Mayor of London quizzed on superhighways and TfL conflict of interest
The issue of the planned Cycle Superhighways came up at yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time following a question by Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly's Transport Committee – including the issue of whether Canary Wharf Group’s Finance Director Peter Anderson, who is also a TfL board member, should play a role in any decision made by the TfL Finance and Policy committee who are to discuss the superhighways next week.
The Mayor described the North-South and East-West cycle superhighways as both “still works in progress… We had I think 20,000 responses including a huge amount of support. A lot of criticismas you know. What I can tell you – and I must reassure Londoners about this – I do understand the concerns that many people feel about aspects of the cycle superhighways and on both sides of the ledger – I know that the cyclists have a passionate desire for segregation; motorist groups are alarmed about some of the congestion issues that will arise. I’ve got to take a balanced view and do what is best for the city.”
Caroline Pidgeon thanked the Mayor for the update and emphasised that the plans are hugely popular with Londoners, with 80% supporting the consultation and 2 to 1 in a recent poll supporting the superhighways even if they result in longer journey times for motorists. But, she said, “We know there are powerful vested interests that have been publicly and privately opposing these plans.” She asked if Peter Anderson, TfL Board member and finance director of Canary Wharf Group, who are still very heavily lobbying against the plans, would be sitting on the committee that decides on the 25th November.
The Mayor replied: “Peter Anderson always declares his interests at the start of board meetings at TfL. We will take the decision as far as I know the normal way. I don’t think there’s any particular reason why he should recuse himself from that decision any more say than the taxi drivers or the minicab drivers should recuse themselves.” When asked if necessary, given that the role of the TfL board is to enable the Mayor’s Vision, the Mayor would use his power of direction on the TfL board to ensure that these segregated cycle superhighways go ahead, he responded: “I will make sure that we get a solution that is in the interests of London and of the London economy. I must make it clear though that I will not support measures that in my view result in excessive paralysis of the traffic.”
It’s concerning to see the Mayor of London talking about 'excessive paralysis of traffic' when evidence has shown that fears of London grinding to a halt are unfounded. While we accept that there may be delays in the short term, there will be a 40% increase in people working in central London Boroughs over the coming decades, and a very clear need for London’s workforce to be able to move around. Sir Peter Hendy has warned that overcrowding on London’s public transport system could lead to riots. If we want to avoid disorder or people returning to their cars to get to work – causing even more congestion - then investing in cycling superhighways like these is an absolute must. New York has recently published evidence that shows that since installing protected bicycle lanes throughout the city, there has been a reduction of vehicle volumes as road users shifted to other modes – and journey times have improved in many areas.
We're also extremely concerned that the Mayor isn't taking a stronger line on the involvement of Peter Anderson: as we've said previously, around 80% of the 20,000 Londoners who responded to the consultation support the superhighway proposals; the Mayor of London has said himself that it’s time to reallocate road space; companies like RBS, Orange and Unilever have publicly supported the plans. Yet despite the overwhelming support for the plans, they’re at risk because of one extremely powerful individual who sits on the Transport for London board.
We'll be keeping a close eye on developments over the coming weeks.
A webcast of the Mayor's Question Time is available online - the cycle superhighways are discussed from 58 minutes in.
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Not dying is a low bar. Aim for happy cycling.
This is a guest blog post by Rachel Aldred, Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster, LCC Board member and Chair of the Elected Policy Forum. Here she writes about the Near Miss Project, which she set up to research, analyse and document cycling near misses.
The title of this post is inspired by a feminist slogan I read: “Consent is a low bar. Aim for enthusiasm”.
On the streets, not dying is a low bar. But a really important one. I dream of not needing to worry about ending up at A&E in the morning, rather than at work.
And injury prevention's one of the motivations behind the Near Miss Project. We've got data on the kind of incidents where, but for luck or skill, someone could have ended up dying or with serious injuries. We are starting to explore these from an injury prevention perspective, looking at how infrastructural or other changes might help reduce the risk represented by these experiences.
We'll be able to pinpoint problematic commonalities of behaviour or road design and make recommendations for policy and practice. We hope this will contribute to making our roads less dangerous for cycling and reducing those risks which while in ‘absolute’ terms are low, remain unacceptably high. Unacceptably high in that most cycling deaths wouldn’t happen if we had a safer cycling system, of the sort that's four hours from Central London by train.
But I didn’t only want to focus on injury prevention. My background is in sociology. I’ve long been fascinated by what the organisation of public space tells us about societal values and inequalities. So something else we’re looking at in the Near Miss Project is the emotional impact of incidents, using this to explore how the city feels from the saddle.
Of course, we are predominantly getting the negative side in a project focusing on 'incidents'. On a good journey – and many journeys are good – nothing bad may happen, except the odd minor annoyance, which may be something we all need to learn to deal with better. I remember hearing about a study into levels of ‘frustration’ on greenways, and wondering whether I could imagine living or working in contexts where no one ever frustrated anyone else. (From a frustration point of view, I reckon even imperfect greenways generally beat meetings).
But if bad and inequitable experiences are structured into daily movement – by way of design, policy, legislation, practice and/or behaviour – then there is a problem. The literature suggests this is important. Emotional benefits from cycling are highly valued but threatened by poor cycling environments. (See my report for British Cycling on the Benefits of Investing in Cycling). So if cycling – which should be fun and joyful – is regularly becoming unpleasant and stressful, this is a big deal, and not only because injuries may result.
The Near Miss Project data includes lots on emotional impacts, and we'll be exploring which kinds of incidents are most stressful for cyclists. We can look at what other vehicles were involved (if any), what the road conditions were, what kind of incident it was. And through this, get a sense of why cycling can sometimes feel so intimidating or scary, and what can be done to reduce this, as well as to reduce injuries.
As part of the project I've had a lot of people contact me about their experiences. One thing that comes out clearly is that often it's not just one or another specific incident. People weave their experiences of incidents into a broader story about what cycling's like for them in their city, town or village. For example, Jenny (not her real name) writes:
'Having commuter-cycled solidly in London for 4 years I feel the hatred is getting worse and worse, and am at my wits’ end. Because I do not pedal in the gutter or door-zone, I am frequently the target of deliberate dangerous driving and abuse. The repeated attempts on my life (because that is what they are) are getting so bad that I keep having nightmares, particularly while I’m just nodding off. What I cannot know is how many times I have saved my life from those who do not wish me harm, and who could see me coming. I hope that by using some of those flight-or-fight chemicals by the actual exercise of cycling I might not get some serious anxiety-related symptoms, but I’m considering stopping the very thing that used to make me feel SO happy, SO liberated and independent.'
These kinds of feelings, and the effects they have on people, should influence street design, transport planning and policy. Jenny speaks of a continuum that ranges from everyday incivility to abuse and harassment. I think this has deep roots and involves infrastructural, legal, policy and cultural inequities. The motor dominated society in which we live structurally marginalises and intimidates those perceived to be weaker, slower, and less powerful.
Behaviour that would be outrageous elsewhere becomes normal in our streets. Just last week I had an ordinary experience riding on Middleton Road, a residential street and priority cycle route in Hackney – and also unfortunately a rat run. A van driver overtook me with inches to spare, apparently annoyed at my leaving a door's width from the parked cars. I caught up with him at the next junction, saying 'You were too close there' as I passed. He leant on the horn hard and gave me the finger to show me what he thought of this.
Risking my life, and then abusing me: a normal experience on our streets and a sign of how motor dominance makes public space hostile for those outside a motor vehicle. Of course, cyclists are not immune from this kind of behaviour. Last week I also heard a man riding on the canal towpath shout abuse at parents whose kids were having fun 'in the way' – the same attitude as the van driver, if not the same level of horsepower.
But those who cycle and walk – or would like to, if the streets were safer and more inviting – are disproportionately harmed by structural inequalities and violence on our streets. We all have much to gain from a more humane system prioritising happiness and health over power, time and speed.
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Don't miss the top names at the Cyclenation-CTC Annual Conference on Saturday 22 November
- Phil Jones, lead author of the ground breaking Welsh infrastructure design guide
- Naomi Green - Head of cycling policy at the Department for Trasnport
- Robert Goodwill - Minister for Trasnport (recorded stataement)
- Brian Deegan,award winning infrstructure designer and co-author of the London Cycling Design Standards
- Martin Lucas Smith - joint creator of the acclaimed Cyclestreets and Cyclescape websites
- Andrew Gilligan - London's Cycling Commissioner
- Professor David Cox - ex-chair of Birmingham PCT
- Lucy Saunders - the GLA's public health specialist
- John Richfield - key transport designer for Bristol City Coucnil
- Chris Kenyon - creator of the influential CyclingWorks website
The day will kick off at 9.30, with formal business for Cyclenation members taking place from 10-11.30 (others are welcome as observers). For those who aren’t Cyclenation members, registration will kick off at 11am, with tea and coffee available from 11.30. At 11.45 Paul Tuohy, CTC’s Chief Executive, and Rosie Downes, Campaigns Manager at LCC, will be welcoming delegates.
To introduce our first session, on building political commitment for cycling, we’ll be hearing from Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite, Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability at Lambeth Council, followed by a recorded statement from Secretary of State for Transport Robert Goodwill on the Government's draft Cycling Delivery Plan (CDP). Naomi Green, Head of Cycling Policy Team at the Department for Transport, will then take questions on the CDP, which will form part of the DfT’s consultation on the plan.
After that, we’ll be hearing from our panel members: Prof David Cox OBE, ex-chair of South Birmingham Primary Care Trust and chair of CTC Council, who’ll talk about the Birmingham Cycling Revolution; John Richfield, Urban Cycling Transport Designer for Bristol City Council, who’ll be explaining how he’s working towards turning Bristol into a cycling city; Chris Kenyon, co-founder of the enormously successful CyclingWorks campaign, and Paul Gasson from the Waltham Forest branch of the London Cycling Campaign, who’s done a fantastic job growing political support for the mini-Holland project in Waltham Forest.
After lunch, our second session will look at Design Standards: background and scope for development across the UK. We’re pleased to have three great presenters: Phil Jones of Phil Jones Associates, lead author of the design guidance which accompanies the Active Travel (Wales) Act; Brian Deegan, Principal Technical Planner at Transport for London and co-author of the London Cycling Design Standards, and Martin Lucas-Smith, Cambridge Cycling Campaign and lead author of the Making Space for Cycling guide. There’ll also be a question and answer session with our presenters.
Next, we’ve got a choice of three policy workshops. One will be on Public Health and working with local authorities in their new duties. This workshop will be presented by Lucy Saunders, Public Health Specialist at the Greater London Authority, and part of Transport for London’s Transport and Public Realm team. A second workshop, facilitated by Rachel Aldred, Senior Lecturer in Transport, University of Westminster and Kevin Hickman, Inclusive Cycling Forum, will look at Accessibility/Inclusivity of Cycling: towards a CN Inclusive Cycling Policy; and the third will be run by CTC’s very own Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen, and will focus on next steps for the national Space for Cycling campaign.
After the workshops we’re looking forward to hearing from the Mayor of London’s Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, before the day is wrapped up with closing comments from Eric Booth, chair of Cyclenation. And after that, we hope you’ll join us for a drink in a nearby pub.
If you’re not local to London but staying over, we can help with accommodation (subject to availability) – and if you feel like a ride on the Sunday, our local groups are hosting a number of them. All info will be sent out to delegates in advance, and will also be available on the day.
We’re really looking forward to it – hope to see you there! Tickets are available from bit.ly/CNconf for £25 (50% off for students).
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Cyclists in War
Joshua Worth investigates the role of bicycles during war around the world.
Are you fond of cycling? If so, why not cycle for the King? Recruits wanted – bad teeth no bar!
This was the text that recruited young men for the 48th Division of the British Army Cycling Corps. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bicycle regiments became a standard component of the British Army. With the First World War centenary commemorations upon us, what better time to explore a little-known chapter of cycling’s rich history?
On the 7 November 1914, Army Order 477 was passed, which brought several pre-existing bicycle battalions together to form the Army Cycling Corps. Bicycles had been used before, in limited numbers, for scouting and messaging services in the Boer wars of South Africa, but during the First World War, they were formalised and began to be used in a more widespread manner. Generally, battalions of the corps remained in England, performing a defensive role, but smaller groups were sent to France to join the front line. They were most effective at the beginning and end of the war – during the deadlock of trench warfare their usefulness was greatly reduced.
A report from Cyclist magazine in 1914 expressed that although the war was ‘not a war of men but a war of machines’ the cycling troops were still able to engage in a more old-fashioned, close combat, skirmish warfare.
‘If there be any of the old glamour and romance left in modern warfare, the cyclist scouts are having more than their share of it …... When the war is over the tales of our cyclist warriors will be amongst the most inspiriting in the annals of this stupendous conflict’
The report goes on to praise the bicycle infantry for their speed, silence and ability to take cover:
[the cycle-soldier] has but to lean his mount flat on the ground and it is practically invisible’
Bicycle troops were common in the French, Italian and German armies as well. The Italian Bersaglieri, or marksmen, were a regiment of elite soldiers famed for their focus on speed and mobility (as well as their fancy headgear). Their soldiers were supremely fit, and jogged everywhere instead of marching. When bicycles became more widespread, they were among the first and most enthusiastic adopters. Many of them, such as Ottavio Bottechia, went on to compete in the Tour de France after the war – in fact, Bottechia was the first Italian to win the tour. He recalled a particular incident from his soldier days where he cycled up a high mountain pass with a machine gun strapped to his back to assist an outpost at the summit. He arrived late in the evening, and when he woke the next day, he discovered that the Austrians had tried and failed to attack in the night, with the machine gun he had carried having proven essential in driving them back.
But as technology moved on and warfare changed, bicycle infantry began to fall out of favour. Bicycles were still used in World War II, though sparingly by the Allied forces. The Japanese, however, used thousands of bicycle troops during their campaign, capturing Singapore in 1941. Bicycles have remained a valuable tool for militias and semi-professional armies – the Tamil Tigers relied heavily on bicycles during the Sri Lankan civil war.
It was only in 2001 that the final European cycle regiment was disbanded. The Swiss Army, despite their neutrality, maintained a regiment that had become an elite and highly prestigious unit, with only the fittest and strongest cyclists making the cut – cycling a fully laden bicycle for hundreds of kilometres through the Swiss Alps is certainly no easy task.
Every year since 1921, a service has been held to commemorate the fallen cyclists of the First World War, in Meriden in central England. The contribution of the cycle regiments is not well-known, so events like this aim to honour their efforts and keep their memory alive. The very first commonwealth soldier killed in the war was 17 year old reconnaissance cyclist John Parr - so it’s clear that the bicycle was a vital part of the war effort from day one.
It’s all just another chapter in the incredible story of the humble bicycle.
Pedalare! Pedalare! The History of Italian Cycling by John Foot, p22
You can read more of Joshua's articles here.
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Can you lend your skills to our Income Generation Committee?
As a membership organisation, the LCC is governed by an elected board of trustees, whose role it is to oversee and guide the operations, policy & finance of the charity through regular committee meetings with staff and the Chief Executive. Our Income Generation Committee is responsible for ensuring the charity has the income and funding it needs to continue its valuable work – and we want your experience to help us innovate, develop and grow our resources.
London Cycling Campaign is looking for individuals with a background in business development, fundraising or membership development to sit on our income generation committee during its bi-monthly meetings. Specifically, experience relevant to the following areas is required:
- Developing new consultancy products (such as our successful Cycling Projects ventures) and helping protect and expand these into new markets and areas.
- Supporting and developing fundraising from sponsored participation events (such as the London Marathon or Ride London) or a background in a charity that successfully operates in this area.
- Experience of growing and servicing a membership base within a charity or organisation (such as the National Trust).
If you have experience in any of the above or similar, we would love to hear from you.
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Space for Cycling: six months on from the local elections
Earlier this year almost half of all Councillors elected in the London-wide council elections supported our Space for Cycling campaign. But since then some have disappeared into the woodwork, or are even backtracking on their promises.
We need your help to make sure cycling stays a priority for local Councils. On the 27th November, we’ll be launching a new petition, calling on Borough Councils to uphold their promises and prioritise Space for Cycling.
Immediately following local elections in May 2014, we celebrated the fact that 43% of newly elected Councillors, across all major parties, and all London boroughs, had promised to work towards a specific local cycling improvement in their electoral ward. Since then, more have come forward, meaning that 47% of all London’s Councillors support Space for Cycling.
The improvements or ‘ward asks’ that Councillors agreed to support; decided by our local borough groups, ranged from:
- providing safe routes to local schools;
- installing protected cycling lanes;
- reducing speed limits to 20mph
- making town centres more cycle-friendly
- cutting off rat runs; to
- requesting that parks and green spaces be made more accessible for cycling.
All in all, we built a bank of 629 improvements, one per electoral ward, that Councillors were asked to support.
You can view these improvements are on our Space for Cycling map.
Why did we list so many improvements?
The ‘ward asks’ are all designed to do one thing – make our streets, all across London, safe and inviting for cycling, so that people of all ages and abilities who want to cycle, can cycle. But not only that, by making these improvements, and encouraging more people to cycle, our city can become a healthier, cleaner, nicer place for everyone. Win – win, surely?
What support did we get?
Our first phase is complete. We have commitments from over 850 Councillors, 862 at the time of writing to be exact. Whilst we’ve seen whole parties offer their support, we’ve also seen large swathes of councillors who are just not interested.
Many have expressed their support for ‘cycling’, but have not been willing to commit to making concrete improvements. Others have agreed in principle with our aims, but believe there are other improvements to be made so won’t commit to making the ones we’ve suggested.
The support has also varied hugely across all boroughs, from a measly 4 supportive councillors in Bexley and a sad 10 in Wandsworth, to a huge 62 in Ealing and a full slate of 57 in Hackney (the only borough to have 100% support).
The one thing we have noticed is that the boroughs where we saw large numbers of people writing to their councillors, asking them to support the campaign between April and May 2014, saw the highest number of councillors supporting us. People power works, and Councillors do listen to the people they represent.
But, we need to make sure that cycling stays a top priority for local councillors, and we need to make sure that their promises to improve local cycling conditions are kept.
We'll rely on our members and supporters to help us do this. You are the ones who have the power to hold your councillors to account. This is why we’re launching a new Space for Cycling petition at end of the month, urging Councils to prioritise cycling and make sure the promises from Councillors are kept.
Have we made any progress so far?
We recently contacted the Councillors who pledged their support for Space for Cycling. We asked them to fill in a very short survey to tell us about any progress they have made. We wanted to get a picture of where we are, 6 months after the local elections.
So far, we’ve had just 178 responses. Considering all 862 so enthusiastically supported us just a few months ago, and were eager to pledge their support for Space for Cycling before the election, we expected more.
One councillor told us he “didn’t fill in surveys” and went on to say he thought “cyclists should pay road tax”. Another emailed to say that he had more important things to be dealing with and was fed up of getting emails about the campaign. In the time he took to write and complain I’m sure he could have filled in our short survey!
12 councillors told us they didn’t know what progress had been made, and two even said that it wasn’t a priority for them right now. Many others either didn’t find the time to respond, or didn’t want to.
This is why it’s so important for people to sign our upcoming petition. We need to demonstrate to Council Leaders that local people expect the promises from Councillors to be kept. We’re sick of people saying the rights things, but not actually doing anything.
Not all bad news
Despite some disappointing responses, it’s not all bad news. Many Councillors were happy to take part in the survey, and some sent a response on behalf of their borough parties.
- 66 Councillors told us they have raised Space for Cycling and the local ‘ward ask’ with their political party
- 48 told us they have been discussing the ‘ward ask’ with local residents
- 42 have been in touch with their Local LCC Group our local groups about it
- 104 Councillors have raised Space for Cycling with relevant Council Officers
- 25 have Space for Cycling plans in their programme for the year
- 22 Councillors have budget allocated in this year or for next year, dedicated to the ‘ward ask’
- 43 are already consulting with local residents to assess the feasibility of implementing it.
- 76 said they were ‘working hard’ to make progress on cycling and
- 19 said they expected their local improvement to be realised in the next 12 months.
Overall, based on their official responses, some 116 councillors have made significant progress in achieving the ‘ward ask’, 39 have made some progress and 23 have yet to make progress.
We also know that since the elections, many of our local groups have had meetings with councillors and have built up some positive and helpful relationships with politicians who were previously not engaged with cycling. So, some Council’s are taking their commitments very seriously.
So what next?
We need to make sure that cycling stays a top priority for those councillors who promised to support Space for Cycling. We also need to encourage more councillors to pledge their support. Whilst our local groups are working hard to meet and engage with councillors, we need a lot more of our members and supporters to add their voice to our campaign.
It’s easy to do so! Keep an eye out for our upcoming Space for Cycling petition in your borough calling on Council Leaders to ensure their councillors are supporting cycling and that they are supporting the efforts of those councillors who are trying to implement local improvements for cycling.
We must demonstrate to our Borough Councils that cycling is important to local residents. We must keep the pressure on to make sure cycling stays a priority!
Get involved with your local group
Want to help out with the Space for Cycling campaign in your area? Why not go and say hello to your nearest local group and find out how you can get involved!
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Garden Bridge plans must include provision for cycling, say LCC
A decision is due to be made tonight by Lambeth Council’s planning committee on whether to give planning permission for the planned £150m Garden Bridge, which would span the river between Temple and the South Bank.
Currently, the proposals are to ban cycling on the bridge. It would be patrolled by wardens whose duties would include preventing cycling on it.
While LCC would in theory welcome plans for a motor traffic-free river crossing, we – and others – are extremely concerned that the plans currently contain no provision for cycling. Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, has said: “At the very least cyclists should be able to use it as a safe route across the Thames. It would be appalling if so much public money was spent on a new Thames crossing which totally excluded cyclists.”
Both the Millennium Bridge and the Hungerford Bridge (pedestrian walkways ) were constructed without any provision for cycle users. It would be a significant step forward if there were at least one crossing for cyclists in central London where there are no motor vehicles. This would be of particular benefit to children, new cyclists and leisure cyclists. It would also help contribute to Lambeth’s aspirations to improve conditions for cycle users and increase cycling levels.
London's congestion and pollution issues could be tackled in a more effective and economical way by transforming the city's existing river crossings into spaces which are safer and more inviting for cycling - for example by reducing motor traffic volumes on nearby Waterloo Bridge.
A number of other concerns have been expressed by people who live or work nearby, who have questioned the need for a pedestrian bridge in the proposed location and have raised concerns about the restricted opening hours, queuing and closure for events, as well as the impact of bringing additional visitors to the area such as coaches parked on Upper Ground and Stamford St, refuse vehicles to deal with increased rubbish generated by the projected 7 million visitors to the Bridge each year, and overcrowding at pinch-points on the river walk.
The lack of cycling provision was given by many respondents as a key reason for opposition to the project in responses to the initial consultation, which ran at the end of 2013.
LCC has voiced its concerns to Lambeth Council’s Planning Committee in advance of their decision.
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Superhighways consultation gets one of the 'highest responses ever' - and 80% supportive
Transport for London's consultations on the North-South and East-West cycle superhighway plans closed yesterday (Sunday 9th November) with one of the 'highest responses ever'. Over 14,000 people responded to the consultations, with 80% of responses in support of the plans. 6,300 of those responses were sent through the LCC website. Over 160 employers, including RBS, Deloitte, Orange and Microsoft, have supported the proposals through the CyclingWorks website. Thanks to everyone who took part, and to those who urged their employer to back the plans.
The BBC covered the issue on yesterday's Sunday Politics show, interviewing Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan as well as Danny Williams of the Cyclists in the City blog, and showed footage of LCC's Love London, Go Dutch Big Ride. The BBC's Tom Edwards also spoke to those opposing the scheme: David Leam, Head of Infrastructure at London First, and Howard Dawber of Canary Wharf. You can watch the episode on iPlayer (the superhighways piece starts 48 minutes in).
The BBC have also published a piece on their website with the headline 'Cycle superhighways scheme not thought through', which LCC believes overstates the case against the proposals. Despite the overwhelming support for the superhighways, the piece focuses on concerns raised by a small minority, such as Canary Wharf Group, the group behind a damaging and inaccurate briefing against the plans.
It's disappointing to see arguments against the plans given so much airtime, when evidence shows that fears of London grinding to a halt are unfounded. Impacts on journey times shown by Transport for London’s traffic modelling are minimal, and, as TfL admits, the modelling techniques used don’t take into account the reduction in traffic levels as a result of people changing their behaviour, which is often the result of reallocation of road space of this kind. There is also no attempt to balance any possible disadvantages against the huge benefits in casualty reduction, better health, quicker cycle journeys and cleaner environment that the Mayor’s plans will bring to London. New York has recently published evidence that shows that since installing protected bicycle lanes throughout the city, there has been a reduction of vehicle volumes as road users shifted to other modes – and journey times have improved in many areas. In New York’s Central Business District, travel speeds have remained steady as protected bicycle lanes are added to the roadway network.
Concerns also appear to overstate the impact of the superhighway proposals on London’s network. There are approximately 1,450 miles of main road in London. Of those 1450 miles, the N/S, E/W cycle superhighways and the upgrade to CS2 combined represent about 9 miles. The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling includes £913m for cycling over the next 10 years. Twice this amount will be spent on road assets including resurfacing carriageway, modernising traffic signals and renewing and refurbishing and upgrading structures and tunnels.
Those raising concerns about the impact on journey times also fail to acknowledge the positive impact that a reduction in cyclist casualties could have on existing congestion. A report to the TfL board estimated that 28% of the congestion in London is the result of crashes. If a cyclist is seriously injured there can be huge delays. Where segregated cycle tracks have been implemented elsewhere, for example in New York, Cyclist injuries have decreased even as bicycle volumes have dramatically increased. At the moment there are about 580,000 cycle journeys a day in London. That is predicted to rise to between 1.2 and 1.5 million, which will include significant modal shift and reductions in the pressure on other modes, bus and rail. Seven out of ten people who do not cycle now say they would be prepared to consider cycling if the safe facilities were available for them.
Logos of organisations supporting the superhighways through CyclingWorks
The BBC also interviewed Steve McNamara from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who described the consultation as 'flawed and rushed'. London Cycling Campaign believes that the scheme is a clear result of the open and very public electoral commitment made by the mayor, on which people voted for him and on which he was elected, and the consultation process has been conducted in accordance with Transport for London’s requirements. Business confidence in the proposal has been clearly demonstrated through the public support of over 160 employers in London, including RBS, Deloitte, Orange, Allen & Overy and Microsoft and others, which can be seen at cyclingworks.london. Retailers in areas of cities where protected cycle tracks have been installed, such as New York, have seen an increase in sales of up to 47%.
There will be a 40% increase in people working in central London Boroughs over the coming decades, and a very clear need for London’s workforce to be able to move around. In 28 out of 32 London boroughs, motor vehicle traffic fell significantly over the past 13 years, with the biggest falls in central London. Sir Peter Hendy has warned that overcrowding on London’s public transport system could lead to riots. If we want to avoid disorder or people returning to their cars to get to work – causing even more congestion - then investing in cycling superhighways like these is an absolute must.
The next few weeks will be critical in determining whether London makes the step towards a city with streets that are safe and inviting for cycling. Whatever the outcome, promoting cycling will not be the cause of congestion: it will be essential to keeping London moving.
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Ride-through east London graffiti gallery in bloom
The streets and towpaths of Hackney Wick and Fish Island are being daubed in dazzling colours, as well as black and white, in one of the most prolific periods of graffiti art in east London. Some of the pieces are pictorial epics: a mass of workers marches across a huge wall, banners in hand and a message saying ‘don de esta;' several pieces repeat the theme of three giant black and white faces painted with rollers in across several floors of hoarding or derelict building. Even the more common 'tags' are sprayed on with remarkable precision and include pictorial elements. Not wishing to be outdone, the London Legacy Development Corporation has commissioned two huge murals, one of which depicts the many houses and walls of Hackney Wick and Fish Island - which are, in reality, covered in graffiti. Appropriately all this can all be enjoyed on a circular ride.
To enjoy the current unusually creative display ride down the Hertford Union canal from Victoria Park, cross on the footbridge to Fish Island – follow Roach Road past the Muff Café, Stour Space (both pleasant stops) to Bream Street which has long and exotic stretch of pieces; cross over the Lea Navigation canal and try to keep as close to the canal as possible which should take you past the two murals. Cross the canal back to Hackney Wick at White Post Lane bridge (The Crate pub serves good pizza - slowly) and follow White Post Lane to Hackney Wick station. The epic marching workers piece is slowly being covered by tags but is still visible (one some days the site next door opens as a skate and BMX park). If you go up to the station platform there is a view of selected graffiti inside surrounding derelict sites. You can then reach Victoria Park by pedalling down Wallis Road and crossing the fish-scale bridge over the A12.
As you might expect the whole area is scheduled for re-development. Should you need them, there are two bike shops on site – one by the canal just across from Fish Island (next to the lock) and Skinny Eric’s in Felstead Road near the station which specialises in retro frames and Campag bits(nice pizzeria next door – fast service and keen prices) . Two frame builders have workshops nearby – Tom Donhou at Hackney Wick and Ryan MacCaig (Oak Cycles) at Old Ford – beautiful work but be prepared to wait a while and spend lots.
No guarantee that the illustrated pieces will be the when you arrive – but there could be some new surprises if there is a spell of painting weather.
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Last chance to have your say on the new Cycle Superhighways plans'
This article was originally posted on the Green Alliance Blog.
In 2013, the mayor of London Boris Johnson published his Vision for Cycling, a document which we described as “one of the most ambitious plans to promote cycling ever produced by a major UK political leader”. Johnson himself described it as a “profound shift in my ambitions and intentions for the bicycle in London”. It promised an increase in the total cycling budget to almost £400 million over the next three years; a commitment to delivering future cycle superhighways to international standards, and the development of a London cycling network.
Andrew Gilligan, the mayor’s cycling commissioner, said: “[This] document shows how seriously the mayor has taken his Go Dutch promise to the LCC and the cyclists of London.” The future of London cycling was beginning to look rosy.
Tragically, it took a spate of fatalities before further promises were made, and a long period of inactivity. This time last year was a terrible period, with six cyclists killed on London’s roads in just two weeks, a clear demonstration of the urgent need to redesign our streets. Particular urgency surrounded cycle superhighway 2, which runs from Aldgate to Stratford; a route on which six cyclists have died since 2011, the worst casualty record for any similar road in London. A consultation on an upgrade to the route, which would introduce protected space for cyclists, has recently closed.
The new plans mark a step change in cycling ambition
But it feels like we’re on the cusp of seeing real change. Over the past six weeks, Transport for London has been running a public consultation on two new cycle superhighways: an east-west cycle superhighway from Tower Hill to Acton; and a north-south cycle superhighway from Elephant and Castle to King’s Cross. On both routes, road space would be reallocated from motor traffic to provide protected space for cycling. This is a change proposed in response to how Londoners are using our roads: cyclists make up 24 per cent of all rush hour traffic in central London, and make up almost half of rush hour traffic at points on these routes.
The two routes would meet at Blackfriars, where LCC organised flashride protests over the failure to provide safe space for cycling after the station’s renovation. Now, as the proposed cycle superhighway junction, it could become the iconic location for the transformation of London into a city with real space for cycling.
Two routes, of course, don’t make a cycle network. But what these new superhighways represent is a serious commitment to reallocate road space from motor traffic to cycles. They offer a glimpse of what London could be: a city where the tens of thousands who want to cycle, but don’t dare in the current conditions, feel able to do so. A city where children are able to cycle to school and enjoy the benefits, rather than a city where a third of children leave primary school obese or overweight. A city which enjoys clean air, rather than failing to meet EU limits on airborne pollution. A city with streets as safe and inviting for cyclists as they are in Holland.
The north-south and east-west cycle superhighways consultation closes this Sunday (9 November 2014). The response to them has been overwhelmingly positive. Politicians from all parties have spoken out in support. Academics and architects have penned public letters, welcoming the plans. Large employers including Microsoft, Orange, Deloitte, RBS, Allen & Overy and the City of London Police have also responded to the consultation in support of the plans. Almost 6,000 people have written to Transport for London through the London Cycling Campaign website, and countless more have responded to the consultation directly.
Investing in cycling is good for everyone
These proposals aren’t just good for cyclists, they’re good for everyone; and they’re essential to keep London moving as there will be a 40 per cent increase in people working in central London over the coming decades.
A small but powerful minority have opposed the plans. Canary Wharf Group has led a campaign against the proposals, issuing a briefing against the superhighways. But the public response to their opposition is telling. Peter Walker wrote in The Guardian that the “opposition to London’s segregated cycle lanes is living in the past”; Chris Boardman, Olympic medallist and respected cycle campaigner, wrote that “the limo-users’ view of how London is governed, like their view of how London travels around, feels out of date.” At a local level, London’s boroughs are waking up to the need to provide safe space for cycling, with 45 per cent of councillors pledging support for LCC’s Space for Cycling campaign.
There is a long way to go before London becomes a city with streets which are as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in the Netherlands. But the past few weeks have demonstrated that the political will is there. Let’s make sure that this glimpse of a great city for cycling becomes a reality.
The consultation ends on 9 November 2014. London Cycling Campaign has set up a tool to enable people to easily respond in support of the proposals at http://bit.ly/superhighways. You can find out more about the plans at www.tfl.gov.uk/cycle-north-south and www.tfl.gov.uk/cycle-east-west.
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Cycling in the media: HGVs, helmets and making our roads safer for families
It’s only Tuesday, but it’s already been a cycling-heavy week in the media - BBC Breakfast is running a week of ‘special reports on cycling’ from 3-7 November. Yesterday, Chris Boardman told the nation that he doesn’t cycle in London and wouldn’t let his children because it’s ‘not a pleasant thing to do’, prompting a huge response – not least because he chose not to wear a helmet, provoking outrage from some. (For our thoughts on the helmet debate, see here – in a nutshell, we agree with Chris, who responded to concerns on the BBC and on the British Cycling website. The Mirror also ran a piece looking at the arguments about helmet laws, with a poll.)
BBC Radio London focused their attentions on what could be done to get more families cycling. They interviewed Mark Williams, Cabinet Member for transport for Southwark Council, who’ve launched a consultation on which roads in their borough feel unsafe. Mark said that Southwark want to make cycling as easy as possible and make cycling safe through better designs, so people feel confident to get around the borough by bike.
He added, “What we need to do is get the design of these junctions right and work with parents and indeed work with schools as well to make them as safe as possible, and also provide more education and training for both parents and children. But at the end of the day it comes down to making sure that there’s space for everyone on our roads, that it’s clearly marked out, where needed it’s clearly segregated, and at those places where it’s traditionally been quite difficult to get those solutions that we take that challenge on and make those changes.”
Later in the show they interviewed LCC’s very own Tom Bogdanowicz. He said it’s very sad that Chris Boardman has to say things he did because things really shouldn’t be that way, and that’s why London Cycling Campaign campaigns for space for cycling. Tom said: “In Holland, 50% of children cycle to school. In London, a lot of parents want their children to cycle to school because it’s good for their health. 1 in 5 children have an obesity problem. We want to be able to let them cycle to school. So we need to improve conditions in London; they need to be as good as they are in Holland, and then we will be able to cycle to school with our children, or our children will be able to cycle by themselves.”
You can listen to the piece here - Tom’s interview starts at 2 hours, 14 minutes.
Yesterday BBC News also published a piece titled ‘How safe is cycling’, which makes some good points, though doesn’t mention that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks. A line that read ‘Cyclists should bear in mind that statistics show they need to be extra careful around heavy goods vehicles’ was later edited to read ‘It's worth bearing in mind that the statistics show the extra danger around heavy goods vehicles’ following some constructive criticism on social media.
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Brompton Cool Bag
Carradice Stockport bag for Brompton folders £125 (not including Brompton bag frame which costs £20)
If you think your Brompton doesn’t quite cut it among the Italian and French fixies don’t fret – help is at hand. With the mere addition of a Stockport bag you can look Hackney hipsters right in the eye and also impress at business meetings. The well designed and well-crafted Stockport is based on Carradice’s already popular cotton-duck Kelbrook satchel but adapted to fit on the front of a Brompton by attachment to the Brompton front carrier frame (small size works best) . Like the Kelbrook, the Stockport is influenced by classic fishing/game bags and has fast opening leather straps for the capacious 16 litre main compartment.
The cloth is the hard wearing and waterproof cotton duck that Carradice has built its reputation on. Unlike the cotton duck panniers the company makes, it has a tasteful tartan lining and there are three pockets: one zipped, one open under the lid, and one zipped inside the main compartment – plus a detachable laptop/tablet bag. On the exterior there are three reflective patches and a light loop. All the straps and trim are vegetable tanned leather and the carry strap is made of wide cotton webbing and attached with chromed ironmongery. Tested in the shower for 20 minutes the bag didn’t let through a drop.
Brompton’s front rack mount is , as owners will know, a breeze to use and the Stockport fits cosily on the frame. The bag also doubles as an ultra-hip shoulder bag with its natural materials, choice of black or olive colours, comfortable strap and messenger bag shape ticking all the right style boxes. Price is relatively high but the obvious competition, Brompton’s own Game Bag, costs a hundred pounds more. For £30 less than the Stockport you can buy the more conventional Carradice Originals Folder but it doesn’t work as a shoulder bag nor look as good.
Carradice Bingley Tool Bag £40
Matching the Carradice Stockport Folder bag and the Kelbrook satchel is this nifty mini-bag. It attaches to your choice of handlebars, saddle or trouser belt using either thick leather straps or a belt loop. It also has a detachable strap for hanging over your shoulder. Despite its small size the bag expands to accommodate tool kit, inner tube collapsible pump, wallet and phone or your choice of bits and pieces. Closure is by means of two hefty poppers. Like other cotton-duck bags it’s highly water resistant. As a manly man I was hesitant to use the shoulder strap on what looks like a clutch bag but found it ideal for carrying camera lenses, smart phone and specs both on and off the bike.
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- How cycling revolutionised my life in the city
- 2014 Community Cycling Fund for London grants awarded
- Fatal junction proves the need for Superhighways and Space for Cycling
- BikeCityGuide London offers LCC Members Free Finns
- Campaigner Awards 2014: Winners!
- Ask your MP to attend the Get Britain Cycling parliamentary debate.
- Will Cycle Superhighways solve congestion problems?
- New Trustees Elected to the London Cycling Campaign Board
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