Have your say on Cycling in Richmond Park

On December 17th, Zac Goldsmith is hosting a meeting about Richmond Park. We don’t want this to be another “cyclists ate my hamster” session, so we’ve got together with Kingston Wheelers, London Dynamo, Twickenham Cycling Club, Barnes Cycling Club, Chevaliers, Kingston Juniors, and Kingston’s own LCC branch, to make the case for why cycling in the park is a good thing, and why the Royal Parks need to be doing more for it.

Here’s our view, and you can find the meeting details here. Come along and support cycling for all in one of the finest natural reserves we have access to.

Richmond Park is there for everyone, and we want it to stay that way. The present situation, where cycling can comprise up to 75% of all the traffic in the park, is clearly objectionable to some users.

However, the usual reaction – especially in the letters page of the local papers, and in frequent conversations even at the Police Liaison Group – is that cycling, and people who choose to cycle, are the villains in this piece. None of the groups representing cycling will tell you ‘All cyclists are angels’, because breaking the law on a bicycle is almost as endemic as breaking the law in a car. That makes it neither right nor acceptable, but we believe that it is time proper consideration were given to making sure Richmond Park can continue to be a recreational space for the thousands of people who flock there, week in, week out.

There are a number of issues that any proposed solution needs to address:

  1. The park is a wildlife haven and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is home to a huge variety of wildlife, large and small.
  2. The park is used by large volumes of traffic during the day which is avoiding roads outside, or ‘rat-running’.
  3. It’s a recreational space for walking and hiking, with the current road effectively acting as a continuous pedestrian crossing. The Tamsin Trail is also used extensively for walking.
  4. It is also a recreational space for cycling, with cyclists tending to use either the main circular route, or the Tamsin Trail.
  5. A number of businesses operate in the park, and require access for themselves and their customers.
  6. This is a park, and therefore street furniture such as posts, signage, etc. is not very desirable. (Although there is clear value in some signage to support safety needs.).
  7. So far as possible, the park needs to be accessible to everyone - whether able-bodied, or with some form of disability.

And there have been quite a few ideas previously floated for how to deal with this combination of issues. But what we think that The Royal Parks needs to consider is this:

What is the purpose of the park, and how can that best be fulfilled?

We think the park is a resource that everyone should be able to enjoy, however they visit it.

Of the proposals we’re aware of, we think there are pros and cons for each of them.

One way traffic

One way traffic will basically encourage the park to be used as a race track one way, and will encourage commuting / rat-running in the given direction, as well as actually requiring more driving (wasted time and pollution) round the park as people have to circumnavigate it in order to get to a particular place.

Congestion charging in the park

Charging people to enter the park if they don’t stay beyond a specific time (for example, charging those who stay for 20 minutes or less), will discourage through traffic.

More pedestrian crossings

Although pedestrians can (and should be able to) cross anywhere in the park, there’s a good case for providing clear places for crossing especially around the car parks. and particularly busy areas. It should not be necessary for a zabra crossing to have the full DfT-mandated paraphernalia of zig zags, Belisha Beacons, etc., as evidence from other 20mph locations indicates good compliance where the crossing is clear.

A new cycle-only route round the park

In the Netherlands, the usual guidance is to build separate provision for cycling when motor traffic is above a particular volume, and or a particular speed. We believe that while the speed of traffic in the park – where the limits are observed – might not require segregation, the volumes certainly do.

Through traffic bans

The park is an area for recreation and for nature, yet there is a significant volume of traffic which uses it as a cut-through to various locations. Especially given the sensitive nature of the park environment, and the very real danger that is posed to wildlife and to other park users by high volumes of traffic which is keener to get somewhere than to enjoy the surroundings.

And a possibly contentious point to make …

If we accept the premise of the public meeting that there is very real conflict in the park, experienced by all users, then we should follow the logic of many such conversations, which come round to “Well, whose fault is it?

On a fundamental level, the conflict which is experienced in the park reflects the day to day experience of driving, walking and cycling in London generally. Many conversations that we’ve heard tend to pick out ‘cyclists’, and often ‘club cyclists’ as significant offenders, and anecdotal evidence is usually called upon to demonstrate how cyclists ‘intimidate’ other road users, including the slightly bizarre assertion in the last Friends of the Royal Park newsletter, that cyclists are a danger to wildlife. (We’ve yet to find someone who wouldn’t stop their bike to avoid hitting a deer …)

At the same time, we hear stories of intimidation, dangerous driving and actual assaults from people who cycle in the park. (As well as stories of dogs causing riders to fall off on the Tamsin Trail, and cyclists intimidating pedestrians there.)

Our response to all of these is simple. Firstly, what does the data say? An investigation of the STATS19 data shows that bicycles are overwhelmingly the victims in Richmond Park incidents, with the other party invariably motor vehicles. Secondly, we argue that no amount of discussion around sharing, mutual consideration or other such proposals is going to resolve the problems in the park, because there is simply too much traffic on the small area allocated to it. .

And this is, very simply, because it is inappropriate to have this volume of cycling and driving traffic in the same place. People who drive, walk and cycle through the park are no more or less lawless than anyone else in London. The solution to this problem is the same as the solution which is about to be implemented in central London – proper and safe separation of the modes, so that both can be done without conflict.

Sustrans campaign to get cycling and walking added to Infrastructure Bill

I had had an email from Sustrans in association with other cycling groups :

The Infrastructure Bill has proposed a five year investment plan for strategic roads whilst rail already has such a plan in place. However, there is no similar framework in place for cycling and walking.

 We would like MPs to back an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to guarantee long-term ambition and funding for cycling and walking, including local road maintenance.

We are now at a critical stage as MPs will get the chance to propose amendments and debate the need for such a proposal in December and January.

 We need your help. Please write to your MP and ask them to support an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill.

Write to you MP now

Both our local MPs should be sympathetic but having constituents letters helps their backbones !

20 really is plenty in Richmond.

Tonight there’s a call-in of the council’s arbitrary approach to 20mph limits in the borough. The local branch of 20′s Plenty has put together this excellent paper, supporting their submission.

If you want to attend, it’s an open meeting – all the details are here

We thank the London Borough of Richmond Call In sub-committee for allowing 20’s Plenty for Richmond to speak to and submit comments about the Borough’s approach to 20mph speed limits. Where appropriate we have referenced the relevant paragraphs of the 9th October 2014 report to Cabinet entitled “Review of the Borough’s approach to 20mph Speed Limits”.

Summary

  • We are disappointed by the negative approach to 20mph speed limits being taken by those seeking to introduce the policy outlined in the report to Cabinet dated 9th October.  We believe that by setting up a procedure that imposes almost insurmountable hurdles to the introduction of 20mph speed limits (Para 3.15 Cabinet report) LB Richmond is at odds with the direction of Government and Mayoral policy and fails to support all those in LB Richmond who are trying to promote walking and cycling.
  • We believe that this is a public health issue and not just a road safety issue. Public health deals with avoidable deaths and injuries and slowing traffic by introducing 20mph speed limits has been shown to make a positive contribution.  It seems that LB Richmond recognises this, but, by not consulting its own Public Health Department about this issue, has distanced itself from its public health responsibilities.  In no other area of public health are 51% of residents required to endorse a policy. This procedure assumes that only people who live on a street use that street but streets are public spaces not private property and are used by many other people.
  • It is widely acknowledged that 20mph speed limits can reduce road casualties and improve public health, including obesity levels, by increasing the numbers walking and cycling, especially those who are more vulnerable such as older people, children and those with disabilities.  They can also improve social cohesion and wellbeing by encouraging more people to be active outside in their community and improve the local economy as more pedestrians walk to and shop at their local shops and high streets[1].  They are not a silver bullet on their own but, over time, they are a means of creating a fairer balance between motor vehicles and people and encouraging greater activity levels.
  • We would thus encourage LB Richmond to review the obstacles it is seeking to put in the way of the introduction of 20mph speed limits and be more open to their introduction because of the many benefits that they bring.

Detailed Submission

We would briefly like to outline a number of areas that aim to address the Cabinet paper’s stated concerns about 20mph speed limits:

  1. Their popularity and the demand for them;
  2. Their effectiveness and the increasing support for 20mph from the police; and
  3. The changes to the regulatory regime from the Department for Transport and in London the GLA and TfL and more recently the Equalities Act 2010; and
  4. To highlight some further benefits that could result from introducing area-wide 20mph zones in LB Richmond.

1) Demand for 20mph Speed Limits

There are high overall levels of support for 20mph speed limits across the UK. Research under the long running British Social Attitudes Survey has consistently found that around three-quarters of UK adults support 20mph speed limits for residential roads (73% support in 2011). More recent research by YouGov in 2013 found that:

  • 65% support a 20mph speed limit in residential areas
  • 72% support a 20mph speed limit in busy (eg shopping) streets.

Recent research by Edinburgh City Council confirmed previous studies that support for 20mph limits increases after their introduction. In its research into the South Central Edinburgh’s 20mph limit trial found that support for 20mph rose from 68% before they were introduced to 79% after they were implemented[2].

We remain perplexed at the conclusions that LB Richmond has drawn from the consultation that occurred into 20mph limits in Kew, Whitton and Hampton Hill.

We understand the clear desire of residents not to see the introduction of a borough-wide 20mph limit and the overall lack of majority support for a 20mph speed limit in Whitton. Given, however, the fact that the principle of identifying candidate areas for 20mph limits was established in this consultation and the proposal for a 20mph limit on Hampton Hill High Street is to be taken forward on the basis of the results, it is not clear why the proposal for Kew has been rejected when levels of support for a 20mph zone were higher in Kew (at 56%) than in Hampton Hill High St (51%).

In addition, it appears strange that Para 3.11 uses the results of the question concerning whether the 20mph limit should include residential and or main roads to reject the support identified in the “20mph in my area question”. As a total of 43% of Kew residents stated that the 20mph limit should apply on only residential roads and a further 26% that it should apply on both residential roads and main roads. Therefore a combined total of 69% appear to support a 20mph limit at least on residential roads. Given that this process of consultation has been used to endorse the adoption of a 20mph limit on Hampton Hill High Street, it appears illogical that in spite of these high levels of support for 20mph in Kew as an area and on all of its residential roads, the process is then rejected owing to the low level response namely “Furthermore approximately 73% of Kew residents did not respond to the survey at all”.

2) Effectiveness & Enforcement

a) Casualty Reduction. (Para 3.1) Whilst it is true that lower speeds reduce the severity of road casualties, it is also the case that they reduce the numbers too.  Research by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine into the impact of 300+ 20mph schemes across London over a 20 year period found that when speeds were reduced to a maximum of 20mph (principally in these studies through traffic calming) casualty numbers fell by 42% (over and above the rate of the background decline in road casualty levels)[3].

In the case of 20mph speed limits (without calming), the reduction in average speeds alone may initially be no more than 1 or 2 mph but research has found that in an urban environment each reduction in average speeds of 1mph will deliver a 6% reduction in casualty levels. While there are examples of the creation of area-wide 20mph limits where the impact on casualties may not be clear cut, there are many examples of significant declines in casualty levels. Examples of this include:

  • a 25% decline in casualties in a 140 road pilot in Warrington
  • a 56% reduction in 8 areas each introducing 20mph limits in Newcastle
  • a 46% fall in three 20mph pilot areas across Lancashire County Council
  • most recently in Brighton & Hove where initial indications (in the year following implementation) show a 17% decline in all casualties and a 20% decline in the numbers killed and seriously injured in the year following the introduction of area-wide 20mph limits (compared to the 3 year average for 2010 to 2012).

In Islington, in the year following the introduction of the 20mph borough-wide speed limit (January 2013), there was a 42% reduction in the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on its roads. This compares to a 23% reduction across London for 2013. It is important to state, however, that percentage reductions in casualties in a number of other London boroughs were greater. In terms of casualties of all severities, there was a decline of 1% in Islington compared to a 6% fall across London.

In terms of vehicle speeds, the impact of the introduction of the 20mph limit in Islington was mixed with average speeds falling on 18 of the 29 main roads researched and rising on 10 of them. Overall it is estimated that average speeds across the borough fell by 1mph. It is important to note that this occurred without any significant enforcement support from the Metropolitan Police. Both in Islington and across London this picture of a lack of support for enforcement of 20mph limits is changing (see below).

b) Enforcement. While we agree that the environment for the enforcement of 20mph limits has not been strong in the recent past (Para 3.2) and that compliance with 20mph limits should not solely be about enforcement, the picture on enforcement is changing with the Metropolitan Police becoming far more willing to enforce 20mph limits.

The reasons for this are:

  • Changes in ACPO Guidance. It is now the policy of the police to enforce 20mph limits following the change of guidance from ACPO in October 2013[4].
  • Enforcement of 20mph limits is now occurring in London and FPNs are being issued to speeding drivers[5].
  • The creation of the new Roads & Transport Policing Command. The Metropolitan Police has set up a 2,300 officer strong Road & Transport Policing Command which will become operational from 1st December 2014. At the Road Danger Reduction & Enforcement Conference of 1st November 2014, Sergeant Simon Castle confirmed Metropolitan Police support for enforcement of 20mph limits. A contributory factor to this change in approach has been the perceived success of Operation Safeway and the clear impact that enforcement had on dangerous behaviour on London’s roads.
  • Local Enforcement. Ward panels have the capacity to set policing priorities and enforcement of speed limits can be set as a priority[6].
  • Community Speed Watch. Members of the community can now play a role in encouraging compliance with speed limits through Community Speed Watch[7].

3) Regulatory Framework & 20mph Speed Limits

We are concerned that the statement in the Cabinet report (Para 3.2) “Guidance from the Department for Transport states that 20 mph speed limits should only be considered for streets where average speeds are already below 24mph” is an extremely skewed interpretation of Paragraph 95 of the DfT Setting Local Speed Limits Circular of 2013[8] and adds to the impression that the Cabinet report has not sought to be objective in relation to 20mph limits. We feel that stating this alone masks the support that the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) have sought to give to 20mph speed limits over the past 2 years.

Examples of policy support for 20mph limits in urban settings such as those which apply in Richmond are outlined below:

  • DfT Setting Local Speed Limits Circular from 2013 (page 3 Key Points): “Traffic authorities are asked to keep their speed limits under review with changing circumstances, and to consider the introduction of more 20 mph limits and zones, over time, in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists”
  • DfT Setting Local Speed Limits Circular 2013 Para 84: “Traffic authorities are able to use their power to introduce 20mph speed limits or zones on:
  • Major streets where there are – or could be – significant numbers of journeys on foot, and/or where pedal cycle movements are an important consideration, and this outweighs the disadvantage of longer journey times for motorised traffic;
  • Residential streets in cities, towns and villages, particularly where the streets are being used by people on foot and on bicycles, there is community support, and the characteristics of the street are suitable.
  • The TfL/GLA Safer Streets for London Road Safety Action Plan[9] (up to 2020) from June 2013 strongly supported the creation of more 20mph zones in London.
  • The Mayor of London Vision from Cycling[10] from March 2013 called for wider use of 20mph on the TLRN and the installation of 20mph zones and speed limits on borough roads owing to the “clear evidence that traffic travelling at speeds of 20mph improves the safety of both cyclists and pedestrians”.

20mph speed limits also help local authorities to meet the terms of the 2010 Equalities Act and its aim to protect people from “unfair treatment and to create a more equal society”. They can help ensure that access to services is more easily achieved for those with disabilities and those who are vulnerable, for example through their age, through a fairer balance between those on foot and those in motor vehicles.

We believe that these policies at a national and London governmental level give a strong foundation for the introduction of 20mph limits on residential roads and appropriate main roads in Richmond.

These policies envisage an area-wide approach and appear at odds with LB Richmond’s street-by-street approach. The Cabinet report admits that introducing 20mph on individual streets is more confusing and more costly than area wide limits, but then continues to recommend it.

4) Public Health and other benefits of introducing 20mph speed limits

In addition to the impact on casualty reduction we believe that there are further extensive benefits from 20mph speed limits which are supportive of other Council policies in relation to the health and wellbeing of residents and the success of local businesses but which were not considered in the Cabinet report. Examples include:

Obesity – promotion of walking and cycling is vital to address levels of obesity. Obesity, although lower than other parts of London, is remains high in LB Richmond and is a serious public health concern, according to the Council’s own Public Health reports[11]. It is estimated that 14.3% of adults and 12% of 11 year old children in LB Richmond are obese, with levels of child obesity doubling between age 4 and age 11 and a further 14% of children considered to be overweight by age 11. No local figures are available for overweight adults but the national figure is a staggering 61.9%.

Public Health England has stated that “Creating an environment where people actively choose to walk and cycle as part of everyday life………. may be more cost effective than other initiatives that promote exercise, sport and leisure pursuits… Local Authority initiatives on road safety are key opportunities to create better conditions for walking and cycling. Moving to a default 20mph speed limit for streets where people live, work and shop may be the most cost effective approach available at present.[12]”

The Edinburgh 20mph trial found that those considering cycling to be unsafe fell from 26% to 18%, the proportion of older primary age children cycling to school rose from 3% to 22%. Overall walking trips rose 7%, cycling trips rose 5% and car trips fell 3%.

Keeping Older and Disabled People Active - LB Richmond has an ageing population with 13.5% of people over 65 (2011 census) and a significant predicted increase in the 75+ age group over the next 5-10 years. Keeping these people active through providing an environment where they feel they can walk and cycle safely is also vital to keeping this group of residents healthy. Disabled people are more likely to be obese and are thus also in need of opportunities to walk and cycle safely.

Air Quality – remains a key local issue with pollution levels continuing to exceed the recommended standards. Driving at slower speeds generally decreases emissions[13].

Community cohesion – people spending more time outside. The Edinburgh 20mph trial found that the proportion of children allowed to play on the pavement or street rose from 31% to 66%.

Suggested action

20s Plenty for Richmond believes that LB Richmond should:

  • undertake consultation on the introduction of 20mph zones on an area by area basis, prioritising communities which have demonstrated support for them e.g. in their Village plan;
  • ensure that the consultation explains that the proposal covers the introduction of 20mph limits on main roads with a high “place” function (high streets or B roads) but not in those that have principally a “movement” function (eg arterial A roads);
  • remove its insistence that only over 50% of residents of an area voting in favour demonstrates public support for 20mph speed limits;
  • as well as the demand from local people, take into account the road safety, public health and community cohesion benefits as well as the boost that higher levels of pedestrian activity can give to local economies when considering introducing 20mph in zones and limits.

20’s Plenty for Richmond

www.richmond.20splentyforus.org.uk

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

[1] http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/town-centre-study-2011-report.pdf

[2] http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/3067/transport_and_environment_committee

[3] http://sphr.lshtm.ac.uk/files/2013/12/improving-the-publics-health-kingsfund-dec13.pdf

[4] http://www.acpo.presscentre.com/Press-Releases/ACPO-marks-refreshing-of-speed-enforcement-guidance-26e.aspx

 

[5]http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/drivers_breaking_islington_s_20mph_limit_to_be_fined_for_the_first_time_tomorrow_1_3796635

[6]https://twitter.com/MPSCallySgt (Tweets – 23 September 2014)

[7] http://www.communityspeedwatch.co.uk/

[8] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/63975/circular-01-2013.pdf (para 95)

[9] https://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/safe-streets-for-london.pdf

[10] http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Cycling%20Vision%20GLA%20template%20FINAL.pdf

[11] See www.richmond.gov.uk/jsna

[12] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/213720/dh_130487.pdf

[13] http://www.20splentyforuk.org.uk/BriefingSheets/pollutionbriefing.pdf

A316 / Manor Circus – RCC response update.

We’re preparing to get our response in to TfL on the Manor Circus junction. Please take a moment to read this and get your own response in.

Consultation is here. Remember you can respond by using their form, or just by emailing consultations@tfl.gov.uk and saying “I agree with Richmond Cycling Campaign’s submission”.  

Dear TfL,

Richmond Cycling is not in favour of the current proposals for the A316 / Manor Circus roundabout, for the reasons we outlined on our site: http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2014/10/16/manor-circus-a316-consultation/

Since writing that, we’ve had a chance to talk to one your engineers when there was a public exhibition at Sainsbury’s.

After that discussion we have some additional points and clarifications:

  1. The roundabout could be replaced by traffic lights, with an ‘all ways green’ phase for walking and cycling.
  2. The objection we were advised of – that buses use the roundabout to turn around is easily dealt with, because buses can either use the Homebase car park which they use at present, or the turning opposite the fire station could be extended.
  3. We were told that the owner of the petrol station would object to better pedestrian access around the periphery of the station. This is a completely unacceptable position to take  - the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in this area is of significantly more importance than access which, in any case, is not being prevented but de-prioritised versus other users.
  4. While we welcome the intent of the plans – to legitimise the existing behaviour, where cycling and walking co-exist – any minor advantage which accrues to walking and cycling from the changes is wiped up by crossing changes which are specifically designed to prioritise the movement of motor traffic over the movement of pedestrian and cycle traffic.
  5. The move away from specific space 4 cycling to shared surfaces is a massively retrograde step, far out of keeping with the new designs being considered in central London.
  6. Perhaps most significantly, if the intent of the changes is to improve safety for walking and cycling, then the design of the junction should make significant steps to lower traffic speeds with tighter radii and other engineering changes: it is not appropriate to accept that vehicle speed is a problem, without finding some resolution for it.

So in summary, while we welcome the new attention being given to this junction, these plans are simply not good enough for walking or cycling: where the design either increases conflict between walking and cycling, or encourages through poor design risk-taking crossing of junctions, it is probably also unlikely to lead to an improvement in safety.

We strongly urge you to take these back to the drawing board.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign

Kew Road cycle lane – show me the paint!

Kew Road is mostly a lousy place to cycle. But until recently, it at least had mandatory cycle lanes along a large part of its length.

 

The cycle lanes used to look like this - not ideal, but probably the best observed cycle space in the borough.

The cycle lanes used to look like this – not ideal, but probably the best observed cycle space in the borough.

Given the volumes of traffic, and the potential for it to be an arterial route for people to cycle around the borough and from places like Kew Bridge, the road badly needs fixing. Recent changes have included over £100,000 spent on replacing a zebra crossing with a traffic-light controlled crossing, and resurfacing.

(Yes, you read that right: replacing this zebra crossing – apparently because a bus stop needed moving – cost over £100,000.)

zebra

(Image from Google Maps)

Most worrying about all these changes is that engineers told us there were concerns about speeding on Kew Road, and the new design of the crossing point above – which adds a pinch point – is expected to slow traffic. We don’t think it’s appropriate to plan to slow traffic by pushing cycling into the carriageway. Further, it’s hard to believe that resurfacing the road is actually going to do anything other than increase average speeds: so far, the it seems our borough engineers aren’t very on-board with TfL’s new interest in properly supporting cycling, or indeed with the new team.

We’ve asked the council to at least re-instate the cycle lanes properly, and will update you as soon as we have a response.

Credit where it’s due.

We spend a lot of time giving the council a hard time, and so it started this morning, when Tim Harris spotted this appalling piece of parking by a council contractor.

Parking on the cycle laneWhy a driver would think it appropriate to park here at any time is beyond us, but to compound the error, there were apparently clear parking bays just 50m away. We asked Councillor Speak (Cabinet member for Transport) to look into this, and by the afternoon he’d tweeted this:

TweetingIt’s only a small thing, but if you ever needed proof that it’s small individual actions like this that make the world a better place …

Ham to Richmond – Reconnaissance Ride 12 July 2014

Outcomes and Ideas from Reconnaissance Ride – Ham to Richmond – 12.07.2014

Background: All three Councillors for the Ham & Petersham & Richmond Riverside Ward signed up to the London Cycling Campaign “Ward Ask” which was to create a safe surfaced route for cycling and walking from Ham to Richmond. As a starting point towards that Cllr Loveland, Cllr Frost, Andrew Beedham (Chair of the Ham Forum), several representatives of the Richmond group of London Cycling Campaign as well as other interested local people met to cycle the route and talk about how it could be improved.

I have done my best to put together all the thoughts, problems and suggestions that were raised during this ride., but of course there will always be more to add. While I have included the ideas and solutions put forward to some of the difficulties presented by this route, the intention was not to try to present technical solutions as this is a job for Council officials.

  1. Petersham Road across Ham Common (from The Hand & Flower – Ham Gate Avenue)

Suggestion:

1. This section is wide enough for advisory cycle lanes to be marked on both sides. This would alert motor traffic to people on bikes

  1. Petersham Road from Ham Gate Avenue – Sandy Lane

Suggestion:

1. This section is not wide enough for cycle lanes however the central white lines could be removed. It was noted that during the period when the road was resurfaced and there were no markings, cars treated cyclists with more caution when overtaking. This concept is backed up by studies from the recent TfL London Cycling Design Standards, which states:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/draft-london-cycling-design-standards/user_uploads/ch5-cycle-friendly-street-design.pdf

Street design

Psychological traffic calming
5.3.8 The character of the street has a subtle effect on traffic speeds: the street width, lane widths, the amount of greenery, the sense of enclosure given by the buildings, the levels of activity and the uses that the street supports. If motorists perceive that they have unbridled priority and that the street has been designed primarily for through traffic, then they will drive accordingly.

5.3.9 A study by TRL,’Psychological’ traffic calming(2005),compared different design techniques for traffic calming, together with more conventional speed reduction methods. Uncertainty was observed to be very effective in reducing speed, particularly ‘tree buildouts’. The greatest impacts were achieved using combinations of psychological and physical measures. Geometry is a key factor: when motorists are in more doubt about whether the space exists to make a passing manoeuvre, they are likely to overtake more slowly and more carefully (if at all).

5.3.10 Features that may support this psychological calming effect include:

  • the appearance of road narrowing and reduction of forward visibility
  • removal of road markings that give motorists more security than is appropriate,

resulting in excessive speed (typically centre lines on local roads) 

  1. Ham Avenues intersects Sandy Lane – built out crossing with one way priority give way signs for on-road traffic.

 photo1

 

photo2

 Background: The built out crossing was meant to slow motor traffic but creates an unnecessary inconvenience for people cycling along Sandy Lane towards Ham Street as they have to stop to give way too. There is also a danger and inconvenience for people cycling from Ham Street towards Petersham Road as motor traffic often does not see/ or just fails to give way to cyclists. The advantage of the built out crossing is that it links the well-used Ham Avenues and creates a safe crossing point for people on foot and bike, particularly for children and buggies because on one side is the Sandy Lane playground and on the other is Greycourt School.

Suggestions:

  1. Build a cycle path across the built out path on the Greycourt side of the road so that bikes do not have to stop. Possible difficulties with this solution include the potential conflict with people crossing the road. Would the cycle path run behind them and they wait on an “island”? Alternatively it could be placed right next to the road.

2. Build a fully segregated cycle path down both sides of the street, from Ham Street to where the residential housing begins.

  1. Cut Throat Alley

photo3

photo4

Cut Throat Alley is a valuable walking and cycling link between Ham Street and the Avenues. It is a safe child-friendly route to reach the Russell, German, Strathmore Schools as well as the KISH (Kindergarten in the Scout Hut) and onwards to Richmond. The narrow winding alley and path bumpy path surface keep speeds extremely low and users are almost always polite and considerate when walking and cycling through.

Throughout the autumn/ winter/ spring the second half of the alley, the part furthest from Ham Street does not drain and becomes dangerously muddy.  Apart from creating a slipping hazard this makes the route unappealing for anyone who does not want to reach their destination covered in mud.

http://www.cyclescape.org/issues/1018-bad-path-surface-in-cut-throat-alley-ham

Suggestions:

  1. Include the alley in the council leaf clearing schedule.

2. Look into improving the water drainage on this part of the path. The first part of the path has the same surface but does not end up with deep mud. What is causing this difference? Is it just the leaves?

3. It was noted that this problem cannot be solved, as previously tried, by scattering a layer of pebbles, as this just increases the slipping hazard. 

  1. Dirt track across The Copse adjacent to Strathmore School, linking Meadlands Drive with Ham Avenues/ service road for the German School and the Polo Club.

photo5

photo6

 Suggestion:

  1. Providing a properly surfaced path from Meadlands Drive to the road serving the German School and the Polo Club would improve walking and cycling access to Strathmore and Russell Schools and help provide a better quiet route from Meadlands Drive area towards Richmond – providing more/better options for avoiding the busy Petersham Road. The current expansion/ rebuild/ land sell off on the Russell Strathmore site offers a perfect opportunity and additional imperative to make this happen.

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The path could be properly linked to the pavements at either end.  Currently there is an uneven drop at both the meeting point with Meadland Drive and with the Ham Avenues.

  1. A possible surface would be a continuation of the treatment used for the rest of the Ham Avenues, see photo below:

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http://www.cyclescape.org/issues/836-link-meadlands-drive-to-ham-avenues-surfacing

http://www.cyclescape.org/threads/1259 

  1. Ham Avenues intersects with service road to German School/ Polo Club and also intersects with dirt track leading to Meadlands Drive.

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At the point where the Ham Avenues intersect with the Polo Club/ German School access road and the aforementioned path across the Copse there is a dangerous spot. School coaches, horse boxes, delivery trucks and other motor traffic comes down the one-way loop service road to the Polo Club and German School, and around the blind corner. When crossing from the Avenue to the Copse path on a bike or on foot with kids it is not possible to get out of the way in time once you hear a vehicle coming. The alternative to using the service road is a ditch next to the path wide enough for a person on foot but not for bike or buggy. If the hedge were cut back and the Ham Avenue surface extended this ditch could be changed to create a safe alternative link.

  1. Ensure sold off land has excellent pedestrian and cycling through-access As there is already such a problem with high volumes of motor traffic and parking in Petersham Road and Meadlands Dri veany agreement to sell the current Strathmore land needs to have strict expectations imposed on the developers. Ie high quality through-traffic access for walking and cycling, possibly including segregated cycle paths. This is another opportunity to genuinely improve access and create a modal shift towards walking and cycling. Also, covered secure cycle parking for every new residential property built (2 cycle spaces per bedroom) will encourage the new occupants to cycle too, (as per the revised London Plan?) 
  1. Signage for public footpath which borders the Scout Hut Land the German School, leading to wooden bridge leading onto towpath.

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At this point, coming from the Ham Avenues or the Petersham Nurseries, the wooden sign indicating the footpath is behind a hedge and facing in the other direction. In the photo you can see the wooden posts of the sign on the left behind the foliage.  Straight ahead is the Scout land which is not a public right of way.  To the right is the path leading towards Water Lane and Ham Nurseries. This sign is currently not usefully visible to anyone.

  1. Crossing Petersham Meadow

This is a key section of this route and the one which presents the most obstacles but also many opportunities.  I have divided the main possible routes into options A, B, C and D. They are not mutually exclusive as a combination of improvements would be likely to attract a wide range of users.

A. The Tow Path: This is the most obvious off road link for this part of the route. The difficulties with it are that the path is not well-surfaced and it gets very muddy for much of the year (see photo below).  In order to make this route attractive to people getting to work/ school/ shops who do not want to arrive covered in mud, an alternative needs to be found.

http://www.cyclescape.org/issues/810-thames-towpath-richmond-ham

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 The towpath floods fairly regularly when there are very high tides, which means that it is sometimes impassable and the flooding makes the mud worse. Below: people trying to negotiate it at a high tide.

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Below: Some pedestrians avoid the mud by climbing over the wall and walking on the grass in Petersham Meadow. This is not a solution for the less able or people on bikes/ with buggies. 

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B. Main Path across Petersham Meadow: This is the first alternative to the towpath

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As you can see in the picture above this path is narrow and also prone to flooding but is not muddy because it is a tarmacked.  In order to be a genuinely useful link all year the path would need to be raised.

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Above: Kissing gate by Buccleuch Gardens leading into Petersham Meadow

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Above: Kissing gate leading from the meadow to Petersham Nurseries.

At either end of the route there are kissing gates to prevent the cows from escaping. The gates are not big enough to allow longer bikes, bikes with trailers, cargo bikes, or double buggies to pass through and are difficult to negotiate for standard bikes too.

In Cambridge, where many cows graze on common land there is a standard design for a cattle grid which cyclists can cross with a separate pedestrian gate next to it. The link gives lots of information and examples http://www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/cattlegrids/ Below is one example of cattle grids for pedestrians and cyclists.

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Another difficulty with this route across the meadow is that when you reach the Petersham Nurseries side there is a narrow path leading to a bumpy muddy track past the nursery and then another even narrower path linking with Water Lane. This last link is really only suitable for people on foot who do not mind the mud, so it does not provide an inclusive route for all. Alternatively, you can go straight ahead past the church and join Petersham Road.

Below: the track next to Petersham Nurseries  and Petersham Church (Feb 2014)

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Below: path linking Petersham Nurseries with Water Lane:

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 C. Entrance to Petersham field through kissing gate on River Lane, next to Old Cow Sheds (below).

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Another potential link across Petersham Meadow begins at the entrance through the kissing gate on Water Lane. Currently, the gate is so narrow that no bikes can pass through, and it is also too narrow for a larger person or pregnant woman to pass through – not an inclusive design. The track leads straight across the field to the kissing gate by Buccleuch Gardens. This removes the problem of the difficult section around the Petersham Nurseries and Church altogether. The disadvantage of trying to push for this possibility is that it would mean creating a properly surfaced path across the meadow (raised to avoid flooding). As the view from Richmond Hill overlooking the meadow is protected it could be difficult to get approval for a surfaced path here.

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Above: track from Water Lane kissing gate across the meadow

 Lower path running alongside Petersham Road, from the Dysart Arms to the Rose of York.

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Above: the is start of the off road path linking two sections of the Petersham Road,  next to the meadow, from the Dysart entrance to Richmond Park to the Rose of York pub. The first part above is surfaced because it is also a driveway, the second part (below) is a dirt track.

Below: where the path comes to end, bringing you back on to the Petersham Road.  This path also gets muddy in winter but if it was properly surfaced it could potentially provide a solution to the problem of crossing Petersham Meadow.

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 Below: A few metres further along the road is another narrow kissing gate which is too small to be passable for cycles and leads to another track around the edge of the meadow, linking up with the Buccleuch Gardens kissing gate. The path and the gate could be linked, the gate could be changed and the path surface around the edge of the meadow could be improved. This could then provide a link which would not effect the view from Richmond Hill.

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D. On road route on Petersham Road between the Rose of York and the Richmond Hill road junction.

This could be improved by redesigning the wide section of Petersham Road (below) by putting in an (at least) 2 metre wide segregated cycle path on the Petersham Common side of the road, with corresponding redesign of the junction. As it stands, this wide smooth section of the road encourages motor traffic to speed when clear, and leaves bikes blocked in when congested.

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I would like to end on a positive note, with an example of a good piece of infrastructure, which has recently been repaired, (admittedly after many complaints by locals) and now continues to provide a valuable link in the chain of this route. The bridge below, leading between Ham House and the towpath by the Hammerton Ferry stop is in keeping with its surroundings, suitable for all possible route users and extremely well-used.

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New broom. New faces. New wheels. New feel … new Cycling Liaison Group?

What a breath of fresh air was the recent Cycling Liaison Group! The change at the top – with a new Cycling Champion (Councillor Jean Loveland), and a new Cabinet Member for Transport (Cllr Stephen Speak) gave the whole meeting a very different feeling indeed.

You may remember from earlier reports that going to the Cycling Liaison Group has been less than a pleasant experience, these last four years. Rather than weeping into our coffee hearing how nothing has been done, nothing is going to be done, and the council has only been prepared to spend money on a few pots of paint, we appear to have a sea-change (step-change? maybe ‘gear change’) at the top of transport.

We heard about the new cycling strategy – a refreshingly simple set of principles and statements, including:

  • Make cycling an option for everyone
  • Making it an every day option
  • Creating a connected cycling network
  • Recognising the economic benefit to our high streets and businesses that cycling can bring

There’ll be more details soon, and there was extensive discussion around some of the recent schemes which have been done in the borough and which are being considered. Of greatest interest is that the engineers are planning to try an ‘all ways green’ junction, which would have a green light phase at all arms when cycling and walking get priority while motor traffic waits. These junctions are very popular in the Netherlands, and have been talked about over here for some time. (Another borough may also be looking to trial these, too.)

Also, Richmond has received £100,000 from TfL to investigate ‘various aspects’ of our Mini Holland bid. Sadly this will apparently be spent on looking at the railside cycle routes, which we think were the weakest part of the final bid. Not only would they require extensive linking up with routes down which people actually want to travel, but they ignore the fact that we already know where people want to go – it seems less than desirable to build an entirely new parallel set of routes which could require costly and lengthy negotiations with dozens of land owners, when the roads and cycle routes we already have provide clear links between key destinations.

There was good news from local police, with a significant fall in cycle theft – down 27% on last year apparently. But there was also clear input from officers that they felt they were getting a hard time at local Police Liaison Groups about cycling on the pavement, red light jumping, etc., etc.

To be clear, Richmond Cycling Campaign does not endorse anyone breaking the law when using a cycle. However, it’s clear that Richmond has a lot of cycling on the pavement either because routes aren’t clear, or because they’re unsafe. Here’s the view of one group dedicated to improving cycling, and we’ll be trying to write something soon, too.

The key thing for readers to note is that there’s going to be a marked increase in enforcement activity with, apparently, a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to running red lights. We’re told that this will apply both to cycles and motor vehicles, and that they will also be policing cycling on the pavement ‘on a case by case basis’.

We think cycling needs to be better represented at Police Liaison Groups, and we urge all members to do this – we’ll try to do a post in the next few weeks on how best to approach this, but do email us (info@richmondlcc.co.uk or http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/contact-us/) if you’d like some advice.

So what next? We’ll be keeping up the pressure: the recent incidents in our area, along with yet another fatality in central London, show that cycling needs somewhere safe, and needs to be part of a wider strategy.

If you’d like to come along to the Cycling Liaison Group, or indeed to our monthly meeting, here are the details:

CLG homepage   RCC Monthly Meeting