Tuesday 30 November 2010

Throwing £31m away each year

At a birthday party last weekend I was gobsmacked when this sparkling, musical birthday fountain was produced only to be thrown away about one minute later. Once lit, the flower sparkles whilst the petals slowly open lighting the candles around. At the same time, the "Happy Birthday" tune starts playing. There were no details on the packaging about replacing the pyrotechnic so this contraption is clearly intended to be used once then thrown away, batteries (yes, two) and all.

Lambeth Council is working out what services are for the axe as it's being forced to make cuts of £79m over the next 4 years.

It costs £31m a year to collect and dispose of Lambeth's rubbish (£113 for each of the 272,000 residents) so it's clear to me that the sanest way to protect essential services is to cut down the amount of crap we mindlessly consume.

What's this got to with riding a bike? Well, first of all we'll have fewer lorries on the streets...

Secondly, it gives me a chance to mention Lambeth Freecycle - the Yahoo group for giving and collecting unwanted items. When we use it we normally give preference to people collecting on foot/public transport or by bike.

Thirdly, if you're reading this shortly after it's been posted, there's still time to vote for the Council to provide funding to kickstart the Brixton Reuse Centre (including bicycles). Deadline for voting is midnight 1st December.

Moving stuff by bike

There's work going on at a local pub with at least some of the wood arriving by bike. It's not as heavily laden as this bike that I've seen being cycled by St James's Park and photographed in Victoria

Tower Bridge is the base of Office Depot's fleet of 8 'La Petite Reine' cargo bikes that make deliveries in the City of London. Read more in their press pack.

A longer established local leader in delivery by bicycle is Darwin's Deli in Sail Street

Hopefully this idea will catch on at Pimlico Plumbers, directly opposite Darwin's Deli. I bet most of their journeys are within two or three miles.

Transport for London undertook a useful scoping study on moving freight by bike . See if you can guess which stationery company was involved in their trial.

There's more on cargo bikes at I Bike London

Monday 29 November 2010

Hanging out at Pedal Power Kennington

Dave Lukes volunteered to nip in in over the weekend to the PPK workshop on the old Lilian Baylis school site to put up some of the storage items donated by BC Bikes. We now have wheels hanging from the ceiling and racks hanging off slatboard hooks.

It's great to have reclaimed some floor space and great to have volunteers such as Dave helping out with the project.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Lambeth Cyclists Deco Decadence Ride

Dozens turned out in the chill for yesterday's Deco Decadence ride, one of Lambeth Cyclists regular Architecture Rides. From the Embankment, opposite the Moderne former London Fire Brigade HQ in Lambeth, we headed out west taking in the deco wonders of Chiswick Park, the Great West Road and Hanwell. Our two volunteer ride leaders, from English Heritage, knew their stuff and were entertaining. A great day out.

Saturday 27 November 2010

Quality Streets

Please take a moment to write to your local Councillor to ask for our streets to have a 20mph limit and ask your friends to do the same. Sustrans have set up a website with a link to help you write to your Councillor: http://www.quality-streets.org.uk/

Thursday 25 November 2010

TfL's Journey Planner and the London Cycle Network

I've got to get from Old Street to Lewisham this afternoon. TfL's Journey Planner proposes a back street route which I'm sure will be one of the London Cycle Network (LCN) routes. It's got more twists and turns than Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. I'd be happy to give it a go if I knew it was an identifiable, signed route.

The trouble is that most of the LCN is a convoluted mess for reasons I won't go into now. However there must be a couple of routes that are pretty well thought through and signed, such as LCN 3 in Lambeth from Clapham to Waterloo.

So, how bloody stupid are TfL that neither their Journey Planner nor their Local Cycling Guides (aka maps) flag this handful of useful, signed routes up.

The consequence is that I'll be taking the Old Kent Road instead of TfL's suggested route. I know I can follow that without stopping every couple of hundred yards to peer at a map at dusk.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Where does Road Tax go?

There is no such thing as Road Tax, though the Advertising Standards Authority doesn't object to car advertisers using the term.

Some motorists strop about cyclists not paying road tax and object to them using the roads. The reality is that roads are paid for out of general taxation, such as council tax.

Anyway, motorists actually pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) based on their vehicle's CO2 emissions, so a cyclists would pay £0 even if they had to pay.

But, for a moment, let's pretend Road Tax to spend on roads exists and raises the money that VED raises.

In 2009 government revenue from VED was £5.63bn.

I don't know how much gets spent on roads each year, but I do know that the 2009 contract just to widen a mere 22 miles of the M25 motorway (which cyclists can't use) was £3.4bn

'War on the Motorist'? I don't think so.

Mind you, I can't help but feel that a better use of that cash would have been to build a splendid motor-traffic free cycle route along the south bank of the Thames.

Saturday afternoon on the South Bank

Outside the former Aquarium and the Eye, clearly too congested at this time to cycle, so people with bikes will get off and push them. Pass under Westminster Bridge so you're opposite Parliament and the situation at the same time on a Saturday afternoon is entirely different
Plenty of room for people to pootle on their Boris Bikes - a perfect Londoner and tourist use of the Thames Path that local politicians and employers aim to ban. (Catch up on Thames Path blog posts here)
The powers don't talk of providing an alternative traffic-free cycle route along the Thames with views of Parliament, yet this road in St Thomas' Hospital grounds is clearly perfect for that role. You can follow it around to the entrance of St Thomas' and then straight across the Toucan to Belvedere Road.
The joy about pootling along the Thames on a bike is that a few quiet minutes later you're halfway to Battersea, able to look back where you came from.
Finally, an iconic view of Westminster Bridge and Parliament, with the obligatory two ice cream vans trading while parked on the red route, bus lane and cycle lane. (Catch up on the Ice Cream war here)

Monday 22 November 2010

Architecture Ride: Deco Decadence - Sat 27th Nov

Lambeth Cyclists have a track record of excellent Architecture Rides and their next looks set to be a real hit.

Deco Decadence
or, West London in the Jazz Age

Saturday 27th November 2010

The Art Deco style, which swept through Europe in the '20s and '30s, brought the streamlined glamour of Cadillac cars and Cunard liners to the design of everything from town halls to teapots, forming an elegant bridge between the Classicism of the early 1900s and the Modernism of the mid-century.

In London it is above all the style of the suburbs, whose characteristic building types - cinemas, tube stations, factories and roadhouses - became the classic expressions of the architectural new wave.

On this ride we'll be looking at some of west London's sexiest Deco confections, from the famous to the frankly obscure; prepare for glimpses of jazz-age sophistication where you least expect them...

** Meet outside Tate Britain, Millbank SW1P 4RG, at 10.30am for a 10.45 departure
[web map in link above]
Lunch at the Anglesey Arms, Wingate Road, nr Ravenscourt Park W6 0UR, about 1pm
Finish at Ealing Broadway, about 4.30pm.
No need to register, all welcome. Queries - Philip: 07960 026450 07960 026450

Ride led by David Garrard of English Heritage

A Lambeth Cyclists Architecture Ride

Saturday 20 November 2010

Eye, Eye, Eye, What's going on 'ere Mr Kafka?

This weeks Lambeth Life states that the London Eye is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK, with 3.5 million visitors annually.

Before developers are given permission to build the council negotiates something called S106 Funding with them -  a charge to mitigate the impact of a development. For example if a developer wants to build 500 houses they may be required to build a new school to cater for the influx of new residents.

A clearly forecastable impact of permitting the building of the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe opposite Big Ben would be hugely increased numbers of people using the Thames Path and one trusts that S106 money would be used to ensure continued access to the rightful existing users of the Thames Path, such as cyclists (see the markings in the tunnel above).

Instead, in a Kafkaesque nightmare, London Eye S106 money has been used to commission the South Bank Employers Group, now chaired by the man who runs the London Eye, to write the South Bank and Waterloo Cycling Strategy, which in its draft 100 page state recommends banning cycling here.

Wouldn't it be better for that S106 money to be used on widening the Thames Path, for example by creating a cycle track on the St Thomas' Hospital space adjacent to the Albert Embankment part of the Thames Path.

Kennington Killer finally banned for life (and 7 years in jail)

In June 2009 Dennis Putz, drunk driver of a 32-tonne tipper truck, killed cyclist Catriona Patel by Oval tube station at the junction of Kennington Park Road and Harleyford Street. He's been sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from driving for life.

But, when you find out his driving history, I expect you'll be asking how the hell the authorities allowed him to have a licence to drive a 32-tonne lorry and how many similar drivers are legally permitted to drive on our streets.

The Streatham Guardian states, "It was revealed during the trial that he had 20 previous disqualifications, three drink drive convictions and three previous convictions for reckless driving."

London Cycling Campaign reported:
The court heard that Putz had been jailed twice before for driving offences, a six-month sentence in 1995 for reckless driving and, in 2003, after 16 counts of driving a lorry while disqualified.
He was first disqualified from driving as a teenager, but still managed to get a licence and work as a HGV driver.

I expect you're also wondering about the recruitment and operating standards that companies operating this type of lorry have. Companies such as Thames Materials Ltd., Dennis Putz's employers.

I'm sure there would be a public inquiry if such appallingly lax standards resulted in a train crash. In 2009 there were just over 222,000 road casualties in Great Britain, with 26,912 people killed or seriously injured. This is surely unacceptable.

Is it any wonder that people prefer to cycle on traffic-free routes such as the Thames Path instead of the adjoining A road alongside St Thomas' Hospital.

I have received another email from a parent replying to my request for volunteers to send their children to ride this road, given the local politician's plan to ban cycling on the Thames Path.

"I am definitely not going to let my daughter, who daily cycles to school, do your proposed journey."

I think the parent shows admirable common sense given that the licensing authorities and employers allow people like Dennis Putz drive 32-tonne lorries on our local roads.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Killing us while protecting us

The pedestrian on Camberwell New Road was holding her nose to try to block out the smell and pollution from someone burning tyres or similar. At least, that what I thought the smell might be as it hit me. It turned out to be the totally foul exhaust from the army truck pictured - worse than the average black cab by a huge factor.

Army Driver, Be the Best says the advert on the back.

What are the odds the army are exempt from the rules of a Low Emissions Zone?

Pedal Power Kennington volunteers of the week

Pim, mechanic on our Monday evening workshop, has a good relationship with BC Bikes in Goose Green, East Dulwich. BC Bikes have had a successful couple of years since opening and have moved a few shops along to a bigger, better shop.

Pim  explained about Pedal Power and asked whether some of the old fittings could be given to the project. The nice guys at BC said yes, so Pim went in to the old shop with a screwdriver and ladder, and all being well a range of hangers, hooks and slatwall will arrive in Kennington next week.

A big thumbs up to Pim and BC Bikes.

Shiny, shiny West End

After the seemingly obligatory hour spent fixing mechanical issues and attaching lights, the Pedal Power Kennington ride to the xmas lights in Regent Street and Oxford Street was ready to go, but with a deadline to be back in 45 minutes! A light drizzle for a few minutes didn't dampen our spirits and made the West End all shiny. We went up to the Mall, through to Trafalgar Square and up to Piccadilly Circus.  A quick glance at the lights on Regent Street then it was across to Leicester Square, down to Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and back across Lambeth Bridge.

Two of the lads hadn't ridden with us before and totally loved it. Where next?

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Cat and Mouse at Pedal Power Kennington

The 10 - 16 year olds at our community cycling project, Pedal Power Kennington, choose a bike to do up that they'll get to own when they've finished. Masking tape with the person's name is put on the frame so we remember that bike is allocated and who's working on it.

It surprises me how many bikes have tape one moment, then none the next with some chancer asking to work on the 'unallocated' bike.

So now we have to take photos of the bike with the tape on so we double check before allocating bikes and relabel it correctly if the tape's disappeared.

Monday 15 November 2010

Cyclist reduction strategy in Petty France?

It sounds perverse for me to hope that the contra-flow cycle lane in Petty France is closed. If, however, cyclists can use the contra-flow lane until it's blocked by this sign they may be interested to know that it tells road users coming the other way to:

Sunday 14 November 2010

National Cycle Route 4 is a No Cycling Zone

The tourist axis of London has shifted and the South Bank is firmly within the central London theme park with world class attractions from Westminster to Tower Bridge.

Attractions, such as the Brunel Museum increase the reasons to follow the river eastwards to Greenwich, the Dome and the Thames Barrier. Westwards will see the new American Embassy, the 'new' Battersea Power Station (planning permission approved this week), joining Battersea Park with its peace pagoda and Hampton Court.

You couldn't choose a more perfect place to have a sensational cycle route that families and unaccompanied children, Londoners and tourists, can follow along the Thames without the peril, congestion, noise and pollution of motor-vehicles.

In name it's there - National Cycle Network route 4 - but the reality of it is grieviously at odds with its grand title.

Why haven't the planners, politicians, health service and TfL made an awesome cycle route a priority? They know the reality of peak oil; they know we and our children are unfit, diabetic and obese; they know we need to reduce CO2 and particulate emissions.

But instead of making progress, the ambitions of our local politicans appear to be limited to banning cycling from the Thames Path, with our MP of the view that her patch of National Cycle Route 4 is excellent.

A week ago I emailed a few local parents to ask if they'll send their children out to considerately cycle the National Cycle Network route 4 from Black Prince Road to Gabriel's Wharf, returning via the Thames Path, to get their comments on each.

This is the email I received from one parent, which has been echoed by every other parent I've spoken to:

I wouldn't dream of allowing my children to cycle unaccompanied round the roundabouts at Lambeth or Westminster Bridge - I consider them far too dangerous. In fact, I never cycle around the junction at Westminster Bridge myself - too many lorries!

Saturday 13 November 2010

Hundreds and thousands stick to Ice Creaminals

What would a permit cost for two ice cream van pitches on Westminster Bridge, twixt the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, for several hours a day during the summer holidays?

A hefty amount I'll bet, not to mention being charged the on-costs of altering a Traffic Management Order and re-routing a red route, bus lane and cycle lane.

But what did it actually cost the owners of the two ice-cream vans routinely flouting the red route, bus lane and cycle lane this summer?

TfL reported to a local Councillor that 20 Fixed Penalty Notices (Traffic Offence) and 17 Penalty Charge Notices (Refusal to Move - Obstruction) were issued over a 53 day period covering half of July and all of August. One arrest was apparently made but I bet that no charges were made.

TfL don't say what the penalty charges are on their website but, from a Google, I believe the FPNs would be £50 each and the PCNs would be £120 (reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days).

That's £2020, or £38 a day between two vans.

So the going rate for a top London pitch, with no requirement to pay council tax on it, is £19 a van a day.

That's a very attractive proposition. I wonder how much ice cream vans cost and whether the competition are aggressively protective of their dodgy pitches?

Friday 12 November 2010

Vauxhall and its gyratory

There was an impressive turnout at last night's meeting for a prospective Vauxhall BID (Business Improvement District).

The evening was introduced by Val Shawcross, member of the London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark (and Labour London Assembly Spokesperson for Transport and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee)  

The first speakers gave what I found to be a waffly and unfocused presentation on the new campus style American Embassy. I was pleased to see a couple of the new sketches of the Embassy and local streets featured people on bikes, while the first images published of the Embassy and its location showed none.

Key points were that the budget doesn't currently extend to the pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the Thames by the Embassy, and that they expect to break ground in 2013 and move in during 2017.

A better presentation was given by John McNulty, Head of Interchange at TfL. His role is to sort out all those places where tube station meets bus station etc. Nearly everything meets at Vauxhall Gyratory so this is certainly his domain!

He emphasised the need for an emphasis on walking and cycling, noting the poor quality of the environment for both pedestrians and cyclists, the fragmented nature of the area for these groups and the very low pedestrian counts.

Unfortunately for these groups the gyratory is felt to function very well in vehicular traffic terms, so he said that it's unlikely to go.

In addition to some railway station changes, he anticipated changes including

in the short term:
- the offside bus lane to be removed from Vauxhall Bridge and replaced with a nearside bus lane;
- a contra-cycle flow on Harleyford Road (though he forgot to mention that Cycling Superhighway 5 will go via the Oval, through/round the gyratory and over Vauxhall Bridge next year, also no mention of quality cycle parking or Boris Bike extension).

He noted the first stage of work on improving the bus interchange had been done in 2004 and that due to the current financial situation the next stage should not be expected to happen for quite a while.

in the medium term:
- 2 way for buses and cyclists only in Parry Street.

The impact of doing some of the changes is modelled to be a 17 - 35% motor traffic reduction in AM and PM peaks. Given that the gyratory is currently felt to be a success in moving loads of motor traffic around, I doubt that they'll be much enthusiasm by the present Mayor and Government to view that kind of impact as a positive thing to go for.

TfL will start creating a public realm strategy in relation to the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area Planning Framework. Aspects include:
a) Improved River Walk
b) Road Enhancements
c) Creating a Linear Park from Lambeth Palace Gardens to Battersea Park  (ongoing to 2026!!)
d) Improved links to the river
e) Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge.

He's looking for a better balance between motor transport and pedestrians, however it's up to the Mayor as to how whether and how much he'll accept the impact of reducing motorised transport.

It seems to me that we appear to be stuck with trying to make Vauxhall really pleasant while it remains a mega traffic gyratory. At least I got a chance to push for the area to become the new Amsterdam and also that there is a local desire to see significant urban realm improvements made.

It's worth noting that the company managing the BID process surveyed 90 local businesses and Congestion/Traffic was felt to be a serious or significant issue for 35%, while the largest single issue was Overall Image - 43%.

Asking what the BID could do for the area, 32% felt measures to support cyclists were important, while the largest single issue was having Street Wardens - 43%.

Local thoughts from the ensuing discussions subsequently included:
- Artistic lighting of arches under railway
- Recognise the river is an asset and make the river road a new Soho (Voho!), moving the A road back from the river;
- connect the station with the rest of the area through building modern elevated walkways (citing the architect Jean Nouvel).

Waterloo cars - happenstance or result?

Well done to all those people who complained to TfL's Taxi and Private Hire office about Waterloo Cars's mini-cabs parked on the yellow line and in the mandatory cycle lane on Cycling Superhighway 7. I haven't been that way for a few days but at 09.45 today it looked like this. Fingers crossed for the future.

Fietshangars coming to a street near you

Lambeth Council are working on their scheme to provide secure on-street residential cycle parking. A trial installation of a 'Fietshangar' in Bonnington Square, Vauxhall moves steadily nearer, with a planning application to be made within a few weeks.

The Fietshangar will hold 5 bikes, take up half a parking space with the other half being where you stand to put your bike in/take it out.
Last night local residents met the borough's officer to discuss how the fietshangar would be maintained, how much it would cost to hire a space, how applicants for scarce spaces would be selected and more. It's fantastic that the residents and officers are working on getting the detail right.

If it was just a one-off not a pilot, it could prove tempting to make life easy by buying an old Luton van with an MOT and tax, buying a residents' parking permit and using the van to keep bikes in. The Fietshangar is worth the effort though, not least because it looks much better - apparently it'll be deep green!

Thursday 11 November 2010

Wednesday 10 November 2010

PPK volunteer of the week

Pedal Power Kennington has a 'One Planet living' approach. We'd picked up a dumped chest of drawers missing most of its knobs and we came close to losing nails when opening drawers. Dave had a moment of inspiration and found that worn brakes pads screwed straight into the holes! What a great, if aesthetically controversial, result.

This was just one of many inspired diy contributions Dave's made recently, making him even more deserving of the title.

The exception to the rule

An entertaining juxtaposition of signs by National Cycle Route 4. Don't know what excuse the other van's driver has though.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

A haven of tranquility in the roar of the city

Do you like to live on a traffic infested rat-run of a street covered with ineffectual speed humps, and would you rather it was a tranquil, less polluted street that is only used by drivers coming to park where it permitted?

This haven of tranquility is Trinity Street, a short rat run between two major roads; the A3 (Borough High Street) and the A2 (Great Dover Street). See the map here.

Can you imagine how much this partial road closure, allowing cyclists to filter through, has increased the quality of life (and the price of the houses) since it was put in?

I  bet there were some residents who couldn't envisage these benefits and opposed plans for the closure because it would limit their options for driving in and out of their road thus adding a couple of minutes to some journeys.

Given there's a chance of this kind of opposition to partial road closures, a council is likely to have a default recommendation for less contentious but much less effective traffic calming measures, such as putting in speed cushions.

If you're in favour of a partial road closure in your street it's worthwhile checking out successful ones in similar situations and taking local sceptics to see them, and maybe talk to people who can describe the before and after.

It clearly is a boon for people on bikes too - ordinary people like this lady:

Mind you, for a period one barrier had been installed too close for comfort to the others to give a sensible gap to cycle through - below you can see where the post holes were now filled with tarmac. So kudos to Southwark Council for relocating the barrier . 

Monday 8 November 2010

New Hire Bike Docking Stations in Lambeth

I'm very impressed by Dawn Rahman, Lambeth Council's Transport Policy Manager, and I see that the equally impressive 'Lurking About SE11' is too - reporting excellent feedback provided in response to that site's suggestions on locations for docking stations.

Here are the throrough and sensible responses I received earlier to some suggestions I made:

a) Brook Drive towards CS7 end - plus on-street cycle parking for residents  - unfortunately the end by CS7 is Southwark so I can't personally progress these but can mention them to TfL. I've also asked Richard Ambler about possible cycle stands on Brook Drive (again unfortunately it could only be the Lambeth side - such as we are tied to borough boundaries). In terms of removing car parking on the Lambeth end of Brook Drive, we did have a look at this previously but the parking stress seems quite high and we didn’t progress it. I think the fact that the one opposite the Imperial War museum is so close to the Lambeth portion of Brook Drive that we probably wont be able to take this one forward.

b) check out http://southeasteleven.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-london-cycle-hire-in-vauxhall.html which has useful suggestions, including in the comments
This was really interesting reading these. We did have a site planned on the public space between Oval and Kennington Park but we lost it at the implementation stage due to stat covers etc, which was a real shame. I keep re-looking at that area and I think the best option is to loose car parking on Kennington Oval (the end as near to the tube station as possible) - but not sure how popular this would be with residents- although according to our development control team the parking stats are very low in that area so I think this is a good suggestion and one I want to progress.

c) Right next door to secondary schools (as at Lilian Baylis on Kennington Lane) - encourage secondary school kids to cycle to school. London Nautical is in the area ((Stamford Street). Work with School Travel Plan Mgr to push into schools.
Had a look at London Nautical - but struggled to see sufficient space to fit a 20 bike docking point unfortunately. The only other option is much further down by the Coin Street building but then it is very close to the other docking station.

d) Belvedere Road - the private bit of road that the problem company Shirayama own, outside the restaurants. Get Yo Sushi and Locale on side,  Plus ordinary cycle parking of course
Hmmm- we did discuss the problems of this road at a meeting today with TfL, and they said they would try to see if they can get any pressure put on the owners to make this road more 'cycle friendly' but I can't realistically see this happening in line with the TfL deadlines I have been given to progress new sites!

e) Royal Street for St Thomas' (with change to allow two way entrance to Royal Street etc.)
We looked at this site originally a couple of years ago, it would seem the whole area was due to be developed into flats for nurses etc so we weren’t able to go ahead with a site at the current time. I've just spoken with our planning section and they say that the initial plans have been put on hold due to financial constraints but that there are still possible plans to re-develop. But this might not happen for a while, so it wouldn't fit in with the tight timescales TfL are asking to progress the site currently. On the upside there should be one on the other side of the road in the hospital grounds going live very soon. I'm going to keep Royal Street on the agenda though as agree it is an ideal location. Will also speak to Richard A about the two way issues.

f) Lambeth Walk outside the large doctors practice - plus big push with staff there to get patients to use them.
I really like the idea of this one in terms of links to health etc for patients and will look at having this as a contingency site, due to the close proximity of the Lollard Street docking point. For some reason according to the usage figures from TfL Lollard Street is one of the least used sites. I'm unsure as to why this is not used that much as thought this would be a good location. It might be worth delving into why this one is not being used. Although I have asked TfL for some recent usage figures as the ones they provided were up to mid Sept, so it may have improved since then.

g) Kennington Road where there's no cycle parking although it'd probably be better just to put a Sheffield Stand outside every shop.
Unfortunately as this is red route we're not allowed to put any cycle parking in (frustratingly for us). I'll speak to TfL about this area again. We did progress a site close by on Windmill Row but there were too many objections and planning approval was not allowed. I think I'll have another look here as I'm conscious there is such a big gap in the network between the post office and the next one up by Kennington Cross.

h) Cottington Street - with ancillary permission measures . Again like the idea of this as might encourage both residents and users of northern line to jump off at Kennington but I just can't see where we could put it without taking up too much footway space. We could potentially get a small station on the area that acts as a division but TfL wont progress smaller sites anymore so I just don’t think we can fit a 20 docking point station.

i) Cleaver Square on Kennington Park Road entrance.
I actually went out on site with TfL to look at this one a couple of months ago. And a site is being put forward for planning permission in the next week or so. Unfortunately we couldn't get agreement on the Kennington Park Road entrance due to potential problems with vehicular access/turning etc so have gone for a site directly opposite the court (closeish to the Kennington Road entrance). This is currently housing owned land and means that we can get TfL to improve the current area (which looks a bit tired) with new paving and the relocation of cycle parking and benches. I really hope that this will be popular with residents

The St Thomas' solution to the Thames Path

How about using the existing Toucan from Belvedere Road over Westminster Bridge Road to lead to a new ramp running from the top of the stairs (shown below) where I took this picture to the elevated road (above) that runs along the wall beside the existing Thames Path.

And the beauty of it is that the road belongs to St Thomas' Hospital who are particularly concerned about the safety of Thames Path users and a member of the NHS which is desperate to have people adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle to cut down on their costs.

I can't imagine why they haven't done it before.

Thames Path vs National Cycle Route 4

The massive population growth planned for the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea area comes at the same time as governments and major corporations strive to reverse our destruction of the earth's biodiversity, control our carbon emissions, fight diabetes and heart disease and so on.

The pressure is clearly on the powers to get ordinary people - mums and dads, children, pensioners and commuters - to choose walking and cycling over powered forms of transport for journeys of up to about 6 to 10 miles.

So, what determines where ordinary people like to ride a bike and where they don't? What changes could be made to our infrastructure to increase cycling over motor vehicle use?

The DfT's experts have identified five Key Design Features, and it is illuminating to contrast the Thames Path (TP) with the parallel National Cycle Network Route 4 (NCR) for the stretch from the Albert Embankment to Gabriels Wharf.

Below are my comments and my scores for each of the features, out of ten.
The photos on this page save two (guess) are from NCR 4 whilst the Thames Path can be seen here

Coherence : The cycling infrastructure should form a coherent entity, linking all trip origins and destinations; with a continuous level of provision;
TP -  The Thames Path runs smoothly next to the river and passes the front door of the London Aquarium, London Eye, RFH, NFT, NT, and Gabriel's Wharf (doesn't pass the front door of St Thomas' - in fact I don't think you can get in at all from the path!). Bridges easy to spot and underpass, though access to them may involve steps. Score: 9
NCR - Random bits of road (some A road, some B road, mostly fairly to truly horrible), pavement and occasional cycle lane. Takes you to the back door of most trip destinations. Very poor clarity of route. Score: 2

Directness : Routes should be as direct as possible, based on desire lines, since detours and delays will deter use;
TP - Can't beat this route to follow the river to major tourist draws and proximity to bridges. And, no roundabouts or traffic lights . Score 9
NCR - Fairly direct but only once you've worked out the route. Lots of faffing at roundabouts plus traffic lights and a toucan crossing. Score 4

Attractiveness: Routes must be attractive to cyclists on subjective as well as objective criteria. Lighting, personal safety, aesthetics, noise and integration with the surrounding area are important;
TP: Motor Vehicle free, Quiet, unpolluted, well lit, safe (no stats showing any cyclist or pedestrian Killed or Seriously Injured in collisions), great views, Score 10
NCR:  Noisy (crowded with huge lorries, buses and cars etc.), Polluted (black cabs by the dozen), Unsafe (no parents have yet volunteered their children to take up my challenge to ride it) and statistics show several cyclists were seriously injured or killed on it between 2000-2008. Anyone know a source of pedestrian KSI stats for this part of the route?), Good integration with surrounding area if you're assertive enough to cycle like you're driving a truck. Score 1

Safety : Designs should minimise the danger for cyclists and other road users;
TP: Comments as above, particularly cyclists segregated from motor traffic. Need for signage to encourage considerate cycling and emphasise pedestrian priority, plus enforcement action against reckless cyclists. Score 9
NCR: Comments as above. Cycle lane along Lambeth Palace Road is only 2/3rd the recommended minimum width and anyway drivers can use it too as it's only advisory. There are some other well hidden cycle facilities. The speed limit is nominally 30 when 20 would be more reasonable. Poor enforcement of speed limit. When was the last time you saw a carefree, car free family riding along Lambeth Palace Road? Score 2

and Comfort: Cycle routes need smooth, well-maintained surfaces, regular sweeping, and gentle gradients. Routes must be convenient to use and avoid complicated manoeuvres and interruptions.
TP: The density of pedestrians at certain times makes the route inconvenient to use and a parallel cycle route of equivalent quality would appeal to the overwhelming majority of cyclists. During much of the time it is practical to get off and push the bike for the little bit which is densely populated before cycling the rest. Score 3 or 8
NCR: The gradients are gentle (not quite as gentle as TP). The roads are poorly maintained (all that motor traffic on Belvedere Road has severely damaged the traffic calming measures). As for convenient to use without complicated maneouvres and interruptions - don't get me started; just try it on a bike yourself! Score 3

Total score out of 50:
Thames Path - 40 or 45 depending on how many pedestrians are using it
National Cycle Route - 12

If I was a member of government or a local business (or Hospital Trust) and I wanted to get more ordinary people walking and riding bikes more often, I'd be busting a gut to bring NCR 4 up to the exemplary standard of the Thames Path while enforcing considerate cycling on the latter.

Let's see what the finalised South Bank and Waterloo Cycling Strategy has to say on the subject when it comes out.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Shaping culture in Lambeth

(Photo of Bicycle Ballet at the National Theatre 2007)

Lambeth Council is inviting people to get involved in shaping culture in Lambeth. They seek views on a discussion document towards a cultural strategy.

The vision articulated in the discussion document is:
Activate the Body and Cultivate the Mind to Create Wellbeing

I received an email today from a reader whose job seems to epitomise that vision. He's also an expert on the alternative cycle route that Kate Hoey extols, while his voluntary work seems totally in line with the ambitions of our cooperative council :
I am a voluntary ranger on the Southwark section of National Cycle Network  Route 4 (which is better than the Lambeth section but still has problems) and I would challenge this MP's assertion that the route is 'excellent'. I run a commercial bike tour company and always take my tours along the Thames Path from Lambeth Bridge to the Globe as opposed to the parallel route of NCR4. I love Sustran's work and parts of NCR 4 are great....but not this bit! I always dismount where appropriate and cycle considerately and feel the way forward is not to start putting up signs banning cycling
The draft South Bank and Waterloo Cycle Strategy had nothing to say about the major roads and roundabouts that form part of NCR 4 - a significant omission that Lambeth Cyclists highlighted in their response.

I hope that when the final strategy is published it includes clear proposals on how to continue to develop National Cycle Route 4 in the South Bank area.

Site to record bike lane parking, plus local meeting

Apropos my blogs about Waterloo Cars, I've been told about a new site mybikelane.com to log illegal parking, and that a Kennington meeting is planned for the 9th November.

The Thames Path - an excellent alternative

In a letter that Kate Hoey sent to a constituent in defence of her proposals to install No Cycling signs on the Thames Path she states, "There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital." 

Ms Hoey is referring to no less a source of civic pride than National Cycling Network route 4 that runs all the way from the western tip of Wales to Greenwich.

Taking the glowing testimonial from the local MP and the national status, parents would surely have no hesitation about letting their teenage daughter venture out, unfettered by parental presence, to use it in preference to the Thames Path.

I've emailed a few local parents to ask if they'll send their children out to considerately cycle the National Cycle Network from Black Prince Road to Gabriel's Wharf, returning via the Thames Path, to get their comments on each. (I'll also be intrigued to see what recommendations about this route are in the finalised South Bank and Waterloo Cycling Strategy.).

If you have teenage children then I'd ask you to consider asking them to ride these parallel routes, dismounting where they feel it is appropriate for their safety or the safety of  others, and report back via the Comments page.

They can follow the NCN 4 signs but if in doubt, the route goes along the Albert Embankment, over the roundabout at Lambeth Bridge, along Lambeth Palace Road, past Westminster Bridge to Belvedere Road and along to finish on Upper Ground by Gabriels Wharf.

I'll report back on progress from those I've asked. In the meantime here are some pictures I took yesterday mid-morning of the specific bit that the MP refers to.