Andrew Gilligan to be new government cycling adviser

Really good news, I hope. Andrew Gilligan is to join the Prime Minister’s team as transport adviser.  Previously, Gilligan was Johnson’s cycling commissioner at the Greater London Authority GLA. His new duties must including cycling and I believe that, with timely pressure from Stop Killing cyclists (at the 2012 TfL cycling protest) Gilligan was the prime mover in the switch from Phase 1 Slippery Blue Paint Superhighways to Phase 2 Segregated Superhighways.

Let’s hope that, with more pressure from 2019 National Cycling Protest on 7th Sept, we can have a UK-wide Cycleway Network programme funded at the UN-recommended rate 20% of the transport budget. This would be 155 times higher than the present UK rate of investment in cycle infrastructure (72p/head)  But at £112/head/year, would only amount to the cost of three London cappuccinos per person per week for a year.

There is a real opportunity for change and we all need to support Gilligan in his coming battles with the Department for Transport. Gilligan opposes HS2. The new Minister of Transport (Grant Shapps) owns his own plane and may not have a deep committment to funding cycle infrastructure. We need Gilligan to focus on cycling. Compared to all other mechanised transport modes it is  faster, cheaper, healthier, quieter and much more sustainable. Cycling is the mass transit system of choice for the cities of the twenty-first century.

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network, London Cycleway Plan

40:1 Benefit:Cost ratio for cycling mass transport infrastructure

Summary of the benefits from investing £6.2bn/year in cycling infrastructure for bicycle mass transit
(1) Every town in the UK will have a safe and segregated Cycleway Network of the kind being built, far too slowly, in London
(2) The proportion of urban trips done by bike will rise from under 2% to over 40%, as it is in the cities of Denmark and Holland
(3) There will be a 20% reduction in UK emissions of greenhouse gases so that climate change will be slowed.
(4) Air quality in cities will be greatly improved, with less nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulates to damage your lungs
(5) People will be healthier with less obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and depression
(6) With less money being wasted on hydrocarbons, the UK balance of payments will be improved and household expenditure on transport will fall from its current £62/week
(7) Cities will be quieter, with the roar of traffic giving way to the sounds of birds, bees and breezes
Note: the UN Environment Programme advises countries to spend 20% of their transport budgets in Non Motorised Transport. For at least a decade, the best value opportunity in the UK is investment in cycle infrastructure, including cycleways, bicycle parking, home zones. For 2019-20, 20% of the UK transport budget is £6.2 billion #6Billion4Cycling .

The Benefit:Cost Ratio (BCR, aka Cost:Benefit Ratio CBR) is much more favourable for bicycle infrastructure than for road or rail infrastructure projects. A £2 return for £1 invested (2:1) is considered OK for road and rail. For cycle mass transit BCR ratios range between 5:1 and 50:1 (more research is required to collect information). My calculations (as a time-expired economist) are that for cycling infrastructure in London the direct transport benefits are about 20:1 and the health and environmental benefits are also 20:1. If correct, this offers a total Benefit:Cost Ratio of 40:1. See also:
Invest 20% of the transport budget to raise the cycling mode share by 2.5%/year   

Public investments in road and rail typically have a BCR of 2:1. For cycle mass transit the ratio can be 40:1.

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network, London Cycleway Plan Tagged with:

National Cycling Protest UK 7th September 2019 in Parliament Square London

The National Cycling Protest will take place on 7th September 2019:

  • 12 Noon Assemble in Lincolns Inn Fields, London
  • 1 pm Procession
  • 2-3.30 Rally in Parliament Square

The rally will call for:

  • £6.2 billio/year to be invested in cycling infrastructure
  • Reversal of the fuel-duty cuts
  • Car-free villages, towns and city centres with safe neighbourhoods for kids

The aim is to ‘Copenhagenize‘ UK towns by raising the percentage of trips done by bike from its present level, of under 2%, to the Copenhagen level of over 41%. In 2019 Copenhagen, with a population of 602,000 has 250 miles of segregated cycleway. This compares with the 7.5 miles of superhighway-standard segregated cycleway in Central London. Taking London as an example, because that’s where I live, the above video presents the evidence to show that if London were to invest as much in cycle infrastructure as it invested in Crossrail 1 (£170/head/year) it would raise the cycling mode share from 2% to 41% in 8 years. This would add capacity for  3.8 billion trips/year compared with the 200 million trips/year that Crossrail is expected to carry. That’s 20 times as many trips for 2/3rds of the money with completion in  2/3rds of the time. And that’s an outstanding return on investment.

Posted in cycleways, London cycle network, London Cycleway Plan

Landscape architecture CPD: nature in urban public open spaces

Brasilia is famous for its aesthetics – NOT for the social or ecological quality of its public open spaces

Beyond Green: Rethinking Nature in Urban Public Spaces

  • Is the idea of nature relevant to public open space in urban areas? Yes.
  • Should landscape architects be involved? Yes.

But what, why, how and where can and should nature influence the planning and design of public open space in urban areas. A good way to learn more is to attend the forthcoming CDP event in Cheltenham, organised by the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Gloucester on  12 June 2019 11:30am – 14:00pm. Book with Eventbrite.


Posted in landscape architecture, public parks, urban design, urban squares

Landscape Institute: election of the next LI President

2019 LI Elections: candidates for President of the Landscape Institute: voting ends on 31st May. See LI Website for details and use links below to see the videos

Congratulations to the Landscape Institute on its publication of candidate videos for the 2019 LI presidential election. Great that there are four of them – and thank you to the candidates for putting their names forward. But it’s not a beauty contest and three minutes is not enough. Jane Findlay‘s video ends with the four words ‘I really understand that…..’ and she is then cut off. Before this happens she says she wishes to promote the relevance of the profession, talks about the need for gender balance in senior roles and emphasises the importance of digital skills.

What I’d most like to hear from each candidate is about themselves, about where they’d like to lead the LI and about how they would get us from where we are to where we should be. Sarah Jones-Morris‘ video talks about biodiversity, climate change and species extinction but does not seem to have been made as an election manifesto. Helen Tranter‘s video was made as an election address and opens by stating that ‘we are a small organisation with big ambitions – we would like to increase our influence and relevance’.  She then observes that the LI has only 5,000 paying members while there are 17,000 landscape professionals in our industry.  I guess every member would like the LI to deal with these issues and wish the video could be extended, by at least two minutes to tell us how. Brodie McAllistair‘s video has the best balance between telling us about his career (which includes education, practice and LI roles) and about his vision for the landscape profession. He supports Geoffrey Jellicoe’s statement that  ‘landscape design may well be recognized as the most comprehensive of the arts’. He states that  the LI ‘must deliver on long-standing objectives’ and he regrets that we ‘may lose ground to other professions’.  He therefore believes, as I do, that the LI must therefore engage with the schools, with the media, with the arts, with the sciences and with the other professions.

There are many important topics here. For the next round of LI elections, I hope the time limit will be raised and that content guidelines will be issued. Candidates should be encouraged to tell us about themselves, about their vision for the landscape profession and about what practical steps they will take towards the realisation of their vision. Like bicycles, professions are apt to fall over if they fail to move forward.

Note: I’ve been a member of the LI for half a century and am sorry not have a vote because I am only a retired member. The Institute was founded in 1929 and has its 100th anniversary in 2029.





Posted in landscape architecture

Invest 20% of the transport budget to raise the cycling mode share by 2.5%/year

Building cycleway networks is astonishingly good value for money compared to other urban mass transport systems: bus, rail etc

The bicycle began as the ultimate dream machine, cheaper, healthier, more exciting and more glamorous, than horse-drawn vehicles or horses. In the 1940s, almost half the trips in London and Copenhagen were cycled. And the figure was over was over 80% in Amsterdam. Competition from motor vehicles then began to drive bikes off the road. Commuter cycling nearly died. So did far too many cyclists. And too many transport planners prioritised motor transport – as they still do.
Then, in 1961, a keen cyclist wrote a book on The Death and Life of the Great American Cities. Jane Jacobs described ‘the attrition of automobiles by cities’ as ‘probably the only means by which absolute numbers of vehicles can be cut down’. Accidents weren’t her focus. She argued that sedentary transport wastes urban space and is a serious health hazard – and she was dead right. Get a clip. Jacobs’ book had enormous influence, and in the half century since its publication the car has come to be seen as a dangerous, unhealthy, city-destroying transport mode. We should drive  only when we have to.
In 1973 Stop-de Kindermoord launched a political campaign that led to Amsterdam becoming the world’s cycling capital. ‘Stop Child Murder’ was a brilliant slogan. How could anybody be against it? And it includes deaths from traffic accidents, from physical inactivity, from obesity and from air pollution. Also in 1973 the first oil crisis highlighted another problem with road transport: it’s very expensive! See video How the Dutch got their cycle paths. So in the 21st century, cycling has been resurgent around the world, with Holland and Denmark still leading the way. A book called Copenhagenize explains how to encourage cycling – by building cycleways.
The crucial point is that from 2000 and 4 to 2000 and 18 Copenhagen invested £35/head/year in Cycleway Networks. That’s is about the cost of 12 cups of coffee/mouth/year and it raised the proportion of all trips in Copenhagen done by bicycle, the mode share, from 20% to 42%. For most of this period London’s expenditure on cycle infrastructure was only £2/head/year, making £30 in 15 years, and this raised the mode share of cycling by 1% to 2% . You get what you pay for. The 2018 London Cycling Action Plan promises to invest about £18/head/year in cycling and walking. This is expected to raise the cycling mode share by half a percent per year, 5% in 2025. Similar increases are not planned for the rest of the UK.
A United Nations report, in 2016, advised both rich and poor countries to spend a fifth of their transport budgets on NMT: Non-Motorised Transport. For the UK, this would be £91/head/year (equivalent to 30 cups of coffee per mouth per year). With £35/head buying a 1% per year increase in the cycling mode share, spending £91/head would take the London cycling mode share from 2.5% to 25% in one decade. This would transform the city.

Another consideration for London, is that overall transport demand has been rising at 1% a year for more than ten years. So the supply has to increase. But how can it be done?’
Creating more space for roads and car parks would be impossible. Cramming more people into trains would be cruel. Massive rail investment is possible. But Crossrail will only increase London’s transport capacity by 2% in 10 years – at a cost of £18bn. That’s spending £170/head/year for a decade, when spending half this sum on a cycle network London’s transport capacity would rise by twenty-five percent. And:

  • The cycleway network would require no electricity and little maintenance.
  • It would operate 24 hours a day, with no breakdowns and no industrial action.
  • It would free up road space for use by commercial vehicles.
  • It would make London a MUCH healthier place to live and work – saving more billions of pounds

Cost-benefit analysis favours cycling. And this is why the UN regards cycling as such a crucial investment. Like Jane Jacobs, they’re dead right.
The UK Facebook group for Stop Killing Cyclists has 7,000 members. Please join and please help and please ask anyone who stands for an election in your part of the country whether they support the UN target for investment in cycling: £91 per head per year for the UK. Let’s make the country that invented the Rover Safety Bicycle into a country where cycling saves lives.

More LAA videos about bicycle transport planning

If you have read to here you might also like to see some videos about planning for bicycle transport:

Posted in cycleways, urban design

9 Children’s play landscape design videos FOLAR

Here are the other six videos from the 2019 FOLAR Symposium on Children’s Play. To find the full set of videos on Youtube please visit the Playlist for Children’s Play.

Dr Luca Csepely-Knorr & Dr Amber Roberts, Manchester Metropolitan University. Michael Brown & his work with children’s play Luca and Amber take a most-welcome look at the great children’s playgrounds designed by Michael Brown in the 1960s and 1970s

Nicola Butler Chair of Trustees, Play England Adventure Playgrounds:past and present. Nicola re-makes the case for adventure play and remembers the vital contribution of pioneer ILA/LI member Lady Allen of Hurtwood.

Helen Woolley, BSc BPhil CMLI, Reader in Landscape Architecture and Society, University of Sheffield, Playing the streets: past, present and future. Helen reviews the work of Iona and Peter Opie. They were folklorists and applied modern techniques to children’s literature and childrens’ games.

Andrée Davies, DW Landscape Architects  Nature play & inclusive design. Andrée explains the Davies White to the design process and detailed design of children’s play areas.

Jennette Emery-Wallis LUC  Natural, active childhoods. Jennette give an inspiring account of two great children’s play areas: the Dianna Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens and the Tumbling Bay Playground (beside the Timber Lodge in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Posted in landscape architecture Tagged with: , ,

FOLAR Symposium on Children’s Play

FOLAR Childrens Play Symposium

Congratulations to all involved with an excellent FOLAR symposium on children’s play.There are 3 videos embedded in this blog post and the other 6 can be found on another blog post on chidren’s play.

Particular thanks to Merrick Denton-Thompson who was not able to be there but who influenced many of the presentations through his work in establishing the Learning through Landscapes Trust (LTL). The Trust has done much, and is still doing much, to make life better for children. As the homepage of its website explains ‘We help children and young people to connect with nature, become more active, learn outdoors and have fun’. Three of the presentations are in this blog post and the other five will be published soon. The symposium is a great illustration of how the landscape architecture profession should operate:

  1. landscape architecture needs a firm theoretical base in the of principles design and planning (characterised by Vitruvius as Commodity, Firmness and Delight)
  2. the profession needs a stream of specialist policy initiatives to explain how the design of good landscapes contribute to societal goals
  3. the profession needs specialist landscape practices to give the ideas reality

After 2 years as President of the Landscape Institute Merrick, very appropriately, handed over to current LI President Adam White. Adam introduced the symposium with a very attractive exposition of how LTL principles can work in practice.  Davies White is a landscape practice that specialises ‘in children’s playful landscapes and gardens’.

My contribution was a short reading from page 97 of Patrick Geddes 1915 book Cities in Evolution (Chapter 5 ‘Ways to the Neotechnic City’). As well as being the leading planning theorist of the 20th century,  Geddes was the first European to use the term ‘landscape architect’ in its modern, Olmstedian, sense (see post on Frederick Law Olmsted and the father of landscape architecture).

Carley Sefton as Chief Executive of the Learning through Landscapes Trust gave a presentation of what has been achieved since its establishment (30 years ago) AND of what remains to be done. It’s a lot.

Posted in landscape architecture, landscape design theory, public parks Tagged with: , ,

Landscape and garden weddings

Feast in a renaissance garden with the wedding procession beyond

Landscape architects, who pay increasing attention to programming the events which take place in the spaces they plan and design, could give more thought to weddings and wedding photography. Every couple likes to have brilliant photographs of their wedding and designers can help by providing good settings. Renaissance gardens often had compartments for festivals, processions, weddings, and masquerades. Gardens are often re-designed to accommodate garden weddings. Good!

Posted in garden design, landscape architecture, urban design

Policy for London’s Quietways

quietway 1 fatality death

The ghost bike marks the spot, on London’s best ‘quietway’, where Antonio Marchesini was killed  at 4.15pm on June 3 2018 in Deptford (at the junction of Childers Street and Rolt Street). If this is a ‘quiet’ way I’m an albatros. 

London’s ‘quietways’ are not quiet enough. TfL explain them as: ‘continuous and convenient cycle routes on less-busy backstreets across London’. They are on backstreets. But they not continuous,  because there are so many unimproved junctions. Their convenience is for local trips: for longer ‘strategic’ trips most cyclists prefer to take their chances on the TLRN red routes. Nor are the Quietways safe.  TfL state that cycle usage of Q1 rose by 56% from its opening in 2014 to June 2017. I guess this was from a low base and that most of the trips are local. In 2018 22.2% of London cyclist fatalities were on Quietway 1.

22.2% of London cyclist deaths in 2018 were on the flagship Quietway 1

Andrew Gilligan, who was London’s cycling commissioner when the quietway programme was launched, commented that:

Gilligan further explains that ‘The difficulty with the Quietways programme was that it runs almost entirely on borough roads and, as I said before, most of the boroughs lack the political leadership necessary. ‘ ‘We should not try to do things that cannot be done. The money should instead be diverted to that handful of boroughs, those five or six, which have both the capability and the willingness to do things.’

Citymetric comments that ‘Quietways are on the 95 per cent of London’s roads run by its 32 boroughs, which take a variety of very differing view on cycling. The result is an at times notional mixed bag of routes: some are little more than signage and painted bike stencils on roads, but they’re interspersed with good interventions, dependent largely on which borough boundary you just crossed’.

The Aseasyasridingabike blog  comments that ‘the Dutch wouldn’t get themselves into this kind of problem in the first place. They wouldn’t be trying to join up a ‘cycle route’ across a main road where the side streets don’t line up. The side streets would just be ordinary, residential side streets, and there wouldn’t be a need for a dedicated cycle crossing, because this wouldn’t be ‘a route’. People would be cycling along the parallel and much more direct main roads just to the south and the north, the A2, and the A2206, if they want to go anywhere.’

The LCC London Cycling Campaign comments that ‘Current Quietways proposals fail at key hurdles: busier junctions are often not appropriately treated to separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic in time and/or space – some of these junctions will remain hostile enough for current cyclists, they certainly won’t enable all-ages, all-abilities cycling or entice those who want quieter routes to cycle; there are also too many busier road sections that are far from “quiet”, without appropriate space for cycling measures – whether that’s protected tracks or modal filters or other methods, too often the proposed design is simply more paint and logos on the road.’

Caroline Russell (a London Assembly member) commented in 2018 that ‘The Mayor is relying too much on Quietways, but he knows as well as me that they aren’t the answer and won’t convince nervous people new to cycling to use their bikes on the road. They’re also not suitable for children biking to school because they’re not joined up routes, they’re not segregated from motorised traffic and so they’re not safe. ‘

My comments are

  • the quietways not direct enough or fast enough for commuter use
  • the quietways are not enjoyable enough or safe enough for leisure use
  • trying to kill two birds with stone often leads to them both escaping

Quietway 1 (see detailed review and assessment) was once a London Cycle Network use. Despite its tragic accidents, it is not a complete failure. But nor is it a substitute for a good commuter route and a leisure route between Greenwich and Central London. Some people use it for longer commuter trips and others use it for local trips. What SE London needs is:

  • A cycle  superhighway on the A200 (Evelyn Street – Lower Road – Jamaica Road)
  • A  Thames Cycle Path that follows the river as closely as possible – as the Thames path walkway does.

See also

18 videos on London cycleway network planning

Posted in London cycle network