Category: uk

New UK Prime Minister commutes by bike

UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron today was selected as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The 43 year old Cameron, who is Britain’s youngest prime minister in almost two centuries, regularly rode his bicycle to parliament. It’s unknown if Cameron will continue riding his bike from his new official residence at Number 10 Downing Street.

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What other world leader gets around by bike?

In his campaign, Mr Cameron threw a few bones to the motoring lobby, though he also promotes high speed rail across Britain and green initiatives to encourage walking, cycling, and mass transit use.

Like the United States, the UK is increasingly dependent on imported oil for its energy needs. North Sea oil production fueled economic growth from the Thatcher era onwards. Although production peaked in 1999, the national government continued to receive substantial revenue from North Sea production, allowing lavish spending on social programs.

North Sea oil has not cushioned Britain from the worldwide economic turmoil of the past two years, leading to the dissolution of Gordon Brown’s Labour Party government. The Conservative Party plans to cut some taxes to stimulate economic growth, but with declining energy supplies economic growth is impossible though, to his credit, Cameron has resisted most tax cut proposals in favor of plans to cut government spending.

The UK’s 2009 oil revenue was half what it was in 2008, and 2010 will likely be even worse. Cameron and his coalition government with the Liberal Democrats will need to deal with the realities of physical resource constraints, climate change issues, economic recession, and lower tax revenues. It should be interesting for them and for all of us.

25 great cycle routes in.. anywhere!

Guest post by Andreas Kambanis author of London Cycle Routes eBook

There comes a point in whatever city or town you cycle in that you get a little sick of riding in traffic. A taxi or a bus cuts into your path and you just think I want to get away! At some point I stopped just saying it and decided to find great locations to cycle in London. I wanted to find places where I would be the only user of the road. Or even better not be on a road! In my search I’ve found some incredible routes. I’ve fallen over in the mud in the middle of a random forest. I’ve discovering things I never knew about my city and I’ve enjoyed my bike the way I think it is meant to be enjoyed.

If you are a London cyclist then you can grab a copy of my London Cycle Routes eBook.


CTC comments on UK Cycle Infrastructure Design guide

The Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) is the national cyclist advocacy organization in the UK. The CTC recently released their comments on the UK National Cycling Infrastructure Design (CID) guide which was published last October [PDF].

The CTC mostly welcomes the new guide, which brings together and updates guidance previously available in different Local Transport Notes and other advice published by the UK Department for Transport.

According to CTC, the CID’s most useful feature is its ‘Hierarchy of Provision’ for cycling. This fundamental design principle says that planners and engineers should start by looking for solutions that reduce the volume and speed of traffic – that is, tackling the factors that most deter people from cycling. As such, the CTC says, “We are particularly pleased to see CID state that: ‘The road network is the most basic (and important) cycling facility’.”

They also welcome the fact that the CID doesn’t just outline raw design principles, but gives the reasons behind its recommendations. It sets out how cyclists tend to ride and why they like and benefit from certain features and conditions, and not others. CID also explains how drivers react to cycle facilities and cyclists, and how this should influence design. This helps ground the advice in road user experience, attitudes and behaviour, making it – and its more ‘counter-intuitive’ stances – easier to appreciate.

CID’s weaknesses are mainly sins of omission. The guidance says little on cycle provision at major junctions or the amount of cycle parking needed at key destinations, and nothing much at all on cycle-friendly road maintenance.

CID’s biggest problem is its failure to rule out cycle lanes of less than 1.5m, even though it acknowledges that narrow lanes encourage dangerously close overtaking and steer cyclists towards the edge of the carriageway – a position that official cycle training advises against because it makes them less visible to motorists. CTC’s view is that we’d rather have no cycle lane at all than one that puts cyclists in danger. If that means reducing either the volume or the speed of the traffic (i.e. the top two options from the ‘Hierarchy’), then so be it!

An even bigger problem is that many local authority officers won’t read CID and will continue with little understanding of the principles of good cycle planning. CTC will will be pressing the DfT to disseminate the document widely, and to get the principles of the ‘Hierarchy of Provision’ written into other planning and engineering guidance, not just this one on cycle infrastructure. CID has been published jointly by the DfT, the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government.

Read the full CTC critique here. Props to Bob Shanteau for the forward.

London bike share

London considers bike sharing program.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson is known for his everyday use of a bicycle for transportation, and now he wants to encourage more people to ride their bikes by inviting companies to submit their bike share plans for London. He would like to see 6,000 rental bikes available at 400 locations throughout London.

“I have long held the view that a cyclised city is a civilised city, but if we are to get more Londoners on to two wheels rather than four we need to provide the facilities to help them do so,” says Johnson. “I hope a central-London cycle-hire scheme will inspire Londoners as a whole, and not just the adventurous few, to get on their bikes and give cycling a go. I believe that the work we are carrying out can make the capital a city of cyclists, where to use two wheels is common, not curious.”

Read more in the Guardian. See also Transport for London’s cycle hire plan.

In the meantime, a little rain doesn’t stop the Mayor of London Boris Johnson as he rides his bike after a function at London’s Claridge’s hotel. Boris even had to fix his chain after it fell off.

Boris Johnson keeping it real Boris Johnson keeping it real Boris Johnson keeping it real

This looks like a bad idea

But what do you think?

Cyclists will be permitted to ride the wrong way up one-way streets to encourage more people to give up their cars.

Kensington and Chelsea council is testing two-way access for cyclists on several residential roads with the scheme set to be extended across the borough if there is no increase in collisions.

New signs will advise cyclists where they are allowed to cut through and avoid the long circulatory one-way routes motor vehicles must take.

Road surfaces will not be changed and there will be no dividing line between cyclists and oncoming vehicles – instead they will be left to navigate their own paths.

Cycling up a one-way street will soon be legal in Chelsea.