Thursday 26 August 2010

Calculating Cycling Success in Waltham Forest

Unless Waltham Forest Borough are just trying to wind me up, judging from their website they believe they are doing sterling work in promoting cycling.

After all, they have won awards. Although the exact nature of these awards is unspecified, I would hazard a guess that this says more about the quality of the opposition than the winner. Or someone in the council headquarters knocked up some awards from a subbuteo FA Cup and a piece of wood with "best cycle lane" written in crayon, and then proceeded to award it to themselves.

Anyhow, the website is also telling in the criteria by which they measure their success.

Here they describe their "facilities" on the road. The key metric being the number of miles of them. I am not sure that the number of miles that someone has gone around the borough painting a white line at the edge of the road completely measures the quality of the provision.

They also mention that generally the cycle lanes are between 1.2m to 1.5m. The word generally is probably most telling. I can think off the top of my head a whole number of places in the borough, many cases on busy roads, where even this miserly 1.2m width simply isn't true.

And no mention of the general quality of the provision. So we have cycle lanes running right next to parked cars, inviting the cyclist to be doored, we have lanes just terminating in locations which leave the cyclist vulnerable and worse off than if it wasn't there, we have lanes so narrow that you can barely fit a cycle in it.

I don't know who designs some of the cycle lanes in the borough, but I want to force them to use them every-day until they come to their senses and realise that the ability to paint white lines is not the same as creating decent cycle provision.

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