An Open Letter To Islington Council

Dear Cllr Webbe,

We welcome Islington’s statement of intent renewing the council’s commitment on Old Street but we are concerned that the track record of stalling and poor quality active travel schemes will continue. By comparison to neighbouring boroughs Islington is failing to deliver for active travel. Proposed walking and cycling schemes in Islington look to be in a permanent state of delay and, when built, are often so watered down that they fail to provide the safe walking and cycling facilities desperately needed. That is why we were protesting on Tuesday the 19th and it’s why Islington residents young and old joined us. They, like us, are desperate to send you the message to get on with delivery of safe active travel infrastructure.

Filtering streets, using wands/orcas to protect cycle lanes and safe junctions using longer pedestrian and cycle only phases have been used effectively by other local authorities to deliver safer cycling and walking very rapidly. These facilities can then be upgraded later improving the public realm. The key is that they first address the danger, then they work towards a better scheme.

Even small changes such as removing parking near junctions is a huge quick win, as it is easy to do and provides better sight lines for children walking, who are often unable to see over or around parked vehicles. While we understand fully developed schemes can take years these quick wins and trial based approaches take months.

While your neighbouring councils push on and delivered, Islington has mostly stalled. Since 2014, Islington has delivered only a fraction of what other boroughs have built. This is not to say Islington have delivered nothing, but by comparison the council has delivered much less, at a much lower quality, and in a much more disjointed way.

We hope you will listen to our calls to start fast tracking walking and cycling schemes. Active travel helps address so many issues including air pollution, the ongoing obesity crisis, transport poverty and enabling children to be more independent. These are social justice issues as the poorest in our communities are disproportionately impacted. We know you care strongly about these issues and we know you want to address them but your actions to date have in our view been far too limited.

If the council were to publish an accelerated timeline of works and a renewed commitment to quality that would be a very welcome outcome. We are a London wide group so hope you will work with local groups such as Cycle Islington and Living Streets to achieve this.

Sean Howes

Coordinator Active Travel Now

Why Islington, Why now?

Why Islington, Why now?

The pace of change for active travel in Islington is not just slow its glacial. What is delivered is of poor quality and disconnected. While neighbouring Camden is planning and building protected cycleways and improving pedestrian conditions at a local level in addition to TFL schemes as well as doing the serious planning for their half of f London Boulevard , Islington is stalling on even the most basic Quietway .To the east, Hackney is filtering street after street, providing a back street network while also working to ensure people on foot and bicycle come first. Meanwhile  Islington itself has delivered little to nothing. Instead it has stood in the way of high quality TFL schemes causing further delays. It has watered down Quietway schemes to the point where they will be unwelcoming to the very cyclists they aim to attract and then on top of this they have delayed them further. Enough is enough. It is time for Islington to move beyond talking a good game and to start delivering. The only barrier is political will both from the council cabinet and ward councillors.

Active Travel Now started with its first demo in Islington on Wednesday December 13th 2017. We met at 7AM at the junction of Penton Street and Pentonville Road, where we made a people protected bike lane. On Tuesday the 19th we will once again #MakeTheLane in Islington this time on Old Street. 

That was in 2017. Te route would have been- maybe still will be-Quietway 10, but little here has changed. It still a hostile street for those making the right choice for Islington by walking and cycling. Those people still face lots of traffic, difficult junctions and frequent road violence. We hoped our event would cause Islington to act, but while at the time they talked a good game and said the right things, it’s 2019 and the route is still not safe and welcoming for active travel. Old Street plans have been delayed since 2014 and the Clerkenwell Boulevard has made no significant moves forward since its proposal.Councillor Webb is very quick to take credit for a few width restrictions and the TFL-delivered schemes ( which the council is not responsible for), but the stark reality of Islington’s streets is that a person on foot or bicycle faces a hostile environment which, in 5 years of office, Councillor Webbe  has done very little to address.

We call on Islington Council to provide a timetable for when Old Street will have safe junctions and be safe for people cycling. For when Quietway 10 will be a route that is safe and welcoming for a 10 year old child to cycle alone. For when Islington neighbourhoods will have rat-running through traffic removed so that all can walk, cycle and scoot safely. So children can play in the streets and families can use active travel to lift themselves from the burden of transport poverty and remove the burden of the taxi of mum and dad by enabling young people to safely travel independently. We demand Islington stop delaying and deliver on active travel for those that live and work in the brough now.

 

#MakeTheLane Islington Plan – Old Street

So when you join us on 19th of March from 4pm what the order of the day:

  • 4pm gather at corner of Central Street and Old Street, explanation of action, safety procedure
  • 4:10ish Initial briefing and setup
  • at latest 5:45pm we are finished, time for a quick chat, thanks and then we all go on our way

Those who arrive later than 4pm will get a safety briefing from Sean before we put them into the line.

We will mean at the junction of Central Street and Old Street on the corner just to the west of Lodos Super Market

Example of layout

Layout.png

Each red dot represents a person standing with or without a bike. We ask you bring a red light and wear bright clothing as the even goes on the light will be getting less. If we feel its gotten too dark we will call it a day. The leader will have a sign telling people its a people protected bike lane. Another person will be stood on the other side of the junction also telling people there is a people protected bike lane.

FAQs

When and where should arrive?

Ideally 4:00 but those who arrive later will be briefed  and added to the line just ask for Sean and you will be pointed to him or one of the others marshalling to instruct you where to be.

What do we do if the police tell us to stop or move or change?

Same as last time in Lambeth you stop, move or change. No one is or wants to get arrested.

What do we do if an emergency vehicle is coming?

Wait for any cyclists to exist the space and then move out of the roadway

Will it Be cold/wet/hot etc?

Hopefully not this time but dress for the conditions. You will not be able to use an umbrella as this will put the people cycling at risk.  

Will you have a sign for me to hold?

No, we tried this last time and its better for people to hold their bikes. If you want a sign something to print out you we suggest this which the first can be held by you and the second by the person behind you or the active travel now logo . We do not recommend you hold a sign and a bike

Can I bring my own sign/banner etc?

Yes, so long as they are politically neutral. “Clean Air London” , “Stop Killing Cyclists”, “Make Cycling Safe” all good. “Vote X” not good. We want the event to be open to people across all political views who agree that we need #Space4Cycling . So no brexit related stuff either.

Dress Code?

Anything you want to wear if fine but we ask for this even that you have with you a red bike light either to hold, on your person or on your bike due to the lower light conditions. We would encourage you to dress so you will be comfortable and confident stood in the road. This might mean for you brighter colours.

Why are you doing this?

We are working on a post that will explain the details of why we have chosen this location and Islington.

So far thats all the questions we have had. This section will grow as we get more. If your question is not answered here feel free to ask on twitter @seanlondonandon

If you are on facebook and you have not indicated you are coming along please do so here

 

 

 

#MakeTheLane Lambeth Report

 

It was a wonderful and sunny day as we headed to Lambeth for #MakeTheLane. After a quick briefing we were to up our positions in the road and enjoyed the smiling faces enjoying their one day only protected lane.

It was great to see so many come out to support us. Please watch this space or follow @activetravelnow on twitter to find out about future events.

Here are some great photos and videos  of the event:

#MakeTheLane Lambeth Plan

So when you join us on 25th of April at 7:45AM what the order of the day:

  • 7:45AM gather at location, explanation of action, safety procedure
  • 8:00ish Take up position in the lane
  • 9:00ish we are finished, time for a quick chat, thanks and then we all go on our way

We will mean at the junction of Lower Marsh and Baylis Road outside Cubana

Note: if we don’t have sufficient numbers at any point we will call it a day. Minimum is around 5, if we get too many folks we have a second location on the other side of the junction for you.

Example of layout

Layout.png

Each red dot represents a person standing just back from QW5/LCN-3.  You can stand either with our without your bike. The leader will have a sign.

FAQs

When and where should arrive?

Ideally 7:45AM but being a bit late is fine you can join the line after one of our marshals have a chat with you.

What do we do if the police tell us to stop or move or change?

Same as last time in Southwark you stop, move or change. No one is or wants to get arrested.

What do we do if an emergency vehicle is coming?

Wait for any cyclists to exist the space and then move out of the roadway

Will it Be cold/wet/hot etc?

Hopefully not this time but dress for the conditions. You will not be able to use an umbrella as this will put the people cycling at risk.  

Will you have a sign for me to hold?

No, we tried this last time and its better for people to hold their bikes.

Can I bring my own sign/banner etc?

Yes, so long as they are politically neutral. “Clean Air London” , “Stop Killing Cyclists”, “Make Cycling Safe” all good. “Vote X” not good. We want the event to be open to people across all political views who agree that we need #Space4Cycling

Dress Code?

Anything you want to wear is fine. We would encourage you to dress so you will be comfortable and confident stood in the road.

So far thats all the questions we have had. This section will grow as we get more. If your question is not answered here feel free to ask on twitter @seanlondonandon or @simonstill

 

 

 

 

#MakeTheLane Lambeth Wednesday 25th

We will be meeting at 7:45 on the junction of Baylis Road and Lower Marsh. Outside Cubana , this is on the route of LCN 3/future Quietway 5.

The event will run for one hour and we will provide a people protected bike lane as we did in Southwark. At 7:45  briefing will start and then by 8 we will take our place in the road. As I write this the weather is looking good but this is an all weather event and we encourage you to pack for all conditions.

We really hope to see you there as its key we send a clear and loud message to the Mayor and Lambeth Council. Lambeth in particular has been making big promises about active travel since 2014 but failing to deliver. By their own goals we should now be well on our way to 20% of trips being cycled but we are not even close. On top of this existing higher quality schemes have been watered down and are moving away from taking road space from motorists towards cutting down trees and using pedestrian space. Its not acceptable to add conflict to often busy pavements when private motorists have a disproportionate  share of space compared to the number of journeys made.

Lambeth is a area that has high potential to be an exemplar cycling borough and to do that we need to send the message the schemes must be high quality, existing routes, such as CS7, must be upgraded to fully segregated and ‘quiet’ routes must be heavily filtred so they are actually quiet. With a local election coming up now is the perfect time to send this message to Lambeth as the last few councils have failed active travel.

The Mayors slow delivery continues and that too must be highlighted. Quietways are delivered at glacial pace and as we discovered have no quality checks to ensure they are suitable. This is also an opportunity to send a clear message that we want Cycle Super Highway 7 rolling upgrades to start again with the route becoming full protected like CS2. When we wrote to Southwark Council about CS7 they said they supported the idea at the same time we wrote to the Mayor and are yet to receive a response.

More details will follow. We very much hope to see you there.

Millions of pounds have been wasted, say cycle group

TfL and boroughs fail to assess their own Quietway schemes for quality, finds Active Travel Now campaign

Research by Active Travel Now shows that TfL have risked wasting £26 million on “Quietway” cycle routes, [1] by failing to run their own quality assurance checks to ensure the 11 quiet routes are safe and welcoming for cyclists.[2]

Active Travel Now asked all London Local Authorities, key stakeholders and TfL, whether they have performed TfL’s “Cycling Level of Service” (CLoS) checks on Quietway routes. CLoS, until very recently, has been TfL’s  standard tool to assess the quality of cycle routes. It was developed to ensure cycle routes are safe, comfortable to use and will enable more people to cycle on them.

TfL held no CLoS checks for any Quietways, and has not made it a requirement for boroughs to use them before receiving funds for these routes.

Of the 13 boroughs that responded to Active Travel Now’s FOI requests, only Newham had conducted any CLoS checks. 15 authorities confirmed they had not made any CLoS checks. Two others (Camden and Southwark) have not yet provided information. 19 requests were made in total. [3]

Sean Howes, Coordinator, Active Travel Now said:

“Time and again, cycle schemes that are just paint and signs fail to enable new people to cycle. This is a massive waste of our money. There is no point spending cash on cycle schemes if you don’t check if they are any use. If TfL had checked, they’d know they spent £26 million delivering nearly no benefit to cyclists at all. We can see some improvements but scheme are not consistent nor broadly high enough quality.”

Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner, London Cycling Campaign, said:

“Far too often cycle schemes feature obvious failings, yet still get funded. To ensure cycling money is spent effectively so more people cycle, the London Cycling Campaign has been asking that the Mayor sets a quality bar for funding on all schemes. This underlines how needed it is.”

Caroline Russell AM said:

“I’m really concerned to see that neither TfL nor the boroughs are using quality assurance checks on Quietway designs.  If they are not using CLoS (Cycling Level of Service) they should at least be running a Healthy Streets check for critical fails, so that any high risk road danger issues are identified and addressed. If we want eight year olds to cycle to school and more women to get on their bikes for everyday journeys, we have to take Quietway design more seriously.”

Caroline Pidgeon AM said:

“Quietways should not be seen as providing cycle infrastructure on the cheap. There can be no excuse for basic standards not being consistently enforced across the whole length of a Quietway route.

“Boroughs are currently encouraged to follow the London Cycling Design Standards.   It is vital that these are turned into formal guidance so as to ensure that minimum standards are followed by boroughs and developers for each and every metre of a Quietway route”.

 

 

Notes

[1]  Londons Cycling Infrastucture https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/londons_cycling_infrastructure.pdf

Contains spending for Quietway & Central Grid spending, The TFL Quietway network is made up of both Quietway and Central Grid sections spending.  
[2] List of Quietway routes are listed on TFL website https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/quietways

Quietway 1 North and South are considered as 1 route.

[3] The full set of FoIs are linked from:

https://activetravelnow.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/tfl-shouldnt-be-at-a-clos-to-explain-poor-quality-quietways/