Saturday 31 December 2011

TfL's seasonal funding announcement for 2012/13

Transport for London’s Press Office for south London appears to have had an excellent seasonal lunch on December 15th prior to issuing an individual press release for each borough revealing TfL’s financial Christmas present and what the borough will spend it on during 2012/13.

While the press releases for north London boroughs highlighted their individual successes in the last year, the south London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Merton and Lewisham were all left to bask in the achievements of Bromley.

It’s vaguely interesting to discover that Bromley installed 118 new on-street cycle parking spaces but I’d rather know what my local boroughs achieved.

Let’s hope TfL can issue corrected press releases once the New Year hangover has subsided.

In the meantime here's what we can expect in 2012/13 from Lambeth and the neighbouring boroughs of Southwark, Wandsworth and Westminster: Overall, TfL report that funding to the boroughs to deliver improvements is to remain stable to 2013/14 at £147m per annum, rather than be reduced each year as they previously forecast..

The £5m funding package in 2012/13 will finance a range of transport projects in Lambeth, including:

£1.16m to help pilot Lambeth's new 'cooperative approach' to designing transport and environment schemes and carry out improvements to pedestrian and cycle facilities in Oval, Stockwell, Vassall, Coldharbour, Ferndale, Larkhall and Clapham Town areas of the borough. As part of its plans to become the country's first cooperative council, Lambeth Council is developing a new 'community led' approach to designing transport improvements, working much more closely with residents through its 'Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme'. The LIP funding will help get this off the ground in the pilot wards of Oval, Vassall, Coldharbour, Ferndale, Larkhall and Clapham Town
£550,000 to encourage more cycling in the borough, including cycle parking (both on street and residential), greenways for off-street cycling and route and junction improvements to facilitate safe cycling
£110,000 for phase one of a two year project to make crossings and residential streets safe around Loughborough Junction

The £4m funding package in 2012/13 will finance a range of transport projects in Southwark, including:

£400,000 to improve walking routes on Forest Hill Road, connecting communities and providing a link to local shops and schools
£342,000 for widespread improvements in East Walworth supporting 'Pocket Parks'. These will include improved walking and cycling routes between green spaces to encourage more walking and cycling trips
£150,000 for improved walking and cycling facilities in Camberwell to get more people walking and cycling for shorter journeys. Funds will also facilitate environmental improvements to link green spaces and the town centre

The £4.7m funding package in 2012/13 will finance a range of transport projects in Wandsworth, including:

£1.4m towards an on-going scheme to improve Clapham Junction town centre and tackle traffic congestion. Works include improving the road layout, renewing pavements and road surfaces, decluttering footways, planting new trees and upgrading lighting, wayfinding and street furniture
£280,000 for public realm improvements and to create new pedestrian areas
£210,000 to promote cycling through improved cycle parking, cycle training courses, completing cycle route links and a programme of promotional events
£350,000 to improve the look and feel of streets around local shops and provide better pedestrian access to shopping parades.

The £5.9m funding package in 2012/13 will finance a range of transport projects in Westminster, including:

£500,000 to extend the Legible London pedestrian signage in the City of Westminster
£1.173m to implement public realm improvements to the West End. This includes improvements for the vital pedestrian link from Leicester Square to Covent Garden
£1,000,000 to deliver Westminster's programme of urban realm improvements, including the implementation of the first phase of the important project at Queensway/Westbourne Grove

Thursday 22 December 2011

Cycle and Car Parking, and a Christmas Tree binned

Fantastic to see the new cycle parking outside Kennington tube station - very promising for the New Year.
Let's hope the staff and users of Lambeth Living's North Lambeth Housing Office make a New Year resolution to leave the car at home and cycle instead. This kind of parking that obstructs pushchair and wheelchair users happens all too often outside their Kennington Lane/Opal Street office:
Pavement obstruction by parked cars is something the Women's Institute could get their members to act on, rather than their current suggestion of forcing cycle helmets to be mandatory. Please read the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain blogpost and sign the petition against the WI's suggested measure to dissuade people from cycling.

 Finally, while we're just about to bring our Christmas tree inside for its annual holiday, it would appear that Christmas has come and gone already for others

Promising developments in Heygate Street

Following on from my last blog post on the plan to remove a chunk of the Heygate Street cycle lane and suggesting options, I've heard this news:
Further to consultation responses to plans to remove 100m of cycle lane at the above location (in order to introduce a footway where there currently isn't one) our officers have now produced a plan which will allow the retention of the cycle lane. The width of the bus lane will be reduced to the minimum allowed. TfL have been consulted and have no objection. In addition the carriageway on the northern side of Heygate Street will be increased by 1m. In total this will provide the 1.5m that is need for a cycle lane along the full length of Heygate Street.

We are delighted to confirm the Council will be able to find the money for this vital improvement to our plans to make Heygate Street accessible and safer for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Let's hope the cycle lane is mandatory rather than advisory for motorists not to use. I'm looking forward to seeing the reworked plans. Now TfL, what about the Pelican crossing on New Kent Road becoming a Toucan...

UPDATE The cycle lane is going to be mandatory, and the poor cycle lane in the bus lane going the other way will be removed. Both positive actions in my view. Well done Southwark.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

TfL's latest ruse - making cyclists walk to smooth traffic flow at E&C?

I was wrong in my blog the other day that TfL had omitted to take advantage of works to install a Toucan crossing to complete the eastern Cycle Bypass that avoids the horrible E&C roundabout.

It isn't that the thought didn't occur to them. Much worse than that.

TfL actively decided not to install a Toucan crossing on this contorted but crucial Cycle Bypass. Here's the plan that was drawn up for the works that have recently taken place on the New Kent Road, and, as you can see top right, they proposed a Toucan Crossing
 That's pretty clear:
After all, what could be more sane and rational than to permit cyclists to cycle on a cycle bypass?

I don't know why TfL decided to stick with a Pelican crossing and make cyclists dismount, but I'm going to hazard a guess.

Pelican crossings have a flashing amber light period of time when traffic can go if people have stopped crossing. Toucan crossings are like normal traffic lights so road users have to wait until the green light to check it's clear then proceed.

So, if your imperative is to have traffic whooshing smoothly to a deadly major roundabout you could well choose to opt for a Pelican crossing.

If your imperative is to nurture and facilitate travel which decreases congestion, increases fitness, reduces CO2 emissions and pollution, and saves lives then you'd opt for a Toucan.

TfL have elected to support the motorist. It's time for change at TfL from the top down.

Please go and see the film 'Urbanized'

I really enjoyed this film, on at the Barbican to 23rd December (details here). It should probably be required viewing for anyone involved in decision making in London.
Over half the world’s population now lives in an urban area, and 75% will call a city home by 2050. But while some cities are experiencing explosive growth, others are shrinking. The challenges of balancing housing, mobility, public space, civic engagement, economic development, and environmental policy are fast becoming universal concerns. Yet much of the dialogue on these issues is disconnected from the public domain.

Architectural and city planning visionaries of our times including Rem Koolhaas, Oscar NiemeyerAmanda Burden,Michael Sorkin and Norman Foster investigate what and who shapes a city – the designers, the citizens, the environment? 

US/UK 2011 Dir. Gary Hustwit
"This visually arresting film, like Hustwit’s past work, elegantly conveys the omnipresence of design in daily life. Essential viewing." Josh K. Leon, Metropolis

"Urbanized is a brave and timely movie that manages to strike almost exactly the right tone. The more people who see this movie the better." Justin McGuirk, The Guardian

Monday 19 December 2011

Oil smudges decision making?

STEP ONE: Check out the authors of this letter published by the Guardian on 11th December. 

We are writing to express our concern at the new parking policies which Westminster council are planning to introduce from January which will extend hours of parking control in the West End from 6.30pm to midnight from Monday to Saturday, and from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday. This is likely to have a serious impact on our visitors and audiences at a time when arts budgets are already being severely challenged by cuts in government spending. Westminster council states that these proposals are being introduced "on an experimental basis", and we call on them to reconsider policies which will have such a detrimental effect on the success of cultural organisations in Westminster and the economy of London in general.
John Berry Artistic director, English National OperaSandy Nairne Director, National Portrait GalleryTony Hall CEO, Royal Opera House,Ian Blatchford Science MuseumJulia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist Co-directors, Serpentine GalleryJulian Bird CEO, The Society of London TheatreNicholas Serota Director, TateMartin Roth Director, V&A

STEP 2: Compare the list of institutions I've put in bold above against today's news report from the BBC:

BP pledges £10m art sponsorship

Oil giant BP says it will continue to sponsor the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House and Tate Britain, pledging £10m over the next five years.

Carnage on Cycling Supercrapway 7 tonight

I came as close to a collision as I have in a very long time tonight. A pedestrian ran into the centre of the road from behind some parked cars. She wasn't looking as she was running across the road. If she had looked before leaving the pavement she wouldn't have seen me as I couldn't see her because of the legally parked cars in the cycling superhighway blocking our view of each other. Thanks to my training I was well in the middle of the general traffic lane and had time to bellow nonsensically while doing an emergency stop.

If this was a proper cycling superhighway the problem wouldn't have occurred because the bloody cars wouldn't have been there.

On the cycle Bypass at E&C a motorist and a pedestrian crossing had collided. The car, which was on the pavement when I first saw it had been taken away but the damage remained. The crossing had been taped off to pedestrians and the lights were stuck on green for the motor traffic, meaning that pedestrians and cyclists on the superhighway had to gamble their way across the multiple traffic lanes. Why didn't the authorities put the motor traffic lane on red and force the motorists to decide when the way was clear? (By the way the light at the bottom of the traffic light in the picture above isn't a green light, it's TfL's sign, for cheapskate reasons, prohibiting cyclists from a desirable right turn into the bus and cycle lane).

Further up the road just before Southwark Bridge, under the railway bridge, roadworks are going on. Where are the signs telling the bloody motorists to get out of your car and push it, like the cyclists are asked to do for some lack of reason.

Finally, in the City of London, the cyclist push-and-wait traffic lights at the junction of Queen Street and Queen Victoria Street weren't working as has been the case for a good three weeks now. Clearly no-one in the City's highways department cycles over Southwark Bridge in a month of Sundays.

This kind of shit provision and consideration for cyclists and pedestrians is another reason why I'll be at the Vigil outside Kings Cross at 6pm this Tuesday.

If anyone from TfL or the City of London reads this, as well as everyone else, please go and see the wonderful film 'Urbanized' at the Barbican to the 23rd December, to see what changes are needed and why London's cycling and walking provision needs major improvement, not tinkering while smoothing the car carnage.

Enormous Vauxhall planning application to pore over

We're only just beginning to see the major changes that will be coming in the North Lambeth area over the coming years and the latest scheme to go to the Council in search of planning permission is a whopper. Local residents looking to a future that supports cycling and walking in a pleasant environment should get involved, checking the overall proposal and the details within. 
Local civic groups such as the Kennington Association, Vauxhall Society and Lambeth Cyclists make a real difference here, as do individuals making their own considered representations. If you haven't taken an interest in local issues previously then now would be an excellent time to get involved .
Here's the developer's press release about their plans at Vauxhall (image above from a recent presentation):
CLS Holdings plc, a pan-European property company headquartered in Vauxhall, announces that yesterday it submitted a detailed planning application for a 154,000 sq m (1,657,650 sq ft) mixed-use development scheme in Vauxhall, London SW8, following a series of stakeholder consultations.
The proposed Vauxhall Square redevelopment is located close to Vauxhall’s transport interchange and comprises: two residential towers of approximately 50 stories containing 510 homes and 15,231 sq m (163,945 sq ft) of office space; 3,500 sq m (37,660 sq ft) of retail, restaurant and cafĂ© space; 416 student units; a 438 bed hotel; a 4 screen cinema; 94 affordable housing units; a new homeless hostel; a major new public square (of similar size to Paternoster Square in the City of London); and public realm improvements.
Vauxhall Square is at the heart of the Vauxhall Nine Elms regeneration area between the Vauxhall transport links and the proposed new US Embassy.
Subject to receiving planning consent, CLS would aim to start on site in 2014, with phases being completed from 2017 onwards.  The development cost of the proposed scheme is in excess of £400 million.
Richard Tice, Chief Executive Officer of CLS Holdings plc, commented:
This substantial mixed-use scheme is a key element to the Vauxhall Nine Elms regeneration plans.  It will create a new vibrant heart for Vauxhall and over 1,000 additional full-time jobs across a broad range of skills, both during and after construction.  The investment of over £400 million will bring substantial benefits to a wide range of stakeholders and is not dependent on the Northern Line extension.”
I certainly hope that any S106 'planning gain' money from this development goes towards the removal of the Vauxhall Gyratory rather than being put into the incredibly expensive hole in the ground that is the Northern Line extension - let Wandsworth's developments pay for that.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Should cyclists cycle up this cycle lane?

Vulnerable road users are being seriously injured or killed as a consequence of large lorries, designed in such a way that drivers can't see other traffic, being driven in our city . As a consequence TfL are encouraging cyclists "Never cycle up the left side of a lorry stopped at a junction.". 

You envisage that TfL mean don't squeeze up the inside of a lorry in the kind of narrow situation below (at the junction coming off Lambeth Bridge into Lambeth - though why on earth TfL recently painted the cycle logos where they did is quite beyond me), 

 But do TfL really intend that a cyclist shouldn't continue in a clearly provided mandatory cycle lane they've installed such as the one in this video? 

If vehicles or lanes are so poorly designed that a driver just can't see whether a neighbouring lane is clear or not then there's clearly a huge problem and I don't believe it should be the responsibility of the cyclist to resolve it. I know the cyclist is the one who will lose in a collision, but I believe that we should have a society where children, adults with learning difficulties and executives in city banks should be able to cycle around without having to second-guess whether a lane provided for their use is usable. 
Conditions for cycling and walking in London have got to improve. That's why I'll be at the vigil taking place this Tuesday 20th December from 6pm at Kings Cross. Please come along too.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

TfL Smothering the Traffic Flow

The eastern cycle bypass to avoid the horrors of the E&C roundabout(s) has always been a bit of a horror itself. A particularly irritating aspect used to be the Pelican (pedestrian only) crossing of the New Kent Road, demanding 'Cyclist Dismount' from the segregated cycle lane, push your bike over the road, and remount on the shared pedestrian/cyclist pavement the other side. As you can see the Pelican crossing has finally gone due to regeneration works:

to be replaced a few metres along with, you guessed it, not a Toucan (two can cross - cyclist and pedestrian), but another Pelican crossing..

So, there you have it: a clear example that TfL are not all about Smoothing the Traffic Flow. At least, not if you're a cyclist.

In practice, unsurprisingly, 99% of cyclists don't dismount, being able to see TfL nonsense for what it is.

Why would a cycle-friendly Mayor allow such a straightforward opportunity for improvement to be missed by TfL?

Local Recycling Centre no longer so local

On 3rd January Southwark's Manor Depot Recycling and Reuse Centre (a mile from Kenningon) shuts, with the replacement opening at 43 Devon Street, SE15 1AL - 3 1/2 miles from Kennington in Peckham.

This makes the Cringle Dock Solid Waste Transfer Station, Cringle Street, SW8 5BX on the river at Battersea, a little over two miles away, the preferred option to take items that can't be given to a local charity shop or put on the wonderful Lambeth Freecycle.

The advantage of using Cringle Dock is that barges are used to take unwanted materials away, reducing local lorry journeys.

Lambeth Council also provide bulky waste collections


Saturday 10 December 2011

Imperial War Museum to Westfield Stratford - a safe, fun ride?

All things going to plan, next Wednesday's Pedal Power Kennington ride will see our teenagers riding after school to see the Olympic Park. I suspect the best view will be from the Observation Deck behind the John Lewis store at Westfield Stratford City, the gateway to the Olympics.

Conveniently cycle specific route planners are provided by Westfield Stratford City and by Transport for London. Our starting postcode is SE1 6HZ, the Imperial War Museum.

From the TfL site I chose the Easy option: Mainly quiet backstreets, canals and park routes. The speed is 12km/hr. Here's an extract of the route:

Turn Left Into Whitechapel High Street
Straight Up Whitechapel Road
Straight Up Mile End Road
Straight Up Bow Road
Straight Up Bow Interchange
Straight Up
Turn Left Into
Turn Right Into
Straight Up
Straight Up High Street
Straight Up High Street Cycle path
Straight Up High Street
Straight Up High Street
Turn Left Into Great Eastern Road
Turn Left Into walk your bicycle (230m)
Straight Up walk your bicycle (150m)

And here is part of Westfield's recommended cycle route:
14. Slight right onto Whitechapel Rd/A11
Continue to follow A11
15. Slight left onto Mile End Rd/A11
16. Slight left to stay on Mile End Rd/A11
Continue to follow A11
17. Slight left onto Bow Rd/A11
18. Slight left to stay on Bow Rd/A11
19. Slight right to stay on Bow Rd/A11
Continue to follow A11
20. Turn left onto Warton Rd
Destination will be on the left

Cycle friendly shopping centre? Cycle friendly Olympics? That's what we've been promised. We'll find out next Wednesday when we follow the recommended routes. Gulp.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Moving bikes by bike

 With a little help from Simon, handyman-par-excellence, I've got my bike trailer up and running. It's made from two car roof cycle carriers attached to a sawn-off roof rack. This sits on the base of the Carry Freedom trailer (with the extended towing bar) and has a couple of bits of Velcro wrapped around it to hold it rigid, which simply required two one inch long holes cut into the marine ply base.
It's amazingly stable with one or two bikes. It had a real test yesterday as I had six Pedal Power Kennington bikes to donate to a school and it made moving the bikes around more of a joy than a chore.

Riding into winter with Pedal Power Kennington

Despite it getting darker, a little wetter, and colder the rides have continued and are attracting new participants. On Tueday 29th November we went to Tower Bridge and St Katherine's Dock to look at boats in the rain

 It happened to be the day that the gangway onto HMS Belfast had collapsed.
 On Wednesday 30th we went through the City of London to Hoxton to tour around the Circus Space - wonder if those we took will end up on the Circus degree course?
 We also nipped into the Classic Car Club on Old Street

 This Tuesday we decided to go to St Pancras to see the Lego Christmas Tree

 and yesterday we had a repeat visit, by popular demand, to Winter Wonderland
 before heading, via a brief diversion into the Aston Martin showroom on Pall Mall, to Bond Street for the Christmas Lights.
Just two more rides to go this term - one of them maybe to the Olympic site if I can find a quick and safe route. Hmm.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Heygate update

A quick response from Lend Lease's consultation company:

I've managed to find out some more information on the proposed works. Please note that these works do not change the proposals in the masterplan for the area that I previously describe to you, which are to make Heygate Street a more pedestrian and cyclist friendly environment.

The proposed works are a solution to pedestrian access during the demolition of the existing estate and redevelopment. Demolition requires that the estate be secured around its perimeter, but this will result in loss of the pedestrian through routes that use the elevated walkways. However, there needs to be some east west pedestrian access due to the large size of the estate. Currently, as I'm sure you know, there are no footways alongside Heygate Street.
The proposals you have seen are to create a footway on the northern side of Heygate Street to create the required east west pedestrian permeability, albeit at the expense of the cycle lane.

I understand that Southwark Council discussed these works with Southwark Cyclists, who of course shared your concerns, but did acknowledge the difficulties the council is encountering in delivering facilities for both cyclists and pedestrians during demolition.

First off, the need for a decent pavement along here is totally valid.

Below are some ideas, though I haven't checked the details of what's intended to be built by the road or what underground pipes etc. are involved that may influence the line of the pavement.

The photos show where the cycle lane will remain just after the junction, where it will disappear under pavement, and where it will reappear shortly before the second junction. You will notice a straight line of trees - I don't know if some of these are destined for the chop but if not it seems reasonable for a pavement to continue in a straight line, retaining the cycle lane.

Presumably there are works that render a pavement in line with the trees impractical (though the plans suggest it's not the removal of the pedestrian flyover), hence the pavement buildout over the cycle lane.
I wonder (as someone who never uses this route in rush hour) whether it would make more sense to reallocate space for the cycle lane from the other side of the road, by removing the substandard cycle lane and making a narrower shared bus/cycle lane (as it is used in practice in my experience). The railings need to go too!

On a final note, I'm delighted the advertised scheme plans to narrow the turn into this side road, so traffic needs to slow to take the corner:

Thursday 1 December 2011

Piecemeal cycle disaster in Heygate Street?

A couple of weeks ago the consultation company working for the Heygate developers, Lend Lease, told me (my bold):
Heygate Street will remain a more traditional highway, but Lend Lease are working to gather evidence to support its reduction in width to make it more pedestrian and cyclist friendly. They are also working to increase the number of pedestrian and cyclist crossings to ensure north south accessibility.

I'm not sure that I believe them.

Southwark Council have today published draft plans (under the misleading title MINOR PUBLIC REALM IMPROVEMENT) to 'tweak' one side of Heygate Street, a wide road with a long, useful mandatory cycle lane on the E&C cycle bypass going from the Walworth Road to the New Kent Road. It's not clear whether they've really considered the whole street (they plan to keep the bus lane on the other side but say nothing about the stupidly narrow cycle lane within it, for example). They're seeking comments on their plans and I really urge you to demand to see the whole plan and find out whether this part of it really delivers for cyclists.

The draft plans for this side of the street
a) make part of the existing Mandatory Cycle Lane (i.e. motorists can't enter it) into an Advisory Cycle Lane (i.e. motorists can enter it). SURELY LESS CYCLE FRIENDLY

b) has this lane end, with cycle and motor traffic merging/fightingt into a shared traffic lane. SURELY LESS CYCLE FRIENDLY

c) before splitting again to an Advisory (rather than existing Mandatory) cycle lane and general carriageway. CERTAINLY NO IMPROVEMENT

I think there's lots wrong with this road and lots wrong with the E&C cycle bypass that this currently forms part of. From this document it really appears that the Council plans to fiddle around half a street at a time rather than work out and publish a cohesive plan that is unequivocably active travel friendly.

I'm gobsmacked - I'll be writing in demanding they don't proceed with the half-baked plan presented and I urge you to also.

Persons wishing to object to the proposal, or make any other representations in respect of it, should send a statement in writing to that effect, and in the case of an objection, stating the grounds thereof to, either: the Traffic orders officer, Southwark council, Environment & leisure, Public realm, P.O. Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX, or via e-mail to quoting reference PR/PD/TMO1112-028 by 22 December 2011.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

New secondhand bike stall in Lower Marsh

The Kennington area has another place to get a bike from.In addition to the recent addition of Balfe's Bikes we now have Briggy's bike stall open most days of the week on Lower Marsh. Worth checking out if you're looking for a second hand way to get around and bring your shopping back from the market.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Westminster Council and congestion

There's an excellent article in the Standard that explains the need for car sick Westminster to have its streets totally totally jammed with cars - it's what allows them to set a low Council Tax. Lambeth by contrast has much less available parking so more people walk, cycle and use public transport.

What the article doesn't point out is how cheap it is for Westminster residents to park their car, with an annual permit for a 1200cc plus car costing a mere £115 online.

In Lambeth's congestion zone area the cost is between £136 and £247 for equivalent vehicles (you'll pay more for your V8 Range Rover than in Westminster) if you live inside the Congestion Zone, and £149 to £260 outside it.

The knock on effect to Lambeth residents of Westminster's addiction to drivers is Vauxhall gyratory and its ilk.

Monday 28 November 2011

Drinking water fountains for Waterloo Station?

At the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea exhibition the other day I discovered (when a person I gave my name to said 'Ah, it's you') that over fifty people had written in response to Lambeth's consultation asking for drinking water fountains to be installed. I'd written this post and sent it around a bit.

Iwas told that this was the issue cited most often by respondents to the consultation on the Waterloo plans (which shows how few people generally comment) and the Project Manager told me,

I still have to go through a process on the Waterloo documents and expect to be able to publish the final versions in February. As it stands, my intention is to include something on drinking fountains to address the point you made.

Well done to all those who sent an email - let's hope we see free water, prominently positioned and delivered by tap rather than lorries, at Waterloo soon.

By coincidence I'm talking for 7 1/2 minutes about drinking water fountains at the next Movement for Liveable London Street Talks on 6th December.

An exciting tube project in Vauxhall (beyond the Northern line)

The BBC reports today the Governments multi-billion pound investment programme, including the Northern Line extension to Battersea, saying the government will consider allowing local authority borrowing against the Community Infrastructure Levy to support the scheme, subject to a commitment from a developer to contribute and develop the site.

It's a different tube project that I want to talk about:

One of the most inspiring things I heard at the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea (VNEB) exhibition is the research undertaken into having the rubbish from all the new buildings removed by vacuum tubes rather than dust carts.

It sounds like science fiction but Sweden's Envac have 50 years experience of doing just this. And if it still sounds fanciful for this huge development project, they're working right this moment on a project of equivalent scale in Helsinki - with recycling thrown in of course.

How can this kind of scheme be encouraged and nurtured? The obvious starting point is to impose a limit on motor traffic, a vehicular 'gastric band'. That will bring this kind of imaginative thinking from pipe dream to pipe reality. Good grief, you'd even see drinking fountains and taps at railway stations as the sane replacement to lorry transported bottled water .

There's a load of guff talked by Boris about equality - giving people the choice to choose their mode of transport. The reality is that most kids and many other people would love to cycle to get to where they want to go but don't because the volume and speed of motor traffic,the lousy road layout, and the aggression of drivers make it an unequal option.

The way to liberate people to cycle and walk in the city is quite simply to throttle motor traffic and give the direct and easy route to the cyclist and pedestrian. Limit the capacity to the motorist, make them go around a maze or the M25 to get to their destination. But give the cyclist and pedestrian their desire line; give them cashpoints and drinking fountains, attractive shop frontages (or better, book and stuff library frontages) and riverside views. Put in loads and loads of hire bike docking stations.

Sure there'll still be a quantity of really unavoidable motor traffic but a lot will simply evaporate, as the dust cart example shows, and as the Netherlands have proven.

There are wider actions too, including making sure the planning regulations support local businesses, by providing affordable housing and workshop space alongside the swish apartments, rather than forcing them out of town resulting in vans and lorries trundling for miles and miles through residential streets just to get to inner London.

The plans for residential properties need to nurture active travel. If it's easier to jump in the car or in a cab than on the bike the design is failing.

VNEB can be the new Amsterdam.

A really good first action to implement in the next month or two with a bit of white paint and a couple of signs is for TfL take away one of the southbound lanes on Vauxhall Bridge from motor traffic so that the UNBELIEVABLY DIRE cycle lane becomes a delightful wide cycling boulevard instead. I've used the cycle lane twice recently on weekdays at 3.30pm and it made everything clench up. I can't believe that anyone responsible for roads could conceivably have cycled it and not immediately condemned it. What were the traffic 'engineers' who dreamt up such a monstrosity thinking, and why wouldn't a cycle friendly Mayor dramatically improve it immediately?

Thursday 24 November 2011

Bus stops rather than a bus station at Vauxhall?

The Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea exhibition at Market Towers tomorrow afternoon is worth a visit. In particular the presentation from Farrells Architects who Lambeth appointed to come up with a framework for Vauxhall. Farrells propose ten urban design principles:
1. Create a clear and legible mental map
 2. Reconnect the place to the river
 3. Something along the lines of good walking and cycling routes I think (dodgy camera work to the fore).
 4 Simplify road junctions and create direct pedestrian crossings
 5. Create a 21st Century High Street
 6. Create a new urban square as a focus for activity.
 7. A tall building cluster is being created without sufficient thought for the 'place'

 8. Respect the existing property lines.

 9.Bus Stops rather than a bus station.

 10. Anticipate future two way streets

There's a very large model of the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea area. A small part of it, below, shows Vauxhall Bridge and to the left the aspirational, though seemingly very narrow, pedestrian/cycling bridge. There's no firm detail on the bridge but costings are being obtained and it's intended, should it happen, to be a landmark. I'm nervous that the designers will skimp on the width necessary to make it a really useful walking and cycling bridge. It wasn't known if it was intended to be shared space or segregated.

TfL were present with a chap who could win prizes for understatement, using language along the lines of 'not very good for cyclists' when describing the Gyratory and 'fairly poor' when describing the existing on-pavement farcility on Nine Elms Lane. They hadn't any plans to show what the cycling provision would be down the line but told me Nine Elms would have shared, but wider, bus come cycle lanes, and wider pavements but with no cycle lane on them; the Linear Park will be cycleable along the length, with shared use rather than a segregated lane for cyclists and it's not intended for commuter cycling; the Riverside Walk will also be for pedestrians and cyclists.

As for the Gyratory, there was still a clear 'Boris' message coming across of the need to allow all options equally rather than prioritising active and public transport over the private car. The TfL chap said they don't have models of the non-essential motor traffic but could easily do that. One to ask for.

It's clear to me that action to make the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area great for cycling and walking must start right now, even in small ways while the grand plan is worked on. TfL has shut the shared use pavement under the railway bridge. Rather than helpfully reallocating the nearest of the multiple motor traffic lanes for pedestrians and cyclists to use, Vroom-Vroom TfL send you on a right old dog leg of a diversion. So last century, like the gyratory itself.