What doesn’t work?

The Department for Transport’s (2016) rapid evidence review on walking and cycling found that only a handful of interventions were identified as being ineffective. These interventions either lacked a clear focus on the target behaviour of walking or cycling; or were too elaborate and costly for the target audience. Interestingly, mandatory helmet laws were reported in one study as having reduced cycling.

Off-road cycle paths

The National Cycle Network alone was found to be insufficient in encouraging modal shift, with women in particular expressing concern about security and isolation (Jones, 2012). Survey data suggested that other cyclists value the additional route option from local traffic free paths, but that they were keen to see supportive on-highway measures along the existing road network that connects them more directly with their everyday activity. As directness has been shown to be a strong factor in cycling, traffic free cycle paths which take longer deviations are often less attractive. Cycling Embassy (2012) also noted that there is often poor awareness of off-road cycle paths as they cannot be seen from the road, likely due to the fact people plan their travel based on current road networks. This suggests that due to the low awareness of them and them being less attractive to cyclists than direct routes, off-road cycle paths can be less effective in achieving modal shift than alternate cycling infrastructure.

Shared space effect on people with visual impairments

Bryan, et al. (2015) finds that there are issues related to shared spaces for people with visual impairments, with 81% of visually impaired respondents to a survey reporting that their independent mobility would be negatively affected by the introduction of shared surfaces. Thomas (2008) confirms this with a before and after survey of shared space that found that blind and partially sighted people had their confidence detrimentally affected and most reported they would no longer be able to use the area independently.

Bryan, et al. (2015) noted that the primary concerns of people with visual impairments were:

An over-focus by shared space designers on the reduction of traffic speeds, with less attention to vehicle flow. Visually impaired stakeholders discussed the difficulties that remain with high traffic flows, even if they are travelling at lower speeds;

  • The extension of the shared space concept beyond implementation in low flow residential areas, to its use in busy urban areas and shopping streets;
  • The misinterpretation by designers that the implementation of a shared space requires a shared surface. In particular the removal of kerbs results in the absence of a well-established and crucial means for people with visual impairments to orient themselves and navigate, in addition to aiding in the identification of a crossing point (e.g. a dropped kerb);
  • The over-reliance on eye contact to manage pedestrian-vehicle interactions in shared space;
  • The misunderstanding of the capabilities of the visually impaired pedestrian within shared spaces. For example, stakeholders mentioned apparent assumptions that all visually impaired pedestrians had sufficient residual sight to identify that they were in a shared space area, can navigate without kerb delineation of the roadway, and are able to detect vehicle presence, vehicle movement, and their desired crossing start and end points;
  • The provision of informal crossings or absence of any crossing facility in shared space. A number of visually impaired stakeholders and their advocates felt that informal crossings were a good idea, yet expressed concern that in some cases they were being applied in areas were the vehicle flow was too high for them to function effectively. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggested that the recommended design principles for informal crossings are not being applied consistently. The absence of beige or buff-coloured tactile paving for the assistance of blind and partially sighted pedestrians was mentioned as a particular concern, as it could prevent visually impaired individuals from identifying where these crossing points are. Two visually impaired stakeholders argued that informal crossings were insufficient for their needs and that controlled pedestrian crossings should be available for use in shared space, preferably with audible and tactile signals.

This suggests that while shared space might have benefits for the population at large, it can negatively affect people with visual impairments. As such care has to be taken when implementing shared space so as to not negatively affect people with visual impairments.

Barriers to cycling investment

Aldred, et al. (2019) surveyed a wide range of stakeholders involved with cycling investment to identify the key barriers to cycling investment in England. The top three concerns were: financial/funding barriers, lack of political leadership, and public opposition. They argue that the stop start funding model, the lack of ring-fenced funding for long term projects, and the small transport planning teams that local authorities have in place make it very difficult to ensure a good programme is delivered. They also note that political and public considerations are major stumbling blocks, with councillors often unwilling to spend their political capital on low priority projects. Additionally the general public’s attitude to cars must be overcome to ensure a scheme’s success, with such problems as “[a]nti-social parking and the widespread unwillingness to tackle it” being key issues from the public sphere. This is in line with the advice given by expert interviewees found in Slowman, et al.’s paper (2014) referenced earlier.