Thursday, 25 March 2010

Vauxhall Walk Local Safety Scheme Consultation

Put in a detailed proposal on behalf of Lambeth Cyclists as well as myself to the council in place of the proposed speed reduction sinusoidal humps. While it's way too long for a blog post...there's some good stuff in it I think so I'm posting it all. Sorry.

SUMMARY
We consider that the proposed local safety scheme is inadequate and does not offer best value for money, though we support the aim to reduce motor-traffic speed in this local one-way street. We note that Vauxhall Walk has a fairly low volume of motor-traffic but is used by many cyclists.

We would prefer to see a scheme which addresses additional safety issues. We firmly believe that additional benefits could be obtained for the same expenditure.

Benefits from an alternative scheme, such as we propose below, include:
a) decreasing motor-traffic through reducing rat-running
b) reducing the likelihood of collisions between cyclists and motor-vehicles
c) reducing the likelihood of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians
d) reducing the likelihood of death or severe injury for pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers from a collision
e) increasing permeability (ease of getting around) for cyclists, particularly those resident in the neighbourhood
f) reducing speed over a larger area beyond the one street
g) encouraging active travel resulting in fitter, healthier residents and workers
h) supporting the uptake of the new public transport infrastructure being provided
i) reducing motor-traffic speed without imposing many humps for cyclists to ride over

These measures can be achieved without preventing motorists (residential and business) from driving between their base in the neighbourhood and the Distributor ‘A’ roads.

We are sure that the expertise in Lambeth will permit further improvements on the proposal we make below.

CONTEXT
Vauxhall Walk is situated in a neighbourhood of local, primarily residential, streets, which is enclosed within four major distributor roads (Albert Embankment, Kennington Lane, Kennington Road and Lambeth Road).

The neighbourhood within these four major roads:
· is partly within Prince’s Ward where half of the households have no car or van and partly within Bishop’s Ward where 68% of households have neither (Census 2001);
· is largely residential with the vast majority of journeys made by foot, cycling or public transport;
· includes two Primary Schools, nursery schools and a children’s centre;
· is within the Congestion Charging Zone;
· is within the Mayor’s Cycle Hire Scheme area, significantly improving public transport;
· has the heavily used London Cycle Network route 3 (LCN 3) from Waterloo - Clapham Common running through it;
· is scheduled to have the Cycle Greenway running through it from between Albert Embankment and Kennington Cross;
· is to be the home of a new Cycle Hub funded by TfL to promote cycling by local school children and the associated community;
· is the base for N. Lambeth and N. Southwark Sports Action Zone at the Lilian Baylis Community Hub;
· is well served by public transport;
· is in part, including Vauxhall Walk, within the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea (VNEB) Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF) with plans for an increased density of housing and larger population with low levels of car ownership including car-free developments.
· is within Lambeth where “Road traffic is the primary cause of air pollution” (LIP 2005 – 11)
· has some offices/workshops/other businesses in railway arches and warehouses, focussed on the south-west section near Vauxhall.

POLICY
Given all the above it is particularly important that suggested measures in this neighbourhood adhere to Lambeth’s Road User Hierarchy as set out in the Local Implementation Plan 2005 –11:

“A guiding feature of Lambeth's on–going and future action on the highway network is the Road User Hierarchy, set out below. This re-balances priorities for action away from the car and towards pedestrians and cyclists.

In considering the management of Lambeth’s road network and the impact of new development, priority will be given to traffic in the following descending order:
• Walking (including mobility impaired persons)
• Cycling
• Buses
• Rail Services
• Motorcycles/Scooters
• Freight Transport
• Cars
Where possible the trend is to reallocate road space in favour of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, but Lambeth will need to work closely with all affected stakeholders to ensure that there is reasonable balance between competing modes.”

At national level, the Department of Health and Department for Transport Active Travel Strategy (Feb 2010) highlights plans to put walking and cycling at the heart of local transport and public health strategies over the next decade. The guiding principles for the strategy are that walking and cycling should be everyday ways of getting around - not just for their own sake but also because of what they can do to improve public health, tackle congestion, reduce carbon emissions and improve the local environment

The Government's top health advisor, says cycling must be increased eightfold to combat the public health crisis caused by designing cities around motor vehicles On the state of public health: Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer 2009 (March 2010)
In the annual report Donaldson despairs over the low levels of physical activity in Britain. In particular, he calls for our transport infrastructure to be re-designed in order to encourage the levels of walking and cycling in the Netherlands and Denmark.
The report recommends that: "National targets should be set to double travel on foot in England's towns and cities, and to increase travel by bicycle eightfold; transport policy and road design should support the achievement of such gains." (page 63)
The report says: "There would be significant reductions in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and dementia. In London alone, over 55,000 healthy years of life could be saved every year. Travel by bicycle or on foot needs to become the safe, viable, attractive option for a far greater proportion of journeys." (page 60)

The report recognises that: "Lifestyle changes can make a substantial contribution to slowing climate change and can significantly reduce the disease and death that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle - a lifestyle to which the current absolute dominance of motorised transport contributes." (page 60)






The Mayor of London’s Cycle Safety Action Plan (2010) states:
The safety of cycling is a major cause of public concern and is the reason most often given by non-cyclists to explain why they do not intend to take up cycling (27%). Less than a half of Londoners (46%) agree with the statement that “Cycling is a safe way of getting about” and 86% of all Londoners believe that traffic makes people afraid of cycling.

Given the existing and potential level of cycling in the neighbourhood it is worth following the DfT Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance (http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/ltnotes/ltn208.pdf)
"Hierarchy of Provision":
Consider first
Traffic reduction
Speed reduction
Junction treatment, hazard site treatment, traffic management
Reallocation of carriageway space (e.g. bus lanes, widened nearside lanes, cycle lanes)
Cycle tracks away from roads
Consider last
Conversion of footways/footpaths to shared use cycle tracks for pedestrians and cyclists

Finally, the DfT advice on 20mph limits and zones (Dec 2009 http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/speed-limits/) states:

· We want to encourage highway authorities to introduce, over time, 20 mph zones or limits into streets which are primarily residential in nature and into town or city streets where pedestrian and cyclist movements are high, such as around schools, shops, markets, playgrounds and other areas, where these are not part of any major through route.

· We want to make it clearer that highway authorities have flexibility in the use of 20 mph zones and limits, and should apply the option best suited to the local circumstances and that brings most benefits in terms of casualty reductions and wider community benefits.

· We want to draw attention to the initial evidence from the trial of wide area signed-only 20mph limits in Portsmouth, and want to make clear that 20 mph limits over a number of roads may be appropriate elsewhere.

· We are setting out that we will consider the requirements for calming measures in 20 mph zones as part of the DfT’s Traffic Signs Policy Review, which was announced in September 2008. In exceptional cases, the Department could also look at giving special authorisation for the use of 20 mph repeater signs, including with accompanying painted roundels, instead of calming measures, on individual streets with low average speeds within a 20 mph zone. (our emphasis).Decisions will, however, be made on a case by case basis.



THE PRESENT ROAD LAYOUT IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

ONE-WAY STREETS
Many of the streets, particularly south of Black Prince Road are one-way for all road users. This presumably aims to limit rat-running and also allows greater on-road parking.

While there are clear benefits to local residents from preventing the motor-traffic rat- running, a side effect is that it discourages residents from cycling by not allowing entrance to many roads or facilities without venturing onto the busy A roads (e.g. children can’t cycle by road to Vauxhall City Farm without venturing onto Kennington Lane).

Some cyclists choose to cycle the wrong-way down a street because, for example, it is more pleasant and potentially safer than using the A road and fits their desire line. A clear example is Vauxhall Walk, which is marked on the TfL cycle maps as a ‘route on quieter roads recommended by cyclists’. It acts as a useful link between the Vauxhall Gyratory cycle by-pass and LCN3+ and, although currently one-way southbound, is used by a number of cyclists going northbound.

SPEED LIMIT
There is a 30mph speed limit on all roads with the exceptions of Walnut Tree Walk and Fitzalan Street, which are 20mph. This is despite the vast majority of journeys made by residents not being by car and despite recent research showing the success of 20mph in reducing the number killed or seriously injured.

LOCAL STREETS ARE FOR STARTING/ENDING A JOURNEY, NOT FOR PASSING THROUGH THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
The local streets should not be being used as rat-runs for through traffic as it should be using the Distributor (A) roads. Clearly traffic starting or ending its journey in the neighbourhood needs to be able to reach a Distributor.

From observation, it would appear that Vauxhall Walk is used to some degree as a rat-run with, for example, traffic from Lambeth Road able to enter Lambeth Walk, follow into Newport Street, over Black Prince Road, into Vauxhall Walk and out via Glasshouse Walk to the Albert Embankment.

The other road that is notably used as a rat-run through the neighbourhood and appears to have the greatest amount of speeding (despite speed cushions as they are too narrow and too low to necessitate drivers of many motor vehicles to slow down) is Black Prince Road.

TUNNELS UNDER THE RAILWAY
Roads pass through several tunnels under the raised railway lines running north-south on the western side of the neighbourhood. These are high enough to permit most lorries to pass through. The tunnel in Glasshouse Walk which generally provides excellent access to most businesses, as it has over 14’ 6” clearance, is not suitable at times however simply due to a single yellow line which permits parking that compromises that clearance. This leads to lorries using Vauxhall Street as an alternative access route.

OUR SUGGESTED SCHEME
Specific to Vauxhall Walk safety we advocate:
a) Installing bollards across Vauxhall Walk to the south of Jonathon Street allowing cyclists to pass through while preventing rat-running by motor vehicles.
b) Making Morgan and Wickham Street ‘no-entry except cyclists’ from Black Prince Road. This allows motor vehicles on all streets and parking locations in the neighbourhood to reach Distributor roads but prevents rat-running through the neighbourhood on the north /south axis.
c) Changing the parking permissions in the tunnel under the railway in Glasshouse Walk to prevent parking on days and times that lorries are permitted to enter/leave the neighbourhood. This ensures that large lorries can reach warehouses etc. in the south of the neighbourhood without needing to come down Vauxhall Walk.
d) Making Vauxhall Walk two-way (for all road users or exclusively for cyclists). It is unlikely that much motor traffic will go northbound. We believe the existing parking can be retained (though consideration may be given to relocating some parking bays to the opposite side of the road). This will mean that cyclists going northbound on Vauxhall Walk will be safer as drivers coming the other way will be expecting opposing traffic. They will also be more likely to slow down/give way to people if they are cycling legally rather than illegally. Pedestrian safety will be increased when crossing the road as they will be more likely to check both ways before crossing due to the street being two-way. Local residents will also feel more confident about cycling in their neighbourhood.
e) Introducing (as planned) a raised crossing to the entrance of the park to enhance the safety of pedestrians crossing from/to the housing opposite.
f) Considering whether one or two sinusoidal humps remain necessary on Glasshouse Walk as shown in the plan.

Within the neighbourhood we also recommend:
a) Amending the one-way street system in the neighbourhood to make all two-way for cyclists. This should also apply to the area of Prince’s Ward to the east of Kennington Road. There should be funding related to the Cycle Hire Scheme for this.
b) Making the whole neighbourhood 20mph, again including the area east of Kennington Road. Preferably this should include Kennington Road since it is residential; a borough road; inside the Congestion Zone; inside the Cycle Hire Scheme area; and within an area where half or more of households don’t have a car/van. Should this not be considered practical, a voluntary agreement to limit speed to 20mph on the road may be agreed by local community-supportive companies - eg Bus companies, Lambeth PCT and Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Trust, Lambeth and Southwark Council, Police, the Post Office/Royal Mail/Parcelforce, and Pimlico Plumbers etc. This would account for a large amount of the traffic using the road.
c) Looking at ways to reduce the amount of motor traffic using Black Prince Road and its speed. Sinusoidal humps rather than speed cushions will slow speed of all motor traffic. If the Bus Companies, Lambeth Council, police, and NHS vehicles adhere to the 20mph limit then it is more likely that other traffic will also. The local police or PCSOs could help enforce this using speed cameras here, applying penalties in line with the ACPO guidance for a 20mph road which is to issue a fixed penalty notice for speeds of 25pmh or more and to report for summons at speeds of 35mph or more.
d) Encouraging TfL to have Cycling Superhighway 8 from Wandsworth to central London continuing along Nine Elms Lane to the Albert Embankment and Waterloo rather than going over Chelsea Bridge and along the north of the river as they currently plan.

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