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... and a Happy New Year?

posted 1 Jan 2012, 05:46 by Roy McDonald   [ updated 5 Feb 2013, 09:24 ]
1 January 2012
Roy McDonald Consulting Ltd would like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends, colleagues and followers a very happy and successful New Year.
2011 certainly proved to be a big year for us, with the founding of the company and our first tentative steps into the world of independent consulting. 
The year also saw the publication of LTP3's, which were then largely overshadowed by the various Local Sustainable Transport Fund bid programmes. Sadly, for us, these seemed to feature rather too heavily on "peicemeal" cycle schemes, rather than looking to build and develop on existing public transport networks to maximise their advantages. 
Am I alone in thinking that many of the schemes to install cycle facilities, such as crossings and cycle "cut-throughs" are over-engineered and generally pointless? How have some of these schemes been evaluated and demonstrated cost-effectiveness?
If a cyclist is so insecure that he/she needs to leave the road to use a 20 metre section of cycle lane on the footway (with a plethora of signs, lines and coloured surfacing) to reach a Toucan crossing to cross the road, then I would venture to suggest that, perhaps, they shouldn't be cycling on the road in the first place?!  
Could this funding be better spent in greater cycle training for potential users - an updated version of the cycling proficiency test - to make them more competent road users?
In addition, such schemes may actually have a negative effect, if they are shunned by competent cyclists and are considered by local people to be a waste of local authority money at a time when libraries, care homes and community facilities are suffering cuts in funding
OK, off my hobby horse and back to the post...
2011 finally saw the opening of the Cambridgeshire busway, further work on the busways in Luton and South Hampshire BRT and invitation to tender for the Leigh Guided Busway. We welcome all these initiatives and believe that this furthers a renewed interest in the potential for Bus Rapid Transit for our towns and cities.
It is our opinion that, done properly, BRT can offer a very high quality, comprehensive transit network, with much less disruption and much more cost effectively than LRT. However, "done properly" also means that very high levels of priority for BRT vehicles must be given throughout the core corridors - especially in the principal centres, and that the high standards are maintained once operational.
As the cost of fuel continues to spiral upwards and private motoring becomes increasingly costly, we believe that much more could and should be done by operators and local authorities, alike, to, jointly, promote the cost benefits of public transport season tickets for local travel.
The announcement by the DfT, at the end of 2011, of the Better Bus Area Funding Competition should encourage local authorities and bus operators to work more closely together to develop and promote networks. It will be interesting to see, how much innovative thinking comes forth from this.
So what of 2012?
Funding will continue to be tight, meaning that each pound spent has to buy more. Greater partnership working will be essential to deliver meaningful initiatives. Engineering-led, "build-it and they will come" schemes will, increasingly, be a thing of the past. Cost effective, Smarter Choices activities should become more attractive, but only if they are underpinned by a clear strategy which recognises them as part of a comprehensive package of measures.
The Borismaster will finally hit the streets - to reveal whether its a gimmick or true solution to London's "unique" situation?
Transport will play a fundamental role in the successful delivery of the Olympic Games in the UK. The Media will gleefully pounce on any failures or disruption to the games transport system. 
The Localism agenda may begin to be seen in transport, with tentative steps to involve local groups in the decision making and provision of services?
Whatever happens, we wish everyone involved in the transport industry, good health, wealth and happiness throughout 2012