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. 

Hampton Court Rd – the story continues

Once upon a time there were two narrowish advisory cycle lanes down this rather nasty ( high speeds and traffic volume) between Kingston Bridge and Hampton Court Bridge. LB Richmond decided that these were ineffective and decided with little consultation to put a 2-way cycle track on the north side from Church Grove but  ending about half way down the road. If you were crossing Kingston Bridge you would have to cross somehow to the north side and re-cross with even less assistance half way to Hampton Court. Unsurprisingly cyclists tend not to do that but were continuing on the north footway to the annoyance of local residents.

We have just had a communication suggesting the possibility of further action :

We have given initial though to widening the footway on the northern side of the road, as a continuation to the existing off road facility to the Chestnut Avenue junction. This will reduce the road width to 7.0m but would provide a general 4.0m shared footway (some variations in places).  In order to implement this, it would be necessary to remove the two existing on road cycle lanes.  We will also be looking at crossing cyclists at the Chestnut Avenue zebra, with continued shared use to the HCR roundabout.  The road width reduction would be beneficial in reducing vehicle speeds as there is an issue with vehicles travelling well above the 30mph speed limit.

 As part of this project we will also be giving consideration to how we link the roundabout to the existing off road facility further along HCR, past the green and the Esso garage.   I would like to stress that this is only being considered at this stage and is not yet out to public consultation. Your initial views would be welcome.

My initial view was that this was some improvement on the current situation whilst still wistfully thinking that if Richmond and Surrey could get their act together we could have a continuous track on the south side from Kingston to Esher. Comments from users welcome.

Paul

2014 Local Elections – LCC Space4Cycling Survey Results

On 22 May 2014 the whole of Greater London will go to the polls to elect our local councillors for the next 4 years. As anyone who has followed the work of RCC over the past 4 years since the last election campaign, you will have see how councillors have a significant influence on the safety and liveability of our borough’s streets and town centres.

London Cycling Campaign has set the 2014 local elections as a campaign priority and plans to ask every candidate in every ward across central, inner and outer London to support pro-cycling policies and measures. We have started to collate what the issues are at a ward level and LCC carried out a survey at the end of last year to identify what people felt was important in the ward they lived and cycled in, based on six policy themes.

Well the preliminary results are in from that survey and there was an overwhelming response rate, with replies from every ward in the borough. Have a look at the chart below for the results:

Across the borough, the same policies were identified as being most important:

  1. Protected space on main roads and major junctions
  2. Safer routes for school children
  3. Liveable town Centres

We’ll report back more on the results and how you can get involved in targeting the candidates for your ward to help you select the person who will do the most for your area. LCC have set up a system that will allow you to email each candidate in your ward.

Many of the wards are determined on just a couple of votes, so it is really important you register to vote (deadline appears to be 14 April as registers updated once a month – you can register here or use Richmond council’s form. Richmond Council allows you to check online if you’re registered) and turn out on the day and share with all your friends and family who live in the borough and want it to be an even nicer and safer place to live and cycle in.

One interesting aside from the survey was the % commuters by bike statistics that LCC included. While it is encouraging to see an increase in commuting by bike between the 2001 and 2011 census periods (and Mortlake and Barnes Common leads the way not with nearly 9% commuting by bike), it is a shame to see that in Heathfield ward, the number cycling to work has fallen and is now the lowest in the borough, although South Richmond isn’t far behind.

Cycling to School – The Numbers

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotoinsight/6268383879/

As we reported previously, our analysis of the borough’s school travel plans showed that while many children would like to come to school by bicycle very few chose to do so with some schools actively discouraging it.

It’s interesting therefore to read these statistics from the DfT Cycling to School Report (PDF) which show just how depressingly low the rates are:

DfT School Cycle Rates 06 - 11: Click to view full report

Contrast this to the rest of the world and you can see we have a long way to go:

Source: http://www.ecf.com/

Why are things so different? Well watch these two videos and see which country you would be more likely to allow your children to cycle to school in and also which country has cycle infrastructure that is appropriate for all levels, not the ‘Dual Provision’ nonsense that we have in the UK (see Motion 5 for LCC’s stance on this).


You can read more about how we’ve failed children in the UK in this excellent blog post. (and before anyone launches into ‘it wouldn’t work here’, do read this first)

Richmond wants to fix getting safely to the park …

The council is looking to re-design the roundabout which leads on to the Richmond gate entrance to Richmond Park (streetmap view here), and RCC committee members are hoping to talk to council officials in the next couple of weeks about this, so we’d like your input!

Richmond Gate (from Google Streetview)

The roundabout has seen a number of incidents in the last few years (LBRuT have reported 10 collisions in the proximity of the gate with 8 of them involving cyclists – you can use  http://www.cyclestreets.net/collisions/ to see some of them), and they’re considering a number of options.

Our view is that this is a typically poor bit of infrastructure for cycling: there’s no way to access the park or leave the park on a bicycle without potential conflict with traffic that can be sometimes very heavy or very fast-moving,

If Richmond Park is to be a destination for everyone who wants to cycle, then it’s great news the council is looking to improve this crucial junction. Our hope is that changes made here can set a template for making our borough much friendlier for people seeking to access key facilities by foot and bicycle.  Options under investigation include moving the traffic island, and resurfacing, among others. What would you like to see happen here? Let us know via our email campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk or contact form.

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.

Vision:

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. 

LBRUT Cycling Strategy & Mini Holland Update

So Richmond and Twickenham might get some substantial mini-Holland cash, but we still don’t actually have a cycling strategy to really support spending it properly … 

Last week RCC members attended 2 key council meetings relating to cycling developments.  Monday saw the LBRUT Head of Integrated Transport make a presentation to the Environment, Sustainability and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee on (a) Mini Holland status and (b) the Borough Cycling Strategy; and Tuesday saw the quarterly Cycling Liaison Group take place covering the same topics.  A summary of both is given here.

Mini Holland status – Richmond has been selected to go through to the next stage; but with various modifications to the bid.  Three or four boroughs will get about £20m each; 4 others could get around £3m. Other boroughs who failed in their bids may get funds for certain aspects in their bids which TfL considers “worthy”. So there seems to be a good chance that LBRUT may get some funding whether or not they win.  LBRUT will be preparing the next bid with help from their consultants; and have 10 weeks (now 9) to do so.   Richmond Cycling has requested input into the bid as soon as possible, so we can make sure the proposal has some real substance around safer places for people to cycle in the borough.  Our review of the original bid is here.

  • Apparently Andrew Gilligan (Boris’ Cycling Commissioner) is enthusiastic about the rail-side routes. Network Rail and SW Trains have been contacted and they are “very excited”.  LBRUT is seen as a test bed for other boroughs. There is clearly a lot of more detailed work to be done to establish feasibility.
  • TfL also wants the council to work with them on the A316 route.  Hounslow and Hammersmith will be involved too.  TfL requires that the cycle route will be continuous, which is great news: cycling routes which stop and start for no obvious reason, and which dump you into unsafe locations, are one of London’s biggest cycling issues.
  • The proposal for the Ham-Twickenham bridge over the Thames will be dropped (on grounds of not enough benefit for the cost) and is seen as a more long-term possibility.
  • The current design for Twickenham town centre design will be improved. There is a possibility of mandatory cycle lane or lanes in King Street.
  • More cycle parking is needed. The existing 250 spaces at Twickenham Station should be doubled. (And we think Richmond station still needs more, let alone the other locations crying out for parking in the borough …)

Borough Cycling Strategy – the report presented by the officers at the O & S meeting appeared to be aiming to get the O & S committee to provide input into the cycling strategy; rather than claiming to be a strategy itself.  In fact the “strategy” seems to depend on whether or not LBRUT win any mini-holland money; so is unlikely to be completed until the outcome of that is known.  Two Richmond Cycling committee members made formal statements to the committee to comment upon the document and made a number of key points – in particular that the targets for modal share growth are unambitious; that LBRUT need to be making infrastructure changes to support more vulnerable cyclists; they need to focus on converting parents from driving their kids everywhere – by making the roads safer for cycling; they need to use the information from School Travel Plans to really address these problems; and that the level of funding committed is inadequate.

Our attendance at the meeting enabled RCC to raise awareness of a number of important points to a wider set of councillors than are usually engaged in cycling matters – and a number of questions were put to us.  It was apparent that many of the councillors are not very cycling-aware; and the general level of questioning reflected many of the usual anti-cycling prejudices (red light jumping, pavement cycling etc.) without any obvious awareness of why this behaviour might happen.

Cycle Parking - Each year there is a work programme (for parking).  Cycle hubs will be installed at stations over the “next year or so”.  Suggestions for parking are invited – if anyone has suggestions for places where more parking is needed please get in touch or log these on Cyclescape and we will then pass onto LBRUT.