Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sustainable transportation in Richmond?

With Richmond park and the Thames towpaths, one could think Richmond is an ideal spot for cycling. It is probably better than many places, but there are still many improvements to be made:

  • Theft, is quoted as one of the key deterrent to cycling (17% of cyclists got their bike stolen in the past 3 years, of which 24% no longer cycle at all and 66% cycle less often). Secure parking is an obvious answer, but there are few places to attach your bike in Richmond and few primary schools have bike sheds.
  • Cycling routes are designed to an appalling standards, with high-friction sufaces (more effort is needed to pedal on the green paths!), potholes and manholes covers protrude often (the Upper Richmond Road is a bad example) and in the park or towpath, the shared pedestrian/cyling path is a recipe for disaster (which cyclist has never experienced hesitating pedestrians jumping left and right to make way or bullying runners packs?). The standards are seldom respected -have you seen many lanes 1.5m wide?
  • Passive road infrastructure safety is a topic where we have much to learn from the Dutch experience. There's little concept of segregating the traffic (establishing a physical separation between cars and bicycles): "advisory cycle lanes" are an example of this thinking. Take again the A205 (Upper Richmond road): there's no provision for segregating traffic at major junctions (there could be separate traffic light for cyclists) and minor intersection (there should be a "hard" traffic island before the junction so that cars turning right have a visual obstacle reminding them of observing the cycle lane priority. Large roundabouts like those on the A316 are also dangerous for cyclists.
Cyclists' rants? Maybe, but increasing the cycling sahre in commuting (now less than 3% of journeys to work) is the easiest way towards sustainable transportation. Sustainability in transportation is not a buzzword for tree-hugging ecoxtremists but has direct and major benefits for all:
  • reduced pollution
  • reduced noise
  • reduced congestion
  • positive impact on public health
  • decrease in working hours lost in public transport delays and traffic jams
  • increased turnover for city centre retail
  • ... and it's cheaper than any other alternative but walking!

What needs to be done by Richmond borough?
  • Upgrade the cycle lanes, to ensure they are un-interrupted and segregated from cars
  • Allow two way use for bikes of one way street
  • Transfor "advisory" cycle lanes into "hardened" cycle lanes
  • Increase numbers of bike attachment posts (aka Sheffield stands) close to shops
  • Build 24-hour secure parking for cycles at the borough stations to promote combined rail-bike use (see Munster example on page 41: 25% rail customer now cycles to or from the station)


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