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Conflict between cyclists and pedestrians on shared paths is one of the biggest public issues that can jeopardise extension of existing facilities and creation of new ones. However, the perception of conflict is likely to be far greater than the actual risk posed. Pedestrians in particular are deterred from using paths and so the issue must be dealt with and here Transport Initiatives can help.
We have carried out a range of projects looking at actual risk and then making proposals to improve interaction thereby reducing the perception of risk. The most detailed has been for British Waterways, reviewing conflict on the Regents Canal Towpath in London. Increased cycle use had led to acorresponding rise in complaints by pedestrians using the towpath. The study lasted three years and in each we monitored interactions at key points of conflict, discovering that most interactions were amicable negotiations, but that a small number of inconsiderate cyclists were spoiling things for the rest. We were then able to suggest both engineering and other interventions and review these the following year if they had been introduced.
Two key proposals proved very popular, a new concise code of conduct and a “two tings” campaign that was supported by distribution of free bicycle bells and large banners along the canal. British Waterways was so pleased with the results that they extended these initiatives to other towpaths, particularly in London. One further proposal for employment of a cycling towpath ranger was also taken up and has proved popular.
Collecting meaningful data to show the impact of interventions in increased cycle usage does not have to be difficult or unachievable. At Transport initiatives we realise that few if any authorities have the resources to achieve a robust level of surveying using manual counts. In practice only Automatic Cycle Counters (ACCs) will provide valid data, but choosing the right counter and sites where they will work is crucial to their success. Transport Initiative can help.
We have worked with many local authorities to help them establish good cycle monitoring programmes. An example is our development of a Monitoring Strategy for the Cycle Town project in Southend. This included site visits to enable a detailed review of existing and proposed sites for ACCs. Following this we made recommendations on the number and location of ACCs, their operation and management. We also advised on how to set up a wider monitoring regime including counts of parked bikes.