Archive for the 'Transport' Category

URGENT: Say ‘no’ to a cycling ban on Oxford Street

TLDR: TfL’s proposals to pedestrianise Oxford Street include no provision for cycling. This will create a serious, permanent hole in the cycling network in the West End. Decisively reject the plans by replying to the consultation with a firm ‘No’ and giving lack of provision for cycling as your reasoning.

I’d like to coin Mustafa’s first law of cycle routes: if there’s a Roman road from A to B, that’s where the cycle route should go.

The Romans did not just have the foresight to build roads that were direct, and with minimal gradients. Two millennia of urban development has grown up around them and they now form the contours and skeletons of towns and cities across the country. Today’s Oxford Street is a key stretch of the Via Trinobantina – the Roman road connecting Calleva Atrebatum in Hampshire to the settlement that grew into Colchester. Development throughout the centuries, since, has taken into account it being there. Look on any street map and Oxford Street is, quite clearly, the main East-West artery through the West End (and more broadly part of the main east-west route through London). Although private cars have been banned from much of Oxford Street since the 1970s it remains signposted as the A40, precisely because there is no decent parallel route.

TfL’s plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street make no allowance for maintaining this ancient, and irreplaceable thoroughfare for cycling. They are proposing to ban cycling with only a vague notion of a “parallel route” some time in the future. Even if such a route was possible, without large scale destruction of private property to refashion the West End of London, it is scandalous that cycling be banned from Oxford Street before such a route be built. It is totally at odds with promoting the growth of cycling to require cyclists to go, literally, round the houses. Moreover, it’s a ban that is likely to be flouted causing unnecessary conflict with pedestrians and making more progress difficult.

It’s therefore imperative that the scheme be stopped. Some cycling campaigners seem to be under the illusion that if they respond ‘Yes but…’ that somehow they may be able to salvage something – they are deluded. Campaigners are always expected to say “Yes but…” because we always want to push the boundaries of what’s possible. A “Yes but…” can easily be dismissed. The only way to send a powerful signal that we expect the scheme to change is to confidently, and clearly respond ‘No, not good enough”. And that’s what I urge anyone who cares about utility cycling in London to do.

Below is a screenshot of my response. Respond by midnight on 3rd January 2018.

 

Can you spare 30 mins for the Big Push? #SignForCycling

We’re now entering a critical period in the Sign for Cycling campaign. Can you spare 30 mins to help out at one of our ‘Big Push’ flyering sessions across Central London this week and next?
We’re less than 2 weeks away from the Sign for Cycling hustings to be co-hosted by LCC and The Times. We’ve had good success, so far, winning pledges from the Lib Dem, Green and Women’s Equality Party Candidates. However, the two men most likely to win have yet to commit and are making worrying statements  Make no mistake: the hard-won progress from our Love London, Go Dutch campaign in 2012 could grind to a halt – or even be reversed, if we don’t secure a full commitment from the next Mayor.
Whilst we’re making some headway in our discussions with the Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith campaigns we know that it’s volume of signatures that will sway them. The most efficient way for us to collect as many signatures as possible is to sell the campaign to ordinary people cycling on the streets. Social media is great, but I know from my own experience helping to flyer Tavistock Place this morning that we’re receiving a positive reception from many cyclists who have yet to otherwise be exposed to the campaign.
So please try to take half an hour out of your schedule over the next fortnight. If you can’t confirm in advance, no problem – just turn up and help.
If you can’t make any of the central London locations, you could still help us collect signatures in other ways. As examples, you could:
1) collect signatures from your neighbours or work colleagues - save the sign-up form on your smartphone or tablet to make this easier.
2) Working with your local LCC borough group to organise your own signature collection locally.
3) E-mailing 10 friends and family members to ask them to sign up at www.signforcycling.org

‘Jewish Manifesto’ calls for ‘faster and safer cycle network’

Just spotted this in the Transport section of the London Jewish Forum‘s Manifesto for the 2012 London Mayoral election:

10. Year of the Bike

11. Big Green Jewish – a coalition of organisations in the Jewish Community concerned about environmental issues have declared 2012 the ‘Year of the Bike’. Tackling the impact of transport on the environment more generally, they are campaigning within the community to take pledges on decreasing their carbon footprints by making greener transport decisions, including taking up cycling as a viable and safe alternative when commuting.

12. The proposed Cycle Superhighway 11, running from Marylebone will stop at border of Camden and Barnet, avoiding the Brent Cross Cricklewood development, and not crossing the North Circular, the biggest physical barrier to cycling in North West London. TfL should seriously consider extending the route of CS11 to ensure that residents in Barnet can benefit from better access to a safe and faster cycle network.

I notice that they have Breakfast meetings organised with each of the main Mayoral candidates for Jewish Londoners to come and express their concerns directly. Perhaps one or two of my Jewish readers might wish to attend and and press the case for cycling?

The first of LJF’s candidates breakfasts is on 17 April with Boris Johnson in Golders Green. You can register for the breakfast with Boris and find the dates for the other candidates on the LJF web site.

You may also be interested in the Rabbi Relay Ride.

Finally a belated ‘Chag Pesach Sameach’ to my Jewish readers!

Why we need [to] clear space for cycling on London’s main roads

In July, London Cycling Campaign (LCC) members voted overwhelmingly (58.4%) for ‘Go Dutch‘ to be our single-issue demand for the 2012 Mayoral elections. Our chosen strapline is ‘clear space for cycling on main roads’ – which has attracted some negative comment from those who consider it ambiguous or dilatory in some way. There is particular criticism at the choice of the word “clear”.

Personally, I think the choice of the word ‘clear’ (first proposed by Ben Tansley, Co-ordinator of Brent LCC) is a master stroke. What some seem to have missed is precisely that “clear” is deliberately ambiguous: it is both an adjective and a verb – and the latter form is the most powerful.

Let’s stick the adjective, first. To me, “clear space for cycling” means:

  • Clear from the dangers of cycling in motor traffic: On the busiest roads I expect this to mean separate bike paths, on other roads it might be possible to divert motor vehicles elsewhere (e.g. by closing to through-traffic); most importantly it means not having to play chicken at junctions.
  • Clear from conflict with pedestrians: No-one wants any more painted pavement rubbish.
  • Clear from obstructions: Cycle paths that are properly maintained, free of debris, and certainly no parked cars.
  • Clearly visible: Well sign-posted so it’s easy to know where I’m supposed to go.
  • Clear air: Always a relative thing in London but… cycle routes shouldn’t take me through a load of smog where there’s a convenient, non motor-vehicle clogged alternative.
  • Clear from weather effects: Unlike Islington, remember that cycle paths need proper drainage; unlike Camden, remember to grit them in winter!
  • Clear from slower cyclists in my way: wide enough for me to overtake on my commute to work.

    That’s just a few off-the-top-of my head. I’m sure one could think up many more and indeed LCC will be publishing our comprehensive policy position for Go Dutch, in due course.

    But remember, “clear” is also a verb – that’s where it comes in most useful: Proper cycling facilities cannot be made from thin air. On London’s roads that means space needs to be taken away from other purposes (motor traffic lanes, on-street parking, overly-wide footpaths, etc.) in order to provide good quality, cycle paths that most people would feel safe riding on. The Mayor of London’s Cycling Superhighways have been poor primarily because that political will isn’t there to take road space away from private cars. Lobbying highway engineers to create good facilities is like banging one’s head against a brick wall when the politicians are unwilling to provide them with the road space to do so.

    The cycle paths of Copenhagen are the most visible aspect of that city’s cycling revolution. However, what they hide is the more important enabler – the removal of on-street car parking that previously used to be where many of those cycle paths are today. I can’t find a reference just now but I believe the then Mayor of Copenhagen cited ‘on-street car parking’ as both the single biggest barrier to cycling – and its removal as the single most important step they took. Without creating space they could not have built those cycle paths – which whilst good are still not up to the standards of the Netherlands.

    How much is it right to constrain car use to provide for good cycling facilities? Rightly this is a political issue. Car use is an important part of life, especially in outer London, and politicians risk voters’ wrath if they are seen to unfairly constrain people’s freedom. However there are some points that our representatives need to digest and understand:

    1. Current levels of car use are unsustainable. As London’s population inevitably grows (and remember the working population that commutes in from the shires is far greater than the residential population) we have to find better ways of making use of scarce road space. Private cars just take up far too much of it.
    2. Increasing cycling is much cheaper than building mass transit – and even then there are only so many tube lines we can dig.
    3. Londoner’s want to cycle more but don’t feel it is safe to do so. Transport for London’s 2008 survey showed that 58% of residents of outer London wanted to cycle more and that 32% of outer London households don’t own a car. Providing good cycling facilities will give all these people the freedom to cycle safely.

    Ultimately, the thrust of the campaign is about the verb, not the adjective: we are asking the next Mayor (and the wider public) to clear space for cycling on London’s main roads. We don’t want the same old junk in the gutter.

    Anyone still unclear?