TfL is worried about congestion along Roehampton Lane, so to fix this they’re proposing to pack more cars into the same space. It seems unlikely that congestion is going to be fixed by simply adding lanes – indeed evidence from the 1950s tells us that adding road space will end up with adding congestion, rather than easing it.
Yet Roehampton Lane feeds down to a very unpleasant junction for cycling, and nothing in the proposed plans says “We’d like to make it a more obvious choice to cycle this way, rather than drive”. This road serves a number of educational institutions to which the most obvious option should be to get there by foot or bike, yet nothing will change to support that.
We’d like to see this opportunity being taken to begin the installation of proper cycling all the way along Roehampton Lane, to support people cycling to and from Richmond Park, to support getting to Roehampton University and Queen Mary’s Hospital along here, to support shopping and leisure trips to Roehampton High Street, and to make getting to these places by bike an attractive and practical option.
Richmond Cycling Campaign welcomes the removal of the pointless ‘Cyclists Dismount’ signs at the Marksbury Avenue crossing of the A316, but we’d really like to see some other changes in the current TfL Consultation
The crossing is nicer
The new design improves the crossing, but we think it could be better: why not allow pedestrians to cross the whole road at once, rather than have to wait for up to several minutes to make two separate crossings?
Removal of the guardrails could accompany this change: if we are worried about pedestrian safety on this road, the best way to fix it is with much more rigorous enforcement of the speed limits.
How does It Join Up?
On the south side of this junction is a cycle lane which should be connected to the crossing. Instead of the minor changes in paving, the opportunity should be taken to repeat the design of Elsinore Way. This would mean that the cycle lane would have priority at this minor road, and would become a more attractive, useful place to cycle.
More Joining Up
Just south of here is Somerton Road, and a network of quieter residential roads. These could all be part of a wider upgrading of routes to allow cycling both ways on the one way street.
Despite the welcome removal of the ‘Cyclists Dismount’ signs, the only other sign changes are more ‘no cycling’ signs at precisely the place where most people will prefer to cycle. No opportunity has been take to improve the signing to key local destinations or other cycle routes. (Such as North Sheen station, Kew Gardens station, and into Richmond.)
It is Richmond Cycling’s strong proposal that this should be a straight through crossing for pedestrians with a single light phase, and that serious consideration is offered to the improvement of the connected cycling facilities.
On December 17th, Zac Goldsmith is hosting a meeting about Richmond Park. We don’t want this to be another “cyclists ate my hamster” session, so we’ve got together with Kingston Wheelers, London Dynamo, Twickenham Cycling Club, Barnes Cycling Club, Chevaliers, Kingston Juniors, and Kingston’s own LCC branch, to make the case for why cycling in the park is a good thing, and why the Royal Parks need to be doing more for it.
Here’s our view, and you can find the meeting details here. Come along and support cycling for all in one of the finest natural reserves we have access to.
Richmond Park is there for everyone, and we want it to stay that way. The present situation, where cycling can comprise up to 75% of all the traffic in the park, is clearly objectionable to some users.
However, the usual reaction – especially in the letters page of the local papers, and in frequent conversations even at the Police Liaison Group – is that cycling, and people who choose to cycle, are the villains in this piece. None of the groups representing cycling will tell you ‘All cyclists are angels’, because breaking the law on a bicycle is almost as endemic as breaking the law in a car. That makes it neither right nor acceptable, but we believe that it is time proper consideration were given to making sure Richmond Park can continue to be a recreational space for the thousands of people who flock there, week in, week out.
There are a number of issues that any proposed solution needs to address:
- The park is a wildlife haven and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is home to a huge variety of wildlife, large and small.
- The park is used by large volumes of traffic during the day which is avoiding roads outside, or ‘rat-running’.
- It’s a recreational space for walking and hiking, with the current road effectively acting as a continuous pedestrian crossing. The Tamsin Trail is also used extensively for walking.
- It is also a recreational space for cycling, with cyclists tending to use either the main circular route, or the Tamsin Trail.
- A number of businesses operate in the park, and require access for themselves and their customers.
- This is a park, and therefore street furniture such as posts, signage, etc. is not very desirable. (Although there is clear value in some signage to support safety needs.).
- So far as possible, the park needs to be accessible to everyone – whether able-bodied, or with some form of disability.
And there have been quite a few ideas previously floated for how to deal with this combination of issues. But what we think that The Royal Parks needs to consider is this:
What is the purpose of the park, and how can that best be fulfilled?
We think the park is a resource that everyone should be able to enjoy, however they visit it.
Of the proposals we’re aware of, we think there are pros and cons for each of them.
One way traffic
One way traffic will basically encourage the park to be used as a race track one way, and will encourage commuting / rat-running in the given direction, as well as actually requiring more driving (wasted time and pollution) round the park as people have to circumnavigate it in order to get to a particular place.
Congestion charging in the park
Charging people to enter the park if they don’t stay beyond a specific time (for example, charging those who stay for 20 minutes or less), will discourage through traffic.
More pedestrian crossings
Although pedestrians can (and should be able to) cross anywhere in the park, there’s a good case for providing clear places for crossing especially around the car parks. and particularly busy areas. It should not be necessary for a zabra crossing to have the full DfT-mandated paraphernalia of zig zags, Belisha Beacons, etc., as evidence from other 20mph locations indicates good compliance where the crossing is clear.
A new cycle-only route round the park
In the Netherlands, the usual guidance is to build separate provision for cycling when motor traffic is above a particular volume, and or a particular speed. We believe that while the speed of traffic in the park – where the limits are observed – might not require segregation, the volumes certainly do.
Through traffic bans
The park is an area for recreation and for nature, yet there is a significant volume of traffic which uses it as a cut-through to various locations. Especially given the sensitive nature of the park environment, and the very real danger that is posed to wildlife and to other park users by high volumes of traffic which is keener to get somewhere than to enjoy the surroundings.
And a possibly contentious point to make …
If we accept the premise of the public meeting that there is very real conflict in the park, experienced by all users, then we should follow the logic of many such conversations, which come round to “Well, whose fault is it?”
On a fundamental level, the conflict which is experienced in the park reflects the day to day experience of driving, walking and cycling in London generally. Many conversations that we’ve heard tend to pick out ‘cyclists’, and often ‘club cyclists’ as significant offenders, and anecdotal evidence is usually called upon to demonstrate how cyclists ‘intimidate’ other road users, including the slightly bizarre assertion in the last Friends of the Royal Park newsletter, that cyclists are a danger to wildlife. (We’ve yet to find someone who wouldn’t stop their bike to avoid hitting a deer …)
At the same time, we hear stories of intimidation, dangerous driving and actual assaults from people who cycle in the park. (As well as stories of dogs causing riders to fall off on the Tamsin Trail, and cyclists intimidating pedestrians there.)
Our response to all of these is simple. Firstly, what does the data say? An investigation of the STATS19 data shows that bicycles are overwhelmingly the victims in Richmond Park incidents, with the other party invariably motor vehicles. Secondly, we argue that no amount of discussion around sharing, mutual consideration or other such proposals is going to resolve the problems in the park, because there is simply too much traffic on the small area allocated to it. .
And this is, very simply, because it is inappropriate to have this volume of cycling and driving traffic in the same place. People who drive, walk and cycle through the park are no more or less lawless than anyone else in London. The solution to this problem is the same as the solution which is about to be implemented in central London – proper and safe separation of the modes, so that both can be done without conflict.
We’re preparing to get our response in to TfL on the Manor Circus junction. Please take a moment to read this and get your own response in.
Richmond Cycling is not in favour of the current proposals for the A316 / Manor Circus roundabout, for the reasons we outlined on our site: http://www.richmondlcc.co.uk/2014/10/16/manor-circus-a316-consultation/
Since writing that, we’ve had a chance to talk to one your engineers when there was a public exhibition at Sainsbury’s.
After that discussion we have some additional points and clarifications:
- The roundabout could be replaced by traffic lights, with an ‘all ways green’ phase for walking and cycling.
- The objection we were advised of – that buses use the roundabout to turn around is easily dealt with, because buses can either use the Homebase car park which they use at present, or the turning opposite the fire station could be extended.
- We were told that the owner of the petrol station would object to better pedestrian access around the periphery of the station. This is a completely unacceptable position to take – the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in this area is of significantly more importance than access which, in any case, is not being prevented but de-prioritised versus other users.
- While we welcome the intent of the plans – to legitimise the existing behaviour, where cycling and walking co-exist – any minor advantage which accrues to walking and cycling from the changes is wiped up by crossing changes which are specifically designed to prioritise the movement of motor traffic over the movement of pedestrian and cycle traffic.
- The move away from specific space 4 cycling to shared surfaces is a massively retrograde step, far out of keeping with the new designs being considered in central London.
- Perhaps most significantly, if the intent of the changes is to improve safety for walking and cycling, then the design of the junction should make significant steps to lower traffic speeds with tighter radii and other engineering changes: it is not appropriate to accept that vehicle speed is a problem, without finding some resolution for it.
So in summary, while we welcome the new attention being given to this junction, these plans are simply not good enough for walking or cycling: where the design either increases conflict between walking and cycling, or encourages through poor design risk-taking crossing of junctions, it is probably also unlikely to lead to an improvement in safety.
We strongly urge you to take these back to the drawing board.
Richmond Cycling Campaign
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 email@example.com.
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:
- They introduce severe dis-utility for pedestrians
- The design clearly envisages two different types of cycling – those happy to brave a dual carriageway, and those not.
- 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.
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?
- 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.
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?
- 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.
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 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.)