During the 18th and the 24th of April, the London Cycling Design Standards Workshop took place. The first day of the course was held at London South Bank University, where we started by discussing general issues like the benefits that cycling brings to society, including improvements in wellbeing, traffic congestion, and sustainability. Then, we gradually turned to the more specific aspects to consider when designing schemes. These involved available widths, major barriers for cyclists, traffic operations, pedestrian amenity and activity, and new developments. We talked about the key elements of CRISP (Cycle Routes Implementation and Stakeholder Plan) and CHIP (Cycle Superhighway Implementation Plan), and ended the morning by addressing LCDS design principles on cycling permeability, the values of shared space, and the desirable traffic lanes widths and corner radii. On these subjects, it was worth taking notes on avoiding lane widths of 3.2 to 3.9m (where is possible -but not safe- for a cyclist to be beside a motorist), and also of being aware that providing nearside lanes of 4 to 4.5 m width may be more appropriate than cycle lanes when there is kerbside activity such as loading. The idea that low standard provisions for cycling can be worst than no provision at all (a badly designed cycle lane may cause more accidents rather than preventing them) was alarming and it’s something to keep in mind, for we must overcome the fact that, at the moment, cycling in the UK is more than twice as risky as riding in the Netherlands or Sweden.
Following lunch, in spite of the bad weather, we were able to visit the “Cycle Superhighway 7” scheme that passes by the South Bank University. Afterwards, we enjoyed a presentation about the London Borough of Camden experience on recent schemes involving cycling lanes, including the problems they have found on schemes already in place and how they’ve been modified by the Borough through time. The day ended with the practical session briefing, at which we were invited to bring examples of schemes involving cycling improvements in order to discuss them at the next session.
The session of April the 24th started with recommendations on signals and advanced stop lines (ASL), followed by considerations on materials and lighting. Right after lunch, the practical session started and we were divided in 6 groups to discuss examples of difficult cycling improvement schemes. It was amazing to discover the diverse alternatives proposed by different groups for the same scheme. All of those who brought examples were very pleased with the rich result of the practical session discussion. Many of the participants, when asked about the most valuable thing learnt during the workshop, said that the case studies had been revealing and that one thing they would keep in mind from now on was that “every scheme is a cycling scheme”.