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:

Twickenham Bid for ‘Mini Holland’ funding

Literally hot off the press today (Monday 1 July), the draft version of LBRUT’s bid for Mini Holland funding.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8LFztRO67voaThiMVF4bEJaV2c/edit

Deadline for comments to LBRUT is Wednesday 3 July at 12noon (yes, that’s this week!)

Comments should go to c.smith@richmond.gov.uk (and cc us in on campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk so we get an idea of everyone’s thoughts)

We ask the tricky questions so you don’t have to. (No.2)

Upper Richmond Road West has been on the receiving end of an awful lot of tarmac in the last couple of weeks, and is now beautifully finished.

Which is nice, but there was a big consultation last year, and RCC took the opportunity to look at some of the issues with that stretch of road. This is a busy road, which serves five local schools, as well as a number of other local amenities, and it was being consulted on because it’s an accident blackspot.

So you can imagine that we were very worried that the many responses we’re aware of, which were deeply critical of the proposed plans, have been ignored.

We decided to ask the council what’s going on … 

And luckily it turns out that this is all about making use of allocated funds before the new financial year – TfL had provided the cash to resurface, and no decision has apparently been made about the consultation results yet …

It’s taken quite a while to get what is pretty simple information out of the council, but they have explained the current situation – now we’re just waiting to hear the outcome of the consultation.

A number of people have contacted us about this, so please don’t be shy telling the council that you think this stretch of road needs fixing, and copy us in!

Twickenham could be great for cycling.

It’s beginning to look like the Twickenham Plan is now going to have many more improvements than we’d previously thought, to support people who want to cycle in the area. (If you want to see where we’ve been, you can check out our last post on the subject here.)

Last week, representatives from Richmond Cycling Campaign met officials from the planning department to look at their revised ideas for the new Twickenham (or “West Richmond“, as it might be….) (Full minutes of the meeting – PDF) This was a follow up to our last meeting in November.

And although Twickenham isn’t going to be a Dutch style cycling paradise, we think that what has been described to us is a radical departure from the first set of plans we saw. (For a great suggestion for what Twickenham could really look like, check out the ideas that Paul, one local father has been looking at.)

Some of the highlights

Perhaps most importantly, Twickenham was accepted to be a ‘major project’ in TfL terms. This means that we can expect it to fall into this statement in the latest ‘Vision for Cycling

.. we will closely monitor all major new planning applications, schemes and developments, such as Earl’s Court and Nine Elms, to promote meaningful pro-bike content and discourage antibike content.

Which means that we can hopefully rely on TfL to refuse to pay for this, unless they’re satisfied that being able to access the area safely by bicycle is a key element of the project.

King Street …

King Street (from Cross Deep to the London Road junction) will get 2m-wide cycle lanes beside a single 5m wide general traffic lane each way. In off peak hours – i.e. most of the day – this means you’ll be able to cycle quietly and confidently all the way along here. To complement this, the planners are aiming to make the Holly Road section bi-directional for cyclists, so that anyone going from Heath Road to London Road will not need to use the junction of doom (London Rd/King St/York St).

On the opposite side of the road, the engineers are looking at a cycling contraflow operating all the way along Church Street, so that you can approach from York Street, and cycle along Church Street, directly onto King Street, again without having to deal with the junction of doom.

A really important point about these lanes on King Street is that, although they won’t be mandatory lanes, the engineers are looking at ways to remove any chance of the conflict that cycling struggles with in other parts of the borough. As well as clear marking of the whole surface, they’re looking at some form of defined edge – such as the cat eye strips seen in the mayor’s new cycling vision – to really delineate the space.

… London Road …


London Road will have at least 1.5m of cycle lane along all of its length, although it looks like there’s still some design and thinking to be done at the fateful junction with King Street, because of the ongoing requirements to be able to get enough traffic through there, especially to allow buses to move smoothly.

… Cross Deep …


At the Cross Deep junction, they’re looking at including a new design for traffic lights which will give cyclists a head start, in an attempt to lower the level of conflict between transport modes (i.e. cars v. bicycles, bicycles v. pedestrians, etc.) This design is currently in testing at the Transport Research Laboratory, so we’ll need to wait on the results before we find out whether they’ll go ahead.

Also, the Cross Deep junction will apparently feature two 3m wide ‘general’ lanes, with a 2m wide cycle lane. This will ensure that anyone choosing to cycle on these sections will always be able to easily make their way to a safer position at the front of queuing traffic.

… & Parking and Railings

Not too much change here, partly because there’s no definite plan as to where all the cycle parking will go. There was some discussion around placing parking in the middle of King Street, like in Kensington High Street.

Kensington parking

Kensington parking (from Google Maps)

Obviously this wouldn’t be the only way to park, but it’s under consideration as an option. The removal of large sections of railing will also make a significant difference to the volume of cycle parking available in Twickenham, so if you have any strong opinions on where you think we should be parking, please tell us, and we’ll make sure it’s fed back to the council.

The removal will extend over almost every metre of railing present in Twickenham, including London Road and all the way to the station, which is going to be a huge improvement to the urban realm in the area, meaning you’ll be able to stop off more easily, and pedestrians will be able to cross at a point of their choosing, rather than being penned in to specific crossing points.

Some bonus tidbits

While we were there, we discussed some interesting background with the engineers. For example, they’ve surveyed the car parking provided in Twickenham, and they know that the main car parks have spare capacity at peak times.

They also discussed the impact that TfL requirements were having on planning and, interestingly for us, these seem very focussed on making sure buses can get through, which means that there’s a real change in direction from the ‘smoothing traffic flow‘ that has been a TfL stalwart for quite a while now.

Finally, it sounds like traffic volumes in Twickenham have been falling for a while now – we’ll try to get the figures for this, but it’ll make interesting reading, when considered against the plans for how traffic flows through the town centre.

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
…….

London’s Mayor has a new cycling vision – can we join in?

Did you see the ground-breaking announcement from Boris Johnson and his new cycling supremo, Andrew Gilligan? It looks like this:

How Embankment might look

How Embankment might look (TfL image)

They want an “Olympic Legacy for all Londoners” and “a CrossRail for the Bike”. In fact, you just need to read the ‘key outcomes’ (page 9 of this PDF) to see the scope of their stated ambition:

1. A Tube network for the bike. London will have a network of direct, high-capacity, joined-up cycle routes … A ‘bike Crossrail’ will run, substantially segregated, from west London to Barking. Local routes will link with them. There will be more Dutch-style, fully-segregated lanes and junctions; more mandatory cycle lanes, semi-segregated from general traffic; and a network of direct back-street Quietways, with segregation and junction improvements over the hard parts.
2. Safer streets for the bike. London’s streets and spaces will become places where cyclists feel they belong and are safe. …  With government help, a range of radical measures will improve the safety of cyclists around large vehicles.
3. More people travelling by bike. Cycling across London will double in the next 10 years. We will ‘normalise’ cycling, making it something anyone feels comfortable doing. Hundreds of thousands more people, of all ages, races and backgrounds, and in all parts of London, will discover that the bike has changed their lives.
4. Better places for everyone. Our policies will help all Londoners, whether or not they have any intention of getting on a bicycle. Our new bike routes are a step towards the Mayor’s vision of a ‘village in the city’, creating green corridors, even linear parks, with more tree-planting, more space for pedestrians and less traffic. Cycling will promote community safety, bringing new life and vitality to underused streets. Our routes will specifically target parts of the Tube and bus network which are over capacity, promoting transfers to the bike and relieving crowding for everyone. Cycling will transform more of our city into a place dominated by people, not motor traffic.

So what about Richmond?

Now ask yourself which of these you wouldn’t like to see in our borough. And especially considering where we’ve been with the Twickenham Action Plan, it’s hard not to hope that our councillors and officials have read this vision from cover to cover. Phrases like

“Timid, half-hearted improvements are out – we will do things at least adequately, or not at all.”

leap from the page (page 10, in this case).

But most excitingly for Richmond, the mayor wants to create some ‘mini Hollands’ – “a fantastic opportunity for these boroughs to achieve dramatic change – not just for cyclists, but for everyone who lives and works there.” Richmond could bid to be one of these, with tens of millions of pounds being earmarked for real change, showcasing just how great cycling provision can enrich the lives of everyone in our city.

How can I help?

If you think this sounds like a great vision, tell us, tell your local councillors, or maybe write to the local paper. Or, just bask in the naked optimism and real ambition that this vision represents.

London Road Roundabout – Did They Start Without Us?

TfL promised to review 100 of the worst junctions for cyclists last year, and you may have seen that work has begun on places like Waterloo Roundabout. But now someone’s told us that work has begun on the London Road junction in Twickenham (Streetview and map).

London Rd / Chertsey Rd from Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/DPIbH

RCC has looked at this before, (as has the local Green Party) as the junction doesn’t currently work for either walking or cycling, so it’s very worrying that work might be going ahead on this junction with no consultation and no documentation available. In our view it would be better to do nothing than to bridge the work on this junction, considering the volume of potential and actual use by all transport types.

So if they have started work on this, it’s a matter of some concern, and we need to find out what’s going on straight away. If you have a moment, ask your local GLA members (list here - Tony Arbour is member for the area, but others  have London-wide responsibility, like Stephen Knight), and email TfL (use this form or email Enquire@TfL.Gov.UK).

You can also ask your councillors to enquire as well, since it’s their borough …

Do let us know what you find out (at campaign@richmondlcc.co.uk) and we’ll keep this post updated.

Asking for change doesn’t have to be hard!

You might remember the furore a while ago over the Richmond Magazine’s editorial on cycling, and the excellent article on cycling they subsequently published on children cycling (PDF here).

The kind of cycling we might see more of in a 20mph Richmond (Image from cargocycling.org - http://bit.ly/zb6dB2)

Well now there’s another excellent article, this time looking at speed limits, and how Surrey and Richmond seem desperate to swim against the 20mph tide.

We’d urge you to read the article, and then vote in their online poll (appears half way down the home page), if you agree that wide-scale adoption of 20mph limits on our borough roads could be a good thing. And if you still need convincing about the merits of the argument, check out the extensive data assembled by “20′s plenty for us” or head straight to their briefing papers on all the basics, like:

  • Why 20mph is good for cycling (PDF)
  • Why 20mph improves residential streets (PDF)
  • Why broad adoption of 20mph is significantly better than lots of specific zones (PDF)
And you can check out the Twitterverse for useful gems like this: “In the same distance a 20mph driver can stop, a 30mph driver is still doing 24mph.” or this:

Image from 'the 20 effect' https://twitter.com/the20effect/status/249165890908733440/photo/1

So in the first of an occasional series, take the opportunity to check out some of the data, and then vote in the Richmond Magazine’s poll, as a simple thing you can do to tell our councillors of all stripe how much you’d like to see cycling improve in the borough.