Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Tackling the Brook Drive rat-run

Brook Drive, a busy rat-run by the Imperial War Museum on the border of Lambeth and Southwark, has the potential to be as quiet and free of traffic as neighbouring Walcot Square and adjacent streets. It can be achieved inexpensively. The gate,to the right of the picture below, which makes Walcot Square so calm, could just be turned 90°.

Firstly though, why is Brook Drive a rat-run in the West-East direction? Google map directions reveal all. Drivers from Westminster Bridge or Lambeth Bridge to the Walworth Road are directed via Brook Drive and Dante Road rather than the designated A roads.

The immediately neighbouring enclave of back streets, in grey below, around Walcot Square and St Mary's Gardens are very much calmer and quieter. Many years ago the residents persuaded the council to install the gate (marked by the short, thick black line) at the junction of Sullivan Road and Brook Drive to prevent motor-traffic cutting through their streets.

Turning that gate by 90°, to the pink line, would create two cells - part of Brook Drive would become part of the Walcot Square quiet enclave - still able to get to and from their houses while enjoying the benefits that their neighbours have had for years. The other half of Brook Drive would be part of a newly calmed enclave of streets gaining the same or similar benefits.

As well as enabling the residents of Brook Drive and Dante Road to have less noise, danger and air pollution, such a measure would increase the freedom for local children attending the local Charlotte Sharman, Archbishop Sumner and Crampton primary schools to easily walk or cycle to school at minimal risk. 

Turning the barrier may not be the ideal, or the whole, way of creating a back street area free of traffic that should be using the main roads. There may be a better location to install the traffic filter on Brook Drive. And there's a likelihood that some rat-running would relocate to use Wincott Street / Renfrew Road (the thin black line) so it makes sense to consider options and implement appropriate measures within the entire cell of back streets bordered by the A roads. I welcome suggested alternative options or additions in the comments section.

This traffic filtering scheme (and similar ones you may think of) would fit well into the current Lambeth consultation for this area - if you like it please include it in your response. I hope that Lambeth will accept responses from residents on the Southwark side of Brook Drive too.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Kennington / Oval Cycling Improvements Meeting this Thursday

If you live, work or visit the North Lambeth area (Prince's and Oval wards), the Council would like to find out your priorities for investing payments that are made by developers to fund local improvements. A Community Local Investment Plan (CLIP) is now being drawn up and your input would be appreciated.

What are your priorities for your streets, open spaces and places?

The money can be spent on capital items (e.g. cycle parking or segregated cycle tracks) or on revenue items (e.g. cycle mechanic training programmes).

Councillor Joanne Simpson has arranged a meeting to source ideas for cycling improvements in the area. It is this Thursday 5th January at 6.30pm, upstairs at the Black Prince pub, 6 Black Prince Rd, SE11 6HS. If you can't make the meeting but have a suggestion beforehand you'd like discussed please email it to lambeth_cyclists@hotmail.com.

Ideas from the meeting will feed into Lambeth's Prince's and Oval wards CLIP consultation that runs until Friday 24 February 2017. Please reply to the survey there too.

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Bins of Tooting Common - The Cafe

This is the first of an occasional series on the bins of Tooting Common (just joking, one blogpost is surely enough for anyone on this subject).

Here's the cafe, and you can just make out three bins in the photo - green, yellow and red

Here's a close up of the red one, sponsored by Walls

and here's the yellow one, courtesy of Lipton

Also within throwing distance is this big bin

and these two bins - dog poo and, is it finally the recycling bin?

Nope, a general litter bin

 It may be that all rubbish collected on Tooting Common is sorted for recycling, or maybe a clause in the cafe's lease requires the managers to extract recyclable items within a 100m radius of the cafe  (in either case why not say 'waste and recycling bins').

Or maybe none of the plastic bottles, aluminium cans etc. are recycled from here at all. Maybe the litter dropped on the ground is sorted for recycling, which is why people drop it near all these bins.

Who knows? Who cares?

I emailed the Parks contractor for Wandsworth (Enable Leisure and Culture) yesterday and had a prompt reply:

When the last trials took place people used the recycling bins for general waste and we were unable to recycle any and all went as general waste. If the café have there own bins it is their responsibility to dispose of the waste arising from them.
There is no allowance in the Parks Maintenance contract to recycle litter waste but we do ask our contractor to do this where ever possible which is not that often because of the sorting costs involved.
When Friends Of Tooting Common conduct their litter collections they do segregate recycling and take this off of the common. 
So if you care about recycling and see a can or a bottle thrown on the ground or in a bin, please pick it up to take home to put in your domestic recycling.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Where will you let your children cycle this car free day?

Lambeth has a car-free day with lots of events this Saturday in Cornwall Road, behind the National Theatre on Quietway 1.

As my contribution to the fun I'm asking you to imagine you live in Cornwall Road with your eleven year child. Relatives are coming to London and your child would like to cycle, without you but with a classmate, to meet them at a tourist/fun location.

Which of the following places would you a) definitely,  b) maybe, c) definitely not
let the two children cycle to? What are your reasons?

I've put together a map showing indicative routes here

1. Cutty Sark Greenwich (meeting the relatives at the far end of Quietway 1)
2. Tower of London (using the north-south then the east-west cycle superhighway)
3. Hyde Park (Belvedere Road then across Westminster Bridge to join the east-west cycle superhighway and cycle tracks through the Royal Parks)
4. The British Museum (Waterloo Bridge then following quiet roads - Bow Street. Long Acre, Drury Lane, Museum Street)
5. The Ritzy, Brixton (Baylis Road, Kennington Road, Brixton Road)
6. John Lewis, Oxford Street (Westminster Bridge, The Mall, St James' Street, Albemarle St, Bond St, Savile Row, Hanover Square)
7. Brockwell Park Lido (north-south cycle superhighway to Elephant and Castle then backstreets through Myatts Fields, Loughborough Junction, Shakespeare Road, Railton Road)
8. Westminster Boating Base (London Cycle Network 3 via Baylis and Hercules Roads to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, joining Cycle Superhighway 7 across Vauxhall Bridge, then Cycle Superhighway 8 along the Thames to end on the riverside near Pimlico Academy)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Consultation on A23 Brixton Hill and Streatham Hill bus, lorry and cycle lanes

TfL are consulting until September 14th on plans to improve peak hour conditions for buses on the desire line between Streatham, Brixton and Central London. Their scheme (only to run during peak Monday to Friday adult commuter hours) does nothing to encourage people to cycle - you are not going to see more pupils after school socially cycling along Streatham Hill to the ice rink.

TfL's plan totally ignores Lambeth's intent as laid out in its formally-adopted cycling strategy:
"Lambeth wants to encourage more cycling and believes that the only way to do this is to make cycling safe and attractive for a broader cross section of people. Anyone who wants to cycle should be able to – women, children, parents, older people – as happens in Denmark and the Netherlands. Our vision therefore is that: Lambeth will be the most cycle-friendly borough in London where 1- 100 year olds feel safe enough to cycle."

I think it makes complete sense to improve bus efficiency, but not at the expense of people who would like to walk and cycle. How could we get 24/7 cycle tracks and bus efficiency without stealing pavement as TfL plan to do in their scheme? We could take a Copenhagenize diagram as our inspiration - giving the straighter lines to pedestrians, cyclists and bus users:

Through banning cars and small vans from the A23, providing them with the exciting new Wiggleway (TM) in red below, space can easily be created for a cycle track on each side of the A23 with plenty of space for loading bays and floating bus stops, and a lane in each direction just for buses and lorries.

The scheme may seem a little radical, but it's always good to know that options exist that don't give under-occupied cars priority over active travel on quality routes.

Please have a look at TfL's proposals and ask yourself how they could be improved (a simple example: make the bus/cycle lanes 24/7 or 22/7 or similar) and share the ideas, and respond to TfL and your councillors.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Get involved in Lambeth Floral Ride to the Country Show

Lambeth will have a spectacular floral cycle ride to this year's Lambeth Country Show on Sunday 17th July,  from Waterloo via Kennington, Myatts Field and  Loughborough Junction to Brockwell Park.

There's the possibility of a ride also from the south of the borough, dependent on sufficient interest.

Gardeners, flower arrangers, makers,  artists, cyclists, companies, schools etc. - everyone is invited to find out more and how to get involved at an Open Meeting on Tuesday 19th April from 6.30 to 7.45 at Roots and Shoots, Walnut Tree Walk, SE11 6DN. 

Lambeth Council's Sustainable Travel team are helping make the ride happen in conjunction with Lambeth Cyclists. Small grants may be available to support participation. 

Inspiration for your floral bike or cycle float can be found at the following sites: 

If you can't make that date but want to find out more information please e-mail cycling@lambeth.gov.uk.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Travelling telegraph poles and being nice to drivers

I'd normally let this pass, but a new tweet and press release from West Midlands Ambulance Service relates neatly to my blog post yesterday.

By saying 'his vehicle collided' the inference is
a) the driver was a third party to the collision
b) the telegraph pole was moving at the time of the collision

A more accurate tweet would be
"a van driver was trapped for about an hour after crashing into a telegraph pole"

The inference, quite reasonably, is that the crash (not collision as the pole, typically inert, is not known to have been moving) happened to some extent due to the driver's actions.

It stops short though of saying that the driver "crashed his van into a telegraph pole" as there is a remote possibility that the crash was independent of the driver (e.g. part of the steering suddenly shearing).

If you read the press release the van comes across as being totally self-determining:
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Crews were told that the white panel van was heading towards Warwick when it left the road and collided with a telegraph pole."
I sympathise with the Ambulance Service writer for wanting to soften the blow, avoid suggesting fault etc. but that's not what happened in the case of the child cycling by their school.