14 August 2017
The title of this piece could be read in a sarcastic tone but the aim of this piece is to show that cycling really is a complex mode to design for. A mode in fact, about which the very question of whether it needs anything specifically designed for it, is brought into question. I usually start cycling design training sessions with a very zen statement: There is no such thing as a cycling scheme and there is no such thing as a scheme that isn’t a cycling scheme. The point is that you cannot design exclusively for cyclists without considering the impacts on other road users. Likewise, you should not design for other road users without thinking about the impact they will have on cycling. The construction of our streets and roads are perfect for cycling. Smooth wide asphalt pavements with generous turning radii make cycling comfortable and pleasant. The issue comes when other larger more powerful vehicles are present in numbers. Cycling infrastructure design then becomes a matter of mitigating the negative impact of these other users so cycling can still flourish. Effectively cycle route designers spend all their time thinking about mitigating the effects of motor traffic and very little time thinking about the actual needs of cyclists. The assumption is that: if motor traffic could just be slowed down or even reduced in number then cyclists would get the hint and use roads which were originally designed with them in mind anyway. If you dispute this last point then please read the works of Carlton Reid.