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. 

‘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.

Police cycle security marking

The following marking sessions have been advertised :

  • 12/02/2014 – 1600-1800 – cycle marking Teddington Train Station
  • 13/02/2014 – 1000-1200 – cycle marking Hampton Wick Train Station
  • 18/02/2014 – 1000-1200 – cycle marking Richmond Train Station
  • 19/02/2014 – 0900-1100 – cycle marking Kew LUT Station
  • 25/02/2014 – 1100-1300 – cycle marking Fulwell Train Station

Local police issued 23 Fixed Penalty Notices for various traffic offences as follows:

  • 9 for having no MOT
  • 2 for having no insurance
  • 3 for having no road tax (VED)
  • 1 for failing to stop at a red light
  • 1 for cycling on the footway
  • 5 for causing an obstruction
  • 1 for driving in a cycle lane
  • 1 for having an incorrectly registered vehicle.

So, as many for driving in a cycle lane as for cycling on the footway.

We’ve asked Richmond Police to try to use a term other than the loaded ‘Road Tax’, too …

Rides for Everyone : 18thJanuary : Chiswick House and the Thames.

Meet at Mortlake Green by the station 10.30. We make use of the off road track over Chiswick Bridge and cycle along the riverside before cutting through to Chiswick House Gardens for coffee. We then follow quiet roads to Kew Bridge from where the towpath takes us back to Mortlake. An easy 6 miles for a winter day.

Just 2 of us this year. Dampish under-wheel but some brightness so an enjoyable ride. The chicanes on the towpath seem to contribute to the formation of puddles as turning cyclists wear away the surface.


Rides for Explorers : 12th January : Box Hill

Meet Twickenham Riverside – by Eel Pie bridge 10.30.

Our traditional post-turkey jaunt. On/off road quiet route to Box Hill then a steady climb to the viewpoint and lunch in NT Cafe at the top (as the pub we used to patronise is now a trendy wine-bar). Enjoy  a switchback descent taking us most of the way home. About 35 miles in total. Better bring lights.

Twelve of us turned up on a bright sunny but part flooded Twickenham riverside. Unfortunately the sun was gone by midday and we detoured away from  the Country Park and Ashstead Common due to the muddy surfaces. Box Hill cafe was crowded but provided welcome hot food and we enjoyed a swoop back via Headly ( 2 members swooped too rapidly and came off but without injury ) in grey but essentially dry weather.



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.


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.