Saturday 28 July 2012

Discord at Critical Mass tonight

At 5pm today I was watching the Gandini Jugglers outside the National Theatre, where Critical Mass, the 'no leader' bike ride sets off from around 7pm on the last Friday in each month, when a group of cyclists arrived.

Shortly afterwards this group of their mates arrived.

Was joining Critical Mass appealing to me tonight? No. Was it likely to go towards the Olympic Site on the opening night? Yes.

Were the arrests reported on Twitter tonight near the Olympic site fair? I don't know, I wasn't there.

But I will say that I consider the provision made by the Mayor of London for people wishing to cycle during this time has been really poor.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Friday: Ring your bell, 8.12 at Kennington Cross

'All the bells in a country rung as quickly and loudly as possible for three minutes', commissioned as part of the London 2012 Festival - the culmination of the four-year Cultural Olympiad, Martin Creed's public art performance is an invitation for a three-minute ring of bells across the country - be they hand bells, door bells, church bells, school bells or bicycle bells. 

Everyone's invited with any kind of bell to Kennington Cross, outside St. Anselm's church, on Friday 27th July ready to ring your bell(s) at 8.12am.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Please email Lambeth re Clapham Old Town

This may be a little off the patch for many of my Kennington readers, but it's still important for you to comment. Schemes which work inspire others to emulate them (would London have Barclays Bikes if Paris  hadn't?). So, if you want Kennington to be cycle friendly you need to try and get other Lambeth initiatives to really boost cycling - and the proposed Clapham Old Town schemes just aren't good enough to do that.
Lambeth Council are consulting on very expensive plans for improving Clapham Old Town  (at the top end of the Common) yet, unacceptably, neither of the options currently on the table resolve some major barriers to cycling here.
If either of the plans proposed by the Council are approved as they stand, those wishing to cycle in a direct line from the Clapham Park Road area, through Clapham Old Town, towards Chelsea Bridge will still have to make a circuitous detour (see the map), away from the Old Town, on very fast and busy main roads, if they dare. Many adults don’t dare and even those who do are hardly likely to allow their children to cycle on these roads.

Everyone (and local residents in particular) who would like to see Clapham Old Town become a great place to cycle through and around needs to send a quick email to the Council NOW (or certainly before 21st July) – - saying that you can’t accept either proposal as they stand and that you want to see the scheme reworked to make the area much more cycling friendly. Please also give your address. Ideally you’ll copy in your local Councillor as well if you live in the vicinity.

After all, It's not as though there's not enough road width for The Pavement to become two way for cyclists

Put simply, the plans on the table at the moment don’t meet Lambeth Council’s own, Mayor of London approved, Transport Plan.

Lambeth’s Transport Plan puts pedestrians and cyclists at the top of the hierarchy of road users, because these are the ONLY travel choices that totally meet Lambeth’s five key transport objectives:

  1. Promote sustainable, healthy transport behaviour
  2. Improves the quality, reliability and efficiency of the road network
  3. Improves air quality
  4. Reduces the perceived and actual danger of Lambeth’s road
  5. Reduces CO2 emissions.
Instead both draft schemes focus on maintaining the motoring status quo while preventing cyclists from having calm, family friendly routes that permit them to frequent the useful shops and cafes in the Old Town.

This is all the more extraordinary given the project brief include the following statements

"Prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and bus users and make walking, cycling and bus use more attractive and accessible to encourage more journeys by these modes."


"The Cycle Route Implementation and Stakeholder Plan (CRISP) identified that there are currently significant barriers to providing attractive conditions for cyclists. These include conflict between cyclists & pedestrians/motor vehicles, lack of priority at some junctions, and the large Clapham Old Town one-way system resulting in cyclists taking different routes in each direction. London Cycle Network (LCN) route no 3 passes through the area. There are several points and sections along the proposed route which are likely to cause problems to cyclists."

Having shown the existing plans’ weaknesses, it is only fair to point out that there are some significant improvements for pedestrians and some for cyclists too, particularly a plan that allows cycling in a southbound direction along Northside

Finally, unless you have a firm view about the bus locations, I recommend you don't complete the poorly designed on-line survey, as it doesn't have have a button for 'Devise a better option'.

Friday 13 July 2012

Have your say on the E&C roundabout redesign

I understand that a representative from TfL will be at the next open, public meeting of the Elephant & Castle Community Forum. This takes place on Wednesday 18 July at 7pm at Etc Venues, Avonmouth House, 6 Avonmouth Street, SE1 6NX.

Here's the details of the planned roundabout discussion (and there are other items on the meeting agenda)

"At the last forum we had a brief update on the progress on transport and
infrastructure improvements in and around the Elephant and Castle. People kindly
provided helpful quick comments on the views about, and their experience of,
moving around the area. At this coming forum we are going to dedicate more time
to this important topic, and use the opportunity to seek more information and
views on peoples' experience of the northern roundabout, surrounding spaces and
public realm. This will be useful for planning future improvements."

Please email if you are interested in attending the Community Forum.

Bravo! Lambeth Council crushes Ice Creaminals

I think we're much less likely to see Ice Cream vans trading while parked on Westminster Bridge in the cycle lane, bus lane and red route.
Above are Lambeth Councillors Jack Hopkins and Pete Robbins standing by an ice cream van that's about to become this:
Lambeth Council reports:
Lambeth Council has scored a major court victory against illegal street traders who operate on London’s South Bank.

The council went to the High Court to seek injunctions against two street traders who had persistently set up ice cream vans to trade illegally along the South Bank around Westminster Bridge.

Street trading at the tourist hotspot is closely regulated to ensure that tourists and other visitors don’t end up being ripped off or sold potentially harmful food or other items.

However, with millions of tourists visitors visiting the area every year, the area attracts unlicensed hawkers keen to make a quick profit.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “The Southbank is one of London’s most popular tourist destinations and we’re determined to do everything in our powers to tackle cowboy traders who try to operate there. I hope this sends a clear message that we are prepared to use all legal powers at our disposal to protect the public and crack down on unlicensed traders who clearly believe they are above the law.”

Working closely with the South Bank Employers’ Group, the council took the unusual step of seeking injunctions against Ms Elma Sanli and Mr Ndue Meli after it became clear that they were prepared to ignore the threat of fines and on the spot penalties. Despite being taken to Magistrates’ Courts on a number of previous occasions by Lambeth Council for street trading offences, the financial penalties issued by the courts were often not sufficient to deter a hard core group of illegal traders from regularly visiting the South Bank area.

On the 13 June applications for interim injunctions were heard against both of the defendants Ms Sanli and Mr Meli. The defendants chose not to dispute the injunction applications; they instead sought to provide the court with an ‘undertaking’ with regard to their future behaviour.

However, the Judge accepted the council’s view that the injunction orders were essential in tackling unlicensed street traders who continue to flout street trading regulations. The interim injunctions prohibit Ms Sanli and Mr Meli from trading anywhere on the South Bank and if they breach these orders, they could face a fine or imprisonment.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Lord Butler opens St Thomas' Hospital cycle park

The Bicycle User Groups (BUG) in many organisations feel that that are battling with the people leading the organisation.

Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Bicycle User Group are an exception as they now have a Patron, Lord Butler, who has enormous influence, for he is the Chair of the Board of King's Health Partners. His Board members include the Chairs and Chief Executives of King's College Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas', and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

No paper Patron, Lord Butler has a track record of achieving cycling improvements - he secured a Barclays Bikes docking station near Parliament despite stiff opposition .
Today, at the request of the BUG, Lord Butler (above, with Alison Dines, BUG coordinator) cut the ribbon to formally open the new St Thomas's staff cycle park, in the presence of Sir Hugh Taylor, Chair of Guy's and St Thomas'. 

Staff are delighted to now have somewhere secure to leave their bike adjacent to the elegant Evelina Children's Hospital that was opened in 2005.:
 Looking in, above, looking out, below

This is a fine addition to the previously extremely limited secure cycle parking at G&ST and marks the way to the dynamic cycling future that, as I covered previously, the hospitals need to embrace.

Perhaps the next step could be for Lord Butler to arrange for his board members to visit Groningen's comparable University Medical Centre, one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands. On this page are details, and a small image, of one of their parking facilities, accommodating 725 cycles. And on this page are details of the one accommodating 1500 cycles.

Bring on the evolution!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Why cyclists ignore signs, at least in the Royal Parks

I wonder whether any senior member of the Royal Parks staff rides a bike.

If they do, I also wonder if they obey the 'Cyclists Dismount' signs every time they cross West Carriage Drive, the road dividing Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens.

I mean, why on earth would you? There's a cycle path to the road, then the road to cross, then a cycle path the other side. A 'Cyclists Take Care' sign here could be argued to make sense. But 'Dismount'. Totally bloody ridiculous.

However not dismounting can really piss off the drivers who think they may have to give way to pedestrians here and know that the tax-dodging, law-breaking cyclists should dismount before crossing. Motorists know this because can see the 'Cyclists Dismount' sign

They're not to know that cyclists coming from Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park can't see a 'Cyclists Dismount' sign, because it's been turned to face the drivers for the past few months. A recipe for conflict that the Royal Park authorities either haven't known about because they don't ride bikes or, if they do, is seemingly on the 2014 list of things to fix.

The next to best thing they could do is just take the bloody signs down. The best thing they could do would be to also paint some Give Way lines in front of the motorists at the crossing point so pedestrians and cyclists have right of way here as should be the case at a major junction in the park.

There are other signs of sign blindness. Like the existing sign saying 'The Mall Diversion Ends' as you're approaching the Mall, which has been shut for weeks and will stay shut for the Olympics activity on Horse Guards Parade.

This exchange of emails I had with the Park Manager, St James's Park and The Green Park, in March reveals the disinterest in getting signage correct:
Subject: The Mall closure on Sundays
Can you please let me know why there is not an exemption permitting cyclists to cycle along the Mall and Marlborough Road on a Sunday when the road is closed? It would seem an excellent opportunity for families to cycle there, especially as it is part of a recommended cycle route. Do you have plans to permit cycling on these roads on Sundays in the future?

Park Manager Reply
Your e-mail regarding not being able to cycle on the Mall on Sundays comes as a surprise to me, and to our police inspector also, in that we do permit such exemptions! I certainly am passed by many cyclists on the Mall when I am doing my rounds on a Sunday.  The only time this is not the case is if we have a specific event on - such as this coming weekend when we host the Sport Relief Mile - or whilst Changing the Guard is taking place.

If you have been prevented from doing so I suspect it may have been by officers tasked from other areas who may not be especially familiar with the park?

I do apologise if this has been the case and my Inspector has reminded his officers that this is something we do permit, on the consideration of course that the activity being conducted is in such a manner that it is not discourteous or a danger to others.

Me to Park Manager:

Given the Royal Parks' intent that people can cycle on the Mall and Marlborough Road on a Sunday can you please arrange to replace the temporary 'No Entry' signs you currently use (photo attached) which the law states applies to vehicular traffic, including pedal cycles, at the entrance to the Mall and Marlborough Road with the 'No Motor Vehicles' sign (flying motorcycle over car) or have the recently permitted 'Except Cycles' added beneath the 'No Entry' signs?

Park Manager reply:
Thank you for your suggestion. We will give this some consideration.

Me to Park Manager:
It'll be great if these can be corrected. I teach cycling to pupils in Westminster schools, including not only the meaning of 'No Entry' signs, but also of course the importance of obeying signage including the 'No Cycling' and 'Considerate Cycling Permitted' signs in the Royal Parks (normally Kensington Gdns/Hyde Park/Regents Park) that we visit on Fridays! 

Park Manager reply:
...and of course you are absolutely right! I am just surprised that it has taken over 20 years for anyone to raise this with us or even for ourselves to notice!!

I need to look at my budget and at what signs are available. If we are unable to replace outright it may be a phased introduction as and when other signs get damaged.

Let's see what happens when the Mall reopens.