Thursday, 5 February 2015

Full Steam Ahead! After months of pressure from Boris Johnson, TfL Board approves Cycle Superhighways Programme

Yesterday the TfL Board formerly approved a massive cycle superhighway programme that will continue into mid-2016. This includes many routes and junction upgrades that have already been consulted on and documented in this blog. The important thing is that these transformational improvements to cycle infrastructure in London will now almost certainly be going ahead despite concerted opposition from Canary Wharf PLC (whose boss likes to commute by limo along the Embankment and is oh-so-angry at the possibility of his journey to work being a few minutes longer) and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (who constantly oppose any measures that mean Londoners could make a 2 mile journey for free [on a bike] as opposed to for £20 [in a cab]).

An artist's impression of how the N-S and E-W cycle routes will intersect at Blackfriars Bridge
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) have threatened launching a judicial review against the scheme because they hate the idea of anyone feeling safe enough to cycle around London instead of wasting their time and money on a taxi. However, the legal grounds for such an attack would have to be that there was not 'proper consultation'. Such a position is not credible in the context of a two month long consultation process by TfL in which over 20,000 people responded, and over 80% of respondents were in favour. Therefore we hope the LTDA will see the wisdom in not wasting their precious and time and money in such a hopeless venture. And will stop claiming that people who cycle are the 'ISIS of London'. It's just sick.

And next time, chaps, we'd recommend getting an Uber instead.

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A full recording of TfL's board meeting has been archived here if any readers are interested: https://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/webcasts

Friday, 26 December 2014

Consultations Galore! (Part 3)

Seasonal best wishes and even more consultations for us all to fill in!

Cheapside and Guildhall Enhancement Strategy - closes 31 December! (extended deadline)

It's great that the City are consulting on this but they are currently planning on building loads and loads and loads of pavement, and no #space4cycling. They should change their plans so that reclaimed road space is used to create dedicated and separated cycle lanes not just massive pavements. Otherwise they will have huge amounts of conflict between bicycles and cars, and bicycles and pedestrians, resulting in unnecessary injuries and deaths.


Two options being considered for the St Paul's gyratory..


Neither of which contains a shred of #space4cycling. This is atrocious and the design need a complete rethink and dedicated cycle lanes should be added.

The City are also consulting on changes to a number of adjoining streets, including Cannon Street (pictured here). Again, there are no cycle facilities on these streets at present and that means they are dangerous. Three people have been killed cycling in the Square Mile this year alone. The way to stop people being killed in the future is to provide dedicated cycling facilities, not try and use cyclists as human speed bumps (as the City currently attempts to do, particularly on Cheapside).


Transforming Vauxhall Cross

This is a rather large consultation on what TfL should do with the whole Vauxhall Cross area over the next few years, particularly with regard to removing the 1960s gyratory which they appear keen to do. Fortunately the powers that be at TfL have recognised that the CS5 cannot be postponed for another 3 years while gyratories are removed so that Cycle Superhighway will be built immediately, with overall Vauxhall Cross plans being integrated at a later stage into the cycle superhighway design.

Here is the current layout of the area, complete with some very poor (or either non-existent) cycling facilities:



And here are the proposed improvements:


And a rather inspiring TfL artist's impression of what the new layout will look like, complete with a lovely wide separated bike track and a woman cycling on it who isn't wearing a helmet, and even looks quite normal!

Is this London or Copenhagen?

The plans are definitely an improvement but still contain many flaws. More could be done to make the area appealing for cycling and walking,  such as making the whole area 20 MPH (like the Waterloo IMAX Roundabout now is) or by building dedicated cycle tracks on both sides of Parry Street and making these segregated cycling facilities run continuously through the junction onto Nine Elms Lane (using special cycle-only traffic signals if necessary; as is done in Denmark).


And a final thought... Why does TfL never consider the convenience of changing between cycle and bus/rail/underground transport connections? (especially when deciding the location of cycle hire docking stations?!)

A survey on the Vauxhall Cross consultation asks Londoners to rate the importance of "Convenience of changing between bus, rail and underground". Cycling isn't included. It should be. The ease of interchange from cycling to another mode of transport can be the factor which determines if someone decides to cycle at all for their journeys around London.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Consultations Galore! (Part 2) - CS5, Oval, Regents Row, Crystal Palace

Here are some more very important consultations that are closing soon and worth responding to if you haven't already:

Revised proposals for Barclays Cycle Superhighway Route 5 between Vauxhall and Oval - Closes in 3 days!!!

This route is largely an improvement on the first plans that TfL presented. What is especially nice to note is that TfL have abandoned their previous idea of creating a 'shared island' area with people both cycling and walking in the same area, and are instead creating a dedicated cycle route and a dedicated walking route through Vauxhall, which is a much better solution for both those walking and cycling.


The cycle track also has a usual width of 4m which is good, although given that it's two-way and a big commuter route, it could be wider; perhaps 5-6m.


Another issue is that there should be a bus-stop bypass at Oval instead of the cycle track suddenly petering out and stopping. That is dangerous and could lead to conflict with bus drivers. Much better to continue cycle track behind the bus stop as is the norm in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

If there isn't enough space for a bus-stop by-pass it would be better to do what Camden Council did on Royal College Street and install a cycle lane which bus passengers can also enter and use to alight to and from the bus with. I've seen this used in Copenhagen very regularly and it results in negligible conflict between bus users and cyclists and is much, much safer and more pleasant for those on bikes.


Oval Triangle - Consultation on potential measures to reduce through traffic on local roads

TfL are trying to reduce through-traffic from local roads around Oval which is a fantastic idea. They've offered two different options. In my opinion, Option 2 is much the better one. It involves closing one end of Ravensdon Street to through-traffic which is in line with best practice from Denmark and Holland where many local roads are closed at one end.


Hackney Council have also closed off one end of many local roads to motor traffic in recent years and the result has been to create much safer and more pleasant back-streets cycling in the borough.



Monitoring by the Council has shown that Regents Row is being used as a rat run resulting in an unsafe and unpleasant environment for pedestrians and cyclists so Hackney Council are proposing introducing a road closure at Marlborough Avenue to stop vehicles using Regents Row as a rat-run and help create a more pedestrian and cycle friendly environment. This will also help ease congestion on the nearby towpath by providing an attractive alternative.

It's very well worth responding to this consultation and supporting the proposals.



Southwark Council are proposing installing fully segregated cycle tracks adjacent to the roundabouts. The cycle tracks will allow cyclists to bypass interaction with general traffic at the roundabouts and will directly access the proposed parallel priority crossings.  These measures will ensure that cyclists can negotiate both roundabouts separated from general traffic, which will greatly improve safety and accessibility, particularly for less confident cyclists.



It's worth supporting the Dutch and Danish roundabout design which separates bikes from motor traffic. However, I want to see segregated cycle lanes continuing in the roads leading to and from the roundabouts so that those cycling are not suddenly dumped into the path of dangerous motor traffic when they leave the junctions.

The area should also be made 20 MPH to help save the lives of those cycling, walking, and driving.

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It's amazing that all these changes are being proposed all over London, and together they could add up to a real transformation of the British capital, especially if Crossrail for Bikes is built. Marginal gains and all that...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Consultations Galore! (Part 1)

TfL have been releasing heaps of consultations in recent weeks, so I thought it was worth doing a round up of them.

Archway Gyratory

These plans involve closing an arm of the gyratory and converting it into a two-way off-road cycle track which is quite exciting. It's very good that TfL have not gone for the defunct 'shared space' approach here which would just cause problems for those cycling and walking. Instead you have clear spaces to walk, and a clear space to cycle through. So a big improvement for cycling.

Motor traffic will be routed through the remaining 3 arms of the gyratory which will be made two-way.

Bikes will be physically protected from motor traffic when travelling on one of these 'arms' and on the closed section. Again, big improvement.

But unfortunately some routes through the junction will still involve bikes mixing with motor traffic. For instance, those travelling on bikes from St John's Way to Junction Road will be at risk of the fatal 'left-hook' from drivers turning left onto Holloway Road who have to turn across their path. I believe it's worth highlighting this to TfL.

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EDIT 10/12/14: Here's a nice graphic by Islington Cyclists about what TfL's Archway Gyratory plans should really look like:


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Stockwell Cross

Overall another big improvement for cycling. The creation of safe, segregated cycle lanes here will be a big improvement and allow '8-80' cycling (i.e. anyone form 8 years of age, to 80 years of age, will be safe and happy to cycle through here.



However, as is no doubt clear from these plans, as soon as you leave the specific section of Clapham Road being upgraded, Londoners on bikes will be expected to share a lane with buses (which, by the way, kill more people in London than HGVs every year). That isn't okay, especially given how many buses uses the route, and that this is a 30 MPH road, so when filling in the consultation. I made sure to make this clear to TfL.


Elephant and Castle

TfL consulted specifically on the road layout at Elephant and Castle earlier this year. Their plans were a vast improvement on the current situation, but again didn't bring the junction up to Continental standards of cycle provision. TfL are now consulting on the 'public spaces' they intend to create at Elephant and Castle as part of their planned regeneration.


I believe it's worth those who cycle responding to this because the new public spaces should include off-road routes for those on bikes, i.e. on the section between Elephant and Castle and New Kent Road. This would make cycling more inviting and also prevent unwanted pavement cycle occurring as people naturally follow desire lines of travel.

Moreover, the public space is dependent on the road space for it's quality, and if large amount of vehicles are revving through the junction and turning it into a racetrack, then it won't be very pleasant. So TfL need to consider implementing 20 MPH, traffic capacity reductions, and air pollution limitations into the scheme so that it's a nice place to be.

TfL are also planning on expanding the current Cycle High provision in the area which is usually a very good thing. This should be supported, but effort should also be made to locate Docking Stations at points where they intersect with other transport links or with specific, popular destinations (e.g. right outside the tube station exits, or right outside the planned shopping centre), rather than being hidden down back streets where nobody sees, nor uses them.


Old Street Roundabout

These plans represent a massive step forward and are supported by the newly created group, Hackney People on Bikes, while also being idiotically criticised by those that are currently responsible for the Hackney local branch of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC). Who'd have though it?! But, hey, that's the situation, and hopefully it'll improve soon and the people in charge of the local Hackney branch of LCC will actually support the segregation of bikes and motor traffic.



Anyway, the plans largely seem great. Some tweaks need to be made such as extending physical segregation along the north side of Old Street in both East and West directions (it just stops in the current designs). There is plenty of space on Old Street to do extend segregation in both these locations so I hope it happens.


I would also like to ask that all physical segregation and pavements are fitted with a continual dropped kerb (or gradient) on the cycle lane side, so that maximum use of the cycle lane can be made by those cycling without the danger of clipping one's pedals on the kerb. It's actually worth saying this in all the consultation response, as TfL do record this request if it's made, and if it's made enough they may just start doing it. Below is a photo of the sort of thing I mean, borrowed from The Ranty Highwayman's highly informative and intelligent post on the issue of kerbs.

Kerbs that are graded like this are best of segregated cycle lanes because they allow you to make full width of the lane. The Cycle Superhighway 2 Extension between Stratford and Bow is safely segregated, but has very, unforgiving kerbs that are easy to clip a pedal on.

Finally, if you haven't already, it's worth keeping up with the excellent work of the CyclingWorks campaign and the battle to build Crossrail for Bikes which is covered brilliantly by Mark Ames at IBikeLondon.

Oh, and this blog topped 100,000 hits a few months back which was lovely, so I wanted to say a belated big thank you to everyone that reads it!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Jim Fitzpatrick MP lies in Parliament

This is disappointing to have to write, but I fear it must be done. Last week Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, stood up in Parliament and said of plans to put a segregated track along the Embankment that, "TfL plans to prevent 80% of that traffic using the road". This is a complete lie. The plans are widely available online (TfL have been paying money to advertise them even on Facebook!), and they clearly show that only 1 lane of motor traffic is going to removed from the Embankment. That is not "80% of the traffic".

Fitzpatrick then went further, claiming that only "9% of traffic on the Embankment is private cars", when TfL's data shows that the actual figure is a whooping 69%. This is a big mistake for someone who has previously worked as both Parliamentary Under-Secretary and Shadow Minister for Transport. Given his prior experience in the Transport department we can only put the wild inaccuracy of his comments down to deliberate lying.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP
And why would a man deliberately lie in this instance? Well, it's not hard to find an answer:

Jim Fitzpatrick on a free holiday courtesy of Canary Wharf Group. Thanks to @peterjuan23four on Twitter for finding this.

Jim Fitzpatrick has had free holidays (and perhaps free gifts and money?) from Canary Wharf Plc, an organisation which has admitted to spending large amounts of cash privately briefing against Boris Johnson's segregated cycle programme. So when it comes to crunch-time he gets up in Parliament and sings blatant and obvious lies from Canary Wharf's hymn sheet. Despicable.

He's as bad as Peter Anderson.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Anti-cycling Canary Wharf Finance Director also on TfL Board and chairing crucial meeting on Cycle Superhighways funding

It was recently discovered by Danny Williams, the author of the excellent Cyclists in the City blog, that Peter Anderson (pictured below) the Finance Director of Canary Wharf Plc is also Chair of Finance and Policy at TfL. This is an issue because Canary Wharf Plc have admitted privately briefing against the segregated cycle lane programme and even sending paid lobbyists to all the recent party conferences with an briefing sheet full of falsehoods, lies, and plain rubbish designed to make politicians oppose TfL's revolutionary new plans.

Peter Anderson: anti-cycling and anti-people. Using his position at TfL to implement policies favouring Canary Wharf executives who will only travel to work in a limo.
On November 25th this same Peter Anderson is currently due to chair a meeting at TfL at which it will be decided whether the segregated cycle-highways programme is given funding! Peter Anderson is in this privileged position as part of being Chair of TfL's Finance and Policy Committee. Given Canary Wharf's incessant briefings against TfL's cycling programme (see this document) there is a clear conflict of interest here and Peter Anderson should be removed from his position at TfL immediately.

It is understood that TfL are seeking legal advice on the issue. However, it is disappointing that they have not sacked him immediately. We can but hope.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Andrew Gilligan's Cycle Superhighways need YOUR support!

In recent weeks Boris Johnson, City Hall, and Andrew Gilligan (his cycling commissioner) have released plans for an ambitious network of dedicated, segregated cycle lanes across London. This really is a game-changer and exactly what Londoners have been asking for. However, with opposition springing up from the embattled and embittered motor lobby (as well as journalists or politicians that simply don't get it) it's extremely important than anyone who wants to be able to ride a bike in safety in London fills in the various consultations TfL have published so that far-reaching public support for these plans are noted and they don't get watered down, or worse, cancelled.

Proposed East-West route

A fully segregated two-way cycle route from Acton to Tower Hill. But we need you to make it a reality.



This route will run from Acton, along the Westway, through Lancaster Gate and the Royal Parks into Parliament Square, then along the Embankment and Lower and Upper Thames Street out through Tower Hill into Tower Hamlets. These plans aren't perfect, but they are a complete game changer from the horrible, dangerous and disgusting cycle environment currently found on many of these arterial routes.


These are big, important plans and need public support to make them a reality.



The Consultation on the East-West cycle highway plans is available here.



Blackfriars road as it looks now, and as it will look if these plans go ahead. Which version is better for those on bike, those on foot, and Londoners in general?
The North-South cycle highway will run from King's Cross station down Farringdon Road, over Blackfriars Bridge and down to Elephant and Castle. Again, it's a fantastic and much needed route and it will have a great intersection with the East-West cycle highway at the north side of Blackfriars Bridge. But, again, it needs your support to make it a reality.

These plans aren't perfect, and niggles could be improved. But overall they are a massive move forward and should be supported as such.
The Consultation on the North-South cycle highway plans is available here.





Over 8 Londoners have been killed my people driving motor vehicles on this stretch of road in the last few years. Moreover, I know from personal experience of trying to visit a friend in Mile End that Whitechapel Road, which then becomes Mile End Road, is the only way to get out into this part of East London. So it's essential that we make this route safe for anyone on a bike to use, and this what these plans largely will do.


Like the North-South and East-West cycle highways, these new plans for the CS2 running from Aldgate to Bow would completely transform cycling in this crucial part of London. But because they would slightly increase motor traffic journey times on these specific routes, and because much of London and the UK is still run but a maniacal motor lobby that will accept no increase, not even the slightest, to their journey times (nor even the smallest reallocation of road space), it's extremely important that everyone takes time out of their day to respond to TfL's consultation and show widespread public support for the plans.

The Consultation on the Cycle Superhighway 2 [CS2] upgrade plans is available here.


Proposed cycle highway from Oval to Belgravia



Lovely two-way segregated track replaces horrible lane-sharing with buses, taxis, and HGVs.

This route is again a game-changer for cycling in London, providing segregated cycle tracks running along Vauxhall Bridge and then through the middle of the awful Vauxhall gyratory, cutting journey times for those on a bike, but more importantly making it much, much safer. The consultation for it has now closed but you can still contact TfL by email on the issue at: consultations@tfl.gov.uk.

This cycle route from Belgravia to Oval also important to place the East-West, North-South, and CS2 upgrade plans within a wider perspective. TfL is trying to build a real network of segregated cycle routes which is sort of completely amazing when one considers the woeful blue-paint-in-bus-lane that they rolled out back in 2010. There's been a complete step-change in their thinking, their planning, and their proposals, and it's important that any Londoner who has any interest in ever riding a bike to get from A to B gets behind TfL at this crucial juncture and says, 'yes, this is exactly the way to do it. No more half-arsed fudges please.'


What Businesses Can Do

London First, an organisation which claims to represent businesses in London, has come out against TfL's plans for segregated cycle lanes, citing spurious argument that don't add up. These include that the plans will lead to 'increased pedestrian crossing times', when in fact the timings for all of London's traffic lights are controlled electronically by TfL and therefore pedestrian crossing times depend on when TfL want you to cross, not if there's a cycle lane or not. Another gripe from the limo-from-Chelsea-to-Canary-Wharf-and-back lobby is that these plans will making things 'more dangerous' for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Again, this is baloney. Separating slower-moving cycle traffic than faster, wider motor traffic can only make things safer for both parties, as well as discouraging pavement cycling, and distancing motor traffic from the pavement which is only going to make things safer for pedestrians. 

This sustained, well-financed campaign of misinformation needs to be combatted, so if you work for a London employer please consider asking them to publicly back the Mayor's plans by signing up via this website: http://cyclingworks.wordpress.com/ 


What business (or person) wouldn't want a safe way to cycle through Parliament Square? The current layout of 4 lanes of speeding motor traffic is terrifying and unsafe for anyone on a bike. Humanising this massive public space in the centre of London can only be a good thing for business.
It's incredibly important that we all show as much public business support for these plans as possible. Danny Williams, who writes Cyclists in the City, has blogged about the issue in detail here: http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/how-you-can-help-make-londons-planned.html


Cycle Superhighway 2 (CS2) Extension - Bow to Stratford



TfL built the Cycle Superhighway 2 extension last year after consulting on their plans just as they are doing now with the East-West routes et al. It's worth remembering that though bits of it could definitely be improved (i.e. protection from motor traffic at junctions and lowering the intimidatingly high curbs on either side of the cycle path), the CS2 extension is largely a safe and pleasant route to use. There's no reason to think that all the other planned cycle highways wouldn't be too. In fact, the plans for the newer routes are largely regarded as being an improvement, in terms of design and safety, on the Cycle Superhighway 2 extension from 2013.

We need to get behind these new routes, and get behind the man who has turned what organisations like the London Cycling Campaign have called for, into concrete plans; Andrew Gilligan. In the video below, filmed at the London Cycling Campaign's big May demonstration ride through London, Gilligan says 2014 a 'test of strength'. These plans are ambitious, but need our democratic voices to be made a reality. 

Let's not be found wanting.