Sunday, 23 November 2014

Calling Lambeth and beyond - your photos wanted

Cllr. Jenny Brathwaite, Lambeth's Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability, gave a powerful speech at yesterday's Cyclenation conference in our Town Hall.

She told the room full of cycling campaigners that she is not a cyclist and outlined a few of the reasons. They included
1. The images of cycling in the media are of sporty cycling or portray it as dangerous. There is no suggestion that cycling is an 'everyman, everyday' activity

.Photo from today's 'Health and Families' section of the Independent

Photo from yesterday's Western Gazette press article yesterday about training children to cycle on their local roads

2. The overwhelming message is 'You come onto the roads at your peril'.

Jenny reflected that, "like walking, cycling we learnt to do as children, but we give up on cycling" and was clear that, "We need to make cycling an everyday, mundane and safe activity. Lambeth has a major role to play in normalising cycling. Pedestrians and cyclists must be at the very heart of our borough".

She was clear also about the scale of the challenge, stating that "she had been taken aback by the number of residents who are so very attached to their cars."

A little later on Brian Deegan from TfL outlined the new London Cycling Design Standards. Like the Netherlands, segregation will be on roads with high volumes/speeds of motor traffic, but back streets will be shared by motor vehicles and bicycles.

On Saturday 29th November there will be a ‘Made in Lambeth’ event where a disparate bunch of people come together to design a website about cycling in Lambeth. There is no point in having the website stuffed full of photos like those above if Lambeth is to follow its cycling strategy to make:
Lambeth the most cycle-friendly borough in London where 1- 100 year olds feel safe enough to cycle.
Equally there's no point in stuffing a Lambeth website full of photos like the one below (from a recent Swindon Advertiser) when the reality is that the children cycling to school on their bikes are expected to mix with traffic.

So I'm on the search for photos of ordinary people in Lambeth - children, hand-cyclists, the elderly. The kinds of images I am looking for can be seen scrolling down here except that I am looking for the equivalent on motor-trafficked inner London streets.

I want photos of
-       People (especially children) making cycle trips on their own or with friends in inner London traffic with private cars and commercial vehicles such as taxis and delivery/trades vans.
-       Utility rather than leisure trips (Morning cycle to school time, shopping, commuting).
-       Different seasons and also at dusk/night and day, rain and sun.
-       The cyclists and drivers looking relaxed and the cyclist(s) generally in primary position (approx. centre of lane).
-       These cyclists in moving and queuing traffic.

 If you've got photos you can provide (ideally with permission to use as website content) please email them to team@lambeth.coop or tweet to @kenningtonpob

I've had a rummage through some of my photos and come up with these as indicative of the kind of cycling we should be representing on the website. What do you think?
















Monday, 17 November 2014

Acid test time for Vauxhall, the Elephant and Castle, Superhighways and Quietways

"Lambeth will be the most cycle-friendly borough in London where 1- 100 year olds feel safe enough to cycle", Southwark wants "Stress free cycling for everyone" ....; and in 2012 Boris answered:


There are more road changes in this area being consulted on, or imminent, than you can shake a stick at.  Just look at this map: cycle superhighways in blue, Quietways in Green, Junction redesigns in black, the Vauxhall gyratory, and I'm sure there's more.

Alongside this, Southwark should have a 20mph limit on its roads within six months, while Lambeth is also on target to become a 20mph borough.

The acid test of these measures is whether they're done well enough for parents to encourage their children to cycle around this area - to school, to see their friends, to the South Bank, to Vauxhall City Farm, to the new swimming pool at Elephant and Castle; to Tate Britain and the Imperial War Museum, over the bridges to Westminster.

Some of the designs I've seen are, I think, good enough in parts to think that it will happen. And some frankly aren't yet. We know that one weak link in a route or a grid is likely to mean people won't let their children use it.

So it's absolutely crucial to respond to consultations demanding schemes that are so good that the designers will happily let their ten (or 100) year olds ride on them; and we've got to remind politicians of their policies and make sure they hold firm by them.

Here's a list of consultations I know of. Please get involved, with positive suggestions for improvements where you can, but at least take the time to simply demand that the final design is child as well as commuter friendly.

The consultation on changes to CS7 at the Kennington Road and Oval junctions has ended;
The consultation has ended for a Cycling Superhighway running north from the E&C over Blackfriars Bridge; The plans for the Elephant and Castle northern roundabout are out for a (maybe) final consultation;
Southwark have consulted on their section of the new Quietway from Waterloo to Greenwich;
Lambeth will (presumably) be consulting on their bit of the Quietway;
Funding has been secured via S106 money to improve the County Hall bit of Belvedere Road;
The Vauxhall CS5 (maybe) final consultation from Oval across Vauxhall Bridge has opened;
A consultation is just starting on the future of Westminster Bridge Road ;
The Westminster Bridge South and Lambeth Bridge South junctions are scheduled for redoing in 2016
Looking towards 2018, there'll be the redoing of Vauxhall Cross (a consultation on the principles for the abolition of the Vauxhall Gyratory has just opened) and the Waterloo Imax Roundabout.
Some of this forms part of the Inner London Grid, but there may be more.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

My consultation response on DfT Cycling Delivery Plan

The plan is weak and lacks a national commitment and funding to match.

Specific items (apart from a national design and funding commitment) I
would like included are:
1. The longer term trend. Please can a graph be included showing the
historical trend in cycle trips, e.g. from 1996 when the UK’s first
National Cycling Strategy (NCS) was launched with the aim ‘to increase
cycle use’ (DoT, 1996a: 4). Its central target was to ‘double the
number of trips by cycle (on 1996 figures) by end 2002 and quadruple
the number of trips by cycle (on 1996 figures) by end of 2012’ (ibid).

This should show target and projected figures and give some reasoning
on why the targets were or were not met, and how this plan has been
protected from failure.

2. Given the aspiration for cycling levels to rival those in Germany,
Denmark and the Netherlands, please can the graph above be
extrapolated to show when, at the progress and investment rate
planned, we will meet the levels currently realised in those
countries.

3. Please can a website be maintained, quickly updated, showing which
local authorities have and have not signed up to work with the
government on the Delivery Plan.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

My consultation response on North South Cycling Superhighway


General Comments
I hugely support both the NS and EW cycle superhighways as they are essential (as part of a tightly meshed grid) to achieve the ambition of making London a city where anyone can cycle. I can see merits in the bi-directional tracks being proposed, though in general I would favour segregated tracks on each side of the road.

I question whether calculations about bus journey times have taken into account the likely mode shift by adults and children towards cycling with good infrastructure. This should mean more space on buses, decreasing journey time for some due to actually being able to board a historically full bus. In addition, more people cycling means fewer people using buses which will lessen the number of buses that need adding to the network as the population grows, benefitting motor journey time. Fewer buses than there would otherwise be, along with modal shift by car users to cycling, improve general motor traffic journey time for those who need to drive.

Detailed response -  North South Cycling Superhighway Elephant and Castle to Blackfriars
There is considerable detail and I am happy to meet a designer to clarify as needed.

While I suspect some ‘hard-core’ commuters will use the straight line of London Road rather than the dog leg of St George’s Rd / Lambeth Rd, the quality segregation and its tie-in to the revised E&C roundabout plans means that for most people, including those who daren’t currently cycle, the proposed scheme has strong benefits.

I would like to see the traffic island segregation largely planted up (see Guerilla Gardener’s Richard Reynolds’ proposal), and ways to include Sustainable Urban Drainage.

Section 1a
Is there good reason to relocate the Pelican crossing nearer Elliots Row than Oswin Street? It’s not where the major footfall alignment is, partly as it matches the side of Princess Street that has the narrow pavement.

It’s not clear from the drawing whether the pedestrian crossing of the NSCS is light controlled or if the traffic lights at the end of Princess Street are remaining. Might cyclists using CS7 have to wait thrice; at lights to exit Princess Street, then at the pedestrian crossing lights, then for the next phase of the pedestrian/cycle lights to cross St George’s Road? Or coming the other way have to wait for lights at the end of Elliots Row, then again for pedestrians crossing the cycling superhighway?

If the lights at the end of Princess Street are remaining there is potential conflict with cyclists on the NSCS who appear not to be traffic light controlled.

(As a complimentary measure, it would be better to relocate the pedestrian crossing on London Road instead, to the E&C side of the CS7, nearer the tube station and bus stops, to maintain the pedestrian desire line and permit cyclists to turn left from Princess Street onto the London Road bus and cycle lane.)

I suggest consideration is given to relocating the on-road directional arrows for motorists turning out of side roads across the cycling superhighway. These would be better placed in the ‘holding’ space between the traffic island segregation. I would also like conventional entrance/exit of side road lining (double/single give way) on both sides of the ‘holding’ space.

West Square – measures could be taken to make this approach to the square two-way for traffic or filtering traffic out. For the rationale see 1b, Geraldine Street.

Section 1b
With amendments there is considerable potential to increase cycling to/from Charlotte Sharman Primary School, Notre Dame Secondary School, St Jude’s Primary School, St George’s Cathedral Primary School and the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park (including the extensive sports facilities and Imperial War Museum) through creating a cycle crossing in conjunction with the planned pedestrian crossing at Geraldine Street.

As a quick fix, moving the Pedestrian crossing south of Geraldine Street allows cycles to cross St George’s Road into Geraldine Street (which is narrow and one-way) to access Charlotte Sharman School (cycle entrance) and the park and associated sports facilities and museum. The pedestrian crossing of the NSCS by Geraldine Street should not be light controlled.

Ideally, Geraldine Street could be pedestrianized, with two-way cycling permitted (option of a Toucan crossing of St George’s Road) so children and others can walk and cycle BOTH ways between the cycling superhighway and Geraldine Street. It also improves ease of use of the Cycle Hire docking station in Geraldine Street. Pedestrianising this street is dependent on the one-way West Square section of road off St George’s Road being made two-way, or filtering motor traffic so it can’t move between West Square and St George’s Road but must use Brook Drive instead for access/egress.

Consideration should be given to making Colnbrook and Gladstone Streets two-way for cycles

At the junction of St George’s Road and Lambeth Road, going into town, I propose removing the early start box and the dropped kerb from the cycle track into it. It would be better for cyclists turning left onto Lambeth Road to do it as though going straight on from Lambeth Road (assuming a right turn from Lambeth Road to St George’s Road is also permissible for cyclists)

I would prefer NSCH section of Lambeth Road being segregated to facilitate children cycling to and from St George’s Cathedral Primary School.

I question the need to widen the footway at this junction, but would like to see a cycle track continue across Lambeth Road westbound.

Eastbound on Lambeth Road the early start lights should not be installed. Instead of two left turn lanes, one should be straight ahead only and one should be left only. Cyclists should have green with the straight ahead lights but be able to turn left also at that time. A cycle lane installed on the continuation of St George’s Road northbound may permit left turns by cyclists at any time not prohibited by pedestrian crossing phases.

Section 2a
Dodson Street needs to be two way for cyclists, otherwise adults and children cycling have to use Bikeability level 3 (+)  Westminster Bridge Road to access it.

Westminster Bridge Road should be redesigned to be two way for cyclists. I challenge the tour bus parking being provided on arterial roads. They should either pay for private land parking or park on appropriate minor streets allowing segregated cycle tracks to be installed on the arterial roads.


Section 2b
There should be ‘in-one’ pedestrian crossings on all junctions of St George’s Circus, matched up with cycle crossings. Essentially the cycle track continuing around the perimeter of it. Currently I can’t envisage children being permitted to cycle westbound from Borough Road to Lambeth Road or vice versa with the design currently proposed.

Section 3a
I support the measures shown here, especially ones that improve the Quietway nature of Webber Street.

Section 3b
Ufford Street needs to retain cyclist entrance/exit, especially as Boundary Way is one-way.
I would like to see a better transition to the NSCS at Pocock Street.

Section 3c
Cyclists need to be permitted to turn left into The Cut.
The directional arrow for the right turn into Union Street from Blackfriars Road NSCH northbound should be a little further back so cyclists wait in ‘straight ahead’ rather than ‘left turn’ lane.
Does ped’n scramble crossing remain at The Cut / Blackfriars Rd / Union St?

Section 3d
No comment

Section 3e
The waiting areas for cyclists turning from NSCH eastbound into Southwark Street should be in the ‘going straight on’ lane, not in the left-turning lane for motor traffic as this may invite conflict at the entrance to Southwark Street.
The proposed method of turning right from Southwark Street into the NSCH isn’t clear.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Cycling, Made in Lambeth

I've nicked the text below directly from the Made in Lambeth website, where you can sign up to say you're coming on the day. Please come along if you can.

What's going on? We're teaming up with the Lambeth Sustainable Transport team to build a website that pulls together all the great initiatives and various information on all things cycling in the borough.
When and where? 9.30am (breakfast, 10am start) to 5pm, Saturday 29 November, Impact Hub BrixtonLambeth Town Hall, SW2 1RW. There'll be food and drink provided throughout to keep everyone energetic - we promise it won't just be gels and flapjack.
Who are we looking to get involved? The full project briefing is below, and you will see that there is an obvious need for skilled web developers to help us build a functioning website, and graphic designers to create a visual identity for cycling in Lambeth. However we also hope to have everyday cyclists who can be on hand to tell us what they want and expect from this website. If you're not sure how to get involved or have any questions, you can contact us directly or join the conversation below.
How do I get involved? The event is free to attend but as space is limited we ask you to register via eventbrite below. That gives us an idea of how many people to expect, and of course how much food and drink to prepare!
 BRIEFING: An online cycling solution for Lambeth
 The Background
Cycling has exploded as a pastime, sporting activity, and practical transport option across London over the last few years. Lambeth is no exception; the 2011 census showed 5.7% of commuter trips in the borough were by bike  – the third highest in the city. And why stop there? We all know the variety of benefits brought about by cycling.
That’s why by 2020 Lambeth is aiming for 20% of all commuter journeys to be by bike, enjoyed by people of all ages, backgrounds and physical ability. There are already lots of initiatives in Lambeth to promote cycling, as well as groups and individuals who campaign, fix, design, etc. However this work is often done in isolation, and sometimes in duplication. For cyclists themselves, navigating their way through everything to ensure an easy and friendly cycling experience can be a challenge. Our answer is to create a central online location to host this information. From the pop-up repair shops to the cycle training sessions and group cycles, the bike rental schemes to the street parking facilities, all this information will be available in one place. In addition there will be the ability to post cycling-related messages, map potholes, rat-runs and provide intelligence on how cycling in the borough can be improved.
The Challenge
 We need Made In Lambeth’s help to create a unique visual identity for cycling in Lambeth, and an online social space with functionality for this to be really useful for all groups and/or cyclists in the borough. Specifically, we want you to:
1. Design a Lambeth Cycling brand: We want a brand that can be used by all groups to form a common and easily recognisable identity for cycling in Lambeth, one that appeals to cyclists old and new.
2. Build an online space that acts as a one-stop shop for cycling in Lambeth:  We need an easily accessible website, with consideration for the various users who will visit it, what they will get out of it, and what information it should contain.
3. Develop new useful ways to share cycling information online -  A website opens up new opportunities - a bike buddy database? A map for potholes/dangerous junctions/missing signage/rat-runs?
 Your impact
 By bringing together all the good cycle-related parts of the borough together, and giving cyclists a platform to co-ordinate their own activities, we can accelerate the role that the bike is playing in creating a less congested, cleaner, healthier and more sociable borough.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

What action is needed re the Cycling Delivery Plan

The Government have a draft Cycling Delivery Plan out for informal consultation. There's plenty about it that can be improved and others (e.g. Jason Torrance of Sustrans) have commented on that.

I suspect there's a better action that local campaigners can take than comment on the draft plan, and that's to ensure their local authority submits an Expression of Interest to work in partnership with government. The Cycling Delivery Plan asks interested local authorities to sign up this autumn - so quick action is needed.

The government is playing its localism card, saying that access to resources will only arrive in an area if the local authority also signs up to doubling the number of trip stages cycled by 2025 (hardly a challenging target for even the most dilatory of councils - not least because it's ten years hence).

They say
Partner authorities can expect government to provide access to a range of tools and incentives that will support them towards achieving their cycling and walking ambitions. These include priority access to new funding streams, support via the Department for Transport's Active Travel Consortium, access to support in implementing cycling and walking plans, including to an extended Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) knowledge sharing network, and a recognised mechanism for reporting operational barriers to delivering cycling and walking initiatives back to government. 
Basically the government appear only to be interested in increasing cycling if the local authorities in England also want to. It'll be easier and cheaper for the 326 local authorities to submit an Expression of Interest if there's a basic model to copy, so I've drafted one, and inserted it in red into Annex B, below:

Annex B - Partnership Projects
Expressions of Interest
B.1 The Department for Transport is calling for expressions of interest from local authorities who would be interested in setting a long term ambition for walking and cycling in their area, and who, as part of that ambition would like to work in partnership with government to secure its delivery.

B.2 Expressions of interest in working with government on partnership projects to increase levels of walking and cycling should include the following information:
 An indication of the local authority's level of ambition for cycling and
walking over a defined period;
We want to double the number of cycling stages made in our local authority by 2025 and to have another 7% of children aged 5 to 10 who usually walk to school. (This is in line with the government's admirable ambition)
 Their expectation of government's role in the partnership, and how
they would like to work with government;
We'd like the government to adopt a document based on the CROW one used in the Netherlands, or potentially the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) if they're any good when they are finally published.
We'd like the government to fund the work needed in our local authority to implement the changes.
We will commit to deliver the changes when the funding is handed over.
 Plans for engaging with key stakeholders and securing an influential
cycling and walking champion;
We'll promote changes to encourage walking and cycling with the government, schools, businesses, NHS, residents and people who travel through our local authority. We'll appoint a cabinet member as our champion.
 A demonstration of the local authority's commitment to door-to-door journeys, and to creating safe cycling and walking provision through cycle proofing new transport infrastructure;
It is possible to make a journey from any front door in our local authority to any other front door. The government will understand it seems harder to achieve this with back doors that often lead into fenced gardens. However one can get to the front door from the back door and hence to other front doors and in turn back doors. We trust that is sufficient. When we build new transport infrastructure we will make sure at the design stage that it includes a walking and cycling option
 An outline programme plan, including, where relevant, a planned and funded cycling and walking investment programme.
We will roll out measures in accordance with the CROW / LCDS making clear to our residents this is at the behest of national government, starting with new builds, refurbishments and the most densely populated areas.
B.3 Expressions of interest can be submitted on an ad hoc basis, and local authorities will be contacted by a member of the Cycling Policy Team to discuss their proposal.
Here it is. We and, doubtless, the other 325 local authorities look forward to being contacted by a member of the Cycling Policy Team. Out of interest, how many staff does this team have?
B.4 Submissions should be made to Walking.Cycling@dft.gsi.gov.uk.

I hope that Sustrans, CTC, British Cycling, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain and Living Streets will be asking their members to apply pressure to their local authority to complete the form.

I imagine the government will maintain a quickly and regularly updated website showing which local authorities have yet to submit their expression of interest.

How to double cycling in ten years?

Easy, just make sure that the annual volatility in the National Travel Survey fluctuates to 2% in 2025.

From the Government's draft Cycling Delivery Plan
The Government's vision is that walking and cycling become the natural choices for shorter journeys - or as part of a longer journey- regardless of age, gender, fitness level or income. We need a long term commitment to embed change. In order to measure progress towards achieving this vision, we have set out our ambition for cycling until 2025:
- To double cycling, where cycling activity is measured as the estimated total number of bicycle stages made each year, from 0.8 billion stages in 2013 to 1.6 billion stages 
Cycling activity for the purpose of this document is measured as bicycle stages as in the National Travel Survey. 

From the National Travel Survey England 2013 Statistical Release, July 2014
In 2013, 1% of all stages were made by bicycle. Between 1995/97 and 2013 the average number of bicycle stages per person per year has fallen from 20 stages in 1995/97 to 15 stages in 2013; a fall of 25%. 
However, due to the relatively small number of cyclists in the NTS sample there is annual volatility in the cycling data and bicycle stages as a proportion of all stages generally fluctuates between 1% and 2%. 

Job done.

More seriously, the draft Cycling Delivery Plan fails to cite previous targets and the reasons this plan is expected to succeed where others failed. An informed historical view is the academic paper (PDF) Cycling Policy in the UK by Laura Golbuff and Rachel Aldred, UEL Sustainable Mobilities Research Group.

Compare the 25% fall in cycling stages between 1995/7 and 2013 with the ambition quoted in the paper:
In 1996, the UK’s first National Cycling Strategy (NCS) was launched with the aim ‘to increase cycle use’ (DoT, 1996a: 4). Its central target was to ‘double the number of trips by cycle (on 1996 figures) by end 2002 and quadruple the number of trips by cycle (on 1996 figures) by end of 2012’ (ibid).