Here is a synopsis of the presentation delivered by Alan Bailes at the 2013 CycleCity conference in Birmingham. "Encouraging more people to cycle is now seen as a vital part of national, regional and local government plans to tackle congestion, improve air quality, promote physical activity and improve accessibility. Current figures reveal that 15% of adults in England (11% in Birmingham) cycle once a month, whereby the figure drops to 10% (7% in Birmingham) for once a week activity. This would appear to indicate that there exists a “hard core" of cyclists who regularly cycle.
As a profession we are getting better at providing safe and well designed cycle provision, however cars are still viewed as ruling the road and current design guides and standards for on-road cycle facilities more often than not place cyclists on the nearside lane where they are required to deal with surface hazards and drainage services. In order to ensure that people have priority and feel comfortable when they are cycling we need to be more innovative and adventurous in our approach to providing for cyclists. Both Holland and Denmark are world leaders in good practice and innovation when it comes to “putting cyclists first”; this has resulted in high levels of cycling in both countries. Whilst placing cyclists in the middle of the road already exists (albeit limited) in Europe they are more often than not aligned to shared space schemes. One particular exciting, innovative and possibly controversial way of putting cyclists first is by designating a central lane for bicycle traffic, which involves:
Central cycle lane;
Cars using narrow lateral lanes, but can straddle the central cycle lane;
Overtaking of cycle prohibited; and
Speed limit reduced to 20 mph.
In order to “get Birmingham Cycling” the author at looked at how this idea can be implemented in Birmingham and in particular along the “Moseley University Route”. This route is ideally suited for the operation of a centre lane for bicycle traffic as it is already in a 20 mph zone and has enough width to support the facility as well as parked cars." Alan concludes that, "In order to put cyclists first the “centre lane for cyclists” approach should be trialled and monitored."