Nelson Road – “We didn’t bother reading the travel plans”

This is the text of a letter we sent to the council about the Nelson Road scheme. What we forgot to mention was that all the schools in the areas already have travel plans, and at least one of them specifically asks for a 20mph zone in Nelson Road … 

Hello Richmond Council,

I was just looking at the Nelson Road scheme and it’s hard not to feel very disappointed.

As one of our members observed, the addition of another place to cross is always welcome, and a proposal to reduce vehicle speeds is also welcome.

Family cycling in Richmond

However, the key component to this scheme, both in the consultation and in the documentation, seems to be “Hurrah, five more parking spaces”. If the council wanted to actually reduce speeds, it would include a 20mph zone, making it a place where children might just be more likely to cycle to school.

Perhaps most disappointing, in fact, is the absence of any evidence whatsoever that someone looked at this scheme and said “Ooh, how could I make this a better place to be on a bike?” or “Could I do something that could be part of wider, more substantive changes to the area, rather than spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on some new tarmac, and more parking?”

Pavement cycling

Why, in 2016, are we still putting together transport schemes whose sole purpose seems to be about moving cars around our borough in the most convenient fashion possible? Apparently there’ll be another new school nearby soon, which is just going to mean more cars in the area, because I assume – please prove me wrong – that the council will expect the new school to provide a travel plan which talks about how it is going to get more people walking and cycling to school, despite any actual action from the council which might involve making walking and cycling conditions better.

I attach three pictures – two of them shows observed conditions for riding in our borough, and the third shows two Dutch girls riding to school, super-imposed on a typical street in Hackney: your Nelson Road plan amounts to the same thing.

dutch-girls-cycling-in-hackney

It would be great if someone could tell me “the council really cares about cycling, and is actively giving officers the power to propose schemes which will make it better.” But you’ll appreciate that I won’t hold my breath.

Yours,

Richmond Cycling

Petersham Road is closing – but not to walking and cycling …

During August utilities works will close the Petersham Road to motor vehicles through Petersham village.  This will affect both the 371 and 65 bus service, however the local councillors have advised that access will be maintained for pedestrians and cycle users.

(The 371 will operate a split service to either side of the highway works enabling passengers to walk between the two.  The 65 service will be diverted through Twickenham and Teddington. If it operates in the same way as last time, it will allow passengers to alight on the Middlesex side of the Teddington footbridge to access Ham.)

For current and potential cycle users there is currently no dedicated cycle route between Kingston, Ham and Richmond but here are some options:­­ (see the map below for the numbers shown by each option) 

  1. The Petersham Road

The Petersham Road is the only carriageway between Ham/ Petersham and Richmond and the sole public transport route making this a significant closure for residents and visitors. Allowing cycles to pass during the works will make this the fastest way to Richmond and beyond.

Other potential routes for cycle users are primarily footpaths/ shared paths.

  1. Thames path

The river tow path has recently been resurfaced between River Lane and Ham House.  The Petersham Meadows stretch remains rather rough going for small wheels and thin tyres.  The end of River Lane and some of the Petersham Meadows section floods at high tide.  Check tide tables here as it can be a long detour if caught out.

  1. The Ham Avenues

The Ham Avenues are level paths, frequently used by cyclists, pedestrians and dog walkers, however the loose gravel surface finds its way into the chain and mech when wet.  They join the Petersham Road where the roadworks are located.

  1. Richmond Park

The shared cycle/ footpath along the west boundary of the park can be used to bypass the roadworks between Kingston & Ham Gates and Petersham Gate.  The inclines are relatively shallow but there is loose gravel on some parts.

  1. Teddington footbridge

Pushing the bike over the bridge and cycling along the road parallel to the river gives access to Richmond through Teddington, Twickenham and St Margarets.  The road has an advisory cycle lane in parts or you can opt for the riverside path beyond Orleans House.

  1. The Hammertons Ferry

The Hammertons Ferry takes bikes for an additional charge.  Crossings are not scheduled; waiting times vary.

Routes from Ham to Richmond

Bushy Park – Will Common Sense Prevail?

Both Richmond Park and Bushy Parks should be havens for considerate cycling by all, yet the Royal Parks seem able to fix neither of them.

The latest mess involves Duke’s Head Passage in Bushy Park, where the Royal Parks appear to have decided without consultation that it should no longer be possible to ride along it.

Image by Jonathan Cardy via Wikimedia

Image by Jonathan Cardy via Wikimedia

You can see what the ride is like, courtesy of this simple video from one of our members. It clearly shows him proceeding happily down the path, and able to interact with dog walkers, children and other users.

Yet the Royal Parks, in correspondence with other members tell us:

“Our highlighted notification of the Regulations (… that have always been present though not enforced as the cause was previously not great enough) is done to carry out our responsibility serving everyone best.”

They carry on:

“No one is excluded from using the route. Walking a cycle for about ten minutes at the very most and keeping a dog on a lead are very small compromises …”

You can see other comments on the changes on the Richmond and Twickenham Times article and the Hampton Ning, and local MP Tania Matthias has weighed in, too, apparently very supportive of banning cycling here.

It’s probably no surprise that Richmond Cycling Campaign isn’t happy about another route for cycling being blocked, and it’s also no surprise that the changes seem to be being largely ignored by users of the route. We’ve already been contacted by a number of members. Things they’ve said include:

“I can now only walk with two sticks because of a back problem [a friend] has a blue badge and can definitely not walk that far… we can both cycle pain-free for 6-10 miles and enjoy getting our fresh air and exercise that way.”

“I have cycled along this passage hundreds of times since 1967, and it has been part of cycle route 168 ever since we started putting safe cycle routes on maps.”

“Dukes Head Passage is a very important and safe cycle route between Teddington and Hampton, used by commuters and school pupils during the week … ”

“I can’t see that pushing a bike is any better as that takes up more width … it is not a speedy thoroughfare … ”

“I have cycled in the passage for years to get into the park or to ride to Kingston. I cycle with care and consideration towards other users. In my experience, cyclists, dog walkers and runners have got along quite happily without this enforcement. Clearly there must have been ‘an incident’ but I am sure this was an exception rather than the rule. In fact the only raised voices I have ever heard was after the signs went up – and that was people complaining to each other of the unreasonableness of the enforcement! Are we to expect regular police patrols in this leafy little passage? What a waste of resources!”

“Before the ban I cycled with my 6 year old from Ham to Hampton Pool, and also to friends in Hampton. For a child, this extra walking distance makes a real difference. Even for adults this move does the opposite of making cycling a travel choice that is comfortable and easy.”

We’d like to see these signs removed, and the path made suitable for all users – clearly narrower paths like this require pedestrian priority, and we actively support this, but pedestrian priority does not mean making it useless for others.

If you feel like us about this, then write to the local MP, or to the Park manager, or local councillor Gareth Roberts. Feel free to copy us in (info@richmondlcc.co.uk) or drop us a line and we will collate all the responses.

Get yourself some on-street parking!

Richmond has its first BikeHangar installed, so we’ve put together a simple kit to help you ask for your own.

2013.08.09-LB-Hackney-Mowll-St-1-6-Cleveland-House

This Dropbox folder contains:

  • A set of instructions on what to do, and what to expect. (MS Word – link)
  • A simple petition form (MS Word format – link) which you can add your road name to
  • An A5 leaflet (MS Word – link) which you can edit with your road details, for giving to interested neighbours

If you want to  get started, have a look at the instructions (link) and drop us an email – info@richmondlcc.co.uk) if you have any questions, or would like some help. .

Better cycling is a public health issue

We’ve written to the Directors of Public Health in Richmond. We think – and Public Health England agrees – that providing for cycling in our borough is a very important service that we expect our local Public Health representatives to support.

To the Director of Public Health, Richmond upon Thames

Dear Ms Bryden and Ms Raleigh,

It will not have escaped your notice that Public Health England have published a paper  “working together to promote active travel”.

As local cycle campaigners we clearly have an interest in the subject and have been frustrated that some councillors do not seem to be aware of the health implications of failing to prioritise walking and cycling. When we pointed out, for example, that even the Department of Transport advises that 20mph limits make people feel safer when cycling, the response was that they wouldn’t allow transport decisions to be made on health grounds unless their health experts made such a case.

Now Public Heath England has specifically called for Local Authorities to “support 20mph speed limits in residential areas” (p22), we hope that you will make it clear to councillors that public health considerations make it imperative that the council takes effective action, if only because “Evidence suggests that switching active travel for short motor vehicle trips could save £17bn in NHS costs over a 20-year period, with benefits being accrued within 2 years for some conditions.” (p11).

Some of the recommendations on p 22, e.g. the idea of a movement hierarchy,  may be uncomfortable to some Richmond councillors and would be dismissed when coming from an interest group.  We hope that you can make it clear that they represent informed scientific judgement.

As local cycling campaigners we have been trying to promote active travel in Richmond and we would be very happy to cooperate with you to achieve the Public Health England objectives.

Regards

Paul Luton

Cycling UK http://www.cyclinguk.org/

Richmond Cycling Campaign. http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/

 

What the paper says …

Key tasks – policies:

  • active travel should be enshrined in transport policies
  • ensure that safe, convenient, inclusive access for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users is maximised and is prioritised over private car use in the movement hierarchy
  • focus on converting short car trips to active travel and public transport
  • ensure that policies and budgets demonstrate how maximising active travel can benefit health, the economy and the environment
  • encourage new developments (and retrofits) to maximise opportunities for active travel with appropriate infrastructure (eg cycle lanes, cycle parking)
  • ensure that travel plans for new developments (including schools) prioritise and support active travel over car transport as part of designing safe and attractive neighbourhoods

Key tasks – implementation:

  • consider how to minimise car parking as a way both to support local economies (eg local high streets) and to promote sustainable modes of transport
  • ensure that new developments don’t adversely affect capacity and safety of surrounding cycling networks
  • support 20mph speed limits in residential areas, and promote road safety in urban and rural settlements to complement school policies on safe and active travel
  • promote local ‘street play’ initiatives
  • ensure monitoring and evaluating the use of travel plans

 

Hampton Court Palace would prefer you to drive, rather than cycle.

While the rest of London is making real efforts to be nicer for cycling, Hampton Court Palace seems to think that cycling is more of a danger to its visitors than driving.

One of our members has asked why it is possible to drive into the palace (to access the car park), and yet if you arrive by bicycle, you’re forced to dismount at the gates. We were very surprised to learn that:

As cars can be heard they are considered less of a risk to the general public than cyclists.

You might be asking ‘It’s not a hardship to push your bike, is it?” and for many people, it’s fine. But if you’re a small child, or if you have any sort of mobility impairment, or if your bike is heavy or unwieldy, then you definitely don’t want to be pushing that bike.

So we also asked why cycling might not be permitted on the paved areas where driving is allowed, they responded:

[that cyclists] could potentially damage the grass and garden areas.

If this were a completely pedestrianised area, with no motor traffic, then we might have some sympathy for the view of Historic Royal Palaces on this one, but they’ve not even put cycle racks anywhere near the entrance, nor made any other particular concessions to encourage people to cycle instead of drive, so we’re asking them to fix this bizarre policy pronouncement.

You can drive a ton of motor car in, but please don't endanger us with your bicycle.

You can drive a ton of motor car in, but please don’t endanger us with your bicycle.

hcp03

A big car park … no cycling. Can you see any irony here?

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.