Saturday 11 January 2014

A post full of maps

"Remember who we're doing this for," David Hembrow pronounced not so long ago, echoing the London Cycling Campaign's view that the routes on the recently-proposed central London bike grid "must be just as suitable for children, inexperienced cyclists and disabled cyclists as they are for faster commuter cyclists".

Okay, so obviously I'm being a bit dense here—obviously—but is it in fact the case that the people we're not doing this for, to quote Cycling: the way ahead, is "the mass of non-cyclists who are most likely to take up cycling again"?

"We are convinced," says the London Cycling Campaign, "it would be a mistake for the quality of any elements of the network—for example, the Superhighways or the Quietways—to be designed in a way that makes them less suitable for any type of cyclists [sic]."

A man on a Boris bike is heading the 'wrong way' down Brick Lane

Look out, Mister! There are two policemen heading towards you!

Perhaps the law-breaking eco-tosser is going to return the hire bike at
that there station?

No, along the road he continues, to the complete indifference of
absolutely everyone.

The problem with Brick Lane—as with many roads in London—is not safety, but access. To give you another example, you can see what I mean with this little animation sequence (also from Google StreetView).

Ennismore Gardens Mews
In a very long and detailed publication entitled Cycle Network and Route Planning Guide (reported here), four points stood out for me personally:
i. Typically, the aim [of a strategic cycling plan] is to increase the number of cycle trips whilst reducing cyclist injuries. 
ii. Strategic cycling plans should consider whether or not it is practical to design facilities so that they are suitable for cyclists of basic competence. 
iii. Indirect cycle routes may lead cyclists to choose more direct routes with greater risk. 
iv. Alternative routes merely supplement the main road routes, and rarely eliminate the need for cycle provision on the latter.

To my mind, how you respond to the second point gives a fair indication as to where your priorities lie.

* * *

Enough about all that. Let's have a look at some maps.

Full-size map available here

The map above shows all of those bits of route which I have not been able to incorporate into my proposed design for a denser, more coherent and easier-to-understand network.

The red-coloured routes are old LCN routes. Obviously I have known about these routes for a long time. Indeed, I have cycled them all. But—and this is a point I may need to come back to—the routes on my proposed network are primarily intended to provide for strategic journeys.

For want of a better definition, a strategic journey goes from one borough to another borough (let's say). If the route starts and ends within the same borough, it almost certainly has value locally. However, this does not automatically mean that it has value strategically. For that to be true, it must connect with other routes in a coherent and self-consistent way.

Many of these red-coloured routes do exactly that. It is a shortcoming of my signing strategy, therefore, that I am not able to assign a 'compass colour' to every section of route that I would like to (without unduly cluttering up the map, that is). This said, it still ought to be possible for these sections of route to be shown on the map in some way, and for them to be waymarked on the ground in some way.

The purple-coloured routes effectively duplicate alternative routes—routes which I think are faster or which provide better access to important destinations, and which are not so very dangerous. Bottom line, of course, is that if the boroughs / TfL insist on their route choice, then I can change things around, no problem at all.

The orange-coloured routes did not feature in the original LCN, although some of them are familiar to me from borough cycling maps and the more recent London Cycle Guides.

Full-size map available here

The map above shows all of the non-functioning bits of my proposed network design (not including the two circular routes) which do not feature in the central London bike grid.

You can see on the right-hand side of the map that I have highlighted a route in light-blue. Another advantage of the 'network first' approach is that it enables people to see how individual schemes connect to a larger whole. I don't know for certain, but I imagine that, in isolation, making Brick Lane two-way for cyclists, say, might be relatively quite a difficult thing to do. Show people how this scheme would fit in with everything else, however, show them the bigger picture, and they are much more likely to take a broader perspective.

If it is not abundantly clear already, sorting out these non-functioning bits would very much be my priority (if it was up to me). Once the network had been "introduced" and made to work, I would then set about making it available to a much wider section of the population, "on the basis of priority interventions and a timetable".

Full-size map available here

The map above shows all of the red-coloured routes in my proposed design, minus those main road routes which do not feature in the central London bike grid. (Note: this map and the ones that follow are not in any way concerned with 'functionality'.)

Full-size map available here

The orange-coloured routes ...

Full-size map available here

The green-coloured routes ...

Full-size map available here

The dark blue-coloured routes ...

Full-size map available here

The light blue-coloured routes ...

To remind you, these maps omit to show those main road routes which feature in my proposed design but which do not feature in the design for the central London bike grid.

How much of a problem that is I will consider in my next blogpost.

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