Wednesday 19 January 2011

LIP enhancement in the City

I'm told that a fair number of people who ride bikes have already written to the City of London commenting on their draft Transport Local Implementation Plan. Clearly the more who so the better the final version should be. All the stuff you need is on the Cyclists in the City blog and that should be your first port of call.

Below is the submission I made, as a frequent cyclist in the City, with respect to their LIP. It was prefaced by a bit of background information on me and the places/routes I use in the City. On re-reading it a final, final edit would have been beneficial but, hey, at least I sent it in and can cross it off the 'to do' list!

"Within the draft LIP I can see that the City views active travel as being of great importance. I am however very concerned that the actions and spending allocation outlined will fail to achieve the step change that is needed. I consider the City currently to be subservient to the demands of motor traffic and neither pleasant for existing cyclists or likely to inspire people who don't currently cycle to do so. I make comments on the draft below that I hope can inform the final version.

a) A significant omission from the LIP is ANY descriptive information whatsoever on the ten major projects listed in Appendix 3 that, according to the budget, are forecast to account for £30m of the £117m spend over this 3 year period. Please can information on these ten projects and their transport implications, with a map highlighting the ground they account for within the City, be included in the final version.

b) There is no doubt that people prefer to cycle where there is a convenient, direct route that is away from motor traffic, as they perceive that the size, speed and brute force of vehicles has the potential to kill. This understandably results in fear of motor traffic by other road users (whatever the accident stats show). To get people to cycle you need to remove this sense of fear which means removing motor traffic from their desired routes to the greatest extent possible, and where motor traffic remains reducing its volume and speed as far as possible.

To this end I am encouraged in seeing the very limited number of roads for through motor-traffic shown in the Transport Hierarchy map (Figure 3D) and ask that the LIP gives considerably more information on how it is intended to implemement and enforce this.

For example, the map shows that Southwark Bridge and London Bridge should only be used by motor vehicle traffic with a destination or origin within the City of London (excepting buses). Can the LIP please include details of how this is measured, what the current levels transgressing this are, the targeted reduction over the three years and how this will be achieved? Reducing through traffic using these bridges should also, I imagine, permit the redeployment or saving of a considerable sum of money that otherwise would need to be spend on the bridges' upkeep.

c) Reducing through traffic is not sufficient in itself. There must also be targets and methodologies to reduce motor traffic journeys originating within or destined for the City of London.

I therefore ask that the Good Performance aspect of Table 4D is changed from 'not relevant' to have one target set for reducing the number of motor vehicle journeys originating/ending within the City, with a second relating to a reduction in the amount of motor traffic travelling through the City on roads that are not intended for that purpose within the transport hierarchy.

The volume of motor traffic and its knock on cost appears particularly significant given quotes in the LIP such as, "3.8 Highway renewal in the City is based upon the results of regular checks of highway condition and how the paving of the City's streets is coping with the huge volume of traffic that the City is subject to and with other paving-stressing factors such as the weather and water runoff.", and, "3.10 The highly constrained funding environment that is likely to prevail for the initial few years of the local implementation plan period is likely to mean that highway maintenance will form a much greater proportion of the City Corporation's total transport investment over the plan period than was the case during the last plan period when larger capital projects were more numerous."

Reducing motor traffic volume will reduce the cost of highway renewal (as well as playing a key role in reducing air and noise pollution as you outline in 5.4.1, 5.4.2 and 5.6.1.)

Given these obvious benefits, alongside clear benefits for pedestrians and cyclists, I ask that a targeted reduction in motor traffic as outlined above is accompanied by a plan on how this is to be achieved. Within this I would expect to see particular targets set and plan of action laid out to reduce taxi and van mileage in the City. For example, companies such as Darwin's Deli and Office Depot demonstrate the potential for a considerable proportion of deliveries to be made by cycle, while cycle hire and cycle rickshaws offer clear alternatives to taxis and minicabs.

d) On the cycling front, I am concerned that your trajectory diagram, 4F2, doesn't include any years prior to 2010 to allow readers to see how ambitious or not the target is against growth over recent years. Please can the LIP also include reflection on why the previous LIP target to have 12% of all vehicular traffic made by cycle was missed so massively, and with what degree of confidence you feel able to set the new targets and have real belief that your actions (rather than those of Boris Johnston) can achieve a cycling revolution in the City in the very near future?

e) A relatively straightforward change to supplement the measures I outline above is to set very low speed limits - certainly under 20mph in back streets, with 20mph as the default elsewhere (or better still 30kph as on the continent, or 17mph) with exceptions as reasonably justified. Reducing the speed in this way is unlikely to affect a motor vehicles total journey time, given that a burst of speed tends to result in the vehicle simply reaching the next red lght quicker.

f) I also find the lack of any reference to Cycling Superhighways worrying and want the LIP to clarify the City of London's plans with regard to these. Does the City have any plans to facilitate transition between CS3 and 7 for example or is the plan to ignore their existence? Where are the budgets for these kind of changes shown and are they sufficient for quality links to be made and signed?

g) There remains the need for buses and lorries but every effort should be made to make their drivers as cycle aware as possible, with on-road cycle training being part of their training. Due to the ease with which these vehicles can kill there must be the highest standards of enforcement of safety for these vehicles and their drivers.

I look forward to seeing the revised LIP and over the next couple of years finding the City to be a quieter, less polluted, and more mellow place to cycle and walk, with lower speed limits, greater segregation of motor traffic, more deliveries undertaken by cycle, cycle rickshaws, many more hire bikes, much more cycle parking, more considerate lorry and bus drivers, and far fewer taxis, private cars and vans."