RCC response to Hampton / A308 Consultation.

Our response is briefer and less specific than we would normally choose, but we’ve captured the key issues that we and other members identified. 

Dear Richmond Council,

I am afraid Richmond Cycling is unable to support the plans proposed for Hampton (https://consultation.richmond.gov.uk/environment/proposed-improvements-to-cycling-facilities-safety/consult_view),

A number of members have shared comments with us, and one of your staff has also been kind enough to make the effort to offer explanations on a number of points.

We understand that there are severe financial constraints on the borough at the moment, and it has also been made clear that this proposal uses a number of different ‘pots’ of money to attempt to achieve its goal. It is very heartening to hear that engineers are seriously considering properly segregated, attractive routes for cycling , but this only makes it even more heartbreaking to look at the current proposals.

We’d like to question how much these proposals have been shared with Historic Royal Palaces, as Hampton Court Palace is the obvious destination yet the provision designed here essentially creates conflict between walking and cycling at key pinch points.

It is our view that, if money is to be spent on providing cycling facilities, then it needs to be spent on facilities which will actively support cycling by a wide range of people. TfL’s new proposals for the north/south and east/west routes have shown just what we should be aspiring to in London – and why.

To be clear, there are elements of re-design which we think are well-advised. For example, removing the hatched area from the centre of the road will serve to reduce traffic speeds. Similarly, the effort to provide a substantial section of off-road route is to be applauded.

So although RCC welcomes the council’s new attempts to improve provision for cycling we regret to say that this isn’t it. We don’t believe that very few of the changes here will make any real difference to the perception of safety which is so key to encouraging new people to the practicality and simplicity of cycling as a way to get around.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign

Help us ask for Russell School to be the best of the best!

Another school in the borough is up for expansion, and goes to planning soon. We don’t think the council does enough to support schools to get children walking and cycling to school, so this Friday we’re doing a petition at the Russell School in Ham.

The Russell is potentially moving to two form entry – another 120 children when it’s full – and is being extensively remodeled to support this, including the sale of up to 17% of the school’s land. We think that what the council has done at two other schools recently to support additional children shows clearly just how little they’re really prepared to do to support active travel.

For example, the Vineyard School has recently started its build to add an additional form of entry, bringing it to a peak of over 600 children and dozens of staff. When the school appeared in front of the planning committee, their key concern was around the effects that school drop off will have on traffic in the area, and they therefore required school staff to spend valuable time supervising drop-offs and pick-ups.

And more recently at Stanley School – also significantly expanded – the council removed the cycle lane altogether, forcing children to walk and cycle in the same small space at peak times. Whilst the old cycle lane at Stanley might have been less than ideal, it didn’t create conflict by having children cycle past buggies and families.

When schools do expansion, the council seems not to think about how it might improve the environment around the schools to make active travel a nicer option.

We think schools in the morning should look more like this

Cycling to school, Dutch style (from “A view from the cycle path”)

and less like this:

Perhaps not the most typical school run …

We think that council officials need to see this all a bit more holistically: when you’re re-modelling the school, you should think carefully about how to make the school an easy place to get to, and what needs to be done to the environment around the school. A school has a huge part to play in trying to persuade children and families to choose options like walking and cycling. But we can’t ask primary staff to encourage cycling to school when that means asking children to share busy roads with large vehicles. It isn’t the school’s responsibility to design its own roads and transport! 

So in Friday we’re going to be asking current parents at Russell School to sign a petition to Richmond Council to make sure that the new school site is a great place to walk to and to cycle to, and not just build yet another school site that people only cycle to because they’re prepared to try to shepherd their loved ones on a busy road.

Come along and join us, or drop us an email 

We amended this article on September 26th to include corrected details on how the school is changing. 

Space for Cycling in Richmond – more councillors sign up.

More and more councillors are writing to us and to local residents to support the ward asks we chose before the election. s4c asks Since the new administration was elected we have had confirmation from Peter Buckwell, Geoff Acton, Jean Loveland and Penny Frost that they support the specific ‘asks’ in their wards of Ham Petersham and Richmond Riverside, South Richmond, and St Margarets and North Twickenham.

Also, we’ve heard from Brian Marcel, who we also met last week, about his support for a safe route from Sheen Gate to Mortlake Station. So we’re hopeful that cycling in the borough is looking up this year.

And a new cycling champion has been appointed – Councillor Jean Loveland, who has already come along to a ride organised to look at the ward ask in Ham, to create a safe route from Ham to Richmond. Finally, Richmond Cycling Campaign met councillors last week to discuss how we can move forward in a more productive way than with the last administration. All of this is still just words on a page, but we’re hopeful that at a time when more avoidable deaths and injuries are happening in London and in our borough, we can start making Richmond a great place to cycle.

If you haven’t seen it yet, pop along to the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain to see a post on what we agree a great cycling facility should look like

An open letter to Darren Johnson

On Friday, Darren Johnson is coming to Richmond to see what cycling is like here, so we’ve put together an open letter to him about using a bicycle in our borough.

Dear Darren,

Welcome to Richmond. Ours is a borough of extensive green spaces – like the marvellous Richmond Park – and we straddle the river Thames.

This is how we ride in Richmond ...

This is how we ride in Richmond …

But despite the green spaces, the busy town centres, and the significant growth in primary school numbers, we’re still a borough who don’t really like to encourage cycling by providing somewhere safe to do so.

And the recent, tragic death of Henry Lang, at Richmond Circus, is a reminder of just how far there is to go. This happened at a section of road and cycle way which is emblematic of cycling conditions in the borough. If you were driving along the A316 from just before Pools on the Park to Lower Mortlake Road, then you’d have to stop at up to three separate junctions. If you were choosing to use a bicycle, and the cycle lane, and were on the same route, you might have to stop on ten separate occasions to travel the same distance. (And that doesn’t include a junction we’ve previously called ‘the most dangerous cycle lane in Richmond’.)

Richmond Council will tell you that the A316 is part of the ‘Transport for London Road Network’ (TLRN) and is therefore not something that can be sorted out by borough engineers. If they say that, you could always ask them why Mini-Holland bid money was spent on the A316 rather than – for example – making the two lane highway through the centre of Richmond a nice place for families to arrive by bike.

You could also ask them why the last time they did anything for cycling, it involved a big pot of Dulux and a ruler, and the statement that “There are many examples where advisory cycle lanes of less than 1.50 metres [that] provide a safe and convenient facility for cyclists” (pdf) to create a laughable cycle lane which ends just before you need it, crossing Richmond Bridge.

Families ride together in Richmond. On the pavement, of course.

Families ride together in Richmond. On the pavement, of course.

But if you really want to know about cycling in the borough, just look at how much effort has gone into Twickenham – and how much TfL money – for some wider pavements. Richmond Cycling has spent enormous effort to try to help councillors and council engineers understand what might encourage cycling, but our appeals have fallen on deaf ears:  Twickenham is going to carry on being a great place to drive through, and a terrible place either to arrive by bike, or to get through by bike.

How we use the A305 cycle lane. Or 'spot the bike'

How we use the A305 cycle lane. Or ‘spot the bike’

So, Darren – welcome to our borough, it’s a real shame that there’s so little positive news we can offer you.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign

Kew Road could get a toucan, what about Kew Green?

What do you do when you’ve got a zebra crossing where pedestrians don’t get injured, but the traffic goes too fast, and you’ve got a busy junction further along with lots of incidents of all types?

Well obviously, you plan to spend £125,000 on a new crossing for the pedestrian junction where people drive too fast. That’s what Richmond is about to do. Engineers are proposing to spend this on changing the Lion Gate Gardens zebra – whose accident stats look like this (DfT page is here)richmond-upon-thamesand there’s no plan to deal with the much less pleasant junction with the South Circular, where all sorts of things seem to be going on (the blue numbers show there are too many incidents in one space to show each one …)

South Circular incidents

 

The council has been consulting back and forth on this since January, yet doesn’t seem to be asking basic questions like:

  • Which junctions are most dangerous?
  • For whom are they most dangerous?
  • How can I make this a pleasant place to be a cyclist or pedestrian?

We think this consultation is flawed, the process behind it is flawed, and the analysis that leads to spending such a large sum of money on something that is statistically likely to make very little difference to the people involved is poor.

Will the decision get through cabinet? Maybe so, but we’re probably not the only organisation in the borough who could think of better ways to spend £125,000 on making things better for walking ….

The Cycling Liaison Group – YOU HAVE BEEN CONSULTED!

(What’s the Cycling Liaison Group? It’s a consultative council committee, with sadly no power and no burning urge to meet too often, or actually publicise itself. See the council’s summary, here. )

Tuesday night was the last Cycling Liaison Group in its current form. Our Cycling Champion is moving to Oxford, and there are local elections in May. Since one in three CLG meetings has been cancelled, there probably wouldn’t be one between now and May even if it had been scheduled.

Frankly, it’s been a shameful talking shop for its entire existence. The most consistent themes of the CLG have been hearing about theft of bikes, and the minimal ‘cost-effective’ schemes that have been whizzed up by harassed council officials.

But what did happen? On the positive side, it sounds like substantial funding is finally going to make it to cycling in Richmond. Not the £30m that successful Mini-Holland bids will get, but still there’s going to be millions of pounds over the next few years to try to make the borough a place where we can cycle safely to schools, the shops or to work.

An officer from the local Safer Transport Command discussed the Operation Safeway figures. This saw officers stalking a number of junctions in the area, and handing out an awful lot of tickets, both to drivers and cyclists. We’ve asked for a full copy of the figures, but inspection on the night suggested that proper enforcement had a significant impact on behaviour, with tickets issued falling significantly as the weeks went on. We’re delighted that enforcement activity does seem to be taken more seriously now, but since this operation is now over, we’ll be watching carefully to see how long this change lasts.

Everyone involved in the Mini Holland bid seemed genuinely surprised and disappointed by the borough’s failure to secure the funding. We think that parts of the bid were very strong, and we’d really like to see them implement the proposed changes in Twickenham. Officials think we’ll hear about the next round of funding in around four weeks’ time, so we’ll see what comes out then.

There’s also confirmation of £60,000 a year for cycle parking, and officials indicated they’re prepared to consider paying for residential parking for bikes as well. We’d love to see bike hangars popping up all over the borough, to make it easy and simple to store and access your bike, so please let us know if this is something you’d like!

Will things change after May? That’s up to you. We’re preparing to ask all the candidates to tell us what they’ll be offering to make the borough a great place for everyone by improving it for cycling, so watch this space!

 

 

Getting on a bike is just the best thing.

(Written as a quick response to Rachel Aldred’s excellent ‘the bicycle is human scale‘) 

This morning my daughter and I went to her class. She wanted to cycle, so we sent most of the journey on the pavements.

And it was great. We wobbled across the level crossing, said thank you to the man delivering papers who’d moved across for us, and smiled at the other Dad who was out cycling with his son.

The lady at the bus stop smiled at my daughter as she went by, and the drivers approaching the zebra crossing saw her standing there and waited patiently as she crossed all four lanes. And the Dad with a small baby strapped to him said ‘That’s brilliant’, as he let her make her way past.

While we were cycling along Manor Road, Zoe asked me what the beeping had been, and I could tell her she and I had crossed the level crossing just as it started beeping. When we got to the Carrington Road junction she told me, excitedly, “Daddy! My school is down there!”

Then, along North Road, we saw another local family and they shouted ‘Hello Zoe!’ as she cycled past and we waved.

Cycling with your children is just the best thing ever!

Zoe on North Road, using the area marked for parking …

Here’s our approximate route (Google Maps link). We left home at 9:30 and cycled over 4 miles.

Time for 20mph in Richmond

(Updated below – see the local 20′s plenty group, here.)

We think 20mph is plenty for our borough. Richmond has few roads where you ever really want to be doing 30mph, and the national (and international) evidence is mounting up.

You don’t think Three filmed this on a 30mph street, do you?

More and more, we’re hearing from other London boroughs, other areas of the UK, and from throughout Europe, about how slower speeds in residential and populous areas is a good thing for everyone involved.

But the council aren’t keen at all. Despite the Twickenham Action Plan including a 20mph limit, they’ve rejected a number of attempts to have specific roads go 20mph. Until recently, what you needed to do was this:

  1. Ask all the people in your road if they wanted a 20mph zone.
  2. Show the council that you had a majority – bearing in mind that anyone not answering is obviously a ‘no’.
  3. Have the council come round and consult again.
  4. And then get everyone to respond. And I mean everyone - because again, if they don’t reply, then the council will count that as a ‘no’.

So, you’d either need 51% of the voters to turn out, and every single person to vote for you, or if they all turned out, you’d need 51% of the voters.

Compare that to the council’s Heathrow referendum in 2013. On a 41% turnout, they had 72% against a third runway. If that had been a 20mph consultation, it would have failed. but here Lord True said “The people have spoken”. (Have a look at the lengthy discussion at the time on Twickerati, if you want to celebrate just how hard they made it.)

We think cycling needs somewhere safe, pleasant and calm, and if you read London Cycling Campaign’s ‘Space 4 Cycling’ pages, you’ll see how 20mph zones are a key component of this.

So take a moment and tell the council that you want 20mph using one of the consultations going on:

Want to know more about 20mph? Try the 20’s Plenty site, read a paper from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, find out why Bristol is going 20mph, and Camden, and Islington

Oh, and here’s what Transport for London says:

 And an update: pop along to Richmond’s local 20′s Plenty group, and sign their petition. 

March Newsletter

Did we say we were about to hear about the Mini-Holland bid? That’s due on 10th March, and it’ll be followed by the Cycling Liaison Group meeting, where you can come and hear what the council’s planning to do if we’re successful in the bid, but also what they’re going to do if we haven’t been successful.

Monthly Meeting

Our monthly meeting is at the usual venue – the Old Ship in Richmond – at 8pm on 17th March (Details here: http://is.gd/eahg52) Note we’re a week later than usual, because of the Cycling Liaison Group Meeting.

Consultation Watch

It’s a bit of a bumper month. but we’d really like you to reply to the two 20mph consultations on Whitton/Heathfield (here http://is.gd/2KHr3M) and Kew.(here http://is.gd/4upxtW)

Please take the opportunity to tell the council what a difference 20mph will make to our areas. You’ve got until 28 March on these two. (And you can see here – http://is.gd/LRsWzP – that the council already has its own data that 20mph is better!)

The ‘Kew Village Plan’ is also up for review. There’s a document link at the bottom of the consultation, on this page: http://is.gd/9c7i6v Their big idea is to remove the bus lane on Kew Road off-peak, in order to deal with congestion. We don’t think the bus lane causes congestion off-peak, so it would disadvantage those already brave enough to cycle down there. Please take the opportunity to tell the council they could really do more to encourage cycling in the area!

Also, Whitton Supplementary Planning Review – http://is.gd/U6NMku This fails to talk about making things more pleasant for either cycling or walking, so we’d urge you to point out just how much space there is here for cycling, and how any new developments need cycling provision included.

Finally – 20mph in Hampton Hill High Street http://is.gd/FZ2DVL. Please support this one as well, and the council might finally get the message. (Well, you could always say “Please make it easier to cycle!” around Hampton Square – http://is.gd/nMYdII )

Rides

One (maybe two!) rides this month:

On the 22nd March, a Ride for Everyone: Hampton Court and the Thames from Teddington Station leaving 10.20.

And, if someone can step in to help, we’d like to run an April 6th Ride for Explorers. Our ride leader’s in recuperation, so not able to lead this one – please get in touch rides@richmondlcc.co.uk – if you can help!

Maintenance Workshops

These are all in the calendar: http://is.gd/wRbxmB

Mortlake – 13th & 27th March, at the Old Bakery from 7pm. http://wp.me/pSDFw-4X

Twickenham – 26th March, at All Hallows Church from 7pm. http://wp.me/pSDFw-4U

Ham – 8th and 22nd March, Ham Youth Centre from 10am. http://wp.me/pSDFw-14t

Cycling Liaison Group

This has now been moved to 11th March, so that the CLG will be able to discuss the outcome of the borough’s Mini Holland bid. Details are here - http://is.gd/gqQg34 – although it’s a sad reflection of the commitment to cycling that the CLG has once again not met for nearly five months. Come and join us to find out how the council will spend new money from the mayor, and maybe have a cycling budget of its own!

Police Liaison Groups

Around the borough, the police hold regular ‘Liaison Groups’, where you can tell them what you’d like to prioritise. We’ve noticed that a few of these have focussed quite a bit on issues like cycling on the pavement or other minor cycling misdemeanours. Unless you’re a child, we don’t think you should be cycling on the pavement any more than the Police do, but we understand why some people choose to do so, especially when faced with hostile environments like the South Circular. The guidance from the Government is that Police should not issue blanket tickets for cycling on the pavement http://is.gd/VqSJsu, so we’ll be checking on this at the CLG …

If you’re thinking of going to your local Liaison Group to represent the interests of people who want to cycle, let us know, and we can share some tips!

Funding

Another funding round that came through a few weeks ago was a separate pot of cash that Transport for London distributed. Whilst some boroughs requested (and received) hundreds of thousands of pounds, Richmond asked for a grand total of £5,000 (see http://is.gd/Aobmvw). We think this is symptomatic of the borough’s failure to consider cycling, but it also gives the lie to our Cycling Champion’s claim that she’s been working hard to secure central Government funding for cycling in Richmond http://is.gd/824AOH.

Give Zac a Call

Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith is doing a survey to better understand how we feel about cycling, so please hop along to tell him what you think here – http://is.gd/eh9pkA. And you can tell Lib Dem candidate Robin Meltzer about cycling here – http://is.gd/5fHwpt.

And Finally …

Still, cycling featured in Top Gear this week, and the AA is printing a million stickers to remind drivers to give space to cyclists – http://is.gd/KhCWpS And Kevin, from ‘Can’t Stand up for Falling Down’ found a great video from 1984 showing London’s cycling ambition then: http://is.gd/n6auVz

Meanwhile, we’ll be on our bikes, enjoying the sunshine in Richmond Park this weekend, and waiting for the cull to finish, to do the magical circuit at night. You did know you could take your bike into the park at night, didn’t you? http://is.gd/eisZ1h