UK Cities Going Dutch for Cycling
It's not just London trying to get more people on bikes, and we thought it was about time a few other cities got some props. As cycling numbers grow, and more UK cities catch on to the benefits of a healthy, active population, and fewer cars on the streets, work has started on a stream of "Dutch-style" cycle tracks across the UK. This means continuous, direct cycle tracks separated from motor traffic, with priority over side roads - something most UK cycle lanes don't have - that treats cycling as a viable mode of transport and not something rather more, well, marginal.
Inspired by our neighbours in the Netherlands (and also Denmark), these routes are designed to encourage more people onto their bikes, especially those who don't cycle yet because of traffic fears.
Here we offer four pioneering cities outside London investing in a greener, healthier, more bicycle-friendly future. We hope more will follow suit.
UK Cities Going Dutch for Cycling - Bristol
Britain's longest "Dutch-style" segregated cycle track was due to appear on the bank of the River Avon in summer 2014. However, in September high tides moved the river wall by 14cm, stalling completion of the 700m Clarence Road bike track by filling half of it with water.
Since then 53 tonnes of stone ballast have been shipped in, and Bristol council estimates the route could open in the next month. Complete with floating bus stop (where the cycle track goes behind the bus stop, rather than forcing cyclists out into traffic), the Clarence Road track will form part of a key route from Bristol Temple Meads to Ashton Court.
The £380,000 project, made possible by removal of parking bays, will feature "toby" bollards, which look like a long, concrete Nessie, separating the three metre wide, two-way track from traffic.
Bristol's mayor, George Ferguson, says the city will be seeing much more segregated cycle infrastructure, on busy roads and where there's room. Last year's announcement that Bristol will receive a share of £114m will no doubt bring more of the city's big cycle infrastructure projects forward.
In the meantime, another segregated cycle route has popped up on the city's Baldwin Street, pictured below.
UK Cities Going Dutch for Cycling - Cambridge
Believe it or not these twin projects are Cambridge's first segregated cycle routes, and work starts on both this week (26 January 2015).
The one mile, £1.2m Hills Road cycle track and the shorter, £700,000 Huntingdon Road tracks (pictured) are expected to be complete by June.
There are currently 4,000 cycle trips per day on Hills Road, and 2,800 on Huntingdon Road, and these numbers are set to increase.
The council will maintain a cycle route along both roads during the works, or put up signs asking motorists not to overtake bikes where the road narrows. A council spokesman told TWC he would consider a "cyclists dismount" sign a failure, as it could put off the very cyclists they are trying to encourage.
Both routes are 2.1m wide, with Hills Road a raised cycleway on both sides of the road, travelling part way between the station and the rapidly expanding Addenbrookes hospital. Huntingdon's two-way cycle track, part kerb-separated, part raised from road level, has bus stop bypasses, which narrow to slow cyclists down where pedestrians cross.
There's also a brand new type of zebra crossing for the UK in the offing here, which both cyclists and pedestrians can use. Cambridgeshire council produced a 'fly-through' of both cycle routes showing how it will work for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
UK Cities Going Dutch for Cycling - Leicester
Although Leicester lost out on government Cycle City Ambition funding in both 2013 and 2014, that didn't deter Leicester's mayor, Peter Soulsby from planning to double cycling in the city by 2018.
Soulsby is looking at the big picture, i.e. the creation of a cycle network: he's spending £8.5m on pedestrianising part of the city centre - due for completion winter 2015 - where, unlike similar schemes elsewhere in the UK, cycles will be permitted.
Trial removal of traffic lanes on main roads are being carried out, with a view to them becoming segregated cycle routes, including on the three/four lane one-way Welford Road.
If successful the trial will precede cycle routes between South Leicester suburbs Saffron, Eyres, Monsell and Aylestone, and the city centre.
The £4m Jubilee Square project, finished in 2014, saw a car park transformed into a traffic-free public square, and with the King Richard III visitor centre expected to be a massive draw to visitors, Leicester is a city truly looking to the future. Chapeau!
UK Cities Going Dutch for Cycling - Manchester
Manchester is thinking big, with plans to make one of the busiest public transport routes in Europe, Oxford Road, home to the city's first Dutch-style segregated cycle route.
A computer-generated fly-through of the Oxford Road cycle route shows an impressive wide, direct route separated from traffic by kerbs and solid white lines.
Those on bikes won't have to pull out into traffic every time a bus stops, but will ride on the protected cycle track down the inside of 13 of the route's 14 bus stops.
Oxford Road houses Manchester Royal Infirmary, two universities and a student union, the Manchester Aquatics Centre and the Manchester Museum, among other things.
The idea is popular so far - of 2000 comments from 900 people on the consultation, 65% were in favour of the plans, which are part of the city's £54m bus priority scheme. Currently the road is heavily congested, making journeys slow and unpredictable on the up to 100 buses using the route per hour. It is hoped that the new safe cycle tracks will get more people out of their cars and onto bikes, and ease congestion.