19 April 2014

Policy, not implementation

Edinburgh's a pretty decent place to cycle.  We like to say that they have all the right policies, but fall down on implementation.  But sometimes policy fails too.

Leith links have a much-used cycle path running through them that lots of commuters use.  As part of a broader strategy, the path is being 'improved'.  Since it also runs past a primary school, that improvement includes replacing chicanes.   Now there may be places where chicanes are necessary, but as a tandem and trailer user, I think these are infrequent. Luckily, 'Cycling by Design' the national guidance, agrees with me, and says:  " If staggered (chicane) barriers are used, the arrangement should be designed to slow cyclists rather than force them to dismount ".  

Cycling by design also gives clear specs on how chicanes should be installed - so as to allow tandems etc to negotiate them. So, I was dismayed to see that the Leith Links chicanes fail on all accounts.  So, the gap between chicanes and the wall should be 2m (preferred) and 1.5m (absolute minimum).  But on Leith Links, it is 1.2m.  And the gap between chicanes should be at least 3m, while on Leith Links it is 1.9m.*

I've fondly assumed that this is just another implementation issue that could be caught by 'snagging'.  But no,  I was told today that they are designed to make cyclists dismount or send them out onto the grass.

So, designed to do exactly the thing that national guidelines say they are not designed to do.

If the city wants to encourage cycling - which it claims to do - then when volumes of cycle traffic increase, they need to consider what infrastructure is suitable.

Clearly a busy shared space path is not appropriate right outside a school - even after 'widening'.  What is needed is a well designed segregated track.   This isn't intended to excuse speeding or inconsiderate cyclists. It is simply about building the infrastructure that we need, and getting both policy and implementation right, so that pedestrians and cyclists aren't pushed into conflict.

For more on this see: http://greenerleith.org.uk/blog/q-big-budget-cycling-bad-thing-3913  and http://citycyclingedinburgh.info/bbpress/topic.php?id=12173

* I'm indebted to wingpig for the measurements.

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