Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jan Gehl for Darlington (on a Bike)

As Darlington approaches the end of the 6 month trial period for cycling in the Pedestrian Heart, and the final year of Cycling Demonstration Town funding, there are some crucial decisions about to be made about the future of cycling in the town.

Small town (UK) thinking (of which there is much here and around the country) says that cyclists are not popular, dangerous, anti-disabled etc etc. National thinking, leading experts in the field, and best European practice says that cycling in the Pedestrian Heart should only be a first step towards less car access to the town centre, and much much more public transport, cycling and walking access.

Copenhagen urban planner Jan Gehl confronted similar problems 40 years ago - before today's best practice was developed. Indeed, many argue that he has been personally responsible for much of today's progressive transport/urban planning thinking.

He has advised London, and even Wakefield and Castleford, in the past. Surely it is time for him to come to Darlington. Can I suggest that, should the Cycle Demo Town monies not run to bringing him here, and we get a silly decision on Ped Heart cycling, we invite him to join a mass protest ride through the town - along with members of Cycling England, who have so generously funded cycling in Darlo?

Thanks to John Wetmore from across the pond for directing us to this interview he carried out with Jan Gehl in London. John is a great pedestrian advocate - and friend of cyclists. You can see more of his american public broadcast videos here.

Cyclists are better shoppers than motorists

Originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness]
Cycleliciousness has another great post on why cyclists are better shoppers than motorists

Some stats from the post:

* Cyclists purchase smaller quantities each time they go, but they visit the shops more often

* Motorists are in the minority in shops in urban areas - between 25 to 40 % of customers, depending on the day of the week

* Barely 25 % of motorists leave a shop with two or more bags of goods (as opposed to 17 % of cyclists). Therefore, 75% of motorists have nothing to prevent them from using other transport forms

* Another study, this time in Berlin, showed a massive increase in cross-neighbourhood movement when they introduced a 30 km/h (18.6mph) speed limit for cars, except on major routes. People were simply using their bikes and the public transport to get around and they found themselves more mobile as a result. Up to 40% in some cases, for trips between home and the shops

* Similarly, a survey carried out in Strasbourg indicated more than 30% increase of visits to the shopping area of the city after pedestrianisation and closureto through traffic in the town centre

* A survey carried out among consumers in Bern, Switzerland, established the ratio between the value of purchases made and the parking area used by each customer over a year. The profitability was highest in the case of the cyclists - €7500 per square metre for cyclists, €6625 for motorists

Go and read the original post, cyclists are better shoppers than motorists, for more details.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

School car-exclusion zones

While searching for articles about 20mph zones, I came across a Northern Echo article about a car exclusion zone set up a five minute walk from a school in Durham - Pupils launch car-exclusion zone.

It's not clear from the article whether it is all cars which are excluded from the zone, or if it's just a voluntary/suggested zone for parents dropping their children off at the school. I'd guess it's the latter.

I wonder what difference this would make to Darlington's traffic patterns if it were implemented across all schools in the town?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Link Dump

I've had three useful blog posts sat in my feed reader for a couple of days, waiting for time to blog about them properly. In the absence of that time appearing, I thought I would put up a quick list. I'll try to write about them in detail later.

Goldmine for bike advocacy groups - link to a PDF of useful info.

The Amazing Cyclist Fashionistas of Copenhagen! - advice for female cyclists.

Why Do We Ride? - discussion of why Copenhageners ride their bikes so much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Debunking excuses for taking the car #1: We've got to carry a lot of stuff

Exhibit A:

An entire band going to tour Mexico. By bike. They're carrying all their equipment, including instruments, PA and a dog!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Vote for Sustrans Connect 2

Transform local travel in 79 cities, towns and villages across the UK by creating new walking and cycling routes for the journeys we all make every day.

From November 26th, you will be able to vote online for Sustrans' Connect2 Project. For further details, please see:

Top Gear Trans-London Race

Last night's Top Gear featured a race through rush hour London, from the western to eastern ends(?) of the North Circular.

James May drove a Chelsea Tractor. "The Stig" took public transport. Jeremy Clarkson went by speedboat. Richard Hammond went by bike.

The results?

1. Bike
2. Speed boat
3. Public transport
4. Car

They didn't go into a lot of detail about the times, but public transport beat the car by 15 minutes.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How much do you ride?

Via Cycleliciousness, who we seem to be linking to a lot recently, come the following statistics:

The Netherlands - 1019 km
Denmark - 958 km
Belgium - 327 km
Germany - 300 km
Sweden - 300 km
Finland - 282 km
Ireland - 228 km
Italy - 168 km
Austria - 154 km
Greece - 91 km
France - 87 km
UK - 81 km
Luxembourg - 48 km
Portugal - 35 km
Spain - 24 km

Those are the average distances cycled by a person in the country, in a year.

To put the figures into perspective, I cycle from Springfield to just west of the town centre, and back, five days a week during term-time, with one extra trip a week to Hurworth on most of those weeks. A usual day is about five miles in total (8km), which takes me about 15 minutes each way.

In a year, this, plus some other short local trips, gets me about 1000 miles (1600km), about 60% more than the average Netherlander. In two weeks of commuting, I match the UK average. I did double the UK average in one day this year!

For someone with a "proper" job, who would work five days a week for 47 weeks of the year, less than a mile and a half each way for a cycle commute would get you Holland's average.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Billion Bikes: Cycling in Copenhagen

The Danes have done a lot right when it comes to bikes.

This video (which I found on the excellent, but hard to spell, Cycleliciousness blog) is the first of a five part podcast from A Billion bikes. (Parts four to five are also on the Cycleliciousness blog.) There's about half an hour of video in total, so I've not watched it all yet.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Darlington Cycling Campaign Meeting today, Friday 2nd November, at 7pm

A meeting of Darlington Cycling Campaign will take place tonight, Friday 2nd November, starting at 7pm, in The Britannia pub (on the inner ring road, just round the corner from Bondgate (map)). All members are welcome!