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.

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.)

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

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.

Consultation Watch – Cole Park Road / A316

Junction of Cole Park Road and the A316, a notorious rat run

Post Updated – 13 October 2013
We reported in our 6 August update below that despite overwhelming support for closure of this notorious rat run, TfL had decided to proceed with a partial closure. We were aghast, and many of you joined us in writing to TfL to share your feelings. Well, we can now happily report that TfL have decided to go back to the original proposal and implement a full closure. A great result and in no small part down to the many of you who emailed TfL.

Dear sir or madam,

We wrote to you on 17 July and 5 August about this proposed closure and the consultation we have conducted. Generally there was strong support in the consultation for some action to prevent rat-running along Cole Park Road (backed by almost ninety percent of responses), but opinion was divided on whether a full or partial closure would be preferable.

Since August we have assessed options for a partial closure. Compared with full closure, this would have significant safety disadvantages for pedestrians and cyclists on Chertsey Road. We have also looked into the possibility of testing a temporary closure before making permanent changes to the road layout. However, this would cause problems for large vehicles such as refuse collection, which would have to reverse for a considerable distance.

We have discussed these findings with the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, and the Cabinet Member for Highways and Streetscene has agreed with the other Ward Councillors that we should close the junction completely on a permanent basis.

We are now continuing with the detailed design of the scheme and preparation of the necessary traffic orders, and aim to start implementation of the scheme in Spring 2014.

Yours sincerely,

Post Updated – 6 August 2013
After feeling good that after significant support a notorious rat run that cuts across the A316 cycle lane and causes many near misses would be closed off, we were brought down to earth when TfL announced that after consulting with LBRUT they would only implement a partial closure, leaving those cycling along the path at risk to left hooks from vehicles exiting the A316 into Cole Park Road at speed.

You can see the TfL letter and our responses below, we’re asking everyone who cares about this important route for mums and dads to cycle to school with their children to email TfL to object as soon as you can STEngagement@tfl.gov.uk

Email from TfL

Dear sir or madam,

I wrote to you on 17 July to report on the consultation on this proposed closure.

Following the consultation, discussions with the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and further investigatory work, we propose to implement a partial closure of the junction, with a left turn in (entry only) permitted for eastbound vehicles on the A316. This was proposed by 24 respondents to the consultation. The detailed designs are being finalised in preparation for a safety audit, with a view to implementation of the scheme in Spring 2014.

Yours sincerely,

Luke Howard
Consultation Specialist
Transport for London, Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NJ

Response from Paul, local CTC representative and RCC Committee member

Dear Mr Howard

I would protest in the strongest terms at this design however detailed. A “left hook” is known to be a major cause of cycle casualties and an eastbound vehicle travelling at speed along the A316 swinging across the cycle track here, probably coming from behind an unsuspecting cyclist, is the worst manoeuvre that you could allow to happen. Counting respondents does not guarantee a safe choice – the original proposal showed more evidence for professional judgement.

Regards

Paul Luton

CTC Representative for Richmond

Response from Tim, RCC Campaigns Coordinator

Dear Mr. Howard,

I write concerning your recent letter about the Cole Park Road consultation, and the apparent decision – in consultation with LBRUT – to abandon the decision to make this a safer junction for pedestrians and cyclists, and a more pleasant road for residents.
The original proposal, as per page 9 here – http://is.gd/WsWt9e – would have provided:
1. A safe place for cyclists to continue their journey, after the still very sub-standard London Road roundabout
2. A safe place for pedestrians to continue their journey – they and cyclists would not need to play chicken with cars taking the current apex at the high speeds usually seen on this road.
3. A quieter road for residents.
Over half of the respondents gave at least partial support for full closure, and the vast majority sought action on rat-running. Yet you’ve now cooked up an idea with LBRUT which would effectively render the scheme pointless There’s really no reason for this road to egress onto the A316 at all, because only in the very worst of peak periods traffic would people need to take this as an exit to the main road.
It’s a matter of very great disappointment to Richmond Cycling that TfL and LBRUT are once again prioritising the movement of motor traffic – and often high speed motor traffic – over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. To be honest, it also renders this entire consultation process an expensive and pointless exercise if you’re going to ask for views and then mostly ignore them, don’t you think?

Sincerely,

Tim Lennon
Campaigns Coordinator, Richmond Cycling.

Email from Twickenham resident Aniello

Dear sir or madam,

My name is Aniello and I commute to work every morning on my bike.
I do not see myself as a cyclist. I see myself for what I am: a person on a means of transport. Same way as people driving a car or a motorbike. I don’t drive, I ride and that’s where all differences stop.

Still, I feel, no, I correct myself, I am SURE that you are
prioritizing and making the road safer ONLY to people who are already safe in their car, surrounded by huge amounts of steel and loads of research to help them make safe while using an unsafe means of transportation.

Even when TfL and the Mayor of London are pushing for safer means of sharing the roads among ALL the users (people walking, driving, riding) you clearly are still aiming at making the roads unsafe to everyone just for the sake of “smoothing traffic” (which, however, you are totally failing to do).

Last morning I was riding my bike to work, I was 1 minute away from my destination, and yet I was close to NOT making it to the office or even back home alive due to a person driving her car thinking (as you suggested her) that the road is all her. She sped past me on the right (despite me riding fast in a primary position, i.e. at the center of the lane so to discourage drivers from passing in that particular stretch of road in Chiswick), with her “left” light blinking and as soon as she passed me, she cut me on the left to make a “left” turn on a road (which, moreover, was busy due to a vehicle maneuvering). I had to force my brakes to avoid hitting her or, worse, being caught up under her car.

Now I hear that there was a consultation for closing Cole Park Road to left turning vehicles from the A316 and that lots of people were happy with the solution, but still you dropped it following consultation with the LBRUT council.

I am, again and again and again, disappointed. Hugely disappointed. You keep claiming you are making our roads safer, and yet at every opportunity you create the ideal conditions for motor traffic to speed and you are actually encouraging people driving their cars into making dangerous actions that could potentially (and are actually) killing people walking or riding. You are clearly aware that the major reason people die on bike is because of left turning vehicle. And yet, you favor it. While still claiming that that is safer for all of us.

Could you please tell me why is that? Why you think that NOT closing access to Cole Park road would make it safer for people living in the area, for people walking in the area, for people riding in the area or even for people driving in the area? And could you please tell me why you dropped the original proposal EVEN IF people LIVING in the area (and thus clearly those who KNOW more about that junction than everyone else) were in favor?

At least that would be appreciated.
Regards,

Aniello, a guy on his bike.

Original Post – 1 August 2013
We reported back in our May newsletter that TfL were proposing to shut off a notorious rat run on the A316, near to London Road roundabout. Cutting across a well used off road cycle lane, it was the scene of many near misses.
TfL have now published the findings of the consultation, and we’re happy to report that aan overwhelming proportion were in favour of removing the rat run (85%). TfL will now work with the local ward councillors to decide on how the change will be implemented. Thank you to everyone who responded to the consultation.

The report from TfL is worth a read, if only to see the response from the Alliance of British Motorists! Cole Park Road Consultation Report

We continue to push for improvements to the A316 cycle lane, including getting priority for cyclists across junctions, improving Chalkers Corner and sorting out the London Scottish car park exit.

Consultation Watch – Walton on Thames

A special guest post from Walton on Thames cyclist Parimal highlighting an important consultation for anyone who cycles in through that town, or in fact anywhere within Surrey CC’s remit.

Walton Bridge has shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians. Photo by Get Surrey

Surrey County Council are, at the time of writing, consulting on implementing some cycling facilities in Walton-on-Thames to act as a link to the shiny new bridge that has been installed.

Walton-on-Thames proposed cycle plan overview. Shared pavements in lime green. Original image from the consultation plans

The full consultation including plans can be found here (deadline to respond Monday 19 August). In summary, the proposals being consulted upon involve:

  • Widening certain pavements to between 2.5-3m along roads that link to Walton Bridge
  • Marking these widened pavements for shared use between cyclists and pedestrians
  • A limited portion of these shared pavements will be painted to show a separate bicycle lane
  • Plans stop shortly before the road turns into a 40 mph zone
  • At all junctions with side roads, motor vehicles have priority

On superficial analysis the plans appear to be very good in separating cyclists from motorised traffic, providing a subjectively safe space for existing and would be cyclists to go about their business. But that would be superficial analysis indeed.

From the overview of the plans we can see that the shared paths run through the shopping areas of Walton-on-Thames, pavements that are heavily used by pedestrians to go shopping. These plans deliberately put cyclists in conflict with pedestrians because they fail to recognise that shared paths only ever work when there are very few users of vastly different speeds. In these plans at each junction along the main road, cyclists do not have right of way posing a further danger to them and pedestrians.

The plans appear to have been designed to get cyclists out of the way of motorists and put them into direct conflict with pedestrians in an area heavily used by pedestrians.

This excellent video by WokingTrafficSafety shows a walkthrough of the pavements in Walton-on-Thames that these plans are for.

Surrey County Council are willing to take away some road space in an attempt to widen the pavements. However, the use of shared pavements in this area is completely inappropriate. There is enough room on the roads in question to have pavements, wide separated cycle lanes, which have same priority as adjacent roadway, and two way roadway for motor traffic. However, it requires the will to reallocate space properly.

The full consultation details can be found here. Please take 2 minutes to fill in the tick box online questionnaire before the Monday 19 August deadline.