Archive for the ‘Highways Agency’ Category

Forget Superhighways – it’s the normal ones that are choking cycling

March 1, 2011

I work in an office in Hammersmith. A particular bugbear of mine has been that, due to the unpleasant, car-obsessed one-way system at Hammersmith roundabout, it is considerably quicker for me to walk the 0.5 miles from my work to the high street than it is to cycle.

Impenetrable: the one way system

I have done a map of the journey from my office to the high street. The blue lines represent where one can cycle, the red lines where you must walk, and the red man where you are forced to dismount and wait to push your bike along the pavement.

The red man is not a matter of chance: both junctions prioritise road traffic to the extent that pedestrians necessarily have to wait at either the start of the crossing or the island in the middle for at least one traffic stream. There is no phase where pedestrians can cross the entire junction, and both streams of traffic are stopped.

Who is to blame for this monstrosity of road design in the centre of an urban hub? Is it TfL? Sadly, not in this case. The borough, then? Well, maybe they should have put up more of a fight – they do seem inordinately proud of cycling’s risible 4% modal share (pdf, p28), given that they are a residential area, a nucleus of offices, and 3 miles (through Hyde Park) from Central London.

The bulk of the blame becomes clear, however, when looking at the map in H&Fs Local Transport Plan (LTP) Borough Transport Objectives (pdf, p13):

The red lines on the map are TfL’s Road Network (TLRN). If this infamous car-crash of a network that fascinates the blogging community is our Paris Hilton, then the green lines are Nicky: less discussed, but just as ugly.

I’m talking, of course, about the Highways Agency’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) (map [pdf]). You’ll be glad to know, the Highways Agency is committed to:

  • Considering the needs of cyclists at all stages of trunk road scheme development
  • Encouraging use of cycle lanes and cycle tracks, and cycle-friendly junctions
  • Where possible, working to provide more direct for cyclists for key destinations

I suppose it’s just not possible here. There’s only enough room for 3 lanes of motor traffic – how on earth could anyone find room for bikes? And after all, the Highways Agency loves cyclists. They have Non-Motorised User Audits which ensure that routes:

  • Directly facilitate the desired journey without undue deviation or difficulty
  • Are continuous and not subject to severance or fragmentation

What’s more, the Highways Agency really gets cycling. Their Useful Cycling Links page is a wealth of invaluable, current information for cyclists:

Sadly, the first “up to date” link simply takes you to a site that says, Bikeforall.net has now moved. Please visit BikeHub.co.uk.

Fortunately they make up for this with the relevance of the Tour de France 2007 to everyday commuter and urban cycling in 2011.

In The Subjection of Women, JS Mill discusses the root of men’s false beliefs about the inferiority of women (bear with me…). He compares the nature of women’s development in society to a tree, “left outside in the wintry air, with ice purposely heaped all around.” Any conclusions based on the nature of this tree are necessarily false: its development is stunted by its environment.

The Highways Agency says, “most of our business is concerned with providing for the movement of motor vehicles throughout the network.” They only need to look to Holland or Denmark to realise that this is not an a priori truth – and to accept responsibility for creating the environment where cars flourish, as people on bikes wilt and wither and our numbers waste away.