Manifesto for Cycling Provision
In this document we describe some of the ways in which the ordinary road network can be made more cycle-friendly without providing specific cycle facilities. The most important way is to reduce the speed and volume of motor traffic. Another is to design the road layout to minimize conflict between cyclists and other road users. At the very least, those features of road design that are notoriously hostile to cyclists should be avoided. York has a legacy of road layouts that are unfriendly to cyclists; these should be eliminated and certainly not added to.
In some places it will, however, be appropriate to provide specific facilities for cyclists. It is important that such facilities are well planned, well designed and well made, useful and convenient. Poor quality facilities, or facilities in the wrong place, are at best a waste of money and at worst can be downright dangerous. There is significant evidence that some types of cycle facility have higher cyclist accident rates than the road
In this document we describe some characteristics of "good" and "bad" cycle facilities, in the hope that we can improve the standard of cycle facilities being built.
in York need to be able to go everywhere
The reasons why cyclists need to be able to use all the ordinary road network include:
So the ordinary road network must be suitable for cyclists. In particular, it is essential that junctions on the ordinary road network are suitable for cyclists. Diversionary routes will never be enough.
Junction design should take into account that the main direction of cycle flow may be different from the main direction of flow for motor vehicles.
the speed and volume of motor traffic
Traffic speeds can be reduced by:
Traffic volume can be reduced by:
for cyclists doesn't just mean cycle facilities
This is not technically difficult, and need not necessarily require extra money. It simply means avoiding features of road design which cyclists find difficult, unpleasant, or dangerous, and replacing them with more cycle-friendly equivalents.
York's "footstreet" policy excludes cyclists from many quiet, useful routes for large parts of the day. Re-admitting cyclists to the footstreet area would be a major step forward in provision for cyclists in the city centre. Available evidence suggests that this would not lead to any significant conflict between cyclists and pedestrians.
for cyclists should cater for their "natural desire
Cyclists shouldn't simply be diverted away from a difficult junction, if this results in a longer journey. If anybody should be forced to make a long diversion it should be the motor traffic. After all, cycling requires physical effort; driving a car doesn't!
road space from motor traffic
for quality rather than quantity
Amongst some notably good schemes, such as the route along Tadcaster Road, York has a number of cycle facilities that are of poor quality, or are barely used, or both. These simply represent a waste of money. We don't want York to waste any more. In particular, many shared-use footway schemes are unsuitable and of poor quality, even potentially dangerous. In some cases, though, shared-use paths can be useful additions to the cycle network, for example the A1237 from Poppleton to Rawcliffe and the A19 from Rawcliffe to Skelton.
It would be a mistake to aim for "x km of cycle routes" each year, since this would encourage quantity at the expense of quality. The real measure of success is the amount of use a facility gets, especially by people who are new to or returning to cycling.
routes should be capable of being cycled on
"A cycle route which requires a cyclist to dismount is not a cycle route."
In addition to be being capable of being cycled on, a good cycle route should be physically convenient to use. This means that:
A good cycle route should be capable of attracting cyclists to use it, and a convenient cycle route will be more attractive than an inconvenient one.
cyclists will always prefer to use the road
The provision of a cycle facility should never compromise such cyclists. In particular, provision of an alternative route for cyclists should never be regarded as an excuse for rendering the original road or junction unsuitable for cyclists. All new roads should be suitable for cyclists. Changes to existing road layouts should either improve their suitability for cyclists or not be undertaken.
Spending money to make a road less safe or less attractive to cyclists is not acceptable.
tracks should be as convenient as the main carriageway
Where cycle tracks are provided alongside roads, the cyclists using them should have the same (or greater) priority at junctions with side roads as is enjoyed by traffic using the main carriageway. Cyclists should not be penalised for using a cycle track. This means that cycle tracks alongside roads must have priority over side roads. Continuing the cycle track across side roads on a raised level can reinforce this.
Cycle lanes on the carriageway (as opposed to tracks) should simply continue straight across a junction with a side road, to emphasise their existing priority over side roads.
Cycle tracks alongside roads can be valuable if they are of high quality, but can be useless if they are not.
Cycle tracks are frequently totally unsuitable for cyclists because:
However, in places where these problems can be avoided (such as rural and semi-rural locations) cycle tracks can be valuable.
Facilities which segregate cyclists and pedestrians are much preferred by both groups. If a path is to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists, there are additional requirements. In addition to the points above, cycle tracks should only be shared with pedestrians if:
Whilst this is the case for some facilities in and around York, it is by no means the case for all.
personal security on quiet cycle routes
Routes across open spaces, through subways and along back streets can be scary in the dark, even if the actual risk of assault is low and such fears are not justified. After all, the Police do consistently advise people to avoid such places after dark.
This has two main implications:
A poorly maintained road surface is at the very least uncomfortable, and can be dangerous. A pothole or badly filled trench can be enough to throw a rider off their bicycle, possibly into the path of a following motor vehicle.
attention should be paid to the edges of the
carriageway, since this is where cyclists ride for most
of the time. Unfortunately this is also the part of the
carriageway where most of the hazards tend to be - in
particular, sunken or badly- maintained drain covers.