Monday 21 October 2013

Join Lambeth Cyclists Architecture Ride, Sun 27th Oct, starts by Imperial War Museum

Join Lambeth Cyclists Architecture Ride, this Sunday,  27th Oct
Architecture, faith and community: Sunday 27th October 2013
This ride will explore the architecture of religious buildings as represented by some of the major faiths of London's diverse communities. We will explore how religious traditions and beliefs find expression in the architecture of church, synagogue,  mosque and temple. Some of the places of worship have been converted from their original use, reflecting successive waves of migration, carrying the religious symbols and customs of new ethnic groups which in contrasting styles bring together materiality with spirituality.
Meet in the Tibetan Peace Garden at the  Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ at 10.45am for an 11am start (remember clocks go back an hour the night before). Lunch will be in Brick Lane and the ride will end at approximately 4pm.

Please note that we plan to visit Sandys Row Synagogue which asks for a £4 donation from visitors. Some of the buildings also request that visitors dress modestly, which means no shorts.
The ride will be led by John Heyderman and Tessa Wright (tel: 07949 785258). No need to book, just turn up on the day with a roadworthy bike.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Is Nine Elms en-route to being more cycle friendly than Amsterdam?

Exciting stuff - the Barclays Hire Bike docking station has gone in opposite Battersea Power Station

Doubtless Wandsworth or TfL will soon put in a dropped kerb so you can comfortably cycle directly to Nine Elms Lane

The new blocks of expensive flats, some with an element of affordable housing, are going up. You can see Riverlight taking shape behind this sign, advertising imminent traffic delays

Embassy Gardens building work is taking place on the other side of Nine Elms Lane
and advice is offered to cyclists, so they're aware of turning lorries even if the drivers can't see them

I dropped into the Embassy Gardens Marketing Suite, taking my bicycle with me as there is no cycle parking outside
There's also none inside the grounds, but the sales clerk kindly invited me to bring the bike into the building
Having ascertained that all available flats had been sold, I continued up Nine Elms Lane towards Vauxhall, mingling with other proponents of active travel

towards The Tower

which planning conditions dictate has loads of cycle parking, plus a few car parking spaces. You get into the Cycle and Car Park here:
There are no guest Sheffield Stands for St George's Wharf Tower but there's much better than that - the gatekeeper assured me the concierge would arrange for the valet to look after your bicycle (don't ask how much the service charge is, if you can afford a flat here it's loose change)
Continuing to the top of Nine Elms Lane I tested my bike control skills around all the signs relating to the St George's development to take the segregated cycle path past Lassco
and when the van had gone I made my way back to Kennington

Across the river there's lots of discussion about the planned pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Thames

So, I think we can see that everyone's pulling their weight to ensure that Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea is well on its way to being 'Better than Amsterdam' for cyclists as Boris Johnson promised.

Monday 7 October 2013

Temporary steps towards a cycle friendly Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea

Sainsburys Nine Elms Vauxhall has a large noticeboard in its entrance lobby about the imminent temporary store that will replace the big one while it is being rebuilt.

I can't help but doubt that Sainsburys shares the aspiration of Lambeth and the Mayor of London that this area will be super cycling friendly - in fact 'Better than Amsterdam - from that sketch and the accompanying Access information:

21 car parking spaces is way fewer than the existing store's several hundred spaces, plus the petrol station is closing, so this is presents a classic opportunity for Sainsburys to give a nudge to those currently shopping by car to switch to shopping by bike instead of losing these customers to a competing supermarket with a big car park.

The first thing to do is to ensure some cycle parking will be provided and tell people about it. But that's just a start. Don't show images like that above, but instead add lots of images of people shopping by bike; put panniers on sale by the tills, or whole shopping bikes ready equipped with rack, panniers, dynamo lighting and locks; give vouchers with the till receipts and petrol receipts offering a deal at local bike stores; and another voucher promoting Lambeth Council's free cycle training; run a Dr Bike in the existing car park and encourage drivers to bring their bikes to get them sorted ready for the big switch.

It's a real shame that the developers holding such sway here aren't pulling out every stop to nurture cycling as an everyday, efficient and less polluting means of transport in this area, right from the outset.

Sainsburys have replied to my tweet asking if they would amend the sign to give details about access by bicycle:
  1. ...throughout the build and that this will take a number of different forms including in store displays. Thanks, Mark 2/2
  2. Hi there, just to let you know that we will be keeping the community fully appraised of all aspects of the development...1/2

Transport Assessments feedback from Lambeth and Wandsworth

My recent posts on the numbers projected not to cycle to planned new Vauxhall and Battersea schools have attracted informative responses from Lambeth and Wandsworth, the respective boroughs.

The responses were kindly obtained, and sent to me today, by Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership (@NineElmsTeam) who introduce themselves as follows.
It might be useful to explain in the first instance who we are and what is our mandate. As the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership we are the informal partnership for the Nine Elms Vauxhall Battersea Opportunity Area (or VNEB, now known as Nine Elms on the South Bank), working with Wandsworth and Lambeth Councils, TfL, the GLA and the various large developers and landowners in the area. Our role in the Partnership Delivery Team is strategic, in that we aim to create cohesion across all partners and to bring all their plans together; our partners are delivering the regeneration of the area.
I reproduce the replies from each borough in full below. My interpretation of these replies (without re-reading the Transport Assessments)  is that the Assessments predicts what form of transport will be used for the new building, based on similar existing buildings in places with similar transport infrastructure to that which currently exists, but don't make a second prediction incorporating the planned infrastructure developments such as the new tube line or 'better than Amsterdam' cycling facilities, based on a location where such infrastructure already exists. It seems to me that the absence of this second assessment can lead to flawed decision making.

Lambeth Council replied as follows:
All large developments are required to submit a Transport Assessment (TA) as part of their planning application. The purpose of this document is to set out the existing baseline transport and traffic conditions of the surrounding area; to make a robust prediction on the number and type of trips to be generated by the proposed development and then to assess the impact that those new trips would have on the highway and public transport network.

Therefore the figures quoted in the Waterman Boreham TA for Keybridge House stating the number of people cycling to and from the new school are predictions based on existing levels of cycling at other schools in similar locations. It is important to note that they are definitely not intended to be a target and are certainly not an aspiration. Lambeth Council works with all its schools to develop bespoke Travel Plans that seek to increase levels of cycling and walking. This includes providing cycle training for anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough. Lambeth Council have recently adopted an ambitious Cycling Strategy and are actively working with TfL to deliver major improvements to cycling routes through the borough in the near future.

All developments within the VNEB Opportunity Area are required to make financial contributions to overarching public realm improvements across the wider area. Better provision for cycling will be at the very centre of these improvements with proposals for improved cycle routes as set out in the Lambeth Cycling Strategy, major infrastructure projects such as a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river from Nine Elms to Pimlico, and a requirement for cycle parking as part of all new developments.

In addition to this developments are also required to fund improvements to the public highway directly related to their site and this will be the same for Keybridge House with the likelihood of contributions towards public realm improvements on both Wyvil Road and Miles Street, including improved cycling infrastructure.

Options are currently being investigated to remove Vauxhall Gyratory and return the streets to two-way operation. This would lead to improvements for cycling and walking at Vauxhall and to reduce traffic dominance. This is in accordance with the Vauxhall SPD and the council's aim to develop a district centre at Vauxhall with significantly improved public realm and permeability.

For the 415 new homes proposed within Keybridge House only 115 car parking spaces will be provided which equates to less than 1 space for every 3 homes; conversely every home will have at least 1 cycle parking space with more provided for the larger units. The car parking ratio has been negotiated down by around 50% from the developer's original proposals. The application has yet to be determined but the council will work with the developer to ensure that a comprehensive package of sustainable transport measures are delivered.
 Wandsworth Council said:
The point of the TA is to use known data as a proxy for what might happen. TAs have to apply a methodology compliant with TfL's Best Practice Guidance

It is not for the TA to make aspirational assumptions about future cycle use as this could then underestimate the likely impact on the bus and highway network.

However, we expect schools to develop more cycling as a result of planning and transport policies (cycle parking/travel plan etc), investment in cycling and schools cycling, and the cultural/demographic shift to cycling. We are statutory required to increase cycling mode share in the Borough from 2.7% of all journeys in 2008/09 to 7% in 2031 and are well on course for that (currently 4.2%). Have a look at Paper 13-526, including Appendix 3.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

If you have a car please leave it at home recently tweeted this image of London Bridge in 1890, and it reminded me of the following passage from Jane Jacobs’ acclaimed (and still in print) 1961 book ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’:

Automobiles are hardly inherent destroyers of cities. If we would stop telling ourselves fairy tales about the suitability and charm of nineteenth-century streets for horse and buggy traffic, we would see that the internal combustion engine, as it came on the scene, was potentially an excellent instrument for abetting city intensity, and at the same time for liberating cities from one of their noxious liabilities.
 Not only are automotive engines quieter and cleaner than horses but, even more important, fewer engines than horses can do a given amount of work. The power of mechanized vehicles, and their greater speed than horses, can make it easier to reconcile great concentrations of people with efficient movement of people and goods. At the turn of the century, railroads had already long demonstrated that iron horses are fine instruments for reconciling concentration and movement. Automobiles, including trucks, offered, for places railroads could not go, and for jobs railroads could not do, another means of cutting down the immemorial vehicular congestion of cities.
 We went awry by replacing, in effect, each horse on the crowded city streets with half a dozen or so mechanized vehicles, instead of using each mechanized vehicle to replace half a dozen or so horses. The mechanical vehicles, in their overabundance, work slothfully and idle much. As one consequence of such low efficiency, the powerful and speedy vehicles, choked by their own redundancy, don’t move much faster than horses.
 Trucks, by and large, do accomplish much of what might have been hoped for from mechanical vehicles in cities. But because passenger vehicles do not, this congestion, in turn, greatly cuts down the efficiency of trucks.