Friday, 14 February 2014

My response to Central London Grid Consultation

Comments on Lambeth Aspect of the Central London Cycling Grid

1. Key to Lambeth is the borough’s intention to have cycling as 20% of trips by 2020, with 15% by 2015. To achieve this, and make a fantastic place, the central tourist part of Lambeth must have as little motor traffic as possible, with motor traffic reduction across the whole area the absolute key. Lambeth, unlike Westminster, is not motor-centric and this should therefore be facilitated at the highest level by TfL as well as the borough. There is urgency needed to meet the cycling modal share targets so LCC’s priority ‘coarse grid’ measures needs to be expedited within months, not years.

Lambeth’s policy is for 1 – 100 cycling, that a parent conveying a one year old; an eight year cycling to school; and a nonagenarian can all cycle in comfort and safety; feeble measures are unacceptable.

2. There must be frequent and excellent places to cross the Inner Ring Road.

3. The grid has to accord to the realities of how people behave. It needs to adopt the core Dutch cycling design principles: Direct, Comfortable, Safe, Attractive and Coherent.

Directness and Coherence are not met by parts of the Lambeth part of the grid as it stands, largely I suspect because the Grid is envisioned by TfL to be a mix of ‘slower quietways and cycling superhighways’ with nothing in between.

a)      The majority of cyclists using Waterloo Bridge are likely to continue to use Waterloo Road as it is direct (a straight line) and comfortable (gentle gradient, whereas the ascent/descent from Upper Ground / Belvedere Road is steep and bendy). Should this not be the focus of the Grid? There is a time penalty for using Cornwall Road as against Waterloo Road and I question whether this can be shortened to make it sufficiently attractive to a large number of cyclists.  The Cornwall Road option can undoubtedly work as a ‘slower quietway’, if the southbound access to it off Waterloo Bridge is super safe and the traffic light phasing at the Cut is hugely improved (or better lights removed due to filtered permeability removing through motor traffic in the Cut), but remains indirect.
 b)      Crossing Westminster Bridge to or from the cycling superhighway on the northern side, will people really go round the houses to get to / from Elephant and Castle rather than the direct route of Westminster Bridge Road?
 c)       Why is there a gap on Lambeth Road outside Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park when it’s the obvious, direct route to the Cycling Superhighway (6?) and passes the front door of one of our National Museums?

4. I am pleased to see positive examples of Directness and Coherence:
a) The riverside route being created to link the American Embassy and Vauxhall to the London Eye and Tate Modern. This has huge tourist potential and needs to be exceptionally family and visitor friendly.

b) Kennington Road linking CS7 and the planned quietway through Kennington Park to Baylis Road and the Cut and beyond. The crossing of the Inner Ring Road needs to be made much more pleasant. The junction of Kennington Road and Lambeth Road lends itself to a scramble lights system.

c) The Vauxhall, Nine Elms Battersea linear park linking through Vauxhall Walk to Hercules Road, Baylis Road, the Cut. Can this please all have motor vehicle access only rather than be a motor traffic through route (save buses as appropriate) or fantastic segregation if through traffic remains in part. A Dutch quality route between St Thomas’ and Guys Hospitals needs to be factored in.

5) I cannot stress enough the importance of the bridges and their junctions each end being made child cycle friendly within a short time scale. There is not a single child friendly bridge currently and this presents a huge obstacle to cycling journeys to school, shops and attractions across the river.

I suggest tacking a ped’n footway addition to Waterloo Bridge on the east side, on the east side of the steps down to the Imax. This would allow the existing pavement to the west of the steps to be made into a mandatory, maybe segregated, cycle lane to the quietway exit, while retaining a bus and general traffic lane towards the roundabout.  Through rearrangement of the lanes and bus stops at the northern end it should be a simple matter to allow an easy transition for children to Covent Garden from the South Bank complex and vis versa (Wellington Street and Bow Street in Westminster should have no motor traffic, save lorry deliveries at specific time slots).

6) Minor notes:
a) I question why Courtenay Street is highlighted rather than more direct Cardigan Street?

b) a route from Reedworth Street through the car park of Cotton Gardens and across Kennington Lane (through relocating the adjacent Pelican and making it a Toucan) into Cottington Street and Othello Street to Kennington Park Road by Kennington tube station would be fairly easy and increase permeability of the inner ring road.