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 (firstname.lastname@example.org 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: