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


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.


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


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.


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”.




[1]  Londons Cycling Infrastucture

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

Quietway 1 North and South are considered as 1 route.

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

CS7 Upgrade Letter, Southwark Council Response

After the #MakeTheLane event we wrote to the leader of Southwark council and the Mayor of London asking them both to commit to upgrading Cycle Super Highway 7 to the standard of the Central Cycle Super Highway.

Southwark Council wrote to us stating:

Dear Active Travel Now

Thank you for your letter addressed to Peter John, the Leader of the council, received on 26 March 2018, regarding Cycle Superhighway 7.

The Leader, and the cabinet member for environment and the public realm, Councillor Ian Wingfield, have asked me to respond on their behalf.

We agree that the current CS7 is inferior to the more recent cycle superhighways in terms of the physical protection offered to cyclists and the extent to which the route meets the Healthy Streets principles. We would support the route being upgraded, but any such upgrade would need to be funded by the Mayor and TfL, as with all cycle superhighways. Southwark is committing considerable amounts of its own funds to improving cycle infrastructure in the borough but that could not extend to an upgrade of CSH7. We continue to petition TfL to support an upgrade to CSH7 in its budget and programme.

The only caveats are that any upgrade would need to avoid creating additional delays to bus services or diverting more motor vehicle traffic onto residential roads in the area. Careful consideration would also need to be given to the impact on coach parking at the northern end of Southwark Bridge Road.


Matthew Hill

Head of Highways

Environment and Social Regeneration

Southwark Council

We welcome this and we hope the Mayors letter will be in a similarly positive tone. As Cycle Superhighway 7 should be a relatively easy win for active travel in London

TFL shouldn’t be at a CLoS to explain poor quality Quietways

CLoS was supposed to ensure high quality schemes

TFL describe CLoS in Chapter 2 of the London Cycle Design Standards:

A Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessment has been developed in order to set a common standard for the performance of cycling infrastructure for routes and schemes, and for individual junctions.

CLoS is based on the six design outcomes of safety, directness, coherence, comfort, attractiveness and adaptability

When it was announced the London Cycling Campaign welcomed it as “a crucial tool both for planners and activists” – it drew a lot from their Love London-Go Dutch campaign.

CLoS was supposed to ensure TFL funded routes met a minimum quality threshold: “a scheme that registers as ‘critical’ on any one indicator has not met the required standard for programmes and projects funded under the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling”.  TFL funded scheme should therefore have no “critical fails” and consistently scoring “good” or “highest” if they were going to deliver against TFL’s targets for increasing cycling.

We expected TFL and Local Authorities to have carried out CLoS on key interventions along Quietways and Central Grid routes and for there to be clear evidence that CLoS had informed the route design. These schemes represent a significant investment from TFL so we think it’s reasonable to expect quality assurance over the use of public funds.

Have the boroughs and TFL been using CLoS?

Using What Do They Know we wrote to each local authority that had a section of Quietway listed on the TFL Quietways page. At the time of writing this included Quietways : 1 South, 1 North, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14 and 15. For central London boroughs and TFL we also asked about Central Grid routes.

The table shows the results of our enquiries so far. “Delayed” signifies that the organisation has failed to respond within the statutory response time allowed by the FOI act.

Organisation/ FOI link Quietways  Have they used CLoS? Comments
TfL 1S, 1N, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15 & Central Grid No
Westminster  1N, 3, Central Grid No Sent something that was not a CLoS assessment
Hackney 2, 6, 11, 13 No
Camden 1N, 2, 3 Delayed
RBKC  15, Central Grid No
Lambeth  1S, 4, 5 No
Southwark  1S, 7, 14 Delayed
Islington 2, 11, 13 No
Brent  3 No
Lewisham  1S No
Greenwich  1S No
Waltham Forest  2 No
Merton  4 No
London Legacy Development Corporation 6, Central Grid No
Newham  6 Yes
Tower Hamlets 6 No
Canal and Riverside Trust Central Grid and Coming QWs No
City Of London  11 No
Wandsworth* 4, 5 No (Referred to TFL) *Already FOI’d

So far only a single authority – Newham – has been able to provide evidence that they have been using CLoS. The most worrying response was from TFL itself:

Transport for London has not conducted, or does not hold, Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessments for the requested routes. Principles of the LCDS have been applied aid the design process of these routes. TfL no longer uses the CloS assessment tool within the Quietway Programme.

It seems that TFL have not been using the assessment tool they themselves created, nor have they been requiring local authorities to use it on schemes they put forward for TFL funding under the Quietways programme.

How can TFL be sure that they’re not funding schemes that have dangerous ‘critical fails’ if they’re not using the tool to identify them?  Without it what is to stop poor quality schemes being delivered?

CLoS hasn’t been used to ensure Quietway schemes are any good

This won’t be a surprise to anyone who has used the Quietway network expecting it to be made up of safe, low traffic routes. While there are some good sections there is no consistency – the very thing that the Quietways were supposed to provide and that the CLoS tool was supposed to ensure.

It’s not really news that the Quietways programme is failing – it’s been evident for some time ( see Road CC and The Guardian) but the failure to use CLoS goes some way to explaining why it has turned out so badly.

The absence of quality management, by ignoring the tools designed to ensure quality, is shocking considering the waste of public money. Use of CLoS ought to have been mandatory in order to receive TfL funding, and TfL should have insisted on seeing the assessments. Instead, TfL has been happy to throw money at Boroughs to show something has been done, while knowing that their money was in fact likely to be wasted or mis-spent. TfL and the Boroughs have collaborated in creating the illusion of addressing cycle safety, while knowing they were doing nothing of the sort.

More worrying still is that CLoS has now been incorporated into TFL’s Healthy Streets Check as part of  Healthy Streets.  However, the CLoS elements have been significantly downgraded and the check does not do a good job of assessing if a street is safe for people on bicycles. A prime example of this is that schemes like Croydon 5 Ways are being claimed to have good Healthy Streets scores whilst being deadly for people on bikes.

Set high standards and follow them

There’s no point defining standards for cycle infrastructure if schemes aren’t required to follow the standards. CLoS was a useful, objective tool for assessing the quality of cycling infrastructure.

We want TFL to:

  • Reinstate CLoS as an assessment measure.
  • Review the existing Quietways and Central grid routes at key interventions using CLoS and upgrade these routes to remove critical fails as a priority.
  • Restrict future funding to high quality, low traffic and direct schemes that achieve ‘good’ or ‘highest’ CLoS scores.

#MakeTheLane Southwark event report

The active travel gods smiled upon us and despite threats of rain we got good numbers. This enabled us to provide a small but very welcome section of protection for those making their way along CS7. The mood was upbeat and the happy smiles on those cycling past was great reward for our efforts. We sent a clear message that TFL & Southwark council are not doing enough and not doing it fast enough. We also clearly showed there is space here for CS7 to be upgraded as CS2 was.

There are so many great pictures and tweets from the day, search #MakeTheLane

Local media coverage :

We put into practice a lot of what we learnt in Islington and the event ran even more smoothly. We are all very much looking forward to our next action in Lambeth.

A massive thank you to all who came out to support us, we could not do this without you. We hope you will support us going forward.

A special thanks to Southwark Cyclists for their support & we hope to work with them in the future to send the message we need #ProtectionNotPaint