Peak Oil Group Taskforce and the need to plan for greener transport – urban design with veloways and cycletubes?

Planning cycle routes is the healthiest, fastest, cheapest, greenest and most ecological approach to greener rural and urban transport in the coming age of Peak Oil

Planning cycle routes is the healthiest, fastest, cheapest, greenest and most ecological approach to greener rural and urban transport in the coming age of Peak Oil

When I heard that the UK’s Peak Oil Group Taskforce is calling for greener transport, I thought at once of leafy lanes in country areas joined to panoramic cycletubes in urban areas. No such luck. In the greasy shell of a small nut, what they want is taxpayer subsidies for public transport engineering and the ‘ongoing introduction of lower carbon technology and trials of sustainable bio fuels’. There is no mention of the Great Green Machine – the bicycle – in their shamefully self-serving report. The above photograph is of the Eastway Cycle Circuit before it was bulldozed to make way for London’s 2012 Olympics.

13 thoughts on “Peak Oil Group Taskforce and the need to plan for greener transport – urban design with veloways and cycletubes?

  1. Tom Turner Post author

    Surprising. I thought that ALL outdoor activities were popular in Australia, including cycling. It is certainly an activity which benefits from investment and the investment tends to be of a once-only nature. Veloways and cycle tubes don’t fall to pieces like roads and railways. You build them and you have got them. They last and they last – which is the strict meaning of ‘sustainability’.

  2. Christine

    I am not sure what you are referring to when you say Scotland “has a fondness for high public spending and a disregard for the environment.”?

    To be fair, in environmental terms the Scottish Parliament is advancing in small steps towards a more sustainable energy future.[ ]So it is probably a case of two steps forward and one step back…

    It is estimated that Scotland has 70% of the UK’s tidal power, so if this potential is developed well, Scotland will be well placed to power the more population intensive areas in the UK and to enjoy the economic benefits of this geographic good fortune. [ ]

    And in social terms on the 2nd of October the Scottish Parliament famously convened an older person’s assembly. A participant says of the event;

    “For me it was a great pleasure both to be able to speak about the work PRIME could deliver to help the Scottish Government create a wealthier and fairer Scotland, and to actually enjoy being in the ten-year-old Scottish Parliament building.”

  3. Tom Turner Post author

    I am all in favour of offshore power, both wind and wave. But that superb photograph on the cover of . They spoiled as much of Scotland’s west coast as they could with salmon farms. Will they do the same for wave power? I do not know but I have noticed that since the Scottish Parliament came into being they have been giving planning permission for all sorts of horrible developments in order to be able to boast about Scotland’s economic progress. So I worry.

  4. Tom Turner Post author

    Engineers have to be concerned with getting more work for engineers. As previously noted, those of us who support trade and professional groups should always bear in mind the prophetic words of capitalism’s great advocate: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.” Adam Smith An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) Book I, Chapter 10, para 82

  5. Christine

    There have been engineers at work since Pharaoh was a boy [ ] so I am not particularly concerned about work running out for engineers any time soon…. rather I think we should be concerned with the quality of the work that is being done. [ ]. In fact the Egyptians have happily educated and employed women as engineers while infamously Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh.

  6. Tom Turner Post author

    Though pleased when I see a well-used bus, I am far more often annoyed by empty busses being driven at speed and without regard to the poor cyclist.
    I tried part of the Bristol to Bath route last summer. It is good but it is not nearly as well integrated with the rest of the transport pattern as I had expected. There are long dark tree-tunnels with no access. Nor was it quite as popular as I had expected. Maybe the plan was to discourage usage so that it could be converted into a bus route.

  7. Tom Turner Post author

    Yes definitely. The Bristol to Bath Cycleroute was the precursor of the lottery-funded Sustrans project to create a National Cycle Network. The idea was to convert disused railway lines into cycle routes. It sounds like a really good idea but it wasn’t. Railways were designed for steam engines. They are flat, straight and dead dull. In England, the ideal cycle route is a traffic calmed country lane. Waggon wheels are much the same size as cycle wheels and it is very much more pleasant to ride a waggon route than a railway route. They have all those wonderful curves and they pass a host of fascinating features.
    Jan Gehl argues for 33% to be the planning goal for the percentage of journeys made by bike in urban areas. It is a very good figure – he reasons that, as in modern Copenhagen, another 33% should be public transport and the last 33% should be private car. This is realistic. With regard to travel time, I think that about 90% of my travel time is by bike and 5% by public transport. But in terms of distance traveled it would not surprise me if 95% was by car. My guess is that the figures for the last 12 months are 10,000 miles by car and not much more than 1000 miles by bike. In terms of numbers of journeys I would think it is 95% by bike and 5% by car.
    The Lea Valley, in which the much-lamented Eastway Cycle Circuit was located, would be an excellent location for a veloway into Central London with much the character shown above. It has similar dimensions to the Rhine and the Danube cycle paths and it could bring a vast number of healthy workers to London Docklands with great benefits for the environment and for their own health – and for the economy. I believe there is provision for a great cycleroute within the 2012 Olympic Park (being designed by LDA and George Hargreaves) but whether it will match the Eastway Cycle Circuit’s high standard remains to be discovered. Experience teaches me: “remain a sceptic at least until the wheels have turned”. The Olympic Delivery Authority are charged with getting maybe 250,000 visitors into the Lea Valley each day during the Games. They should have planned for at least 50% to arrive by bike on an East London Supercycleway Network. It was a fabulous urban design opportunity and I expect it to be mostly miffed -while praying that I am wrong.

  8. Christine

    A visit by a Dutch friend prompted a local cyclist to explore the negatives and positives of cycle route 10 – Reivers Cycle Route. [ ]

    With the National Cycle Network connecting a variety of experiences scenic, historic, country and city there is potential to rival New Zealand in the cycle touring stakes….but perhaps not for riverboarding!
    [ ]

    I think you are right about the entrance into the veloway….[ ]

    Peter Marshall has done some interesting photo essays of the area [ ] beginning in the early 1980s.[ ]

  9. Tom Turner Post author

    Very nice set of comments on the Reivers Cycle Route. The underlying point is that ONLY cyclists with a design training should be allowed to design cycle routes – and I do not include a degree in engineering as sufficient because there are far too many types of engineering which do not require any knowledge of either social behaviour or aesthetics.
    So far as I can see the most popular cycle route in East London is the Grand Union Canal towpath. It a delightful cycle ride and it is astonishing that there are not more drowings, muggings and fatalities from other causes.


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