|Cycle lane behind bus stop. Standard design guidelines exist for this already in Ireland but not yet in the UK.|
For Transport for London this is quite a brave move and something not yet seen in London. It has the feel of something quite new and quite untested.
And yet, get on the plane to Ireland and it turns out Ireland already has exacting national design standards for exactly this sort of thing. Those standards have been created by the National Transport Authority which was founded in 2009 to act "(a) to regulate the provision of public transport services in the State and (b) within the Greater Dublin Area, to secure the development and implementation of an integrated transport system in a manner that contributes to environmental sustainability and social cohesion and promotes economic progress."
Get that second part? The Irish transport authority is designed to develop and implement integrated and sustainable transport that provides social cohesion and promotes economic progress. Have you ever heard such an incredibly common sense approach in the UK? Does TfL have an obligation to do this? It does talk about delivering on cycling in its road surface transport commitments but there is nothing as clear and undeniably 'let's get people on bikes' in the Act that gives TfL legal powers. The Highways Agency? Not really. The Department for Transport? Again, not really.
|What an off-road bike lane looks like at the moment|
in Ireland (and UK). No priority over driveways, no
clarity of design. Courtesy
Irish National Transport Authority Cycling Manual
A year ago, I wrote about the fact that Transport for London already has a set of cycling design standards. In 2005, Peter Hendy, then managing director of surface transport, ie head of London's roads and now TfL commissioner, wrote to all local authorities saying the standards were to be included in ALL new road schemes in the capital. There were two problems. Firstly, the standards were nowhere near as good as those in Ireland and secondly, they were never implemented and have just sat on shelves gathering dust.
|What that cycle lane should look like. Courtesy NTA Ireland|
|Brighton's new bike lane behind a bus stop. Picture by|
Mark Strong, Transport Initiatives
It can be done in the UK. Just look at the bike lane that has just been built in Brighton (pictured left, courtesy Mark Strong of Transport Initiatives) and bear in mind that Transport for London really is getting its act together these days.
|Cycling in Dublin - The numbers.|
By the excellent Cycling in Dublin blog
But Ireland's authorities are being much more vocal about what's really wrong than their equivalents in the UK. Michael Aherne from the National Transport Authority came out last year and said this: “For years local authorities have had aspirational networks on their development plans – we want to work with them to move from aspirational to reality and to make that reality a prioritised one.” This is exactly what the UK needs too. A national transport body that commits to getting people using sustainable transport methods (and I don't mean electric cars, for goodness sake) in a way that actually means something for people's social and economic well-being.
Have a look at the cycle network that Dublin is building. The city wants 20-25% of journeys to be by bike. It's pretty impressive stuff. It's even more impressive when you hear how the NTA is going about it: "If we are going to expect a massive increase in cycling, there has to be an increase in the offer for cycling. It has to be better to cycle to school or work than it is – not all of that is around infrastructure....The network won’t always mean putting in a cycle lane or cycle track. Back streets and opening up permeability is to be used as well as hard infrastructure."
I leave with a infographic created by freelance journalist Cian Ginty on his excellent Cycling in Dublin blog. Not everything in Dublin is rosy. But the direction of travel is simply astonishing when you compare to the average UK city. You can read more of the background on Cyclist.ie and it's well worth having a look at this brief speech by the National Transport Authority. It will make you want to move to Dublin.
Just a couple of examples from the Irish National Cycle Manual. If only the UK was thinking about this as well.
Design for a cycle-friendly roundabout
How to handle left-hand filter lanes and make them friendly for people on bikes