A blog about cars in Aberdeen.

This is a blog about cars in Aberdeen because most people aspire to the convenience of personal motor transport, pay dearly for the privilege, provide much employment, contribute greatly in taxes, and then people expect them to ‘leave the car at home’, while their money is spent creating cycle lanes and the like for freeloading cyclists.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Oxford, Cambridge - Failures.

We have become aware that, in Aberdeen's aspiration to 'ideopolis' status, some urban intellectuals have pointed to Oxford and Cambridge as having examples of urban space policies which we might want to follow. Sounds fair enough, we thought.

But then we started learning about things we don't much like.

From Cyclingmobility.com
Across the whole city [Oxford], more than 10% of journeys made are by bicycle. About 16% of commuters in the city cycle to work. Most cyclists ride in ordinary clothes ...
Oxford certainly doesn’t have lots of European-style segregated cycle tracks. There is a network of quiet routes on backstreets and paths, but they are generally indirect and not really good enough for people trying to get from A to B. They are mostly used by children going to school, and for leisure.
Instead, the majority of Oxford’s cyclists use the ordinary main roads. More than half of these main roads have painted cycle lanes (or bus lanes), but there’s no real separation from the traffic.
What is it that persuades cyclists to mix with the traffic in Oxford?
Partly, it’s the lack of car parking, especially in the city centre. Since the 1970s, businesses have not had permission to provide new car parking for their staff or customers; instead, they have to contribute to park and ride car parks on the edge of the city. Charges at public car parks are high, and they’re almost never full. More than 40% of journeys into central Oxford are by bus. This shortage of car parking makes many people try cycling who, elsewhere, wouldn’t even consider it.
Another reason is that no-one drives very fast in Oxford. It’s rare that anyone does more than 30mph. The side streets and shopping areas on main roads all have 20mph limits. If the residents had their way, there’d be 20mph limits on all of the main roads too.
So much space has been dedicated to bus lanes and cycle lanes that there’s not enough room for the traffic to go fast, even if the speed limits were increased. In 2000, the last two gyratory junctions were removed – they were clogged solid with traffic anyway. All the inner ring road junctions have 20mph limits, and they are much less scary than the norm.
So what is it that gets people cycling? It’s not perfect facilities – Oxford is far from perfect. But by removing car parking, making good public transport easily available and by slowing down motor traffic, other cities could follow the example set by Oxford in removing would-be cyclists’ concerns and turning interest into action.
(Our emphasis)

And just look at the result!

Who'd have thought there were so many poor people in Oxford?

This poor lost soul continues to wear his suit, despite obviously
having fallen so far that he can no longer afford a car.

No caption required.

Much more pictures of Oxford's unemployed, layabout hobbyists here.

And what about Cambridge? We're afraid that it's much the same story.
Cambridge has a large number of cyclists. Many residents also prefer cycling to driving in the narrow, busy streets, giving the city the highest level of cycle use in the UK. According to the 2001 census, 25% of residents travelled to work by bicycle. A few roads within the city are adapted for cycling, including separate traffic lights for cycle lanes and cycle contraflows on streets which are otherwise one-way.
(Again, our emphasis)

Those unsettling pictures were from here and here.

St Andrews, too! That's getting a bit close to home!

So, all this is very disheartening. If the photos of all those cyclists in Oxford or Cambridge are anything to go by, it seems that this urban ideopolis thing doesn't work, having the effect only of forcing so many people to walk, cycle or use the bus. This means they must be unemployed, either that or very poorly paid, because otherwise they'd have nice cars, wouldn't they? Oxford and Cambridge are setting very poor examples. If this is what happens in an ideopolis, we'll just leave it, thanks. Who needs clever people anyway? And what about all the carbon emissions from all the books that these people read? Eh? What about that, then? Hadn't thought about that, had you?

Thank goodness we urban realists in Aberdeen have more enlightened policies towards future economic growth and sustainability than those urban intellectuals elsewhere, what with our forthcoming radial urban expressway which will deliver high volumes of high-speed traffic into the city centre on the currently underused Denburn Dual Carriageway and our extremely exciting orbital motorway project, "The AWPR" (Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route) which will greatly increase the number, distance and velocity of car journeys undertaken throughout Aberdeen "City and Shire", thus ensuring our future prosperity without question, because more cars on more roads is what everyone wants, isn't it?

"Aha got you there!" we can hear the nimby naysayer greenies - "what about all the carbon emissions that this increase in traffic will cause?" Well, we have it on good authority that by the time the AWPR is open to traffic in 2012 2015 2025 tailpipe emissions will be water only, hydrogen powered cars having been made compulsory cars will be zero emission because of some as-yet un-proven battery technology we'll all be driving fusion powered hovercars. Yes we will. We saw it on the Jetsons.

And, in any case, what about all the greenhouse gas emissions which come from the manufacture of too many cycle helmets and high-visibility tabards? Again, we'll bet you hadn't thought about that.

Now, which is best?


Or an ideopolis?

We're sure that, when you examine the evidence, you'll probably agree with us.

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