Help us ask for Russell School to be the best of the best!

Another school in the borough is up for expansion, and goes to planning soon. We don’t think the council does enough to support schools to get children walking and cycling to school, so this Friday we’re doing a petition at the Russell School in Ham.

The Russell is potentially moving to two form entry – another 120 children when it’s full – and is being extensively remodeled to support this, including the sale of up to 17% of the school’s land. We think that what the council has done at two other schools recently to support additional children shows clearly just how little they’re really prepared to do to support active travel.

For example, the Vineyard School has recently started its build to add an additional form of entry, bringing it to a peak of over 600 children and dozens of staff. When the school appeared in front of the planning committee, their key concern was around the effects that school drop off will have on traffic in the area, and they therefore required school staff to spend valuable time supervising drop-offs and pick-ups.

And more recently at Stanley School – also significantly expanded – the council removed the cycle lane altogether, forcing children to walk and cycle in the same small space at peak times. Whilst the old cycle lane at Stanley might have been less than ideal, it didn’t create conflict by having children cycle past buggies and families.

When schools do expansion, the council seems not to think about how it might improve the environment around the schools to make active travel a nicer option.

We think schools in the morning should look more like this

Cycling to school, Dutch style (from “A view from the cycle path”)

and less like this:

Perhaps not the most typical school run …

We think that council officials need to see this all a bit more holistically: when you’re re-modelling the school, you should think carefully about how to make the school an easy place to get to, and what needs to be done to the environment around the school. A school has a huge part to play in trying to persuade children and families to choose options like walking and cycling. But we can’t ask primary staff to encourage cycling to school when that means asking children to share busy roads with large vehicles. It isn’t the school’s responsibility to design its own roads and transport! 

So in Friday we’re going to be asking current parents at Russell School to sign a petition to Richmond Council to make sure that the new school site is a great place to walk to and to cycle to, and not just build yet another school site that people only cycle to because they’re prepared to try to shepherd their loved ones on a busy road.

Come along and join us, or drop us an email 

We amended this article on September 26th to include corrected details on how the school is changing. 

An open letter to Darren Johnson

On Friday, Darren Johnson is coming to Richmond to see what cycling is like here, so we’ve put together an open letter to him about using a bicycle in our borough.

Dear Darren,

Welcome to Richmond. Ours is a borough of extensive green spaces – like the marvellous Richmond Park – and we straddle the river Thames.

This is how we ride in Richmond ...

This is how we ride in Richmond …

But despite the green spaces, the busy town centres, and the significant growth in primary school numbers, we’re still a borough who don’t really like to encourage cycling by providing somewhere safe to do so.

And the recent, tragic death of Henry Lang, at Richmond Circus, is a reminder of just how far there is to go. This happened at a section of road and cycle way which is emblematic of cycling conditions in the borough. If you were driving along the A316 from just before Pools on the Park to Lower Mortlake Road, then you’d have to stop at up to three separate junctions. If you were choosing to use a bicycle, and the cycle lane, and were on the same route, you might have to stop on ten separate occasions to travel the same distance. (And that doesn’t include a junction we’ve previously called ‘the most dangerous cycle lane in Richmond’.)

Richmond Council will tell you that the A316 is part of the ‘Transport for London Road Network’ (TLRN) and is therefore not something that can be sorted out by borough engineers. If they say that, you could always ask them why Mini-Holland bid money was spent on the A316 rather than – for example – making the two lane highway through the centre of Richmond a nice place for families to arrive by bike.

You could also ask them why the last time they did anything for cycling, it involved a big pot of Dulux and a ruler, and the statement that “There are many examples where advisory cycle lanes of less than 1.50 metres [that] provide a safe and convenient facility for cyclists” (pdf) to create a laughable cycle lane which ends just before you need it, crossing Richmond Bridge.

Families ride together in Richmond. On the pavement, of course.

Families ride together in Richmond. On the pavement, of course.

But if you really want to know about cycling in the borough, just look at how much effort has gone into Twickenham – and how much TfL money – for some wider pavements. Richmond Cycling has spent enormous effort to try to help councillors and council engineers understand what might encourage cycling, but our appeals have fallen on deaf ears:  Twickenham is going to carry on being a great place to drive through, and a terrible place either to arrive by bike, or to get through by bike.

How we use the A305 cycle lane. Or 'spot the bike'

How we use the A305 cycle lane. Or ‘spot the bike’

So, Darren – welcome to our borough, it’s a real shame that there’s so little positive news we can offer you.

Sincerely,

Richmond Cycling Campaign

Kew Road could get a toucan, what about Kew Green?

What do you do when you’ve got a zebra crossing where pedestrians don’t get injured, but the traffic goes too fast, and you’ve got a busy junction further along with lots of incidents of all types?

Well obviously, you plan to spend £125,000 on a new crossing for the pedestrian junction where people drive too fast. That’s what Richmond is about to do. Engineers are proposing to spend this on changing the Lion Gate Gardens zebra – whose accident stats look like this (DfT page is here)richmond-upon-thamesand there’s no plan to deal with the much less pleasant junction with the South Circular, where all sorts of things seem to be going on (the blue numbers show there are too many incidents in one space to show each one …)

South Circular incidents

 

The council has been consulting back and forth on this since January, yet doesn’t seem to be asking basic questions like:

  • Which junctions are most dangerous?
  • For whom are they most dangerous?
  • How can I make this a pleasant place to be a cyclist or pedestrian?

We think this consultation is flawed, the process behind it is flawed, and the analysis that leads to spending such a large sum of money on something that is statistically likely to make very little difference to the people involved is poor.

Will the decision get through cabinet? Maybe so, but we’re probably not the only organisation in the borough who could think of better ways to spend £125,000 on making things better for walking ….