Seville, in southern Spain, has a 75-mile cycle network, much of which was built very rapidly. We could do it here, too, and here’s how.
Cycling UK policy director Roger Geffen’s advice is to start with a network plan, linking main road routes, neighbourhoods and greenways.
In smaller towns there will be radial routes into the centre, including from surrounding villages, and also quiet residential streets linking, i.e. schools, public transport.
Out of town routes can also be leisure and tourism routes, which means funding may be available from different governmental sources.
“If you want to demonstrate value for money, when you’re spending on cycling as a relatively new thing, then you do need to plant the seed in the areas where the soil is already reasonably fertile,” he says.
It needs to then spread out to other neighbourhoods. Not everywhere will deliver great returns at first, but a network has to start somewhere.
In Manchester, they started with crossings, which are fairly uncontroversial, and easy for people to understand a need for.
Brian Deegan believes filtered neighbourhoods have to come from the communities; however, they have to say they want it.
On the other hand, core corridors, he recommends saying you’re going to do it anyway, and ask people “what’s the least difficult way to do this? How do I make sure this doesn’t adversely affect your business?” He says: “Sometimes you’ve got to be strong and sometimes you’ve got to be as collaborative as possible”.
To deliver quickly, Geffen recommends using bollards, i.e. flexible wands, rather than kerbs. It’s cheaper, quicker, you get more mileage for your money, and you’ve got flexibility to widen the cycle facilities as cycling numbers grow.
Moving drainage is the most expensive bit, and flexible wands, which offer “90% of the protection for cyclists and would-be cyclists, for a fraction of the cost”, mean drainage stays put. More permanent infrastructure, with good design standards, can follow.