The tragedy around The Commons

I did a video, because I was too lazy to think about and research and write up a topic properly, and because I needed something for testing editing software. It’s about shared use foot/cycle paths in parks. I know! Super exciting, right?

This means that I now not only hate the sound of my voice, I hate my mannerisms generally. I was not entirely unaware that smiling/grinning/laughing doesn’t look good on me, but, damn, I do all those other things as well?

But in a fit of reckless impulsiveness I thought I’d go ahead and publish it anyway.

It starts with an apology, but I’m really not sure that one is ever enough.

For more on the topic, see Jon’s post at Traffik In Tooting. The London Cycling Campaign discussion referenced is here.

10 thoughts on “The tragedy around The Commons”

  1. I agree. I think any solution for the path itself would be to just make another one parallel, with an obvious gap between them for walking. This one would become a two way cycle path keeping the line down the middle.

    Your voice is fine. Bravo on trying something new.

  2. Yes and yes to Adanac’s comment above.

    I think it’s a good format for this type of comment. It makes more sense to a viewer who doesn’t know the area and it’s good that you’ve managed to get over yourself about doing it and posting it (note to self!).

    Different forms of communication have differing characteristics and the pressures with writing for the web are in the directions of oversimplification (which you avoid – one of the reasons I follow WOTM) and of apparent agressiveness. The tone of campigning blogs will always tend to the SHOUTY, and, after I’ve read a number of them, I find myself feeling rather bruised – even though I am in generally in complete agreement with the arguments expressed. you might not like to hear this, but actually, you came across in the vid as … errr… rather sweet. (Goodness, that will never do!)

  3. Nice video. Liked it.

    I do feel that removing segregation on these routes is very, very stupid. Unless a path is extremely wide (e.g. Broad Walk in Hyde Park) ‘sharing the space’ just leads to needless conflict between pedestrians and cyclists who constantly find themselves in each other’s way. Much better to delineate space so that each group has some idea of where they should be in order to minimise the risk of an accident.

  4. You really weren’t that bad. A well presented, coherent piece. I’ve seen much worse on local TV.

  5. A tricky issue.

    Here on the south coast we’ve (“we” being local residents and local cyclists – the council painted the line even though Sustrans recommended against) removed one of these white lines that resulted in sub-1.5m wide cycle lanes for two-way cycle traffic, because the cyclists were indeed treating it as “their space” and going too fast for comfort of pedestrians, who also rightly felt that they’d lost half the width of their path and could no longer walk side-by-side. This got so bad that there were reports of nasty aggression and even pebbles from the beach being thrown. Now we have a 3m wide shared-use path and everything has calmed down again. Cyclists can’t go as fast, and are forced to give way to groups of pedestrians, but on the other hand cyclists can legally use the whole width to pass each other and to pass pedestrians. Much better (perhaps even “nicer” ;-) for those in Scotland).

    But the same root cause occurs here: cyclists really shouldn’t need to share narrow paths that were originally designed solely for pedestrians. We really need three types of way: carriageways, footways, and cycleways. Bicycles are only legally “carriages” for historical reasons: this was decided in the 1800’s, before motor cars started to terrorise our streets and roads. If cycles were invented now, I doubt anyone would suggest that they should be legally required to share the carriageway with cars and lorries.

    There is often plenty of width on existing carriageways to make cycleways (separated by a kerb from the carriageway) but no political will to do so. “Cycling is dangerous” and “cycling is a minority sport” never manages to transition into “cycling really must be made obviously safe and convenient so that it becomes a popular mode of local transport for everyone”.

    1. Anthony
      I’m interested in details of your story of removing the white line. Was there a newspaper write-up? I’d like to quote it to authorities here (in Hong Kong) show that people on foot and bicycles can get along together, if allowed to. Maybe send to cheers.

  6. There’s a good case in point for this working which is Shepherds Bush Green. Again, a green space where cycling is provided on paths through rather than on the surrounding roads. Again, a space where once there were defined paths and spaces in which cycling was meant to be undertaken. Other than it taking about a year longer than it should have (due to contaminated land) I’m not aware of any real issues since completion late last year. Indeed, the move to shared space on the entire set of paths actually makes quite a pleasant experience – except for the absurdly high curbs slanted towards the road on the Western edge and clumsy siting of crossings (the crossings at least may change in time due to White City area redevelopment).

    The video is great though, especially the way you’ve cited the relevant examples. Far more powerful and clear than any words I’d say.

  7. This is an interesting post indeed and the video is quite well edited-a bit of bashfulness can be endearing :-)

    Copy of my Facebook comments:

    The final argument made on this video is exactly the point that those of us fighting these plans are making: the priority should be the roads around the Common. We do NOT claim that the current set up is perfect.

    I object to the assertion in the video that Sustrans are opposed to segregated paths. This is not correct and Sustrans continues to build both segregated and unsegregated facilities; their guidance states that diving lines can be used on busy paths. These paths are part of LCN routes, the Avenue Verte and are extremely busy during rush hours.

    Why Sustans and Wandsworth Council have ignored their own guidance on this matter is still a mystery. What part of Wandsworth Council’s policy: ‘Shared use paths will be segregated where possible’ is so difficult to comprehend?! There are many segregated paths elsewhere in the borough that are also imperfect, but work reasonably well and should not be a priority for using scarce funds.

    The proponents of desegregation have not provided any substantive evidence for their claims that it will reduce conflict. Some have even misrepresented national guidance and international practice (I sincerely hope they didn’t do so knowingly).

    Despite being given several opportunities, those in favour have not explained why the relevant guidance from the DfT, RNIB and Guide Dogs about shared use paths and disabled people should be ignored in this case.

    Whatever our personal views, the vast majority of those who responded to the consultations are opposed to removing the lines (85 in favour, over 550 against). Isn’t it time to accept the clearly-expressed democratic wishes of local people?

    A vital lesson for local campaigners is that we should spend more time listening to local people before making submissions on their behalf that they do not support. When there is a significant variation of views (like with cycle helmets), we should openly acknowledge it, not pretend it doesn’t exist.

    The plans are now being reviewed by the Council (who have now decided not to proceed with an application for a Traffic Order at present), in light of the strength of opposition to the proposal to desegregate the paths.

  8. I don’t understand the problem with ‘ownership’ of sections of the paths. That is what the (blue) traffic signs signify isn’t it? According to ‘Know Your Traffic Signs – Blue circles generally give a mandatory instruction, such as “turn left”, or indicate a route available only to particular classes of traffic, e.g. buses and cycles only’ – so the blue signs give ‘orders’ and the order is pedestrians on one side, cyclists on the other. Why change that?

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