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Hard to crack – the challenges of the sustainable secondary school run

Thu, 07/02/2020 - 14:21

Back in 2018, one London secondary school hit the headlines around cycling. They were demanding that kids could only cycle to their school if they had a licence plate. Not only was this tarnishing all the kids that cycled to school with the same ‘anti-social’ brush, but it sent a clear message to anyone thinking of starting to cycle to school  that cycling’s a problem, and not something to be encouraged.

Unfortunately, this is too often the story when it comes to secondary schools. Primary schools are leaping forward with schemes to encourage walking, cycling and scooting, with ‘School Streets’ proving highly popular and successful. During school drop off and pick up times, the school road is temporarily closed, discouraging driving, pavement parking and idling, and clearing the way for kids and parents to arrive/depart safely at school on foot or on two wheels. The numbers have bloomed in London, with parents, school staff and local councils working together to make the school gate a cleaner, healthier place.

The same cannot be said for secondary schools. Cycling rates drop off during the teenage years, and the majority of kids aged 11 – 16 aren’t getting the levels of physical activity they need to stay healthy, especially girls. There are a huge number of barriers to teenage kids cycling, from access to bikes to social and peer pressures. But there don’t seem to be many secondary schools keen to tackle this issue, going so far as to add to the burden by demonizing cycling and fighting against cycling infrastructure. The light bulb moment – connecting the improved health of the kids, the lowering of lethal levels of air pollution and responding to the climate emergency that primary schools have had, just hasn’t yet happened at the secondary level.

Covid and the loss of the free bus pass

The Covid-19 crisis has added another dimension to the secondary school run. Come September, schools are expected to be accepting 100% of pupils again. But with social distancing in place for the foreseeable, capacity on the public transport network will be reduced. Buses in particular would be swamped, with 1.5m journeys on London buses on a normal weekday made by school children. Even if social distancing rules are relaxed to 1m then bus capacity and teenage kids will not mix well for the foreseeable future.

On top of that, one of the conditions attached to the Governments bailout of TfL earlier this year was to scrap free travel for under-18s. There are likely to be a number of kids now who can’t afford to take the bus to school – even if there was capacity for them to do so. This will cause further hardship for already disadvantaged communities, especially BAME ones.

This isn’t an impossible task. In the Netherlands, 75% of teenagers cycle to school – girls and boys. But it will mean we need a radical re-think of the secondary school run, and everyone will have a part to play.

Boroughs

Need to:

  1. Provide priority cycle corridors on main roads towards secondary schools. After all, many secondaries are on main roads and many children will be having to travel far enough they’ll need direct main road routes.
  2. Provide funding for bike training to all secondary school pupils who want it
  3. Invest in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods surrounding schools to make it easier and more comfortable to walk and cycle
  4. Arrange access to bikes for children from lower income households with ‘try before you buy’ schemes or dockless hire programmes

Secondary Schools

They need to:

  1. Start providing secure places to store bikes
  2. Training and advice for all kids wanting to start cycling, so they feel safe and comfortable cycling on the road.  
  3. Partner with LCC to understand how they can support their staff and students to cycle safely to school.
  4. Advocate actively for and support safe cycling routes to school, working with local LCC groups to ensure that their schools is a key destination in the local cycling network.

The Mayor

Historically, the focus on segregated cycle corridors has been on commuter trips, but with work patterns changing, and the urgent need to get kids to school, schools need to become key destination points in the cycle network. In the short term, the Mayor needs to repurpose the bus network into safe school corridors. These are key corridors that kids will still need to use to get to school, but they will need to do so safely on bikes. That means:

  1. Motorbikes and taxis should not have access to the bus lane at peak school start and end times.
  2. Fix key junctions around schools need to be improved for walking and cycling – particularly in outer London.

Longer term, we need to see schools better planned into the emerging cycle network.

Webinar, Friday 3 July

Promoting active travel to secondary schools is a complex and under discussed topic. We want to start changing that, and our first step is running a webinar this Friday on the sustainable school run. Register for your place here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qWoc4yUqRMGW7h2-ay6nmw

Some of the topics we’re likely to cover include:

  • Data and planning gaps around secondary schools and active travel
  • Road danger and teenagers – risk, “forgiving” road design and teenage kicks
  • Who speaks and who listens in road and town centres, and who gets to be where – the voice of youth and inclusive spaces
  • Gender, physical activity and cycling
  • Teachers, car parking and staff attitudes to and journeys to and from schools
  • Linking youth concerns about their future and climate, the curriculum and how teenagers want to get to school

But we’d love to hear your questions too – put them in the chat at the start of the webinar or throughout!

Categories: London

£22m for London borough active travel schemes (so far)

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 12:18

The first three weeks of TfL disbursing active travel funds to London boroughs has seen 24 boroughs funded to a total of £22.26m, Laura Laker writing for Road.cc has revealed.

If your borough hasn’t had much funding yet, or it has, now is the perfect moment to push our #StopTheTrafficTide action to members: https://membership.lcc.org.uk/help-london-stop-tide-motor-traffic-returning

1 minute read
  • £22m to boroughs in 3 to 6 week programme, with more funding to come, half of funding so far for strategic cycle routes, with over £4m on low traffic neighbourhoods
  • Lack of clarity so far on interface between DfT and TfL, further funding, as well as coherence and quality of schemes
  • Pace still a major concern for boroughs and TfL
  • London Assembly member Caroline Russell points out that overall active travel funding for boroughs has faced huge cuts
  • Do our #StopTheTrafficTide action please
TfL, DfT, boroughs oh my!

The £22.26m is nearly half of the pot TfL has to use itself, or disburse to boroughs, on active travel schemes during the crisis in the first round of funding. It’s unclear how further DfT funding to London will be disbursed through the rest of the financial year. TfL has received an initial £55m for TLRN (red route) and borough schemes in the DfT’s first tranche of funding from which this £22m is drawn. DfT also gave £1.7m to TfL specifically on top and has put aside £100,000 for each borough too to bid for. A further £20m is set aside for London from the DfT by the end of financial year. But it’s unclear if any further active travel money will go to TfL on top or not. Three further weeks of funding rounds are expected from TfL to the boroughs in this first tranche.

Of the £22.26m, half goes to strategic cycle routes, over £4m going to low traffic neighbourhoods, over £3m to town centre schemes and £1.75m to “School Streets”. Many of the larger allocations by borough appear to be to finish off existing schemes that have already been started on.

The known unknowns

Our infrastructure campaigner Simon Munk is quoted extensively in Laura Laker's piece. The concerns he has raised thus far are:

  • How are DfT and TfL funding streams aligning? No one appears to have heard yet on DfT funding bids, but obviously schemes should connect up even when they come from different funding pots, and should align in terms of objectives, quality etc.
  • Some of the boroughs already funded have no track record of delivering the types of schemes they’ve got funding for. Some of the boroughs funded have failed to achieve high-quality schemes in the past. Some even have history for squandering funds and/or being openly hostile to walking and cycling schemes of any merit in the past. Simon in the piece says these boroughs will need “watching like hawks” on pace, quality, value-for-money.
  • Obviously with only half the money disbursed and more elements of bids already made potentially still to be funded, the funding picture is very partial. But it is a concern that boroughs who have been delivering bold schemes, rapidly, in this crisis, in some cases have received far less than boroughs who have done little to nothing thus far and don’t have a great track record of delivery either. Of course it may also be the bid timing, or the bids put in, but it’s worrying that proactive boroughs such as Tower Hamlets have received so little thus far.
  • Thus far there is also little clarity as to how these schemes have been assessed not just on quality, but also on coherence. We urgently need a network of cycle routes, as underlined by the DfT comissioned Cohesive Cycle Network. we need to reduce motor traffic and we need high quality walking and cycling where it counts most. Do these schemes meet up, form a network, help the boroughs fulfil TfL’s “Strategic Cycling Analysis” etc? We can’t tell so far.
  • There’s also little clarity as to the approaches favoured. Some of the schemes funded here appear to be finishing off half-done schemes, some appear to be permanent schemes already planned and now brought forward, others entirely temporary materials approaches.
  • Pace for both TfL and borough schemes remains a major concern. Remember, Paris has put in 50km of cycle track already during the crisis. We’re at probably a 10th of that, if not less. With motor traffic levels rising every day, it is imperative London moves fast. Yet many of these boroughs haven’t started really delivering (while others have been doing major schemes without funding already). And we’re hearing worrying rumours of many of the usual vested interests dragging the pace of progress down to a crawl – the Mayor, his commissioner, and TfL must act fast and make sure these schemes are got in quick – streamlining approvals and tweaking schemes on site if necessary. But London can no longer dot every I in triplicate just to make sure every stakeholder is perfectly satisfied with a scheme – despite what some say, cycling campaigners don’t get a veto for schemes, and nor should other stakeholders.

It’s also worth noting London Assembly member Caroline Russell has pointed out that, despite DfT funding TfL for active travel measures, the overall “Healthy Streets” budget faces an effective £300m shortfall, with borough active travel schemes slashed this year by effectively £70m.

As above, this is early days for TfL funding and we’ve not yet seen DfT funding – so you shouldn’t be disheartened if your borough isn’t funded yet (although now is a perfect moment to push our #StopTheTrafficTide action again to make sure your council leader has put in a bold bid: https://membership.lcc.org.uk/help-london-stop-tide-motor-traffic-returning

Either way, this looks like a lot of very useful and exciting schemes, and indeed some signs the Mayor, TfL and the boroughs are beginning to shift gears finally. If we’re to have a city “unrivalled” for active travel as Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman has said, we’ll need a lot more schemes, faster, to catch up to Paris. And, as Caroline points out, we’ll need funding to turn these schemes permanent and to #StopTheTrafficTide coming back, resulting in more cars than we’ve seen for decades clogging our city streets.

Categories: London

City pedals forward on Streetspace for cycling and walking

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 12:51

City pedals forward on Streetspace for cycling and walking

As some of London’s 32 boroughs continue to debate which streets to make cycle friendly the City of London is methodically delivering changes on roads to improve safety for walkers and cyclists by using a combination of water filled barriers, signage and concrete blocks.

Having already created protected cycle lanes on Old Broad Street and Threadneedle St (illustrated in the photos) the City has just announced  a further 50 more  traffic changes  on City streets that are expected to be implemented in the coming month https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/Documents/covid-19-street-changes-phase-2.pdf .

Fleet St is due to have road space re-allocated to walking and cycling and  Moorgate, one of the most hostile streets in the City for cycle users, will be made one way (except for buses and cycles) north of London Wall with road space re-allocated to walking and cycling. For full details of other streets see the document in the link above .

We look forward to all the City traffic changes  being put into place and encourage surrounding boroughs (like Hackney, Islington, Camden and Westminster) to provide protected routes on their highways that link up with those in the City and create what the new DfT commissioned Rapid Cycleway Prioritisation Tool describes as a ‘Cohesive Cycle Network’ which can then deliver the ten-fold increase in cycling that the Mayor’s Cycle Commissioner has called for and LCC has long campaigned for.

Categories: London

How to secure DfT money for temporary cycle schemes

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 11:57

When announcing £225m of funding for temporary walking and cycling schemes the Department for Transport message was blunt :

The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.”

The first tranche of money has been allocated.  Applications for second tranche (80% of it) are now invited. 

This time the DfT has provided a “crib sheet” for those applying for the money. It’s called the Rapid Cycleway Promotion Tool https://www.cyipt.bike/rapid/ and, in a webinar aimed at local authorities, DfT officers made clear that the tool’s forecast of which roads had the highest cycling potential should be considered for priority action. You can conclude that Boroughs are expected to use the new tool and that stakeholders, like LCC’s local groups, should be familiar with it as well,  to make sure Boroughs apply for funding and that the money is well spent.

The Tool has three key layers –

Existing cycleways – which the tool authors have taken from OpenStreetMap in May 2020. This highlights various forms of protected space including park routes, cycle tracks and road restrictions (modal filters)  using bollards or gates.

Top routes – roads where the greatest cycling potential can be realised if protected routes are introduced. The tool considers where roads have the width to accommodate temporary infrastructure but not what the cost might be – a further tool is being introduced to cover the economics of route prioritisation.

Cohesive network – roads which need to be transformed, in the longer term, to deliver a cohesive cycling network in your city or borough. This can assist local authorities in long term route planning.

Local knowledge

The designers say the tool focuses on arterial roads where the greatest gains could be achieved and where road widths may permit the introduction of protected cycle lanes but they advise that the tool needs to be used in conjunction with local authority and stakeholder knowledge which may direct authorities to addressing, for example, nearby parallel routes.

LCC’s local groups will find it useful to examine the potential routes derived from the RCPT tool in their boroughs when working with councils to progress bids for funding from either the DfT or TfL.  You may find inaccuracies in the RCPT tool or you may have ideas for better solutions but the tool is a good starting point for discussion and you can be pretty certain that borough officers and politicians will be looking carefully at the same data.  

Categories: London

Temporary measures: how to do them right

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 13:01

Greenwich continuous barriers are now set to include gaps. Photo credit: KateM45

The last few weeks have seen a rapid change in the approach to walking and cycling schemes in response to the crisis. Not only in relation to urgency and the pace of schemes going in, and the consensus that a lot more cycling infrastructure is needed, but also on how schemes are being delivered.

We’re seeing boroughs and TfL rapidly roll out infrastructure at a pace we’ve not ever seen before – a really positive thing. But we’re also seeing them having to learn on the fly, testing, trialing and putting stuff in overnight to then tweak later.

This post will be an updated thread for the next few weeks as we learn more about the dos and don’ts of temporary infrastructure. 

As ever, TfL’s Temporary Traffic Management Handbook is a well worthwhile guide to these issues. And TfL’s Streetspace pages now include some design guidance too.

And please take our current action to #StopTheTrafficTide today: We need a lot more of these schemes right now to keep car use low. https://membership.lcc.org.uk/help-london-stop-tide-motor-traffic-returning

Councils and TfL should do this…

Be clear at entrances who space is for – we’re seeing many pedestrians and cyclists confused about what and who the start of a stretch of temporary space is for. It needs to be clear it’s not for parking or driving, but also whether it’s for cycling or pedestrians or both.

Think about a wide range of users – yes, everyone’s trying to get in schemes fast. But the advantages of temporary materials is you can rapidly improve or tweak them. Make sure those temporary works work for people in wheelchairs, people with visual impairments, people on cargo bikes – all types of people. It’s not actually very difficult to make things better. Ideally even stick signs on your temporary works encouraging feedback with an email address.

Move fast, learn as you go – let nothing get in the way of moving fast, including this blog. Do stuff now – for air quality in a respiratory crisis, and because with hardly any available public transport we have to #StopTheTrafficTide now by enabling walking and cycling as never before. But do learn from each scheme and tweak it. Indeed – if your lead times for your preferred answer to a scheme is long, just get something in now that’s half-decent.

Take roadspace for sustainable modes – deliver for walking, cycling and buses in that order. We’ve had a dramatic demonstration of how we can change and what “necessary” looks like. We don’t want people with disabilities to be stuck indoors, and there are necessary car journeys not happening right now, but there are many unnecessary ones as well. We need to take the space from the cars to #StopTheTrafficTide now. Do it. Don’t look back.

1.5m gaps – When you’re putting down planters or other road restrictions, leave 1.5m gaps between them from building line to building line. More than that you’ll get cars cutting through, less and you’ll start to see issues with wider cycles (cargo bikes, side-by-side tandems, handcycles etc.) Similarly, try and avoid going under 1.5m for temporary tracks for the same reason – and ideally go way over it.

Take car parking space – particularly in the run-up to filters or entrances and exits of schemes.

Make the money count (don't use ANPR cameras everywhere) – right now is not the moment for a camera-only low traffic neighbourhood (if it ever is). Cameras for bus routes, everything else should be cheap bollards and planters. If emergency services need faster access, bendy bollards, wands, limited cameras or lockable or smashable bollards. Putting an ANPR camera on every modal filter will make schemes hugely costly and slower to implement and cost more to maintain in the long run.

Temporary protected junction idea. Photo credit: Brian Deegan 

Fix the junctions – It’s great slamming in loads of km of wand and barrier protected cycle routes – please do lots of it. But also think about the junctions. Ban turns or consider the “cycle gates” and other approaches guru engineer Brian Deegan (currently Greater Manchester, formerly TfL) is suggesting as doable using temporary materials and lights. Otherwise, you’re throwing novice cyclists straight into the most dangerous bits of roads.

Bolt stuff down – sadly, some drivers just don’t take no for an answer. Expect to see water-filled barriers and even low traffic neighbourhood planters shunted out of the way. Consider where might need bolting them in to the road.

Deal with car parking – you need to consider how people will park around any scheme. We’ve already seen, for instance, parking on the other side of the road from a temporary track result in barriers being shunted sideways by drivers passing parked vehicles, as well as this on King Street where failure to suspend a few bays makes for a really awkward section.

Don’t do this…

Gaps in barriers in the City. Photo credit: Michiel Joseph

Long solid barriers - Long stretches of the big Lego looking water-filled barriers or any others without gaps means pedestrians and those cycling can’t get in or out of the temporary area. It means you can’t cross the road into or out of it, you can’t go round blockages etc. Similarly, these long stretches of barriers look a bit like an F1 road circuit to some drivers, it seems like. The Greenwich example at the top of this page is now due to be changed (or has been already) by officers in the borough - a great example of officers learning on their feet.

Big gaps – long gaps in semi-segregated cycle provision just mean car drivers think that’s an appropriate space to park.

Door zones and paint – yes, Westminster, we are looking at you. Does it really need saying that temporary or permanent interventions that look like they’d fit right into 1983 are not making it count? Do not paint cycle lanes in the “door zone” where people risk opening their car door straight into someone cycling past. Do not do paint on its own at all – add wands or planters or “float” car parking out to protect those cycling physically. Do protected space for cycling, properly, now please. (And yes, we see you also Kensington & Chelsea!)

Narrow provision – take the space from the road. Don’t make cargo bikers, those in wheelchairs, handcyclists, wobbly kids try and cope in narrow provision. Similarly, if you’re providing ramps into/out of provision for good reason, make them work for most people.

 

Please contact us with more ideas of good and bad temporary designs, and thanks for additional input from Giulio Ferrini, Sustrans London and Simon Still.

Categories: London

Streetspace: where’s the pace?

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 16:52

Euston Road, where's the cycle track? Pic credit: Michiel Joseph

The pace of progress on TfL and the Mayor’s Streetspace plans is currently too slow. The plan itself is vital, and the progress thus far is valued. But we’re not moving fast enough.

We’re hugely supportive of the plan to deliver a tenfold increase in cycling and a fivefold increase in walking, in the rapid roll-out of pop-up cycle tracks, low traffic neighbourhoods, wider pavements and more. Will Norman, the Walking & Cycling Commissioner has called these plans “unparalleled in a city London’s size”, in a clear aim at Paris’ rapid progress ahead of our capital. Paris has plans for 650km of cycle track during the crisis and has already rolled out 50km, leaving London in the dust on pace of progress.

Why we need speed

Progress and pace are so important in a city where public transport will be operating at a fraction of previous capacity for the foreseeable future. People without cars should not have to face a choice between using crowded public transport or dealing with road danger. So, delivering the Streetspace programme rapidly is critical for the thousands of new cyclists who have ventured onto our roads for the first time and for many more still to start.

The Streetspace programme is vital for the effective functioning of our city as well. We face a real risk of higher car use than we’ve seen in decades as people return to work. One study estimates a 22% London-wide increase in car commuting compared to before – that’s a recipe for total gridlock, terrifying pollution levels and a total collapse in cycling levels. Just about everyone agrees on the real risk from increased motor traffic coming out of this crisis – it’s why we’re asking you to email council leaders today to #StopTheTrafficTide here: https://membership.lcc.org.uk/help-london-stop-tide-motor-traffic-returning

The problem is the motor traffic is coming back fast. And with it the opportunities to deliver schemes that enable those without cars to ride without fear, secure a green recovery, and tackle the next big crisis climate change are dwindling. Without core cycle routes that are continuous, feel safe and connect, we simply won’t enable people to start cycling or to continue riding as traffic builds up. If you need to get to work and you don’t have a safe cycle route, most people won’t cycle – they’ll drive, or squeeze onto a bus, or just struggle. And the opportunity to give that person a choice of active travel they might welcome is lost, possibly for years.

As ever, some boroughs are way ahead on their delivery and some far behind, that’s why we’re asking you to email council leaders today to #StopTheTrafficTide. But there’s also a growing concern that TfL and the Mayor aren’t moving fast enough either.

Progress so far

Pic credit: Simon Still

It has been well over a month now since the Mayor announced his Streetspace Plan. Since then he has put in 1km of track on Park Lane and now has begun to upgrade the blue paint CS8 route - although as the pic above attests, as of this weekend, not only was the route far from finished, part of it (in Westminster, unsurprisingly) appears to include painted cycle logos shoved up next to a security barrier. Last night work started on Hampstead Road too. But no sign yet of Euston Road, which was in the original press release and is pictured above - loads of cyclists, no protected spce. We need a lot more, a lot faster.

The worry is the usual forces against change inside and outside TfL and City Hall are slowing down progress – from boroughs not playing ball, to TfL’s teams responsible for keeping buses and private motor traffic moving. Now, however, is not the moment to slow down or get bogged down.

Everyone will need to compromise, schemes will be imperfect, but the pace needs to stay fast – where there isn’t space for tracks, for now, parallel routes or bus gates or 24/7 bus/cycle only lanes with no parking might be the best we can manage. What matters more is getting schemes in, and fast. But also it’s vital to recognise that buses, for now, can’t be a mass mode of transport – whereas cycling can –and that if something has to give between pavement, cycle track and bus lanes, it’s actually the lanes for private motor traffic that need looking at, both for parking and driving.

We need the Mayor and TfL to pick up the pace on their roads. Not just to ensure schemes don’t get stuck as motor traffic levels rise, and not just to provide that space for cycling that represents a real alternative now to the motor car, but also to demonstrate to boroughs that this can be done and must be done. A Mayor that expects boroughs to deliver before he does isn’t showing enough leadership in a crisis. And that’s what’s needed now: a Mayor that achieves fast, despite the obstacles. After all, that’s what’s happening in Paris – Mayor Anne Hidalgo has got 35km of cycle track in Paris at last count, with 650km planned. Sadiq implies he will top that. Well, it’s time for him to get a move on.

Categories: London

Black Lives Matter

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 18:32

 

LCC stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all groups campaigning to end racism and injustice in all its forms.

At LCC, our central mission is to create a city where everyone who wants to cycle. We want to see a city in which those who choose to cycle reflect London's population as a whole as regards their gender, age, disability and ethnicity; a city where there are no longer barriers preventing people from disadvantaged communities enjoying the affordability, health benefits and convenience of cycling.

We campaign hard on a number of fronts to pursue this mission this because we firmly believe that this will create a better city for everyone -  a zero carbon, zero pollution, healthier, happier London. This is also important, as the outcomes of a city where more people cycle alleviate some of the damaging and dangerous issues that disproportionately affect BAME communities.

Racism kills – as we have seen with the most recent killings of African Americans at the hands of police in the US. But it kills in other ways as well. When we think of racism only as a problem of individual attitudes and not a structural issue, we miss the real impact of racism.

For example, the poorest and most deprived in our society – who are disproportionately black and ethnic minority – are more likely to live in heavily congested areas where air pollution is high. And they are the least likely to have opportunities for active travel, hence we see higher rates of cardiovascular and heart disease among these groups.

Active travel and air pollution – two central areas of our campaigning – are therefore issues of social and racial justice. The structural and institutional dimensions of racism are barriers that must be overcome if the goal of making cycling a genuinely universal activity is to be achieved.

This has become all the more urgent in light of the current covid-19 crisis. Since the start of lockdown, we have been demanding that the Councils and the Mayor support emergency walking and cycling infrastructure. This is in part to stop the inevitable rise in air pollution again, which has exacerbated our vulnerability to this respiratory disease. But it is also important that as we transition out of this crisis with a significantly lower public transport capacity, and one that is no longer free for under 18’s, that we provide alternative transport options. Not only are members of BAME communities more likely to die from Covid-19, they are also among the least likely to have been able to work safely from home during lockdown. Essential workers are disproportionately BAME.

During lockdown, while we were not able to offer free LCC membership to all essential workers, we tried to make it’s accessibility as broad as we could. This is why it is not only for NHS workers but all hospital workers – including catering and cleaning staff who are often black or ethnic minority – and care home workers.

That said, we know that the cycling community is not reflective of London's population as a whole as regards their gender, age, disability, ethnicity, or income. Its reputation as an overwhelmingly white activity is deserved. According to 2016 figures from TfL, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups account for 15 per cent of current cycle trips, but 38 per cent of potentially cyclable trips.  Cycling spaces are often very white and this makes them unwelcoming for black people and other ethnic minority groups. While there has been efforts to become more inclusive and representative, there is a huge amount to improve on. There are still many barriers to many from BAME communities to starting to cycle. Some we are actively working on, like campaigning for the kinds of infrastructure that help people feel more protected from motor traffic and more comfortable to cycle on the roads, but there are many more still.  

We are not making this statement as either a brand exercise or a tick-box exercise. LCC is committed to doing better and continuing to review how we conduct ourselves as an organisation, and how we campaign, in an anti-racist way. This includes, but will not be limited to:

  • How we recruit and develop our staff and activists
  • How we campaign in a way which is sensitive to the inequalities experienced by Black communities
  • How we communicate and make space for disadvantaged voices in our campaigning 

We know we don’t always get things right and that we could do better. If you would like to play a role in this or have suggestions, please get in touch with us on campaign@lcc.org.uk

 

 

Categories: London

Why congestion charging is vital

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 10:36

Right now, TfL is consulting on reinstating the congestion charge and extending it. The Mayor has proposed extending hours from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week and raising its cost to £15 (as well as removing £1 AutoPay and Fleet discounts and stopping any new resident discounts).

You can have your say here or by emailing yoursay@tfl.gov.uk by… tonight Thursday 4 June. We’d urge you to email in to support the proposals.

The Congestion Charge, alongside the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a vital method of constraining motor traffic in our most congested, narrowest streets. We argue in our recent Climate Safe Streets report on decarbonising roads transport by 2030 that in fact the Mayor must go much further. The Mayor must embrace a full “smart road-user charging” platform as rapidly as possible. But during this crisis, at a minimum, that means not just reinstating the Congestion Charge and ULEZ, but yes, expanding them.

This step to further manage demand in central London (and as we move towards smart road user charging, all of London) creates the space for and goes alongside a high-quality cycle network, more and better public transport (after the crisis passes) and smart mobility services such as electric car and e-bike hire to realise a future where most Londoners do not need to own cars. This is not about penalising a minority of hard-pressed drivers, but building a better London for everyone, challenging as the transition may be for some.

Fare’s fair?

Some politicians have suggested the Congestion Charge is a tax on working people, it’s unfair and that Sadiq is sneaking it through and blaming the DfT (the Dft did indeed make one of the conditions of TfL’s bail-out that the organisation must “urgently bring forward proposals to widen the scope and levels of these charges”, so it’s hard to see what else would have satisfied the DfT that wasn’t a price increase and longer hours). However, while there is a clear issue for those who need to use motor vehicles who are on the breadline, the truth is the alternative is far more unfair to hard-pressed Londoners.

The poorer you are, the less likely you are to have access to a motor vehicle, and the less likely you are to have a reason to regularly drive into central London even if you do have a car. While some sections of the population undeniably will be impacted by the congestion charge in a manner that is far from ideal, the simple truth is that the impact of extending hours and increasing its cost a few pounds a day will cause relatively little hardship, particularly compared to the massive cost to our lives and the lives of the least resourced and most vulnerable in London of not doing so.

The costs of failing to reduce motor traffic and shift Londoners away from cars is far higher than any congestion charge. Inactivity-related ill health has a huge impact on NHS budgets and the wider public purse. Road danger and pollution likewise, but the costs of mitigating an unchecked climate crisis will be far higher.

Demand management

Getting more people walking and cycling, and indeed reducing the damage that too many unnecessary motor traffic journeys do, relies on several concepts. But at their heart, you could simplify them to supply and “demand management.” If we build lots of cycle tracks only, we don’t massively increase cycling rates. This is the lesson to learn from British new towns such as Stevenage which built fairly high-quality cycle routes, but where cycling failed to reach Dutch heights. Carlton Reid in Roads Were Not Built For Cars said it well: “critically, motorists in Stevenage were not constrained in any way. In fact, the first New Town was designed to be highly convenient for motorists.”

In other words, supplying good cycling without managing demand for motoring will fail. Demand management is particularly vital when we’re talking about huge swathes of a city where there is no capacity for cycling, because motor vehicles have taken it all. Most of our cycled journeys will be on roads where there’s no dedicated space for cycling – and this is sadly very much the case in central London. But also TfL’s modelling processes won’t ever allow that space (for cycling) on a technical basis if that space is needed to keep the motor traffic flowing.

When the congestion charge went in, it resulted in a huge shift of people to bikes, and indeed a reduction in motor traffic. But over the years, the motor traffic levels have not fallen, with cars primarily swapped for taxis and private hire vehicles. More, the charge for it has remained virtually flat while bus and tube fares have increased over and over.

The result was clear for central London far before the Covid-19 crisis – a huge chunk of London at a near standstill from congestion, horrific levels of pollution, and a totally imbalanced allocation of road space with pedestrians and those cycling squeezed to the margins, with massive urban motorways right next to our most iconic districts and landmarks. The congestion charge was no longer working well enough as “demand management” of motor traffic.

Dodging the charge

As a result, of course, many of the current motor traffic journeys in central London simply do not need to be done by motor vehicles. That they are isn’t fair – because the poorest in London are disproportionately impacted by the negatives of those unnecessary journeys – the pollution, the road danger, the inactivity and more.

Increasing the impact of the charge on drivers is vital then, while recognising the impact of them on some sectors. But for most, there’s more to be done to easily reduce movements and vehicles – to manage demand and dodge the cost. Delivery and servicing companies and businesses must urgently look at “consolidation” – freight can often go quicker and more efficiently by cargo e-bike in central London, and we need to ensure taxis and private hire are increasingly used not because it’s quick and convenient, but for those with real need, such as some disabled passengers.

The Congestion Charge is a vital stick to lever people out of their cars when they don’t need to be in them, alongside other measures to reduce demand and enable genuine alternatives. Away from the crisis that meant cheap, direct and fast public transport, but now the emphasis is more than ever on a network of safe, direct cycle routes, wider pavements, better crossings and an update to our road-charging approach.

Not only is it utterly fair that the Mayor is increasing the price of the charge, given the cost of public transport, the hole in TfL’s budget, and the nature of many journeys, and extending its hours, but we need a smarter instrument for the future – a subtle stick. We need to be able to charge people for their journeys, to get them to think about them more carefully, all over London; we need charging by emissions; by time of day; location; distance/time travelled, even purpose of trip perhaps. And we need that charge to get more cars off our roads, so we can find the space to enable far more journeys to be done by cleaner, more sustainable, fairer modes available to all.

Have your say here or by emailing yoursay@tfl.gov.uk by Thursday 4 June, today.

Categories: London

eScooters & cycle tracks: new LCC report on micromobility

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 12:55

In a research paper published today, the London Cycling Campaign argues that e-scooters and other micromobility technologies should be made road-legal according to strict requirements and have access to cycle infrastructure.

Mass mode shift away from car use to walking, cycling, public transport and new, shared mobility options will be essential to decarbonising London’s roads as outlined in LCC’s earlier Climate Safe Streets report. The arrival of e-scooters offers a cleaner, low carbon alternative to cars, and buses with space restrictions, for those who can’t or don’t want to cycle, that will help clean up London’s air and tackle climate change.

To maximise the environmental and congestion-beating impact of these new technologies, LCC is calling for e-scooters to be legalised and allowed to use cycle tracks. LCC is also calling for a redoubling of programmes to increase protected road space for both cycling and the range of new electric micromobilities that includes e-bikes, e-scooters and e-cargo bikes.

LCC welcomes current government plans for shared e-scooter trials as a step forward but would like to see the opportunity to try e-scooters extended beyond the holders of driving licenses, as currently proposed.  

In London, there is also the matter of a patchwork of boroughs where trials can be held. We would prefer trials of e-scooters in London to be across the capital, or as many coherent and continuous boroughs as possible.

Report background

Although a trial of shared e-scooters is proposed in the UK, the battery powered vehicles, which have been seen increasingly on our city streets, are currently not legal on public footpaths, pavements, bridleways or carriageways.

The LCC Policy Forum’s in-depth research paper, summarising the latest evidence on micromobility forms and their take-up globally, suggests that catering appropriately for these new personal and freight travel modes, alongside cycling and walking, would help create the less polluted, climate safe streets that urban dwellers want to see post-pandemic. It would cut private motor car use and enable more and a wider range of people to move about without using motor vehicles.

The way to do this would be to ensure users of e-scooters and other micromobility forms remain restricted from using crowded pavements created for pedestrians, and instead are allowed to access protected cycle tracks legally.

The paper highlights the similarities between pedal cycles, e-scooters and e-bikes in terms of speeds and mass: as small, relatively light and un-enclosed vehicles they all face road danger from cars and lorries; and safety gains for these modes come collectively by providing segregated space for their use.

Increased use of cycle tracks by e-scooter users could increase the pressure on transport authorities to provide appropriate protected space for micromobility users including those cycling – and these forms would all be far more space efficient and safer than driving.

The paper offers arguments and options regarding the practical roll-out of different forms of e-micromobility in the United Kingdom. It also considers:

  • the global rise of electric micromobility;
  • use of micromobility for freight;
  • regulation, in the context of the UK Government’s consultation on e-micromobility, including hardware standards and sharing operations;
  • and the implications for street design and parking.

You can download the fulll report here or the executive summary only here.

Categories: London

Westminster announces space for walking and cycling - Guest blog

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 16:16

 


This blog post is from Westminster Healthy Streets, originally published here. Westminster City Council have released their plans to “get the economy moving again” by reallocating space for walking, cycling and social distancing on their streets. See the announcement here. Will these plans prevent traffic flooding back and keep the clean air and all-age active travel Westminster has experienced during lockdown? What’s clear is the huge demand for healthy streets: “In just over one week, the city council has received over 500 requests from residents and businesses for temporary measures from right across the city.” Our own interactive map drew over 1,000 suggestions to make walking and cycling better in Westminster (sent out to all ward councillors last week). We’ve now added layers to the map to summarise the suggestions and sketch out strategic measures like low traffic neighbourhoods and cycle routes.


 

 

See the final version of our map here.

Our take on the council’s plans

In short, there’s much to welcome - including school streets, wider pavements, pop-up bike lanes and street closures in Covent Garden. But more will be needed to keep traffic low and make active travel safe and direct enough to replace public transport. The bold measures seen elsewhere in Central London to create miles of car-free streets are missing in Westminster. And the principle of reducing through traffic to create low traffic neighbourhoods, now being widely adopted by other boroughs, is not even mentioned. This is despite the Department for Transport singling out “point closures” (preventing through traffic) as the quickest and cheapest way of reallocating road space for active travel.

Here’s our take on some of the main themes.

West End: Bike lanes and wider pavements

The announcement says: “Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly will, from this weekend, see measures to widen pavements, change traffic lanes into pedestrian walkways, install signage and guidance on social distancing as well as establishing pop-up cycle lanes.” Regent Street will have two of its four lanes for motor traffic reallocated to people. This is a good start - but shouldn’t Regent Street close to all traffic in business hours, to give shoppers maximum space for social distancing? And for Oxford Street, a better arrangement is surely restricting traffic to buses and bikes in business hours. Pop-up bike lanes on Piccadilly are very good news and will create an essential cycle alternative to the Tube, linking the temporary bike lanes on Park Lane with Piccadilly Circus.

But clarity is needed. The Evening Standard had to ask City Hall to confirm the plans for pop-up bike lanes on these three streets, as the rest of the announcement seemed to forget about them. And the draft strategy circulated last week to ward councillors only described combined bus and bike lanes on Piccadilly and Oxford Street.

Closures in Covent Garden, but what about Soho?

The plan is to extend Covent Garden’s existing timed street closures to Henrietta Street, Maiden Lane, Floral Street and James Street “using temporary measures.” This is very welcome, but street and area closures are even more vital in Soho, where narrower streets will make social distancing impossible if traffic remains. The council should take a low traffic neighbourhood approach to remove through traffic from both areas, then consider timed closures on specific streets with the help of local residents and businesses. Without this, it’s hard to see how Soho’s iconic restaurants, bars and cafes can survive.

Marylebone and Fitzrovia: bike lanes, but the rat running remains.

Portland Place will have pop-up bike lanes on both sides of the street. This is great news for one of Westminster’s most polluted wards and we hope that they will pave the way for permanently safe cycling. But cycle lanes on A-roads should be combined with low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) on either side to prevent rat running, keep air clean and make walking and cycling safe across the whole area. Low traffic neighbourhoods are needed in both Marylebone and Fitzrovia. Fitzrovia’s Neighbourhood Forum has produced a plan for one.

School streets

Westminster has an ambitious ‘school street’ programme, which makes streets walking and cycling only at school run hours, with about 20 schools in the pipeline. We strongly support this. School streets ensure children’s safety and clean air at the school gate and encourage a car-free school run. We hope that the council will also consider families’ whole journeys to school as well as their destination, since buses and tubes will be at low capacity, bus travel is no longer free for children, and parents switching to cars en masse would cause gridlock. Safe walking/cycling routes to school, via pop-up bike lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods, would make all the difference.

A safe cycle network?

The council promises “more cycle racks” which is very welcome and will be needed as thousands of journeys switch from public transport to bikes. It also announces “better links to the existing cycle networks”. This promise needs to be made good. Westminster’s cycle routes are not currently joined up into a safe, coherent network that can be used by all ages and abilities. The council will need to upgrade sub-standard routes like the Sussex Garden cycle tracks, which have no protection and are often parked on. It should address barriers to cycling like the confusing maze of one-way streets that forbid two-way cycling, many of which could be remedied with a simple sign. And finally - at the risk of repeating ourselves - low traffic neighbourhoods provide whole networks of streets where any age can cycle. This is a far better approach than the old ‘quietway’ programme.

Westminster must tackle its traffic

Finally, one key change Westminster needs to make - not just for Covid-19 now, but for healthy streets, air quality and climate in the future - is to restrict its through traffic. Motor traffic simply passing through Westminster should be kept to the strategic road network, and in between should be areas of access-only streets linked by sub-distributor roads. The whole of the West End could have healthy low-traffic streets using this principle - see the traffic circulation plan that transformed Ghent for one example.

 

Categories: London

DfT funding for London: make it fast, make it count

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 12:26

The Deputy Director of the Department of Transport (DfT), Rupert Furness, has written (for full letter click here) to all councils across London, as well as TfL (and seperately to all councils across England) to lay out funding streams for temporary walking and cycling schemes during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, in a letter that makes clear how priorities have shifted. In the letter, Furness states that any scheme “that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded.”

The letter is headed “Emergency Active Travel Funding Indicative Allocations” and is aimed at London councils and TfL, giving “indicative” details on funding. It represents again a big leap forward in DfT and the government’s strength of approach on active travel, saying walking and cycling will be vital in “helping us avoid overcrowding on public transport systems as we begin to open up parts of our economy. We have a window of opportunity to act now to embed walking and cycling as part of new long-term commuting habits and reap the associated health, air quality and congestion benefits.” 

Councils will need to not only be bold, however, but also move fast - DfT's deadline for first round funding bids is 5 June, and the implication is strongly further funding will depend on not only bids, but delivering on them in that first round.

Funding for London

From the previously announced initial £250 million for active travel across England, “£225 million will be provided directly to local transport authorities and London boroughs, while £25 million will help support cycle repair schemes.” It’s unclear yet whether any of that repair fund will be available for London.

Turning to London specifically, and for highways schemes, “London’s indicative share of the £225m will be £25 million over the rest of the financial year, with £5 million in the first tranche” but the letter also points out that TfL has had direct funding from the DfT, “£55 million of which is to be spent on active travel measures on both TfL and borough roads”. So that’s a £80m total pot.

For the first round of funding, the letter says each London borough gets £100,000 with “£1.7m to Transport for London”. However, all this funding is dependent on TfL and the boroughs being bold and acting fast.

Be bold, move fast, says DfT

Bold: “To receive any money under this or future tranches, boroughs and TfL will need to satisfy the Department that there are swift and meaningful plans in place to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians, including on strategic corridors… Anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded.”

Fast: “If work has not started within four weeks of receiving your allocation…  or has not been completed within eight weeks of starting, the Department will reserve the right to claw the funding back… This is also likely to have a material impact on your ability to secure any funding in tranche 2”. Deadline for bids for the first tranche? 5 June!

After that, moves will be made to make these schemes permanent. “The second tranche of £180m will be released later in the summer to enable authorities to install further, more permanent measures to cement cycling and walking habits.”

The priority: low traffic neighbourhoods & cycle tracks!

“The quickest and cheapest way of achieving this will normally be point closures. These can be of certain main roads (with exceptions for buses, access and for disabled people, and with other main roads kept free for through motor traffic); or of parallel side streets, if sufficiently direct to provide alternatives to the main road. Point closures can also be used to create low-traffic filtered neighbourhoods.

“Pop-up segregated cycle lanes will also be funded, but are likely to be more difficult to implement quickly. As the guidance states, they must use full or light segregation. We will also fund the swift implementation, using temporary materials, of existing cycle plans that involve the meaningful reallocation of road space.

“As the guidance makes clear, 20mph zones can form part of a package of measures, but will not be sufficient on their own.”

London councils are being directed that if they want money, they have until next Friday to put in initial plans – that filter out through motor traffic and build protected space for cycling, fast, if they want any money.

This is a huge win, once more, for LCC and supporters. As with the #StreetspaceLDN plan, our campaigning over years, behind the scenes and in establishing the value of approaches such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, is really paying off right now. So please, if you're not already, do become a member.

Categories: London

LCC campaigning: Transforming London for the better

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 16:54

As the Covid-19 crisis has developed, the case for supporting walking and cycling has grown and grown. Of course, this was something we’ve been campaigning for for decades, but since the start of the pandemic in London specifically around the response to lockdown and social distancing.

Way back in early April, we made the case for radical action outlining specific measures and strategies that should be pursued at national, city and borough levels in the short and long term to create healthier, happier places.

Alongside our local groups, we’ve been vocal about the need for boroughs and the Mayor to ensure motor traffic levels do not return to where they were before the crisis, or higher, while also enabling millions of journeys to be walked and cycled across the city.

Which is why we are so pleased to see so many of our recommendations contained in the Mayor’s new Streetspace plan, from emergency cycle lanes, pavement widening, implementing 20MPH, to a rolling out of ‘low traffic neighbourhoods.’

Our long-term campaigning has paved the way for more recent, rapid responses, showing what bold thinking and action on the ground can achieve. Our Love London, Go Dutch campaign in 2012 put Dutch-style cycling infrastructure at the heart of new cycling schemes – and ensured the Mayor embraced cycling.

Our guidance on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – residential areas where through motor traffic routes have been ’filtered’ (by use of bollards for example) so that cars cannot drive through from one side to another – has been held up as the solution to many residential areas rat-running woes, with our guidance proving influential across London and far beyond. Looking forward, our Climate Safe Streets report sets out just what London needs to do to achieve a low carbon, low pollution future so desperately needed right now. And once more, the detailed report is already proving influential across the capital and beyond.

As a result of the experience accumulated in these areas, when the Covid-19 crisis hit and officials finally turned their attention to what happens to our streets as lockdown is lifted, we had the ideas ready.

We still need your support to make sure the measures recently announced are delivered though. Together we need to make sure everyone can keep walking and cycling safely as we transition out of lockdown and towards a low-carbon, low pollution future.

Be part of LCC – join our mailing list, become a member or donate today – to help us transform London into a healthier, happier, greener city.

 

Categories: London

Car free central London?!

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:28

It has been a day of major news on London, cycling and the ongoing crisis. And much of that news is as a direct result of ongoing campaigning work from us and our amazing local groups...

A big chunk of central London to go car free?
  • The Mayor has said that sections of central London will go car-free to make “one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world”.
  • The press release says: “Some streets will be converted to walking and cycling only, with others restricted to all traffic apart from buses. Streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch [read:Bishopsgate], Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn [read: most of the “London Boulevard” of Old Street, Clerkenwell Road and Theobalds Road?] may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists… Access for emergency services and disabled people will be maintained, but deliveries on some streets may need to be made outside of congestion charging hours.”
  • It also says: “Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened.
  • And “TfL is looking into providing Zero Emission Capable taxis with access to both these bridges, and other areas where traffic is restricted.”
  • TfL is also “working with the City of London Corporation… to improve routes between Old Street and Bank [read: Moorgate], and between Cannon Street and Holborn to Bank [read: the A40?] for walking and cycling.”
  • TfL has published a page on its Streetscape plans, including a map of where cycle routes could go.
  • “Work has begun on the first temporary cycle lane along Park Lane where the speed limit will also be reduced to 20mph.” Tfl’s Streetspace page also says Balham High Road is getting temporary tracks, and that 30km of permanent tracks are coming during summer.

Our read: it looks like the City could go car but not bus-free for much of the day – with both City and TfL roads combined creating a huge area. But will the Mayor allow in lots of zero emissions vehicles at all hours? And will all of TfL’s roads in the City be included? Or will some get wider pavements and cycle tracks but remain in use through the day by cars also?

It also looks like Westminster are set to do very little during the crisis, or at best reading they simply haven’t organised anything with the Mayor yet. Hence the “may” around some of this. That said, given the borough boundaries, TfL could close Waterloo Bridge to general traffic without Westminster, by doing so on the south side with Lambeth.

We're also still digesting the news - the Streetscape page has several guidance documents on it of interest, including one that appears to highlight high priorty low traffic neighbourhood schemes TfL and the Mayor is encouraging boroughs to consider.

More news below the nice picture...

Congestion Charge and ULEZ returns
  • The Congestion Charge, LEZ and ULEZ will be resumed on Monday. But reimbursements for NHS staff and now care home workers will be extended.
  • From 22 June the Congestion Charge will rise from a daily £11.50 to £15. And go seven days a week, with hours extended until 10pm (starting 7am).
Secondary kids and pensioners – no free buses
  • Free travel is temporarily suspended for Freedom Pass and 60-plus card holders at peak times. Passes suspended for secondary school kids mean they are likely to stop using buses or tubes, most likely. This also means safe routes and areas around secondary schools becomes imperative!
TfL gets funding reprieve
  • TfL has been bailed out by the government by £1.6 billion that will keep TfL running for just over four months. The bailout conditions from government include government appointees to TfL’s board, fare rises at 1% above inflation and a large loan to be repaid added to TfL’s woes.
  • The Mayor, Sadiq Khan responded to the government bailout saying: “this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running… London has been the only major city in western Europe that hasn’t received direct Government funding to run day to day transport services since it was cut by the last Government… The old model for funding public transport in London simply does not work in this new reality… We will have to negotiate a new funding model with Government – which will involve either permanent funding from Government or giving London more control over key taxes so we can pay for it ourselves - or a combination of both.”
  • London boroughs are due to get a significant chunk (around a fifth?) of the £250 million the DfT has set aside for emergency walking & cycling responses to the crisis, we have learnt. This will be far from enough for every borough to do what it needs, though, and what proportion of the £2bn earmarked by the DfT for walking & cycling in England, if any, London gets also remains to be seen.
Sadiq says why there’s #NoGoingBack
  • Sadiq is also quoted as saying: “We have to keep the number of people using public transport as low as possible. And we can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked and toxic air pollution would soar… We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work… If we want to make transport in London safe, and keep London globally competitive, then we have no choice but to rapidly repurpose London’s streets for people. By ensuring our city’s recovery is green, we will also tackle our toxic air.”
Boroughs need to take action
  • Sadiq’s press release said: “TfL is working closely with those boroughs who are keen to do more to bring in changes to their roads in the coming days and weeks.” Our reading: many boroughs still aren’t set to do much, or anything, in response to the crisis, and therefore won’t get funding from the DfT money being disbursed, it would seem, by TfL.
  • Lambeth has announced immediate plans to deliver “4 low traffic neighbourhoods; 3 healthy [cycle] routes incl. protected cycle lanes; 3 access-only roads; 6 more locations for pavement widening” by August, with far more coming dependent on funding.
Categories: London

Councils told they must prioritise cycling and walking, now

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 15:29

Photo credit: Richard Cadman

Giving more road space to cycling and walking is no longer a ‘nice to have’ option for councils – it is an instruction from the Department for Transport.

The instruction has been sent to all councils in new statutory guidance: Traffic Management Act 2004: network management in response to COVID-19. We covered the launch of the guidance on Monday, but mainly focused on how little of the funding was earmarked for London.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps makes clear, in his statement launching the new approach, that local authorities most now “make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”

The document lays out options for councils and also says they must:do what is necessary to ensure transport networks support recovery from the COVID-19 emergency and provide a lasting legacy of greener, safer transport… Authorities should monitor and evaluate any temporary measures they install, with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as we move from restart to recovery.”

Measures suggested include:
  • Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities using light segregation such as flexible plastic wands; or quickly converting traffic lanes into temporary cycle lanes (suspending parking bays where necessary); widening existing cycle lanes to enable cyclists to maintain distancing. Facilities should be segregated as far as possible.
  • Using cones and barriers to widen footways.
  • Introducing more ‘School Streets’.
  • Reducing speed limits.
  • Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets.
  • Modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to through motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers, to create “low traffic neighbourhoods”.
  • Providing additional cycle parking facilities at key locations, including by repurposing parking bays.
  • Changes to junction design to accommodate (more) cyclists.
  • ‘Whole-route’ approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres.
  • Identifying and bringing forward permanent schemes already planned.

All of this dovetails well with the Mayor of London’s Streetspace Plan, that also suggests many of the same approaches, and which has already moved from just pavement widening to also providing separate cycle tracks.

It is clear that any funding now coming from the Mayor and TfL will be likely to go to those boroughs getting on with this approach. And it is being implied that those councils who do nothing may face the prospect of these approaches being delivered by the DfT or TfL despite their objections.

Over to the boroughs

We know the funding hasn’t arrived yet, but that hasn’t stopped many boroughs from already delivering on-the-ground improvements to streets in response to this crisis. So, given the government is getting tough and demanding action from every council; given the Mayor and his team are pushing ahead with their Streetspace Plan for their roads and boroughs; and given the horrific images we’re seeing of motor traffic and pollution building as well as crammed tube carriages and buses, how long will your borough wait before taking action?

Croydon, Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets aren’t waiting. And neither are several other boroughs coming just behind them. What about yours?

Croydon and Lewisham – have installed nearly 50 planters at multiple modal filter points across both boroughs. In Croydon these appear to be new locations/roads being filtered.

Lambeth – have already been widening pavements, but are due to follow that with accelerated plans for numerous cycle routes and low traffic neighbourhoods already in preparation, but also apparently new plans too including an upgrade to the Cycleway 5 route.

Hackney – has closed Broadway Market and is following with other modal filters and further plans

Tower Hamlets – modal filter on Old Ford Road, not planned prior to crisis.

Categories: London

Traffic justice

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:30
Traffic justice: A guest blog by by Victoria Lebrec

Victoria Lebrec is London Traffic Justice Campaigner at RoadPeace. She lost a leg in a collision with a lorry when riding her cycle. LCC works closely with RoadPeace on traffic justice

 

The issue of traffic justice is not one any cyclist wants to think about; we are only confronted with it when a crash has happened. It is an aspect of society which is alien to most, and the prospect of being involved in a crash as a cyclist is so chilling that it’s an element of road safety which is often looked over.

 That being said, in London in 2018, 4,065 people were killed or seriously injured. 782 of those were cyclists. All of the injured and the families of those killed will have been thrust into the justice system. And that is without including the 3,973 who were reported slightly injured - many of those would have experienced the justice system as well.[1]

 

 Traffic justice comprises of many things. It is the way our justice system deals with a crash - the quality of investigation, the way the victim is treated, the offence issued, the likelihood of prosecution and the sentence given, amongst others.

 And why does this matter? LCC along with other groups, holds that traffic justice is a key component in reducing road danger. The more lenient our justice system is to drivers who kill and injure, the more society tolerates danger on the road.

 Cyclists in particular fall prey to victim-blaming by the justice system. ‘Were they wearing a helmet’ ‘They should have known better than to be on the left hand side of a lorry’. ‘Cycling is dangerous - a crash was bound to happen’. These are the long-held beliefs that impact how a crash victim is viewed by police, the CPS, insurance companies, judges and jurors.

 And there are long-standing issues at every stage of the justice system.

 Investigation. If road crime was treated as real crime a road death investigation would be as extensive as a homicide investigation. And serious injuries would receive the same level of investigation as grievous bodily harm. Yet they receive a fraction of the resource. There can be no justice without a quality investigation. If evidence is not gathered, then there is no case to bring against a driver. Prosecutions rely on competent investigations. Yet there are no national minimum standards for collision investigation, nor best practice standards. And no level of satisfaction surveys are conducted by police with crash victims on their experience of the investigation, despite level of satisfaction surveys being conducted for other types of crime. LCC knows from speaking to crash victims that often investigations can be lacking.

Charge. Few collisions involving a KSI reach a charging stage. And the combination of the type of offence and the way the data is collected makes it impossible to know how many. In 2018 in London, there were 41 prosecutions under death by driving charges[2], and 29 for causing serious injury/bodily harm. Yet the vast majority of serious injury cases will have been prosecuted under ‘Careless driving’. This is because no charge exists currently for ‘Causing serious injury by careless driving’. Thus of the 2,660 ‘careless driving’ prosecutions in London in 2018, it is impossible to know what proportion resulted in serious injury. And a driver who may have caused life-changing injury will receive a few points off their license and a fine. The charging issue is compounded by a tendency to ‘downgrade’. Drivers prosecuted for ‘dangerous driving’ will often have the CPS accept a guilty plea of ‘careless driving’, or the jury will find a driver guilty of the lesser plea.

 Sentencing. Sentences given to drivers who kill and injure are also indicative of our justice systems’ leniency. Sentencing serves to punish and rehabilitate an offender, protect the public, and deter criminality. The current sentences given for driving offences do not achieve these aims. Driving bans - the punishment that truly fits the crime - are woefully underused. And since 2007, the number of convicted motorists sent to prison has fallen by 47%. And 65% of all motoring offences are 6 months or less.

 

LCC is putting in plans to expand our campaigning for road justice. The experiences of our members, and cyclists concerned by the way the justice system treats victims will help us to do so. If you are interested in campaigning on traffic justice, please contact info@lcc.org.uk with road justice in the subject line.


[1]http://content.tfl.gov.uk/casualties-in-greater-london-2018.pdf

[2] Causing death by dangerous driving, Causing death by careless driving under influence of drink or drugs, Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, Causing death by driving unlicensed or uninsured, Causing death by aggravated vehicle taking

Categories: London

New government funding for cycling – but what’s for London?

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 16:06

The government, in a series of announcements before and over the weekend, has announced the first steps to ease the Covid-19 crisis lockdown in England. Included in those steps was much talk of the centrality of cycling in getting people moving again (the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson even suggested “this should be a new golden age for cycling”). But will the cash announced and guidance be enough to get people forced off public transport cycling instead of driving? And what funding will London specifically get? 

Public transport – not back soon

The Mayor of London, TfL and indeed the Prime Minister have all been clear that public transport will not be an option for most people to use for a long time. Estimates vary, but TfL reckons that social distancing measures will mean even with trains and buses running at full frequency, the network will only be able to serve between 13-20% of previous levels of use. Given the distances typically done on buses and tubes, this means a straight fight for those displaced journeys between cycling and the car.

Big money, but not in London

On Friday, Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, announced a massive £2 billion for walking and cycling. However it rapidly became clear that that wasn’t new money – it was part of the £5 billion already announced in February (including buses). It’s great news the funding levels for cycling are set to be hugely increased, though.

What was more welcome as new news was that £250 million of that funding is being brought forward for English councils to spend during the crisis on “pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors”. Again though, there’s a catch. When the £5 billion, which the £2 billion comes from, was announced it explicitly was for “every region outside London”.

The government had already cut the operating grant it gave to TfL by £700 million a year, as well as cutting it out of other funding streams too (including London’s share of Vehicle Excise Duty). Now, TfL will be forced to run a nearly full timetable, but with at best a fifth of previous fares, while simultaneously trying to roll out its Streetspace plan to boost walking and cycling and hold down car use. And none of the announced money appears to be heading towards London.

On top of that, the government's £27 billion road-building budget doesn't appear to be on hold, or much reduced. So while TfL are having to run a high-frequency public transport system without much in the way of fares, and as every day the cars come back to our roads, there still does not appear to be a clear settlement for how London is supposed to run public transport system, let alone do any more, from the DfT or government. As a result, we could well end up with worse motor traffic congestion and pollution than we’ve seen in decades if that funding isn’t made available, and fast. Without funding now, there is a very real risk that Londoners will be forced to choose between cramming into crowded tubes and buses or sitting in polluted, congested roads in cars.

Lockdown easing

As well as the funding, Shapps announced that trials of e-scooters will be brought forward for all over England, he also released new statutory guidance on highways designs that mainly serves to underline the urgent need to keep motor traffic levels downand Shapps backed this up in the guidance forward saying: “The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.”

Shapps also revealed that a new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy would be launched in the summer, alongside the creation of a national Walking & Cycling Commissioner post and “inspectorate” to back them, plus the long-awaited LTN 2/08 update of the government’s design guide for cycling, a long-term funding stream for active travel and at least one zero emissions city centre.

These are perhaps the most promising of all of the government’s announcements, but are yet to actually arrive. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Prime Minister announced the start of a plan to ease out of lockdown.

The plans include unlimited outdoor exercise, a phased return of schools and workplaces, with cafes coming later in July, if they can provide socially distanced space – and all of this subject to cases not rising again. The PM also touched directly on transport in his speech on Sunday: “Avoid public transport if at all possible… when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle.”

Again, the worry is without rapid action now and funding to enable it, it’ll be the first of those three transport modes more will use.

Categories: London

London in Lockdown: Webinar review

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 17:05

 

With the ongoing conversation about how exactly we transition out of lockdown, we sat down with our friends Dr Rachel Aldred and Mark Strong to talk about what exactly London should be doing to support walking and cycling right now and longer term.

The first of LCC’s new webinar series, we covered a huge amount of ground in just an hour.

Dr Rachel Aldred, Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster, started us off by talking about the health benefits of supporting cycling before and after the lockdown. From the link emerging links between air pollution risk of contracting Covid-19 and the dangers of the increased speeding on the quieter roads during lockdown, to the amazing results the Waltham Forest Mini-Holland programme is producing, she walked us through the need to enable more walking and cycling, demonstrating the effectiveness of enabling active travel during and after the crisis.

Simon Munk, LCC's Infrastructure Coordinator, then covered off the international response to this crisis, highlighting the steps that New York and Vilnius are taking to reallocate space to support their hospitality industries coming out of lockdown. Alongside this, Paris is trail blazing, planning to double the capacity of its tube network using cycle lane, and closing major streets to motor traffic.

Mark Strong, Managing Consultant, Transport Initiatives, then took us through the various legal reasons and traffic orders councils need to be aware of, and how to use them to create more space to widen pavements, create cycle lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods. The key take away is that there are ways to implement these measures – but that political will is the key ingredient.

Fran Graham, LCC's Campaign Coordinator, then finished off the talks looking at the longer term. Because before the covid-19 crisis, London was already dealing with an air pollution crisis and climate emergency – both of which haven’t gone away. The Mayor and London Councils need to make these temporary measures to support walking and cycle permanent, they need to look at Smart Road User Charging, and they need to look at the policy recommendations in LCC’s Climate Safe Streets report.

Watch the whole webinar (1hr) on Facebook here

Useful links from the webinar
Categories: London

Mayor announces “radical” plans for London

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 12:53

 

The Mayor Sadiq Khan and his Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman have trailed a major new “Streetscape Plan” to implement emergency measures during and as lockdown eases to ensure motor traffic levels do not return to where they were before the crisis, or higher, while also enabling millions of journeys to be walked and cycled across the city.

Details on the plan thus far are light, but include:

  • Pavement widening at key main road locations where social distancing and queuing for shops is proving impossible
  • “Repurposing general traffic lanes and parking spaces for temporary cycle lanes,” to create a “strategic cycling network using temporary materials, building new routes to reduce crowding on underground and train lines”
  • Traffic lights rephased to give more green man time
  • Bus/cycle only sections of road are being considered “at certain times of the day”

Early modelling by TfL, Norman says, shows that by the end of the crisis, the measures proposed could result in a tenfold increase in cycling, and five-fold in walking. What does that look like, how will we get there and what does it mean for London? In this rapidly-evolving situation, here’s a few of our initial thoughts:

  • Our existing calls as below stand, particularly around the climate crisis. The Mayor, TfL and City Hall must implement our Climate Safe Streets recommendations and should look to our Covid-19 crisis recommendations too such as 24/7 bus lanes, rapid expansion of the ULEZ and an emergency 20mph default.
  • Cycle parking and car parking will become rapidly vital to consider too – now is the moment to repurpose on-street and multi-storey car parking spaces to bike parking, particularly at key hubs such as in central London and town centres. Similarly, bike shops and mechanics could face a flood (and many already are, apparently) of custom – but people will need to be able to store those bikes somewhere at home too.
  • Capacity needs will be changing temporarily, perhaps long-term, but need a serious look at. Will a tenfold increase in cycling mean the Cycleway on the Embankment is far over capacity? Will we need loads more Cycleways urgently in central London? Or is TfL predicting most growth in cycling is between outer London town centres? Or both? We are asking the Mayor for his modelling now so we can start to understand where demand will be highest for cycle routes.
Our calls for emergency measures

LCC has of course been pushing for emergency measures in response to this crisis for some time. We wrote a brief list for the Mayor on 24 April and a broader list on 9 April. Summarised, these are:

  • Safe space for cycling… while car volumes are low using cones and temporary barriers to take carriage space on main roads
  • 24/7 bus lanes with no parking in, for buses and cycles only
  • Low traffic neighbourhoods – residential areas without ratruns
  • Smart road-user charging, with a rapid reinstatement of the congestion charge and expansion of the ULEZ
  • Keeping public parks and spaces open for cycling
  • Cutting speed limits to 20mph across London
  • Rephasing push button crossings
  • Using cycling as a tool for keyworkers, deliveries etc.
  • Most importantly, lock in permanent change for the better and implement the key findings of our Climate Safe Streets report.
Boroughs in action

As well as calling for emergency action, we’ve also tracked the response from individual London boroughs as they emerge. Hackney, Lambeth and Hammersmith & Fulham pre-empted TfL and City Hall in taking emergency action on their roads. As of this weekend, other boroughs are joining them in coning off sections of their roads to enable wider pavements and social distancing, and a second wave of plans have been announced to enable safer cycle routes. Many of our borough groups are pushing their councils for further action and suggesting locations where action is a priority. And at last, TfL and City Hall are taking action too.

TfL and City Hall spent the first few weeks of the Covid-19 crisis trying to keep public transport running, then trying to deal with staff safety. Meanwhile, Paris, New York and a growing list of global cities joined Bogota in taking emergency action on enabling cycling and walking, while London did not. On Friday, the Mayor and Commissioner finally announced similar action for London – following it over the weekend by widening pavements at locations across TfL’s network using temporary barriers. This is the first stage in the Streetscape Plan.

A "radical" plan?

Norman has called the emergency “Streetscape Plan” “radical” and “unparalleled in a city London’s size”, so theoretically topping Paris’ 650km of emergency cycle track plans and proposals to close major roads such as Rue de Rivoli to motor traffic.

The plan also pledges TfL will work with boroughs on town centres, shopping streets and “low traffic neighbourhoods”. This will be key. TfL’s congestion charge and ULEZ are currently suspended, and we understand that it could take up to three months to reinstate these from any point when the Mayor decides to do so. With motor traffic rates rising daily at the moment, any chance of enabling more people to cycle and walk now hangs in the balance.

Why action is needed

We know that people cycle in mass levels (levels we’re currently seeing sporadically in London), when cycling is kept separate from large numbers of fast moving motor vehicles, and/or on roads that are truly quiet, in a coherent, comprehensive network of direct routes. All the nurses, keyworkers and parents and children cycling on side roads and main roads won’t keep doing so if and when the motor traffic returns. And while TfL can take rapid action on main roads, if all the ratruns are still available, London will rapidly become a no-go city for most to cycle in. So boroughs acting on their roads too will be imperative.

Lambeth. Hackney and Hammersmith & Fulham are already moving, Richmond, Waltham Forest, Camden and others are close behind. Whereas, what have Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Havering etc. said? Not much so far, sadly. If and when the cars do all come back, it will rapidly become clear which boroughs prize motor traffic movements over their residents’ health and safety – and it won’t be just about cycling. The most obvious issue will be pollution.

The need for rapid action is because, as Norman says in his BikeBiz article: “With London’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels, up to eight million journeys a day will need to be made by other means.” If buses and trains and tubes can’t get people returning to work, shops, restaurants there as London’s lockdown eases, what will? Cars?

The spread and lethality of Covid-19, it looks increasingly likely, is exacerbated by pollution levels. And of course, the current crisis will be followed by a far larger one, in the form of the climate emergency. Even returning to current motor traffic levels would be a disaster on emissions, pollution, but also inactivity, and road danger. But we could easily face motor traffic levels far higher than we’ve seen in decades.

The Streetscape plan and borough action will be absolutely vital in ensuring we don’t face a London not just economically weakened by lockdown, but with worse air quality, road danger and climate-changing emissions.

 

Categories: London

Lockdown guide to rides and guides

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 17:29

Lockdown guide to rides and guides

Before the lockdown, experienced riders and new cyclists alike could enjoy hundreds of free guided cycle rides run by LCC members - we even ran 30 rides for families to the annual Freecycle event.

But do not despair – we have a solution. Even though all group rides are cancelled and we are advised to exercise only locally, there are still hundreds of attractive and inspiring local London rides, recorded by LCC members, and others, that you can make with, or without, children. There are some in every part of London.   

The great reduction in car traffic, especially on residential streets, has made those rides more pleasant, and safer, for novices and youngsters. Identifying where to ride is not that difficult, though at busy times you may wish to avoid canal routes and some parks to keep 2m apart from others. 

Please follow government advice and do not travel across town to enjoy rides - stick to local routes near your home.

Journey planners:

LCC’s route  planner  (top left of  home page) uses Cycle Streets mapping – enter where you’d like to go and select quietest route option.

TfL’s journey planner  (select Edit preferences and choose the Cycling tab) is another option – again choose the quietest route option.

Google Maps cycling option – sometimes hit and miss but often picks out useful routes.

Guide books and maps

Many of the rides favoured by LCC ride leaders are chronicled in illustrated guide books– often available second hand online for a couple of pounds. They are also included the (out of print) hard copy maps which LCC created and are effectively a part of the online journey planners which drew on the same user input. 

Guide books

London Cycling Guide 3rd edition IMM,  - Tom Bogdanowicz

This recent guide, written with the assistance of numerous LCC members, features more than 30 classic London routes from 1hr to 4 hrs (they can be easily split into sections) along quiet streets plus 10 popular park rides. There are detailed maps (Open Street map) of each route, instructions, route timings, descriptions of sights and illustrations.

Cycle London,   Time Out, 2 - rides by Patrick Field

Another guide with LCC heritage, the ride editor is an LCC veteran, you get 13 rides in London plus another dozen longer trips beyond London and therfore only local for those who happen to live on the outskirts of the capital. There are detailed maps for  all the London routes plus instructions and plentiful photos.

Where to Ride London, BA Press - Nick Woodford

A grand total of 50 rides, mostly loops, of which the majority are within Greater London with notes on distances, terrain, and traffic plus descriptions and photos  The maps are not detailed so you will have to rely on the provided ride logs or use a smart  phone.  

The London Cycle Guide, Haynes,  – Nicky Crowther (out of print)

While this guide was last updated in 2000 and predates the many improvements in cycle infrastructure since then,  it was written in consultation with LCC members and features some classic local rides. The maps are based on the A to Z London mapping from the Ordnance Survey

Mapping sites:

Sites such as https://www.mapmyride.com/gb/london-eng/ show dozens of local rides. Cross check them with the journey planners above to make sure you are choosing quiet streets.

Maps

Local Cycling Guides 1 -14 Transport for London,   (out of print)

These maps are ideal for local route planning largely because they are so much bigger than a smart phone or even a PC.  If you are lucky enough to have a cycle shop (many are open to service key worker and other bikes) which has old copies or an LCC member as a  neighbour who may have old stocks then you are sorted.

Categories: London

London lockdown latest: cycling routes

Fri, 04/24/2020 - 16:28

Photo credit: @raphaelzy3

We’ve asked our borough groups to send us the highest priority routes for temporary protected space for cycling during lockdown and as it eases. We’re looking for those routes with most potential to be rapidly deployed – main roads with multiple lanes, now spare capacity – and which parallel key bus and tube routes. These can be both TfL-controlled “TLRN” routes and borough controlled main roads too. Or if you’ve got an idea for a Quietway-style route that’s high capacity, needs minimal intervention, give us that too.

Global envy

Those interested in walking, cycling and sustainable transport have watched with envy as the rest of the world, beyond the UK, has cracked on with delivering emergency cycle lanes and widened pavements to ensure people walking and cycling can queue outside shops and get around safely during the global crisis, while we’ve done nothing. Cities such as Bogota, New York and Berlin have slammed in miles of cycle track using temporary measures, and Milan has come out with a clear plan for what happens when lockdown measures start being eased off. London? Not so much… so far.

We’ve also watched with concern as a majority of British people surveyed who hold driving licences, but don’t currently own a car, are now thinking of buying one; while in Wuhan, their lockdown easing has seen mode share for driving double while public transport halved. In other words, it should now be clear to everyone that lots of people see the car as the answer to avoiding  public transport currently – and that’s set to continue long after the current lockdown eases.

It’s also obvious that lockdown easing won’t mean a return to “normal” – social distancing measures of some sort are likely to remain for a long time, including a skeleton public transport service, with controls for crowding and therefore far lower capacities per bus or train. Another reason why public transport use is not set to return to normal for years, possibly.

In London, that could easily result in a catastrophic rise in car use, particularly in outer London. And that in turn would be terrible for walking and cycling – active travel rates are entirely based around safe-feeling routes and lower motor traffic volumes. Loads of the keyworkers currently cycling to work won’t continue if/when motor traffic levels rise back to where they were, much less if they end up even worse than before. 

Why not London?

So why has London and the UK seen so little temporary action on our roads? Hammersmith & Fulham started widening a few pavements on 22ndApril; Brighton has closed a couple of roads during the day and in Barnes, a local community association of shops and residents has taken the initiative and coned off parking without seeking approval. But that’s about it… so far.

Partly this is because in the UK doing almost anything involving restricting car parking and access for motor vehicles requires formal consultation. The press in the last few days has trumpeted a slashing of red tape on this issue but just isn’t the case… right now. The Department for Transport has simply eased some of the consultation notices required as loads of local papers aren’t printing. But the consultations still have to happen.

Cycling UK, and transport experts including Adrian Lord, Mark Strong and Mark Philpotts have all been working through the legislation. Strong helped get in the timed filters for a three week emergency period in Brighton by arguing there was a clear safety risk in not doing so to the public – from lots of people walking in the street to socially distance being passed far too often, too close and too fast by drivers.

The Cycling UK guidance for officers shows that coning off sections of road, putting in temporary barriers is possible without formal consultation if the council still do their due diligence and there’s a clear and pressing public safety issue. Mandatory cycle lanes can also go in without changes to parking without consultation. But filtering low traffic neighbourhoods, as Hackney suggested it would do on a temporary basis? It’s no easier than before – although there is potential for the DfT to change this.

In summary: the good news is there is little stopping your council coning off parts of the highway where there’s an evidenced public safety issue; the bad news is that there’s little else your council is likely able to do very easily in the sort term. That said, we are hearing of some London councils who are preparing to go further and respond to the crisis by also filtering residential streets – but this is likely to require online consultation and more resources at this time than many will manage.

The Mayor must act

At a more regional level, it’s clear that after weeks of just trying to keep London’s transport system moving, and keeping its workers alive, sharp minds at TfL and City Hall are turning to what happens next. Not only does TfL face the prospect of a city with running tubes and buses, but few riders – and the budget implications that come with that, potentially for years. It also faces rising car use discouraging people from riding their bikes.

Right now, we’re asking the Mayor and his team to do four things with urgency (as well as a load of other stuff too):

  • Move to rapidly deliver safe space for cycling on many key routes while car volumes are low. That’s why we need your suggestions.
  • Make every bus lane in London 24/7 with parking prohibited.
  • Help boroughs deliver low traffic neighbourhoods – if motor traffic volumes do head back towards normal (as they already noticeably are!), and main roads are coned off for cycling, ratruns will be worse than ever, and a huge proportion of London’s residents won’t just lose the birdsong and peace and air quality they’ve experienced lately, they’ll miss the chance for their kids to play out too.
  • Rapidly accelerate plans for smart road-user charging that would help plug the hole in budgets and keep many of those unnecessary car journeys off our roads.

You can read our full thoughts on this here https://lcc.org.uk/articles/cycling-and-the-covid-19-crisis

This is a straight fight right now between cycling and car use. Most bus and tube journeys are too far to be walked. So if we don’t get the cycling right, we’ll see the cars come back, and probably to higher volumes than we’ve seen in decades.

No going back…

We miss our friends, we miss eating out, we miss a thriving, happy city. But we don’t miss people driving 200m to drop kids at school, or 1km to the shops. We don’t miss the haze of pollution that covered the city, resulting in near 10,000 premature deaths each year, nor do we miss the catastrophic, climate changing, levels of emissions.

We like hearing bird song, and having quiet residential streets to cycle or walk with children on – and many Londoners are saying they want to keep that. There’s #NoGoingBack - particularly given how clear it is that it was the cars all along causing all that pollution - not cycle tracks(!). And particularly too given respiratory viruses like Covid-19 are more easily spread and more lethal in cities where pollution levels are off the chart – as London was.

Never again should our city choose car driving convenience over our lives, our climate. Right now that means picking out cycle routes that can replace car journeys and public transport. As motor traffic volumes rise, we’ll also need to focus on residential streets and low traffic neighbourhoods. But today, it’s about safe walking social distancing pavement widths and high capacity cycle routes to get people to work without using a car.

Categories: London

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