Cycle paths unsafe?

ChrisButch
Posts: 1016
Joined: 24 Feb 2009, 12:10pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby ChrisButch » 23 Oct 2010, 4:21pm

snibgo wrote:
Where I live (SW Cambs), the countryside is littered with bridlepaths. If they were tarmaced, we could easily cycle from village to village. I suppose horse riders would object, and it would cost rather a lot, but I'd like it.


This neatly illustrates why, in the extensively varied contexts throughout the country, 'one-size-fits-all' solutions to these matters won't work. Here in mid Devon, we have very few bridlepaths but an elaborate network of surfaced county lanes, many of them on routes which elsewhere would be bridlepaths - this for historical reasons I won't bore you with. (Devon, notoriously, has a greater mileage of adopted surfaced roads than the whole of Belgium). So here the issue is always going to be making the existing road network more cyclist-friendly. Horses for courses, if you'll forgive the expression.

drossall
Posts: 5109
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby drossall » 23 Oct 2010, 4:58pm

ozzage wrote:There are no good reasons why we can't have proper paths, except that the people who shout loudest don't want such facilities. There are no geographical or technical reasons why real infrastructure is impossible.

But, with the greatest of respect, neither of those sentences appears to me to be really true.

The emphasis is very much on paths at present, and the obstacle to good paths is poor implementation, not opposition to their construction. The "opposition" is limited to knowledgeable cycling circles; I don't mean by this that all knowledgeable cyclists oppose paths (that's not true), but that only keen cyclists are aware that there is even a debate. I doubt whether that debate is making much impact among the decision makers.

There are both geographical reasons (there isn't room) and technical ones (such infrastructure doesn't, overall, reduce accidents but increase them) why construction is either impossible or to be avoided.

I actually don't mind having the choice, and will sometimes choose a path on the basis that considerations of convenience outweigh those of safety. That's normal behaviour; I've never come across any driver who uses only the safety statistics to choose whether to go north via the M1, the A6 or the A1. Also, it's pretty plain that there will be some places where paths do help - e.g. under gyratories.

Motorists would not be happy to be diverted onto routes that were known to be less safe. They may choose to use them on grounds of convenience, or because a winding country route is more pleasant, but they should not be expected to do so. It's that view that drives some cyclists not so much to oppose paths, but to ask that we recognise their limitations.

ozzage
Posts: 44
Joined: 29 Sep 2010, 11:31pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby ozzage » 23 Oct 2010, 6:51pm

drossall wrote:
ozzage wrote:There are no good reasons why we can't have proper paths, except that the people who shout loudest don't want such facilities. There are no geographical or technical reasons why real infrastructure is impossible.

But, with the greatest of respect, neither of those sentences appears to me to be really true.

The emphasis is very much on paths at present, and the obstacle to good paths is poor implementation, not opposition to their construction. The "opposition" is limited to knowledgeable cycling circles; I don't mean by this that all knowledgeable cyclists oppose paths (that's not true), but that only keen cyclists are aware that there is even a debate. I doubt whether that debate is making much impact among the decision makers.

There are both geographical reasons (there isn't room) and technical ones (such infrastructure doesn't, overall, reduce accidents but increase them) why construction is either impossible or to be avoided.

I actually don't mind having the choice, and will sometimes choose a path on the basis that considerations of convenience outweigh those of safety. That's normal behaviour; I've never come across any driver who uses only the safety statistics to choose whether to go north via the M1, the A6 or the A1. Also, it's pretty plain that there will be some places where paths do help - e.g. under gyratories.

Motorists would not be happy to be diverted onto routes that were known to be less safe. They may choose to use them on grounds of convenience, or because a winding country route is more pleasant, but they should not be expected to do so. It's that view that drives some cyclists not so much to oppose paths, but to ask that we recognise their limitations.


Most of the poor implementation (at least in London) seems to me to be due to opposition to their construction. It ends up with nothing, or a half-buttocked effort such as a Cycle Superhighway which could have been so much better with real segregation, but mostly isn't! (For the record, I still think they are better than nothing as the visibility and promotion of cycling is worth it alone). Of course most of that opposition is not from the cycling lobby, but all the same they are often not particularly interested in fighting for these things, and even have members calling for segregation to be removed as they dislike it, even when it's seen a massive increase in use since it was introduced.

The reasons of space etc don't make infrastructure impossible. They just make it difficult, and sometimes mean that to provide it will result in removed access for others. The same problems have existed and have been solved (with much fighting) in other countries. What there are, are challenges! I don't see these as good reasons although obviously most people currently do. The safety argument to me is a misnomer, as a) these problems can be largely (although not entirely!) mitigated with good design and b) an increase in cycling due to good facilities will have a far larger impact on overall safety than the problems caused by segregation. Real cycling safety comes only with increased numbers of bikes out and about. Anything else is playing with percentages.

I seem to have given some people the idea that I think every street should have segregated cycle paths. This is not true - traffic calmed local streets etc obviously don't (and don't have in the Netherlands either). So in that regard, yes sometimes we all have to act as vehicles in terms of riding on the road, but the idea is that the motorised vehicles in these environments are acting differently than on the "open road" and therefore different rules apply. They are driving slowly, they are giving way. Kids can ride on the streets safely, in theory, in this environment, even when you wouldn't want them on an A road somewhere. I actually find (again, in London) that this mostly works OK already. I generally always feel safe on the back streets and will always take such a route when it's not completely illogical. However as soon as you need to make some real distance or get somewhere in a hurry, you need proper facilities.

drossall
Posts: 5109
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby drossall » 23 Oct 2010, 7:07pm

We'll just have to disagree :D

ozzage wrote:...these problems can be largely (although not entirely!) mitigated with good design


To me, the evidence appears to say the opposite.

an increase in cycling due to good facilities will have a far larger impact on overall safety than the problems caused by segregation


OK I can agree with that, but why accept the less safe option nonetheless, except as a means of encouraging cycling?

However as soon as you need to make some real distance or get somewhere in a hurry, you need proper facilities.


I really don't understand that. The only time when facilities are quicker is where they consist of cycle-only short cuts, e.g. into streets with closed ends. Generally, those are associated with on-road cycling.

User avatar
[XAP]Bob
Posts: 17972
Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 23 Oct 2010, 8:56pm

I've never come across any driver who uses only the safety statistics to choose whether to go north via the M1, the A6 or the A1



I know of plenty of people who choose their MODE of transport based on safety (i.e. don't take the motorbike out on the snow...)
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Steady rider
Posts: 2280
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 4:31pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby Steady rider » 23 Oct 2010, 9:57pm

Some cycling solutions for the UK could come from;

1)
passing clearance required by law, 1.2m (4 feet) in 30 mph zones or less, 1.8m (6 feet) for 40 mph speed zones or higher.

2)
50 mph national speed limit for roads without centre lines, minor roads, country lanes, (unless signed lower)

3)
Standards for cycling facilities (not guidelines) providing a legal basis to provide high quality facilities.

4)
a - traffic speeds higher than 50 mph and busy road, separate cycle paths as a rule, priority over minor side roads, sensor signals for crossing major roads.
b - traffic speed from 30 to 40 mph, either separate cycle path or wide cycle lane 1.8m where frequent junctions occur.
c - traffic speeds 30mph or below, wide cycle lane 1.8m on busy roads
d - if road is not suitable for above, eg cycle paths or wide cycle lane, reduce speed limit option.


I think a bicycle needs are different to vehicle needs and training does help (provided the trainer really knows what they are doing), same as teaching kids to stand where they can see traffic and traffic can see them when crossing a road. A cyclist trying to make a right hand turn on a busy road, if you behave like a vehicle, look, signal, move etc you could be putting yourself in more danger than using other techniques. just depends on circumstances and the rider to some extent. Part 1 above would be for cyclists, not all vehicles, one example of treating the bicycle as a bicycle, they may have to move out for a pot hole.

Occasionally cycle routes avoid traffic lights etc, eg river side routes, making them quicker than roads perhaps depending on where you are going.
Last edited by Steady rider on 24 Oct 2010, 9:28am, edited 1 time in total.

drossall
Posts: 5109
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby drossall » 24 Oct 2010, 12:08am

[XAP]Bob wrote:I know of plenty of people who choose their MODE of transport based on safety (i.e. don't take the motorbike out on the snow...)


Yes, of course. I'm not trying to say that no-one considers safety - just that route choices are not made on safety alone.

ozzage
Posts: 44
Joined: 29 Sep 2010, 11:31pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby ozzage » 24 Oct 2010, 8:52am

drossall wrote:We'll just have to disagree :D

:)

ozzage wrote:...these problems can be largely (although not entirely!) mitigated with good design


To me, the evidence appears to say the opposite.


Old Old Old! However note I'm NOT saying that it is not sometimes more dangerous to be on paths. But proper facilities are very different than they were in the 70s and junction design is much improved. But let's just accept that taking the road is safer. I have no problem with that.

an increase in cycling due to good facilities will have a far larger impact on overall safety than the problems caused by segregation


OK I can agree with that, but why accept the less safe option nonetheless, except as a means of encouraging cycling?


Because encouraging cycling is the SAFER option rather then the less safe one. Having more cyclists is far more effective in increasing safety than choosing roads over paths, or taking any other single action. That's why paths are actually safer than roads, if they increase cycling, even though the evidence says that they are not on a case-by-case basis.

However as soon as you need to make some real distance or get somewhere in a hurry, you need proper facilities.


I really don't understand that. The only time when facilities are quicker is where they consist of cycle-only short cuts, e.g. into streets with closed ends. Generally, those are associated with on-road cycling.


However if these routes aren't acceptable, because you belong to the majority of people who don't want to ride with buses, cars, taxis and motorbikes, then they simply won't go by bike. That's why you need segregation.

Steady rider
Posts: 2280
Joined: 4 Jan 2009, 4:31pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby Steady rider » 24 Oct 2010, 9:46am

Accepting that good cycling facilities increase cycling over time, world wide evidence.

Estimating the outcome is possible.

Twice the number cycling results in lowering the risk per km cycled, safety in numbers effect, The relationship between the number of cycling and the risk of injuries that was found from empirical data was this one:
Relative injury risk = (number of cyclist)power -0.6
If cycling doubles, the relative risk become 0.66, a decrease in 34% in risk
If cycling haves, the relative risk becomes 1.52, an increase of 52% in risk.

100 cyclists in UK without cycling facilities, risk 100 accidents, health benefits outweight risk by 20 to 1, 1900 gain (2000 - 100).

200 cyclists with cycling facilities, risk 132 accidents, health benefits 4000, gain 3860.

Cycling facilities also help pedestrians in both health and safety.

drossall
Posts: 5109
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby drossall » 24 Oct 2010, 9:48am

ozzage - I think we're in danger of mostly agreeing here.

We both accept that the roads are/may be safer than paths on average. We both recognise that most people believe the opposite. We both recognise that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks whether you ride on road or path, and that risks decrease with increasing cyclist numbers.

You want to boost cyclist numbers without confusing/alarming people with road/path safety issues. I want to go for broke and point out those issues, partly to maximise the safety of all cyclists, and partly to avoid social and legislative expectations taking away the choice of the safer route (by forcing cyclists to use paths when available).

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 18663
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby Vorpal » 24 Oct 2010, 10:15am

Taken individually, in some cases, I think that some progress could be made merely by providing alternatives for busy junctions. A couple of people in my village who cycle recreationally, but not as a mode of transportation, list a nearby junction of major trunk roads as the primary reason that they don't cycle into town for shopping, etc. The junction is easy to cross at peak times when congested, but in between, traffic is frequent and fast moving. I have to admit that I don't like to use it when I'm slowed by towing a trailer, but alternative routes are miles out of the way. The pedestrian alternative (gained by a short section of shared use path) is neither controlled nor far enough from the junction to provide much help in the way of reducing perceived danger.

Some relatively simple solutions include reducing the speed limit for the junction, moving the crossing farther from the junction, making the crossing a controlled crossing and/or adding ~400 yards of shared use facility along a 'B' road to allow novice and nervous cyclists to access a network of shared use paths from another junction.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

ozzage
Posts: 44
Joined: 29 Sep 2010, 11:31pm

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby ozzage » 24 Oct 2010, 6:34pm

drossall wrote:ozzage - I think we're in danger of mostly agreeing here.

We both accept that the roads are/may be safer than paths on average. We both recognise that most people believe the opposite. We both recognise that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks whether you ride on road or path, and that risks decrease with increasing cyclist numbers.

You want to boost cyclist numbers without confusing/alarming people with road/path safety issues. I want to go for broke and point out those issues, partly to maximise the safety of all cyclists, and partly to avoid social and legislative expectations taking away the choice of the safer route (by forcing cyclists to use paths when available).


I'm also not in favour of forcing people to use cycle paths, and I would join you campaigning against it. However in the end, I would accept it as a small price to pay in exchange for Dutch style facilities. I would prefer 25% modal share and 1% unhappy commuters/racers (who would keep cycling anyway), then the current situation. Hopefully we're a long way from such legislation being a realistic danger anyway. Maybe I'm naive on that front... I know it's come up before...

Anyway, as you say we do mostly agree! I'll say only that safety is not the only consideration, and while you could theoretically convince people that cycling on the road is safer, you will never convince them that's not more stressful and less enjoyable, because well, it pretty much is more stressful and less enjoyable except for a very small part of the population.

drossall
Posts: 5109
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby drossall » 24 Oct 2010, 7:01pm

Fair enough - although I did change from cycle paths to a road route in Stevenage because of the stress of dealing with motorists flying round corners across cycle paths and emerging suddenly from blind turnings.

George Riches
Posts: 782
Joined: 23 May 2007, 9:01am
Location: Coventry
Contact:

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby George Riches » 24 Oct 2010, 7:04pm

ozzage wrote: I'll say only that safety is not the only consideration, and while you could theoretically convince people that cycling on the road is safer, you will never convince them that's not more stressful and less enjoyable, because well, it pretty much is more stressful and less enjoyable except for a very small part of the population.

Part of the high stress is due to cyclists cycling badly. E.g. undertaking. Part due to motorists driving badly, e.g. passing cyclists too closely. Partly due to poor road design e.g. roundabouts built to allow motorists to drive at far higher speeds than cyclists are able to.

To name just a few factors.

Pete Owens
Posts: 1928
Joined: 7 Jul 2008, 12:52am

Re: Cycle paths unsafe?

Postby Pete Owens » 26 Oct 2010, 2:15am

Steady rider wrote:Accepting that good cycling facilities increase cycling over time, world wide evidence.

But there is no evidence whatsoever that cycle facilities increase cycling.

Things that encourage cycling are things things that actually make cycling safer.
Things as such as low speed limits - like you see in Holland, Denmark, Sweden...
Things such as homezones - like you see in Holland...
Things such as shared space - like you see in Holland....
Things such as cycle streets - like you see in Holland...
Things such as strict liability - like you see in Holland....
Things that make walking three times as safe as it is in the UK - self evidently not cycle paths (presumably your claim to the contrary was a piece of self parody).

This is why countries such as Holland and Denmark are attractive for walker and cyclists. And cyclists are perfectly happy to ride on roads where they are allowed to.
This is why countries such as UK where the only approach engineers are willing to contemplate is segregation see low levels of cycling.

If you implement things that increase the danger to cyclists (such as cycle paths) then you will discourage cycling.
This is why places such as Milton Keynes - with an extensive network of good cycle paths see low levels of cycling.
This is why places such as Stevenage - which the Dutch took their inspiration from in the '70s see low levels of cycling.
This is why new-towns such as Runcorn, Skelmersdale, Telford ... (the list goes on) with their comprehensive cycle path networks all see low levels of cycling.
This is why the new-town areas of Warrington see much less cycling than the traditionally built parts of town.
This is why the more cycle paths a place has the fewer cyclists you see (so long as you compare similar places - rather than ones that have genuinely made their roads safer)

This is why when Hilden (Warrington's twin town in Germany) moved from the traditional segregationist model - to promoting cycling and walking by making the roads safer by measures a town wide 30km speed limit and home zones they achieved a 25% modal share of cycling.