Making The Best Use of Road Space


Occasionally, you see an infographic or image that explains a situation exceptionally well. I found this one on Twitter because I follow @urbandata who often has some very good insights.

This particular graphic looks at the number of people per hour who can travel down a 3.5 m wide lane in an urban environment. The results vary hugely for different modes of travel.

With just 2,000 people per hour, the car is the most inefficient mode of transport. Yet drivers want to have the “freedom”to travel in the warm and dry (and getting no exercise, while pushing out exhaust emissions) and want others (“congestion”) out of their way.

Switching the “mixed traffic” lane to regular bus usage, the number of people per hour jumps to 9,000. The success of bus provision depends on frequency and cost to the user, and there is a cost to the environment from buses which often only get around 8mpg.

Changing the lane to cycling use – wouldn’t it be wonderful to have 3.5 metre wide cycle lanes in the UK! – sees 7 times as many people per hour compared with car use. We don’t need to repeat the arguments about better health, more enthusiasm for their work, and lower emissions, etc, here.

Sustrans, who champion both cycling and walking, will be delighted to see that pedestrian use of our mythical 3.5m lane gets a “throughput” of 19,000 per hour.

Over double the numbers of regular buses (9000) can be achieved with single lane buses (20,000), which is a massive 10 times the number of people in car use. The 20,000 can be increased 10% to 22,000 if light railways are deployed, and if the single lane bus becomes a double lane, the numbers jump to 43,000.

The truly mammoth shifters are heavy rail at 80,000 and suburban rail at 100,000.

Isn’t it amazing that all that information is conveyed in the one simple infographic!

What it doesn’t mention is the cost of implementation of these 3.5m wide lanes. No wonder that the cost – benefit analysis for walking and cycling infrastructure is so much better than for rail and roads, as the cost per kilometre is tiny by comparison.

Apart from getting central government to realign their policies, we need local government to adjust their thinking as well. Some of the most successful cycling cities have not just increased the walking and cycling infrastructure, but have almost surreptitiously reduced town centre parking by, say,1% per year: anything faster would get the usual “I need my car” brigade screaming even louder.


Bike & Cycling News – SpyCycle

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