Mark began by characterising much of current cycle provision as not fit for purpose, where “even paint gives up when it’s too difficult.”
“We’ve deluded ourselves over the years that this is good stuff – actually it’s not.”
We have “designed children out of our streets”, they are “an indicator species” for good infrastructure.
Some infrastructure however is quite good and some has been around for a surprisingly long time: “Attempts to provide separate space for walking, cycling and motor traffic can be found in places all across the UK.”
Mark pointed out that there is more flexibility in current design regulations than engineers often assume: “We’ve got these big books of rules, and actually they’re quite flexible.”
There has been innovation in Brighton with stepped cycle tracks that have priority over side roads (Old Shoreham Road) and floating bus stops and separate cycle signals (Lewes Road).
The early London “so-called Cycle Superhighways” were “just rubbish, people got killed”. It took several fatalities and big protests to get cycling treated as a serious mode of transport.
Now with the new East-West and North-South routes built to the best international standards things are starting to change: “Cycling can be a transport mode for ordinary people who just want to get around.”
Cycle infrastructure “is actually very cheap” and as shown by the Waltham Forest Mini-Holland programme, economic returns can come quickly: “All the shops have been let for the first time in 15-16 years.”
Mark spoke about the power from having new schemes which are now installed in the UK: “It’s just up the road, go replicate that, it works.”
In conclusion, Mark stressed that good design for cycling “is about treating people with respect”.
See Mark’s presentation.
Return to the report.