Hampton Consultation – Why we think it sucked.

Richmond’s Hampton consultation was fatally flawed, and we were very disappointed that this was the first major consultation from the new team at the council. You can see our original response here, but we’ve tried to explain it better as well.

Thankfully, it sounds like this one was started before the new team were in place, so we’re offering these notes in an attempt not to repeat consultations like this. We think the council has the skills, the knowledge and the will to start doing cycling right, and we’re going to do our best to help. If you want to help us get cycling in Richmond for everyone who’s 8 to 80, drop us a line.


The proposed route to Hampton Court has apparently been abandoned. Richmond Cycling objected to it – as we find we’re objecting to more and more council plans – and it seems the council also didn’t manage to consult some key stakeholders.

The engineers on the project have been good at discussing with some of the interested parties, and we’ve looked through some of these back and forths. After doing a site visit with senior Hampton Court officials on Friday, it seems an appropriate time to talk in more detail about why we weren’t able to support the plan.

To be clear, the intentions in the plan are very good:

“Whilst the Council has invested significantly in the shared-use schemes at either end of the proposed section an investigation of the area identified that it is not possible for cyclists to travel continuously along the route without risking either their own safety having to join heavy fast moving traffic or that of pedestrians using narrow footway with poor visibility.

There are pre-existing National Cycle Route facilities coming across Hampton Court Bridge as well as popular cycle usage of Bushy Park. The scheme as proposed will serve to link all of these provisions into a unified network and reduce vehicle speed along the 30mph section of the A308, enhancing vehicle and pedestrian safety.

The proposed upgrades to the Bushy Park entrance will improve traffic flow and vehicle safety by increasing the sightlines into and out of the Park as well as providing better access to and from the Park entrance.”

But the resulting plan has a number of quite serious flaws. We’ve outlined our views on these below.

Cycling for Everyone

The most important problem with the plans is that they still provide for long stretches of on-road cycling on a busy route which can include very heavy good vehicles. When we did our site visit, the majority of people we saw cycling chose to use the paths and pavements, with only a few braving the unpleasant, busy conditions on the road. If that’s how people cycle now, we know from long experience elsewhere that making it marginally nicer is going to have marginal gains at best: where people are already cycling on a pavement, we know there’s demand, but we also know that demand isn’t going to be satisfied by simply making cycling on the pavement a bit easier.

But for most of the route, the intention was to widen pavements and to make them shared use with walking and cycling.

“Shared Use”

This seems to be a favoured option for far too many engineers in the UK, and RIchmond’s seem to be no exception. “Shared use” is engineer-speak for “making everyone walk and cycle in the same place”. On some routes, this can work Ok. For example, Richmond Riverside is shared use and, despite the occasionally very high volumes of both walking and cycling, it works for both.

But this is an attempt to build a route which is about getting people from place to place, and in these situations, everyone needs a bit of space. In fact the council’s consultation already recognises that people cycling on pavements isn’t a great thing, yet the proposal explicitly outlines a design which takes a space two metres wide and suggests that you can cycle and walk on it at the same time. To give you an idea, stand up and stretch your arms out with a wooden spoon in each hand. You need to walk in that space and feel comfortable having someone riding by at the same time – does that sound compelling to you?

Cost

A key area of issue that has been mentioned is that of cost. It sounds like the money for this scheme has been assembled from a number of different ‘pots’, giving a very limited budget, and also accepting a series of compromises, depending on where the money comes from.

This is an ongoing issue for Richmond’s transport department. The lack of money to do jobs properly means that, well, they don’t get done properly. Little bits of funding get sourced,and then things like the expensive crossing change on Kew Road, and the pots of paints splashed on the A305, south of Richmond Bridge.

“Dual Network”

Embedded in the consultation is the idea that you have fast cyclists and slow cyclists, and that therefore you can have two separate types of provision. TfL has abandoned this idea in its new flagships schemes in central London. Instead it aims – as the Dutch and Danes have for years – to provide a single, safe, pleasant riding experience for everyone on a bicycle.

The best to think about a dual network is like this: for any ordinary journey by car, would you expect engineers to build one route for people to go fast, and the other for people to go slow? Or one route for people who were brave and another for people who are more cautious?

Naturally not, you’d ask them to do the job properly, once. And that’s what we’d like them to do every time they build a cycle facility.

“Continuous Routes”

This is a good try by the engineers to provide a cycling route all along this unpleasant road. However, routes still need to be actually continuous. This one has a great big ‘stop’ in the middle, where you have to cross the road to keep on using the off-road cycle path.

For an idea of why this is poor, try and think of how you’d do it for a pavement or a road: would you suddenly stop it dead and make it cross a busy junction, because you can’t implement a suitable engineering solution?

Richmond Sheen Road Zebra Consultation.

This is our proposed response to the changes on Sheen Road. See here for the borough consultation. 

Richmond Cycling is in general supportive of improving crossings when the upgrades benefit both pedestrians and cyclists.  This proposal unfortunately has not fully thought through the interaction of cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles, and therefore we cannot support it in its current form.

We would recommend that the scheme is implemented with the changes outlined below.  The recommended changes will ensure that vulnerable road users’ safety is prioritised and the comfort of the cycling and pedestrian experience is enhanced:

  1. The crossing should be raised to slow approaching vehicles.  Vehicle speeds are too high in this area, particularly considering the proximity to a primary school.
  2. Removal of the central refuge to create a single stage crossing is to be applauded.  This will remove a cycle pinch point and will correctly prioritise pedestrians over other road users.
  3. The new road space that is created by the removal of the central refuge should be used to extend the existing mandatory cycle lanes on each side of the carriageway.  It is our understanding that the 2015 TSRGD (traffic signs regulations and general directions) will permit the extension of the cycle lanes over the crossing.  The work should pay heed to this so that this can be incorporated when the new regulations go live.
  4. Keep the zebra crossing.  RCC cannot support the removal of the zebra crossing at this location, changing to a traffic light controlled crossing, prioritises vehicular traffic over pedestrians and those on bicycles. It is RCC’s belief that concerns, from users, that vehicles are not stopping in a timely fashion at this location are due to excessive speeds rather than the style of crossing.  As mentioned earlier lower speeds should be achieved through a raised crossing to make the zebra crossing more effective.   An enhanced zebra crossing keeps priority with the most vulnerable road users.
  5. The proposal suggests widening the pavement to make the crossing shorter.  This would only have a marginal impact on the time to cross.  The pavements should not be widened since this will not permit a continuous cycle lane.  It will force cyclists to pull in front of fast moving motor vehicles, creating a new pinch point and hazard for cyclists.
  6. The railings on either side of the road should be removed.  TfL research has shown that these encourage high traffic speeds and do little to protect vulnerable road users.

Manor Circus / A316 Consultation.

This is Richmond Cycling’s draft response to TfL’s consultation on changes at Manor Circus. Please share any comments below, via our feedback form, or to campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk.

 

Although RCC is supportive that genuine efforts are being made to improve this junction for cycling, we think that the changes have three key problems:

  1. They introduce severe dis-utility for pedestrians
  2. The design clearly envisages two different types of cycling – those happy to brave a dual carriageway, and those not.
  3. The actual cycling experience doesn’t appear to be significantly improved

The specific items we identify:

  • The replacement of zebra crossings with traffic lights, and with stepped crossings, is a severe downgrading for pedestrians.

New staggered crossing

In the new design, the time to cross two arms of the roundabout could increase by at least three minutes. Not only do pedestrians have to walk further to cross each arm, but they have to wait twice on the A316.

Making pedestrians walk further is going to increase the chances that they will attempt to cross at the most convenient place – desire lines for walking and cycling have not been supported in this design.

Why not instead, have some nice shared zebras like this?

cycling on zebra

  • The greater introduction of shared space will increase conflict.

This is perhaps inevitable. Current behaviour in the area suggests that this will not change hugely – luckily both sides seem fairly considerate. However, it seems nonsensical to remove some of the already separate provision, in order to make the shared space look nicer.

  • It’s a missed opportunity to provide cycle lane priority across the Sainsbury’s exits, and on the entry to North Road.

Give cycling priority at these junctions

TfL is already planning this at Elsinore Way. The same opportunity should be taken at these locations, rather than North Road having markings specific to cycling which will inevitably be ignored by all the current users.

  • Traffic will queue from the A316 westbound into Manor Road.

This seems inevitable – it queues already, and there’s nothing obvious that can be done. Perhaps the better use would be a yellow box to prevent waiting on the roundabout?

  1. The petrol station is one of the worst bits.

At present, the design outside the petrol station does not support pedestrian priority across its exits, nor does it sufficiently protect pedestrian space around its periphery. The kerb on the A316 north side needs improving to remove the drop, pedestrians and cycling should have priority when coming round to Sandycombe Road, and the petrol station exit requires marking better. This area might also be improved by taking space from the barrier that separates the lanes at the top of Sandycombe Road.

  • The introduction of on/off slips for cycling is going to be confusing for everyone involved.

on-off

By providing the on/off markings, it isn’t really clear where people should expect to be cycling, or indeed where other road users might expect to see someone cycling.

  • Heading south on Manor Road by a cycle looks unpleasant.

The design suggests that cycling should stop and start down here, and does not make it clear that someone coming onto the road is going to be inserted into traffic which is quite likely to want to turn left into Sainsbury’s. At the very least, there should be markings of a different colour on the road which indicate that those cycling will often want to carry on.

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.

20mph won’t happen in Richmond in a hurry.

20mph is one of London Cycling’s six core ‘asks’ from the recent elections. Six things that we believe would make London’s boroughs better places for cycling.

So it’s a shame that the council is so clearly hell bent on doing virtually nothing about it.

If you want to know what an anti-20mph policy looks like, you just need to read the cabinet papers for the meeting this week. You’ll need item 6 here, and the linked PDF. But to save you the effort, here’s how the conversation will likely go with the officers unfortunate enough to have to deal with this:

You “Hello, a lot of people in my road would like it to be 20mph.”

Council “A majority? Like in more than 50% of all households?”

You “Well, a majority of the people I spoke to.

Council “Look, just because no councillor here has more than about 10% of the people in their area actually vote for them, they still need you to collect a majority of everyone.

“But I’m feeling, nice, so we’ll skip that stage. Did your, haha, majority also understand that 20mph means traffic calming measures, signs, speed humps, etc., will also be needed? Did you know that under council rules, we’re not interested in consultation responses at this stage if you can’t demonstrate you’ve explained just how awful 20mph zones really are? ”

You “Err. No? Department for Transport guidance says you don’t need all that, doesn’t it? I mean, Bristol has a city wide 20mph limit without all that, doesn’t it?”

Council “Does this look like Bristol. If you want 20mph, then the Richmond way is to make it almost impossible, but to over-engineer it if we do go ahead.”

You, some time later  “Ok, they’re happy with all that. Can we have 20mph now?”

Council (guffaws) “No, no, not yet! First we’re going to see whether it’ll affect any other roads nearby. If it does we won’t do it. Then we’ll make something up about whether it can be enforced. If it can’t, or we won’t make the effort to, then we won’t do it either.”

“And then, we’ll check if it’s a conservation area, because we wouldn’t want to clutter a conservation area with cars moving through too slowly.”

You “And then we can have 20mph?”

Council “No. Then we’ll do a traffic survey. If average speeds are over 24mph, then we won’t give you a 20mph zone. And if they’re under, we probably won’t either, because people are already going slow enough, innit?”

Council “Oh, and if you’re still giving us grief, we’ll review the accident data for at least three years to decide if we think it’s appropriate.

“After that, we’ll think about whether we can fund it, and since so few people will get to this stage, each one of these will need signing off by the cabinet member. And then we’ll do a full consultation.”

You “But I’ve already got people to agree, haven’t I?”

Council “Ah yes, but we’ll consult over the whole area, and all the streets around will need to approve your 20mph zone. Did we mention that someone who doesn’t respond is a ‘no’?”

You “What about outside all the schools in the borough, then?”

Council “They’ll all have to go through the process above. Although we might be magnanimous and include a random rule about how we can do it if we want, without any consultation at all.”

Footnote:  You might think we’ve made this up, but it’s all supported by the papers going to council on the 9th. We don’t think Richmond wants to implement 20mph anywhere, based on those papers. And if they do, they’re going to be sure to do it in the most expensive, un-popular fashion possible. Feel free to check the DfT guidance, and see how much of it has been ignored. (PDF link.)

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!

 

 

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.