Saturday, 28 January 2012

Under the Bourg Walk: How to develop a "cycle town"

"The Bourg Walk" pedestrian and cycle bridge - the landmark cycle route showpiece in Aylesbury (a town in England). 
Four of the town's nine cycle routes run across the bridge.
  • Build some off-road cycleways (cycle paths)
  1. the biggest thing that puts off potential cyclists is having to cycle in the gutter while traffic whizzes past
  2. marking a narrow "cycle lane" on a narrow road just isn't the same - especially if most of the vehicles have to overlap the marked-off cycle lane to use the road!
A dual-use pedestrian/cycle path.
  • Build some decent crossing where the cycle route crosses a main road
    The Bourg Walk bridge from the northern end.
    The bridge crosses the railway line that divides the town into two.
    There are other crossings to the east and the west , but this one links
    both sides of the town very close to the main shopping area, and is
    not for motor vehicles. Being away from other traffic  increases the
    feeling of safety for cyclists and pedestrians, and this is particularly
    important in attemots to encourage more folks to take up cycling and
    walking rather than driving everywhere.
A crossing over a main road. The user presses the button on the crossing lights (the button is on the little yellow boxes), and after a short delay the lights change to red, while a green man and green cycle are visible to pedestrians and cyclists indicating it is safe to cross.
  • Mark the cycle routes clearly, particularly where they change direction
A pleasant section of a cycle route that passes through a park.
The right-turn on the route is clearly signposted,
and is supplemented by markings on the path

  • Include some suitable cycle parking
A good type of cycle parking - large loops set into the ground.
They can accommodate a large variety of typres of bike, and are
pretty resistant to theft. It is easy to lock the frame of your bike to
this type of rack. The parking is in a semi-pedestrianised part of
the centre of town, and note that there are no pavement curbs on
this section, which helps cyclists a lot!

Two extremes of "official" bike parking, simple racks and secure bicycle lockers, both at the railway station.
The sets of bike racks bolted to a wall sometimes known as "wheelbender" racks are NOT the best type to fit.
Unless you have a VERY long chain, the bike can be stolen fairly simply by someone with a spanner (wrench) by undoing the front wheel and lifting the rest of the bike into a van/truck
The bicycle lockers are the most secure type of storage, but they take up quite a bit of room,
and there is often a (modest) hire fee for their use.
The bike leaning against the lockers is my wife's, and is shown for the purpose of giving a scale
to the size of the bike lockers.
So, why make all these changes?
Well, put simply, offering a convenient and safe way to cycle in an urban environment encourages more folks to cycle rather than use cars (automobiles) for trips of up to a couple of miles or so (up to 3km), and therefore reduces traffic congestion and pollution.
Reducing traffic congestion and pollution in urban environments is something which most folks who live in such areas think is a good idea, even those who never cycle!
A further discussion of the economic and health benefits of pro-cycling measures, like those mentioned in this article, can be found here.
If you wish to thank me for this article, then please comment or click on one of the advertisers' links - you might like some of the cycling related stuff (I know I do!)

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