Memorandum by Social Policy Advice and
Research Associates (IT 4)
RAPID RIDER ROUTES
A Blueprint for Urban Transport
The problems of urban pollution and congestion
require a radical solution. An alternative road and transport
management system is needed which will be:
cheap (in terms both of infrastructure
and individual transport costs);
capable of carrying large numbers
of people quickly, safely and comfortably to their destinations;
a favourite with users.
Modern technological developments have recently
brought about the introduction of some entirely new means of achieving
mobilityroller blades are one example, and a whole range
of small electrically driven conveyances are beginning to come
on to the market: electric wheelchairs, buggies, bicycles, scooters
(the kind normally foot-propelled), shopping trolleys, etc.
Together with cycles, these conveyances:
are capable of travelling, in town,
at the same average speed as private cars;
have all the advantages of manoeuvrability,
of taking up minimal parking space and of providing door-to-door
can be used, in one form or another,
by the whole population, from small children to the elderly and
They therefore have the potential to become
everybody's favourite way to get about town.
If all towns and cities were to provide a newtwork
of Rapid Rider Routes (RRRs) dedicated to allowing such
self-propelled and small electrical conveyances to proceed safely
and rapidly from any starting point to any destination, then people
would experience an unprecedented freedom of movement, in a pleasurable
unpolluted environment, at minimal cost.
In order to attract users in large enough numbers
for RRRs to provide an effective and efficient alternative to
travel by car in urban areas, they need to be:
part of a comprehensive city-wide
routed alongside amenities (shops,
stations, schools, colleges, pubs, parks, libraries, park-and-ride
amply provided with parking for bikes
It is not sufficient to create cycleways which
are squeezed (in competition with bus lanes) into the side of
roads designated primarily for motor vehicle use. Experience has
shown that such cycleways will only ever attract a relatively
small number of brave users. They cannot get children to school,
or make a significant contribution to relieving urban congestion
Nor, on the other hand, can riders of pedal-
and small electric-powered conveyances travel safely at convenient
speeds if they have to share path-space with pedestrians, toddlers,
pushchairs, dogs on leads, etc.
To be an effective way of carrying a large number
of travellers, RRRs must take over part of the road system to
create a comprehensive independent network, as shown on the map
overleaf, reaching to all parts of the city and based on the principle
of equal provision and equal ease of access for all road users.
RRRs are not just cycleways. The joy of them
is that they are suitable for a large number and variety of road
users who at present are unable to take to the streets as they
Many people will love travelling
in their own electric buggy, right to the door of their workplace,
and will be only too glad to leave the car at home.
Roller-blade travellers and joggers
can speed along.
(Electric) wheelchair users can travel
door-to-door, giving a new lease of life to the elderly and disabled.
Fitted with light-weight anti-weather
bubbles and quiet motors, electric cycles and foot-scooters will
allow riders to arrive perfectly cool and unruffled at their destination.
People with luggage, shopping or
small children on board can use pedal- or electric-powered carts
Riders of all types can speed to
and from the bus stop, station or park-and-ride.
Besides cycling, children can invent
their own conveyances to get to school.
It is anticipated that once the joy of using
RRRs catches on, rental firms and manufacturers will soon come
up with ideas for vehicles appropriate to these routes and for
devices to shield the users from adverse weather.
Buggies could be sold in the millions, or made
available for hire, with (removable) coverings to protect against
rain and cold.
A taxi service could be provided by cycle rickshaws,
sedan chairs, etc.
Supermarkets could provide electric shopping
trolleys to hire or buy: hop on to the trolley's running board
and ride it home!
The network of Main Motor Vehicle Routes in
towns will remain relatively unchanged. A network of other roads
and streets will be designated Rapid Rider Routes, and the remaining
minor roads will be used jointly by all vehicles (Joint Vehicle
Routes), with certain safety measures in place.
Crucially, if they are to be a success, RRRs
must be able to get travellers to their destinations at speed
and junctions must therefore be managed with this in mind.
Where an RRR crosses a Main Motor Vehicle Route,
traffic lights will be required. But where only a Joint Vehicle
Route is crossed, or where RRRs cross one another, the traffic
need barely pause: mini-roundabouts, give-way signs or zebra-style
crossings would all be adequate to ensure safety while keeping
A population arriving on pedal cycles, roller
blades and small electric buggies poses a very small parking problem
compared to that created by conventional motor vehicles. Underground
and multi-storey car parks could be adapted to take, not just
cars, but many thousands of bikes and buggies as well; these would
also fit in great numbers at any designated kerbside; and schools,
colleges and certain employers, could be required by law to make
provision for them.
Because the principle is that RRRs should occupy
whole roads, separate from those used by conventional motor vehicles,
clearly there will need to be access for deliveries to premises
lying along these routes and including, where appropriate, kerb-side
parking for residents' cars.
However, use may be made of ramps, chicanes
and pinched access points to remind drivers of large motor vehicles
not to try to proceed any distance along these routes, while preserving
safe sight-lines and keeping a clear, unobstructed way free for
On very busy RRRs (just as on Main Motor Vehicle
Routes) and on RRRs passing school entrances, roadside parking
and deliveries could be restricted to certain times of day.
All roads must be accessible to emergency
vehicles at every point, and the layout of chicanes, etc. should
not impede their speed along Joint Vehicle Routes and RRRs when
Each town and city has a unique road layout
and the above map is only a representation of the principle of
RRR design. The decision as to which roads should be for riders,
which for cars, buses and lorries, and which for joint use, will
have to be made with the participation of local residents, shopkeepers
and road users, to create the best fit with local topography.