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LCC calls on Secretary of State and Mayor of London to act on Kensington High Street decision

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 11:03

No safe cycle tracks on the most dangerous road in the borough

London Cycling Campaign condemns the decision made today by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) to not reinstate the protected cycle tracks on High Street Kensington, and calls on the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, to take immediate action.

The council leadership team chose instead to 'commission research' into post-Covid transport patterns, starting in the summer, an options described by local campaigners Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea as 'kicking the can down the longest road'.

LCC Healthy Streets Campaigner Clare Rogers said, “The cycle tracks, even though they were only in for a few weeks, proved a crucial safety measure for thousands of people daily, both on a strategic east-west route for London and for local trips such as families riding to school, on what was, and now is again, the most dangerous road in the borough for cycling. Kensington and Chelsea is clearly incapable of behaving as a responsible local authority for this highway, or following its own policies on road safety and the climate emergency. The Secretary of State for Transport and Mayor of London must address boroughs like this one, that act against or ignore government, regional and their own policies.”

Rogue boroughs must face action

The Mayor and Secretary of State must act for several reasons in LCC’s view:

  • Kensington & Chelsea’s decision has an impact far beyond its own boundaries. The absence of a safe east-west route through the borough leaves a dangerous gap in London’s strategic cycling network. The removal of the tracks risks the lives of school staff, journalists and NHS keyworkers who have all supported it and were using it.
  • The decision goes directly against government policy during the Covid crisis, to reallocate road space and expand protected space for cycling in response to the pandemic. It also goes against the Mayor’s Transport Strategy aims, including the goal of shifting 80% of journeys to foot, bike or public transport. And the decision goes against RBKC’s own policies on climate, road safety and clean air.
  • The decision goes against the wishes of Londoners, including RBKC residents. So far, more than 5,000 people from all over London have emailed the council in support of the cycle tracks via LCC’s website. And an independent survey of RBKC residents conducted on behalf of the Mayor found a majority of residents supported the scheme.
  • The council has failed to listen to the Department for Transport, Transport for London, Imperial College London, the Albert Hall, Waitrose, Peter Jones and more than 70 other institutions, businesses and organisations.
  • Even RBKC’s own evidence in its officers’ report shows that the scheme, even when only partially in, had not caused congestion and had been very well used.

Today’s decision is sadly not a surprise. The officers’ report released last week was in our view heavily biased against the scheme and had serious omissions and errors.

The original decision to remove the cycle tracks – taken without a formal meeting or minutes – was considered unlawful on multiple counts by the Environmental Law Foundation, acting for Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea, a group of local volunteers who have been working closely with LCC. This council can now expect to face legal action from a number of organisations including Better Streets.

Categories: London

Huge majority support Royal Parks schemes

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 15:13

 

Great news: an overwhelming majority of respondents agree with LCC that parks are for people, not cars. Bad news: despite those results, The Royal Parks are set to meekly roll over the trials of current schemes for another year, rather than make these schemes permanent now, and add to them.

Another year of dangerous Royal Parks roads?

The Royal Parks has received almost 18,000 responses to consultations across changes to five of its iconic parks in London that were subject to trial restrictions to motor traffic over the last six months. And good news is that in every consultation, a strong majority of respondents supported the moves to restrict motor traffic from the park. That's in part thanks to you and LCC's campaigning on this issue.

Public opinion ignored

The good news is that means these schemes have a real public mandate to move forward and again people have spoken to say car cut-throughs in parks make no sense. However, the battle sadly isn't over. As a result of the response, rather than make the schemes permanent, or even increase restrictions as many of us called for, The Royal Parks have rather meekly just rolled the scheme trials over to March 2022 to “collect additional data to ensure a clear picture of the impact of the schemes, before determining whether they should be made permanent”.

The response from The Royal Parks is so weak that it fails to acknowledge that while several sections of road in central London parks are set in the trials to remain closed to motor traffic during the weekends, another section of road on South Carriage Drive is effectively closed 24/7 at the moment as well.

A bad development for action on climate and the pandemic

The Royal Parks has an urgent and serious role to play in London’s response to the climate crisis. Another year without further action is another year of emissions, pollution, road danger, inactivity tolerated in its spaces. And while the Royal Parks claim schemes need to be monitored with post-Covid London traffic levels we would argue the reverse.

If the Royal Parks waits until its remaining through routes clog up with motor traffic from those avoiding public transport, it will choke the potential of these routes for walking and cycling for transport, leisure and fitness. And it will be far harder to reduce through motor traffic with more restrictions later than it will be to stop that motor traffic ever returning to the parks now.

What LCC wants to see next

The full results of the consultations give The Royal Parks a clear mandate, again, alongside their own policies, to act now. To build on the good work of these trials and to move them on this year, not delay and dither. And thats what we'll keep pushing them to do.

The results in detail Bushy Park

The lowest support rate for schemes was for the removal of through motor traffic from Bushy Park, which faced a concerted campaign of opposition against the proposals from some drivers. Even there, however, 56% supported the trial approach, and the only group responding strongly negatively to the scheme were “those using the park for driving through by car”, 93% of whom opposed changes (disabled visitors did raise significant concerns about access and congestion on surrounding roads, also).

Other parks - overwhelmingly in favour of ending through-traffic

Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’ Park lower level interventions were supported by over 70% of respondents and calls for further restrictions were the “most common theme in the comments”. Greenwich Park’s removal of through motor traffic got 81% support. And Richmond Park saw the largest overall response with nearly 11,000 responses, and 71% overall support (with majority support among the 43% of responses from local residents too). Unsurprisingly the most common comments on Richmond Park were also calls for the total removal of all through motor traffic, with access retained to car parks, particularly for disabled people.

Regent's Park

Despite not being one of the listed five parks with schemes, hundreds of emails were also sent to the Royal Parks on the issue of through motor traffic in Regent’s Park too.

Summing up

This consultation reaffirms what we already knew: Londoners want their parks for people, not through-traffic. We will continue to campaign for preventible road danger to be ended in our city's scarce green spaces.

Thank you to everyone who joined our action late last year. We will keep you informed of developments on social media, in our free newsletter, and our quarterly member's magazine, London Cyclist, posted to all LCC members. If you've not seen it already, watch the short video showcasing the situation in Richmond Park with vlogger Francis Cade, below.

Categories: London

Motor traffic down around Railton LTN, says Lambeth

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 15:15

 

Lambeth council has released the first results of traffic monitoring around the Railton Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) it installed in June 2020. And motor traffic levels have plunged across the area following implementation, including on nearby main roads, and taking into account a new “baseline” for Covid.

Obviously, Covid and associated lockdowns are having all sorts of impacts on car use and motor traffic levels across London, but the approach Lambeth has used to create a new baseline based on traffic counters in use constantly across the borough shows it’s possible, despite the pandemic, to show that schemes are successfully resulting in getting more people walking and cycling, and cutting car use and car traffic volumes in the area. Again – the evidence mounts that LTNs particularly are not the cause of traffic chaos and are hugely positive overall for Londoners.

The results

The results, according to Lambeth’s monitoring page, so far are:

Within the LTN, traffic volumes versus Covid-adjusted baseline:

  • Car: -58%
  • Cycle: +51%
  • Goods Vehicle: -43%

On the edges of the LTN, traffic volumes versus Covid-adjusted baseline:

  • Car: -21%
  • Cycle: +17%
  • Goods Vehicle: -14%

Overall, across the area, traffic volumes versus Covid-adjusted baseline:

  • Car: -31%
  • Cycle: +32%
  • Goods Vehicle: -23% 
The ‘new normal’

The baseline was calculated to eliminate the impact of Covid on motor traffic across the borough in general and was “calculated for each [count point] based on the difference between current background data and historic background data, both of which come from TfL-owned [counters] which have collected continuous data since at least January 2017.

Negatives?

Rattray Road was the only of the 17 sites counted that experienced a significant percent growth in motor vehicles – a 101% increase in cars, but from a very low base (602 cars daily baseline), and nearly the same percent rise in goods vehicles, from an extremely low base (51 baseline daily), but an even higher rise in cycling (also from a very low base). Coldharbour Lane saw one site counts rise slightly overall, but overall counts for two points on Coldharbour appear slightly down.

Since monitoring, further changes have been proposed including a no entry on Rattray to deal with displacement there.

Categories: London

K&C residents want cycle tracks back says independent survey

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 20:10

An independent survey of 1,000 residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC), carried out for Transport for London (TfL) shows the majority support reinstating the Kensington High Street cycle tracks, undermining a key reason given by the council for removing them (before they’d even been fully installed).

In December, RBKC removed the protected bike lanes that had been in for just seven weeks, citing opposition from businesses and residents. Yet the survey by market research company ICM Unlimited found 56 per cent of surveyed residents back the tracks, compared to just 30 per cent who oppose them.

Asked about safer cycle routes across the borough in general, 65 per cent were supportive and only 16 per cent were opposed. Even asked specifically about the council introducing “protected cycle lanes on main roads”, 55 per cent of residents supported the approach, while less than a third opposed.

These figures build on data showing that the Kensington High Street tracks were well used, with more than 3,000 cycle journeys a day. Their reinstatement is now being called for by a coalition of more than 70 organisations (and rising) drawn together by Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea, including more than a dozen local schools, NHS trusts and universities.

Widespread support among institutions and indeed businesses along Kensington High Street itself is unsurprising given how many workers, students and were using the tracks to cycle in the borough, and given that prior to the tracks going in, the road was one of the most dangerous in the borough, with 15 people killed or seriously injured while walking or cycling here over the past three years.

TfL has also released data suggesting that talk of increased congestion from the cycle tracks was misplaced. TfL bus journey times along the corridor in 2019 were just over 5 minutes per km; in the first week after the tracks were installed in October 2020, bus journey times were similar at 5.5 minutes per km; and in the two weeks prior to the removal of the cycle tracks, journey times were similar to the same time last year, around 4.75 minutes per km.

Data versus politics

The welter of data and evidence that backs the introduction of the scheme and its retention, and indeed highlights a stark difference between what the council says residents think, and what residents surveyed actually say, highlights the council’s poor record on and approach to consulting residents.

In 2019 the council blocked TfL plans for safer walking and cycling measures on Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate, a route that has seen hundreds of people seriously injured in collisions, after objections from residents associations - and before the TfL consultation had run its course. In 2020 the Kensington High Street tracks were removed without any consultation at all; indeed, without any formal meeting or discussion inside the council whatsoever.

The results of the survey not only throws into doubt the methods used by RBKC to consult and engage with residents, but the borough’s over-reliance on the views of residents’ associations that clearly do not represent the borough’s residents as a whole, and the borough’s unwillingness to use good evidence, data and its own policies to inform its political decision-making processes. As a result, the borough faces several potential legal challenges over the decision (or lack thereof) to pull the scheme before it was even complete.

In what appears to be an attempt to dodge these legal challenges, on 17 March the council will “revisit” its decision to remove the cycle tracks. London Cycling Campaign continues to call for these to be reinstated. RBKC has said repeatedly it wants to tackle road danger, it has declared a climate emergency and it wishes to be a ”leader in active travel”.

Reinstating protected cycle lanes on this key route will demonstrate the council’s commitment to all of those issues. Failure to do so will demonstrate the council’s words are meaningless and that it is wildly out of touch with the wishes of its own residents.

Want to add your voice?

Please visit this page on Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea’s website:

betterstreets4kc.org.uk/campaigns/high-street-kensington

Categories: London

LTN London 2020 roll-out was socially equitable, says new study

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 10:54

 

A new study of the rollout of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) by boroughs during 2020 under the Mayor’s “Streetspace” plans, has shown that these schemes delivered positive, socially just outcomes across London. The study was by renowned transport academic Professor Rachel Aldred of University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy, and colleagues.

The study looked at over 70 new LTN schemes successfully delivered during March-September 2020 and still in place in October. Topline results were:

  • “Across London, people in deprived areas were much more likely to live in a new LTN than people in less deprived areas.
  • “Across London, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people were slightly more likely to live in a new LTN than White people.
  • “Individual districts varied widely: more deprived or BAME people were more likely to live in an LTN in some districts, less likely in others.
  • “At the micro-level, LTN residents were demographically similar to neighbours in immediately adjacent areas.”
How the study was done

The study matched Census “Output Areas” (OAs) of around 300 people to areas inside or mostly inside LTN schemes (following a “sensitivity analysis that found a near-identical distribution of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics when focusing only on OAs 100% inside an LTN”) and to areas within 500m, and matched these areas to Census 2011 data on age, ethnicity, disability, employment and car ownership, as well as to the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 data. The study also “compared individuals living in OAs 100% inside an LTN with individuals living in OAs that were 0% inside an LTN but that touched an LTN boundary road.”

Borough variations

What was notable from the study, apart from the clear implication that LTNs put in during Streetspace were socially equitable, was the variation of schemes by borough. Ten boroughs did no new schemes during the study period, and two (Redbridge and Wandsworth) ripped theirs out. However, of the remaining 21, the amount done and the level of social equity delivered varied hugely.

Greenwich only covered 1% of residents, Hackney covered 17%. And Hackney’s schemes were more strongly socially equitable, while Lambeth, Croydon, Harrow, Brent and Waltham Forest’s were clearly socially equitable too. However, Ealing, Lewisham, Enfield, Greenwich and to a lesser extent Hammersmith & Fulham’s were less so, with Islington and Hounslow delivering socially just LTNs on indices of deprivation, but less so on BAME populations.

The report highlights that some of the overall result here is on the basis that those boroughs with the wealthiest residents, with a lower proportion of BAME people, often did no LTNs at all; and that some of the variation by boroughs is down to political approach and on-the-ground specifics. For instance, “the selected areas in Enfield included good public engagement; creating a more coherent cycling network; and 'equity by road type' in the sense that that the boundary roads surrounding LTNs had themselves benefited from interventions… Enfield's planned 2021 LTNs will substantially redress this by focusing on poorer parts” of the borough. The role of implementing schemes in a crisis is also mentioned: “The LTNs implemented first may… have been ones that happened to be easiest… to do quickly, rather than reflecting… fuller plans for further measures.”

What does all this mean?

It means that LTNs aren’t going in in areas vastly different from the neighbourhoods around them. It means these aren’t schemes for affluent white folks at the expense of poor Black, Asian or other ethnic minority Londoners.

This evidence sits alongside evidence on the long-term positive impacts of LTNs and indeed the lack of long-term negatives. Remember, these are schemes that reduce car use and ownership, cut crime, pollution (including on nearby main roads), don’t worsen congestion on nearby main roads and increase walking and cycling rates, as well as community connections.

Probably the most important thing however to take from this study is that there are lots of boroughs failing to deliver LTNs – and the very same boroughs are almost universally failing to deliver other schemes, including main road schemes too. It is clearly vitally important that those boroughs that are delivering LTNs deliver ones in a socially just manner – that prioritise those worst impacted by the effects of motor traffic and least able to avoid such effects. But it’s also vitally important that every London borough gets on with reducing motor traffic across London fast.

How do we best get progress for our communities? Not by fighting for nothing. But by making what is done as good as possible and getting more of it fast. The roll-call of boroughs that failed their residents during Streetspace on LTN delivery is: Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Haringey, Havering, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea, Redbridge, Wandsworth and Westminster. Of course, that roll call is almost identical to the roll-call of boroughs that have done virtually nothing to curb car use and enable more walking and cycling for many years.

Of those boroughs, Barnet did implement the A1000 cycle tracks, but TfL does appear to have done most of the work on that; Haringey are now beginning to move on schemes, but during Streetspace thus far delivered a small amount of cycle track with car parking in using “mini orcas”; Kensington & Chelsea ripped their cycle track out etc. The reality, clearly, is those boroughs with the political will to deliver LTNs are generally moving to do so in a socially equitable manner – the boroughs without any political will don’t just fail to deliver LTNs – they fail to curb motor traffic for any of their residents.

As our Senior Infrastructure Campaigner, Simon Munk, says in The Guardian today: “The damaging impact of unnecessary motor traffic across London is felt unequally, and schemes like these help address this.”

Categories: London