Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Social Policy Advice and Research Associates (IT 4)

RAPID RIDER ROUTES

A Blueprint for Urban Transport

  As with all road transport planning, the difficulty is that more and more vehicles and pedestrians try to squash together into limited road space as the centre of the city is approached. Imaginative solutions will have to be found in each city to ensure that the RRR principles of speed, safety and accessibility are not lost as they compete with other users for road space.

  There are many examples in Holland, Denmark and North Germany of excellent road management schemes and detailed planning of junctions, distinctive surfaces, etc. to provide fast safe routes for riders in urban areas.

ADVANTAGES OF THE RRR NETWORK

Cost

  The cost of the necessary alterations to road layouts would be minimal and RRRs would make unlimited urban journeys affordable for even the poorest citizens.

Health and safety

  RRRs would alow the opportunity for plenty of exercise on the way to work and school, away from traffic fumes and dangerous motor vehicles, using methods of transport which themselves cause little or no pollution. Overall levels of pollution in cities would fall.

Door to door transport

  Riders could rapidly complete the journey from the bus stop, station or park-and-ride, or make the complete journey door-to-door by their own non-polluting conveyance.

Commercial benefits

  As with pedestrianised shopping areas, traders will soon reap advantages from the passing trade of large numbers of riders.

Pleasure

  The journey to work could be fast and fun!—a far cry from the stress of traffic jams and fumes.

Traffic flow

  RRRs are capable of carrying a much greater density of travellers per square metre of road space than conventional motor vehicle routes. Users can travel on them just as fast, or faster, at an average inner urban speed of 8 to 10 mph.

Protection of the environment versus personal freedom

  People will be able to travel in or on their own private conveyance without contributing to the degradation of the environment.

Reduction of motor vehicle congestion

  Well-used RRRs leave the Main Motor Vehicle Routes free for essential vehicles to travel unimpeded.

Parking

  The area of land required to provide parking spaces will be reduced. Much of the parking can be off-road, in cycle sheds, backyards, indoor compounds etc.

Universal use

  RRRs can provide freedom of movement for all, including children, the elderly and disabled.

PROPOSALS

  It is proposed that the government should:

    —  pilot a comprehensive RRR system in one or two cities (not just a partial system, which would only frustrate users and would not attract them in sufficient numbers to reduce pollution and congestion), introducing it with publicity and pizzazz;

    —  offer grants to researchers and manufacturers for the development of (a) small electric vehicles suitable for RRRs and (b) lightweight, see-through, aerodynamic weather protection for bikes and buggies;

    —  offer start-up grants for businesses which (a) offer bike and buggy hire, and b) provide RRR taxi services in the form of cycle rickshaws, sedan chairs, etc;

    —  introduce legislation: (a) to limit the use of RRRs (other than for access only) to electric engines below a certain size, speed and decibel level; (b) to allow adults to use these engines on RRRs and on Joint Vehicle Routes without a license; (c) to limit traffic speeds to 20 m.p.h. on RRRs and all Joint Vehicle Routes; (d) to compel schools, factories etc. to make secure provision for RRR conveyances on the premises.

  The normal provisions of the highway code, regarding lane discipline, signalling etc., would continue to apply to all RRR users.

CONCLUSION

  This proposal is not anti-car. It is based on the assumption that people would much prefer to travel on quiet, safe, attractive routes, well away from exhaust fumes, provided they can still travel quickly and under their own steam, either in or on their own private conveyance.

  Eventually, as more and more people take to the RRRs, it should be possible to free the Main Motor Vehicle Routes for fast delivery of goods and for group transport vehicles (buses, and cars carrying passengers), creating a better environment for all road users. City streets will become enjoyable places, where all can go unhindered about their business.

  RRR conveyances are perhaps the most attractive alternative we will ever have to the private motor car. Thanks to modern mobility technology, the creation of RRRs will allow the whole population to enjoy a freedom of movement which is unprecedented in urban life.

Monica and Roger Else[4]


4   Monica and Roger Else are social policy consultants with SPARA (Social Policy Advice and Research Associates). Monica was formerly senior social development officer with Milton Keynes Development Corporation and the originator of the new city's cycleway system. Roger, who is SPARA's director, was principal planning officer for Milton Keynes, responsible for social policy. Back


 
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Prepared 28 April 1999