Design Skills Symposium world cafe session on ACTIVE TRAVEL

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The Design Skills Symposium’s ‘world cafe’ session on ACTIVE TRAVEL was presented by Glasgow City Council sustainable transport team. The introduction noted that active travel provides a safer, cleaner, healthier environment, and the aim is to have 10% of journeys by active travel by 2020.

The presentation described different design options that are considered at the start of any project: Shared footway > Alternative side roads > 2 way segregated cycle track > With flow segregated cycle track > Cycle lanes.

These options are assessed against appraisal criteria: Safety; Coherence; Directness; Attractiveness and comfort; Implementability; Level of disruption to public transport (not cars!).

Two projects showed how active travel schemes had been implemented: The High Street to Glasgow Green project is a two way segregated cycle track. In this case bollards help to delineate the route and challenge behaviours (e.g. parking in cycle lanes). The hope is they will eventually be removed as active travel behavioural change becomes self reinforcing. The Bridgeton Cross project is a shared surface environment where pedestrians and cyclists mingle.

Monitoring an annual cordon count has recorded a 150% increase over 5 years with 7000 cyclists travelling into the city; however, there is still a long way to go. Current projects may be more ‘engineered’ and visualisation modelling indicated ambitions for future proposals that incorporate widened footpaths, more trees, dedicated cycle lanes and integrated train and bus capacity.

Glasgow is introducing the second biggest cycle hire scheme in the UK with phase one implemented by May 2014 providing 400 bikes on the street and 31 docking stations. Having the technology on the bike rather than the docking station means greater flexibility to move and relocate stations. The scheme links with international projects and will therefore be good for tourism.

The importance of gaining political support was noted: Glasgow has a cycling Tsar and a Cycle Forum that includes members from all parties, and is also developing a website. At present Glasgow does not have a ring fenced cycle budget with projects being funded on a case by case basis.

Points arising from the participant discussions appeared to group under six primary headings: ambition, opportunity, behaviour change, user experience, get real, and implementation.

Ambition“We need a less piecemeal approach, and more emphasis on this is the way we do things”

  • Active travel has strong link to placemaking + health agenda
  • It is not an anti car agenda but about providing choice and opportunity
  • It feels like we are still in an experimental phase compared to Netherlands or Germany where there is a more established sense of code
  • An important need for strong political support – be prepared to take space from cars
  • Need for an overall strategic approach – link up with other councils for cross boundary initiatives

Opportunity“it’s not a ‘line’ but an area solution”

  • Not just ‘safe, secure, and sheltered’ but also with other facilities (e.g. showers); this should be seen as a selling point for a development
  • Capitalise on the cycle network – it’s part of the value chain that can help build identity
  • There is potential to link with other initiatives and agendas: i.e. green, blue, climate change, core path networks, bio-diversity
  • Build an attitude about creating a good place to be, where it’s attractive to invest
  • Recognise active travel as a personalised mobility solution; an effective means of rapid transit as part of the series of solutions at disposal

Behaviour change “It is possible to change mobility patterns”

  • How to influence change? Refer to youtube of Poynton village / Ben Hamilton Baillie
  • Slowly develop a cycle network; gradually bring road space down
  • New apps exist for cyclists (e.g. journey planners) and IT can be used to change perceptions
  • Some of the worst offenders are cyclists!

User experience“We can’t count on the system to do much good!”

  • Haven’t addressed conflict with cars where break out of cycle lane
  • Observe one rule: “don’t hit or be hit!”
  • Providing a cycle lane may tick a planner’s checklist for an application; but, quality of experience
  • Conflict with pedestrians when crossing streets / pavements / junctions

Get real “cycling is marginalised – get serious!”

  • There is freedom to cycle through parks (but 5mph speed limit applied; you can walk faster!)
  • If we are really serious then something has to give
  • Projects may be ‘over engineered’ today; we need a cultural shift – it took the Dutch 30 years
  • Problems of large numbers of cyclists, and cyclists travelling at different speeds
  • Refer to Warrington cycle ‘facility of the month’ campaign

Implementation“problems arise from confusion and mixed messages”

  • cars parked in cycle lanes
  • Identify ‘the avenues’ – key routes to reduce car use and dependency
  • Incentivise – developers should sell the idea as part of the development, instead of regulating
  • The overall route is only as good as the weakest link – audit areas; be prepared to tackle the difficult part; Identify key bits of the network that need completed and enhanced
  • Bikeability training is being provided in primary schools

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