What separates the best transport authorities from all of the rest is their understanding of the full delivery process of delivering transport schemes, presented here in an incredibly simplified form:
- The strategy setting out what we want to achieve, and to some degree how we want to achieve it.
- Identify what you actually want to achieve from this scheme.
- Technical guidance and legislation setting out what you can / should and cannot / should not do.
- Expectations and engagement of everybody interested in the scheme – whether or not they have decision making authority over it, or provide the cash.
- Cash and staff resource setting out what you achieve practically
- Decide on a solution, and deliver the thing.
- Monitor whether it is achieving what you want it to.
- Make changes if needs be.
Yes, this is incredibly simplified. There will also be many times where schemes are developed and delivered which have no justification in policy terms, or are delivered as experiments to test new ideas. But the majority of transport schemes are delivered in accordance with the above approach, or something similar to it.
This delivery process is important to understand – whether you are a policy wonk like me or an engineer working on a CAD drawing. It really should not need saying in this day and age, but producing a transport strategy like a Local Transport Plan with some nice objectives and an action plan is not an end in itself, but its a means to an end. The end being, of course, to deliver the vision that you have set out in the strategy!
I will confess now that I have written and helped to write strategies that – despite best intentions – only gathered dust. If you asked me detailed questions about the Second Bedfordshire Local Transport Plan for instance, I’d be stumped! For me, this was part of the learning curve of effective strategy development.
You can only judge the effectiveness of a strategy as a delivery document in the fullness of time. No doubt the Cyclists in the City, Vole o’Speed, ibikelondon, and As Easy As Riding A Bike – as well as the London Cycle Campaign – will keep a close eye on things to ensure that London truly does go Dutch.
The early signs from TfL are promising, and showing signs that they are willing to learn…
The willingness to learn is there, the willingness to test new ideas, deliver significant improvements to cycling and the public realm, and even remove traffic lanes for this purpose. Its certainly an interesting time for cycling in London, and I hope that in 10 years time we will be looking back on a vision that has actually delivered a cycling revolution, and made London a more cycle and people friendly place.
No pressure, TfL.