“War: what are we fighting for?”

Safe Cycling on a Cycle Lane in Richmond

Richmond Cycling Campaign, the local group of the London Cycling Campaign, exists to encourage people to cycle.  We do this in different ways:

  • organising two rides a month;
  • running maintenance workshops at different places in the Borough;
  • asking the two relevant highways authorities, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Transport for London, for safe and convenient routes to cycle in the Borough;
  • asking the Council for sufficient cycle parking to meet the need;
  • asking the police to work on the problem of bike theft.

No one of these activities is more important than another which is why we supported Sky Ride Local this year, funded by the Council in partnership with British Cycling [click here for their review of the 2011 programme] and why we wouldn’t argue with Councillor Harborne, our Borough Cycling Champion, about the value of “promoting an exciting programme of events to get more people cycling, more often, safely and for fun”.

But because no one of these activities is more important than another we think Councillor Harborne should be concerned when cycling is not safe and is not fun on the Borough’s roads.  That’s why we wrote to the Council, after Liverpool City Council and the local Primary Care Trust agreed to jointly fund 20mph schemes, to ask if:

“there are any comparable discussions going on between the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the Primary Care Trust about the public health benefits of 20mph limits?  Are there any plans to do so?”

We received this reply from our Borough Cycling Champion:

“Did you know that:

There are already 46 20 mph zones in the borough and large parts of the rest of the borough where there is no record of any accidents at all, ever.

We are the 3rd safest LB out of 33. Obviously we should be the safest, but that’s a work in progress.

Sometimes campaigning to improve safety is counter productive. It puts potential new cyclist off. Is that what you want to do?

Particularly when the fear of accidents is not backed up by statistics. Don’t you think?

Can we please have RCC encouraging people to cycle not putting them off.  It would be better for everyone.”

Now, we exist to encourage cycling so being told we’re putting people off is a worry, so we wrote back to our Borough Cycling Champion:

very helpfully we have a map of cycle collisions recorded in the Borough between 2006 and 2010 so we know exactly where they do and don’t happen which is why we’re particularly concerned about the 4 clusters identified below

[Click here for our previous post about where collisions happen in the Borough and here for a searchable map of all collisions for the last 10 years]

As a campaigning group we constantly wrestle with the problem of unintentionally discouraging people from cycling but it’s our view that people make informed decisions about risk when they know the facts, hence our concern about these four clusters.  I am very happy to publicise the fact we are the 3rd safest Borough in London if you tell me the meaning of “safe” and the statistical source.

Do you have a list of the 46 zones in the Borough and do you know how this compares with other Boroughs, say the neighbouring Boroughs of Hounslow and Kingston with whom we share our Assembly Member?  It’s been suggested Richmond has the 2nd lowest number of zones in the country, do you know if that’s the case?

Are you able to answer my original question about talks with the PCT?”

We haven’t received a reply to date.

Early in the New Year LCC will launch “Go Dutch – clear space for cycling on London’s main roads” the single issue campaign to accompany the London Assembly elections.  It’s about safe and convenient cycle journeys not least because of the cyclist fatalties in London this year.

The campaign aims to get 100,000 signatures on a petition and 10,000 cyclists on the road to persuade the candidates for the London Assembly that this important, not just for cyclists, but for everyone who want to improve the quality of life in London, who want people-friendly streets.

Which is what we want in our Borough.  We want Richmond, Teddington and Twickenham town centres to be people-friendly, which is not how you could describe them now.  Was it coincidence that last week’s Richmond and Twickenham Times had “High street havoc” on the front page and Tim Lennon’s excellent letter “Deal with this congestion” inside?

Which is why we’ll go on commenting about the effect of planned highway engineering schemes even though we have to search for them and even though we were told in September we can’t go to the Transport Management Liaison Group.  And thank you to all the Veloteers who replied to our request for comments on these schemes.

[Click here to read what we've done this month]

Which is why we’ll go on asking the Council what they’re doing for people who cycle even though few, if any, of our Manifesto requests at the 2010 local government elections have been realised.

Which is why we’ll keep going to the Cycling Liaison Group and ask the Council questions about cycling in the Borough.

[Click here for the issues we've raised ahead of the next meeting on Monday 9th January 2012]

E-mail your comments to: campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk

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