For his post, he edited the LCC image to create something which looked considerably more Dutch.
In particular, Paul deleted the on-road advanced stop lines (aka ASLs or Bike Boxes). Quite right too, as these are something which are not really "Dutch". They exist, but they're rare, and wouldn't be found in a modern design for a busy street like this.
"We favour ASLs"
Discussion followed, with several people saying that they preferred Paul's vision. Mike Cavenett, Communications Officer of the LCC, explained thus: "We favour ASLs because they give confident cyclists an advantage (however, slight) at traffic signals. They're not a substitute for proper bike tracks, they're complementary. Confident cyclists can use them and ride on the carriageway, while less confident ones will use the kerbed tracks that are part of every busy street."
It's quite extraordinary that the LCC should "favour" advanced stop lines as part of a campaign called "Go Dutch", because ASLs are actually rare in the Netherlands. When this post was discussed elsewhere, and a suggestion was made that mistakes were being "copied from the Dutch who invented the things in the first place" this made me think about the last time that I actually saw an ASL in the Netherlands. These days, ASLs are British much more than they are Dutch.
|A traffic education|
"Happy families" game
from the Netherlands
shows how ASLs don't
hassle from motorists.
As it happens, an ASL in Britain was in the news this week, though I've not heard anyone comment on this particular aspect of the story. The ASL appeared in CCTV footage of a bus driver, Gavin Hill, who used his vehicle to deliberately seriously injure a cyclist:
|Bristol, Britain's "Cycling City". Note how an advanced stop line completely failed to help a cyclist who was the victim of a deliberate attack by a bus driver (click on the underlined text if you wish to see the rather shocking video).|
Dutch, Danish, or something else ?
ASLs were not the only aspect of the LCCs design which was discussed in the comments on Paul's blog post. Richard Lewis, who produced the design for the LCC, also joined in: "The un-Dutch lanes. I agree that the tracks and lanes are hardly Dutch in design. This is because they are mainly Danish.
So is "Go Dutch" actually "Go Danish" ? Not really. In my view, Danish junction design at major intersections is less good than Dutch design because it promotes conflict and causes cyclists to have to make multi-stage turns more than Dutch junctions. However, I'm quite sure that the Danes wouldn't put an ASL here either.
Richard carries on to say "I've actually done a 'hybrid' of both". There's an explanation of why: "Essentially this is because Dutch designs are actually so good that British engineers won't go near them, and because Danish designs are pretty good (and getting better over time) but are also much more transferable. " Actually, though, these proposals are neither Dutch nor Danish nor a hybrid, but something new and unproven.
Instead of the LCC asking for best practice, they are still asking for something less. Compromises are being made before even starting a process of negotiation. I wrote before about how this timid approach will never lead to the needed change. It's akin to Rosa Parks having asked merely for the signs on the bus to be in a fixed position.
It's not just at Parliament square that the LCC are making proposals for advanced stop lines at busy junctions.
In a recent article ending with the words "we need action to tackle road danger and make out city as inviting to cycle in as those in the Netherlands", the London Cycling Campaign suggests the following layout at Bow Roundabout:
|LCC's proposal for Bow Roundabout (page 28/29 London Cyclist Feb/Mar 2012)|
I am completely at a loss to explain how this type of infrastructure could be thought to make London more like a Dutch city. The Dutch don't design two speed infrastructure.
In my view, what is being proposed here is actually worse than the proposal from Transport for London.
Representing the members
Last year, the LCC held a vote to discover which theme its members would like it to campaign on. Four different choices were given, and "Going Dutch" won by a mile with nearly 60% of the total votes cast. However, the leadership of the organisation had long been opposed to Dutch style infrastructure (much discussed on the late and lamented Crap Waltham Forest blog) and from the start, the proposal for "Going Dutch" was couched in particularly vague language and discussed in a way which indicated a lack of enthusiasm for what the membership had voted for.
Even before the vote, as long ago as July, there was discussion on the LCC's own website about the language then being used for the proposal. Many people were not happy with the way that "their" option was being presented. The impassioned first two paragraphs of the first response that you can read at that link sum it up well:
"Road space" is such a woolly term. The LCC has worded it like this to be attractive to your mum/gran/son who sees the pretty picture of a segregated cycle track, whilst suggesting a simply more blue paint to appease the lycra warriers who want to keep the right to cycle at 20mph in A-roads round central London. I really don't know what I'm voting for here. The title "Going Dutch" should by principally about segregation. Please LCC don't shy away from this word. He goes on to say: We need roads that my mum/gran/son will be drawn to cycle in. The ONLY way to avoid the BATTLE on the roads is to be segregated, like in Holland. NO to blue paint. NO to wide roads. YES to physical barriers protecting cyclists along main roads.
He didn't say so specifically, but I'm pretty sure that writer was not asking for more ASLs.
In the last few weeks, the staff of the London Cycling Campaign, several of whom have publishing, marketing and fund-raising backgrounds, have done a good job of what they do well. They've produced a lot of text, achieved a lot of press for their campaign, and boosted membership of the organisation. While it looks great, what has been produced is a bit hollow. They still don't really seem to understand either how Dutch infrastructure is designed and works, or what "Going Dutch" meant to the people who voted for that option and who pay their salaries.
Instead of asking for what its members asked for. i.e. replication of Dutch conditions for cycling on London's roads, the LCC continues to promote less than ideal solutions, such as (but not limited to) Advanced Stop Lines (Bike Boxes). Woolly terms like "clear space" continue to appear in LCC literature and there is a lack of ambition for real change.
Rather than designing for the 8-80 age range, so that all Londoners could cycle just as all types of Dutch people cycle, the LCC is still designing for the 18-38 age range who are least concerned about subjective safety. With their current ambitions, a more accurate name for LCC's 2012 theme could well be "Love London, Go slight_head_start_at_the_ASL".
If you want to support a campaigning group which is really dedicated to bringing Dutch infrastructure to the UK, support the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. To find out for yourself what Dutch infrastructure really looks like and how it is used, book a study tour. In three days we present a condensed view of our experience of living in and cycling tens of thousands of kilometres in both countries.
As I couldn't find it online, the picture of Bow proposal came thanks to the anonymous (unless he doesn't want to be) person who sent me a copy of the LCC's beautifully presented "Love London, Go Dutch" press pack. If cycling could be boosted by mere "branding" there would be no problems.