Cycling Liaison Group – When Will We See A Cycling Strategy?

The new administration at LBRUT holds its first Cycling Liaison Group on Tuesday 14th October.  The meeting agenda and details are here.  This will be the first meeting chaired by the borough’s new cycling champion, Cllr Jean Loveland.

As usual, there is an agenda item on the Borough’s Cycling Strategy.  Throughout the last administration, the ‘cycling strategy’ was a regular feature of the CLG meetings, and the strategy itself was always ‘in development’.

So, for all the new faces at CLG tomorrow, we thought we would dig up our previous input to LBRUT’s Cycling Strategy – in the hope that this time some of it might get incorporated into LBRUT’s thinking.   We captured most of the thinking here, almost a year ago:  What the Cycling Strategy Should Say

Let’s hope that there is now an appetite to take some of these ideas on board.

‘Ward Asks’ for Council Elections

Do you want Space for Cycling in your area? Email your local election candidates now!  Visit http://action.space4cycling.org/

The 2014 council elections are on 22nd May.  This is a ‘once in 4 years’ chance to challenge the would-be council candidates on their commitment to cycling provision; and to make cycling an important issue on the election agenda.  The local authority (LBRUT) are accountable to our elected councillors; and between them they control the vast majority of roads in the area; and decide what road and cycle improvements are made where (if any!).

This year every borough group has been asked to nominate one cycling infrastructure issue in every ward (a ‘ward ask’) for inclusion in the London-wide Space For Cycling campaign aimed at every election candidate.

Read on below for a summary of the issues local RCC members have raised…

Our Ward Asks are now all on Cyclescape and linked below.

East of the river:

Centre of the Borough:

South West of the Borough:

Don’t forget!  To ensure your voice is added to our campaign, please use the Space for Cycling website to raise these issues with your local election candidates now!  Visit http://action.space4cycling.org/

The ‘ward asks’ are a great way to raise awareness of cycling issues with your local election candidates – but the campaign is limited to just one issue per ward.  In many wards we have plenty of other issues we are tracking – for the full list in each ward visit this page and do please contact us to get involved.

Finally, for further information on how we log these issues,  a detailed guide to how RCC use CycleScape is available here…. and if, like me, you are never quite sure what electoral ward is where – this handy zoomable map shows the boundaries of all wards in London:  http://ukdataexplorer.com/census/london/

‘Ward Asks’ for LBRUT Council Elections

The 2014 council elections are on 22nd May.  This is a ‘once in 4 years’ chance to challenge the would-be council candidates on their commitment to cycling provision; and to make cycling an important issue on the election agenda.

The local authority (LBRUT) are accountable to our elected councillors; and between them they control the vast majority of roads in the area; and decide what road and cycle improvements are made where (if any!).

This year LCC are asking every borough group to nominate one cycling infrastructure issue in every ward (a ‘ward ask’) for inclusion in a London-wide campaign aimed at every election candidate.

We already have various issues logged by Council Ward.  A complete list of issues by ward is available on this page here.   But you can always add more!   So please read the article; look at the issues already logged in your area; and then follow the link through to Cyclescape to add more.

But hurry!  We need your input now.   Thank you.

What the Cycling Strategy Should Say…

At the recent Environment, Sustainability and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee councillors challenged RCC representatives to identify where we would like to see improvements in the borough’s cycling facilities.  In response we have provided this document to council officers to consider as part of their mini holland bid development. Our key points are summarised below.

Vision:

We believe that the provision of safe direct and convenient routes is key to getting new people cycling. The borough benefits from many scenic leisure routes; but routes to schools, shops and town centre areas are typically blighted by busy roads with little protection for cyclists; and these create conditions which are intimidating and deter people from making journeys by bike.

The creation of a high quality cycle network that spans the whole borough should be a key aim of the both the borough cycling strategy and the Mini-Holland bid.

Previous attempts to create a network, under the London Cycle Network scheme; were poorly implemented and suffer from:

  • Disconnected routes. Routes should be continuous. 
  • Backstreet routes with poor or little signage; that result in cyclists resorting to main roads to avoid getting lost. Routes must be well sign-posted – e.g. with prominent way-markings on the road surface that tell drivers and cyclists alike that this is a bicycle route. 
  • Many barriers, obstructions, requiring frequent dismounts; or worse –the need to lug a bike round or over an obstacle. Routes should be passable with a cargo bike or trailer; and not require dismounts or lifting the bike. 
  • Conflict with pedestrians. Where pedestrians and cyclists share paths, this should be clearly marked; to avoid misunderstandings over who has rights to the path. “No cycling” signs on paths should be removed if they are not going to be enforced. Adequate space should be provided for both pedestrians and cyclists. 
  • Lack of protection on main road sections. Routes on main roads should include “hard” protection/separation, – e.g. kerbs/planters/armadillos etc – not just painted bike lines 

The Richmond Cycling Network Today 

This map shows the key cycling routes in the borough; graded according to the routes “subjective safety” and convenience. By “subjective safety” we mean the “perceived safety” i.e. does the route feel safe to cycle on? Would travelling this route with a competent 10 year old child or other vulnerable cyclist be a stressful or pleasant experience? This map gives an indicator of the user experience of travelling the many routes around the borough.

  • BLUE – convenient, signposted routes, with good subjective safety
  • YELLOW – subjective safety is good; but route is inconvenienced – e.g. by obstructions; lack of signage; conflict with pedestrians etc
  • GREEN – off-road routes; not suitable for all bikes; not lit at night time
  • ORANGE – poor subjective safety.
  • RED – significant lack of subjective safety.

(You can also explore the map in Google Earth here)

One of the primary issues for the local cyclists is that that many of the key routes around the borough rely upon use of the main road network. In this version of the same map we have removed the hostile RED routes from the map.  This highlights the disjointed nature of the “quiet” network today.

The Richmond Cycling Network – Key Areas for Improvement 

Ideally, people should be able to cycle throughout the borough on routes graded as “blue”. To achieve this:

  • The “yellow” routes could, in general, be upgraded to “blue” standard through better signage and removal of particular barriers or obstructions.
  • Key areas of the off-road “green” network should be upgraded with improved surfacing and street lighting to provide viable 24×7 routes that do not require the cyclist to get covered in mud.
  • The “orange” network has some safety issues. The impact of these could be mitigated by traffic calming; 20mph limits; or addressing some key concerns such as priority over side roads on the A316.

The map also highlights the following key gaps in the network, where there is currently no alternative but to use a busy main road. These gaps should be prioritised as part of the development of well lit and surfaced routes with adequate separation from busy traffic:

  • Castlenau – Hammersmith Bridge
  • Sheen to Richmond – east/west along the Sheen Road/Upper Richmond Rd West
  • Richmond Hill to Ham/Petersham – avoiding Petersham Rd / Star and Garter Hill – for example, via the riverside and a safe route up/down the hill.
  • Richmond Town Centre/ Richmond bridge
  • Twickenham Town Centre
  • Routes into Twickenham from Teddington and Hampton
  • Teddington – Kingston
  • Teddington – Hanworth

As a longer term ambition; a bridge alongside the district line from Kew (the service road alongside the national archives) to Chiswick (Wellesley Rd next to Gunnersbury station) would take cyclists away from the major road junctions north of Kew Bridge and route them directly to shops and workplaces in Chiswick and Acton.

The map below shows – in purple – what a basic network of quiet routes could look like; incorporating the “mini holland” railway-side tracks concept; upgrades to the A316; and addressing the points listed above.

Have a zoom around this map in Google Earth and let us know what you think.

And finally….Embed Cycle Infrastructure Planning Into the Mainstream. 

The proposals shown here are intended as a beginning of a local cycle network for Richmond – there is much more to do beyond the ideas discussed here. Aside from the mini Holland opportunity, the LB Richmond Upon Thames should build a long-term plan for sustained investment in the cycling infrastructure across the borough to build this network – as part of business as usual. Whenever roads are to be re-surfaced; reworked or there is cash to spare at the end of the year; improvements to the network should be addressed. 

LBRUT Cycling Strategy & Mini Holland Update

So Richmond and Twickenham might get some substantial mini-Holland cash, but we still don’t actually have a cycling strategy to really support spending it properly … 

Last week RCC members attended 2 key council meetings relating to cycling developments.  Monday saw the LBRUT Head of Integrated Transport make a presentation to the Environment, Sustainability and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee on (a) Mini Holland status and (b) the Borough Cycling Strategy; and Tuesday saw the quarterly Cycling Liaison Group take place covering the same topics.  A summary of both is given here.

Mini Holland status – Richmond has been selected to go through to the next stage; but with various modifications to the bid.  Three or four boroughs will get about £20m each; 4 others could get around £3m. Other boroughs who failed in their bids may get funds for certain aspects in their bids which TfL considers “worthy”. So there seems to be a good chance that LBRUT may get some funding whether or not they win.  LBRUT will be preparing the next bid with help from their consultants; and have 10 weeks (now 9) to do so.   Richmond Cycling has requested input into the bid as soon as possible, so we can make sure the proposal has some real substance around safer places for people to cycle in the borough.  Our review of the original bid is here.

  • Apparently Andrew Gilligan (Boris’ Cycling Commissioner) is enthusiastic about the rail-side routes. Network Rail and SW Trains have been contacted and they are “very excited”.  LBRUT is seen as a test bed for other boroughs. There is clearly a lot of more detailed work to be done to establish feasibility.
  • TfL also wants the council to work with them on the A316 route.  Hounslow and Hammersmith will be involved too.  TfL requires that the cycle route will be continuous, which is great news: cycling routes which stop and start for no obvious reason, and which dump you into unsafe locations, are one of London’s biggest cycling issues.
  • The proposal for the Ham-Twickenham bridge over the Thames will be dropped (on grounds of not enough benefit for the cost) and is seen as a more long-term possibility.
  • The current design for Twickenham town centre design will be improved. There is a possibility of mandatory cycle lane or lanes in King Street.
  • More cycle parking is needed. The existing 250 spaces at Twickenham Station should be doubled. (And we think Richmond station still needs more, let alone the other locations crying out for parking in the borough …)

Borough Cycling Strategy – the report presented by the officers at the O & S meeting appeared to be aiming to get the O & S committee to provide input into the cycling strategy; rather than claiming to be a strategy itself.  In fact the “strategy” seems to depend on whether or not LBRUT win any mini-holland money; so is unlikely to be completed until the outcome of that is known.  Two Richmond Cycling committee members made formal statements to the committee to comment upon the document and made a number of key points – in particular that the targets for modal share growth are unambitious; that LBRUT need to be making infrastructure changes to support more vulnerable cyclists; they need to focus on converting parents from driving their kids everywhere – by making the roads safer for cycling; they need to use the information from School Travel Plans to really address these problems; and that the level of funding committed is inadequate.

Our attendance at the meeting enabled RCC to raise awareness of a number of important points to a wider set of councillors than are usually engaged in cycling matters – and a number of questions were put to us.  It was apparent that many of the councillors are not very cycling-aware; and the general level of questioning reflected many of the usual anti-cycling prejudices (red light jumping, pavement cycling etc.) without any obvious awareness of why this behaviour might happen.

Cycle Parking – Each year there is a work programme (for parking).  Cycle hubs will be installed at stations over the “next year or so”.  Suggestions for parking are invited – if anyone has suggestions for places where more parking is needed please get in touch or log these on Cyclescape and we will then pass onto LBRUT.

 

Richmond Cycling Infrastructure Issues – by Theme and Ward

Cyclescape is a handy online tool for cataloging issues with cycling infrastructure, born out of work at Cambridge Cycling Campaign.  It’s killer feature is being able to easily log an issue on a map – so you can all see exactly where the issue is under discussion. Richmond Cycling Campaign (along with other groups nationwide) are making increasing use of this tool – but because its used to log issues all over the country it can be a little bit hard to find specific items.

All cyclescape posts in the Richmond borough area are reviewed by RCC committee members and categorised by applying a set of “tags” – or labels, depending on the type of issue.   This article provides some shortcuts to issues grouped according to themes that are important to RCC.

Themes – click through the links below to see lists of issues logged so far:

Council wards – we also tag by electoral ward; this will enable us to highlight all the issues in an particular area with the councillors who represent that ward.  The wards are shown below and a complete list of councillors by ward is maintained by LBRUT.

Issues by ward can be accessed by the links below.  Note that some wards do not have any issues logged so far; whilst others have plenty!

East of the river:

Centre of the Borough:

South West of the Borough:

Finally, for further information on how we do this a detailed guide to how RCC use CycleScape is available here…. and if, like me, you are never quite sure what electoral ward is where – this handy zoomable map shows the boundaries of all wards in London:  http://ukdataexplorer.com/census/london/

Back to School

A new school year has begun – and anyone who has been out on the roads this week will have noticed the rise in traffic.  For many kids, the new year means a new school. Amongst the nerves, the fussing over the new uniform, the worries about making new friends; there’s the big question of travel – how can my child get to the new school safely?

Some may be thinking of cycling to the new school – if that’s you then check out our cycle route plannerCycleStreets – at http://richmond.cyclestreets.net (there’s also an app too for iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile devices).  All the schools in the borough are now on CycleStreets, as are most of those in the surrounding boroughs. This means you can just search for the school by its name, pop in your home post code as the start point, and CycleStreets will give you a choice of three routes:  “Fast” (which will tend to use the main roads); “Quiet” (which will seek to use quiet streets and segregated paths wherever possible) and “Balanced” (which is mid way between the two).  The routing logic takes into account many data sources and generally comes up with pretty good routes.  The “Quiet” routes are particularly good – I have been cycling round this area for nearly 20 years and think I know all the back-routes; but am still often surprised and impressed by the quiet routes that CycleStreets suggests.

CycleStreets quiet route to Orleans Park School

CycleStreets queit route to Orleans Park School

Richmond has a wealth of pleasant leisure routes; but all too often potential quiet routes to places people really want to get to – such as schools – are cut off by busy roads with poor or no provision for cycling, turning a journey that should be simple into a stressful, unpleasant and inconvenient experience.  We think this is one of the main blockers to increasing cycling rates in the borough.  We are cataloging them on CycleScape – at http://richmondlcc.cyclescape.org/ – and you can too.  So if there is particular road or junction that stops you choosing to cycle to school – please take a moment to map it on there and add it to our knowledge base.  Alternatively just let us know via our website or on twitter – @RichmondCycling.

As a parent, letting a child out on our streets on a bike is not an easy decision, and for many the lack of subjective safety is enough to stop kids cycling to school.  This is evidenced in school travel plans – for example at the Richmond primary school my children attend, a whole school travel survey found that 23% of kids arrived by car and 7.5% by bike; but when asked how they would LIKE to come to school only only 16% answered “by car” – and 25% said they wanted to cycle.

David Hembrow’s recent analysis of TFL travel data suggests that London households with children make up to 60% more trips per day by car than the average household – which goes a long way to explaining that big rise in term-time traffic; and will resonate with many local parents who are shuttling their charges from schools to all those after-school clubs and then back home again.  But is this lifestyle providing a subtle cocoon around our children, that stunts the growth of their independence and turns them into couch potatoes? On a recent holiday to Norway I was struck with how kids as young as 6 and 7 took themselves to school; many by bicycle – and it’s a similar story in Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland – all of which sit at the top of the international index for Childhood Wellbeing and all of which also have high cycling rates.

It doesn’t have to be this way in the UK.  Many other cities around the world are waking up to the benefits of providing better cycling infrastructure; and are implementing improvements.  Meanwhile, many fine words are being spoken in Parliament, the London Assembly and elsewhere about how we should improve things – and in places such as Brighton, Camden, and Bristol, some progress is being made on the ground.

For the London Borough of Richmond, the latest steps forward are pinned to the council’s “mini-holland” bid – which has made it through to the next round of the bid process. However, the bid as it stands is woefully short on detail of how it might make everyday cycling – like the school run – appealing to the parents of Richmond borough; and we think it needs significant work in this area.

Map Richmond & Share Your Knowledge!

With the current buzz around cycling generated from the Olympics and the Mayor’s vision, the authorities are increasingly looking for input from cyclists.  Over the coming months we will be looking to harness the local knowledge of the RCC membership in a number of ways.
The first of these is to update our maps of the borough’s cycling facilities as they are today – via the OpenCycleMap.  This is a cycling-friendly view of the OpenStreetMap (OSM) project, showing cycle tracks, cyclable paths, cycle parking and the London Cycle Network (LCN) routes.

OpenSteetMap logoThere are two unique things about OSM – (1) the map data can be updated by anyone – so if something is missing, you can add it (in that sense it is like Wikipedia for maps) and  (2)  rather than being just a picture of an area (as a Google map is), every single item mapped in OSM has data stored with it; and that data can be queried to find things out about an area quicky and easily.

To see some examples of this in action – (1) this map shows (in green) the extent of 20mph speed limits in London – with the speed limit information being queried directly from data entered by OSM mappers;  (2) this tool provides a way to query OSM data directly, the example here highlights all mapped bicycle parking in the Richmond / Sheen area; and (3) the excellent cycling route planner- CycleStreets – uses OSM data to optimise it’s routes for cyclists.

So how can you help?  By adding data to the map!   The basics of OSM are well covered here; and there is a tutorial & simple do’s and don’ts here.  The tutorial covers use of the most popular online map editor (Potlatch2); but there is also a newer more user-friendly (albeit USA oriented) online editor in beta at http://ideditor.com/ .

However, by far the easiest way to add simple items such as bike parking – to the map is to download the POI+ app to your iPhone.  You will need to create an OSM login; then when you are out and about and you spot a new set of bike racks –

(1) open up the app
(2) centre the cursor on your current location
(3) Press +, choose “transportation” – “bicycle parking” and enter the number of spaces etc in the relevant fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see from the earlier example that there are plenty of areas where we do not have any cycle parking mapped (& interestingly LBRUT keep no records of where they install them), so we are asking you to take a few moments to record the bike parking in your part of the borough – and then have the satisfaction that your local knowledge is now available to everyone.

It typically takes a few minutes for your changes to appear on OSM; a few hours for them to appear on OpenCycleMap; and a few days for them to start being used by CycleStreets.

Remember – when you make changes to OSM the whole world sees them – so you should ensure that your edits accurately reflect the state on the ground today. OSM is not the place to start sketching out great ideas for future cycling infrastructure –  we will cover that in another post!