Thursday, 15 September 2011

Barriers needed to separate cyclists and pedestrians from motorised traffic - updated opinion on Old Shoreham Road Cycle Lane Consultation

Aerial view of the OSR bridge pinchpoint - Google
I already signalled my support for this cycle route along the Old Shoreham Road (OSR) - it was intended to be the backbone of the city's cycle network and we need safer cycling along this road.

However, I'm concerned by the 'pinch point' of the railway bridge between Wilbury Crescent and Silverdale Road, where road width is narrows and the cycle lane will become a mixed cycle and pedestrian lane. In the original vision for the OSR cycle route it would carry up to 7,000 school children.

View while traveling on the bridge - Google
In my opinion the council should consider a barrier (or other safety measure) on the railway bridge to separate the mixed cycle-pedestrian lane from motorised traffic.  The planners might get expert advice on this. If they have considered the detail of this it should be discussed/shown on the proposal.

Another solution is to make the pinch point a single lane for motorised traffic, with traffic lights to control who goes first. Then we could have lanes for cyclists cars and pedestrians. Would this slow traffic? I don't think so - this is not the limiting point of the OSR.

In any event, if we look at the big picture, don't we want to discourage short hop commutes along this road - preferring commuters to use the bus, train or if they must travel 2 miles by car to use the A27 bypass. Of course, we have not yet made public transport the 'option of choice' - but if we introduced priority for Rapid Bus Transport links along Old Shoreham Road, and into the suburbs maybe people would decide to leave their cars at home.

If we can't reduce car traffic, one solution would be to construct a separate bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. This might cost money but would be a high profile icon of this city's commitment to sustainable transport, since this route was intended to be the backbone of the cycle network and this pinch point always was its weakest link. Central Government has a program for capital spending on sustainable transport (LSTF) - application deadline has passed for now, but maybe we can apply for this in future.

As shown the proposal lacks detail. What will the junctions look like? The lack of these details in previous proposals has caused concern. Also I would like to to see the cycle route rationale - ie, is it still intended to carry a certain number of cyclists?

So I think we could ask for more from the proposal. But even as it stands, it will be an improvement over the existing situation where school children are resorting to cycling along the pavement at various points along this road during during rush hour. Once we implement this proposal, they need only do this along the pinch point, and maybe in the future we can apply for funding for a foot and cycle traffic bridge.

To see full story and for link to B&H Council consultation portal

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cycle safety opinion: cycling safely is probably better for you

As regular readers of my blog will know, I have been rather fascinated by cycle safety stats over recent weeks. This is because I'm worried by the apparent contradiction of our efforts to get more people to cycle to work and school, when the stats say it's 17 times more dangerous on average to cycle a mile on A-roads in British Cities than it is to drive in a car.

I fear I'm sounding like I'm saying it's too dangerous to cycle. But I'm a cyclist, a Dad and a supporter of sustainable transport, so I want to see safer cycling in our cities, and to my mind that means segregating cars from cyclists and pedestrians. That's my point.

The issue is complex - do we compare causalities per journey, per hour or per mile? So far as I can see it's got to be per mile - if it's a mile to cycle cycle to school, that is what I'm interested in. Do we include risky teen cyclists in the stats, they make up 24% of casualties (see link below)? Well, for now I can't try to provide this analysis. I can only look at the averages - and the newspaper - and give my opinion.

My opinion is that stats make cycling, per mile, on average, look dangerous. But a carefully planned cycle route to work or school can be very safe - choose cycle routes separate from motor routes, eg across parks, along segregated cycle routes. If I am faced with the choice of joining a dangerous busy road, or a short stretch along a pavement - I would say "take the safe choice" and walk along the pavement.

Safe cycling gives plenty of health benefits. The link I give below talks about many of these other benefits, but in summary - if you choose to cycle, cycle safely, and your life path may probably be healthier than if you always choose motorised transport. In my opinion. And get your local authority to build safe, segregated cycle links for cyclists and pedestrians.

Here is link to a great (USA) site with an overview of the subject.

Here's a link to a great website which discusses the issues of cycling to school in the UK - and a post on why we're failing compared to Holland.

Friday, 9 September 2011

New cycle parking opens at the front of Brighton station

Area cleared of cycle parking - new parking behind taxis at far end
9 September 2011. The new cycle parking has now opened at the front of Brighton station after a campaign to get the cycle parking reinstated when Southern Rail demolished it earlier this year.

The new bike parking is in a new position and smaller than the destroyed facility. During the absence of parking at the front of the station, dozens of bikes were chained to the railings outside the station daily.

The new parking is on the right hand side as you enter next to the transport police office and vehicles behind the taxi rank.

Councillor Ian Davey, who helped campaign for the reinstatement, said: "Thanks to everybody who helped with the campaign to encourage Southern to provide this facility and to them for responding so quickly. It is surrounded by a large fence and is well covered by CCTV so should be reasonably secure. Another Green win!We now need to make sure it is used."

In the pace where the old cycle racks were, there is now a fruit and veg stall.

Brighton road rage against cyclists: motorist hammer attack on cyclist; pedestrians confront cylists flouting lane control on the seafront

Brighton's Argus newspaper today reported that a cyclist was hit up to 15 times with a hammer in a road rage attack.

The Argus report said police believe the driver struck because he was irritated the 60-year-old cyclist was taking too long to ride up a hill while struggling against the wind preventing the driver from passing. The cyclist was apparently not seriously injured.

More on this story:

Also today, the Argus reported confrontations between pedestrians and cyclists in the King's Esplanade area - where the National Cycle Route No 2 cycle lane abruptly terminates and joins vehicular traffic.

The Argus said: "Cyclists are repeatedly flouting the rules on riding their bikes on the seafront leading to confrontations with pedestrians."

For more on this:

Accidental death of cyclist on Lewes Road: safer cycle lanes on A roads are needed

In edition no 88 of Bricycles Newsletter, Tony Green provided a report on the inquest into the death of cyclist Joanna Walters on the Lewes Road in June 2010. The verdict was accidental death.

But we can, and need to make urban A Roads safer for cyclists - especially where they are designated cycle routes.

Mr Green is Treasurer and Membership Secretary of cycle campaign organisation Bricycles. He wrote: "Jo’s death was a terrible accident, which almost certainly would not have happened if there had been a proper barrier between the cycle track and the road. Will anything be done to make this location safer for cyclists and pedestrians?"

He wrote that the cycle lane conformed to standards when it was built, so "we’ll probably just carry on hoping another tragedy won’t happen. Although much lip service is now paid to cycling there remains little evidence of it being taken seriously by the authorities".

Joanna was cycling along Regional Cycle Route 90 which connects Brighton with Lewes and takes in Sussex and Falmer Universities. Where the accident happened (at the underpass where the Lewes Road/A270 merges with the A27) the cycle lane runs alongside the busy A270 and is shared by cyclists going on both directions and pedestrians. Apparently, Joanna was cycling into Brighton, another cyclist was coming the other way, there was a little confusion about their positions, their shoulders touched and Joanna was clipped by a delivery van traveling along the road.

It was a tragic accident, the coronor recorded.

But, as Tony Green suggests, a barrier such as a fence might have prevented this accident.

I agree with Mr Green, and further, I point out that this is not an isolated case. When you consider the statistics, with urban A roads claiming 17 times more casualties among cyclists than among car drivers, per mile travelled, we should be doing do more to protect cyclists from motor vehicles.

Yes, this means segregated facilities that separate cyclists (and pedestrians) from motor transport.

Where space is limited, we may have to used mixed pedestrian-cycle lanes. Mixed use is not ideal - pedestrians and cyclists mixed up does cause confusion and sometimes accidents, but it rarely leads to serious injuries. We would prefer separate lanes for each direction of cycle travel and for pedestrians, but where this is not possible, we must separate this mixed use pedestrian-cycle lane from motorised traffic with a sturdy barrier to prevent cyclists accidentally straying onto the path of rushing cars.

The government is encouraging people to cycle to school and work. If this is the case they should provide safer cycling facilities along designated cycle routes, separating vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians from motor cars so that accidents like this one are less likely to occur.

A trust celebrating the life of Joanna Walters can be found at

Bricycles website can be found at:

Stricter Liability Laws should apply to motorists in UK: call from Brighton and Hove cycle camapign group, Bricycles

In the most recent edition of Bricycles Newsletter, Tony Green calls for local politicians to introduce stricter liability laws in the UK (click here to download Bricycles news no 88).

This edition also contains a detailed report on the inquest into the death of cyclist Joanna Walters last year (inquest held in January 2011), and a call for barriers to segregate cyclists from motorists on such main roads.

So what is involved in stricter liability? Here is a handy little explanation and a video follows.

With Strict Liability, it's always the motorist at fault when they collide with vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.

In the film, Hans Voerknecht, international coordinator of the Dutch Fietsberaad explains how this works in practice.

Basically, cars kill. Those who drive cars and kill or injure people are liable, simply because of the responsibility involved in operating a 2000 kg machine.

- The UK is only one of four Western European countries that doesnt have 'strict liability' to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
- Strict liability entitles a crash victim to compensation unless the driver can prove the cyclist or pedestrian was at fault.
- Strict liability encourages more careful driving (and cycling, because a cyclist would be deemed to be at fault for crashing into a pedestrian).
- Strict liability would be a matter of civil rather than criminal law so would not affect criminal prosecutions.

The explanation above comes from Copenhagenise website:

Cycle lane violations: website for reporting cars parked on cycle lanes in Brighton and Hove

I just discovered a website for reporting cars parked on cycle lanes. It is a worldwide website, with a special section just for Brighton, and with quite a few local entries. It includes photos and licence plate numbers, with a handy table where the numbers of offenses for each licence plate are totalled.

Cycle lane violations in Brighton and Hove can be reported here:

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Bike Train safer cycling expands to schools and events including Lewes Bonfire night- autumn timetable

Bike Train in Action in Hove Feb 2011
8 September 2011. Bike Train plans to start weekly rides to Brighton's Dorothy Stringer and Varndean Schools from tomorrow 9 September, and to various forthcoming events including White Night and Lewes Bonfire Night.

Organiser Duncan Blinkhorn said: "Bike Train is a group cycle ride which creates a friendly, assertive, hi-vis, safety-in-numbers presence on busy roads, to enable more people to cycle safely.

"We especially want to reach students, parents and staff at Stringer and Varndean schools and college and at Sussex and Brighton Universities."

Until now, Bike Trains have only operated on the Lewes Road in Brighton and Hove, running from the central location of The Level along the Lewes Road to the Brighton and Sussex Universities in Falmer.

Bike Train - Autumn Schedule

Daily Bike Train to Sussex University.
First of daily weekday rides for Autumn Term starts Mon 3rd Oct.
Depart from The Level at 8.30am or 9.30am
Return Ride departs 5.30pm from Falmer House entrance

Friday Bike Train to Dorothy Stringer/Varndean Schools 
First of weekly rides for Autumn Term starts Fri 9th Sep.
Depart 8.10am (meet at The Level 8am if poss)
Return Ride 3.15pm from Dorothy Stringer entrance.

Bike Train to Apple Day at Stamer Park 
Sun 25th September
Depart from The Level at 11am or Noon
Return rides depart from Stanmer Park at 4pm & 5pm.

White Night Bike Train 
Sat 29th Oct
Cycle into the City Centre and around key White Night sites
Depart Sussex University Falmer House at 7pm & 9pm
Depart from Moulsecoomb Library at 7.15pm & 9.15pm
Hourly rides between The Level & The Old Steine via North Laine & Cultural Quarter
Return rides to Moulsecoomb & Sussex University tba

Bonfire Bike Train 
Sat 5th Nov Mass cycle ride to Lewes for Bonfire Night Depart from The Level at 5pm or 6pm Depart from Sussex University at 5.30pm or 6.30pm Return Ride Midnight & 1am from Lewes Prison

Bike Train is a project of Lewes Road for Clean Air, "working for sustainable transport along the Lewes Road corridor". More information at:

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Consultation on proposed new cycle lane in Brighton underway: OPINION - an important step toward providing safe cycling facilities which should be supported.

4 September2011. A public consultation about the proposed Old Shoreham Road Cycle Lane linking Brighton and Hove has been launched. Details and plans are available on the Council's website, where you can also register your opinion and support for the proposals. Click here.

In my opinion this scheme, though limited, is an important step toward providing the safe cycling facilities that are needed to get people cycling to school and work, and should be supported.

Vulnerable cyclists will be protected from vehicular traffic by a kerb (and also prevented from straying into traffic by this kerb). At the pinch point of the railway bridge between Wilbury Crescent and Silverdale Road, where road width is restricted, the cycle lane will become a mixed cycle and pedestrian lane. In fact, at present, along stretches of this road in the morning, you can see school kids cycling along the pavement because it is too dangerous to cycle along the road. So this scheme will be a big step in the right direction and hopefully will be extended in future.
(Amendment - earlier today I posted my opinion that this proposal needed more detail to explain how mixed pedestrian and cycle traffic would use the railway underpass at the end of the Old Shoreham Road. However, I had confused the railway underpass with the less threatening railway bridge that will be included in this scheme (between Wilbury Crescent and Silverdale Road.).

Update 15 September. Today I visited the council website again. Having thought more on this, I made this suggestion: I think the planners should get expert advice on the railway bridge pinch point. In my view they should consider a barrier on the railway bridge to separate mixed cycle-pedestrian traffic from motorised traffic. The best solution of course, is to construct a separate bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.