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!

 

 

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.

 

Delivering great cycling with fine words – Richmond leads the way. (And an Elephant)

If fine words delivered a seismic shift in the number of people cycling, Richmond Council would be almost as effective as Boris Johnson.

Once again, we sat through a meeting which was heavy on rhetoric, promises and fine ideas, and pretty thin on actual action that will make cycling an enticing thing to do in the borough. The thing is, the council is very, very good at talking about cycling, and we’re fairly sure they understand our concerns about how to make cycling a real option for everyone in the borough, but when it comes to actually doing something, their failure to follow through is frankly distressing.

But for the record, here’s what Richmond Cycling members observed from the meeting: (there is some good news at the end!)

  1. Local police have been running some ‘education’ on local Advanced Stop Lines. This has run for two weeks, and now they’re planning some actual enforcement activity.
  2. Bike thefts in Richmond are up, but they’re down in Kingston. To be honest, I’m sick of hearing about bike theft at the Cycling Liaison Group. Everywhere that people use bikes to get around, someone finds a way to steal some of them – it’s great that the police are looking into this, but I don’t see why it has to come to the CLG every single time.
  3. We heard from TfL that 19 of 20 eligible boroughs submitted bids for the Mini Holland money. The TfL rep was very impressed with Richmond’s bid, but also masterful at dodging any questions of substance. What we did find out was that up to 8 bids would be called forward to the second round, with seed cash to improve their bids, and then up to 4 boroughs will actually share the money.
  4. And we discussed the mini Holland bid – both Councillor Harrison, the cabinet member for transport, and Chris Smith, the head of planning, waxed lyrical about how convincing Andrew Gilligan was, and how committed he is. Which is great – we just feel it’s a pity that they’re not reflecting this enthusiasm in the designs that we see.
  5. The borough’s cycling strategy, which has been in gestation for longer than the Trident upgrade plan, is now apparently going to have to be re-visited again, because the current version apparently describes a strategy that doesn’t really reflect the mini Holland bid. We’re choosing to interpret it as a good thing that the council is trying to align these things, but we’ll wait until it comes out before we comment any more. 
  6. The one point we found very interesting: the council told us that they’re planning to get more on-street parking rolled out. Specifically they observed that you don’t need planning permission to do this, so if you’d like some parking for your bike, please get in touch (or email us: campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk), and we’ll start asking the council.

The Elephant

What’s that? Was there an elephant in the room? Well, yes. Sat on the table, in plain view but not on the agenda, was the Twickenham Plan. We managed to ask some questions about it, but basically we know that bits and pieces are going to consultation. This does represent a chance to at least seize the small improvements for cycling on offer, like the introduction of 20mph, and the Holly Road contraflow.

So if there’s one thing you do this month, please do reply to the consultation – we’ll provide some more details this week, and we’re also going to try to meet the council again, to see if we can get any improvements to the current appalling plans.

Twickenham – we had one step forward, now it’s two steps back.


Current view of Twickenham filmed by local cyclist Mathieu

They’re starting the detailed designs for Twickenham, and it’s not good news.

We’ve tried hard to engage the council, and to push the focus that both LCC and the Mayor’s Office are giving to ‘Going Dutch’. A previous meeting seemed to indicate that things were really starting to look positive, but the new plans (PDF here) are very disappointing indeed. Advisory cycle lanes that share the width of the nearside motor vehicle lane and disappear where they’re needed most. At junctions, where most collisions occur, those on bicycles have to fend for themselves, great if you’re trying to cycle to school with your children. And the newly located bus stops, aside from inconveniencing those who visit Twickenham by bus, add new dangers along Cross Deep.

Spot the cycle lane - now you see it, now you don't (click for full drawing)

In the week that saw the first death in London on a hire bike, Richmond Council is again offering us a design based on the discredited and dangerous facilities that bloggers like Twowheelsgood and Citycyclists are directly linking with the continuing maiming and death of cyclists in our city. A painted line will do nothing to protect you from an impatient lorry driver.

Cycling *is* a safe thing to do, and our borough is a pretty safe place to do it, as well. But we know from report after report that the people who aren’t already using a bicycle have probably chosen not to get on a bicycle because they perceive it to be unsafe. And the new Twickenham plan isn’t going to help.

We’ve written to the council to tell them how concerned we are (you can see the full text at the bottom of this post). Perhaps Richmond can win its Mini-Holland bid, because there’s indications that Twickenham might be partially fixed with that, but we can’t risk it: right now the borough is bidding to spend £8m of TfL’s cash on the new Twickenham, but it’s neutral at best for cycling. We think Twickenham is somewhere that should welcome families and visitors by bicycle, whether they’ve come from nearby, or from the station, or are just popping in to get a loaf of bread or a coffee.

The Cycling Liaison Group meets this Thursday – the meeting is open to everyone so join us to ask the council why they’re giving so little priority to persuading people that cycling is a pleasant attraction option for getting around our area.

If you’re planning to come, drop us a note at campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk if you need any more info.

 

Dear Richmond,

Thank you for sending us the detailed plans for Twickenham.

Unfortunately, it is very hard to see how RCC can offer any endorsement for the plans as they stand. As you know, we were very pleased to see Andrew Gilligan and Boris Johnson bring together a real commitment to cycling for everyone. We believe that getting on a bicycle can – and should – be the most obvious travel choice for the majority of journeys in our borough. We also believe that to get people to consider cycling as a transport choice it needs to be safe and feel safe. Survey after survey tells us that people who don’t cycle equate sharing the road with HGVs and buses with a very visceral feeling of danger.

You’ll have seen recently that the local police are finally enforcing the cycle lane across the bridge by the station: the ongoing issues here are a perfect demonstration of why cycling needs its own space in the new Twivckenham, and yet the nearest concession to any new space comprises a couple of advanced stop lines.

These plans give little confidence or succour to mums and dads who want to cycle with their children to school, or indeed anywhere else in Twickenham. Instead they combine all the features which make cycling in the United Kingdom a specialist contact sport. They include;  incomplete routes; junctions that require a cyclist to force her way into the main traffic flow; conflict-inducing pinch points, and hair-raising junctions.

RCC members have made a concerted effort to talk to the council about what might make Twickenham a good place for cycling, and it’s worth looking back to some of the meetings and discussions we’ve had, and some of the ideas which don’t seem to have made it out of our minutes of these meetings:

  • We discussed the broad (1.5m) central reservation, which could be narrowed to provide more space for cycle lanes. Not Present
  • We discussed colouring used to indicate cycling provision. Not Present
  • We discussed using ‘armadillos’, soft kerbs and a range of other techniques to indicate lane provision. Not Present.
  • We discussed how someone on a bicycle makes it from York Street across Cross Deep to Heath Road. Your new design doesn’t even provide a cycle lane for most of this journey.

A key point from the Gilligan review is that you can’t have a meaningful cycle route if you do nothing at the junctions. Yet this plan offers virtually no improvement at junctions compared to Twickenham currently. The mayor of London has a compelling vision for cycling for everyone in our city, and it is with huge regret that I have to tell you that I don’t think the plans that we’ve seen do anything to advance that vision.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling. Campaigns Coordinator.

You can see our minutes and notes about previous meetings at these links:

Will the sea change at City Hall be reflected at Town Hall?

The borough’s Cycling Liaison Group meets on April 24th, and it’s the first meeting since the Mayor’s visionary new cycling plan was launched.

Richmond Cycling Campaign is taking the opportunity to ask for a series of things which we think can improve cycling in the borough in both the short term and the long term. We think all of these should be discussed at the CLG, so we’ve written to the council to  ask them to include them all on the meeting.

1. To ask the council to audit every one-way street in the borough, to establish which ones can be made contraflow for cycling.

2. To ask the council to audit all pedestrian-only routes to establish which can share cycle facilities.

3. To ask the council to prepare an analysis of all cycle routes and cycle facilities in the borough, to establish whether routes are complete to bikeability stage 2 standard.

4. To ask the council to provide funds to support Sustrans’ Bike It in a school.

5. To ask the council to map council-provided cycle parking in the borough.

6. Start exempting cyclists from TROs, wherever possible. (Explained here – this is a bit of a geeky one for design and planning nerds!)

7. Commission a study to see if any of the school walking buses want to try a cycling bus.

A Dutch 'cycling bus' (From @fastcompany - original source unknown.)

A Dutch 'cycling bus' (From @fastcompany - original source unknown.)

8. To ask the council to collaborate with RCC to apply for TfL grant (or others) to buy cargo and family bikes to show parents and families how easy it is to get around by bike. The council would be able to lend these out on a hire basis, to let people experience what it’s like using one of these.

9. To initiate a project to look at how we become a mini Holland (as per the mayor’s recent cycling vision).

10. To initiate a review of all transport planning so that it complies with the new vision for cycling (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/15459.aspx#).

We ask the tricky questions, so you don’t have to.

We know Richmond has 5% transport share for cycling – which is great compared to a fair bit of outer London – but did you know that we spend 15% of our transport budget on cycling? (See the minutes here.)

What Richmond doesn't spend cycle money on. Picture from http://omonaij.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/nigeria-introduces-bike-lanes-bans-okada/

Well, we were a bit sceptical, given the council’s general attitude to cycling and how it might benefit the borough, so in November I asked Councillors Harrison, Harborne and Naylor if they could explain the numbers: how did they get to the 15%?

Perhaps not surprisingly, no reply was forthcoming, except from Cllr Harborne, who at least sent me a link for the budget paperwork. So I sent them a Freedom of Information request. You can see it here.

And the basic result seems to be that the council couldn’t break out cycle spending from the overall transport numbers. Which is disappointing, because you’d hope that what elected officials tell you would have some backup.

So there’s a few possibilities: someone’s lying. Someone can’t add up. Someone can’t read their budgets. Or, saddest of all, they just don’t care.

We’ve asked for an explanation, but wouldn’t urge anyone to hold their breath.

Dear Councillors,
We were told in October’s CLG that cycling makes up 5% of transport share in the borough, yet consumes 15% of our transport budget. (Minuted here: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/council_committees_list?mgl=ieListDocuments.aspx&CId=453&MId=3069&Ver=4)

But you couldn’t be bothered to reply to my enquiry about this, so I sent a Freedom of Information Request. (To be fair, Cllr Harborne did reply with a link to the accounts.)
You can see the request here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/what_does_the_council_spend_on_d

Unfortunately it looks like the council is unable to separate out cycling spending from anything else, so perhaps you could enlighten me as to where these numbers come from?

Sincerely
…….

Cycling in Richmond – Perspectives of a new and fairly timid cyclist

We were contacted by a local borough resident about the upcoming Cycling Liaison Group meeting, where she hoped to share her perspectives as a new and less confident cyclist. We think it makes a great read, so we’ve published her note in full here.

Safe Cycling in Richmond

Given the forecasts for further growth in the population of Greater London and the increase in congestion that is likely to result, there is a need for Councils to encourage greater use of sustainable methods of transport, including cycling and walking.  The DfT has estimated that 2/3 of all journeys are less than 5 miles.  There would be huge benefits if more of these could be made on foot or by bike.

For this to happen in Richmond to a significant extent, hard to reach groups such as older women need to be persuaded to take up cycling, and it needs to be safer and more attractive for children to travel to school by bike.

As a 50+ year old woman who has only resumed cycling in the last couple of years, I feel I have an insight into what needs to be done to encourage people like me to cycle.  Most of these relate to the provision of more safe cycle routes that don’t require cycling on main roads.  Whilst Richmond has some significant advantages in this area due to its legacy of tow paths and parks, I feel that since its election the current Council does not appear to have built on this with further improvements, unlike some neighbouring boroughs.

I would like to make the following general comments to the Cycling Liaison Group:

  • There is a general impression given by the Council that cyclists are seen as 3rd class citizens (with motorists a clear 1st and pedestrians 2nd).  Nobody would dream of building a road that stops in the middle of nowhere, yet this frequently happens with cycle lanes (for example those on the Kew Road) which are put in place where the road is wide and disappear as soon as the road becomes narrower and more dangerous for cyclists.  Road works closing pavements with cycle lanes often provide alternative routes for pedestrians but leave cyclists stranded.
  • If less confident cyclists are to be encouraged to get on their bikes there is a clear need to segregate cars, pedestrians and cyclists better.  Yet this seems to be getting worse not better in Richmond.  For example, following roadworks in 2011 at the junction of St Margarets Road with St Margarets Drive and Northcote Road, the markings on the pavement to indicate separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians were removed.  I complained several times to the Highways and Transport department in late 2011 and 2012 and each time was told that they would be reinstated.  This was not done.  I wrote again in April 2012 pointing out the work had not been done but received no reply and am still waiting.  This causes potential pedestrian/cyclist conflicts and is dangerous.
  • There is also a need to reduce the actual and perceived threat from motor vehicles through the use of more cycle lanes on busy roads, 20mph zones in quieter ones and better education of drivers (for example most appear not to know that they should not drive within the solid lines separating the road from those cycle lanes that are enclosed by solid, as opposed to dotted, lines).  The most successful cycle tracks are ones which have a kerb at the side separating cyclists and pedestrians and cyclists and cars, as in the Netherlands
  • Speed bumps are great for reducing traffic speed which is welcome, but please can we have the type that have a gap in the middle (or at the side) for cycles rather than those that are continuous from one pavement to another.
  • Signage on certain routes is missing at key junctions – making it easy to get lost for first timers.   There are also a number of paths where it is unclear whether cycling is permitted or not (for example across Richmond Green.

I would like to make the following specific requests to the Cycling Liaison Group:

  • The tow path between the turn off to Petersham Meadows and Ham House is part of a vital route from Richmond to Kingston, Ham and Teddington for those wishing to avoid cycling along the frankly scary Petersham Road.  Despite this it has been virtually impassable (and sometimes closed) for most of the last 3 months.  If I do not wish to arrive in Kingston with my bike and myself coated in mud, I have been forced to dismount and walk for almost a mile through the meadows and along the main road to regain an off road path at Ham Common.  I feel it is completely unacceptable that such a key cycle link is in such a state.  I raised this with the Parks department in July 2012 and was told that they would like to do something about it but don’t have funding.  If a road was in this condition motorists would be up in arms.  I think funding should be found from other areas if necessary to bring this forward.
  • Access from the Northern bank of the Thames towpath to the A316 cycle path is only possible if you carry your bike up a series of steps beside the bridge.  Whilst this may not be a problem for younger, stronger cyclists, it is a clear disincentive for older and weaker residents.  Is there any chance of a ramp along one side of the steps to enable a bike to be pushed rather than carried up the steps.

Cycling Liaison Group Meeting – 29 January 2012

The next meeting of LBRUT’s Cycling Liaison Group (CLG) is later this month on Tuesday 29 January at 7pm at York House in Twickenham (Full details here).

Here are the agenda items for the meeting:
1. Welcome from the Chairman – the Borough Cycling Champion (or Czar?), Cllr Harborne will welcome those present
2. Apologies – those who’ve given up banging their heads against a brick wall
3. Minutes of the Previous Meeting – really 3 months since the last meeting? Time flies..
4. Biking Borough – some fluff to distract from nothing really being done to make your cycle safer
5. Cycle Theft Update – more on how marking bikes will stop 4 being stolen daily
6. Cycling Strategy Update – yes the council does apparently have one
7. Cycling Consultation – briefing on the process for avoiding consulting cyclists on highways schemes in the Borough.
8. Twickenham Town Centre Update – advice on when the Olympic Legacy sport of taxi rank dodging will commence

You can find out more about previous CLG meetings in this set of great blog posts by a regular attendee. One of the main downsides to this meeting is that in the past we’ve been told that we’re not allowed to discuss cycling infrastructure related items. Coupled with the council refusing to consult us directly on road schemes affecting cyclists (as these recent consultations in Barnes and Whitton, Teddington and Richmond demonstrate) we really struggle to see the value of these meetings in making the borough of Richmond a nicer and safer place to cycle to the shops, to work or to school with your children. So we’ve written an open letter to the council’s Cycling Champion to ask for this situation to be remedied. We want to work with the council, we really do. We all pay council tax and to see it wasted on poorly implemented schemes is heartbreaking.

Dear Councillor Harborne

One of the main objectives of Richmond Cycling Campaign is to obtain more cycling-friendly highways infrastructure in the borough. To this end, we endeavour to respond to the council’s invitations for consultation on highways schemes. However, the notification procedure inviting consultation is unclear to us. Sometimes, there is a notice on the council’s website. Sometimes there is not and we have to rely on hearsay, which is not a reliable means of communication.

We do not to consider this to be a satisfactory situation and we should like to arrange to be routinely informed and given the opportunity to be consulted about highways schemes. Your assistance in this as Borough Cycling Champion would be greatly appreciated.

We think this could be a suitable subject for discussion at the CLG, preceded by a short presentation from one of the officers describing how the the consultation process works.

With best regards

John Head
Richmond Cycling Campaign

It’s good to talk: Council highway engineering schemes

Update: 12th February Hampton Court roundabout

A big thank you to all the Richmond Veloteers who replied so promptly to the consultation which meant we submitted our response well before the deadline: click here to read it.

Since then we’ve had this back from Highways and Transport:

“Thank you for your comments on the Hampton Court Roundabout and Hampton Court Bridge proposals.  I can confirm that this does incorporate both Schemes 3 & 4 on the Cycling Capital Budget 2011/12.

The improvements include relocating the zebra crossing further away from the roundabout on the north east arm to help reduce the number of accidents attributed to shunts as a result of vehicles stopping for pedestrians at the crossing.  Kerb re-alignments will also increase deflection, reducing vehicle speeds whilst maintaining existing carriageway widths.

By widening the traffic islands at the zebra crossings we hope to improve safety for the large number of pedestrians and in doing so provide sufficient protection for cyclists using the crossings.

Accidents at the roundabout have also been attributed to lack of clear visibility due to the planters on and around the roundabout. We anticipate that by removing the planting on the roundabout we can reduce this number.

The Council are extending the shared use pedestrian and cycle path facility from Hampton Court Bridge to the north-west arm of the roundabout, with a view to further improving and linking to existing cycle facilities as part of future phases.

The Council have worked with TfL in order to provide a new widened Toucan crossing outside Hampton Court Palace and are proposing shared paths to link the roundabout and the bridge with Barge Walk.

The Council have also worked closely with Hampton Court Palace and the scheme complements their proposals for alterations and further improvements to the entrance and exits and to the area in front of the Palace.”

In the meantime the Highways and Transport report to the Cabinet Member has been posted on the Council website [here] together with the plans [here] for the shared use path, linking Barge Walk to the Molesey side of the Bridge, which weren’t posted with the original consultation.

We’ve written back to the Council:

 “Thanks for the detailed response: we’re very pleased to hear about the extension of the cycle path and look forward to seeing details of the proposed work in due course.  Just a couple of outstanding queries:

  • Was replacement of the 2 zebras [north-east and north-west arms] with toucans considered, and if so why was it rejected? [By the way will cycling over the north-west zebra be permitted?]
  • What’s the Council’s current view on creating a shared use path between Bushy Park and Hampton Court Bridge?”

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