. Hardly what you call accessible! The crazy thing was there was loads of room to make a gently sloping ramp, but no, yet more cost cutting and lazy planning.

For me the trip really summed up how poor all cycle provision is in this country and how we are constantly being fobbed off with substandard rubbish. And as if to ram the point home, I got back to see this photo in my twitter feed:

photo by @amsterdamized

It just makes me want to cry!

when a uk city builds proper cycle tracks

me: sign me the FUCK up 🚵🚴🚵🚴🚵🚴🚵🚴🚵🚴 good infra go౦ԁ iNfra🚲 thats 🚶 some good🚲🚲infra right🚲🚲🚲th 🚲 ere🚲🚲🚲 right🚶there 🚶🚶if i do ƽaү so my self 🚸 i say so 🚸 thats what im talking about right there right there (chorus: ʳᶦᵍʰᵗ ᵗʰᵉʳᵉ) mMMMMᎷМ🚸 🚲🚲 🚲НO0ОଠOOOOOОଠଠOoooᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒᵒ🚲🚲🚲🚲🚲 🚸 🚵 🚴🚴🚴🚵🚵Good infra

Cyclesaurus became iconic among Belfast’s cycling community in 2013. It represented cycling provisions in Northern Ireland as a whole - largely installed without thought, and where they were provided, were often dangerous. Cyclesaurus was a triangular strip of green tactile paint which guided cyclists across a 3-entry junction onto a two-way segregated cycle lane. Those exiting the lane into the crossroads were guided onto the wrong side of the road.

The NI Roads Service have recently “upgraded” Cyclesaurus, and it is now more dangerous than ever. As you can see, the old green triangle is visible under the new, and the approaching lane has been extended much beyond the junction. However, the lane approaching the camera has a significant metal pole right in the centre, which is actively dangerous at night, and when approaching the lane from the road shown to the right in the photo. Bewildering sets of lines (not to regulation and which give a confusing idea of priority) make road users approaching from the side roads unsure of their right of way. If you do manage to get across the junction unscathed, there’s a green splodge of paint (just below the truck in the photo) on the left hand side of the road to gently remind you that cycling on the left is generally best.

Overall, it’s a massively disappointing “upgrade” to Belfast’s cycling infrastructure, and one that gets lots of use thanks to being on a popular link to the National Cycle Network Route 9.


the last stretch of “the wiggle” in sf.

  • the left turn lane from scott st
  • semi-protected bike lane on fell. (more improvements forthcoming)
  • the conflict zone to accomodate left-turning cars (which should be designed away! imo, conflicts=design fail!)
    and that gas station is so problematic—need a redesign of its entry and exit points.
  • bike box on fell/divisadero 

finally had a chance to take these pics (although i’m sure many photos of these already exist) while walking around in the area. usually on my bike i’m less inclined to stop and take pics.
Why cycletrack networks should be the next great American transit project
A national push for safer biking would transform America into a country built for the 21st century.

cycle track in utrecht, netherlands. flickr/livestreets

There’s a quantum leap we have to make to give our cities connected bike lanes,” said Northeastern professor Peter Furth, who studies transportation and has lived in the bike-friendly Netherlands. “Only then can you really realize the benefits. If there’s a great bike lane here and a great bike lane there, but I can’t get from one to the other — I have to put my life at risk, I get myself feeling all stressed out, then it won’t work.”

Former Portland mayor Sam Adams has said that the initial buildout of the city’s 300-mile bike network cost the same as one mile of urban highway.

It’s difficult to estimate what a national installment of cycletracks in US cities would cost. But the cost would certainly pale in comparison to typical transportation projects. Bike infrastructure can range from $100,000 per mile to a few million. For example, Austin estimated a 200-mile network of on-street bike facilities would cost $290,000 per mile. Building 47 miles of urban trails would cost it $2 million per mile.

But first we’ll need a sincere commitment to building safe bike infrastructure, so that all Americans feel comfortable riding.

read more: washpo, 22.06.15.


ghent, belgium vs. portland, oregon: bike-friendly streets @same scale.

ghent—typical european old, narrow streets in city center, probably limited car access, so you can pretty much bike on any street (if you don’t mind cobblestones on some of them).

portland—has smallest block size of any american city, but still has a downtown with one-way streets, plus arterial streets. i think some inner eastside residential streets are quiet enough to be bike-friendly, but they aren’t designated as routes as part of the bike network.

Instead of spending public funds on bike-share, city governments should invest directly in cycling infrastructure to create an environment where cycling is an attractive commuting option. When that happens, individuals can buy and use their own bicycles, thus rendering bike-share systems non-essential.

A Systems Perspective of Cycling and Bike-sharing Systems in Urban Mobility. Kumar, Teo, Odeni. 

(not essential but good for tourists and people who need to make the last-mile connection from transit)


Repainting The Bike Lane On Bedford Avenue, NYC 2009.

I know I’ve posted “renegade bike lanes” videos before, but I’m always so impressed by badass-ery.

THIS SUMMER. somehow.. $$$, paint, new cyclist friends..