Monday 9 September 2013

Vauxhall 'More cycle friendly than Amsterdam'?

Boris Johnson tweeted me earlier this year promising that Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea (VNEB) would be more cycle friendly than Amsterdam, and Lambeth Council, long pro-cycling, has adopted a Cycle Strategy stating that::
"Lambeth will be the most cycle-friendly borough in London, where 8 – 80 year olds feel safe enough to cycle."

Lambeth's Cycle Strategy includes:
"Aim 7: Increase the number of children cycling and make cycling to school the norm."

In Vauxhall BT and its development partner Telereal Trillium have submitted plans (type Keybridge in key word box) to replace the Keybridge House building on South Lambeth Road, opposite Fentiman Road, with 415 homes, a 420 pupil primary school, and a number of shops and commercial premises.
The Transport Assessment (August 2013 by Waterman Transport and Development Limited) supporting the planning application for the new development makes profoundly depressing reading.

The 415 homes,  420 pupil primary school,  and shops etc. on the site are expected to result in 1170 trips in the AM peak hour of which just 13 are anticipated to be by bicycle.

Looking only at the school in 2021, 65 pupils are expected to be dropped off by car; 91 to arrive by bus; and none to cycle.

The developers will install the 610 cycle parking spaces required of them to fulfil planning obligations for the 420 pupils, 1000+ residents, and 100 plus business users and, positively, some is on the ground floor. Most however is alongside the 115 car parking spaces and lorry drop off area in the basement, with a narrow cycle access ramp (adjacent to a lorry ramp) that leads to a narrow pavement on Wyvil Street, a rat-run without a segregated cycle path..
Miles Street, the other side of the site, is intended by Lambeth to be the quiet child-friendly link with the Linear Park, yet 55 motor vehicles an hour are expected to exit the development onto Miles Street.during the AM peak hour

 In addition, 'Child-friendly' Miles Street also houses the entrance to the service vehicle yard, which is capable of accommodating 10.7m articulated lorries. The completed development is expected to be serviced by 13 light good vehicles and 3 HGVs per day. The plan also anticipates service vehicles using Pay and Display bays and Resident Parking bays along Wyvil Street and Miles Street.

As for the homes (many two or three bedroom), this car-lite development forecasts that twice as many residents will drive out in the morning as cycle (18 vs 7), while 156 are expected to take the underground or bus when, surely by 2021, there will be better cycling conditions than Amsterdam. Given such good cycling conditions and the central location, why would so many people choose to pay money for a slower journey on a crowded bus or tube when it will be cheaper, quicker and comfortable to cycle?.
The crazy thing about this is that there are obviously tens of millions of pounds available to spend on making this highly populated area supremely cycle friendly, given the huge political will, Community Infrastructure Levy, and that there's no problem in splurging £1.2 billion on a two station underground extension.
However I haven't seen a single image that conveys the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea area as sensationally cycle friendly, and I'm willing to bet the developer, architects and transport assessment writers haven't either.

The result is that transport assessment writers don't anticipate cycling; architects don't go all out to design cycling friendliness into the building; kids won't cycle to school; the home occupiers will find it more convenient to walk to the bus than dig out their bike, and the chance to achieve a transport revolution will have been lost.

It's time that all the bodies involved in the VNEB area pulled together together to ensure that children, like the ones pictured above, have got a space to cycle in that is better than Amsterdam, and also portray it as such.

Alternatively, as this planning application proposes, the children will grow up in a noisy, polluted area, failing to develop the fitness to give them a long life or the mobility to be able to cycle independently to school or visit friends at an early age.

(The photographs from Amsterdam, Assen and Grongingen were snapped on a recent visit to the Netherlands for a cycling infrastructure Study Tour organised by David Hembrow. I highly recommend his blog and his Study Tour).