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.

Let’s get kids cycling in Richmond

This year, Richmond Cycling Campaign will be looking at, amongst other things, cycling to school. It’s our belief that every child, at primary school, secondary school, and college, has the right to cycle safely there without either children or parents having to worry about whether they’re going to get there safely. Very much, in fact, like they do in the Netherlands – have a look at the video on David Hembrow’s post on the subject.

We know from endless studies and a whole range of recent reports that cycling is good for, at an individual and social level, and that it even helps children start the day well:

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

Cycling to school (c) Klaas Brumann on Flickr

 

BMA: “Walking or cycling to school would have positive health benefits”

NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence): “Walking and cycling should become the norm for short journeys”

Danish Study: “Children who cycle to school have measurably better concentration than those who don’t.”

Policy Studies Institute: “48% of primary children would like to cycle to school”

Mum and son (c) European Cycling Federation @ Flickr

And you can read an excellent article about what Richmond Cycling Campaign is already doing to help kids learn to cycle, here. (The author finishes her article: “Taking space away from cars to build a safe, separate infrastructure for bikes is no longer just fighting talk: it makes good planning sense. And the place to start is at the school gate.”)

Not that cycling is inherently a dangerous thing to do. Statistically, choosing to cycle – both for children and their parents – is a very wise choice, because the benefits so easily and quantifiably outweigh the risks.

However, we also recognise three very important factors:

1. The greatest barrier to getting more people cycling is their perception of danger from having to cycle with motorised traffic.
2. Countries where cycling is an easy, often-selected choice for children and adults all have decent cycle infrastructute to support such a decision.
3. We know a lot of people – especially children – *want* to cycle.

So this campaign has two key themes: asking the council and TfL to better support cycling to school by providing safe, inviting, well-designed facilities and designing for it; and asking children and parents how we can help them to use their bikes more.

Family cycling - cc by European Cycling Federation @ Flickr

And it’s really important to provide these facilities, and to make them good. Countries that have lots of cycling all provide safe, inviting places to cycle, and they don’t ask you to get off your bike at every road junction. The facilities that we want for schools should be usable by everyone, and should benefit everyone – even non-cyclists will appreciate not having to trip over bikes on the pavement, or weave round them on the road.

But how can you help? We want you to share your experiences, as parents, children, school staff or carers, on getting to and from school, and the reason you do or don’t cycle. We’ll be sharing these experiences as blog posts throughout the year, as well as looking at the resuiting data.

You can also talk to your friends at school and college: why don’t they choose to cycle? What would help change their mind?

Want to know more? Want to help? Email us at campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk

Patchwork – put wheels under the Big Society

We’re moving fast towards the end of the campaigning year with RCC’s annual meeting on Monday 14th November and LCC AGM on 16th, so we’ve been thinking about doing things next year, with the London Assembly elections on 3rd May and the associated LCC 2012 campaign “Go Dutch“.

We think we can strengthen what we already do by continuing to develop the veloteer idea used so effectively for the railway station cycle parking audits and the reports on Hammersmith Bridge and London Road roundabout.

Why do we think that?  Because as a local cyclist you know the routes, what works and what doesn’t.  You know the problems and because you know the problems you’re likely to know how to solve them.  So you’ll know whether the works proposed by the Council, and TfL, will actually make your cycle journey better, or worse, or make no difference at all. Living locally means you can use your democratic right to ask your local  councillor what’s going on.  And because the Council’s highway officers have a geographic responsiblity we can develop a working relationship at a practical level.

We think there may be 9 patches in the Borough and if you live in one of them we’re asking you to get involved (and that involvement can be as simple as the occasional email or more involved if you want, the level of commitment is up to you):

1. Barnes, Beverley Brook, Barnes Bridge, Vine Road, Upper Richmond Road

2. Mortlake and East Sheen, Barnes Bridge, Chiswick Bridge, Manor Road, Richmond Park

3. Kew, North A316, Chiswick Bridge, Kew Bridge,

4. Richmond, South A316, Manor Road, Richmond Bridge, Petersham Road, St Margaret’s including north A316

5. Ham and Petersham

6. Whitton, North A316 from Marlow Crescent

7. Twickenham, Twickenham Bridge, Richmond Bridge, Fulwell and Strawberry Hill golf courses, St. Mary’s

8. Teddington, Bushy Park, Kingston Bridge, Hampton Court Bridge

9. Hampton

We also think the A316 Cycle Route should be have its own veloteers because it runs through so many of the patches and is such an important route.

E-mail: campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk to make a difference to cycling in Richmond Borough, we know many of you already do.

Bridge of sighs

Dan Deptford’s letter in the Richmond Twickenham Times about Richmond Bridge reminded us that the Thames defines our Borough, that we cycle in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.  We can cycle along it, with varying challenges, from one end of the Borough to the other, and it’s a glorious ride.  But it also means crossing bridges to get to the other side, even to other parts of our own Borough, in Twickenham and Teddington, and that produces “pinch points”, where different modes of transport are brought together to share the same space.

Dan’s letter prompted us to make a Freedom of Information Act request to the Metropolitan Police Service asking how many fixed penalty tickets for cycling on the footway were issued in the Borough by their staff during the financial year 2010-11

Click here for the reply.

The highest number, 34, 1/5th of all tickets, [note some out-of-Borough locations in the table] were issued at Hammersmith Bridge.  The 3rd highest number, 18, was at Richmond Bridge.  So, 52 tickets, just under 1/3rd of all those issued, were at two bridges: what does this say about their affect on cycling in the Borough?            

From the east, at Hammersmith Bridge (1), we get off to a bad start with no off-road alternative as there’s no cycling on the paths each side of the bridge, enforced by the police as we already know.

Its historic nature, coinciding with the age of austerity, means we’re not going to see anything like the Millennium additions to Hungerford Bridge.  So, it’s share the road with the traffic, including single deck bus routes 33, 72, 209, 285 and 419, as well as vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes.  The carriageway is narrow and narrowed further by the arch supports.  Managed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council we support the hfcyclists campaign for a 20mph speed limit.  There are also on-going issues on the approach to the bridge we are talking to Richmond Council about.

Moving up river Barnes Rail Bridge (2) is shared with pedestrians and managed by Network Rail who recently installed wheeling channels.

Next up, Chiswick Bridge (3) is managed by Transport for London and as good it gets with shared use on both sides and a ramp down to the river on the south east side

Kew Rail Bridge (4) has no public access.

Also managed by TfL, signage on the approach to Kew Road Bridge (5) indicates shared use like Chiswick

Making sure there is a safe and convenient connection to the planned Cycle Superhighway 9 [Hounslow to Kensington] on the north side is a new priority for us with TfL.

Richmond Lock (6) managed by the Port of London Authority with no cycling and steps only

Twickenham Bridge (7) like Chiswick and Kew managed by TfL, has a cycle path on both sides with access by The Avenue to the Twickenham side of the river but steps only on the Richmond side

Richmond Rail Bridge (8) has no public access.

Richmond Bridge (9), like Hammersmith, has no off-road option and police enforcement, so, like Hammersmith, we’re asking for a 20mph limit, although the pavement is quite wide

Teddington Lock (10), like Richmond Lock, managed by the PLA, with no cycling on either part of the double bridge, but ramps on both sides

Like Hammersmith, history and austerity makes any change here unlikely.

Kingston Bridge (11), managed by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, has cycle lanes on both sides

We’re still waiting for a safe and convenient connection at Church Grove to Bushy Park and the off-road cycle path in Hampton Court Road.

We’ve talked about Hampton Court Bridge (13) before, saying the shared use path on the up river, Molesey, side only doesn’t meet the needs of people cycle commuting north-south rather than east-west along National Cycle Network 4, the Thames Valley route

Action is complicated by agreement in April 1989 on the responsibilities of Richmond Council and Surrey County Council [SCC]:

  1. “SCC will carry out structural inspections and repairs with the costs being shared equally between LB Richmond and SCC;
  2. Each Authority to inspect and carryout repairs on the carriageway and footways on their respective sides up to the middle/centreline of the Bridge.  The cost of road works carried out in conjunction with structural repairs to be shared equally between LB Richmond and SCC;
  3. Each Authority to carry out salting and gritting, trench reinstatement, road marking and signing on their respective sides up to the middle/centreline of the Bridge;
  4. Each Authority responsible for lighting on their respective sides up to the middle/centreline of the Bridge.”

Changes to routes across the Bridge is likely to need approval from both councils.

Proposed Bridges

Given the river’s length and the distances between some bridges it’s not surprising imaginative people have suggested additional ones, including Radnor Gardens in Twickenham and at Hampton.  The enthusiasm behind these proposals, and the loveliness of their designs, are to be cherished in these harsh economic times, a reminder of how very different the world was running up to the Millennium, when a new bridge was regarded as THE statement of an optimistic future.

E-mail campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk with your thoughts on Thames bridges in Richmond Borough.

All in One Survey 2010

On the agenda for the Council’s Cabinet meeting on 24th February was the initial results from the Borough’s All in One Survey conducted towards the end of 2010.

Top of the things that need improving is “Traffic and/or levels of congestion” chosen by 34% of respondents.

Condition of roads” is 5th with 20%, just behind “Provision of parking“, 21%.

Cycling” is 14th on the list, chosen by 10% of respondents.

7% said cycling is most important to them in making their area a good place to live.

On the face of it the results are pro-car but the problem of congestion highlights the relevance of the work Smarter Travel has done since March 2009.

Their aim was to ease congestion by encouraging an increase in walking, cycling, public transport and car club membership.

A variety of awareness campaigns, travel planning and infrastructure improvements enabled them to meet, or exceed, most of their targets.

With that programme ending on 31st March we are reading how the 2nd Local Implementation Plan and Draft Cycling Strategy will fill the gap.

E-mail campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk with your comments.

Hampton Court Bridge

With the Olympic Road Race crossing the bridge on the way out to Box Hill, and again on the way back to Central London, as well as the Olympic Time Trials, there’s a chance to talk to Richmond Council about how thousands of ordinary cyclists use the bridge every day.

The 2009 TfL report Trends in Cycling Levels in London lists the number of cycles crossing the bridge per day rising by 280% between 1998 and 2008, from 550 to 2088.

Currently the only provison for cyclists is the shared use pavement on the up-river side, part of National Cycle Network 4, the Thames Valley Cycle Route, as it crosses from one side of the river to the other.

This is a great route but runs east-west when during the working week most cyclists are commuting north-south.

So, those who prefer not to join 5,138 vehicles recently counted driving north between 7am and 10am, are making pragmatic decisions about their route.  Using the down-river side pavement,  the logical extension of the shared use path beside Hampton Court Way, they negotiate the largely deserted space at the front of Hampton Court railway station and through the bus stop on to, and over, the bridge.

On the other side there is a wide, well-surfaced path beside the Palace providing a safe alternative to Hampton Court Road.

At least until round the corner when the pavement narrows towards the entrance to Bushey Park.

RCC believes there is a credible route here while recognising all the difficulties at the location.  The bridge is a hub for many cycle jorneys and we hope LBRuT will agree it deserves thoughtful work to be done in the next financial year.

E-mail campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk if you use this route and have something to say about it.

Crossings

Things that make Richmond such a great place to be, like rivers and green spaces, also create big challenges for the transport network.

Look at the railway, Chertsey Road and South Circular squeezed into space between Richmond Park and the Thames through East Sheen or the road between Richmond and Kingston winding through Petersham.

Geography contributes to congested roads and cyclists riding them for convenience and directness share space with lots of other traffic.  But this is not the only challenge.

Because many transport links run across the Borough going up and down it isn’t easy either.  Ride Vine Road in Barnes, on National Cycle Network 4, to know how long it can take to cross not one, but two, railway lines.  Richmond Cycling Campaign and the Cycling Liaison Group recognise the problem of “severance” which is why we support Manor Road Bridge.  At the same time we want to make sure this doesn’t add to the existing problem of carrying bikes over bridges.  That’s why we’re pleased to see wheeling channels installed at Barnes Bridge.

We hope there are more to come and Network Rail will incorporate them in the Manor Road build.

E-mail campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk with your most inconvenient crossing, up, over or under.

Thames Towpath

So much to talk about after the Cycling Liaison Group [CLG] meeting on Monday 31st January not sure where to begin so I’ll go for “systematic”, working through the agenda in posts to bring clarity rather than confusion, hopefully.

First up, Item 4:

“Thames Towpath Cycle Tracks Order – discussion / feedback from ward councillors on their opinions on promoting shared cycle and pedestrian use on the Thames Towpath.”

I first cycled the towpath when I lived in Hampton and worked in Barnes 25 years ago.  The ride from Chiswick Bridge to Hampton Court and back via Bushy Park is a jewel in the Richmond crown and one reason it’s such a great place to live.  But why is the surface so poor in places yet so good in others?  The Council say it’s a footpath, so can’t be an official cycle route, so isn’t engineered, or maintained, as one. 

The Cycle Tracks Orders appear as Scheme 5 in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames [LBRuT] Cycling Capital Budget 2010/2011, allocated £5,000.  £1,800 was spent by December 2010, which is the cost of the time the council officer has worked on it.  Apparently the towpath has been talked about for at least 10 years with money set aside to do something.  I’ll ask how much and for what.  

The Scheme intends to:

“Publish Cycle Track(s) Orders for several sections of the Thames Towpath to convert existing Public Rights of Way [PROW] Footpath to cycle tracks with continuing right of way on foot”

The draft LBRuT Local Implementation Plan for the next financial year has £50,000 allocated to “Cycle Tracks Act and improvements to surfacing of Thames Towpath“.  Description of the scheme includes “According to progress may be sufficient time / funding to introduce surfacing improvements.

8 sections are listed between the Borough boundaries towards Putney at one end, Kingston and Hampton Court at the other.  Actually, there are 7 as Teddington Lock to Kingston was dropped after the shared use path was installed.  The 1st 3 sections are continuous, from Putney to Hammersmith Bridge and Chiswick Bridge to Kew Bridge. 

The next sections are between Richmond Bridge and Twickenham on the other side of the river, Richmond Bridge to Ham Street on Surrey and then between Kingston Bridge and Hampton Court Bridge.

So, this is not a vision of a continuous cycle route along the River Thames from Putney to Hampton Court.  No change to the bumpy bits past Kew Gardens round the bend opposite the London Apprentice in Isleworth, or round Ham to Teddington Lock.  Should there be?  You tell me: campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk.  I’ll go on riding it, as will many others, especially the fully-suspended and mud-streaked.  But is this consistent with the strategic aim of promoting safe family routes by improving greenway routes, including the Thames Towpath?  You tell me: campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk

It’s not all bad news.  The Draft RCC Priority List identifies the towpath between Hammersmith and Chiswick bridges as something to sort out, even with the engineering challenges of a route routinely flooded at Hammersmith Bridge and through Mortlake. 

And, despite everything, I didn’t sense any intention on the part of people at the meeting on Monday to affirm footpath status by putting up no cycling signs and enforcing them, I think recognising this would be as expensive and even more problematic than the cycle track orders.  What I did hear were the same complaints as the Tamsin trail in Richmond Park, used as the example of what happens on shared paths: speeding cyclists frightening pedestrians, running over young children, dogs and elderly ladies.

So, what now?  The Chair put it over to the next meeting of the CLG in April while all the relevant councillors are contacted for their view.  In the meantime I’ll ask the cycling officers some more questions, hopefully some of which will be yours.  Watch this space.

Competitions and Potholes

Open Competitions

Richmond and Twickenham Times reports the setting up of a competition for the design of the proposed Manor Road footbridge.  Apparently Network Rail and Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith will agree a shortlist for residents to vote on.    

The Design Council launched the Cycle Theft Challenge on 20th January to develop secure, affordable and easy to use bike storage for locations around the home.   The competition brief draws on findings of a Bikeoff survey showing more than two thirds of bikes are stolen from in, or around, the owner’s home. Four successful teams will be awarded £10,000 each to develop their ideas. Designers need to submit a short proposal by 2 February with successful teams developing their ideas during March.

Potholes

The Sunday Times Ingear supplement covered the problem, “at a record high”, and it’s good to see a household name like Victoria Pendleton supporting a CTC campaign that’s been running for a while.  A key message for cyclists is that drivers instinctively swerve away from oncoming traffic and towards the kerb.  Roger Geffen, CTC Campaigns and Policy Director  is also quoted as saying “We always advise cyclists not to hug the kerb, but when there are potholes around, that advice is even more important.  Cyclists need to be able to swerve inwards, to avoid a pothole, rather than into the traffic, and you can’t do that if you are already close to the kerb.”  At the next meeting of the CLG Monday 31st I’ll ask about the scale of the pothole problem in Richmond, remedial plans, projected cost and where the money comes from.  Tell Richmond Council about your potholes .

E-mail your comments to campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk