Am I for integration or segregation for bikes?

In recent weeks a battle has been raging between cyclists who believe in integration (otherwise known as vehicular cycling and supported by the CTC and LCC) and those who believe in segregation (modelled on the Dutch system of separated cycle facilities).

One of the strongest advocates of segregation in the UK blogs at Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest you can see his/her arguments at How an integrationist became a segregationist with examples all over the blog but see  “Cyclists should make themselves visible to other road users” and What’s wrong with the London Cycling Campaign? as typical demonstrations of the key points.

On the other side, or at least in the middle, the case for integration has been put well by Carlton Reid in »My despicable stance on segregationism.

So where do I stand?

Depending on the weather or time of day or how much sleep I have had I either agree with both of them or neither. Huh?

For me in favour of segregation are the following:

  • Segregation is the only route to significant modal share. In countries with significant numbers of cars (ie ignore China 10 years ago) there are no examples of a significant share of all journeys by bike without a segregated infrastructure. Not one example anywhere. To hope for a significant share of all journeys by bike without segregated infrastructure is pie in the sky.
  • I believe that we need to massively increase the share of transport by walking and cycling for the following reasons
    • health
    • environmental
    • cost and availability of oil now that we are past peak oil (and restrictions already ahead following the BP deep drilling disaster this summer)
    • congestion reduction
    • Quality of life see World’s Most Liveable Cities 2010.
    • safety
  • Segregation is proven, there are plenty of working examples (just not in the UK). There is no reason why it can’t work here.

For me in favour of integration

  • If I wait until we have segregation then I will have lost the opportunity to live a healthier and statistically probably a longer life
  • If I wait until we have segregation then I will miss the enjoyment of cycling that I get now
  • If I wait until we have segregation then I will be much worse off. Cycling is much cheaper and more time efficient for me

So I am going to continue to say that we really need segregation if we as a society are going to enjoy them many benefits (social, economic, health, environmental) of living in a mass cycling culture. I am going to continue to point out the stupid and dangerous things that are around already and that I see being created as Leicester City/Leicestershire County still work to make cycling more dangerous.

BUT in all that I am going to continue to recognise the huge benefits of cycling now without that infrastructure to me, to my family, to my community and to the Church that employs me. Therefore I am going to continue to cycle and hopefully increase the amount I do further.

You might say that I want to try to model the benefits of cycling while I support efforts to make the benefits available to everyone as I recognise that the appalling conditions of our road system for cyclists understandably put many people off.

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  1. Hi Dave

    I have to say, Syston seems to have the shortest and narrowest “separate lanes” that I’ve ever seen. If that new contraption over the Wanlip Road canal bridge is meant to be for cycles you’re going to be making sure you go awfully straight through it.

    • Gary,
      I think that really narrow gap is supposed to be for water to flow through but will actually just collect leaves. They are directing bikes heading towards Watermead Park onto the pavement for about 50m. They have not widened the pavement or thought about the conflict with pedestrians coming up from the canal. They also direct bikes on and off the pavement at right angles which is particularly dangerous when you rejoin the road. Absolutely dire.

      In the other direction (towards Syston) bikes now have to face oncoming traffic racing them for a narrow gap. Horrible.

      They should get a prize for making a relatively simple bit of road much more dangerous.

      • I guess you may be right. But the mega-thin, super short bike lane on the Melton Road near the station makes me think maybe not.
        I’m just glad I walk around Syston, though I will have to think seriously about bringing my foldy-bike up for a better trip round Watermead next summer.

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