Saturday 29 September 2012

Nine Elms Lane cycle friendly measures

A fortnight ago I commented that cycle friendly measures clearly weren't at the forefront of the mind when starting building works at Nine Elms, with a pavement and bus/cycle lane being taken out of action for nine months.

I wrote, "Those in authority have no ambition for Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea to become the new Amsterdam. They just don't want mums and kids, pensioners and commuters in London's biggest regeneration scheme walking and cycling around.."

I was wrong. Yesterday the Mayor of London tweeted that Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea is to be more cycling friendly than Amsterdam.

Cycling down Nine Elms Lane today I was pleased to see the first small step has been made towards this, outside the former Post Office building site where a little of the bus/cycle lane has been restored.. 

The developers of Embassy Gardens also deserve points for trying. They've put up a (slightly self-promoting) sign to highlight the end of a cycle path. I think we can see they don't yet quite understand how the Dutch do these things (let alone how to meet the Mayor's commitment to do better than them) but at least they're having a go..

Friday 28 September 2012

Mayor says VNEB will be "better than Amsterdam"

Fantastic news from Boris. Those of us planning to attend forthcoming events to ask the people in power whether Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea will become a cycling nirvana can strike that question off the list. Boris said today that the area will be even more cycling friendly than Amsterdam.

 Will the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area be as cycling friendly as Amsterdam? 

So the questions to focus on now are:
1. Will this new approach start during the current Mayoralty as it doesn't seem to be in place yet?
2. What are the designs for Nine Elms Lane, the Vauxhall Gyratory etc. that will meet the Mayor's commitment?

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Does your child feel safe cycling on the road?

The police have an online survey for 11 - 15 year olds to fill out. The questions include

You'll notice that there is no option for 'Cycling on the road', perhaps unsurprisingly. But what about where 11 - 15 year olds feel least safe? Nope, not allowed to opt for 'Cycling on the road' there either. It's be interesting to see where it would figure in the stats if it was given as an option.

There follow lots of questions about bullying, gangs, knife crime, theft of valuable objects (eg ipods, phones but bicycles not mentioned) before you get to this list. How likely is it that 'Car crime / road safety' will be in the top three?

Meet the VNEB head honchos. Anyone got £299?

First up a reminder that, for free, you can meet Helen Fisher, Programme Director of the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership at the Vauxhall Society AGM on Thursday 25th October. You may wish to ask how this area is to become as cycling friendly as Amsterdam, when the gyratory is going, and whether the huge costs of building the planned Northern Line Extension will fall disproportionately on Lambeth and impact on the ability to afford things like cycling propersuperhighways and social housing.

But the following day, if you've got £299 + VAT to splash out, you can hear and network with an amazing range of those driving forward this huge regeneration scheme at a New London Architecture event. I'm unlikely to be there at that price but if you're there and get a chance, I'd love to find out how many of these big-wigs arrived at Market Towers by bicycle, how many by car/taxi and how many by public transport.

Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea (VNEB) - home of the new US Embassy, Battersea Power Station and New Covent Garden Market, together with a significant cluster of new tall towers at Vauxhall - is central London’s largest opportunity area. This NLA ‘on location’ event, in association with the GLA, Lambeth and Wandsworth Councils, and the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, will bring together the key delivery partners to update on development and planning progress.

Join us for an update on infrastructure plans and investment as well as individual developments. A morning conference on the 20th floor of Market Towers in Vauxhall will be followed by a networking lunch and afternoon walking tours around Battersea and Vauxhall.

Friday 26 October 2012, 09:00-16:00
NLA On Location Conference & Tours
In association with the GLA, Lambeth Council, Wandsworth Council & The Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership
Sponsored by AECOM & Bircham Dyson Bell

Speakers incude:
Sir Edward Lister, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning, GLA
Helen Fisher,
Programme Director, Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership
Cllr Ravi Govinda,
Leader, LB Wandsworth
Seema Manchanda,
Assistant Director of Planning and Environmental Services, LB Wandsworth
Cllr Lib Peck,
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategic Housing, LB Lambeth
Cllr Steve Reed,
Leader, LB Lambeth
Sandra Roebuck,
Programme Manager, Neighbourhood Regeneration, LB Lambeth
Rob Tincknell,
CEO, Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC)
Matthew Townend,
Development Director, St James PLC
Simon Wigzell,
Head of UK Property, CLS Holdings Plc
Alex Williams,
Director, Borough Partnerships, Transport for London
Colin Wilson,
Senior Planning Manager, GLA
Peter Murray,
Chairman, NLA (Chair)

NLA Members are entitled to discounted places at this event.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Nine Elms regeneration falls at first hurdle

Those in authority have no ambition for Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea to become the new Amsterdam. They just don't want mums and kids, pensioners and commuters in London's biggest regeneration scheme walking and cycling around.

If they really aspired to get everyone and their dog walking and cycling they'd have started creating environments that nurture and support active travel right from the outset of development.

Instead they're doing exactly the opposite, closing the pavement, bus and cycle lane outside the huge former Post Office site on Nine Elms Lane.

For nine whole months.

Why the hell would you mix the soft, squidgy people in the same lane as huge tonnes of lorry for nine whole months if your aspiration for an area is for it to be a pleasant environment for everyone to walk and cycle?
 Maybe the solution is to remove the hatching in the middle of the road and create a cycle lane by the ex-bus lane. Better still, maybe, in addition remove the bus lane going eastbound and replace it with a 2m wide cycle lane, matched with one on the westbound side of the road, plus a pavement for pedestrians.

Maybe there's a better solution. But to do what's been done simply sends a message that it's motor-centric business as usual at TfL, Wandsworth and the Mayor's office.


Wednesday 12 September 2012

Time to cut through the Vauxhall gyratory maze

On the 19th September Lambeth's full Council considers the draft Supplementary Planning Document for Vauxhall, before it goes out for statutory consultation later this year.

The briefing note to Councillors says what the most important in the view of the 262 people who filled in a questionnaire or a postcard at a public exhibition in March:
-People liked the existing parks and there were concerns that the quality of these needed protecting. ‘More or better open space’ was the most popular community benefit that people called for.
· People disliked the traffic and the road layout, particularly the gyratory, and felt the pedestrian experience was poor. Improving pedestrian and cycle routes was the second most popular community benefit that people wanted to see.
The problem with Vauxhall is that it's attempting to be an interchange for lots of motor traffic on lots of roads, and become a major residential, office and hotel centre with pleasant walking, cycling and public spaces. I don't think this can happen while all of these A roads meet at Vauxhall:

A202 Vauxhall Bridge
A3205 Nine Elms Lane
A3036 Wandsworth Road;
A203 South Lambeth Road
A202 Harleyford Road;
A3204 Kennington Lane (Inner Ring Road);
A3036 Albert Embankment

The plain and simple way of getting rid of the gyratory is to make the traffic sort itself out before it gets to Vauxhall, allowing it to flow smoother on smaller roads at Vauxhall, all of which we return to two way working. Let's not have every road meet at the one place as it does currently with a race track in the middle:

I suggest we remove South Lambeth Road and Parry Street from the Vauxhall equation, by stopping them up to motor traffic at Vauxhall, and hey-presto the gyratory's gone and we end up with a simple crossroads, two T-junctions, and more public space with better opportunities for cycling and walking. The roads that are closed to through motor traffic remain accessible by residents/visitors but become quieter, less noisy and polluted, and a more desirable place to live.

Bus stops can be located around the cross roads, keeping walking distances between stops short while making bus journeys more efficient because the buses needn't detour into the bus station and then go around the gyratory to where they're going. There can be an option worked out to retain buses using South Lambeth Road and joining Wandsworth Road or Kennington Lane.

I don't see any other practical way for this location to become the home to thousands upon thousands more people, plus offices and hotels for thousands upon thousands more. These residents, workers and visitors will nearly all be getting around by public transport, foot or bike so losing the car space won't matter for them. And those, mainly outer, Londoners who choose to use cars can nip around the M25. After all, it was built to avoid the need to drive through the centre of London.

Lambeth Cyclists "Wren Revival Ride" Sat 22 Sept

Lambeth Cyclists organise a free ride looking at a particular aspect of architecture each month. The next one is described as follows:

WREN REVIVAL RIDE     Sat 22nd Sept

Our next Architecture Ride is a revival of a ride we did six years ago looking at the work of the man who transformed London in the wake of the Great Fire.- Christopher Wren.

Already celebrated as a mathematician, astronomer and inventor, Wren seized his chance to make perhaps the greatest mark any one architect has made on a city, with fifty-one churches and their infinitely-varied steeples dancing around the great drum of St Paul’s and its dome.

Open House Weekend gives us the chance to go inside his City churches, many of which are rarely open, especially at weekends.   We’ll visit as many of the churches as we can fit in, and finish with a look at one of his grandest  “domestic” projects, the  Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Meet at The Monument, Fish Street Hill, at the north end of London Bridge, 10.30 for a 10.45 start.  We’ll finish in Chelsea about 4.00.

Enquiries – Mark Knox 07765 945530

Saturday 8 September 2012

In praise of London's public transport

"Thousands at Games Finale Weekend" is one of the headlines on the BBC News website today. The opening line tell us "The Olympic Park is playing host to hundreds of thousands of people on the final weekend of the Paralympics."
I can testify that the Athletics Stadium was full this morning and other venues also appeared to be sold out.

It's a gloriously sunny  day, with the gentlest of breezes. Perfect weather for those inspired to ride a bike by the successful British cyclists in the Olympics and Paralympics. 

Above are rows of empty cycle racks at 10am this morning in the Olympic Park's Abbey Lane cycle park (at the Greenway entrance to the stadium, just beyond the end of Cycling Superhighway 2, and at the end of the Greenway cycle route from Becton). The photo below shows how full it was at 2pm today:

In fairness it may be that the other cycle parks are much busier. After all Cycling Superhighway 2 is awful and you can't cycle to the Paralympics on the Greenway. 

My bet though is that most people deemed public transport, even though it may be packed and sweltering, to be the more relaxing and safer way to travel, especially as a family. We need to get the quality of our cycle network up to the quality of our public transport for that to change.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Yay! The railings on Kennington Lane are going

A few weeks ago I took some photos outside Tesco on Kennington Lane of the junction with their car park in preparation for a blog post urging changes..

Pedestrians can't simply walk across the side road that just leads to the relatively modest, for a supermarket, car park.They but must instead zigzag around, push buttons and wait for a green man twice. It's preposterously over-engineered with a complicated traffic light and pedestrian light sequence, probably due to having two lanes of traffic going out, to smooth the motor traffic flow, where one would be reasonable.

While I doubt that a lane is being removed, the great news is that TfL are removing the railings later this month

A llot of people use the railings as a bike parking location, so the existing bike racks are likely to become much fuller shortly. I suspect additional ones will be needed and hope Tesco have this in hand..


Monday 3 September 2012

How the Circus tamed Piccadilly Circus

Yesterday, Sunday 2nd September, a great range of circus performance took place on closed roads in central London. This was one of the Mayor of London's Olympics-related surprise events - about a week ago some messages went out alerting recipients to a forthcoming Secret Circus event and asking them to sign up to hear more, and spread the word. On Saturday morning an email was sent out letting people know the shows were from 1pm onwards around Piccadilly Circus on Sunday.

And it was fabulous; throughout the streets there were trapeze and tightwire rigs; trampolines, sway and chinese poles; stages filled with hula-hoop artists, jugglers and acrobats. 

But for me it was the streets devoid of traffic that were the real stars of the day. It turned out that not only was Piccadilly Circus pedestrianised, but also Regent Street, above and below Piccadilly Circus, Haymarket, Piccadilly, and part of Shaftesbury Avenue. 

And the people came and strolled in their thousands, making the Hyundai car adverts absurdly dated and out of place..

People meandered up and down the streets, admired the shows;

sat on benches in the middle of the street;

sat in the middle of the street;

took photos of their children;

watched their children play in the street;

and shopped until the shelves were empty.

Suddenly streets I normally avoid like the plague became pleasant to visit and the family took the advantage to do some shopping too. Not just coffee and sandwiches (where there were any left), but an impulse purchase of two sweatshirts from a shop we'd never previously entered.

And while the circus was spectacular, I suspect many more thousands of people than usual would flock to the West End to shop and socialise if the authorities simply closed the streets to motor traffic.

So please email, tweet and talk with the West End shops, MPs, Councillors and residents pushing them to remove motor traffic from the streets on many more occasions throughout the year.

And, if you want to learn to juggle, play with poi, spin diabolos etc. check out the new weekly juggling workshop in Kennington at