other vehicles should yield to cyclists: warning street signI always admire people who practice what they preach and are an inspiration to others. Peter Murray is one of these people: a passionate architect and cyclist, a Londoner who thinks globally. He is chair of New London Architecture, a leading forum for discussing the future of London from a planning angle, and also organises Cycle Summits and founded the annual Cycle to Cannes ride, in which planners and architects cycle from London to Cannes for a property exhibition and raise money for charity.

Right: the warning street sign designed by Murray, that other vehicles should yield to cyclists, who yield to pedestrians. 

Murray has just been appointed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to design a new cycling hub and a riverside cycling boardwalk in Kingston, north London, part of a project which also includes the boroughs of Enfield and Waltham Forest called "mini-Holland", as part of a drive to replicate the success of the Netherlands in promoting cycling.

Sign reading home is just a bike ride away. I've been reading some of his pronouncements on what cities can do to promote cycling and the spin-off benefits, and what follows is my attempt at a summary:

The benefits:

  1. Cycling is an incredibly efficient use of road space;
  2. it is non-polluting so improves local air quality;
  3. it is good for health, tackling for example obesity and diabetes 2;
  4. young people are drawn to live in apartments with good cycling links;
  5. designing for cycling improves the quality of public spaces in the city;
  6. cycling can be part of the local economy supporting tourism, local jobs and manufacturing.

 poster about cycling in JacksonvilleDesigning for cycling

  1. If budget is a consideration, first carry out a temporary solution, paint the streets, separate bike lanes with planters, put out seats. If it works, put in permanent landscaping. If it doesn't it can easily be reversed. This was the strategy of Janette Sadik-Khan, Bloomberg’s Commissioner for Transport, in New York City;
  2. where there are canals and riversides but little space, install timber decking to provide wider parts to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, as in Philadelphia;
  3. create an integrated policy that combines cycling with walking and public transport, as in Portland, Oregon;
  4. humanise roads so they are more people friendly (with 'Complete Streets' planning), with pedestrian areas, pavement cafés and a bike route or two;
  5. implement continuous, protected cycle lanes with consistent signage and junctions across the city, as in Freiberg, Germany;
  6. implement one-way separated bike lanes, which can be located on the nearside of parked cars, rather than the offside, so that the cars create a buffer, as in Copenhagen;
  7. in Manhattan, bike routes which carry cyclists across the East River bridges are a good example of upper level routes over existing road and rail links;
  8. paint on the road the motorists' stop line in advance of the bike route to remove the fear in cyclists' minds that cars will shoot out in front of them;
  9. provide lots of cycle parks;
  10. employers can provide shower and changing facilities;
  11. porganise themed trails and public events around cycling, for fun and exercise;
  12. let more bikes travel on public transport vehicles;
  13. encourage competition between districts to become the best one for biking.

 advertising hoarding about giving cyclists space with the 3 feet rule when overtaking


Making it safe

  1. Institute laws saying that vehicle drivers must give cyclists a 3 feet or one metre berth when overtaking (as in 21 American states - see advertising campaign above; in Pennsylvania it is 4 feet);
  2. enforce low speeds on all city roads;
  3. institute contracts that require lorries and buses to be fitted with close-proximity sensors, full safety mirrors and prominent signs warning cyclists of the danger of undertaking.
  4. cyclists can also be more considerate to other road users;
  5. educate all road users about mutual respect.

In 2013 Murray and other designers and architects cycled from Portland, Oregon (a cycling city, voted
America’s ‘most liveable city’), to Portland Place in London, on the way looking at the state of cycling in 12 major cities: Portland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Bristol, Oxford and London. Some of the above comes from the lessons they learned along the way.