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Updated: 27 min 31 sec ago

Updated campaigning resources list

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 18:13

With so much change happening both in London and beyond we've been getting a lot of requests for guides on campaigning, background information and evidence to support the effectiveness of walking and cycling schemes. We're in the process of updating our website and getting all this stuff in better order but for now this is your go-to page so get it bookmarked.

The LCC 'Activist Resources' pages have guidance on planning and running campaigns. The Campaigners Handbook is the core document in this section but there are also useful guides to help you run a healthy group and meetings, work with the media, and use social media constructively.

LCC "Infrastructure" pages have tools to help you evaluate scheme designs, respond to consultations and campaign around infrastructure schemes effectively. The core document here is the Infrastructure Handbook.

As a cycling campaign the pages and documents linked above tend to have a cycling specific outlook. Many LCC local groups and the office are increasingly working closely in many areas with other green, air quality and active travel groups like Living Streets and Mums For Lungs. The Better Streets Handbook will be really relevant to your conversations with wider resident groups - particularly for Low Traffic Neighbourhood type schemes. It's a bit "rough and ready" but it's where we're pulling together evidence and case studies quotes and more and we've realised it's better to make this available now, than spend longer getting it perfect and shiny. Within it there are lots of links out to excellent work by others in the field including Sustrans and Living Streets.

The Better Streets Mythbuster contains responses and evidence relating to the many worries and myths that seem to come up whenever an Active Travel or Low Traffic scheme is proposed. Note the health warning at the start - it's better to use these answers to build positive messages as 'mythbusting' can itself reinforce the myths.

Brian Deegan's "Ideas with Beers" started as a Tuesday night after work drink in a Manchester pub but the Covid-19 lockdown has turned it into a weekly national Zoom call from the Active Travel frontier. Each week starts with a news update from Dr Robert Davis of the Road Danger Reduction Forum and is followed by presentations from campaigners and transport professionals. Many of these are collected in the IdeasWithBeers Archive.

Categories: London

"At All Times" TfL Bus Lane Trial - help needed!

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 11:48

TfL have made more than 80km of London’s bus lanes ‘’At All Times” and every day of the week as part of the Streetspace programme (Details and consultation). For existing cyclists this is a big win, extending the hours when bus lanes offer some protection and hopefully stopping some of the most dangerous driver behaviour out of bus lane hours. 

 

To the best of our knowledge all *red routes* within the following boroughs are now “At Any Time”.  Rolling out a change this big overnight was impressive but there’s some snagging to be done.  The existing signs have been modified with stickers but it seems that some have been missed.  

 

You can help by reporting them to us and we’ll collate and pass on to TfL.  

 

Email your reports to LondonCyclingData@lcc.org.uk 

Give as much detail as possible - ideally include - 

  • A photo of the sign
  • A description to pin down the location: 
  • Date spotted (so that they know if they’ve since fixed it)
  • Road (eg Brixton Road/A23) 
  • Direction of travel/side of road (east/west/north/south best)
  • Nearest landmark (eg south of junction with X road, next to kebab shop etc) 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Red Routes in the following boroughs are included in the trial and should have updated signage:

Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster. 

 

Red Routes in the following boroughs appear to be excluded from the trial at the present time: 

Harrow, Barnet, Hillingdon, Ealing, Newham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Richmond, Kingston

 

Categories: London

New videos help riders enjoy new cycle routes

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 14:27

If you are new to cycling in London read on for helpful videos and advice. If you are a regular rider please share this page with anyone you know who may need advice or guidance as they take advantage of the many new school streets, temporary cycle tracks and  neighbourhoods where through traffic has been restricted.

Many of us took the opportunity of lockdown to try cycling on the roads with children - the absence of motor traffic made it easy and pleasant. A lot of that traffic is back but TfL and some councils have retained the more inviting (car-free, or low traffic ) conditions by installing protected cycle lanes,  neighbourhoods where through traffic is restricted, school streets which are closed to traffic at drop-off and pick-up times and some additional bike stands. 

But while the new infrastrucutre and quieter neighbourhoods are enjoyable and inviting,  new riders can also benefit from both tips and training.  "Bikeability" confidence training with qualified instructors is  a first choice for new riders and socially distanced traning is becoming avalaible in some boroughs (check council websites for updates on the return of traning schemes) . If you can't access Bikeability  you can take advantage of the remote learning below, or participate in the  fresh 'Cycle Buddies' intiatives providing one to one route guidance offered  by  volunteers from several of  LCC's local groups. 

Here are our recommended videos: 

First off there is the excellent Return  to Cycling video from LCC presented by Clara Parr 

Second the newTfL cycle skills video course  which not only gives you assorted tips on urban cycling but also, if you complete the course, gives you a day's free travel on a Santander cyle hire bike. There are four short modules including one on cycling with children.

Thirdly, we've already promoted the Cycle Scotland Bikeability videos for children.  These are the training steps of the national Bikeability programme which, under normal circumstances, is run in many schools and in special sessions for adults. These video clips, split into stages, were made for Cycle Scotland

Bikeability level 1 is set in a traffic free environment and teaches basic bike checks and control skills.

Bikeability level 2 is conducted on road and teaches how to negotiate simpler  junctions and less busy road environments  

Bikeability level 3 – not covered by these videos, teaches journey planning and negotiation of more complex junctions.

Bikeablity traning is due to resumes in schools so  you may wish to ask at your chldren's school whether sessions are being conducted (they usually take place in primary school in years 5 and 6) 

Fourthy and finally here is a link to a video from Ford and LCC specifically about avoiding lorry danger in which a lorry driver and cyclist exchange places to see the view from above and from below. 

Categories: London

3 tips to getting the best out of your free Lost Lanes guides

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 12:39

The Lost Lanes books, included in the current LCC membership promotion, are the premier guides to leisure cycling in the north and south of England’s most secluded and scenic lanes. This is a short blog on how to plan a fun day out for yourself, your family, or a small group of friends using them.

1. Picking your rides, made easy

With 36 routes to choose from in the original Lost Lanes guide alone, deciding on one may seem a puzzler. Thankfully, the guide sets out route lengths, terrain types, how much traffic you might expect, and how easy or challenging a given route is in a helpful table listing all the rides on pages 10-11. There’s even a special ride to do at night!

The same ‘at a glance’ guide recommends which London zone 1 train stations offer fast transportations to the more distant routes, too. At weekends, it’s reliably easy bringing cycles onto the train. In Lost Lanes North, the same ‘at a glance’ guide has all the same info but recommends a train station to start from, instead.

2. Make following the routes a breeze

The book is great – but you don’t want to be stopping every few minutes to navigate around it, do you? In each route, there’s a link to a download page that gives options for following it.

Old school: Your first choice is a full Ordnance Survey map, which you can print out at whichever scale is easiest for you to use (you may find it useful to keep this in a see-through map case).

Newer school: Downloading the route as a .GPX file. This is an increasingly popular way to follow cycle routes, because they can be used on popular GPS devices or just on a smartphone. The GPX format is very easy to use, it will clearly direct you around the route and you’ll never miss a turn. Jack published a good guide to using these downloads here: https://lostlanes.co.uk/gps-on-tablets-and-smartphones/

3. Getting your breaks and stops bang-on

Assuming you’re not wanting to set a course record, you’ll be thinking of a stop (or more!) on your day out. Jack has tracked inns, cafes and cycle shops on each route, so you can think about where would be ideal for a break. You can be sure that if they’re in Jack’s guide, you and your cycle will be welcome. 

Wrapping up

We’ve chosen the Lost Lanes books for our membership promotion hoping that you’ll either find new joy in your cycling, or refer a friend, to find the same. So if you aren’t already a member, or if you are already but think you could persuade a friend to join, don’t miss out on this offer.

While campaigning for cyclists’ interests is decidedly the day job at LCC, there is no shortage of people who just love riding in our towns and lanes in our community. We hope this will help you out, and if you find the books and tips helpful, tag us in your social media and keep us informed of what you’re up to! 

Categories: London

Mid-September 2020, London's streets news round-up

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 15:45

 

Written by LCC Infrastructure Campaigner, Simon Munk

If you’re active in a borough group or you’ve just been cycling, walking or even just existing in London, you’ll have noticed a lot of stuff likely happening on our streets, some of it involving very angry shouty people, some of it involving plastic barriers and some of it involving loads of cars. Here’s our ready reckoner on the state of London in September 2020 and what you can do about it!

Stop the traffic tide

The DfT and TfL have funded a wave of crisis-response “Streetspace” schemes. Their aim is to try and get some of the people who are avoiding public transport to also avoid cars as their go-to for journeys in London and use cycling or walking instead. If even a few percent of people shift from buses and tubes to cars, we’re all stuffed – and the signs are that is happening right now.

Some areas in London, we’re hearing are already significantly over pre-lockdown levels of motor traffic, and that’s before we see most people going back to office life. Obviously there’s a big question mark over how much commuting we’ll see medium and long term – many people don’t seem to be going back to central London at all, others look set to arrive and depart out of peak or only go in on some weekdays. But again, despite that, many are predicting that enough of the commuting and non-commuting trips will switch to cars that we’ll be utterly gridlocked. And that does appear to be happening in some areas already – although it’s too early to tell for sure, and traffic patterns are all over the place.

The first round of funding for schemes finishes at the end of September. So if you borough has schemes on this list that aren’t done yet, please get your local group to contact the council and ask where those schemes are, urgently!

The second round of funding is being decided on right now, and we’re expecting an announcement soon, but schemes are then to be delivered by the end of financial year. So that gives boroughs a bit more breathing space to monitor round 1 schemes, let them settle, tweak and improve them, and then learn from them for round 2. We’re also hearing round 2 schemes might be more permanently minded and indeed bigger and bolder – these “temporary plus” schemes could for instance include changes to junction designs and signals that have been largely avoided in round 1.

The political landscape

Of course, the round 2 schemes and further work from TfL also probably relies on a funding approach being agreed between the DfT, government, TfL and the Mayor. TfL’s finances have a massive hole, and we’re one of the only big cities in the world that receives no fundamental subsidy from government. So we wait with baited breath to see the result of the sadly clearly political negotiations happening.

The political posturing around London’s transport is doing no one any favours. The Conservative government is being bolder on walking, cycling and transport than ever before, as is London’s Labour Mayor. Both are promoting the rapid roll-out of temporary schemes taking roadspace from cars and giving it to walking and cycling during this crisis and beyond. And Conservative, Labour, Green, Lib Dem – all mainstream politics are broadly in alignment on cycling, walking, active travel, climate, public transport, car use. Yet on a regional and local level we’re seeing all stripes of politicians oppose and attack schemes, diverge wildly from party policy etc. Why? Because they’re getting shouted at by a minority of very vocal residents. 

Who is against the schemes?

Who is doing the shouting? For the most part, drivers who’re being inconvenienced (often just temporarily, as schemes bed in). Most voluble? As ever, sadly, taxi drivers – who can’t seem to grasp the opportunity lower car ownership and use presents them, or the real, far bigger threats to their livelihoods – are leading the charge, it would appear, aided and abetted by politicians such as London Assembly member David Kurten (independent, ex-UKIP) and far-right campaigners.

These are joined by other professional and local drivers but also many local residents, for some of whom are angry about (again likely temporary) driving inconvenience, but others who have concerns and fears around the scheme, some real and some more mythical – often fed by those determined to undermine the scheme. Our new mythbuster and beat the “bikelash” page aims to give local groups a good set of answers to rebut most of such worries.

What schemes are going in?

In your area, you’re likely to have seen pavement widening schemes going in on shopping streets first, some very soon after lockdown. Many boroughs are now removing these, and some are reinstating parking too. While the barriers used were themselves barriers to people crossing the road, and the schemes were sometimes underused and confusing, as well as failing to provide well for disabled people, in other areas semi-permanent schemes using quick-laid asphalt have worked really well at claiming space from roads for people walking – and we’d like to see a lot of these schemes upgraded rather than just scrapped.

On top of these, the most visible other schemes are main road cycle tracks with those cycling protected by “wands”, plastic posts bolted into the road; and “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods” (LTNs). These latter are proving even more controversial than cycle tracks (but yes, cycle tracks also are remaining controversial too).

Hopefully it doesn’t need much explanation as to why cycle tracks are important these days – simply put, most people won’t cycle without these; put them in and suddenly you’ll see women and kids riding where you didn’t before. However, missing long-term from most of the cycle track schemes is junction treatments – and this will be an increasingly pressing issue if we are to see lots more people cycling, new people cycling and yet cars able to too easily turn across the paths of forward moving cyclists.

LTNs are the more complex issue. Residential areas closed off with bollards, planters and number-plate ANPR cameras – to get rid of ratrun/through motor traffic. Councils are scrambling to learn how to deliver these, they’re hard to understand until you’ve experienced them and they can (like cycle tracks) cause (mostly) temporary traffic chaos. So why do them? Because the results for these are mostly fantastic.

By making residential areas no use to through motor traffic you not only massively reduce the motor traffic on these streets, you also reduce motor traffic levels overall. This is “traffic evaporation”. Ratrun traffic is diverted onto nearby main roads. For a month or three these main roads bung up. Which is horrible. But then gradually, folks start to change their habits. This is well evidenced and documented. Drivers give up and stick to bigger main roads, drive outside the area, or they just give up and take the tube, or cycle, or don’t do the journey. Similarly, residents inside an LTN over time (according to research from Dr Rachel Aldred, University of Westminster) also ditch the car more often. That ten minute journey becomes 15 minutes, but it’s now only ten minutes on quiet roads to cycle, or 20 to walk. So people switch. LTNs like main roads also unlock cycling for lots of people you otherwise just don’t see in London on bikes – kids riding independently, women in hijabs, parents on cargo bikes etc. But these schemes do have a pain barrier, and lots of London is going through that right now.

School Streets are also going in – they’re like time-limited LTNs – stopping motor traffic from driving onto or along streets where primary schools are. There are hundreds of these schemes and hundred of LTN filters going in between now and the end of September in an attempt to curb the worst of the car school run, and get kids and parents travelling actively.

The 'new normal' needs time to bed in

As above there’s a lot of these schemes going in right now, many of them imperfectly designed or communicated by councils struggling to deliver at pace. Many will need further additions or tweaks once they’ve settled and been monitored. And there’ll be a round 2 to contend with too. All of that adds up to a lot of chaos, right now.

We know that significant parts of London without schemes are seeing traffic levels above pre-lockdown levels. We know the pattern of commuting and movement in London is changing daily as schools go back without free bus travel and parents go back to work. We know that some schemes are indeed also displacing significant amounts of traffic onto other areas, main roads etc. What do we not know? How this all settles down – what the “new normal” London looks like, and therefore which schemes will need tweaks etc. But we also know that forward progress is far more important than just about anything else.

We know that we face not just a respiratory crisis, possible second wave and need for safe social distancing, but even bigger, ongoing crises of pollution, inactivity, climate, road danger. These are with us constantly, have been for decades, and climate of course has a very limited time for us to take action on or the consequences globally will be disastrous for all future generations. The idea that we can sit back and do less in this crisis has been comprehensively debunked by our work with the Healthy Streets Borough Scorecard. This shows that in the year before Covid-19, even the boldest and bravest boroughs were not doing enough to hit targets to make climate safe, and safe, streets. The future isn’t to go slower and get everything perfect, or to let the shoutiest of residents in an area dominate every issue. The future has to be bold, rapid progress to decarbonise transport in London and get rid of the majority of motor traffic journeys, that TfL says could be done by other modes, other ways.

In short, if you think the change in London is fast now, it’s going to calm down in a couple of months, but hopefully not slow down much.

Categories: London

LCC supports "Low Traffic Neighbourhoods"

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 11:33

Read the full letter LCC and 132 other organisations have signed in support of l"Low Traffic Neighbourhoods" here and see all signatories to it.

As most of you have probably noticed, the Streetspace Plan for London, the first round of which is being delivered now and through to end September, is causing some waves in London. Amazingly and for once, the most controversy seems to not be around the main road cycle tracks that are rolling out across the capital (although some taxi drivers and radio presenters do, perhaps unsurprisingly, seem annoyed by these too). The main controversy seems to be about the rapid roll-out of "Low Traffic Neighbourhoods" (LTNs) across boroughs.

Fairly unsurprisingly, we're big supporters of LTNs - indeed it's arguable that the guides to creating them that we authored with Living Streets has popularised the current term now used for them. But in the current situation, with LTNs rolling out rapidly as trials across not just London, but by DfT mandate across many other towns and cities in England, 133 active travel, clean air and environmental organisations including London Cycling Campaign and many of our borough groups have signed a letter supporting councils which are rolling these schemes out, bravely, against some coordinated and concerted opposition.

As the letter makes clear, "we hope this is just the beginning of an ambitious plan to transform our streets for the better - with speed reduction, safer crossings, anti-social parking enforcement, protected cycle lanes, controlled parking zones, an increase in cycle parking, parklets, and other incentives to reduce car ownership. We support Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that reduce congestion and air pollution on residential and main roads and we call for more local councils to work with residents to implement them."

One key part of that implementation that has been much criticised is the "lack of consultation". However, as our recent guide to better engagement and consultation with Urban Movement makes clear, the way residents were consulted prior to lockdown wasn't working well, and using trials to enable residents to see past jargon and incomprehensible top-down schema, to experience the scheme in situ, can be a far better way to engage and consult. Residents experiencing a trial scheme are far more able, once the scheme has bedded in, to make an informed assessment of the scheme, and officers are also able to often tweak elements of the scheme in situ to improve it and deal with emerging negative outcomes. This is faster, often cheaper and will as an approach likely lead to fewer cancelled or weakened schemes, as well as likely engaging a wider and more representative slice of residents than the previous approach did.

Categories: London

The new and improved LCC Lost Lanes membership offer is back!

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 13:02

 

Mooting a cycling staycation? The Lost Lanes series of guidebooks to the UK's quietest and friendliest routes could be the perfect inspiration, and we'd love to welcome you or a friend to LCC membership with a free pair of Lost Lanes books.

The books are:

The original Lost Lanes guide to southern England

The new Lost Lanes guide to northern England

 

To claim the offer, for yourself as a new member or by referring a friend, visit the offer page which includes the full terms and conditions of the offer.  

 

Don't miss out on this terrific deal, and be sure to tag us on social media posts to share where the books took you!

Categories: London

Cycle Buddies is Expanding

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 16:23

Can you help Cycle Buddies expand across London?  We’re looking for experienced cyclists who are happy to volunteer a few hours to ride with new cyclists, helping them plan their journeys and giving them encouragement.

Cycle Buddies is up and running in Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth and Brent and we are delighted to welcome Camden aboard this week.  We’re expecting to start in other boroughs including Islington, Tower Hamlets and Lewisham soon. 

If you want to help out new cyclists and share the joy and freedom of getting around by bike, sign up here and we will put you in touch with your local borough group when the scheme is ready to go.  (And if you’re a new cyclist looking for help, you can sign up here too).

You can find out more about Cycle Buddies here

Categories: London

Streetspace main road cycle routes arrive

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 17:06

While there’s been a lot of noise of late about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) going in across London at the moment and beyond, it’s now going to be the turn of the main roads to get schemes. TfL in its first round of crisis funding announced it was spending over half of its total funding on “strategic cycle route” schemes – and a significant chunk of the 65 schemes across at least 27 boroughs are main roads. 

On top of that, TfL is also doing schemes on the “TLRN” roads it has direct control over, such as the A21 in Lewisham, which it has just announced plans for, and the CS7 upgrade to protected space in construction right now in Balham.

Round one funding schemes are due to be complete by the end of September, so schemes such as the A1000 in Barnet, Harrow Road in Brent, York Way in Camden, Uxbridge Road in Ealing, Green Lanes in Hackney, Romford Road in Newham, Kensington High Street in K&C, Kew Road in Richmond, and Garratt Lane in Wandsworth should all be in construction shortly. Hounslow Council has also just announced the beginning of the Cycleway 9 construction on Chiswick High Road in temporary materials.

Quality control in a crisis

There are questions and issues regarding these main road schemes as they emerge, that are also worth considering too, particularly around quality:

  • Schemes going in right now are avoiding, due to time and budget constraints, most major changes to junction signal timings and phasings etc. A few junctions are getting cycle “early release” lights, but these only provide improved protection for those cycling who arrive on a red light. And as below, they aren’t sufficient protection to enable all ages and abilities to cycle through the junction in comfort. Banned turns are better – but can cause issues with opposition and obviously have to be planned on a network basis. More, renowned engineers like Brian Deegan are busily producing all sorts of other ideas on how to design temporary junction changes in the UK that haven’t been picked up in London, yet. Either way, junctions, comfort and “hook risk” collisions remain a concern in several main road schemes we’ve already seen.
  • All of the schemes thus far seem very clearly designed not to impact buses – with many of the schemes using bus lanes as cycle provision for significant parts of the route. Obviously, the more motor vehicles able to use bus lanes, the less useful they are for cycling (motorbikes and taxis are often allowed into bus lanes); but more, bus lanes simply aren’t the “all ages, all abilities” provision that we need to enable most people to cycle in London. Using bus lanes for cycle routes may well be a pragmatic response to reallocating roadspace in a crisis right now, but may well cause real issues when it comes to a transition to a viable, permanent scheme.
  • Provision at bus stops also needs consideration – a few schemes are using “bus stop bypass” provision where the track goes around the back of the bus shelter/waiting area, and some are using “bus stop boarder” type approaches where the cycle track passes between shelter and road/bus cage where the bus stops, often with a small waiting/alighting area between track and road. These approaches are far better than several schemes which simply see the track ending where the bus cage begins, so the bus effectively parks across the track. Obviously, this approach in a temporary scheme, where width is narrow may be acceptable, but it again will fail the “all ages, all abilities” test.
  • Width of cycle track, usable width with protection type used, and level of protection provided all seem to be issues emerging with main road schemes too. Solid, water-filled barriers (these look like big pieces of red and white Lego) are cheap, quick to put in, but do take up a lot of space, need thought to provide gaps to enter and exit the cycle track and cross it for pedestrians, and can be shunted about by motor vehicles easily. Simple cones, placed in the road are worst. And, of course, a couple of councils including Westminster have also gone for just painted lanes – which is directly against both DfT and TfL guidance on schemes now (see below). Best of all, so far are “wands”, plastic poles bolted into the carriage spaced at regular intervals along the route. Wands, “orcas” and other “semi-segregated” protection need to be spaced regularly along the entire route, in a manner that avoids drivers simply parking between protection, but so that those cycling can come in and out of the protection easily.
  • Side road junctions are also a concern in schemes we’ve seen – we’d like to see more use of blue paint to highlight cycle lanes crossing the junction mouth as an emergency measure, more tightening up of kerb radii to encourage slower, calmer turns in and out by motor vehicles (using painted chevrons or bolt-in blocks) – this would also cut pavement crossing widths and increase pavement size. And we’d like to see raised tables going in for side roads that don’t feature them yet. Any bidirectional temporary scheme (such as being done for Cycleway 9) will particularly need to be careful about design around side road crossings – and potentially consider introducing LTNs or other measures to reduce turning movements across the track.
  • Finally, these emergency schemes should absolutely be introduced as much as possible with all of the good design guidance now out: the DfT’s new LTN 1/20 cycling design guide and Gear Change document, TfL’s London Cycling Design Standards guide and Quality Criteria.
Categories: London

Finding your way on London’s cycle infrastructure (Part 2)

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 16:40

 

Signage of cycle routes in London is a mess - there's now a mix of Sustrans National Cycle Network signs, London Cycle Network, the original Cycle Superhighway/Quietway and the new Cycleway signage. London now has LCN5, CS5, Q5 and C5. Quietway route 5 was partly rebranded C5, and Q5 replaced some bits of the old LCN route (but the old signage and paint wasn’t removed where it remains, in weird disconnected sections). What does a 5 painted on the road mean? Answers on a postcard, please. And does anyone understand the point of un-numbered bits of Q or C signage that appear without destinations? So there's a bit of good cycle route there but it's up to you to work out if it takes you anywhere useful. Great.

The newest Cycleway signage (as above) is probably the best London has done. It is clear, easy to read, and generally points you towards the next place along the route that you will have heard of. We also think that using time rather than distance is helpful - junctions influence trip time more than cycling speed in London so this doesn’t vary much between riders.

The new Cycleway signgage does also have a big problem though. Only cycleways which meet TfL's 2019 quality criteria are being renumbered and signed. In theory that makes sense in terms of giving some comfort on the quality of the route. But the quality criteria are still too weak to deliver a guaranteed safe-feeling route for most riders. More to the point, the high quality network is still limited and you actually need to find your way to your destination despite that.

Plus, while TfL's signage guidance says "use of multiple brands can be confusing and misleading for existing and potential customers", there seems to be no real plan to deal with old LCN routes. In theory sections that meet the quality bar could be re-signed but we've yet to see that happen anywhere. More of an issue is that all the old signage on other sections is not being either wholesale removed or maintained, even as routes change or are removed over time. Much of the LCN is now hard to follow (or disappears completely before the signed destination).

Unless something changes, London cycle route signing seems destined to remain ‘confusing and misleading’ for many years yet.

Why signage matters

The motor traffic network is signed consistently and comprehensively nationwide. Motorists aren't left with bits of old road numbering systems that no longer continue to their original destination. We need the same for London’s cyclists. Separate quality from signage - give us the equivalent of A and B roads where one is high quality and the other can be upgraded in future (people can use their digital mapping to specify or filter route quality).

There's some urgency to this too. As pointed out in the first part of this blog, London is seeing a lot of new routes and new, confused cyclists. None of the new emergency cycleways are currently signed so how are people supposed to follow them (or in some cases even find their way onto them)? Potential routes are being created through Low Traffic Neighbourhoods too (Lambeth, for example, is prioritising creating “Healthy Routes” between the places people want to go but these dont have route numbers or signage). We need a wayfinding/destination marking system that can cope with this and we need to be able to roll out signage very quickly.

There's precedent - much of the Sustrans National Cycle network is signed with stickers on lampposts. It's definitely not a perfect solution - but it has potential to be rolled out quickly and cheaply (lots of stickers, on lots of lamposts, along a route) ideally coupled with paint on the road in key places. It's also easy to revise if some of the temporary measures are changed - stickers can be removed or new ones stuck over the top.

Once it's in place TfL could then go back and work on implementing full high quality signage over time as the new routes are upgraded and made permanent.

Categories: London

Finding your way on London’s cycle infrastructure (Part 1)

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 16:08

Right now London has both a lot of new cycle infrastructure (and quieter streets for cycling in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods) and a big growth in new cyclists trying to find their way around the post-COVID city with its restricted public transport.

Printed maps have been superseded for nearly everyone by digital navigation. But none of the current offerings can really be recommended. Google Maps is the first thing most people reach for, but it’s not really aware of cycle infrastructure and will sometimes send a rider onto horribly busy roads. The new TfL app TfLGO fails badly - while it does recommend cycling as an alternative to public transport it will only show a route from your current location, doesn't actually do navigation and uses Apple mapping which has even less awareness of cycle infrastructure than Google's. Attempts over the years to improve cycling in Google or Apple Maps have come to nothing - Silicon Valley tech co’s simply don't appear interested in dealing with the vast differences in cycle infrastructure design and approach globally. 

However, OpenStreetMap already has a lot of new and Streetspace routes mapped and since it uses a dedicated community for updating, mapping errors are likely to be rapidly corrected and cycle-specific data added. But none of the apps that use OpenStreetMap as a base - Citymapper, Cyclestreets and Cycle.Travel amongst them - offer a great user experience and they all tend to prioritise complex back street rat run routes over Londons main road infrastructure. There's a real need to tweak these app routing algorithms so that new cyclists can benefit from the high quality infrastructure thats being built. In future theres also the potential to do more with OSM - we would love to see “accessibility graded” routing as a future capability using information about path surfaces, gradients or things like width restrictions that are a problem for some types of cycle or rider. This would be great future project for TfL to sponsor with a mix of internal development and crowdsourcing.

Mapping examples

The same trip planned by Google, Cyclestreets, Cycle.Travel is shown below - none of these match the route that I would choose to ride.  

Google Maps

Google just sends you straight up the A roads, ignoring any of the cycle infra along the way. Then it puts you over London Bridge (!) before finally putting you on CS3. 

Cyclestreets

The green is quietest route, orange "balanced", red fastest. CycleStreets weights backstreet (LCN and Quietway) routes very highly but unless these run through low traffic neighbourhoods they're nearly always rat runs and take complex routes which are difficult to follow with lots of junctions. Of the three options the 'quietest' is probably the best - it gets you onto CS7 and uses a lot of CS3 - but real world experience is that most people would be more comfortable on the bus lanes of Brixton Road and CS7. 

Cycle.Travel

This probably does best of the three in this test and is closest to what I'd ride but it still has some weird back street diversions early on and could join CS7 earlier.

Signage too

Digital mapping is only part of the solution to finding your way around on a bike. It makes sense to check a route online before you set off, but following routes on screen is clunky.

Routes away from main roads particularly can be difficult to follow and that goes for lots of trips that are enabled through the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that are rolling out across London. Once you're actually riding your bike, good signage or wayfinding makes it much more convenient than trying to follow a route with a phone strapped to your bars (or even worse, continually stopping to get it out of your pocket). We look at this in a more depth in the second part of this post 

Categories: London

Common sense coming for the Highway Code

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:31

You lobby and wait years for improvements to the Highway Code that help walkers and cyclists, and then a dozen useful changes arrive at once.

Key changes proposed include a hierarchy of users that puts walkers and cyclists at the top, and priority for walkers and cyclists (on the road, in lanes or on tracks) over turning traffic at junctions. These are changes LCC has campaigned-for for years and we strongly urge you to support them. The proposed changes clearly have the potential to reduce road danger and potentially make road design more effective.

Just last year, with input from our legal partners, Osbornes solicitors, we joined other active travel organisations and experts, in writing to the Department for Transport to make the case for a  Highway Code that will do more to reduce road danger and encourage active travel.

Having successfully secured improvements we must not let the government back-track on these very welcome proposals. So act now – tell the government you want road danger reduced and active travel to flourish. Strongly support the consultation here.

Hierarchy of road users, Rules H1, H2 & H3

Underpinning the numerous changes in the Highway Code is the recognition that larger vehicles pose the greatest danger to other road users and therefore have the greatest responsibility to minimise that danger. LCC has always advocated such a hierarchy and we welcome its adoption by the Department for Transport.

Quoting the proposed Highway Code (Rule H1): 

Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not. But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, followed by vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.”

Priority at road junctions to reduce ‘left hook’ collisions, Rules H2, H3, 76 & 140

For far too long the dreaded “left hook”, when a motor vehicle turns left across the path of a cyclist riding straight on, has led to serious injuries and fatal collisions. It doesn’t happen in Holland as frequently (in the case of right turns) because vehicles are obliged to give way to cyclists riding straight on and invariably do so.

The obligation to give way to both walkers and cyclists is now fully clarified in the new Highway Code:

You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle. This applies whether cyclists are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.”

Rule H3 also makes clear that if there is a stream of cyclists (something that’s ever more common in London) whether at a junction, in traffic or at a roundabout:

You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary.”

The rule for giving way to pedestrians at junctions applies to cyclists as well:

At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.”

Close passing distances specified, Rule 163

Our “Stay wider of the rider” campaign and unusual video emphasised the need to give those cycling a wide berth when passing in a car – the new Highway Code changes tell drivers exactly what that should mean: 1.5 metres when travelling below 30 mph and 2 meters above 30 mph. And the new Code states:

You should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances”

While the Highway Code always advised allowing “as much room as you would when overtaking a car” (which remains in the code) the specific distances will serve to deter those who ignore that advice.

Deterring the ‘dooring ‘collision, Rule 239

In London some will remember the sad case of a ‘dooring’ incident in the Holloway Road which led to a cyclist’s death. The advice on "Dutch reach" (drivers using their left hand to open the door forcing them to look backwards) in the HC proposals was advocated by Cycling UK, LCC and others.  It’s a common sense behaviour that may prevent collisions.

Road positioning explained to cyclists and drivers, Rules 72 & 213

In every Bikeability (the cycle training scheme instigated by LCC member Simeon Bamford) class you are taught about not riding in the gutter and when to adopt the so-called "primary position" (centre of a lane) to be more visible and prevent unsafe overtaking, especially before junctions, and where to use the "secondary position" (over to the left of lane to allow vehicle passing when it is safe to do so).  

The new HC spells out these basic cycling positions – both to help in-experienced cyclists and, importantly, to explain to drivers why a cyclist may be riding in the centre of a lane when approaching a junction.

Advanced stop lines clarified and reinforced, Rule 178

Advanced stop lines (ASLs) or bike boxes are there to allow cyclists to move off before other traffic and to enable larger vehicles to see cyclists stopped at the lights, but all too often they are partly or fully blocked by cars and lorries. The rules about cyclists crossing them other than through a gap on the left or right have also been unclear.

The new rule makes it clear that cyclists are allowed to cross into the ASL at any point and also advises drivers of larger vehicles (lorries) to stop “far behind” the ASL so that they can see the cyclists in front and avoid them being obscured by the lorry’s blind spot. 

Roundabouts – guidance for drivers and cyclists, Rule 186

Earlier editions of the Highway Code told cyclists to walk around roundabouts. The new version provides clear guidance (in line with Bikeability training) on approaching and negotiating roundabouts and importantly tells adrivers to give cyclists priority:

You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic”.

Our legal partners Osbornes provided useful input on roundabouts which we channelled to the DfT.

Riding two abreast is advisable when in groups, Rule 66

The old HC rule about never riding more than two abreast is replaced in the proposed changes by the more sensible text:

Ride in single file when drivers wish to overtake and it is safe to let them do so. When riding in larger groups on narrow lanes, it is sometimes safer to ride two abreast”

What you can do

There are also many other changes to the Highway Code, virtually all for the better.

LCC will be writing a formal detailed response to the consultation on the changes to the Highway Code but our initial view is that while some of the wording could be improved we strongly support all the key changes listed above.

Please respond to the consultation, avaliable online, before the deadline (27 October 2020) stating your views and preferably strongly supporting the key changes listed above.

If you are not already an LCC member you are very welcome to join the organisation and support our constant, and ever more productive, work to improve cycling conditions and reduce road danger in the capital. You will also get a host of benefits including discounts at 100 cycle shops, London's best cycling magazine, free third party insurance and access to rides (subject to Covid restrictions).

Categories: London

LCC Community Bike Buddies

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 16:03

LCC’s local groups in Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth have set up bike buddy schemes to help new and returning cyclists make their journeys by bike.

As we emerge from lockdown, and with reduced capacity on public transport, more and more people are wanting to cycle, both for commuting and for local trips. Our Bike Buddies project helps them to build confidence and learn new routes.  We introduce new and returning cyclists to experienced cyclists in the same area.  Buddies can then meet up and ride together – to work, to the shops, or just to the park for a bit of practice.

Over a hundred people have signed up already and buddies have been on a variety of rides together. Ardita was one of our first new riders and said this about her buddy: “Jacqui is the best! I really enjoyed our ride together and learned so much and feel more confident cycling on the road. I couldn't recommend her highly enough. Thank you Jacqui.”  

Carmen had a specific journey in mind: "I had two rides with my buddy last week and yesterday and today I went to work at the Albert Embankment on my bike all by myself (and today, I met my bike buddy on a cycle lane in Clapham, I think she was quite happy to see me there)."

If you want to be part of bike buddies and live in the boroughs below – follow the links to get involved:

Wandsworth
Lambeth 
Southwark 

Now is the ideal time to help Londoners get onto their bikes so we are planning to expand the Bike Buddies project across London, and we are looking for partners and funders to support this great volunteer-led project.  For more information get in touch with us at cyclingprojects@lcc.org.uk


 

Categories: London

Secondary School Children: Mind the Gap

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:00

Following on from our Sustainable Secondary School Run webinar, Lucy Marstrand-Taussig, from Project Centre, expands on how we stop the school run falling between the data and planning gaps.

When London schools re-open in September social distancing will still be in place. Pupils are being asked by TfL to “walk and cycle wherever possible to create extra space on buses and other public transport for those who have no alternative” .

In London 55% of children aged 11 to 16 used public transport to travel to school in 2008/9 . This compares to 12% of 5 to 10 years olds using public transport to travel to school in the same year.

Public transport capacity is likely to remain at 10-30%. About 330,000 trips to secondary schools in London will need to happen by other means on the road network because of the loss in bus, train and tram capacity. (Nationally, about 1m secondary school children who would normally get the bus to school will need an alternative.)

Given the distances involved in the public transport trips to secondary schools, and the need to find an alternative, the most likely option is cycling, rather than walking. Three quarters of children live within a 15-minute cycle ride of a secondary school. Hands up surveys in schools tell us most kids want to cycle – yet only 2% of children cycle to school nationally. To make cycling viable there is going to have to be a radically different infrastructure in place with a specific focus on secondary school children and their journeys.

So, what are the TfL plans for safe travel by cycle to schools in September? There are three main types of intervention being considered under TfL’s Streetspace plans :

  • Strategic Cycle Network
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)
  • School Streets

Strategic Cycle Network

The Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis for Streetspace identifies ‘top priority’ routes. These are primarily arterial routes heading into, or out of, the centre of London. They broadly align with commuting desire lines and potential identified by the Department for Propensity to Cycle Tool and illustrated in Figure 1.

When you look at the Propensity to Cycle Tool what comes up for travel to school is very different to travel to work. Cycle to work potential increases as you move into central London. Potential for school travel, shown in Figure 2, is much more dispersed and consistent across Greater London. Cycle to school potential can be just as high in the outer boroughs as it is in the centre of London.

Figure 1: Cycling potential for trips to work in London under the 'Go Dutch' scenario. Source: Propensity to Cycle Tool

Figure 2 : Cycling potential for trips to school in London under the 'Go Dutch' scenario. Source: Propensity to Cycle Tool

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

TfL urges authorities to “Consider the location of school streets and LTNs. In some cases, an LTN may substantially reduce traffic levels outside multiple schools.” The issue here is that LTNs are likely to have geographical gaps between them. How do children negotiate the gaps between the LTNs?

School Streets

TfL is supporting boroughs with the implementation of School Streets. “Where schools are present, School Streets should form an integral part of temporary LTNs.” “School streets provide a solution for additional space outside primary and secondary schools” . They may provide space immediately outside schools – and that will help primary school children of whom 90% live within a 15-minute walk of their school. But secondary schools serve a much wider catchment area. School Streets do not address how children safely access their school if, as in the case of secondary schools, they are travelling from further afield by cycle.

Falling between the gaps

Secondary school travel falls between the gaps of TfL planned provision; there are School Streets for primary-aged children, arterial cycle routes for commuters, and intermittent low traffic neighbourhoods. Secondary school trips need a joined-up network approach; the planned LTNs, School Streets & commuter routes do not necessarily cover that.

Other factors exacerbate the lack of secondary school cycle infrastructure.

The Commute

The historic focus on commuter cycling, particularly in Central London, though welcome, has further skewed provision - widening the disparity between the quality and coherence of cycle network provision for adult commuters in Inner London and children trying to get to school in Outer London.

The commute is becoming even less important. Pre-COVID19 the commute made up 15% of trips. With home-working embedded, commuting may well remain low, constituting, say, 10% of trips. But while commuting falls as a proportion of trips, school travel will remain just as high (and higher as a proportion given the fall in the commute) as before COVID-19.

Equality

Many children are escorted to school because the road environment is so hostile it is not deemed safe for them to walk, scoot or cycle independently. In other words, the UK highways system relies on the unpaid labour of adults – mostly women’s time – to address the failings in its provision. Now is an opportunity to factor those potential time savings (and the health, well-being, and child independence benefits) into the transport appraisal equation. We need to quantify the cost savings of creating a city which enables children to walk and cycle independently on the road network.

Children need protecting

Given they are less able to judge speeds, anticipate driver actions or negotiate with drivers children have a greater need than adults for clear separation from motor traffic, and clear priority over drivers at intersections including side roads when they are walking or cycling. Also, there needs to be a change in policy on bus routes to keep children - and pedestrians - safe. Powered two wheelers (motorcyclists) pose the second highest risk of any mode so should not be encouraged by being given privileges like using bus lanes. And while the idea of saying bus lanes are also cycle routes is appealing – it ticks both boxes - many parents are not going to let their child cycle if it requires mixing with buses who “pose much the highest risk to others” .

Conclusion

We have seen what happens when you remove the threat of motor traffic – kids emerge onto the streets. As traffic rises, children are being forced to retreat again from civic life. We must intervene.

With plans as they stand, TfL is failing our children and those who look after them. The serious gaps in provision for children could be addressed in two ways. Either TfL updates its Strategic Cycle Network with additional routes focused on secondary schools - and child trips attractors such as sports facilities and parks - so it serves children as well as adults. Or TfL renames the Strategic Cycle Network for what it is – a ‘Strategic Commuting Cycle Network’ and develops a parallel network which covers child travel – a ‘Strategic School Cycle Network’. Embedding cycling from a young age would have massive returns on investment: time savings for adults, improved child health and happiness.

Children rely on adults to create the built environment around them; if adults develop safe streets – with children at the heart of the design - kids could travel independently. Children’s routes would also need clean air, allowing healthy lungs as well as active legs. Now is the time to redesign the city so children can safely breathe and move.

Categories: London

Secondary School Children: Mind the Gap

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:00

Following on from our Sustainable Secondary School Run webinar, Lucy Marstrand-Taussig, from Project Centre, expands on how we stop the school run falling between the data and planning gaps.

When London schools re-open in September social distancing will still be in place. Pupils are being asked by TfL to “walk and cycle wherever possible to create extra space on buses and other public transport for those who have no alternative” .

In London 55% of children aged 11 to 16 used public transport to travel to school in 2008/9 . This compares to 12% of 5 to 10 years olds using public transport to travel to school in the same year.

Public transport capacity is likely to remain at 10-30%. About 330,000 trips to secondary schools in London will need to happen by other means on the road network because of the loss in bus, train and tram capacity. (Nationally, about 1m secondary school children who would normally get the bus to school will need an alternative.)

Given the distances involved in the public transport trips to secondary schools, and the need to find an alternative, the most likely option is cycling, rather than walking. Three quarters of children live within a 15-minute cycle ride of a secondary school. Hands up surveys in schools tell us most kids want to cycle – yet only 2% of children cycle to school nationally. To make cycling viable there is going to have to be a radically different infrastructure in place with a specific focus on secondary school children and their journeys.

So, what are the TfL plans for safe travel by cycle to schools in September? There are three main types of intervention being considered under TfL’s Streetspace plans :

  • Strategic Cycle Network
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)
  • School Streets

Strategic Cycle Network

The Temporary Strategic Cycling Analysis for Streetspace identifies ‘top priority’ routes. These are primarily arterial routes heading into, or out of, the centre of London. They broadly align with commuting desire lines and potential identified by the Department for Propensity to Cycle Tool and illustrated in Figure 1.

When you look at the Propensity to Cycle Tool what comes up for travel to school is very different to travel to work. Cycle to work potential increases as you move into central London. Potential for school travel, shown in Figure 2, is much more dispersed and consistent across Greater London. Cycle to school potential can be just as high in the outer boroughs as it is in the centre of London.

Figure 1: Cycling potential for trips to work in London under the 'Go Dutch' scenario. Source: Propensity to Cycle Tool

Figure 2 : Cycling potential for trips to school in London under the 'Go Dutch' scenario. Source: Propensity to Cycle Tool

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

TfL urges authorities to “Consider the location of school streets and LTNs. In some cases, an LTN may substantially reduce traffic levels outside multiple schools.” The issue here is that LTNs are likely to have geographical gaps between them. How do children negotiate the gaps between the LTNs?

School Streets

TfL is supporting boroughs with the implementation of School Streets. “Where schools are present, School Streets should form an integral part of temporary LTNs.” “School streets provide a solution for additional space outside primary and secondary schools” . They may provide space immediately outside schools – and that will help primary school children of whom 90% live within a 15-minute walk of their school. But secondary schools serve a much wider catchment area. School Streets do not address how children safely access their school if, as in the case of secondary schools, they are travelling from further afield by cycle.

Falling between the gaps

Secondary school travel falls between the gaps of TfL planned provision; there are School Streets for primary-aged children, arterial cycle routes for commuters, and intermittent low traffic neighbourhoods. Secondary school trips need a joined-up network approach; the planned LTNs, School Streets & commuter routes do not necessarily cover that.

Other factors exacerbate the lack of secondary school cycle infrastructure.

The Commute

The historic focus on commuter cycling, particularly in Central London, though welcome, has further skewed provision - widening the disparity between the quality and coherence of cycle network provision for adult commuters in Inner London and children trying to get to school in Outer London.

The commute is becoming even less important. Pre-COVID19 the commute made up 15% of trips. With home-working embedded, commuting may well remain low, constituting, say, 10% of trips. But while commuting falls as a proportion of trips, school travel will remain just as high (and higher as a proportion given the fall in the commute) as before COVID-19.

Equality

Many children are escorted to school because the road environment is so hostile it is not deemed safe for them to walk, scoot or cycle independently. In other words, the UK highways system relies on the unpaid labour of adults – mostly women’s time – to address the failings in its provision. Now is an opportunity to factor those potential time savings (and the health, well-being, and child independence benefits) into the transport appraisal equation. We need to quantify the cost savings of creating a city which enables children to walk and cycle independently on the road network.

Children need protecting

Given they are less able to judge speeds, anticipate driver actions or negotiate with drivers children have a greater need than adults for clear separation from motor traffic, and clear priority over drivers at intersections including side roads when they are walking or cycling. Also, there needs to be a change in policy on bus routes to keep children - and pedestrians - safe. Powered two wheelers (motorcyclists) pose the second highest risk of any mode so should not be encouraged by being given privileges like using bus lanes. And while the idea of saying bus lanes are also cycle routes is appealing – it ticks both boxes - many parents are not going to let their child cycle if it requires mixing with buses who “pose much the highest risk to others” .

Conclusion

We have seen what happens when you remove the threat of motor traffic – kids emerge onto the streets. As traffic rises, children are being forced to retreat again from civic life. We must intervene.

With plans as they stand, TfL is failing our children and those who look after them. The serious gaps in provision for children could be addressed in two ways. Either TfL updates its Strategic Cycle Network with additional routes focused on secondary schools - and child trips attractors such as sports facilities and parks - so it serves children as well as adults. Or TfL renames the Strategic Cycle Network for what it is – a ‘Strategic Commuting Cycle Network’ and develops a parallel network which covers child travel – a ‘Strategic School Cycle Network’. Embedding cycling from a young age would have massive returns on investment: time savings for adults, improved child health and happiness.

Children rely on adults to create the built environment around them; if adults develop safe streets – with children at the heart of the design - kids could travel independently. Children’s routes would also need clean air, allowing healthy lungs as well as active legs. Now is the time to redesign the city so children can safely breathe and move.

Categories: London

Safer lorries for Britain under new DfT plans

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 13:32

Safer lorries for Britain under new DfT plans

As all loyal LCC members know our organisation has led the way on campaigning for safer lorries for more than a decade and we’ve been successful. LCC’s campaigning won a commitment from Mayor Sadiq Khan to take action over this mayoralty to make Direct Vision lorries (vehicles without blind spots and the safest type on the market) – "the norm on London’s roads”.

 

Now under new Department for Transport (DfT) proposals, contained in the Gear Change document, London successes such as the Safer Lorry Scheme (that preceded Direct Vision)  and the Direct Vision Standard could now benefit the whole of Great Britain.

The DfT’s Gear Change document states:

"We will review the latest vision standards introduced in London in 2015 and consider whether any elements can be extended to the whole of the GB."

Direct Vision

London already has a Safer Lorry Scheme which requires all HGVs entering London to have six safety mirrors and  sideguards. As of March 2021 the scheme will also require vehicles to meet a one star Direct Vision Standard (DVS), which minimises the blind spots in HGVs, or include specified mitigation measures.  This standard will be raised again in 2024 to three stars (the standard runs from zero to five stars) .

If the Direct Vision standard and other DfT proposals, such as sideguard maintenance, become Britain-wide they will surely encourage fleet operators to upgrade vehicles and reduce road danger across the country.  

In London we have already seen virtually all refuse collection vehicles changed to a five-star DV type. Most of the larger fleet operators in the capital also subscribe to the FORS (Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme) or CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety) schemes which ensure that all drivers are trained in minimising danger to vulnerable road users.

Our campaigning efforts (along with those of Boris Johnson and as Mayor and later his successor, Sadiq Khan), also successfully persuaded the European Union to adopt new, safer direct vision standards for HGV manufacturers.  

Consolidation Centres

What’s  also promising about the new DfT proposals on improved cycling conditions is that they aim to pilot, in one or two cities,  “compulsory freight consolidation schemes, based on experience from the Continent, which seek to ensure that all deliveries (except perishables and items which require specialist carriers) are made to consolidation centres on the edge of the city centre, or the edge of the city, then taken to their final destinations in a far smaller number of vehicles.”

The concept of consolidation centres was proposed in LCC’s Climate Safe Streets report and makes every bit of sense as we try to reduce both congestion and pollution in our cities. To quote the DfT document: “ Parts of some cities are served by as many as 50 waste management and delivery companies, with multiple pickups from businesses on the same street and large numbers of delivery vehicles carrying out duplicating trips”

The City of London has already required some new large developments to include consolidation centres in order to reduce vehicle movements. And there is little doubt that we will have to have many more load consolidation centres to meet our decarbonisation targets. The principle must be built-in to all large planning applications so that the land required for consolidations centres is safeguarded at an early stage (just as it has been for HS2 and other programmes) .

Cargo bikes for smaller loads

The DfT has also recognised the need for emission free deliveries which can often be made by e-cargo-bike:

bikes can in fact be an alternative for many – though clearly not all – common forms of freight”

As our Climate Safe Streets reports points out the advent of e-cargo bikes means even some construction goods can be carried by cycle and that cargo-bikes can play a major role in reducing the ever growing number of van deliveries that the on-line shopping economy has generated.

What’s’ missing from the DfT document

While all the proposals in Gear Change are very welcome there are other progressive developments in London which could be rolled out elsewhere.

The CLOCS standard for construction firms is required in some London boroughs (including Camden, City of London, Islington, TfL )  but has yet  to become a nationwide requirement or even a standard on all government funded projects. The same is true of the FORS standard which has been adopted as a requirement by virtually all London boroughs.

Driver training, as contained in the  government –approved Safer Urban Driving (SUD) module,  is widely taught in London but is yet to become a required part of every driver's Certificate of Professional Competence training – thus  a driver could do a first aid course repeatedly instead of doing SUD as one of his or her annual training sessions.

What you can do 

Whether you are in London or beyond you can lobby your council to sign up to FORS and require all major developments to be CLOCS members. You can also ask your council to procure only the safest lorries . And finally , if you are a Londoner but not yet a member please join LCC - we need your voice to help reduce road danger and make London a world class cycling city. 

 

 

Categories: London

Safer lorries for Britain under new DfT plans

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 13:32

Safer lorries for Britain under new DfT plans

As all loyal LCC members know our organisation has led the way on campaigning for safer lorries for more than a decade and we’ve been successful. LCC’s campaigning won a commitment from Mayor Sadiq Khan to take action over this mayoralty to make Direct Vision lorries (vehicles without blind spots and the safest type on the market) – "the norm on London’s roads”.

 

Now under new Department for Transport (DfT) proposals, contained in the Gear Change document, London successes such as the Safer Lorry Scheme (that preceded Direct Vision)  and the Direct Vision Standard could now benefit the whole of Great Britain.

The DfT’s Gear Change document states:

"We will review the latest vision standards introduced in London in 2015 and consider whether any elements can be extended to the whole of the GB."

Direct Vision

London already has a Safer Lorry Scheme which requires all HGVs entering London to have six safety mirrors and  sideguards. As of March 2021 the scheme will also require vehicles to meet a one star Direct Vision Standard (DVS), which minimises the blind spots in HGVs, or include specified mitigation measures.  This standard will be raised again in 2024 to three stars (the standard runs from zero to five stars) .

If the Direct Vision standard and other DfT proposals, such as sideguard maintenance, become Britain-wide they will surely encourage fleet operators to upgrade vehicles and reduce road danger across the country.  

In London we have already seen virtually all refuse collection vehicles changed to a five-star DV type. Most of the larger fleet operators in the capital also subscribe to the FORS (Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme) or CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety) schemes which ensure that all drivers are trained in minimising danger to vulnerable road users.

Our campaigning efforts (along with those of Boris Johnson and as Mayor and later his successor, Sadiq Khan), also successfully persuaded the European Union to adopt new, safer direct vision standards for HGV manufacturers.  

Consolidation Centres

What’s  also promising about the new DfT proposals on improved cycling conditions is that they aim to pilot, in one or two cities,  “compulsory freight consolidation schemes, based on experience from the Continent, which seek to ensure that all deliveries (except perishables and items which require specialist carriers) are made to consolidation centres on the edge of the city centre, or the edge of the city, then taken to their final destinations in a far smaller number of vehicles.”

The concept of consolidation centres was proposed in LCC’s Climate Safe Streets report and makes every bit of sense as we try to reduce both congestion and pollution in our cities. To quote the DfT document: “ Parts of some cities are served by as many as 50 waste management and delivery companies, with multiple pickups from businesses on the same street and large numbers of delivery vehicles carrying out duplicating trips”

The City of London has already required some new large developments to include consolidation centres in order to reduce vehicle movements. And there is little doubt that we will have to have many more load consolidation centres to meet our decarbonisation targets. The principle must be built-in to all large planning applications so that the land required for consolidations centres is safeguarded at an early stage (just as it has been for HS2 and other programmes) .

Cargo bikes for smaller loads

The DfT has also recognised the need for emission free deliveries which can often be made by e-cargo-bike:

bikes can in fact be an alternative for many – though clearly not all – common forms of freight”

As our Climate Safe Streets reports points out the advent of e-cargo bikes means even some construction goods can be carried by cycle and that cargo-bikes can play a major role in reducing the ever growing number of van deliveries that the on-line shopping economy has generated.

What’s’ missing from the DfT document

While all the proposals in Gear Change are very welcome there are other progressive developments in London which could be rolled out elsewhere.

The CLOCS standard for construction firms is required in some London boroughs (including Camden, City of London, Islington, TfL )  but has yet  to become a nationwide requirement or even a standard on all government funded projects. The same is true of the FORS standard which has been adopted as a requirement by virtually all London boroughs.

Driver training, as contained in the  government –approved Safer Urban Driving (SUD) module,  is widely taught in London but is yet to become a required part of every driver's Certificate of Professional Competence training – thus  a driver could do a first aid course repeatedly instead of doing SUD as one of his or her annual training sessions.

What you can do 

Whether you are in London or beyond you can lobby your council to sign up to FORS and require all major developments to be CLOCS members. You can also ask your council to procure only the safest lorries . And finally , if you are a Londoner but not yet a member please join LCC - we need your voice to help reduce road danger and make London a world class cycling city. 

 

 

Categories: London

Gearing up to low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 15:29

Our Healthy Streets Campaigner, Clare Rogers, reflects on what the latest government announcement could mean for traffic-blighted communities 

The government’s ‘Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking’ document has been boggling our minds at LCC - in a good way. It’s not just the commitment to high-quality cycle infrastructure, but also some of its positive statements about low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets.

Low traffic neighbourhoods

 Low traffic neighbourhoods: not closing roads, but opening them up to everyone

Skimming through the report, I was struck by this paragraph (p.18):

“We will consult on creating a community right to close side streets and create low-traffic neighbourhoods, with groups of residential side streets able to petition local authorities for rat-run closures.”

This looks promising. A ‘community right’ to low traffic neighbourhoods is exactly what has been missing for decades of car-centric street design. Children, for instance, have lost the right to play outside, just so that drivers can cut a few corners on their commute. Communities have had no right to protect themselves from the rising tide of traffic, as quiet side streets have gradually turned into rat runs. Could this new policy could turn that tide around?

There’s been a huge spike in the appetite for low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) across London in the last few months, thanks to so many savouring the benefits of low traffic streets during lockdown and the Department for Transport encouraging LTNs as emergency measures. They have proliferated, with 31 due to be installed across London by the end of September. But with that proliferation has come a steep rise in opposition, and some councils have lost their nerve.

Perhaps I’m being optimistic, but could this ability to ‘petition local authorities’ make the introduction of LTNs less controversial and more routine? If closing rat runs is seen as a community right, and there’s an established way for communities to secure an LTN, could it be more like applying for a play street - and less like campaigning for decades without seeing any results? There would still be opposition, no doubt, but it could create a more level playing field.

And we are already seeing ‘groups of residential side streets’ who want less traffic springing up across London, with a bit of guidance from LCC and Better Streets groups. We’re finding that once residents understand what a low traffic neighbourhood is, a hyper-local group tends to spring up, determined to get one. Lambeth Cyclists, in a coalition with other local campaigners, helped local groups in Oval and Railton successfully campaign for (and now defend) London’s first emergency LTNs. Better Streets for Enfield has supported two neighbourhood groups which are both expecting LTNs in the next month. Westminster Healthy Streets has seen a huge interest in LTNs, including from traditional residents associations who are not generally known for championing cycle infrastructure.

So by helping to start up and support these neighbourhood groups, we could be laying the groundwork for more LTNs happening more quickly (and less controversially?) once the ‘community right’ is established.

School streets

 Infographic from Gear Change p.19

 

It’s heartening to see the concept of school streets – removing motor traffic from school streets at school run hours – championed in Gear Change. It makes the case for a dramatic drop in motor traffic on the school run and for children’s safety. It also gives the schemes teeth: “We will enable effective enforcement of school streets outside London, by giving local authorities the powers in part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.”

The proliferation of school streets would be transformational, not just for individual schools, but for the national psyche. We could see a change from the assumption that driving is the default on the school run to the recognition that it’s an anti-social and slightly shameful last resort. Or maybe again I’m just being optimistic…

Categories: London

Gearing up to low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 15:29

Our Healthy Streets Campaigner, Clare Rogers, reflects on what the latest government announcement could mean for traffic-blighted communities 

The government’s ‘Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking’ document has been boggling our minds at LCC - in a good way. It’s not just the commitment to high-quality cycle infrastructure, but also some of its positive statements about low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets.

Low traffic neighbourhoods

 Low traffic neighbourhoods: not closing roads, but opening them up to everyone

Skimming through the report, I was struck by this paragraph (p.18):

“We will consult on creating a community right to close side streets and create low-traffic neighbourhoods, with groups of residential side streets able to petition local authorities for rat-run closures.”

This looks promising. A ‘community right’ to low traffic neighbourhoods is exactly what has been missing for decades of car-centric street design. Children, for instance, have lost the right to play outside, just so that drivers can cut a few corners on their commute. Communities have had no right to protect themselves from the rising tide of traffic, as quiet side streets have gradually turned into rat runs. Could this new policy could turn that tide around?

There’s been a huge spike in the appetite for low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) across London in the last few months, thanks to so many savouring the benefits of low traffic streets during lockdown and the Department for Transport encouraging LTNs as emergency measures. They have proliferated, with 31 due to be installed across London by the end of September. But with that proliferation has come a steep rise in opposition, and some councils have lost their nerve.

Perhaps I’m being optimistic, but could this ability to ‘petition local authorities’ make the introduction of LTNs less controversial and more routine? If closing rat runs is seen as a community right, and there’s an established way for communities to secure an LTN, could it be more like applying for a play street - and less like campaigning for decades without seeing any results? There would still be opposition, no doubt, but it could create a more level playing field.

And we are already seeing ‘groups of residential side streets’ who want less traffic springing up across London, with a bit of guidance from LCC and Better Streets groups. We’re finding that once residents understand what a low traffic neighbourhood is, a hyper-local group tends to spring up, determined to get one. Lambeth Cyclists, in a coalition with other local campaigners, helped local groups in Oval and Railton successfully campaign for (and now defend) London’s first emergency LTNs. Better Streets for Enfield has supported two neighbourhood groups which are both expecting LTNs in the next month. Westminster Healthy Streets has seen a huge interest in LTNs, including from traditional residents associations who are not generally known for championing cycle infrastructure.

So by helping to start up and support these neighbourhood groups, we could be laying the groundwork for more LTNs happening more quickly (and less controversially?) once the ‘community right’ is established.

School streets

 Infographic from Gear Change p.19

 

It’s heartening to see the concept of school streets – removing motor traffic from school streets at school run hours – championed in Gear Change. It makes the case for a dramatic drop in motor traffic on the school run and for children’s safety. It also gives the schemes teeth: “We will enable effective enforcement of school streets outside London, by giving local authorities the powers in part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.”

The proliferation of school streets would be transformational, not just for individual schools, but for the national psyche. We could see a change from the assumption that driving is the default on the school run to the recognition that it’s an anti-social and slightly shameful last resort. Or maybe again I’m just being optimistic…

Categories: London

DfT new cycle scheme design manual in detail

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 19:10

The DfT has finally released LTN 1/20 “Cycle Infrastructure Design” as part of yesterday’s “Gear Change” announcements. This long-awaited and much-needed manual is a how-to guide for highways engineers and borough officers to design cycle schemes and highways schemes for cycling, and its last update was over 10 years ago, But is it worth the wait and how does it compare to the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) from TfL and their cycle scheme Quality Criteria? 

The good, the meh and the ugly

Most of the document is excellent, and below we quote a few choice bits that are found at the start. These are the best of the document – the general principles set a bar for engineers that is far higher than ever before, and the document lays out clear consequences for those who fail to clear the bar and indeed coherent pathways to clear it. And much of the design detail that follows is excellent - if largely very similar to TfL's LCDS.

The good

The introductory sections provide a very clear set of guiding principles on design and vision for roads design. The “Summary Principles” of the document include stuff like “Cycle infrastructure should be accessible to everyone from 8 to 80 and beyond”, “Cyclists must be physically separated and protected from high volume motor traffic”, “Cycle infrastructure should be designed for significant numbers of cyclists, and for non-standard cycles”, “Consideration of the opportunities to improve provision for cycling will be an expectation of any future local highway schemes funded by Government”, and perhaps best of all “All designers of cycle schemes must experience the roads as a cyclist.”

More, the bar for funded schemes is clear: “Only schemes with a minimum score of 70% under the CLoS, no critical fails and under the JAT no red-scored turning movements will generally be considered for funding. Where schemes are proposed for funding that do not meet these minimum criteria, authorities will be required to justify their design choices.”

If those words sound vaguely familiar, they’re taken almost direct from our consultation responses. For years we’ve been calling for a minimum “Cycling Level of Service” (CLoS) score of 70% which would put most highways schemes at a similar level to most Dutch schemes. And the “critical fails” on CLoS are the objective no-nos – the worst of the worst elements of schemes such as major hook risks or being asked to share with high volumes or speeds of motor traffic.

Similarly “red-scoring” Junction Assessment Tool turn movements would be where those cycling are at significant risk from motor vehicles cutting across them – the dreaded “hook” risk.

Also good – that focus on cycling as a mass mode of transport means the minimum width for cycle tracks and lanes is 1.5m. In London we routinely see even good schemes dip below that around bus stops etc. So the focus on ensuring schemes aren’t low capacity is very welcome.

There's also, for engineers and practitioners who aren't already using LCDS or other high-quality UK cycle design guidance, lots of good images and guidance on how to achieve good outcomes (like the roundabout at the top).

The meh

This document has been on the shelf for a while, waiting sign-off from the bosses at government and DfT. And it shows.

Britain now has at least two of what the document calls “Circulating Cycle Stage” junctions, one in London, both very highly thought of. The Argall Way, Orient Way, Lea Bridge Road junction in Waltham Forest’s mini-Holland programme and Manchester’s first “CYCLOPS” junction both feature parallel cycle and pedestrian signalised crossings at a crossroads. The CYCLOPS approach of putting pedestrian crossings closest to the junction unlocks the approach for many UK junctions, because as a result, the junction doesn’t impact motor traffic capacity, while keeping cyclists and pedestrians protected from traffic.

Both examples are massively well thought of among progressive engineers and campaigners, but the guide simply says of them: “only a few examples of this type of junction have been constructed in the UK at present and therefore any new installations should be monitored closely so that any necessary adjustments to the layout may be made post-opening” and no technical diagrams are provided for the approach. Hardly a ringing endorsement to build these, sadly.

Similarly, there’s missed opportunities to look at “forgiving” kerb designs between cycle track and pavement, and “continuous footways” or “blended crossings” are underplayed, while “Bus Stop Boarders” could have been researched more to see what best practice should be. Of course this isn’t a reflection on the general quality of the document so much as its age and the relative newness in the UK of some of these approaches.

The ugly

Where LTN 1/20 falls down is its approach to mandating protected space for cycling is too lax on motor traffic volumes and speeds.

Figure 4.1 “Appropriate protection from motor traffic on highways” suggests that cycle lanes without protection are fine at 20mph up to 5,000 motor vehicles per day “for most people”. LCC policy would suggest above around 1,500-2,000 motor vehicle movements daily, protection should be a priority (or traffic reduction, filtering etc.) and far too many people will feel uncomfortable cycling on such roads. This policy is based on previous iterations of the Dutch CROW manual. Either way the mandated point at which protection becomes vital is encased in the DfT’s modified CLoS. It only lists a “critical fail” where there’s no protection and more than 10,000 motor vehicle movements a day (or over 5% mix of HGVs). That approximately puts it in line with TfL’s “Quality Criteria” sadly. So while the general principles for 8-80 and inclusive cycling are clear, the detail lets that down a bit.

The DfT’s “critical fail” for speed is far worse, though. Whereas TfL says the “85th centile” of speed (the speed 85% of traffic on a route goes below) must be for any scheme below 30mph, the DfT goes up to 37mph before assuming a “critical fail”!

Most main roads will be above 10,000 motor vehicles a day – so this, like the TfL Quality Criteria, definitely rejects the “blue paint” approach for main roads. And that's a massive leap forward. But heavy-duty ratruns or country lanes with high speeds won’t necessarily need much further treatment to avoid triggering alarm bells (though schemes will still need to beat the 70% CLoS score, which is a tough hurdle).

Categories: London

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