BCC Hackney FumeFreeStreets
Brian Deegan commented on having some regret about the division between the two ‘types’ of cycling provision and the the two types of provision in the form of CS routes and Quietways.
This has as Mark Treasure points out here led to a form of divide and rule condemnation from detractors (some examples below). We need to be talking now simply about a network of routesfit for any cyclist to travel on at any time it seems.
As Easy As Riding A Bike)
The problematic language used to describe Superhighways applies in parallel to Quietways, and has opened up opportunities for misunderstanding (or deliberate misinterpretation) in much the same way. Remember that the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling suggested that TfL will offer
Quietways on pleasant, low-traffic side streets for those wanting a more relaxed journey.
The Vision – after enthusing about London’s ‘matchless network of side streets, greenways and parks’ – states that
A cross-London network of high-quality guided Quietways will be created on low-traffic back streets and other routes so different kinds of cyclists can choose the routes which suit them.
Here we see a puzzling split – that Superhighways are for ‘fast commuters’, while Quietways are for those ‘wanting a more relaxed journey’. This distinction is reiterated, in different words, in the Mayor’s own introduction – (Vision doc)
Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith arguing that “Superhighways have an ‘aggressive’ nature”,
Conservative Assembly Member Andrew Boff has been telling the Assembly (08:15) – “We do not design London’s roads with the inspiration of Formula 1. So why are we designing Cycle Superhighways with the inspiration of the Tour de France?”
Assembly Member Roger Evans – “The cycling lobby seems to be full of people who want to get out there and claim their piece of the road, and mix it with the HGVs, and the buses, and the cars, and fight for that piece of space they want”.
If Transport for London came along with a suggestion to build a Pedestrian Superfootway along the river, separating people from motor traffic, would Goldsmith, Boff and Evans argue that such a scheme would be a ‘concession to testosterone-driven lycral-clad joggists’, or that most such a footway would have an ‘aggressive and intimidating’ character, and that footists prefer gentler routes? (Or that the joggist lobby seems to be full of joggers who enjoy fighting for space with HGVs?)
These problems have arisen because the terminology used in the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling has opened the door to this kind of ‘divide and conquer’ approach. It could have been avoided – and I think it can best be addressed – by starting to talk in terms of networks, rather than routes, and about high quality provision which limits interactions with motor traffic, regardless of the road or street context. Obviously this will require different kinds of interventions, but we shouldn’t parcel those types of interventions up into distinct categories of route. A typical journey from A to B in an area with a high-quality cycle network will be made up of cycling seamlessly between these interventions, without even noticing it.
Here’s just one example of how the ‘Quietway’ concept lends itself to being misunderstood. It’s a blog by a Hackney resident, opposed to the ‘filtering’ of Middleton Road in Hackney, which will (potentially) form part of Quietway 2. (see article)