Making a difference … one person, one meeting at a time.

A guest post from one of our members in Twickenham.
You can find Stephen on Twitter

first attended our local Police Liaison Group a couple of years now. It all started (like so many things these days) because of a twitter-fit: after almost being run off the road again on my ride home by an inattentive driver, I tweeted Richmond police asking why they didn’t prioritise doing anything about dangerous drivers: “Police priorities are set at the local PLG meetings” I was told, if I wanted to change them, I would have to attend. I suppose like most people, I was sceptical of the impact these forums could have, but still: “decisions are made by those who show up” I told myself, and pencilled the next local meeting into my diary, more out of curiosity than anticipation.

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Riding on the pavement … of course.

At the first meeting I showed up to, there was deep hostility to anyone speaking up in favour of cyclists, and more balanced policing of the roads – this was a deeply conservative audience. The borough was overrun by a plague of cyclists, regularly knocking down pensioners on the pavement, and my motion to replace “Cycling on pavements” as one of the ward police priorities with “Dangerous road use (by all vehicles)”, was defeated, with only two right-minded people siding with me. After attending two or three more (of these quarterly) meetings, and now that my face was familiar, and the regulars knew I was actually an upstanding resident and not a rogue cycling campaigner, and with the help of a couple of other local cyclists, we managed to get the priority changed to “Road safety”… time to relax and celebrate, and enjoy the Twickenham road “improvements”.

Balance biking on the pavement

Here’s someone everyone would share the pavement with.

But….things don’t stand still….and as part of Boris’s update to community-police relations in London, “priorities” got renamed “promises”…’so what?’ I thought, and my attendance of the meetings waned. Big mistake! When the minutes of the next meeting came through, I discovered that the blue-rinse brigade had used the opportunity of the change in name (I am reliably informed, that it really was just a rebranding, and not a change of process) to re-insert “cycling on pavement” as a community promise. Deep sigh.

I was travelling on business for the next two meetings, so 3rd March, was my first chance to get this over-turned. Right, I thought….armed with statistics….how many KSIs in the borough due to motor vehicles, and how many due to bicycles? By now, people knew my face at the meetings, and I got a couple of polite “hellos”, as well as a question about how I found the new Twickenham cycling lanes (significantly more dangerous) – ironically, one of the spots often cited as being plagued by cycling on pavements (Cross-deep / King street corner) is also one of the most dangerous for cyclists, which the “improvements” have only made worse….sadly the irony is lost on the other attendees. I don’t objectively know how bad a problem cycling on the pavement is in that spot, but its undoubtedly true that those who do break the rules there do so largely from impatience at having to wait for the lights, rather than out of a fear for their own safety. It is however a good example of how a big and expensive recent set of infrastructure works completely missed the opportunity to improve the road for unmotorised road users – while the pavement is narrow further up the road, it is very wide on the corner, and a full cycle lane or even segregated filter, could have been accommodated, if the safety of cyclists had been a priority.

The ward police proudly trott through the number of tickets they have issued to cyclists jumping red lights of riding on pavements (18) and the number issued for motoring offences (23), and I hold my tongue. Then, near the end of the meeting, when the ward “promises” (or are they still “priorities”?) are set, I speak up: “I really think we should remove the focus on cyclists” I say, “in favour of all dangerous road users”. The chairman, Colin Heath, who has gradually come round to the correct way of thinking, or maybe has just be worn down by my stubbornness, murmurs something in agreement. “But cycling on the pavement is a real problem” exclaims an elderly lady in the corner. “I don’t deny that it happens” I respond, “nor condone it…but our priorities have to be proportional to the harm. How many of the KSIs (Killed or Seriously Injured) in our borough in the last year,” I turn to the two policemen present “have been caused by bicycles, and how many by motor vehicles?” We all know the answer. The usual prejudices now get trotted out…but noticeably quieter than when I first attended a couple of years ago: “but they just cycle off”, “its so difficult to identify cyclists”, “they all jump red lights”, “they should have number plates”, “they have cycle lanes right there, but still ride on the pavement”. The policemen explain that the law will soon change (I think its actually a guidance change, rather than a law change), and that going forward, only aggrevated or anti-social riding on pavements would be prosecuted. I explained that even as a considerate cyclists, I sometimes had to jump onto the pavement – normally to avoid a lorry that had veered into a cycle lane without checking his mirrors (at Barnes junction this happens almost every day), but that a collision with a cyclist caused significantly less harm than a 10-ton lorry, which distracted on their mobile phones, regularly speed down our residential road, which my kids have to cross to go to school. “I’m not condoning cycling on the pavement, or jumping red lights I explained, but there is no evidence that cyclists break the law any more than other road users, and our priorities have to be proportionate to potential harm”. “OK” said Colin, “lets change the ‘promises’ to target road safety among all road users, not just cyclists”, not looking up for anyone to object.

The police then explained that in the future, motoring offences would no longer be ‘ticketed’ at the road side, but that all offences would be referred to the traffic unit, who would decide whether to summon offenders to court, or offered a speed awareness course or 3 points on their license. “Good” I said. I concluded by asking the officer whether the perception that they are reluctant to ticket motorists who infringe an ASL (advanced stop line) because they don’t think its as serious as running a red light, “absolutely not” was the reply, “the law allows for vehicles to stop in the ASL, where it would be dangerous not to do so, such as when breaking sharply when a traffic light changes, but we deal deliberate infractions of all traffic laws in the same way”. “Good” I said. Even though I suspected this wasn’t quite true, the point had been made, and who is to say, thats not just my prejudices talking too.

As I walked home, I felt a bit of a phoney…for the first time in years, I haven’t weathered the winter cold, and have been commuting on the train…never mind, it will be getting warmer and lighter soon, and when it is, I’ll need safe roads to cycle on. I’m not a campaigner, nor define myself as “a cyclist”…I’m just someone, trying to get from A to B in one piece…aren’t we all?

3 dead, 42 seriously injured. Time for the Crime Priorities to properly reflect this.

This is our response to the Crime Priorities Survey (See our earlier article). Please respond too, here, so they don’t unfairly focus on cyclists.

Dear Community Safety Partnership,

Richmond Cycling Campaign urge you to reconsider the suggested 2015-2016 priorities, in the light of your own data.

You are reporting:

  • a 20% rise in road traffic incidents Jan-Sept 2014, compared to the previous year
  • Three fatalities on our roads
  • 469 casualties in total, this year
  • 2,152 speeding incidents, a number which has risen 40% in April-December 2014

Because of the failure to show trend data, previous years’ data, or indeed to break down the types of incident, it’s hard to add a huge amount of interpretation to these numbers beyond “our roads are getting much less safer, and people are dying and being maimed as a result”.

Yet in the accompanying slides, the nearest you come to worrying about this is to put (at number 7 of 8 in your priorities) “Motor vehicle crime and theft of pedal cycle (including cycling on pavements and through red lights)”

Nowhere in your report is there any indication that cycling on the pavement, or indeed through red lights, is a particular problem in the borough. Whilst it is true that a number of your Police Liaison Groups have chosen ‘cycling on the pavement’ as something they’re worried about, this is not backed by any actual data.

We consider it unacceptable to pay so little attention to criminal activity which threatens death or serious injury, and it is frankly shocking that your use of of data is so poor that you can’t show why cycling on the pavement – which is the way a lot of children in the borough cycle – is more important than the excessive speed used on many of our roads, or the large numbers of killed/seriously injured on our roads.

If you’re actually worried about the safety of our community, you need to give greater priority to the things that are putting everyone in the borough at genuine risk, and read the message this data is telling you: road safety has just got a lot worse in the borough, and you won’t fix it by concentrating unfairly on people who choose to cycle.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign

You can respond to the survey here or email it directly to consultation@richmond.gov.uk 

Marksbury Avenue – Let’s just do the A316 properly, shall we?

This is a brief response to the Marksbury Avenue consultation.
Please add your response here

Dear TfL,

In response to your consultation on the changes to the A316 crossing opposite Marksbury Avenue, Richmond Cycling would suggest that this is not a very good use of time or money.

The proposed changes will make virtually no difference to cycling and walking at the junction, and still fail to provide a pleasant solution for anyone seeking to cross the road.

Instead of more piecemeal proposals like this, we’d like to see the Elsinore Way proposal built as soon as possible, and we’d like to see a plan from TfL which covers fixing the whole of the A316, rather than fixing bits and pieces without addressing the core issues the road has for walking and cycling.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign.

Roehampton Lane – Our Response to Transport for London

This is our response to TfL’s Roehampton Lane consultation.
You can see our earlier article here

Dear TfL,

The proposal to add additional traffic lanes to Roehampton Lane is, we think, a flawed and poorly considered one.
Richmond Cycling acknowledges that there are issues with traffic volumes along the lane, but the provision of additional lanes isn’t going to fix the problem, since the traffic issues will be moved to different parts of Roehampton Lane instead.
Yet looking at the road for almost its entire length, there is clear space to provide for safe, segregated cycling. We think this could be a great opportunity to trial a segregated route hiding low cost interventions which can help identify the potential modal share which is available.
Our simple summary is this, however: The proposed scheme will, at best, cause the queuing traffic to be moved to another part of the route. If the aim of this scheme is to reduce the number of problems relating to queues of traffic, then the best solution is to give people an option other than driving.

Roehampton Lane is going to change a bit, but only to fit more cars on.

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.

roehampton lane

Look like there might eb some space for cycling here?

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.

We’re preparing a response at the moment – if you’ve got any comments, please leave them here, or contact us at info@richmondlcc.co.uk or check the original consultations documents here.

The comedians are back in work at Richmond

Traffic incidents are rising significantly in Richmond, so the proposed ‘crime priorities’ include ‘cycling on pavements and through red lights’. (In the latest consultation.)

So the borough’s proposed priorities – when three people died on our roads in the last 9 months, 43 have been seriously injured, and 424 slightly injured – is to do nothing additional whatsoever to tackle these numbers.

Although, to be fair to the comedian – sorry “Safety Data Analyst” – who prepared this material, he did list anti-social behaviour as a top priority, and lumped cycling on pavements with motor vehicle crime and theft.  You might consider that being alive and having all your limbs in the right place, and not being maimed in some random road traffic incident, might be a top priority for most people. Yet that doesn’t seem to feature too highly in the consultation.

Asking the community

This is meant to be an opportunity to ask the community what its priorities are. Given that we receive a number of reports from Police Liaison Group meetings that speeding and road safety are key priorities for people, it is somewhat baffling as to why these don’t get a mention.

Of course, cycling comes up in Police Liaison Groups (PLGs) a lot, too, which is why they manage to mention cycling on pavements in every single document they produce (include the video). Since guidance on this from the Home Office is very clear (see this article), we will also be asking why this information does not filter down to the PLG meetings.

Data-Led Policing

There’s lots of data in the two documents supplied as part of the consultation (Word doc, PPT summary). For example:

  • speeding incidents have risen from 1,539 to 2,152
  • April-December 2014 saw 130 incidents involving cyclists (up 27%)
  • Annual target for collisions is 421. In 9 months we’ve made it to 469 incidents
  • No-one appears to be recording incidents involving pedestrians

We’re preparing a response this week, but we strongly urge you to tell the Community Safety Partnership (use this link) that safety on our roads – for everyone – really needs to be a priority.

Marksbury Avenue / A316 Consultation.

 

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

Planned changes at Marksbury Avenue / A316 junction.

Planned changes at Marksbury Avenue / A316 junction..

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.

Elsinore Way will get priority for cycling.

Elsinore Way will get priority for cycling.

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.

Signing It

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.

Please respond to the consultation via their email consultations@tfl.gov.uk or using the form on their consultations page

Russell School Consultation

Richmond Council is planning to rebuild and expand the Russell and Strathmore Schools in Petersham, but has no clear plans about the impact on traffic in the surrounding area.

Have you say! Make an objection here. Although the deadline of Wednesday 18th February has passed, it is believed that they submissions will be accepted until March.

Here are some ideas on what you might say to the Council.

Richmond Cycling welcomes the re-building and improving of the school facilities, in order to ensure that it is fit for the 21st Century, and the changing needs faced by schools and their children. But we want to make sure the Council does it right, and considers the surrounding infrastructure.

Richmond Cycling’s view is that:

1. Any re-development needs to include proper, complete provision for active travel. It should be a requirement that it is safe and pleasant to access the school by foot, scooter and bicycle, as the primary modes of transport.

2. The potential expansion of the school needs to take into account the local community: if the area already faces significant traffic issues with the present volume of pupils, this will only get worse with more pupils.

Active travel can significantly reduce the impact of traffic on the local area, by cutting congestion and noise pollution, and making it a safer place through lower traffic volumes.

 

Rides for Explorers – The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

12th April ; meeting Richmond Little Green 10.15.

Some years ago we went to watch the construction. The site has been landscaped and there is a good cafe

Olympic PoolOlympic Velodrome

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ride up through Central London -  quite fun with low Sunday traffic -  and plug into CS2 but turn off before the Bow Roundabout via Victoria Park to the Olympic Park. After lunch and a tour of the traffic-free park we return over the Green Bridge and SC3. About 37 miles.

Route

Twelve of us turned up at Richmond Green thanks to Skyride publicity. As we had a number of out of borough people we threw in the view from Richmond Hill in the sunshine before heading East. Road closures diverted more traffic our way and the strengthening headwind added resistance training to the way home but a good time was had.