Thursday, 4 February 2016

Cycling provision for a new student hall in Waterloo

Lambeth Council's Leader, Cllr. Lib Peck, spoke last week at the opening of Urbanest Waterloo, a 1,100 bed, 19-storey student accommodation block and private 6th form college at the corner of Westminster Bridge Road and Lambeth Palace Road.
This is how the back of the building looks. There's gated parking for hundreds of pool bikes alongside the students' own ones. It's not very pretty but a thousand or so bikes parked looks a lot less ugly than than a thousand cars, and there may be more landscaping to come.

The cycle parking is in clear sight of, and easily accessible from, the building, and it'll be quick to get to the main road.

CCTV is used and cycles can be locked to the stands

 There's plenty of room to access the majority of the bikes 

 At one end the stands are cramped, and these will clearly be used less that the others.

The pool bikes come in a variety of sizes - I think 510 to 610mm. 

There appear to be no step-through frames, and there are no chain guards or skirt guards, meaning that these cycles aren't going to appeal to every student. I'd like to see a wider range of cycles. I don't know if consideration has been given to parking tricycles, hand cycles and other types of cycle.

The stands are not currently covered, which doesn't bode well for the life of the uncovered chains (again, though, this may be a work in progress) UPDATE Urbanest have tweeted to say that the stands will be covered.

 What is strongly demonstrated here is Lambeth's commitment to ensuring that developers provide a large amount of parking, and where appropriate pool bikes, as part of its commitment to becoming London's most cycle friendly borough.

I envisage that every single student living in these halls will, at the very least, give some serious thought to using a cycle to get around town.

Friday, 29 January 2016

How can Lambeth deliver TfL's Air Quality four types of action?

The Travel in London report 8 has the following within its Air Quality section (p167). Should these headings be core to Lambeth's Air Quality Action Plan 2017-2022:

Steps taken to reduce emissions can generally be categorised into four types. The section below summarises progress under these headings:
• Promoting a shift towards more sustainable travel choices
• Environmentally efficient use of existing vehicles and technology
• Development and uptake of low emission vehicles and technologies
• Tackling local air pollution focus areas or ‘hot spots’.

Promoting a shift towards more sustainable travel choices
• Permitting greater densities of development in areas that have good public transport access.
• Continuing to expand and enhance public transport capacity in London, for example through the Tube upgrade programme, and new infrastructure such as Crossrail.
• More accessible bus network, to further encourage its use.
• Improving the urban realm and streetscape to make walking more attractive for short-distance trips.
• Transforming cycling, through the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling.
• Travel demand management, encouraging smarter travel and supporting initiatives such as car clubs.

Environmentally efficient use of existing vehicles and technology
• Traffic signal optimisation, using SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique), which now operates at about 5,000 of the 6,000 signal-controlled junctions in London.
• Lane rental scheme for road works, minimising disruption on the network.
• Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS), a voluntary accreditation scheme that encourages sustainable freight operations.
• Encouraging out-of-hours delivery, smarter driving and reduced engine idling.

Development and uptake of low emission vehicles and technologies
• London’s Low Emission Zone, first introduced in 2008 and progressively extended since.
• Congestion Charging Ultra Low Emission Discount – a 100 per cent discount for the lowest emitting vehicles.
• Cleaner TfL buses – ensuring that London’s bus fleet continues to reflect the latest and cleanest emissions technologies.
• Zero emission vehicles and charge points, encouraged through the Mayor’s Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan.
• Cleaner licensed taxis and PHVs, through the introduction of age limits that encourage lower-emission vehicles.
• Reducing the energy used by the Tube, through initiatives such as regenerative braking, and diversifying the energy supply to encourage low carbon sources.
• Facilitating improvements to other modes, such as the forthcoming electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking line, and improvements to the emissions performance of the River Services fleet.

Tackling local pollution focus areas or ‘hot spots’
• The Mayor’s Air Quality Fund provides match funding for boroughs to deliver innovative air quality improvement projects. This complemented the Clean Air Fund, which during 2013 implemented a range of measures at particulate matter (PM10) hot spots, funded by the Department for Transport.
• Clear Zones – providing support and funding for Clear Zones where specific measures were implemented to give spot treatments (implemented in Camden, Westminster and Tower Hamlets). Also, supporting access restrictions more generally where road space is given over to other uses, restricting road space and lowering traffic and emissions in the area.
In terms of future policies, (there needs to be a) fundamental approach to reducing transport CO2. This might include increased emphasis on measures such as:
• Developments that minimise transport emissions and the need or desire to travel.
• Transforming the way in which existing areas operate, for example through Low Emission Neighbourhoods.
• Maximising climate change mitigation being a core consideration of transport and spatial planning decisions.
• Increase in the rate of transition to low carbon and renewable sources of transport energy for both road and rail based transport.
• Increase in transport energy efficiency and the proportion of trips made by more sustainable modes, such as walking and cycling.

Ultimately, meeting CO2 reduction targets point to a need for a step change in the way Londoners live and how London itself, for example through its transport system, enables them to live more sustainable lives built around a circular and shared economy.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Threat to Crampton Sorting Office

Our MP, Kate Hoey, tweeted this week, "Briefing from local CWU branch-Crampton Street Delivery office to move to Mandela Way.Bad for customers". 

A member of our family, like many others in Kennington, walks or cycles to Crampton Street most months to pick up an undelivered package there. Along the way we might have a coffee at the Electric Elephant Cafe. We walk or cycle because, like two-thirds of households in Lambeth we don't have a car and it's  sufficiently close that a bus ride is not needed.

Moving the sorting office to Mandela way would add 40 minutes to the trip if walking, 15 if cycling. Those who have cars will be tempted to drive rather than walk, while others will take a bus each way. Alternatively people may opt to pay for the package to be delivered, likely to result in an additional van journey.

It's an appalling proposition given that congestion, air quality, health and climate change all require fewer motor vehicle journeys to be make.

Kate Hoey forcefully and effectively challenged the attempt to close Kennington Park Post Office. 

I hope that Kate and our Councillors will oppose the plans to close the Crampton Street Delivery office (and, of course, the plans to close Walworth Road Post Office) or assure us that an equally local, convenient, secure and free collection point will be provided within comfortable walking distance.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Thoughts ahead of the Co-design of Lambeth Air Quality Action Plan 2017 - 2022

Lambeth are holding an open meeting next week

"How to improve air quality in Lambeth over the next 5 years?
Lambeth Air Quality Action Plan is up for renewal next year. We are now working on the first draft of the plan and we would like to hear your ideas! A formal consultation on the draft plan will take place later this year."

I'm doing a bit of reading in preparation, plus having some thoughts (up first, reading list below).

Achieving results seems to be a real challenge.
Motor traffic is key. Much traffic moves through Lambeth on TfL controlled roads so Lambeth's influence is limited. Does London's new Street Types designation reflect borough's current or desired position?
Government policy affects mode choice as will petrol prices etc.
The population is growing in London and in the borough. There's a lot of construction traffic.
2017 - 2022 is likely to be too long a stretch for one set of target objectives given the slow pace against previous targets. We need hard targets in a short time frame.
Planning for accessibility, rather than for mobility - provision of services, shops, jobs within active travel distance.
What worked and what didn't work in the previous plan, and why?
TfL has a useful list of headings/actions that could form core headings for Lambeth's plan

What other borough plans are relevant:
- How much of the AQAP does Lambeth's 2011 - 2031 Transport Plan already meet? Is the Transport Plan on target. What is/isn't working, and why?
- How will next Transport Local Implementation Plan be developed and when will it be submitted?
Budget may be an issue - it may need to be reallocated from other areas within transport. What resources are available? How is S106/CIL money used to support AQAP? How is income from parking fines etc. allocated within transport - how well are fines being collected? Who scrutinises outcomes?
- Lambeth's revised budget (PDF) for 2016/17 and 2017/18 has nothing for cycling infrastructure versus £1.4m in 2015/16. Does this make sense?  What was the original budget for these years? Why the change?
- In 2016 Lambeth will agree a new Community Plan with partners. This will set out a 10
year vision for the borough, and the positive changes Lambeth will seek to achieve with partners
to make that vision a reality. How does the AQAP plan fit to that?

It would be good to identify quick wins: affordable, uncontentious, and quick to implement but only if they are also effective
For more expensive or more contentious measures then a strategy to achieve them is needed.
Think Engineering (inc. planning conditions, planting etc.), Education (discouraging short journeys by car), Enforcement (taking action against polluters)
To enable Co-design ensure transparent reporting against targets (with a chance to query reports) is in place.

Are there particular journey patterns/modes of transport that can be effectively targeted?

Action Plan format? Spreadsheet? Doodle on headings: ProposedAction/Impact/Success Criteria/Target Date/Lead/Supporters/Resource needed/Resource available/Resource needed/Who could do it instead?/Likely threats to success/Confidence in getting success/Good resource use vs other options?/What was outcome/What learning for future plans

READING (some links to follow if information is publicly available)
1. The full existing plan (1998 - 2014?) can be found at INSERT WEB LINK
2. A tabular summary of the Council’s original Action Plan, without dates, is provided (see Table 9.1) within the Lambeth Air Quality Progress Report 2014  (PDF) giving progress against the plan.

The Council designated the whole Borough an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) for the NO2 and PM10 in 2007. The 2015 Updating and Screening Assessment for Lambeth Council (PDF) shows the scale of the challenge:

For NO2:

  •  the LB4 kerbside site at Brixton Road easily exceeded the objective in 2014 (ed exceeded = failed to meet). It has exceeded the objective for all years reported and consistently monitored some of the highest concentrations in London. 
  • The industrial site at Vauxhall Bondway (LB5) exceeded the objective for all years reported, including 2014
  • The background site at Streatham Green (LB6) did not exceed the AQS annual mean objective of 40 µg m-3 for 2014, with an annual mean concentration of around 37 µg m -3 . This represents a borderline concentration with the objective (ed: it only just met the objective in 2014). The site has exceeded the objective previously in recent years, including 2010 and 2013
  • The 2014 results show that only the LB4 (Brixton Road) site exceeded the hourly mean objective (by an extremely large margin), even with reduced data capture. The site has also previously exceeded this objective by a large margin in previous years. As noted earlier the site is located near the kerb and it is extremely polluted due to the road traffic. 

For PM10

  • All of the Lambeth monitoring sites met the annual mean objective in 2013, other than the LB5 site at Vauxhall Bondway, which was borderline with the objective. The site is close to the Vauxhall bus interchange and in previous years it has exceeded the annual mean. The Brixton Road kerbside site (LB4) has also monitored high annual mean concentrations greater than 30 µg m-3 for each year reported. For this site the monitored concentration in 2012 was borderline with the objective. Concentrations monitored at Streatham Green (LB6) however were lower and more in line with background concentrations. 
  • The daily mean objective, which has been exceeded more widely across the UK than the annual mean objective, is reported in Table 2.5. The monitoring results for the Vauxhall Bondway (LB5) show that the daily mean objective of not more than 35 days with a mean 24-hour concentration greater than 50 µg m-3 was exceeded for all of the years shown (other than 2012 when there was very low data capture). 
  • The objective was also exceeded at the Brixton road (LB4) site in 2011 and 2012 only. In 2014 the objective with met, based on the 90 percentile. 
  • The Streatham Green (LB6) site met the objective for all years reported.  The daily mean standard of 50 µg m-3 however was exceeded at all sites for all years shown, although as expected there were fewer occurrences at the background site at Streatham Green than at other two sites. 

3. Motor transport is the key element in these emissions.  Lambeth's Transport Plan 2011 - 2031 has significant sections about this: Mayor of London's Transport Strategy Challenge: Improving air quality p52
including this paragraph:
The introduction of the London Low Emission Zone in February 2008 does not appear yet to have produced a step change reduction inlevels of NO2 and PM10 at any of the monitoring stations in Lambeth. However the historical analysis of average NO2 and PM10 levels in Lambeth over the past eight years does offer some hope that 2008 may have seen the start of a downward trend in overall levels. 

4.2.4  Objective 3:‐ Improve Air Quality (p85)
One of five objectives Lambeth aim to meet:
1. Promote sustainable healthy travel behaviour
2. Improve the quality, reliability and efficiency of the road network
3. Improve Air Quality
4. Reduce the perceived and actual danger on Lambeth’s roads
5. Reduce CO2 emissions

Lambeth's transport Local Implementation Plan (LIP) 2011/12 – 2013/14 can be found within Lambeth's Transport Plan 2011 - 2031 from p97.
The current LIP 2014/15 - 2016/17 can be found at INSERT WEB LINK.
We are now in the 3rd and final year and the 2016/17 funding letter is on TfL's Lambeth Page, which also includes a useful Lambeth fact sheet.

The output reporting sheet against the LIP (information on progress required annually by TfL) can be found at INSERT WEB LINK.

The European Environment Agency today published "Explaining road transport emissions - A non-technical guide" - an informative read.

The European Cyclists' Federation has just published a report "What can governments do for more cycling in urban logistics?"

TfL's recent Travel in London report 8 summarises trends and developments relating to travel and transport in London. Its principal function is to describe how travel in London is changing and provide an interpretative overview of progress towards implementing the transport and other related strategies of the Mayor of London, to inform future policy development. See especially Chapter 9. London’s air quality and greenhouse gas emissions and transport and public health p167

Sunday, 24 January 2016

A diversionary hiccup on the road to cycling nirvana

Vauxhall Street, a Lambeth back street with a segregated cycle contraflow that forms part of the calm backstreet London Cycle Network route 3 (the pre-cursor to the new Quietways), is being transformed into an even more cycle-friendly street.

While the works are happening a diversion has been put in place, but something's gone awry with it.

Following the red-route from Meadow Road, bottom left, a child cycles onto the segregated CS5 by the cricket ground onto the A202 Harleyford Road, then turns right via a Toucan to access Kennington Oval. The child, following LCN3, would normally turn left then into the segregated cycle lane on Vauxhall Street and continue up across to the lights - to reach Vauxhall School for example. The black lines show the closed section of Vauxhall Street, and the dark red shows the signed diversion.

Here's the LCN3 turn and the diversion sign (NB the street is no entry to motor vehicles).

There are No Entry, Road Closed, Cycle Lane Closed Ahead, Warning Cycles, and Diversion signs while the cycle's allowed sign has been  removed

 On we go and a clear diversion sign to turn left into Clayton Street,

 At the end a clear 'turn left only' sign onto Kennington Road

Where an impatient driver may attempt to squeeze past the child as they pass the Northern Line extension works
Approaching Kennington Cross and a Diversion sign into Windmill Row

At the next lights, Diversion sign tells the child to turn left onto the inner ring road (though I would have sent the cyclist straight over into Cardigan Street where a cycle contraflow exists)
 Continue along the inner ring road, Kennington Lane, then 'Diverted Traffic' takes the child into Montfort Place
where the Diversion ends.
Thc child can then can turn right here to a dead end
or left to a dead end
So, child, why are you late to school today?

It could of course be that that the Diversion sign is unrelated to the Vauxhall Street closure. Confused? You bet.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Some big numbers

Quick blog post mainly to capture some Lambeth numbers from the past couple of days. 

a) Cllr Bernard Gentry tweeted these official Lambeth Council figures today ( I don't know how many years back the unpaid fines go):
Unpaid Bus Lane fines in Lambeth reached £2,600,000 in November 2015. About the same as cuts to parks budget
Unpaid Parking Fines stood at £11,600,000 on 30/11/15 in Lambeth . A quarter of this would mean no need to cut parks and commons budget
b)  The Evening Standard reported that
London’s councils have paid out around £15 million in compensation claims over the last two years, new research shows.
Figures revealed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group shows Lambeth council had the highest compensation bill in the country, shelling out £5.3 million from 2013 to 2015.
The vast majority of cases involved household disrepair, potholes or flooding, with a £127,000 sum awarded to one claimant. 
A spokesman for Lambeth Council said: “This list is clearly not a like for like comparison – we have provided more information than other local authorities.
"Lambeth council handles all claims in house meaning we have a much more comprehensive list of compensation payments.
“Other councils may have failed to include compensation that has been paid out by their external insurers, or that claims handlers have paid on their behalf, which is why Lambeth’s figure appears so much larger.
“The compensation covers all housing issues, employee claims and more which other councils have in some instances clearly not included. For those reasons the information isn’t a fair or accurate comparison.”
c) I'd like to know how good councils and similar bodies are at recouping costs caused by drivers crashing their vehicles into inanimate infrastructure

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The basic, underlying framework for cycling

I'm looking forward to teaching Bikeability level 2 (Introduction to on-road cycling) at a number of local schools this term. We should get the chance to experience the emerging high quality infrastructure: the North South Cycling Superhighway on St George's and Blackfriars Roads; CS7 by Kennington Park; CS5 from Oval over Vauxhall Bridge; maybe even some of the East West Cycling Superhighway.

The basic, underlying framework for cycling is more than cycle tracks - you also need a cycle and to know how to ride it.

Today I visited one of the schools I'll be teaching at later this term to talk to the year 5 pupils (9 year olds) about the forthcoming course and get them enthused. It's not part of the job, but I want the pupils to have a really positive experience so when I have the time I write to the schools and go along if they would like me to.

I'm also trying to identify potential barriers to pupils taking part or doing well, so I ask the children to complete a very short tick-box questionnaire after my talk.

I learnt that:
  • Only 11 of the 38 pupils have working cycles that fit them (20 - over half - don't have a cycle at all).
  • 12 pupils haven't yet learnt how to cycle, so the Bikeability course, for existing riders, isn't suitable for them. Just one has a working cycle that fits (two have a cycle but it's too small, nine don't have a cycle). 
  • 26 pupils can cycle but only 10 have working cycles that fit (11 don't have a cycle, one has a cycle but it's too small, four have cycles that need repair). 
  • The pupils are really keen to have cycle training.
I'll see if some beginner cycle training can also be provided and the the council may loan some cycles to the school for the training week, but some pupils may take a few days to hone their rusty off-road cycling skills and they'll have nothing to practice on after the course. I gave the teachers a few copies of my local advice sheet to hand out - and this may be the perfect place to trial a new yr 5 / 6 community cycle library project I've been doodling up. More on that shortly.