De Beauvoir Improvements: A great opportunity – missed?

De Beauvoir Town has some of the loveliest streets in London.  Since the 1970s, half a dozen roads have been accessible to pedestrians and people on bikes – and blocked to rat-running drivers.  Now, residents have the chance to extend this area of safety and tranquility to cover almost all of De Beauvoir.  It’s not yet clear whether they will take it…

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Lawford Road – Image: Chris Whippet

When planning for ‘Cycle Superhighway’ 1, Hackney Council and Transport for London decided not to tackle the A10 – the main North-South route through the borough, the road on which most shops and services are located, and the current main site of casualties for people on bikes.

Instead, the route was put along the existing ‘London Cylce Network’ alignment through De Beauvoir.  They may be safer than the A10, but these roads attract a lot of rat-running drivers, and certainly do not meet the criteria for a safe and desirable route on which ordinary people, aged 8-80, will willingly cycle.  Hackney Cycling Campaign and Hackney People on Bikes requested filtering to create a worthwhile route which met the needs of people who cycle, and who might in future.

Separately, a large number of residents organised themselves to petition their councillors calling for filtering.  These streets can be very busy with fast-moving drivers and are not fit for pleasant residential use.

The result from TfL and Hackney is an admirable and thorough plan to remove through traffic from the area.  Building on the existing excellent filters in the bottom left of the map below, this area would see through traffic only on the main roads along the edge, and through Englefield Road in the middle.

CS1 closures

While the money has come from TfL’s ‘Cycle Superhighway’ 1 pot, it is primarily a neighbourhood improvement project: cutting out through traffic, reducing noise, pollution and danger.  This is an area which has seen a number of crashes over the last ten years, shown below – a danger and an unpleasantness which local people now have the chance to avoid.

When I attended a Ward Forum on the topic of the closures, I was disappointed to find that many of those attending were hostile to the closures (they numbered perhaps thirty-five or forty, but made up in heat what they lacked in numbers).  While almost almost everyone seemed to recognise the negative effects of large number of outsiders driving through the area, many seemed minded to object to the proposals.  In a meeting which was at times exceptionally unpleasant as attendees shouted over one another, council officers (and me), a number of strange arguments were made: the dangers of people cycling were brought up, ‘Will the council put a police officer on the junction of Culford Road’; the undesirability of restricting rat-running drivers, ‘it’s better to have ten cars go down ten roads than down one’ and of course ‘road tax’.

There were many strong, positive voices too.  Local residents attended who had knocked on one another’s doors to gather support for the plan.  One lady noted that she was on crutches and wouldn’t be able to cycle, but we must do more for people who do – and that she can hardly get her car out of it’s parking place on Ardleigh Road owing to the weight of traffic.  Another lady noted that she was willing to be inconvenienced by a slightly longer route when she needed to drive, because it would be good for the area and for local people.

I very much hope that those in favour of these excellent proposals will make their voices heard too.  If you want to see a safer, nicer De Beauvoir, be a good citizen and respond to the consultation – you have until the 18th November.  All you have to do is click this link, choose ‘yes’ and write your name on the next page.  You can add a reason and additional details about yourself if you like.

There are two additional consultations for closures further up the ‘Superhighway’ route – please do support these too:Wordsworth Road Consultation
Broadwater Road Consultation

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Silvertown Tunnel – the best TfL can offer?

If you invest £1000 in my business, the best thing I can offer you is learning.

21st century planning

The cost of small production lines and website development is so low that £1000 is best spent testing the water: make 100 T-shirts and a website, and see if they sell, rather than building a factory for millions only to find out your T-shirt design is unpopular, or out of fashion.  The idea that the currency of success is now learning – from a friend who once worked in tech startups – seems a very 21st century way of doing business.  There is another way to do business that remains popular though; with plans for Silvertown Tunnel, TfL are doing business in the style of the 1950s.

Silvertown: 1950s planning

1950s thinking – particularly around road design was to ‘predict and provide’:

Predict and provide

The earliest, and perhaps most destructive road transport policy in the UK, whereby traffic levels were forecast, and capacity provided to meet this forecast (University of Nottingham)

At Silvertown, TfL have predicted a massive growth in cross-river traffic by people who will want to drive.  Rather than seeking to provide alternatives, reduce that demand or prioritise those who actually need to drive there, they propose a tunnel:

The Silvertown Tunnel will reduce congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel, improve the resilience of the surrounding road network and support economic and population growth.  (All quotations are from this TfL page or linked documents, unless otherwise indicated).

Despite creating a new, quicker way to drive, TfL claim this won’t attract many additional drivers, in fact:

We estimate that by 2031, delays on the approach to the tunnel would be virtually eliminated.

This is in defiance of the experience of every major road-building scheme in Britain over a period of thirty years, which shows that ‘improving’ roads invariably induces more people to drive:

The average traffic flow on 151 improved roads was 10.4% higher than forecasts that omitted induced traffic and 16.4% higher than forecast on 85 alternative routes that improvements had been intended to relieve. In a dozen more detailed case studies the measured increase in traffic ranged from 9% to 44% in the short run and 20% to 178% in the longer run. This fitted in with other evidence on elasticities and aggregate data. The conclusion was:

 “An average road improvement, for which traffic growth due to all other factors is forecast correctly, will see an additional [i.e. induced] 10% of base traffic in the short term and 20% in the long term.”

(Taken from this post, which summarises this DfT report).

If Silvertown Tunnel is similar to every other major road scheme, it will increase traffic on the Greenwich Peninsula.

Note to TfL - you cannot build your way out of a traffic jam (source - Citylab)

Note to TfL – you cannot build your way out of a traffic jam (source – Citylab)

So, TfL’s other claims seem doubtful too:

The environmental impact of current traffic congestion on some of London’s most polluted roads would be reduced

The scheme would bring about an overall air quality improvement on the main approach routes to and from the Blackwall Tunnel,

TfL promises to charge for the tunnel, and for Blackwall, to alleviate the otherwise inevitable harm.

TfL proposes to use to manage traffic impacts arising from the Silvertown Tunnel is user charging, which would act to deter increases in demand and should therefore minimise adverse impacts (TfL)

A 21st century business proposal

What upsets me about this (apart from the waste of money, induced demand caused, additional pollution and general obtuseness of the approach) is that TfL’s approach does not offer us any learning.

Were we to charge for the crossing now, we could find out how many people actually need to drive across the Thames here.  Demand might be managed sufficiently to avoid the massive expense of a new bridge. Pollution might be reduced in the area.

That’s what happened when Stockholm did something similar, as beautifully summarised in this TED talk.  Introducing a very small congestion charge has a significant effect.

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One or two euros was enough to make 20 percent of cars disappear from rush hours.  If you can reduce traffic even somewhat, then congestion will go down much faster than you might think

People changed their behaviour.  Were they massively inconvenienced?

We did this huge interview survey with lots of travel services, and tried to figure out who changed, and where did they go? And it turned out that they don’t know themselves.  For some reason, the car drivers are — they are confident they actually drive the same way that they used to do.  

This seems logical, but without doing it, we’ll have no idea.  What I can’t understand is why TfL don’t start by charging, then decide whether we need another crossing.  Rather than building another crossing, then charging, then see if things clear up.

This is an amazing offer for TfL: it’s a trial which would make them money, rather than costing it.  (And there’s no negative – it’s infrastructure they will have to build, and unpopularity they will have to face anyway – as they’ve promised to toll the new crossing and Blackwall Tunnel eventually anyway).

TfL desperately want this toxic tunnel

However, even if it were to charge, TfL are adamant that a new bridge is needed:

While a charge at the Blackwall Tunnel would reduce some demand, a charge alone could not prevent incidents at the tunnel.

TfL say there were almost 1,000 incidents at the Blackwall Tunnel

Although a charge at the Blackwall Tunnel might reduce some demand from motorists – depending on the level at which it was set – it could not prevent planned and unplanned incidents at the tunnel, which is a significant cause of congestion across a wide area.

So we are building a toxic tunnel due to ‘planned and unplanned’ incidents.  What kind of incidents?

The new Silvertown Tunnel would significantly reduce incidents at the Blackwall Tunnel which force its temporary closure, in particular incidents involving overweight vehicles.

So, we’re going to spend £750 million to accommodate drivers of overweight vehicles – who presumably know they shouldn’t be using the tunnel?

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Source: TfL

Surely TfL can come up with a smarter approach to preventing people using a tunnel they don’t fit down than building another tunnel?

Automatic_level_crossing_with_height_restrictions

Image credit: Mcivory

We could even combine my two ideas: charge now, and spend some of the money on better incident prevention and breakdown services.  At at least £2 per journey, TfL can get its hands on perhaps £250,000 pounds a day – this would nicely cover something a high-tech solution and an investment in sustainable alternatives.

I don’t know for sure.  TfL may be right:

We concluded that a charge at the Blackwall Tunnel without any increase in new crossing capacity was not a suitable option, since it would not address our wider objective of reducing incidents at the Blackwall Tunnel and providing more resilience and choice for people crossing the river. In addition, although charging would reduce some demand to cross at the Blackwall Tunnel, there would still be significant congestion and adverse impacts on alternative crossing routes.

TfL don’t know either.  Concluding that a charge wouldn’t work without trying it is lunacy.  The best TfL can offer is a toxic tunnel, at a cost of £750m.  We won’t learn anything for five years, and we’ll face all the negative consequences before and afterwards.

TfL desperately need to take a 21st century approach – trial charging and find out.  Maybe some of those journeys aren’t necessary.  Maybe some of them could be retimed, rerouted or put on a changed mode.  We could find out and TfL could make a profit in the process…

Tell TfL you are against their toxic tunnel here – demand user charging instead.  The consultation is live now until Sunday, 29th November.

And help the No campaign, here.

We want Wick Walk

It’s worth going back to Hackney’s transport strategy, and thinking a bit about the competition here.  Hackney promise us:

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Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 20.13.52Councillors have suggested that there is ‘no chance in the next decade’ of getting all the money to sort out the Victoria Park one-way system properly.  So we have to get this road right now, not wait for possible changes we may not live to see.

At the very minimum, there is no reason to remove the current segregated cycle track.  We would like to see this track extended the length of Wick Road (from Morning Lane to Kenworthy Road).

However, why stop there?  Wick Road is an unusual road with amazing potential:

1) It has several parallel routes dedicated to taking large numbers of motor vehicles.  (At its narrowest points, the Victoria Park one-way system has one westbound lane (Cassland Road) and two eastbound lanes (Victoria Park Road and Wick Road)- a clear imbalance).

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Cassland Road

 

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Victoria Park Road

2) Large lengths of the street does not need motor vehicle access.

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Not a single door way in sight

3) The road is exceptionally wide wide.

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Three lanes, a lane of parking and two generous pavements. For a road which narrows to a single lane for moving traffic at the far end…

Introducing Wick Walk

We are calling for the closure of Wick Road as a route for through-traffic, to be replaced by a linear park – Wick Walk.

Initial discussions with residents have elicited excitement about including:

  • a cafe
  • tables to play chess

But we’re in the earliest stages of our planning and are open to ideas.  What would you like to see in the park?  Please add your ideas in the comments at the bottom.

But what about…?

What about the money?

The council are proposing spending £700,000 creating more space for drivers (most of whom don’t live in Hackney).  That money could be better spent on a park for local people.  There is also £1 million available to be spent for the community within Wick Ward.

What about traffic?

The single most important thing to remember is that cars are like work – they expand to fill the time available.  If we make more space for people to drive through, more drivers will use it.  If we reduce the space, drivers will choose to use other roads (like Mile End Road and Commercial Road – massive dual carriageways designed for through traffic).  And some people will choose to cycle and walk, now that they can do so safely.

This idea is brilliantly explained in this TED talk which shows that people will stop driving, and won’t even notice they’ve changed their behaviour.

The other key thing to remember is that most local people don’t own cars.  People driving from Essex to Central London don’t care whether they’re taking Mile End Road, Commercial Road or the Limehouse Tunnel or the North Circular – if Wick Road is closed, they’ll go elsewhere.

What about access?

We would maintain access to all off-street parking and houses along access roads – a solution which works well in areas around Well Street Common.

What about local businesses?

What could be better than a wonderful attraction encouraging the local community out.  Whether buying food for the barbecue or ice cream, businesses can make money out of this.

What about buses?

Buses would be best served by the provision of bus lanes where there is space down Cassland Road (most of the length of that road) and Victoria Park Road.

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Ample room for a bus lane on Victoria Park Road

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This is a two-lane road – ample room for a bus lane on Cassland Road

 

 If New York can do it…

New York was far more car-dominated than Wick Road is.  What they proved was that it is possible – easy even – to close off space to drivers, and make room for people to enjoy the streets.

times-square

Image credits

 

To see how, try this TED Talk from Janette Sadik-Khan, who led this effort.

If New York can knock out four lanes for drivers in its biggest square, surely Hackney, seeking to be an ‘exemplar for sustainable urban living’, can knock out one lane?

How do we get Wick Walk?

Crucially, we are simply ordinary residents asking for something better.  There will be many questions and issues as we create Wick Walk, and we look to work with professional architects and designers and the community to make this work.  But the first step is to make it absolutely clear to the council that we want a better solution than what we’ve been offered.

There are three levels of support available – choose what you can do:

1) Bronze support

Complete the consultation saying:

  1. I oppose the current scheme – it’s damaging for the area.  Please mention you’d like to see the cycle track stay and be extended!
  2. I wish to see a feasibility study into the creation of Wick Walk linear park.
  3. The feasibility study must include a three month experimental traffic order closing Wick Road to traffic, from the junction with Barnabus Road to the west.

2) Silver support

  1. Tell three other local residents about the plan, and ask them to respond to the consultation.
  2. Email our local councillors, Christopher Kennedy (christopher.kennedy@hackney.gov.uk), Nick Sharman (nick.sharman@hackney.gov.uk) and Jessica Webb (jessica.webb@hackney.gov.uk), to ask them to support Wick Walk.
  3. Leave a comment on this post saying why you support the park.

3) Gold support

Get in touch (use the comment section below or tweet) to help us build Wick Walk.  We particularly need people with time to pass on the message, people who can help us with visualisations, and local businesses keen to get involved.

Hackney Council: making Wick Road worse?

Wick Road is not an appealing environment.  It’s designed for people in cars.

It’s probably not very appealing in a car either.

I’ve got any number of photos like the one below, but let this represent all of them.  Wick Road is a fast, wide race track, with parking on one or both sides of the road.  It’s extremely unattractive for pedestrians (there’s a reason you can only see one in this picture) and has nothing at all for people on bikes (unless they want to either share the road with dangerously fast drivers, or cycle on the pavement).

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Last week, Hackney brought out proposals to change Wick Road.  I was excited to see how they promised to make it better for people living here.

I was disappointed.

The last thing I’m going to do is defend the current design.  Yet Hackney managed to offer something which will make Wick Road worse.  The details can be seen here, but the key thing is that the council want to make the road two-way.  In doing so, they will:

  • remove some parking (fine, no one uses it since the Controlled Parking Zone came in)
  • remove an off-street cycle track giving a safe route across the road (see below) – people on bikes will have to use the main road
  • add a lane for drivers (at the moment, the road narrows to one lane near the eastern end of the road; this will make it two lane, two way in either direction)
  • and so – allow lots more rat-running drivers to pass through Wick Road – now in both directions, not just one.

I don’t think this is good enough.

Why are the council doing this?

It’s not very clear from the consultation (there are no statistics about casualties, speeds, or the number of drivers using these roads at the moment).  But the council begin their ‘Background: section of the consultation by saying:

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 11.39.14

But this scheme mostly seems to be about people in cars and commercial vehicles having more options to drive.  (In explaining this, I refer a lot to Cassland Road.  It’s parallel to Wick Road, a couple of hundred metres south.  At the moment, Cassland Road is one-way westbound (and Wick Road is eastbound).  So any drivers who go down Cassland Road at the moment will be able to use Wick Road instead.  So Cassland Road gives a fair indication of what Wick Road will be like once it’s two-way).

(At the bottom of the post, I’ve listed all the Hackney Transport Strategy policies I don’t think this follows, for any readers who are really interested).

Let’s consider the claims from the leaflet one at a time:

“Promoting sustainable forms of travel such as walking”

Paradoxically, while it’s unpleasant, it’s not that hard to cross Wick Road at the moment.  In the mornings, it’s solid with drivers who can hardly move, so you can cross – carefully – between them.  Not fun or safe for families, but not terrible by Hackney standards.

In the afternoons, drivers move far too fast, but there are long gaps between them speeding through, in which people can cross easily.

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4pm on a weekday. I stood in the road for a good 30 seconds before some more drivers zoomed down the road.

Two-way traffic will make it harder for people living here to cross the road, as at any time of day they’ll have to look two-ways, and the road will be much busier.  Putting in a couple of extra arms of pedestrian crossing and an ‘informal’ crossing point won’t help people cross where they want.

“Promoting sustainable forms of transport such as… cycling”

Lots of drivers will choose to come down Wick Road instead of Cassland Road, so we can guess at what things will be like from what Cassland Road looks like.

The photo below shows part of the ‘Greenway’ from Finsbury Park to the Olympic Park (you can just see the blue cycle route sign on the lamp post).  You’re meant to share the road with all these jammed in drivers.  Too narrow to overtake safely, too busy to feel safe.

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One hundred metres further west, you can see what the road is like when vehicles are able to moved: people on bikes are meant to share space too narrow to feel safe, with vehicles like this.

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Giving these drivers additional space on Wick Road means either:

  1. Traffic speeds up and people on bikes are in scary spaces like that with the lorry above, too narrow to be overtaken safely, too slow for impatient drivers to wait.
  2. Traffic clogs up like the first photo and people on bikes are left trying to squeeze past along narrow lanes.

(Obviously, 2 is much more likely, given induced demand).

The council also plan to remove this little bit of cycle track here:CIMG9160

Again, it’s not amazing, but it does mean people on bikes can get from one side road (Barnabus) to another (Bradstock) without going on the main road.  That won’t be possible any more.  I find this a bit strange, as the pavement is massive and I don’t really see why you’d force people onto the main road with all the drivers.

“Promoting sustainable forms of transport such as… public transport”

The council want to run the 30 bus down Wick Road.  This is what 4pm on a Wednesday during half term looks like on Cassland Road.  Two buses, trapped among the massive number of rat-running commercial drivers.

CIMG9196

If the council want to increase the use of public transport, they have to help buses move faster.  If people on buses are stuck behind people driving, they can’t go faster.  If the council make space for rat-running drivers, that won’t work.  They would have to block the road to cars and only allow buses down it if they wanted to help public transport.

Conclusion

This scheme offers a couple of extra pedestrian crossing points.  But primarily Hackney Council want to make it easier to drive around Homerton.  The people who will benefit will be the drivers cutting through Homerton each way from outside the borough.  This is what we’re told Hackney Council are aiming for:

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 12.44.20

This scheme is a step away from all of these supposed promises.

I would urge everyone to oppose the scheme and demand something better.  In my next post, I will set out an idea of what this ‘something better’ might look like.  We can create a Wick Road which is an ‘exemplar for sustainable urban living’.

How to create a better Wick Road

  1. Come back and read my next post, on what we could create with this space next week.
  2. Get in touch to say you’re interested and support the campaign.  Comment below, or tweet me (@hazzer2001) and Hackney People on Bikes (@hackneypob) who are leading the campaign.
  3. Attend the consultation event this Tuesday (2nd June, 6pm-8pm; Gascoyne Community Centre) and tell the council it’s not good enough.
  4. Respond to the consultation (you can do it very easily in two minutes online).  Demand a better solution from the council.
  5. Watch for the answer to my Freedom of Information request about the costs and data behind this scheme.

 Appendix – Hackney’s Transport Strategy

For the seriously interested, here are a list of policies from the Draft Transport Strategy for Hackney, with a quick comment from me on each one.  Bizarrely, the only thing on the council’s main website is the 2006-2011 strategy, but these quotations are taken from the draft of the 2014-2024 strategy:

“C22 Pursue a policy of ‘clear space for cyclists’ when designing public realm and traffic schemes on busy routes and where there are high vehicular traffic flows.”

This is a very busy route, but there is no clear space for cyclists, even though the road is massive!

“C22 Look to progress and complete the removal of the network of one-way systems in South Hackney during the lifetime of the strategy.”

I’ll come on to this in my next post, but there is no proposal for the other bits of the one-way system!

“C37 Work with Tower Hamlet [sic], Islington & TfL to create a high quality, direct & safe cycle route between iCity/Olympic Park and Shoreditch/TechCity and onto the West End”

This could be on that route, if the council were willing to allocate space to people on bikes, not just to people in cars.

“C42 Undertake area wide traffic reviews in neighbourhoods still subject to rat-running and consider options for reducing traffic flows, such as filtered permeability cells.”

Unfiltered streets in Homerton are full of dangerous, rat-running drivers.  Wick Road should be tackled as part of an area-wide scheme to address this.

“PT16 Improve bus journey times and reliability through new bus priority measures – completing missing gaps in the network and reviewing bus lane hours.”

This could be a bus priority scheme.  It’s not what I’d prefer for the area, but it could be.  An opportunity missed.

“LN1 Increase the tree canopy coverage in the borough from 18.5% to 25% by 2024.”

New trees aren’t the priority, but still…

“LN9 Restrain the levels of external traffic cutting through the borough and look to reduce the number of trips made by commercial vehicles on our roads.”

This is the crux of it I reckon.  These roads are full of external traffic, but Hackney want to make more space for these drivers!  Rather than taking it away from them.

“W22 Seek to create 10 new public spaces and pocket parks through road space reallocation by 2024”

This is a golden opportunity to put wasted road space to use for people, not for drivers.  But don’t worry, local residents have a plan…

Quietway 2 – an embarrassment to all

Quietways always sounded pretty rubbish.  I use the vestiges of the London Cycle Network frequently – as with so much cycling in London, as a least-worst option – and I never cease to resent the wiggly routes it takes me on and the rat-running drivers I have to contend with in amongst the parked cars.

I thought Quietways might be a step up.  I’ve always seen them as a cop-out, avoiding TfL’s and the boroughs’ responsibility to provide safe space for cycling on main roads.  But at least I thought I might be able to get around the indirect and inconvenient routes safely and comfortably.  Here’s what TfL promise:

Quietways will complement Superhighways by providing a network of cycling routes through less heavily trafficked streets…  They are aimed at new cyclists who want a safe, unthreatening experience.

(London Cycling Design Standards)*

London Cycling Campaign, rightly, expected something clearer than this:

To actually be ‘quiet’ the routes need to restrict through motor traffic (rat-running) and provide separation where required (where speed limits are above 20 mph or traffic volumes are high).

(LCC)

So to Quietway 2

This is a pilot route, being delivered by Camden, Islington and Hackney, with the assistance of Sustrans.  I should probably have seen the writing on the wall when Camden consulted on the Guildford Road section – a choked rat-run and taxi route with car parking space – in which they promised a speed table or two and some painted signs.

Looking through Islington’s Consultation document (and let’s take a moment to note that it’s in nineteen separate pages, such that only really interested people are going to bother), I was disappointed, initially, to note no filtering, just some signs and some new road humps.  Sadly, the next page offered the same.  I got to the third page, and there were some more signs and new road humps…  You get the idea.  Nothing.

Here’s a fairly standard extract, showing the extent of what is to be done:

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Signs and raised entry humps on side roads.

 

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the route as it stands – notably whoever designed it, let me take you down it.  This was yesterday on the way to a meeting – a random Tuesday morning – so unfortunately, some bits which are often horrible and choked were less so.  On the other hand, I got close-passed in an area which is usually fine, so it balances out.  This post focuses on Islington, with two exceptions, but I’ll start with something nice:

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Filtering in De Beauvoir Square – good for skateboarders too.

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Welcome to Islington!  The driver on the left is stationary, of course… (Northchurch Road)

The route takes a dog-leg diversion in the wrong direction and back on to the main road, which I didn’t bother to follow.

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This isn’t on the Quietway, this is the direct route. But it shows you the number of vehicles going down these back roads (and on to Prebend Street, which is on the Quietway). Drivers aren’t happy either – you can’t hear the driver on the right of the picture tell someone on the left to ‘F–k off’ as he passes (Basire Street meeting New North Road)

Back on the proposed ‘Quietway’ route.

 

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Lots of rat-running drivers. (Prebend Street)

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Lots of rat-running commercial drivers (Colebrooke Row)

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Four more rat-running drivers queued up behind people on bikes (Margery Street)

 

 

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See those drivers queuing up opposite – that’s what you’ll be joining to make it here from Camden’s side (Calthorpe Street)

At this point, my camera ran out of battery – which is fine, because this is the borough boundary.

My point is that these routes were all busy.  It’s probably true to say they are “less heavily trafficked streets” but only because the main roads are so heavily ‘trafficked’.  It’s certainly not true that they will offer a “safe, unthreatening experience” as the driver of 7861H was kind enough to demonstrate Middleton Road.

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What happens when you have lots of drivers mixing with people on bikes at a range of speeds? Close passes. And collisions. And injuries. And deaths. 

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Risk dooring or risk being knocked down – not a choice I’d ask a child to make.

[This part of the route, where I was close-passed, may be modally-filtered – although the works notifications have gone up in Hackney Today before we see any plans for this, which makes me nervous].

This new route won’t make it any safer or more pleasant to cycle, because it won’t provide any new space for cycling which isn’t already busy with drivers.  The only people it will help will be people unfamiliar with the route, due to the signs.  But why would anyone else bother with a  round-about route which is neither safe nor pleasant?

There are excellent parallel routes which drivers are free to take.  Islington is encouraging and continuing to allow rat-running commercial drivers to use these back, residential streets.  De Beauvoir shows what could be done here.

At the moment, we are looking at more money spent for absolutely no gain.  TfL can claim they have succeeded – these streets are “less heavily trafficked” – but only by comparison tot he main roads.

Thankfully, Islington claim they are willing to listen.

I would urge everyone reading this to oppose this scheme outright.  The money will be wasted and we will benefit not at all.

In contrast to the consultation plans, the consultation response is very simple.  To finish by the 17th May.

* I’m not even going to get into the ridiculous idea that new cyclists and existing cyclists want different kinds of infrastructure.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Consultation response

I use the routes proposed for the East-West Cycle Superhighway a lot and this is a big step forward for people on bikes and for London.  It’s taken a long time to go through the plans and examine the details – so I thought it might be worth posting this for others to consider and consult.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 1: Tower Hill gyratory
1 Do you support the proposals for Section 1 (Tower Hill gyratory) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 1 (Tower Hill gyratory) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway? :
I use this junction frequently on a bicycle and on foot. These proposal represent a significant improvement to what is currently a terrifying and dangerous junction.
Cycling up Mansell Street, drivers often jostle dangerously over the junction, with each other and with people on bikes aiming for the current advisory lane. This proposal will retain this danger as the mandatory lane starts too far North. I would welcome either starting the lane earlier, or continuous markings across the junction.
This said, I am very pleased at the inclusion of an island to prevent U-turning drivers from swinging into the path of cyclists at the top of the street.
3m seems too narrow for the narrowest points (e.g. the bus-stop bypass) if the cycle tracks are as popular as one would hope.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 2: Lower Thames Street – Tower Hill

2 Do you support the proposals for Section 2 (Lower Thames Street / Tower Hill) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 2 (Lower Thames Street / Tower Hill) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?:
This proposal is a world away from the current lethal jostling with construction lorries, taxis and buses required for people on cycles in this area and I welcome it.
3-3.7m seems very limited, but I suppose it’s a start and this is a very busy area. Nonetheless, I wonder whether removing a lane in each direction might be something to work towards…?
The arrangements for crossing Great Tower Street are unclear (notably, where cyclists are held travelling West at the crossing). How is conflict with buses prevented, for example?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 3: Upper Thames Street (Lambeth Hill – Arthur Street)

3 Do you support the proposals for Section 3 (Upper Thames Street: Lambeth Hill – Arthur Street)?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 3 (Upper Thames Street / Arthur Street)?:
This is a huge improvement on existing provision and I support it as such.
I am against the introduction of cyclist ‘early start’ provisions – a few seconds with motorists racing to get away behind you offers very little – at the cost of always stopping. I am also not clear as to how cyclists turning left onto Southwark Bridge from the new superhighway are provided for.
2.7m around a coach stop for a two way track is a joke.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 4: Upper Thames Street / Puddle Dock / Castle Baynard Street

4 Do you support the proposals for Section 4 (Upper Thames Street/ Puddle Dock/ Castle Baynard Street) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 4 (Castle Baynard Street)?:
This is a big improvement on the existing situation. I am not familiar with Castle Baynard Street – ensuring that it is kept clear (for example, around the conference centre) from taxis and delivery vehicles is likely to be a challenge. I wonder whether it would be more productive to use a permeability treatment on Castle Baynard Street midway along in order to ensure it remains clear of traffic?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 5: Victoria Embankment (Temple Avenue – Blackfriars)

5 Do you support the proposals for Section 5 (Victoria Embankment: Temple Avenue – Blackfriars) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 5 (Victoria Embankment / Blackfriars)?:
I was very nearly killed by an idiot in a van and a hurry in Blackfriars Underpass recently who forced me to the side of the road and then passed me within inches. So it may not be surprising that I am in favour of this proposal. I particularly like the connections with the N/S route, which will begin to create a useful network for cyclists.
The junction arrangements at the slip road connecting the N/S and E/W routes look, frankly, finicky and unclear. Whether this is an issue of signage or, perhaps, an over-reliance on separate signalised lanes I’m not sure. I suspect you can rely on cyclists to find their way through, without separate islands as you need for motorists.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 6: Victoria Embankment / Temple Place east

6 Do you support the proposals for Section 6 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place east) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 6 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place east)?:
This looks like a good, segregated track.
I am unconvinced as to the merits of creating a 2.5-3m kerb to protect a 4m (or less) cycle track. Creating more space for people on bikes is surely a more useful use of space.
I am also unconvinced by the case for raised tables at bus-stop bypasses, particularly those serving only night buses and coaches. Could the whole cycle track not be raised to the same level, gently – at times other than coach stops, this will merely be a hindrance; when coaches have stopped, weight of numbers will lead people to use the whole track to cross anyway.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 7: Victoria Embankment / Temple Place west

7 Do you support the proposals for Section 7 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place west) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 7 (Victoria Embankment / Temple Place west)? :
This is a good proposal. Again, reducing the width of the segregating island and increasing the space available to cyclists would certainly be an improvement.
Is it worth mentioning there should be cycle use of the Garden Bridge here…?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 8: Victoria Embankment / Savoy Place / Savoy Hill / Savoy Street

8 Do you support the proposals for Section 8 (Victoria Embankment / Savoy Place / Savoy Hill / Savoy Street) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 8 (Victoria Embankment / Savoy Place)? :
Again, reduce the kerb-width, increase the cycle track width!
I am not clear how cyclists from Savoy Street are supposed to access the E/W superhighway. Is there a risk of conflict with left-turning motorists?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 9: Victoria Embankment / Northumberland Avenue

9 Do you support the proposals for Section 9 (Victoria Embankment / Northumberland Avenue) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 9 (Victoria Embankment / Northumberland Avenue)?:
Again, reduce the size of the kerb, increase the size of the cycle track
Again, I question the merits of the raised table approach at infrequently used bus stops – raise the whole cycle track and enable crossing all around.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 10: Victoria Embankment / Horse Guards Road

10 Do you support the proposals for Section 10 (Victoria Embankment / Horse Guards Road) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Not Answered

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 10 (Victoria Embankment / Horse Guards Road) :
The cycle lanes on Horse Guards Avenue should begin at the junction, not beyond it. If it were possible to include kerb-segregation for these lanes, that would be appreciated – I am particularly nervous about the actions of taxis in cycle lanes (mandatory white lines notwithstanding).
Otherwise I am in favour of this proposal.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 11: Victoria Embankment / Westminster Bridge

11 Do you support the proposals for Section 11 of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 11 (Victoria Embankment / Westminster Bridge)?:
This seems like a very good solution to a number of issues at this junction. Again, the amount of time spent at traffic light phases may prove an issue for people on bikes. As someone who also uses this area as a pedestrian, I am delighted as to the improvements proposed at this junction for pedestrians. I wonder what prevents conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge crossing – there seems very limited space for cyclists waiting to turn right onto the Embankment – could the crossing be moved further South?
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 12: Parliament Square/ Great George Street

12 Do you support the proposals for Section 12 (Parliament Square / Great George Street) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 12 (Parliament Square)?:
Again, as someone who has had to cross those five lanes of traffic to cycle around this roundabout, going as fast as I can to avoid the taxis and cars behind me, this is a massive improvement. I am also pleased to see pedestrian access to Parliament Square being proposed.
I am opposed to the use of ‘early-start’ facilities, which provide for additional delay with limited safety benefits. I’ve not seen the monitoring report on Bow, but I have read this http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/bow-roundabout-cycle-priority-lights.html which suggests that they are not as good as they’re cracked up to be.
It is very disappointing that no link on to Cycle Superhighway 8 just a little further along, and, indeed, by narrowing the road on St Margaret’s Street, that people on bikes are placed in the path of the steady flow of taxis and motorists along this road. This seems a massive opportunity missed to start to connect up genuine, safe cycle networks.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 14: Hyde Park Corner
13 Do you support the proposals for Section 14 (Hyde Park Corner) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 14 (Hyde Park Corner)?:
A number of improvements here which will make this crossing far more pleasant.
Again, the cycle track should not be as narrow as 2.7m, particularly if existing cycle tracks are being converted to footway.
Being able to make more of these crossings in fewer movements as a pedestrian will be an improvement.
East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 15: Hyde Park

14 Do you support the proposals for Section 15 (Hyde Park) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Not sure

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 15 (Hyde Park)?:
Suggestions – the track needs to be accessible 24 hours a day. Quite why the route can’t run up Park Lane I’m not entirely clear.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 16: Lancaster Gate
15 Do you support the proposals for Section 16 (Lancaster Gate) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Partially

16 Do you prefer route option 1 (Bathurst Street) or route option 2 (Stanhope Terrace) for southbound cyclists?
Option 1 (Bathurst Street)

17 Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 16 (Lancaster Gate)?
Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 16 (Lancaster Gate)?:
While the provision of segregated tracks through this area is clearly a huge improvement on existing facilities, this whole arrangement appears to be complicated
and fiddly. Further simplification, with fewer traffic signals, would seem desirable.
There appears to be a left-hook risk at Hyde Park Gardens with motorists turning across the ‘superhighway.’ The paint should be replaced with kerb/bollard segregation to encourage drivers not to cut the corner and to reduce their speed.
The route on West down Bayswater Road past Lancaster Gate has a pinch point before widening again to two lanes – this should be removed.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 17: Westbourne Terrace
18 Do you support the proposals for Section 17 (Westbourne Terrace) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Partially

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 17 (Westbourne Terrace)?:
The segregated tracks are clearly good and appear to be of a fair width.
The junctions are a bit of a dog’s breakfast of old-fashioned and dangerous design. Inviting vehicles to merge with people on bikes into a left-hand turning lane is a recipe for fear and disaster and should be removed. Worse still is the build out on cyclists’ left to push them towards drivers, just at the point the kerb-segregation disappears.
Providing a disappearing second lane East of Cleveland Terrace invites the unpleasant experience of being trapped and surrounded by merging drivers in a hurry to undercut vehicles in the outside lane of the kind which makes CS2 so vile.
Please amend this design, or, if necessary, wait for the Westway section.

East-West Cycle Superhighway Section 18: Westway – Acton

19 Do you support the proposals for Section 18 (Westway – Acton) of the East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the proposals for Section 18 (Westway)?:
Overall Proposals

20 Do you support TfL’s overall proposals for a new East-West Cycle Superhighway?
Yes

Do you have any comments on the overall proposals?:
I have cycled along almost every part of this route on numerous occasions. Almost without exception, I have found this to be terrifying, polluted and dangerous. I would never, for example, cycle with my girlfriend along much of this route. These proposals are a massive step forward for London and I am delighted about them – I would happily use them myself on a far more frequent basis, and would be equally happy to encourage relatives less fit than me to do the same – so the health and wellbeing benefits are likely to be enormous.
Most of the design far outstrips almost everything I’ve ever seen proposed by TfL and the planners should be commended for their boldness and understanding of what safe and pleasant cycling requires.

This said, I have two underlying concerns about the plans, namely:
1) Width. For something which will be a huge benefit – the only safe East-West cycle route through the city, three metres in both directions, or even 2.7m at narrow points, is incredibly limiting and I suspect the route will soon be overwhelmed. It’s worth remembering that, although this takes away one lane along most of its route from motorists, every other road through the City remains available to them (and unsegregated for cyclists). Would a lane in each direction be too much to ask? I recognise that this is a big step forward for TfL but I suspect you will be back at the drawing board, as mass cycling is unleashed, in a few years time, to make this much bigger. I also fear that this may design in conflict unnecessarily for cyclists.

2) Traffic light phases. The scheme relies very heavily on traffic signals – I haven’t counted, but scores along the whole route. The phasing of the lights is not specified in the design. This can cause serious problems if motor vehicle traffic flow is used as the key factor. Currently, along CS3, beside Cable Street for example, cyclists appear to receive something like nine seconds in about every ninety. It’s not enough, and it’s not fair! It’s important that the wait times for people on bikes are accorded equal (or better) priority to those of drivers, rather than leaving cyclists idling beside drivers and tempted to treat the signals with contempt.

Nonetheless, these proposals would be a great benefit, and I wish TfL the best in implementing them.