Monday, 31 January 2011

Road Danger Reduction isn't enough

The latest Lambeth Life has popped through my letterbox with a piece about the draft Lambeth Transport Plan saying "The overall goal is to adopt a new approach to transport called Road Danger Reduction"

The reality is that people choose to walk and cycle on our streets when they feel safe and comfortable, regardless of how dangerous the streets actually are.

Lambeth's approach must focus on 'Road Fear Reduction'.

A little bit of this is about providing training to road users in the fundamentals of road etiquette (which may not be the ones that first come to mind in our motor-centric country).

But the bulk of Road Fear Reduction is about ensuring that, whether intentionally or inadvertently, motor vehicle users don't deter those wishing to travel in an active manner. More than that, because active travel is the beneficial form to the health and wellbeing of both people and the planet, those planning the conditions in which motor vehicles can be used need to adopt an approach which positively encourages people to walk and cycle.

In other words we must ensure the conditions for walking and cycling make these choices feel absolutely delightful, as well as not actually being dangerous.

The same of course applies in terms of the relationship between cyclists and pedestrians as the recent issue on the Thames Path demonstrates.

And, to be clear, I'm not suggesting for a moment that motorised transport isn't useful, just that it musn't denigrate the experience for non-motorised users of that space.

Lambeth's Transport Strategy (aka LIP)

I haven't yet read the draft, but I hope it starts along these lines:

Within three years Lambeth will be a place where anyone, whether a primary school child or a granny, able or doddery, resident or visitor, can thoroughly enjoy walking and cycling on our streets in a convivial way, absolutely without fear of being harassed of knocked over by the driver of a motor vehicle.

Within these three years those needing to use a motor vehicle in Lambeth will realise and accept their total responsibility not to frighten or bully (let alone injure or kill) those who wish to walk and cycle.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Vroom, Vroom Peer Group

When you respond to a planning application that response is available for others to view, presumably so it can inform their response or allow inaccuracies to be challenged.
I'm indebted to the SE1 blog's Twitter feed section for sharing a letter of objection to a planning permission application to extend the Boris Bikes docking station outside Southwark's Hop Exchange from the Managing Director of property company Peer Group.

In the letter the MD, Howard J Dawson (who may or may not be the same person as the J. H. Dawson on the letterhead's listing of company directors) claims "the cycle docking stations are an unsightly addition to the streetscape" that "The council is irresponsible in encouraging cyclists...." and finds it "regrettable that TfL does not spend its resources more usefully repairing the roads and footpaths and making adequate provision for cars which already pay excessively for the privilege of using the borough's roads"

Each to their own view, although why anyone would favour stuffing up Southwark's roads with more noisy, polluting, space wasting, unsightly cars that have the capacity to be far more damaging when used carelessly by their users than bicycles do is beyond me.

It is perhaps not surprising that a quick Google throws up a very strong association between the Peer Group and Britain's most prolific manufacturer of racing cars.

Promising intent from TfL and Lambeth Council

Well done to Lambeth Council's Transport and Highways department for taking up my suggestion to minimise one way paint signage when they resurface Wincott Street / Reedworth Street shortly to avoid having to redo the paint when the streets are made two-way for cycling. And well done to them for planning to make the streets two-way for cycling!

Thanks also to Cllr. Steve Morgan in Prince's Ward for pursuing this.

 Thanks also to Lambeth Council's Transport Planning and Strategy department for eliciting fantastic news from TfL that they are looking to improve Lambeth Bridge's scarily narrow northbound cycle lane, making it 1.5m wide when they resurface this summer through removing the very dodgy narrow cycle lane southbound in favour of the shared cycle/bus lane.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Where should this child cycle?

I chatted to MP Kate Hoey and St Thomas' Hospital Chair Patricia Moberly as the Prince's Ward Coffee Morning today. They were clear that they viewed the ban as a solution to several constituents complaining about some reckless cyclists on the Thames Path and that it wasn't their view.

I also got the distinct impression that neither of them used a bike to get around and neither had considered what the alternatives to the South Bank felt like to people who did ride bikes.

I don't know the kid in the photo below. It was nudging 4pm this Saturday afternoon and he was cycling along the Thames Path with his mum walking along. I was coming the other way and had been contrasting the Thames Path with the alternative road route.
 Below is the on-road route (the Jubilee Greenway, National Cycle Route 4, A road, Red Route...) around 4pm this Saturday. A nice weekend recreational cycling space for families?

 What was it like on the Thames Path around 4pm on this Saturday?
Space outside the London Eye
 Rammed outside the Aquarium. I don't know the cyclist in the photo but it's obvious why he's got off his bike. Like every other cyclist I've seen on the Thames Path since I've been doing this blog he  was being considerate to pedestrians (not to say that there aren't some nutters as I'm sure there will be some - probably the same nutters who drive in cycle lanes on the road).
 Now it thins out
 and here's the bit by St Thomas' where the 'No Cycling' signs have gone up. The chap with the bike had remounted and ridden off.

In an age when we're aiming to encourage people to travel actively it is clear that the alternative cycling route is appalling in comparison to the Thames Path. If the authorities work to really improve the local roads to make them friendly for kids, grannies and everyone else wanting to ride bikes I'll bet fewer cyclists will use the Thames Path.

The Thames Path at 11am this Saturday morning

 A little busy outside the wheel but loads of space outside the Aquarium
 An empty tunnel
An almost empty Thames Path

Westminster, Brent and the City versus cycling

On Thursday I went to teach in a Primary School just north of Queen's Park Station in Brent, adjoining Westminster. I took the cycle route signed here in Westminster and turned right as marked. So far so good:
 Still in Westminster I came to the next junction which had no sign post so I assumed straight on would be the way although the sign says dead end.
Still just in Westminster I saw a sign confirming I was on the right track, though there was no dropped kerb.
 I obeyed the sign and went straight ahead crossing the three lane gyratory
 into the lane opposite, now in Brent, and through the car park
 to come out onto the same gyratory that I had just crossed and needed to cross again.
 The school was on the next road with a continuous stream of motor traffic
and car parking (or school run drop off) spaces slap bang outside. There were no cycle parking racks in the school.
Not all the kids were able to make it up a slight incline (not really a hill) without stopping, maybe due to not cycling frequently enough to know how to work the gears effectively or build up their stamina. That road ran alongside the local Queen's Park which would have been a great place for the kids to develop bike skills and stamina, except that the sign clearly says 'No Cycling'
 and the park is controlled by, you guessed, the City of London.
Game, set and match to the authorities versus those trying to encourage cycling.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Kate Hoey pledged support (but did she mean it?)

In the run up to the last election Kate Hoey signed up in support of the 'Vote Bike' Manifesto written by CTC, the UK's National Cyclists' Organisation. The manifesto has six key points, one of which is:

More and better opportunities for recreational and off-road cycling including the appropriate opening up of green spaces, forest land, rights of way, waterways and sections of Britain’s coast.

I hope that my blog posts over the past months have shown that it is completely inappropriate for 'No Cycling' signs to be put up on the Thames Path, which has a long history of shared use. I've even been told that the tunnel under Westminster Bridge came about following pressure from cycling campaigners. You can see by the markings that the route is intended to be shared:

I call upon Kate Hoey to honour her election pledge and fight for the ban on cycling, imposed since the election, on the Thames Path (the off-road cycle path by the Thames waterway) to be rescinded.

There's plenty of space for considerate cycling

There's no subterfuge to my Thames Path campaign. There are photos on this blog of the Path from last August. Since November I've simply taken a photo as soon as I arrive at the Thames Path if I happen to be passing and stuck most up here. I've taken some around 8am on a weekday, some on a Saturday afternoon, some on a Sunday afternoon, some mid-morning. The area where 'No Cycling' signs have gone up has never been crowded when I've been there.

Here's Sunday 22nd January at 1pm:
 and looking the other way along the Thames Path
 I'm totally mystified why those who have concerns about cycling on the Thames Path haven't done a trial with signs such as the following that British Waterways use, backed up with action against reckless cyclists by the plentitude of PCSO's employed to walk along protecting parliament from terrorists :

Cyclist with disability ordered off tricycle on South Bank path

This week's London Cycling Campaign newsletter reports that,

"The charity, Wheels For Wellbeing, has complained to Lambeth Council after a lady with a disability was ordered off her mobility tricycle on the South Bank.

Anne Wright (pictured) was stopped by a Community Support Officer and told she should not be cycling along on the riverside path by Lambeth Bridge."

This is precisely the kind of collateral damage I anticipated would be caused by slapping a blanket ban on cycling rather than enforcing a policy of 'pedestrian priortity; considerate cycling permitted'.

You may remember that in November I spoke to a couple of cyclists I met on the Thames Path about the potential ban:
When told he would be expected to ride on the road he volunteered that he was 78 years old and suffers from Spinal Scelerosis, and that such a move would force him to switch from his bike to a wheelchair.

The alternative A-road express route, described as 'excellent' by Kate Hoey, the local MP, but which the Chief Executive of Walk England doesn't feel is good enough to actively promote, looked like this yesterday:

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Greenway or Thames Path for Gran and the kiddies?

Oh, the fun we had cycling in Lambeth on the Jubilee Greenway Olympic cycle route this afternoon. First we jostled with the taxis while we tried to make sense of the big sign on York Road.
Then we chortled as we tried to work out which of the three lanes we needed to be in to continue to follow the Greenway into Lambeth Palace Road. You should have seen us split our sides when we tried to get into the middle lane. Just as well St Thomas' Hospital is near by.
Silly Grandad said we should have just ignored the signs saying 'No Cycling' on the Thames Path. But Gran's not one to ignore important looking signs on black bins. She was sure they wouldn't have been put up without good reason. It must be too busy for cyclists.

Grandad said "Just look at what it was like this afternoon."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Lambeth's Olympic route set to fail

Lack of funding is threatening the Jubilee Greenway, a 60km walking and cycling route connecting all nine of London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games venues with many of the capital’s finest attractions, parks and historic landmarks.

At its launch, Boris Johnson said, "Few capitals of the world can boast such a superb asset for walkers and cyclists".

But the Chief Executive of Walk England, Jim Walker, has replied to my concerns about the route in Lambeth saying,
"We have marked a cyclable path for information on the map/text on our site but don't actively promote the cycling potential of the path because - as you say, on advice from several competent cyclists sadly there are limitations to the quality of the current experience in several places.

Sadly we don't have funding for improving the cycling offer either so we have some challenges."

Within Lambeth the cycling 'Greenway' (which is currently unsigned, unlike the walking part) is mainly on busy A roads that many families fear cycling on. It comes behind the Southbank Centre to York Road, swinging onto Westminster Bridge roundabout, then takes Lambeth Palace Road, before approaching the roundabout (above) onto Lambeth Bridge.

An obvious, and cheap, solution (with decent views) would be to combine the cycling and walking routes along the wide Thames Path except that, contentiously and contrary to Transport for London's opinion, local politicians recently arranged for 'No Cycling' signs to be installed on the Jubilee Greenway section (below on Saturday 16 Jan at 1pm) despite it having been a shared space for years and there being no Traffic Management Order banning cycling. Campaigners from Lambeth Cyclists and the local Living Streets groups would prefer to see signage emphasising pedestrian priority and considerate cycling, with enforcement activity focussed on reckless cyclists.

An alternative scenic option, sensible for the future development along the South Bank, would be to develop Guy's and St Thomas' service road (below) as a cycle path, running parallel to the Thames Path, linking Lambeth Bridge to Belvedere Road:
Fortunately our MP, Kate Hoey, is the Mayor of London's Commissioner for Sport, and should have the clout to get the necessary funding for the cycling part of the Greenway to be up to the standard of the walking part ready for the Olympics and as a legacy beyond.

She shouldn't face an uphill task. After all,
"The Jubilee Greenway is being supported by a partnership including senior representatives from central government, The Mayor’s office, Royal Parks, The Olympic Delivery Authority, Transport for London, British Waterways, Thames Water and all the relevant local authorities."

You may wish to write to Kate Hoey with your views on the best solution(s) at .

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Sports Action Zone deny cycling trend

There's no cycling parking at the Lilian Baylis Community Hub (old Lilian Baylis school) currently so users today were leaning their bikes against the fencing as usual.

But a planning application, featuring cycle parking, has now been made to expand the sports pitches from those below and the sports hall to include another two football pitches, running track and long jump. I'd expect to see over 100 people using the facilities at times.
How many cycle stands are planned?  Four. So that's the Sports Action Zone Director, Brian Dickens, sorted (if he's replaced the bike he had nicked), plus the other staff who cycle. The stands are located at the entrance by a wall that obsures the view of the stands from the pitches so they won't be popular with players anyway.

I'd expect to see cycle parking installed around the site for an absolute minimum of 30 bikes, and for the schools and Sports Action Zone to be working together to get pupils and other users cycling to the site.

Instead, I guess, school children will continue to be shipped, at huge expense to their health and the taxpayer, by coach - like the one there today, where the driver left the engine running, pumping out noxious fumes and increasing global warming while waiting for the match to end.

E&C: loadsa cycles, no toucans

The railings and cycle parking outside the London College of Communication are jampacked with bicycles
 And the underpasses, where the southern roundabout was, are being replaced by surface crossings. Given the roads remain unfriendly for nervous cyclists, the wide pavements and surface crossings would be ideal for shared pedestrian/cyclist use.
And the crossings should be Toucan crossings (so two can cross - cyclist and pedestrian).  TfL wrote to me last July saying, "I can confirm that the Toucan Crossings will be installed at the junction."  As the photo below shows they're not Toucans yet!