“War: what are we fighting for?”

Safe Cycling on a Cycle Lane in Richmond

Richmond Cycling Campaign, the local group of the London Cycling Campaign, exists to encourage people to cycle.  We do this in different ways:

  • organising two rides a month;
  • running maintenance workshops at different places in the Borough;
  • asking the two relevant highways authorities, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Transport for London, for safe and convenient routes to cycle in the Borough;
  • asking the Council for sufficient cycle parking to meet the need;
  • asking the police to work on the problem of bike theft.

No one of these activities is more important than another which is why we supported Sky Ride Local this year, funded by the Council in partnership with British Cycling [click here for their review of the 2011 programme] and why we wouldn’t argue with Councillor Harborne, our Borough Cycling Champion, about the value of “promoting an exciting programme of events to get more people cycling, more often, safely and for fun”.

But because no one of these activities is more important than another we think Councillor Harborne should be concerned when cycling is not safe and is not fun on the Borough’s roads.  That’s why we wrote to the Council, after Liverpool City Council and the local Primary Care Trust agreed to jointly fund 20mph schemes, to ask if:

“there are any comparable discussions going on between the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the Primary Care Trust about the public health benefits of 20mph limits?  Are there any plans to do so?”

We received this reply from our Borough Cycling Champion:

“Did you know that:

There are already 46 20 mph zones in the borough and large parts of the rest of the borough where there is no record of any accidents at all, ever.

We are the 3rd safest LB out of 33. Obviously we should be the safest, but that’s a work in progress.

Sometimes campaigning to improve safety is counter productive. It puts potential new cyclist off. Is that what you want to do?

Particularly when the fear of accidents is not backed up by statistics. Don’t you think?

Can we please have RCC encouraging people to cycle not putting them off.  It would be better for everyone.”

Now, we exist to encourage cycling so being told we’re putting people off is a worry, so we wrote back to our Borough Cycling Champion:

very helpfully we have a map of cycle collisions recorded in the Borough between 2006 and 2010 so we know exactly where they do and don’t happen which is why we’re particularly concerned about the 4 clusters identified below

[Click here for our previous post about where collisions happen in the Borough and here for a searchable map of all collisions for the last 10 years]

As a campaigning group we constantly wrestle with the problem of unintentionally discouraging people from cycling but it’s our view that people make informed decisions about risk when they know the facts, hence our concern about these four clusters.  I am very happy to publicise the fact we are the 3rd safest Borough in London if you tell me the meaning of “safe” and the statistical source.

Do you have a list of the 46 zones in the Borough and do you know how this compares with other Boroughs, say the neighbouring Boroughs of Hounslow and Kingston with whom we share our Assembly Member?  It’s been suggested Richmond has the 2nd lowest number of zones in the country, do you know if that’s the case?

Are you able to answer my original question about talks with the PCT?”

We haven’t received a reply to date.

Early in the New Year LCC will launch “Go Dutch – clear space for cycling on London’s main roads” the single issue campaign to accompany the London Assembly elections.  It’s about safe and convenient cycle journeys not least because of the cyclist fatalties in London this year.

The campaign aims to get 100,000 signatures on a petition and 10,000 cyclists on the road to persuade the candidates for the London Assembly that this important, not just for cyclists, but for everyone who want to improve the quality of life in London, who want people-friendly streets.

Which is what we want in our Borough.  We want Richmond, Teddington and Twickenham town centres to be people-friendly, which is not how you could describe them now.  Was it coincidence that last week’s Richmond and Twickenham Times had “High street havoc” on the front page and Tim Lennon’s excellent letter “Deal with this congestion” inside?

Which is why we’ll go on commenting about the effect of planned highway engineering schemes even though we have to search for them and even though we were told in September we can’t go to the Transport Management Liaison Group.  And thank you to all the Veloteers who replied to our request for comments on these schemes.

[Click here to read what we’ve done this month]

Which is why we’ll go on asking the Council what they’re doing for people who cycle even though few, if any, of our Manifesto requests at the 2010 local government elections have been realised.

Which is why we’ll keep going to the Cycling Liaison Group and ask the Council questions about cycling in the Borough.

[Click here for the issues we’ve raised ahead of the next meeting on Monday 9th January 2012]

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

LIP2 and Cycling Strategy

Our response is here – RCC – LIP2 Response.

A reminder that next Tuesday, 15th March, is the closing date for public Consultation on the Borough’s Second Local Implementation Plan including the Cycling Strategy

Lengthy and time consuming documents to read, at 54 and 72 pages each, they are important for what they say about the next 3 years and for some time into the future.  Hard to sum up but if you can’t face a couple of pages of Commentary here are some headlines:

  • 14% of the total budget for 2011/2014 is going to cycling schemes;
  • 4 Cycling Objectives, 6 Cycling Targets and 29 Cycling Policies is something to hold the Council to but few targets to measure progress against;
  • The nature and causes of congestion are not fully explained;
  • Nothing to discourage car use;
  • No clear target for the percentage of people who cycle as their main method of travel [modal share]: we are asking for an increase to 20% from the current figure of 6%.

Cyclists can look forward to a slightly brighter future but with no change to the world around them: 6 out of 10

Cycling Budget 2010-11

Ahead of the January meeting of the Cycling Liaison Group [CLG] we asked for an updated Draft Cycling Capital Budget 2010-2011 to include money spent.  Compared to the version circulated in November two things stand out: 

1. Number of schemes significantly underspent by December 

[1, 2, 4, 6,12 and 13. NB: two scheme 9s appear in error]  

2. Changes to budget allocation [9, 10, 11 and 19

In relation to 1. we were told not to worry, it’s normal to programme spend in the last quarter.  However, anxiety remains with less than half spent, £42,700 of £100,000 allocated to Corridors and Neighbourhoods, and much of that for works to be done at: 

Church Grove Hampton Wick, South Worple Way Mortlake and Woodlands Road Barnes [1] Rossyln Road Richmond [4]and Richmond Town Centre with related signage [6 and 7

The schemes for secure cycle parking at stations [1 and 12] have a combined allocation of £90,000 but only £11,100, 12%, had been spent. 

Anxiety is compounded by changes to allocation.   Cycling on Greenways  now has £60,000 instead of £115,000 with Beverley Brook [9] and Mortlake Green [9 note error] abandoned with £55,000 returned to TfL.  Apparently strict conditions attached to their funding meant the money couldn’t be used for anything else. However, the money from the Petersham Meadows Greenway Dry Route has been reallocated to a new scheme added to the list Riverside Drive [19] With £90,000 this increases the Smarter Travel money from £157,500 to £247,500.  Not only was this news to us but confirmed the need to: 

1. Agree a list of priorities with LBRuT with an agreed order of work for the next 12, 24 and 36 months; 

2. Ensure there is always a Plan B, especially for schemes like Beverley Brook where the absence of consent from others was fatal. 

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

Local Authority budget for cycling, financial year 2011/12

Back in the autumn LBRuT published their provisional budget for cycling in the financial year beginning 1st April 2011.  Recently elected as RCC Campaigns co-ordinator I’m slowly getting my head around what’s going on and thought it was useful to have a look again at what the Council are planning to do.

Item 87 of the Cabinet meeting on 11th October 2010 provides the relevant paperwork.  There is an especially helpful report for a newbie like me explaining what the Local Implementation Plan is.  The planned spend is set out in Appendix A.

Given the remit of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy not all £2.11million is being spent on cycling but some of what is not cycling specific could be reasonably expected to have an affect, one way or another, such as the £70,000 for “Reducing traffic congestion in Borough Roads“.

£630,000 or 30% of the total budget, is under the heading “Corridors” and key schemes include the “Right of Way Improvement Plan” [£10k] which taken together with the “Cycle Tracks Act and improvements to surfacing of Thames towpath” [£50k] fits with both the RCC Manifesto commitment to safe routes and the Cycling Liaison Group [CLG] Priorities List, as does “Completion of the Borough’s cycle network” [£90k] I’ll talk about the Manifesto and the Priorities List in much more detail in my next two posts.  The challenge for RCC is to make sure the money spent makes cycling in the Borough better, quickly and effectively.

£1,133,000, 54% of the total, is under the heading “Neighbourhoods”, almost double the allocation to “Corridors”.  Explicit reference to cycling is limited to “Cycle Parking including secure facilities at Rail Stations” [£25k] although lowering the speed limit under “Safety in residential areas”  fits with the RCC Manifesto and “Richmond Town Centre” could fit with the problem of cycling through it identified in the CLG Priority List.    The challenge for RCC is to make sure the cyclist is considered in all the schemes.

£347,000, 16% of the total, is under the heading “Smarter Travel”, nearly half the allocation to “Corridors”.  Like “Neighbourhoods” there is more implicit than explicit reference to cycling which is limited to “Cycle Training”  [£60k] and the example of a cycle path in “Workplace engineering” and cycle stands “Workplace Small Grants“.  Again, the challenge for RCC is to make sure the cyclist is considered in all the schemes.

So, a quick run through the next financial year but what about the current one?  Paperwork posted on line for the last meeting of the CLG 29th November included “Draft Cycling Capital Budget 2010-2011” 19 schemes are listed under 3 headings with a total budget of £372,500, less than £2.11m above because these are cycling specific.

1. Corridors and Neighbourhoods: 8 schemes [42% of the total number of schemes] with £100,000 [27% of the total budget]

2. Cycling on Greenways: 4 [21% schemes] with £115,000 [31% budget]

3. Smarter Travel: 7 [37%] with £157,000 [42%]

Similar activity takes place under different headings such as Scheme 2 Secure Cycle Parking at Richmond Station” in Corridors and Neighbourhoods and Scheme 13 Cycle Parking and Small Measures in Smarter Travel.  The total budget for all schemes related to cycle parking [2, 8, 13, 15 and 18] is £143,500, 38.5% total.

Signage [7, 14] is £34,000 with Strategy [16] and Mapping [19] £30,000.

The budget for location specific schemes [1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 17] is £160,000 or 43%.

For the next meeting of the CLG on 24th January I’ll ask how much of this money has been spent and for what result, including:

How many bikes can be securely parked, what’s the output?

Does this meet, exceed or fall short of demand, what’s the outcome?

What are the benchmark unit costs for installing a stand?

Where are they all?

How is location decided?

That’s all for now folks.