Cycling Liaison Group – Time to Get Back to Basics?

The Cycling Liaison Group meets on 26th January at 7pm (details here). 

Delivering cycling on our borough really needs the council to work hard at it, so please come along if you can!

It’s been quite a while since we praised the tone of the new team, but also quite a while since very much happened. So this meeting we’ve got a bit of a shopping list of questions, and requests for information. 

Cycling Strategy

This one’s been brewing for over six months. Other boroughs have produced excellent strategies which reflect the importance and utility of good cycling to a borough [Sutton? Others] And a recent consultation on borough policies suggest that the new cycling strategy is going to include a proposed route network. 

Now having a strategy is really important, and we’d really like to see one that has some real meat. But we shouldn’t be waiting for it before we get on with things. 

Twickenham Riverside

The new plans for the Riverside don’t appear to have been very well received, based on some of the comments we saw. And it is rubbish for cycling. It really isn’t clear why the council is still putting together proposals that spend more time and space talking about parking cars than anything to do with cycling. 

We’ll be asking why this is the case: if the council honestly thinks that active travel should be a priority, then it needs to plan for this in the beginning of all these consultations, and not leave it as an afterthought. 

Parking

There’s already ample evidence that the borough lacks sufficient cycle parking. From Kew Gardens to Richmond Park, from Richmond town centre to Twickenham and Whitton, there aren’t enough spaces to park bikes. Even if you do decide to go by bike, your chances of finding somewhere safe and unobstructed to park can be terrible.

We’ll be asking why parking is not just an ongoing activity – it’s not like it’s that hard to identify where it’s needed. After all, we’ve given the council enough suggestions in the past. 

(And we’ll also be asking why bike parking isn’t in every new plan that comes out of the council, and always gets offered “will be included in detailed planning”.)

Money

We know the council doesn’t like spending its own money on cycling – it has to ask TfL for this (through thing like the LIP programme). Instead, councillors keep trying to voncince us that money spent on roads maintenance has a substantial benefit for cycling.

While this is true – because no-one likes cycling through potholes – we should be very clear that not a single road in Richmond has been resurfaced or repaired just to make cycling nicer.

Trials

We keep asking the council if they’re going to try any trials. Other boroughs have demonstrated clearly – as at Tavistock Place [others] that for a small amount of money it’s possible to trial new ideas, to establish whether they’re going to be beneficial for the borough. Indeed, two years ago, Richmond was lined up to try an ‘all ways green’ junction. Which still hasn’t happened. 

What’s Going On?

Every time the council touches a road or a pavement, that’s a chance to do something to make the borough a better place to be on a bike. Whether it’s fixing a dropped kerb, improving an advanced stop line, or making a corner more forgiving. Yet we’re passing up these opportunities again and again. 

Quiet Routes

This isn’t one we asked about directly, but now features in their agenda. We suggested some detailed material for this a while ago, so we’ll be interested to see what the council has managed to put together.

And just for fun, we’ve asked the council if they can tell us what they think they’ve done for cycling in the last five years. Because we don’t think it’s very much … a few cycle stands, some new cans of Dulux on re-surfaced roads … 

Ride that Olympic Legacy! (Or “Don’t, actually.”)

We’ve been asking members what to talk to the council about at the Cycling Liaison Group. And since it’s an Olympic year, one member has asked us to investigate just what the legacy has been.

He wrote:

“We should remind the councilors that we are now in an Olympic year, and four years after cycling went through our borough there has been NO OLYMPIC LEGACY.

Don’t let them fob us off with blah-blah about educating children etc. My children won’t dare cycle in central Richmond. There are NO new cycling lanes in the centre of the town.

They will talk about Twickenham – as they have in emails to me – but Richmond has had nothing, except a dead cyclist on the A316.

It’s an utter disgrace, as Central London forges ahead with cycling lanes and designated, protected routes.

We should make them understand that Richmond’s children are not safe on Richmond’s roads, and the failure to protect kids (rather than protect bus routes and cars through the town centre) will bring multiple consequences, not least on our health budget, as our kids choose NOT to cycle.

But really, we must nail them on the lack of an Olympic legacy. On some of the very streets the cyclists rode on there are no cycle lanes.

And when there are? Look at the road going over the railway lines at the back of Richmond station –a road with a cycle lane that is 18 inches wide at one point.

Shame. And I’m a car driver, as well as a cyclist.”

 

You can see this post from our Rides coordinator, written just after the Olympics, hoping for a legacy. And with a bit of digging you can find the lacklustre ambition to make 7.5% of journeys in Richmond by bike when we get to 2026 (see p92 of the ‘second Local Implementation Plan’, hosted on this page). Based on current progress, we probably won’t even reach that poor target.

Hampton Hill Proposal – a local writes …

Local Jo Stead, who works in public health and active travel, wrote this excellent response to the council’s Hampton Hill proposal:

I would to take the opportunity to respond to the draft plans for the Hampton Hill uplift

As you will be aware the greatest issue that the High Street faces is the poor behaviour of individuals who choose to drive and park with little consideration for those who are walking and cycling. This is particularly terrifying for those of us with young families trying to bring them up to be active and environmentally responsible.

I was disappointed to see the on-pavement parking in the plan – failing to leave room for door opening risking the life of people riding past on their bikes. Having this parking is going to lead to ongoing poor behaviour of people queuing to use this parking and driving erratically and dangerously to get a space, rather than encouraging people to use the mainly empty car park behind Tesco. I also couldn’t see anything about bringing in parking charges for on street parking or the car park by Bushy Park.

I was extremely disappointed to see that the very narrow pavement outside the row of shops (by Snellers) is not being widened – currently it is not possible for someone with a buggy or young child on a scooter/ bike to safely pass another person as the lanes are so narrow,with wing mirrors over hanging the pavement. I can’t understand why you haven’t proposed a single carriage way with a bike lane and wider pavement. By having the traffic lights phased for individual streams of traffic (4-way) would stop any issues with people turning right and would likely make the traffic flow through faster. In addition to vastly increasing the quality of life for those of us trying to encourage our families to travel actively.

You will also continue to perpetuate the issues with the right turn onto park road where cars/delivery trucks park on the yellow lines back to the lights so buses etc can’t get through – if you also made that section of park road where there is on road parking single carriage way (with the traffic light phased as a 4way) then buses and the many HGVs could get through without backing traffic up the High Street.

I would like to bring my daughter up in a community where I am happy with her cycling/walking/scooting to school, the shops and around the community, which I am not at the moment. When I talk to other families that is what they would like to. They drive because it is easy, convenient and because they are afraid to let their families cycle etc. It is so disappointing that the council isn’t proactivelylooking to change this behaviour by making it easier and safer for families to travel actively.

Studies show that changing design to change transport modes towards cycling and walking increases local retail custom rather than decreasing it. In additional to the overwhelming evidence that it is being better for community cohesion and health.

Also you don’t appear to have considered the impact on local roads – Burtons, Park, Windmill and others all need to be 20mph, have better crossings (Park in particular) and have residential parking to prevent people parking on road ends and making it more dangerous for people walking cycling.

Working in public health nationally this short sightedness makes me so cross. It’s contrary to all the evidence of what needs to happen.

I hope very much that you will take these issues on pavement width and the need for making it safer for cycling on the road (currently teenagers are cycling on the pavement even the very narrow ones to and from school to avoid the roads.)

I look forward to seeing updated plans and your response. I hope that the council is able to maximise this opportunity for our families’ future.

Plan my village!

The council is consulting on the Village Plan ‘Supplementary Planning Documents’ for St. Margarets, Richmond, and East Twickenham. As usual, cycling is not being treated as a mode of transport, but as – at best – recreational activity. 

Richmond Cycling Campaign would like to see the village plans include clearly stated requirements for cycle parking provision in all new developments. The London Plan (see here) includes clear guidelines around cycle parking and new developments, and we believe this should be included in the village plans. 

2013.08.09-LB-Hackney-Mowll-St-1-6-Cleveland-House cars parked on street londonneurWhich one looks better to you? Images from @londonneur and @cyclehoop

We also believe that emphasis needs to be given to modes of transport other than the car. The village plans should seek to encourage people to walk and cycle around their villages where possible, rather than driving, and should actively consider key routes through any village that could better support cycling as an option. 

Off-road parking is clearly a significant concern in almost all the village plans. We believe that one option to combat at least part of this i to provide families, in particular, with less need to have a car so close by at all times. This is not an ‘anti-car’ proposal, it’s a pro-choice proposal. For too many journeys in the borough the basic choice for getting around is by car. Yet children tell us again and again they want to use their bikes, and evidence from across the Channel in the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, we know that families can happily choose to cycle, where a suitable place is provided to do so.

CTmv1_rXIAE1Aaq.jpg-large

Can’t we have more of this?

And the parking of cars on front garden spaces, and removal of front walls to do so, is discouraged throughout the village plans. One of the key (and entirely reasonable) grounds is that it is deeply unsightly. Yet the village plans fail to observe that, perhaps, residential roads where one can barely access pavements due to parked cars are just as unsightly. Even persuading one household in 10 to travel around the borough by bicycle and foot would make a massive difference to this.

Better support for cycling delivers against a range of development goals for the council, and these should be recognised with the village SPDs – supporting residents to lead a healthier lifestyle, lowering the volumes of air-borne pollution in the area, and making our roads quieter, safer places. 

We’re not forgetting cycling in Twickenham *again*, are we?

Well, yes, apparently the council is, sadly. We’ve already spent millions of pounds on the first attempt to make Twickenham better, with virtually nothing for cycling, now we might be about to do it again.

Cycling and walking both allocated space – isn’t this the least we should expect?

We welcome the plan to make the riverside a more pleasant place for people, but would like to see considerably more thought go into:

1. How people arrive at the new facilities

2. The transport environment around the new development.

How people arrive.

Twickenham is already heavily congested with motor traffic for large parts of the day. Increasing the number of people who arrive to shop and visit is not going to positively improve this situation. This is an opportunity to repair some of the damage done to Twickenham’s transport options by making sure that people can arrive safely by bicycle, and also park their bicycle in a covered, safe, convenient location.

This should apply both to people who work in the centre, and people who are visiting. In particular, we believe all the surrounding roads should become two-way for cycling, with suitable interventions to make this inviting and safe.

Cycle parking should be designed in from the outset. It is not acceptable to have no plans for where cycles will be parked. Plans must include sufficient cycle parking to at least the levels defined in the standards set out by TfL and the London Assembly.

The transport environment

The new development needs to be ‘permeable’ for walking and cycling. That is to say it must be simple and convenient to access the area, but also to pass it. In particular, there is no facility to cycle along the front of the riverside, nor is it possible to access it from both directions. This must be an essential part of the design: people on bicycles should be able to access the riverfront from both Wharf Lane and Water Lane, as well as from – and all the way along – either side of the development.

Crucially, it is not enough to say ‘cyclists will be able to share with pedestrians’. With high volumes of both, this is a recipe for an environment full of conflict and unpleasantness for both groups: just like the two access roads aren’t designed to be shared between cars and pedestrians, so a dedicated cycle route should not be simply dropped onto existing pedestrian space.

Richmond Cycling Campaign has seen too many plans from this council where cycling is an afterthought. It is not sufficient to spend tens of thousands of pounds on plans which say “We would like to hear from cyclists” as their only concession to recognising this as valid and desired mode of transport.

 

The Cycling Liaison Group has come a long way in two years.

As well as 158 (count ‘em!) roads which are now identified as candidates to be made two way for cycling (while remaining one way for motor traffic,) we have a list of bridges which should get cycle gullies, a full map of cycling parking in the borough in the works. (You can see the meeting details on the council website, here: Minutes will likely be published in a couple of weeks.)

And hopefully very soon, we’ll see a planning application for one of these:

The Lambeth Bikehangar

With a new cycling officer, and a cycling champion who really understands what it takes to make ‘normal cycling’ a normal thing in the borough, we’re hoping that Richmond council is finally thinking about catching up with places like Camden, Waltham Forest, and Ealing (to name a few!).

So what happened?

Two-way cycling on one way streets

The council is going to share their list of all 158 candidates for this, and we’ll be asking for your help to prioritise these.  Initially “quick wins are sought where signing will be sufficient – our initial list is here. (And this weekend, London Cycling Campaign, our parent organisation, adopted an assertive new policy on this, to our delight!)

Bike Gullies

More of these are due to be installed, and we’re hopeful that by the end of next year over a dozen bridges in the borough may have been upgraded with these. (See our earlier post here.) 

Bike gully

Residential Parking

We’re hoping to see a planning application for a cycle hanger in the next few weeks. Please keep your eyes open and support it! (We’re catching up, Paul noted Lambeth doing this in 2011!)

Quietways

A contract for consultation on the Wandsworth-Teddington Quietway will be signed soon, and the council has promised that cycling groups will be involved in the planning. We emphasised that keeping motorised traffic levels low is important, but it doesn’t sound like the council is ready to provide much real detail on these. Which, frankly, is a bit worrying, because a quietway will be of no use if it doesn’t provide reasonable directness, and is safe and inviting.

London Road / Heath Road Consultation

It sounds like various objections have sent this consultation one back to the drawing board. On a positive note, this is because it seems TfL thought it could be more ambitious. We’d love to see an improved proposal here, and the guts of the initial proposal did suggest real thought about what will make a difference for everyone to ride a bike.

Parking Audit

It sounds like we’ll be able to see a full audit of the borough’s cycle parking very soon. We all know places where more parking is needed, so this should drive some serious improvements.

Cycle Theft

It sounds like the borough is becoming something of a hotspot for bike crime, with a number being stolen from sheds, back gardens, etc. Local police officers are very happy to offer advice on how secure your place is, so please contact them if you need some advice. ( like making sure that the shed lock can’t simply be unscrewed and locking bikes to each other.)

Parking in new developments

With the document about supplementary planning guidance (yes, it’s really as dull as it sounds) being revised, we’ve taken the opportunity to ask the council to confirm that they are following the London Plan. In addition, we’ll be trying to find out that the council is making sure that any new planning application includes high quality, accessible cycle parking.

And finally …

Cycling Strategy

There’s going to be s cycling strategy soon, but it’s still in consultation within the council, so we’ll get excited when we can actually see it …

Cycle parking should be standard!

We think any new building needs to have secure, sheltered cycle parking as standard. And providing parking for cycling should be a key element of sustainable design.

From: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/parking-your-bike-at-home/

It should be more like this!

But sadly the new proposed ‘sustainable construction checklist‘ mentions cycling in only the vaguest terms.

We’ll be checking the proposed new ‘London Cycle Design Standards’ (see here and this pdf) and asking the council what they’re going to put in … The London Plan includes specific standards for cycle parking (see this article) and we’d like to see these included in our standards.

Please get in touch with us or your councillors if you want any new build in the borough to have proper parking!

Heath Road Consultation … Not Exactly Cycling for 8 to 80 …

Heath Road is up for some cycling improvements (see here), but we’re not sure they’re going to make much difference.  Consultation close 5th July – please fill it in to make cycling’s voice loud!

bus stop cycling

You can see from this image:

  • The lane will be just 1.5m wide at some points
  • You’ll have to wait for the bus, or risk going round it
  • It’s not a mandatory lane, so anyone can drive in it and will probably also stop in it
  • There’s no separation from motor traffic

All of these are problems if the council wants more people to cycle, because they mean that this road will continue to look unpleasant for being on a bike, with neither actual nor perceived protection.

We would like to see ‘floating bus stops’ on this stretch.  Check out this elegant solution on Cycle Superhighway 2.

bus bypass

We think the London Cycle Design Standards (see here) need applying on this road, and we’d like the council to think again:  Please take the time to fill in the consultation, if you like you can use our recommended response below.   It doesn’t take many responses to influence things for the better!!

RCC would like for this scheme to go ahead, it is encouraging to see cyclists being considered on main roads.  However prior to implementation there should be a redesign as described below.   The proposal currently falls well short of modern cycle design standards and will do little to improve cycle safety or encourage those currently not confident enough to cycle onto their bicycles:

 

  • On roads with this volume of traffic and speeds of 30 mph, cycle lanes should be fully segregated.  RCC would like to see this scheme upgraded to semi segregation with Armadillos or traffic wands.  This should be coupled with a medium term vision to create a fully segregated cycle route on Heath Road.
  • Commingling cyclists with heavy vehicles in bus lanes should not be considered acceptable cycling infrastructure.  On this occasion as an intermediate solution it is acceptable to RCC, however to encourage new cyclists and improve the experience of existing cyclists a plan should be created to segregate those on bikes from buses and other traffic at this location
  • The section where cyclists are expected to pass parked cars should include enough space and road markings to ensure that cyclists are not riding in the ‘dooring’ zone.  Ideally the cycle path would run along the near side of the parked cars, the parked vehicles would provide some protection from the moving traffic, again space for opening doors is imperative.  One of the most common bicycle accidents is through being hit by opening car doors.
  • Careful design consideration must be given to cyclists crossing side roads, cyclists should be treated as main road traffic and be given priority over traffic emerging from the side road.  The cycle lanes should be continuous.
  • More thought needs to be given into the siting and design of bus stops.  Cyclists having to move out into traffic to overtake buses is poor design, bus stop bypasses should be included and bus stops should be relocated where there is not space to provide a bypass.
  • Include generous cycling parking at approximate 50 m intervals along the route.

In summary, it is good that cycling is being considered but note that if we as a borough are to get more people cycling for the ‘utility’ and simple journeys that will make a real difference to congestion and well-being routes like this:

  • need to be complete
  • can’t just give up at junctions
  • need to look attractive and safe

 

Getting serious about cycling.

it’s a real breakthrough to see schemes from Richmond Council which seriously consider cycling: Although only a short distance, this cycle lane on London Road (consultation here) reflects a step change in ambition and thought for transport that it is a real pleasure to see.

londonrd

 

in particular, this design includes a cycle lane which has priority over the roads out crosses, meaning that a journey down here should not be the stop-start unpleasantness of the A316 route.

There are a number of problems with the proposal, however …

It’s going to be narrow – at just 2.5m wide for two lanes of cycling, anyone on the outside of this track could find cycling very tricky if there’s someone coming the other way.

If the cycle lane is on the current pavement, then the outside lane is not going to be completely usable. As well as the edge that no-one will want to cycle too close to,there will be a series of dropped kerbs for access, making the ride even less pleasant.

And the ‘treatment’ of the priority on the side roads could be improved. This is how the Dutch do it. (Picture courtesy of the Alternative Department of Transport and Google Maps.)

junction-of-stadthouderskade-and-pc-hooftstraat-in-amsterdam-flipped-for-uk

Getting to the lane if you’re heading from Twickenham outwards will also be less than convenient, because the main junction with Whitton Road includes no changes to make it easy to get across, with no cycle lane at all from the bridge until the proposed cycle lane.

Note also, on the Dutch design above, they’ve managed to sympathetically put in a cycle lane, walking, and driving, with space for all of them – including a lane on each side of the road, which would answer a lot of the issues we’ve identified.

Perhaps worst for this section, Cole Park Road has a different design to all the other junctions, which is going to be confusing and likely to lead to conflict.
londonrd2And even with the existing design, the lane just gives up, with cycling once again coming into direct conflict with walking. Since the council is already on the receiving end of complaints about cycling on pavements, encouraging this more can only seem a retrograde step.

Great Idea But …

This really is a welcome change, and we applaud the council for the implied change in emphasis and thought. However, routes like this:

  • need to be complete
  • can’t just give up at junctions
  • need to look attractive and safe

if we as a borough are to get more people cycling for the ‘utility’ and simple journeys that will make a real difference to congestion and well-being.

We think the council should have a cycle track on each side, give it priority over side roads – and give pedestrians priority at the same places – and continue the route all the way to the cycle lanes into Twickenham. If you agree, respond to their consultation here: https://consultation.richmond.gov.uk/community-engagement/proposed-cycling-improvements-in-london-road