Thursday, 4 October 2012

Off road car parking. NL vs. UK

The photo on the right, from the Crap Waltham Forest blog, shows how High Road in Leytonstone in London has been transformed to move car parking off the road. This has resulted in narrowing of the carriageway and a worsening of conditions for cyclists.

Click on the link for more details of the harm that is being done as well as comments about the continuing confusion of some cycle-campaigners in the UK about what works to increase cycling modal share.

On the face of it, this is an application of the same idea as I blogged about a few weeks ago having seen it adopted more frequently throughout Assen. However, there is a fundamental difference.

In the Netherlands, this is a technique used to civilize residential streets which are not busy through roads, which do not have a high number of motor vehicles passing through and which have a 30 km/h speed limit. In the UK the same thing is being done on busy through roads with higher speed limits and lots of traffic.

Context is important. This concept, and others like it, can only work properly if they are implemented in the right places, and from the point of view of a cyclist, the implementation in London is definitely not happening in the right places.

On the face of it, this is yet another case of the fundamental principles of a good idea in effect being "lost in translation" as it travels across the North Sea.

Update Freewheeler provided more context and explanation of the first photo.


Enjoy the View said...

As a keen cyclist, I agree with most of your points about segregation etc. However, I do not see what is wrong with the UK example you give in this post. Dare I say that the smooth tarmac of the UK cycle lane looks more appealing to me than the Dutch cobblestones... In addition, that is not a "parking lane" to the left of the picture, as the double yellow lines are also applicable within that section of road. This must therefore be just a loading bay. P.S. May I just clarify that I cycle a lot in both the UK and mainland Europe and generally feel that UK cycling infrastructure is very poor, often lethal. I just think that this particular photo, showing a well-maintained road and relatively wide cycle lane, doesn't really illustrate your point very well.

Koen said...

I begin to understand why it takes a Brit to write this blog, David, as for one your observation is sharpened by your heritage and your tone, like in this article, could never be taken by a Dutchman. We would be called self-righteous and know-it-alls. As it is, I think it works rather well, for you are not only opening British eyes, for a Dutchman like me it is enlightening to understand more about the hows and whys of Dutch cycling infra, as indeed not everything is obvious. Thanks!

David Hembrow said...

Enjoy the view: There is no cycle-lane in the photo of the British situation (read the blog post that it came from) and with your objection about road surfaces you're confusing two different things. The Dutch example is a minor residential street, not a through road. It is on minor residential streets that this technique makes sense, and not on major roads.

Koen: Thanks for your kind comments. I think living in both places has genuinely given us an insight which doesn't come from either living only in one country or taking holidays elsewhere. However, as you might have noticed, there are plenty of British people who line up to say exactly those things about me.

Mark said...

and why have the more expensive materials been used where people are parking? Mad in so many ways.

Freewheeler said...

UEnjoy the View is quite mistaken in asserting that the High Road Leytonstone photograph shows a loading bay. It doesn’t. Anyone can park in these bays and similar bays can be found all along this road, most of them filled with cars. The reason why the bays shown in the photograph are empty is probably precisely because they aren’t outside shops.

High Road Leytonstone is a road which links up with major London through routes and it carries huge volumes of motor traffic. In some sections speeding is a problem.

High Road Leytonstone is precisely the kind of direct, major route with high volume traffic which requires Dutch-style segregated cycle paths and where the space is available. Bear in mind that it is in a London borough where cycling’s modal share is, according to the most recent TfL figures, under one per cent.

In the second place it is madness to build out the footway forcing cyclists closer to overtaking motor vehicles, especially buses and lorries, while at the same time creating new dangers from ‘dooring’. To do this is to make the conditions of vehicular cycling even worse than they were before.

Koen said...

Dear David- please don't post this-
Have you read this:
it's about a traffic situation that doesn't work, and the press keen on enhancing the conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. It seems the general public just isn't aware that it can be so different! Apparently your blog post neither reach policy makers nor British subjects in general. Looks like a nationwide attitude change is needed...

I was surprised to read how difficult it seems for many to think outside of the blaming box. material for a new post, this conflict between pedestrians and cyclists?

Anonymous said...


I've been looking at

and for Zwolle, it talks about both a segregated network and a network of cycle lanes on the road. Is that an exception for The Netherlands and do you know under what circumstances a cycle lane rather than a segregated facility is used? Thanks for any info you can give.

David Hembrow said...

Anonymous: Zwolle is about 50 km from here. I've cycled through it. Great cycle-paths, just as elsewhere in the Netherlands.

If you want to know how things really are in the Netherlands vs. in other countries, don't ask a Dutchman... As I've explained before, The Fietsberaad are extraordinary good at misrepresenting the country and helping people to draw the wrong conclusions.