New investment for cycling

1 week ago (12:47 PM)
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Robert Munster

Yes, I quite agree with your comments. I think "physical inactivity" is a meaningless concept and it would be more helpful to place physical activity as a benefit on the non-motorised side of the equation. This does matter, because the cost of "physical activity" is being cited as a reason to tax motorists, when it should be being used as a reason to subsidise cycling or to reduce/avoid taxing cycling. In fact I think it is being done to do both, i.e. double counting! But the actual amount would be a great deal less than £9.8bn, as the vast majority of travel by distance is not cyclable, especially in the country where car journeys are often a hundred miles or more.

Terry Vaughan

Robert, physical activity is a substantial economic benefit because it increases productivity and reduces the cost of medical treatment. Inactivity leads to a substantial economic cost because it reduces productivity and increases the need for medical treatment. The point is that the benefits aren't due to motor vehicles, but the costs are partly attributable to them. And journeys in the country are often short enough to cycle, but dangerous due to poor driving. There are neighbouring villages that people can now only move between by car - few buses, no pavements, no cycle tracks. Whatever the true amounts, I don't know which side to put them on.



I'm inclined not to take any of your figures seriously if you are really suggesting that a bicycle and rider weighing 100kg will emit a comparable amount of CO2 as a two tonne car.

Work Done is Force X Distance. Force is directly proportional to mass, so the car requires 20 times as much force, therefore 20 times as much energy. Is a human body a twentieth as efficient as a car's engine? I think not.

"... the human body is an extremely inefficient fuel burner ..." So that makes a human on a bike as polluting as a car. What about the CO2 the driver emits ? We're talking an order of magnitude difference here.

And this is before we even start looking at the energy difference required to create a bike and a car, and the energy required to make and deliver fuel to petrol stations.

I'm tempted, once again, to call 'nonsense' to your figures.

Instances such as this call into question the credibility of the other points you make.

Robert Munster

Well, I did say it was very rough. Unfortunately I didn't keep the calculations so can't remember exactly how I arrived at the figures, and there was obviously a very large margin of error. But don't just assume that cycling emits less CO2 - prove it. It's not as obvious as you seem to think.

CO2 is not a pollutant - it is an inert gas - so not sure why you mention pollution in this context.


See also

CO2 emissions, figures are grams of CO2 emitted per person per kilometre : -

Walker, imported food - 24.15
Cyclist, imported food - 18.40
Full Bus - Urban - 31.28
Half full bus - Urban - 62.56
Av city car - Diesel - Driver only - 182.94
Av city car - Diesel - Five people - 36.59

It appears however that the vehicle figures don't allow for the occupants eating anything.

Also, that's just CO2 figures. The NOx figures are included in the link.

Spot that the ratio between the cyclist and the one person city diesel is a ratio of almost exactly ten. That's the order of magnitude I referred to upthread.


And just to kick off another whole possible world of rants, counter rants and aggrieved 'war on the motorist' rants, the figure for a single occupancy petrol SUV is a staggering 399g of CO2 per passenger kilometre.

In my world they'd be paying significantly more than they are to access London's streets.

Robert Munster

Excellent find, and appears to be authoritative. We could do with a bit more info on how the figures are arrived at - the green columns are "lifecycle" emissions, but I'm not sure what that means. It clearly includes food, and hopefully also fuel production and transport costs (which you referred to earlier), but may also include vehicle manufacturing costs (which I wouldn't do, as people are still likely to own cars even if they use them less). Hopefully the food refers to the amount of food required to provide the energy needed to power the bicycle. (But it appears that they might have overlooked methane and other greenhouse gases from animals grown for food!) I'm also not sure what they mean by "city car" and "super-mini," given that the latter have the higher emissions.

The spreadsheet appears to date from around 2006 - see reference to Euro IV buses (we are now on Euro VI). CO2 emissions for new cars (and other vehicles) have been reduced by over a quarter since then, see:
It doesn't say whether the figures for cars are an average of what was in use at the time, or for new vehicles built to the latest (then Euro 4) standards. Of course, it's likely that cyclist indirect carbon emissions have also fallen slightly because of this.

"Average city-car petrol hybrid" with 5 people is then down to around 22g/km, which is within striking distance of the bicycle figure, and that is before getting on to electrics where it could be as low as 8g/km. Of course, this is an extreme case, and you are quite right to highlight the figures you have, but it illustrates my original point. Not that I wanted to make a big thing of it, but you shouldn't just treat cyclists as not producing CO2, when they do.



But I still think that those figures don't allow for the CO2 emitted by the vehicle passengers. Unless the bike figures are the marginal increase in CO2 emissions by the cyclist on account of their having to expend more energy to move the bike (in addition to the energy expended in simply living, which sucks up about 2500 calories a day).

Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that cars, except in extreme and only very occasional cases, are significantly larger emitters of CO2 than cyclists.

I think we can drop this topic from the discussions now.


@Robert Munster

"£8.7bn on accidents - as it stands, cycling is roughly 15 times as dangerous as travelling by car, so more cycling will dramatically increase this figure. It would appear that, even if cycle crashes involving motor vehicles could be eliminated completely, cycling would still be more dangerous than travelling by car. So again, encouraging more cycling is likely to increase this figure."

Prove it.

Terry Vaughan

Hatler, you've done some great demolition work, but look at this blog post

The writer shows that cycling in the UK is about 30 times as dangerous as traveling by car, and in terms of collisions with motor vehicles, about 8 times more dangerous than cycling in the Netherlands.

There is always a risk to people on two wheels, they can simply fall off their bikes with no vehicle involved. Because older people cycle there, more casualties can be expected. There is also a risk if they walk, of course. Everyone understands this risk and can take as much care as they think appropriate. It doesn't deter them from cycling as long as they consider themselves fit enough. And it shouldn't stop the authorities from clearing the cycle tracks, as per your other comment.


Hmmm. That figure of 30 times more dangerous includes all the miles driven by vehicles on the UK's motorways. Motorways are significantly safer than regular roads per mile travelled (and account for a lot of the miles travelled). Besides which, bikes aren't allowed on them, so I don't think that figure of 30 times is a fair comparison. It should be based upon figures for vehicle usage in urban environments. I can't begin to estimate what that figure is likely to be. Much less than 30 I expect.

Terry Vaughan

Hatler, you could also argue that fast A and B roads carry a great deal of motor traffic but bikes are all but banned from them. If there were more bikes there I would expect more accidents, and it wouldn't normally be the driver who got hurt.

And the estimate that cycling is 8 times more risky here than in the Netherlands stands. This is why I believe that investment in cycle tracks is the way to go.

I suspect that Robert might be right about the cost of accidents going up, but have no proof of it.


@Terry Vaughan
".. you could also argue that fast A and B roads carry a great deal of motor traffic but bikes are all but banned from them."
Indeed. And on that basis we could/should exclude fast A and B roads from the figures and reduce that ratio even further. I feel that the 8x figure from the Netherlands is probably somewhere near the mark. (I presume that's measured on accidents per passenger mile.)

For fast A and B roads, parallel cycle paths has to be the way to go.

The figure we should be trying to determine is the relative risk between travelling by car on a typical three to six mile urban commute in a car vs that same commute on a bike. That's the pertinent stat for someone who is considering which transport choice to make. But even then, don't forget the 'denominator neglect' effect -

The chances of a KSI when you are on your bike or in your car are approaching the trivially insignificant. So much so, that for the purposes of transport choice, I would contend that this factor should be disregarded. (The perceived danger, on the other hand, as occasioned by repeated close passes and SMIDSYies, and the abuse directed at a cyclist are likely far more significant factors when someone chooses whether to cycle or use their car. (And the weather and a whole host of other factors.)

"I suspect that Robert might be right about the cost of accidents going up, but have no proof of it."
I would like to see some stats on this. I suspect that individual crash costs would reduce, but that the total number of accidents might go up. Total number of accidents might even go down if the 'safety in numbers' thing is borne out. It's certainly been the case in London over the last few years that the rate of cycle accidents has gone down, whilst the number of cyclists has been rising, not that those two things are necessarily connected. I don't know if this combination of factors has resulted in a reduction in the total number of accidents or not.

Terry Vaughan

Hatler, the A/B road issue applies more in the country so is not so relevant on this forum. But it's not just recorded incidents. If you want to know how dangerous cycling is you have to factor in the number of incidents to be expected if ordinary people were to cycle in traffic.

You've said before that you disregard the risk of a KSI incident. I don't, having been run into by a driver four times in incidents that I expect to happen again. Any of those incidents and any of the near misses could easily result in a serious injury. That's what I call unsafe.


@Terry V

"If you want to know how dangerous cycling is you have to factor in the number of incidents to be expected if ordinary people were to cycle in traffic."
Good point. And one which I think Robert has addressed in a recent posting.

"You've said before that you disregard the risk of a KSI incident. I don't, having been run into by a driver four times in incidents that I expect to happen again."
Ouch. Very sorry to hear that. It's a wonder you haven't been put off for life. You sound like a determined sort of chap.

Now, this has the potential to be a sensitive point, so please don't take this as any sort of criticism, implied or otherwise. Are you familiar with Cyclecraft by John Franklin ? I became aware of it only after cycling to work for a few years. By reading it and applying its principles I believe I significantly reduced my level of risk when cycling.

Terry Vaughan

Hatler, I have read that book. It's time I did so again. Its main principles I think are keeping up with the motor traffic and cycling to 'control' the traffic in the hope of preventing dangerous overtakes. The keeping up bit is not always possible, certainly for me. The 'taking the lane' bit I think is next to useless in many circumstances. My four collisions arose when a driver turned right at a junction, across my path; when a driver turned left across my path; and twice when a driver clipped me while overtaking. In the first case I had priority but could have been more alert to the possibility of driver error. In the second, the only one in which I was injured, the driver passed in the lane next to mine before turning into me. In the third, I was keeping out in the lane to avoid being 'left hooked' at a junction. That driver could have overtaken in the vacant lane adjacent, but failed to move far enough over. I suspect it was a misjudged 'punishment' pass. In the fourth I was keeping out in the lane to avoid doors but left just enough space for a driver to think he could squeeze past.

Those were not freak accidents. I don't recall anything in Cyclecraft that would give any sort of guaranteed protection. In fact, I could say that following the advice resulted in two of those incidents.

I've experienced many near misses, such as a van driver on the phone entering a roundabout across my path, a driver pulling out to overtake me just before a pinch point, failing, and pulling back in, drivers pulling out of a side road into my path, etc. I don't know how Cyclecraft could prevent those either. Do you think it could?

Although it has given you confidence, I'm not sure you are as safe as you think you are.

I've also fallen twice on poor surfaces recently, once being significantly injured. A younger person might not have been hurt. I usually drive now.


The point about the £8.7bn figure is that vehicle crashes are a lot more expensive than bike crashes. Robert Munster contends that if we see more cycling, the cost of collisions will increase. I don't think that's the case which is why I have asked him to prove it.

Robert Munster

This is a good point, as KSI figures in the UK do not include accidents that do not involve a motor vehicle, and you do need need to compare like with like. I have not been able to find any UK data on this, which I will come onto in a minute. The blog doesn't quote the figures for the Netherlands either, but implies that they are around 3 times the number of crashes involving a motor vehicle.

Of course, both sets of stats are for the country as a whole. In London, we have around 400 cyclist KSIs per year with about 659 million km cycled (based on LTDS data), which is an even worse rate of 607 per billion km.

Here then is the safety record of each mode in London based on the number of KSIs in 2011-2015. Number of KSIs (total over 5 years) followed by KSIs per billion km, then deaths and deaths per billion km. Distance figures are from LTDS 2013-14, so not directly comparable but close enough. I haven't bothered listing the rail modes although these are presumably 0, at least for deaths.

Pedestrian - 4385 - 665.7 - 341 - 51.8
Cyclist - 2536 - 770.0 - 66 - 20.0
Motorbike - 2782 - 2523.0 - 142 - 128.8
Car - 1887 - 18.3 - 115 - 1.1
Bus/coach* - 411 - 16.6 - 5 - 0.2

* Distance figures also include trams so slightly inaccurate.

Interestingly, cycling is more dangerous than walking in terms of KSIs, but safer in terms of deaths. What I have noticed before is how much more dangerous motorcycling is than any other mode, and yet this issue has been completely ignored by the press and the authorities.

This makes cycling 42 times as dangerous as driving in terms of KSIs, and 18 times in terms of deaths (the latter I was referring to, obviously fluctuates a bit depending which datasets are used). Vole O'Speed is quoting 61 KSIs per billion km, which compares for the figure of 18.3 for cars in London, so even if Dutch standards could be matched that is still 3 times as dangerous as driving, and that ignores non-vehicle accidents which as mentioned would push this up by a factor of about 3.

Now, of course, we get into the realms of "what if scenarios".

The target is to double cycling; let's assume that this is drawn from all modes in proportion to current usage, so usage of each other mode goes down by 1.61%. (In practice it is likely more would come from bus than anything else, and bus is the safest mode apart from train.) Let's assume that all crash rates fall by 1.61% on the assumption that no lorries are involved in accidents (so really it would be less than that, but we don't know by how much). This brings deaths down from 688 to 677 over the 5 years (-11), and KSIs from 12274 to 12076 (-198). However, if there is no improvement in overall safety, we have to double the number of cyclist crashes - an extra 65 deaths and 2495 KSIs, far outweighing the saving from slightly less traffic.

Of course, the hope is that the investment will make cycling actually safer, although as it will probably only affect less than 10% of total cycled mileage the extra cyclist accidents would still far outweigh the benefits of having slightly fewer cars on the road.

Now suppose we could actually replicate what they have in the Netherlands, which is what Terry suggests we should aim for. It's unclear exactly what this is supposed to mean in reality, but let's go with a highly optimistic assumption that all TfL's cyclable journeys actually become cycled, and that Dutch safety standards are achieved for cyclists, with no change for other groups. That means car use falling by 17.6% (see earlier) and cycle use increasing by 1433% (an extra 4.3m trips from 0.3m today).

So performing the same sort of calculations, KSIs excluding cycling fall from 9738 to 7799 (-1939). Using the Dutch rate, KSIs increase from 2536 to 3031 (+495).

Then we have to add KSIs not involving a motor vehicle. The Jim Gleeson blog linked from the O'Speed blog quotes 49 KSIs per billion km from non-vehicle crashes - and it is not clear exactly what this does include. This equates to 161 KSIs over 5 years currently, rising to 2435 under the new scenario (+2274), bringing total crashes up from 12435 to 13265 iver 5 years, a 7% rise overall. (I can't do deaths without finding out the dutch cyclist fatality rate.)

Moreover, this makes some heroic assumptions. For one thing, I would imagine that the death rate is higher in cities in the Netherlands, as it seems to be in London compared with the Uk. Also, achieving the same level of segregation in London as in Amsterdam is simply impossible. Pushing the figure up from 61 to 100 (still a huge improvement on todays figure of 770) gives 15203 KSIs, a 22% increase. Pushing it up to 200 gives a 62% increase and 300 gives a 102% increase. This would, I think, be a higher rate than it has ever been at any time in the past.

I'm glad I've worked all this out properly now - I had previously only done rough calculations in my head, but it gives me no great pleasure to say I was right.

The relevance of all this of course is that the cost of accidents is one of the major components of indirect motoring costs. Going back to the cost figures, let's be simple and say a 17.6% reduction in car use will result in a 17.6% reduction in all the other associated negative externalies (although excess delays would almost certainly actually go up, in my view). Total externalities, exluding accidents, were approx £35bn, and £8.7bn for accidents. These are for all of England; London accounts for only 6.7% of total vehicle mileage in England. On the other hand most of the externalities will fall disproportionately in cities so I am going to use a figure of 15% (exact figure does not matter for comparative purposes), which gives us £5.25bn and £1.30bn respectively. (As a check, the actual official cost of accidents in London in 2011 was £1.486bn.)

The reduction in externalities in London is therefore £924m, excluding accidents. The increase in accidents could be £91m, £286m, £806m or £1326m. So it is not at all hard to envisage that the total negative externalities would increase, especially as, as I say, there would likely be an increase in congestion, which I have not factored in. There will also be ongoing costs associated with maintaining the superhighways as you pointed out - I have no idea how much this might be so have ignored it.

Additionally, we have a loss in fuel duty. This is £24.9bn for Uk. In this case, we should not weight for urban areas, as fuel duty is practically proportional to distance travelled, so 5% or £1245m of that is collected from London vehicle drivers. Of this 17.6% or £219m would be lost. The overall benefit therefore is £614m, £419m, -£101m or -£621m in the four scenarios - obviously we should absolutely never ever do anything that has a negative overall benefit!

Now we need to know the costs of bringing this all about. The superhighways cost around £3m per mile to build. To mirror what the Dutch have, you would really have to convert all A and B roads, many C roads and some U roads, not that this would actually be possible. From DfT table RDL0101 there are 1923 miles of A, B and C roads in London, so we can estimate the cost at £5bn, being optimistic. This is a one-off cost, of course, and would normally be appraised over 30 years giving £166m per year - actually pretty much what is being proposed. This gives a benefit:cost ratio of 3.7, 2.5, -0.6 or -3.7 respectively. Normally a minimum of 2 is required for public expenditure. Anything less than 1 means you get back less than you spent.

In summary then, it is possible to make a positive case for investment in cycling expenditure, but only by making the most optimistic assumptions you possibly can - and some of these are quite frankly heroic - and the results are highly sensitive to relatively marginal changes in the inputs. For example, as I pointed out, the environmental cost of motoring is falling quite rapidly anyway - as are accident rates. London is the biggest and most complex city in Europe, so it is highly unlikely you would ever be able to match what may be achieved elsewhere, especially the comparatively tiny cities in the Netherlands.

Hope this is of interest


I admire your patience in sourcing those figures and working that lot out !!

One thing missing is the difference in cost of the different types of accident; car vs car, car vs pedestrian, car vs bike, etc etc. I suspect that finding those figures would be near impossible.

I think what all that shows is that the range of output figures generated are highly dependent upon input factors, so it would be a brave soul who made any definitive predictions as to what will happen. So much can/will change over the course of the next few years.

I certainly question the need to apply segregated facilities to C roads. How much does that reduce the road mileage by ?

Your figures use a fixed figure for the cost/km of cycle lane. That figure would vary massively dependent upon local conditions. I imagine that the figure you quote is the one resulting from the recent CSHs in central London. That is possibly at the very top end of the range of costs.

The other deduction one could draw from this is that blanket implementation may not be the way to go, but instead each scheme would have to demonstrate its worth. But then that loses the clear synergistic effect from building a world where anyone can cycle anywhere without being scared of traffic. (Aside from the inherent discrimination which would result if cycle infrastructure was only built in some places.)

One thing we have all managed to forget however is the net positive increase in health in regular cyclists. One figure I have seen quoted is that the benefits to the NHS from people cycling regularly far outweighs any negative impact from injuries occasioned by cycling.

I recall a figure of a factor of 20.

Aside from anything else regular exercisers have the physiology of someone much younger (based on average figures). Again, I recall a figure of 20, years in this case. And actuaries figures show regular exercisers living for 18 months longer (and with an enhanced quality of life).

**Not** cycling is bad for your health and will shorten your life.

Robert Munster

Actually, not that much patience required - I enjoy doing that sort of calculation (!), and I found it very interesting, as when I started I did not know what BCR result to expect.

TfL (and public bodies generally) have to generate BCRs for any new expenditure - this is mainly a box ticking exercise, so as to be able to wave a bit of paper at anyone who might query the expenditure. They can be useful if calculated objectively (which I have tried to do above), but their limitations also need to be recognised. Although semi-scientific, there is clearly a large subjective element in assessing many of the inputs, and so it is not too hard to 'cook' the figures to produce the desired results, such as when something is being done at the direction of a politician, who almost certainly won't have had a clue about any of the detail when making whatever commitment (e.g. conductors on buses - nice idea, but very expensive).

As to costs of accidents, I don't think there is any official distinction; there is a fixed rate for a death (just under £2 million), a fixed rate for a serious injury and a fixed rate for a minor injury. There may of course be differences in the medical costs, although as much of the cost is a subjective 'human cost' rather than any actual expenditure in medical treatment etc., it's probably not worth trying to be more precise. Indeed, if an 'elderly' person (probably anyone over about 50) is killed there will likely be a net financial saving as the government won't have to pay out on pensions, old age care etc. One notable point is that many of the people who have been killed in cycling accidents have been 'high value' people such as doctors and university professors (I have no idea why!); again, as far as I know, there is no allowance for such considerations, with a fixed price per death/injury.

I don't know how well you and Terry know London as a whole, but I spent much of my youth studying the map of London as well as travelling all over it by bus, so have a detailed knowledge of London's road network. The contrast with the map of Amsterdam is immediately obvious - Amsterdam is largely set out on a grid pattern, and even the city centre has a neat layout with parallel streets. London's road network by contrast is completely haphazard. London's dense railway network has relatively few road crossings, and the Thames, Lea and Wandle rivers also have a similar divisive effect, with available crossing points generally being narrow and congested.

C roads are about 28% of the total. I might as well list all the figures, along with the colours on the OS Landranger map which is the clearest map showing the classes:
Motorways - 37 miles (not included, obviously) - blue
A roads - 1068 miles - red
B roads - 317 miles - orange
C roads - 539 miles - yellow
U roads - 7234 miles (not included) - white

I agree it is unlikely that many C (or B) roads will be treated for the foreseeable future - A roads are obviously the priority - however if we are to achieve the network effect Terry speaks of, I do think you would have to. In practice obviously many roads are not appropriately classified, and you would probably use an objective measure such as peak vehicle flows, e.g. 5 (?) vehicles per direction per minute, or perhaps accident rates. Take a look at the Bexleyheath, Harold Hill/Hornchurch and Stanmore/Pinner areas for clear examples of the importance of many C roads to the overall road network. There are also some U roads which are the only means of access to residential areas large enough to generate enough traffic to be a problem - some are bus routes.

Costs would obviously depend on what you plan to do. It could well be that costs would be lower for B/C roads ... on the other hand, it might be a lot more if you insist on doing every road regardless, if you have to start building one way systems etc. as Terry was suggesting, and you might have to widen some roads involving property demolition. Also, I do not believe the existing schemes have given sufficient weight to maintaining adequate capacity for other traffic, and doing so would no doubt have increased costs greatly. In practice such expenditure is highly unlikely, but then the increase in cycling will be less and any benefits will also be reduced. My view is that if anything is to be done it needs to be done properly, which I think is Terry's view as well.

The health benefits of cycling certainly should be factored in, but I assume they form the basis of the "physical inactivity" element of the negative externalities of motoring, in which case they are already taken into account in my analysis; but as I commented earlier, precisely what this means is not explained, so it is a bit unsatisfactory.

One final point; you mentioned 'denominator neglect' and as I've said before I find it surprising how few cycling accidents there actually are given the number of near misses we have alI seen. The cyclist death rate in London currently is 20 per billion km (average over 5 years, although with a steep downward trend evident). Assuming cyclists ride at 20km/h on average, that is 1 per 2.5 million hours, or one every 285 years. In other words, on average, you could cycle continuously for 285 years before getting killed. People actually die after about 80 years, so you are about 3.5 times more likely to die while not cycling than while cycling! (Of course, there is huge scope for misuse of statistics here ...!)



@peter caton
"I love all these statistics……..”
“compiled by these statisticians”…..“which our leaders use to prove their policies are working”….
“they don't consider the poor motorist who pays so much”

We may prefer our own opinions but, as has been pointed out, we cannot have our own facts.
The more overwhelming the evidence, the more desirable it appears to retreat into a world of denial.

Someone has to take a stand and enable those who want to use healthier, sustainable, economical forms of transport to be able to do so safely. The consequences of inaction re this issue are far more profound than our own health and well being. We are deprived of choice. And we are still at a stage where we don't even see this.

Many of us would like to be able to cycle from door to door with our kids and/or elderly parents - but we can’t because of the problem of motorised traffic (the recent xmas period offered some moments of respite from this - and a rare opportunities).

Below is a headline from today.

“8 in 10 middle-aged britons 'are overweight or exercise too little"

“Modern life is harming the health of the nation, according to the organisation, which has launched a campaign, One You, aimed at the 83% of 40 to 60-year-olds – 87% of men and 79% of women in this age bracket – who are overweight or obese, exceed the chief medical officer’s alcohol guidelines or are physically inactive.”

“Obesity is one of the biggest problems for this group: 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are overweight or obese. Obesity in adults has risen by 16% in the past 20 years. Research shows that many people cannot identify a healthy body, suggesting being overweight has become the new normal.”

Terry Vaughan

"I love all these statistics"

No Peter, I think you hate them.


Peter. Bit of a broken record I'm afraid. Everyone should have healthy scepticism of stats but we can't rely on anecdotes and blinkered opinions. Here's a stat for you, 50% of vehicles in the congestion charge zone are private, private hire vehicles and taxis. Do you not think encouraging cycling could reduce this percentage? Is it possible the huge increase in phv's is part of the problem, not cycle lanes?


@peter caton

"I love all these statistics that are compiled by these statisticians which our leaders use to prove their policies are working."
I presume that's sarcasm. Fair point though. Clearly TfL are more likely to publish figures which support their multi-million pound decision than otherwise. It would be good to see figures produced by an independent body.

"[It's a] shame they don't consider the poor motorist ..."
Clearly they ("our leaders") do. That's why there is the Congestion Charge. They have clearly considered the effects that motorists have upon the capital and have determined that a congestion charge is an appropriate way of controlling numbers and raising cash to help support other less polluting, more efficient (from a holistic, all-capital perspective), healthier alternatives.

"...the poor motorist who pays so much to use our roads ..."
As I mentioned above, they may pay 'so much', but it's not enough to cover their true costs.
And it's not only motorists who pay for roads. Everyone who pays taxes pays for the roads. (I'm worried you might have missed this point in the preceding discussion, so I thought I'd mention it again, just to be sure.)
This reads as though you are implying that those who pay more for infrastructure have a higher claim to that infrastructure's use. That's surely not what you mean, is it ? Please let us know if so, because that is a notion which would need to be dismantled lest you descend into an Escherian style logical conclusion which would lead to a pretty complex Highway Code.

"... and contribute to the economy, ..."
Are motorists the only people who contribute to the economy ?
Should we start ranking how much each category of commuter contributes to the economy before we start allotting infrastructure funding ?

"... central London congestion is a typical example"
A typical example of what ?

peter caton

I think cyclists should be charged as motorists are to enter central London and be issued a license to prove proficiency to ride in town which would save lives.



Sorry. That's full circle (once more). All the counter points to those suggestions have been discussed at length in this thread already.

None of what you suggest will happen.

In the absence of any of that happening, what else can you suggest to make things better ?

Terry Vaughan

Peter, I know you don't have much interest in evidence, but police in Birmingham found that 98% of collisions are solely the fault of the motorist. They ran a campaign against bad driving and pulled over 8 offenders within an hour. Licensing bike riders would have very little effect on safety, because it's people driving who bring the danger to the roads. People like you, even though you presumably don't set out to cause accidents. That's why we need cycle tracks, the space for which has to come from the carriageway.

peter caton

I do wish the sensible unbiased quiet majority who have been badly affected by TFLs poor planning speak out but probably like me they feel it's a waste of time and can only look forward to Londons congestion getting worse , more cyclists dying unnecessarily and their hard earned taxes wasted on more useless schemes which make matters worse

john ackers

Peter, who are the 'sensible unbiased quiet majority' that you describe? Are they people commuting to work by car, are they people carrying tools or goods, are they people with limited mobility, are they parents on the school run?

peter caton

Why can't you answer that question ?


@peter caton

"I do wish the sensible unbiased quiet majority who have been badly affected by TFLs poor planning speak out ..."
Would that be all those people suffering from respiratory problems caused by the heavily polluted air which TfL have so far failed to adequately address ? Perhaps those people whose lives would improve immeasurably if they weren't too scared to get on a bike ? What about all those tube passengers who are let down by overcrowded trains ? The parents who are too scared to let their children out of the front door due to the danger of traffic (or, more accurately, inconsiderately dangerous motorists) ?
Or are you perhaps referring solely to the few people who still insist upon using their vehicles needlessly ?

" ... and can only look forward to Londons congestion getting worse ..."
It will, unless TfL do something (which they are) to try to reduce the number of congestion-causing space-hungry vehicles on the streets.

"... more cyclists dying unnecessarily ..."
TfL's plans are aimed at addressing precisely this point.

"... and their hard earned taxes wasted on more useless schemes which make matters worse"
All our taxes appear to have been spent on schemes the usefulness of which are yet to be fully assessed, but based on early stats, appear to be providing increased capacity on the routes concerned. On that basis it is not possible to say right now that the money is wasted, that the schemes are useless or that matters have been made worse.

I detect that 'debate' is a mildly alien concept for you. Do you ever read any of the comments that people post here in response to your input ? It would help progress the discussion if you could formulate a relevant response to any of them.


That sentence near the bottom should read : -

"A portion of the taxes that we all pay appear to have been spent on schemes the usefulness of which are yet to be fully assessed,"

Terry Vaughan

Good comment, hatler.

peter caton

Robert your comments are much appreciated and figures, you are obviously one of silent majority who needs to speak up more against all the spin doctors and their henchmen, recently I had to drive through Elephant and Castle and the roundabout is even more confusing, millions have been spent on it by the so-called experts and it's worse than ever.

Robert Munster

I don't know about silent majority - I just investigate things and try to find out the truth for myself, instead of believing what others say.

The Elephant & Castle changes have already resulted in 2 deaths this year (a motorcyclist and a pedestrian), when there were none at all in the previous 17 years.

is an extremely useful resource.


@peter caton

"... I had to drive through Elephant and Castle and the roundabout is even more confusing, millions have been spent on it by the so-called experts and it's worse than ever."

Worse than ever ?
From whose perspective?

"... so-called experts ..."
I imagine they have a few qualifications between them related to traffic planning and the urban environment which could be justifiably used to label them as experts. I recall you said you were an expert witness. In what discipline ? Any qualifications to back that up? Or can I refer to you as a 'so-called expert' ?

Terry Vaughan

hatler :-)

John H

Have a look at the Facebook page "The Bend aka Elephant and Castle Roundabout" Terry.

peter caton

This discussion has been very interesting with the various points of view re more investment for cyclists, I commented impartlally to try and improve their cycling skills and save lives by issuing competence licenses after seeing them after a drive through Central London one early morning last month and was amazed at their poor cycling skills, weaving in and out of the traffic at break neck speed , ignoring red lights and particularly passing moving large commercial vehicles on the inside..These cycle lanes will do nothing to cut the death rate or improve air quality as they hardly use them and they are causing terrible traffic congestion, ,the .embankment is a typical example causing unnecessary delays and more pollution


Dear god. I claim poorly functioning chatbot.

peter caton

Robert it's so refreshing to read your analysis of the problem in our cities lets hope some of the powers to be take notice and do a better job as up to now looking at the evidence it hasn't been the case blaming everything on the poor frustrated motorist trying to go about their business, it's the same with the fox problem blaming it on people and how they dispose of their rubbish. Happy New Year.


I don't accept the "poor frustrated motorist" bit. We all make mistakes, and those mistakes can lead to crashes. There is much anecdotal evidence of such mistakes by all road users - vulnerable and less so. I think we need some greater degree of segregation by speed, particularly where the flow of vehicles is large, slow pedestrians shouldn't have to mix with faster vehicles any more than slow vehicles mixing with faster ones. The problem is that to do this in a dense urban environment takes brave politicians, clever engineers and a public that can appreciate the need for change - a big ask. In the meantime, being british, we muddle along. A stronger education programme aimed at all road users, and some mutual understanding and respect would help.

Terry Vaughan

Steve899, education programs and calls for mutual understanding and respect will never be enough. The only places with high levels of active travel are those with separate infrastructure.

If everyone, but especially Peter and all the other 'poor frustrated motorists', could be relied upon to comply with the law and the Highway Code, the roads would be safe enough. But the traffic would still be too intimidating for most people. And as you say, we all make mistakes.


They may never be enough, but it would be a start! I agree - high levels of usage deserve segregation, but it needs to be designed right - not putting peds and cyclists in tortuous subterranean passages for example. And wouldn't it be good if all road users obeyed the law and the Highway Code? With the density of road traffic, there just isn't space for mistakes, which can be very dangerous for peds and bike users. But, as a society, road crashes are an acceptable result of the way we live and move around. It would cause outrage if it happened in air, sea or train travel - even coach and bus travel.

Terry Vaughan

Steve, I tend to think it wouldn't be a start, it would be going further down a blind alley. The way forward has to be putting in proper infrastructure.

I agree completely about the crazy acceptance of the current accident rate. And also with your point about space for mistakes.


@Terry Vaughan
"And also with your point about space for mistakes."

Indeed. The whole point about The Netherlands, as those of us who are advocating cycling as a normalised, everyday, obvious choice of moving around, is that the infrastructure is 'forgiving'.
It allows for all kinds of people, at all kinds of speeds, an alos is a very social activity.
Children can actually cycle along together. People can ride along together and have a chat on the way to work.
But the important point to keep reminding people about is tat we need a mixture of fast, direct, comfortable routes on main roads along with LOW CAR / NO CAR side streets.
These latter should of course be the bare minimume requirement for any route otherwise referred to as a 'Quiet Way' (and Andrew Gilligan's personally admitted failing under the last administaration).

All QWs should be neatly summed up as ACCESS ONLY.
Where roads have been closed to through traffic for road works, traffic is diverted to main trunk roads.

In 2017 this needs to happen a bit quick. No more foot dragging (@Sadiq and TfL).

Cycling at present is an option that is denied to most people.
It needs to become so obvious a choice (for the majority of journeys) that it really makes little sense to use the car.



@peter caton
"Robert it's so refreshing to read your analysis of the problem in our cities"

Please consider that trolling is regarded for what it is on other forums - a means of diverting attention from the actual issue, obfuscation and simple refusal to engage with those making valid points.
This achieves the aim of stifling debate and ultimately shutting down any means of progress.
I suggest that the above (along with others) fits this bill.
Right from the outset views and responses have been ignored. Hard evidence and facts that have been presented have been disregarded throughout the forum.
This creates the impression that people can shout any old tosh, unveriafiable statements and has the effect of preventing others from contributing.

(On the other hand, there are those who demand the right to ignore the overwhelming evidence that is available - and insist on someone 're-inventing the wheel' all over again - just for them!
Democracatic use of space? Extravagance? Or a bit of a waste of time and space...? )

Congrats as ever to Terry V and Hatler for well put, patient and articulated responses.


I'm going to stray off the main thrust of the debate for a moment here to make a point about the requirement for the continuing maintenance cost of segregated cycle lanes.

Where segregated cycle lanes are built, they must be swept and gritted (as required) regularly and consistently. Whilst I expect the new lanes installed in central London to have had this taken into account, I fear that such implementations in the outer boroughs may not. It is very easy for a council to use one-off funding to install a segregated path and trumpet proudly that they are 'cycling friendly', the moment budgets are cut (which they undoubtedly will be), it is likely that one of the first things to go would be cycle lane maintenance. A broken glass strewn, icy cycle lane is worse than useless. (Because cyclists wouldn't use it and would be forced onto the road, which is now narrower than it would have been if the lane hadn't been built).

Without a segregated cycle lane the passing motor traffic effectively sweeps the road clear of debris and grinds down broken glass. It also helps to keep the road clear of ice (though not completely, so gritting would still be required, but at least there is only one pass by a gritting vehicle required).

Terry Vaughan

Quite right, Hatler. So much money is frittered away on unusable infrastructure. The outer boroughs, mine at least, have no real interest in active travel. They just don't see it as a means of transport. The few bike tracks become impassable and the pavements are so broken up in places now they are hazardous for anyone to walk on, let alone the elderly. And nothing is done about people parking on the pavements or in the bike lanes. There are shared use tracks near me that pass through the woods and are invisible in the autumn.


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