V2C (central Cycling Lane): an Innovative Approach for Designing Streets
G Blanchard, Cete de l'Ouest, FR
Bicycle lanes and bicycle paths are becoming very common in our European cities. But don't we need other tools to build future sustainable cities with a higher proportion of cyclists ?
Before the 1950's, there were mostly walking, cycling and bus cities. But since then, most of them have become car-cities with streets and places mostly adapted to this use.
But this situation is changing. In fact we are currently seeing a growing interest in European cities and regions for promoting the bicycle. Indeed the bicycle is an ideal complement to public transport and it contributes to the development of sustainable cities.
To achieve that aim, we know that communication is not enough; we also have to adapt our streets to this traffic. And, there are different phases in this development:
- First there is the ?cycling city 1.0? with with around 0.1 to 2% of daily trips made by bicycle. In those cities there are some bicycles lanes and bicycles paths. They have been built or painted in different streets but not systematically and not sufficiently.
- The ?cycling city 2.0? with almost 2 to 15 % of daily cycle users is more interesting. Of course, cycles lanes have been generalized, but as it is impossible to separate all users in all streets, those cities have also developed mixed streets with slow traffic zones, including a lot of 30 kph zones. Those cities are safer and more comfortable for cyclists.
- And there are also some innovative cities (Copenhagen ?the City of Cyclists?, Amsterdam,..) which already constitute the category of ?cycling cities 3.0? with more than 15 % of daily cycle users and which even aim to reach 50 %.
In our studies for French cities we have identified a need for new design tools adapted to cyclists for increasing the speed of change. And the V2C has been created to help those cycling cities who want to have more cyclists in their streets.
The V2C (Central Cycling Lane)
In the French Highway Code, as in other countries, the main rule for cyclists is ?to drive on the right of the the right-hand lane? (or left in the UK). Thus cyclists don't disturb car drivers ! This approach seem natural to all road designers. And for the moment bicycle lanes have been developed following this principle.
But in some situations this can be very dangerous : when a driver opens the door of a parked car onto the cyclist (it can be a fatal collision), when a driver want to overtake a cyclist in a narrow street,.. In this position, cyclists are also less visible : drivers often claim, after a collision, that they didn't see the cyclist !
The V2C consists of putting a bicycle lane in the center of the street with a narrow sideband (<1,70 m) to prevent cars from overtaking cyclists. And a new road sign has been designed for this project. It indicates to motorized vehicles ?No overtaking bikes? and ? Keep your speed down.?. And a new road sign has been designed for this.
In this way cyclists are perfectly visible and each vehicle is moving at the same speed.
This may seem revolutionary but we think that this V2C could be adapted to some streets in our cities.
To realize the first V2C there are many phases : to choose suitable streets, to design the project and to ask for an authorization from the national Road Safety Department. And at present, this project is being examined in conjunction with the city of Nantes, which aims to implement it in the coming months.
Association for European Transport