The London Borough of Sutton is looking at the possibility of introducing a shared-use cycling/walking route along Green Wrythe Lane between Middleton Circle and Bishopsford Road. There is a school on the route the route is largely residential, but the road is busy and carries a bus route.

greenwrythelaneshareduseproposal_p1270827

Sutton Living Streets has issued this reply:

“Thanks very much for consulting Sutton Living Streets about the Green Wrythe Lane – Shared pedestrian/cycle improvement scheme. We did check with our Living Streets Head Office and were directed to a statement issued by Tompion Platt, Head of Policy at Living Streets (LS). https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/who-we-are/press-media/should-cycling-be-allowed-on-the-pavement.

The statement said that Living Streets believes more people cycling is good for people walking and society more generally. LS agrees  that whether on foot or on bike, by far the greatest threat is motor traffic.  However, walking and cycling are two very different modes: mixing them together inappropriately can cause fear, anxiety and even serious injury.

The statement says that improving cycle safety and convenience should not diminish the safety and convenience of people walking. And any change to the street environment must take into account the accessibility needs of all kinds of users, including the blind and visually impaired.

“Local highway authorities shouldn’t be let off the hook from building good cycle infrastructure by simply pushing the conflict onto the footway,” the statement concluded.

In the light of this statement from our Head Office I think that we would not be able to support this proposal in its present form. But if the decision is taken to go ahead with the scheme perhaps signs asking cyclists to be aware of pedestrians would be a good idea.”

A draft plan of the proposals is shown here: green-wrythe-lane-t30108-dd-01

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The wonderful Wandle Trail now has a very useful map, produced by the Wandle Industrial Museum who have kindly given us permission to include it on our website. The Trail is a most useful transport link between Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth. For us in Sutton walking the trail to Morden takes about 45min. Compare that to taking the bus! And what a lovely walk. And accessible too!
You can get details of the lovely Wandle Industrial Museum on http://www.wandle.org. There is a downloadable map available from the museum on http://www.wandle.org/pdfs/Wandle_Trail_Map_Mobile_Tablet_friendly_version%20.pdf.

 

We have updated our walking map of Sutton and will soon be adding new walks that have recently been put in by the London Borough of Sutton. But we have also been kindly given permission to post the Wandle Trail map which will show the whole of this wonderful walk and important transport link.
A more detailed PDF version is also included. Just click on walkmap2 below to see it.

walkmap2

 

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The £1.2m Heart of Hackbridge project, funded by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund and Sutton Council, is coming to completion. This programme of physical and economic regeneration, focussed on the intersection of the A237 London Road and B277 Hackbridge Road, in Hackbridge, Sutton, had many aims. High on the list was the delivery of a more people-focussed centre, a place where people want to spend time, a place which is safer and easier to get around, and which serves as a hub for socialising as well as an improved local shopping experience. It was about civilising the traffic and prioritising pedestrians. Proposals to bring all of this about included the realignment of kerb lines to narrow the overall carriageway width, provision of a raised road surface to include several courtesy pedestrian crossing points in place of two formal zebra crossings, installation of an implied roundabout, widening of pavements (especially outside the nearby Hackbridge Primary School), planting of mature trees, and the installation of benches.

However, given that typically over 19,000 motorised vehicles pass through this location every day [Source: DfT Traffic counts], has the aspiration to provide a shared-space ethos on a heavily trafficked road, proved to be more of a challenging and ambitious project than the proponents thought it would be?

In this guest blog, Tracey Collins, Road Safety Campaigner, Hackbridge resident, and founder of Hackbridge Safety First, gives her personal view on the story so far.

One of a series of panels produced as part of the Heart of Hackbridge consultation (Sutton Council 2013)

One of a series of panels produced as part of the Heart of Hackbridge consultation (2013)

How Hackbridge can look on a weekday afternoon. London Road, Hackbridge, 17 September 2014 (Photo Charles Martin)

How Hackbridge can look on a weekday afternoon. London Road, Hackbridge, 17 September 2014 (Photo Charles Martin)

Hackbridge Junction is NOT safe as it is at the moment. The number of near misses on the six new informal crossings is an everyday occurrence, and vulnerable individuals are disadvantaged.

What is aim of Hackbridge Safety First?

  • We believe that every child has the right to be able to cross the road to get to school safely.
  • We believe that ALL pedestrians should not feel alienated from their local community – the elderly, disabled (whether they have a physical disability, a guide dog user, visually Impaired, sensory, hard of hearing).

ALL pedestrians have the right to feel safe in the community they live in and, at the moment, that isn’t the case in Hackbridge.

The following has been witnessed in Hackbridge over the last few weeks:

  • Vehicles/mopeds driving on the pavements.
  • Vehicles driving down Elm Road (one way street) through the NO ENTRY sign.
  • A lorry was driving along Hackbridge Road and tried to go right onto London Road. It couldn’t get round the “ROUNDEL” so REVERSED back, straight onto the pavement and almost took out the new benches.

There is a smiley face speed clock on London Road before you drive over the railway bridge. This has been seen to clock drivers speeding along London Road towards Hackbridge at 52 mph!!

There are some Hackbridge residents that are very happy with the NEW HACKBRIDGE. Some have commented that if the first car doesn’t stop to allow you to cross at the new informal crossing then the second one almost certainly does…This certainly is not the case.

That the roundel does not work as large lorries are not able to safely navigate it… also remember that Hackbridge is not a QUIET village. Drivers come through Hackbridge off the M25 straight into London. In Wallington for example, this year they have transformed Woodcote Road. They now have a mini roundabout, with road markings. Large vehicles i.e. lorries are able to navigate round the mini roundabout without any problems. They do not have to reverse back along a main road to go around the new mini roundabout. The transformation looks nice and works very well. If you carry on along Woodcote Road it will eventually lead you to Hackbridge.

Let’s try and make it right FOR:

  • The local resident who uses a guide dog, who attempted to independently try and cross one of the informal crossings and 14 cars didn’t stop for them;
  • The elderly resident who has lived in Hackbridge for 60 years who no longer feels safe crossing any of the new informal crossings;
  • The child that had to sprint across the road because they had to get out the way of a car coming towards him;
  • The pregnant lady who got half way across the crossing when a car zoomed past;

We want crossings that are recognised, that are in the Highway Code to safeguard all pedestrians that live and visit Hackbridge and at the moment we do NOT have this. As added protection WHY can’t we have a Patrol Officer on a permanent basis to protect our children? The Patrol Officer was put in place for the last 7 weeks of the summer school term. Because of the campaign the local authority agreed to extend the Patrol Officer’s contract from September to the end of October. The interim safety audit was carried out on 19 August 2014. The report has been completed. The local authority have now extended the Patrol Officers contract AGAIN, this time the patrol officer will remain in post until the proposed changes have been fully assessed.

As responsible parents we try and encourage independence in our children once they reach a certain age, i.e. walking to school on their own. We also want the children to walk to stay fit, as we are advised by the Government, plus walking reduces the environmental impact of having more cars on the road.

The rejuvenation of the “Heart of Hackbridge”, that was meant to bring our community together, has had the opposite affect and alienated certain members of the community.

Sutton Council provide background and updates on the Heart of Hackbridge project.

A Press Release from Labour London Assembly Member Fiona Twycross, 16 October 2014: Fiona Twycross AM visits controversial junction at Heart Of Hackbridge

If you would like to submit a guest blog for Sutton Living Streets, get in touch @suttonls

The first consultation to appear in Sutton Living Streets inbox in 2014 related to a proposal to construct a “raised table” outside St Dunstan’s Primary School in Cheam. Charles Martin thinks this a great idea, but asks whether the associated signage and clutter, that the traffic engineers propose to include with it, are really necessary.

Early in January 2014 Sutton Living Streets was asked to comment on plans to introduce a raised table in Anne Boleyn’s Walk, outside St Dunstan’s Primary School, in Cheam village. Here are links to the Notice and the Plan (both referenced as T28009), and below is our response.

20140130_1415_T28009_Plan

Sutton Living Streets believe that the proposed raised table crossing at Anne Boleyn’s Walk will be an improvement to the streetscape. Indeed, the Google Street View at this location (http://goo.gl/maps/4XqCH) clearly shows that the pedestrian desire-line currently cuts across the grass verge at the intended location of the raised table crossing. Furthermore, the existing build-out on the west side of the road has always been a contentious issue for some cyclists, given its proximity to the junction with Kingsway Road, so its removal will not be a disappointment.

However, we are not sure why the raised table needs to come with the additional clutter of posts and signage. Is it really necessary for a quiet residential street to have three “Hump 50 yds” signs installed? Is it likely that traffic will be travelling at such a speed on Anne Boleyn’s Walk or Kingsway Road that signs are required? Will anyone notice the signs? If they are necessary, why are there no “Hump 50 yds” signs on the approach to the other existing raised table further along Anne Boleyn’s Walk at the junction with Ewell Road? And near the school isn’t it the children, rather than humps, that we should be looking out for?

The proposed additional signage will just make Anne Boleyn’s walk and Kingsway Road look more like thoroughfares for traffic. If the maximum speed limit here were to be reduced to 20mph, as is Living Streets policy for residential roads, (and which here, given the alignment of the streets, is probably rarely exceeded anyway), then the proposed raised-table would sit quite nicely without the requirement of additional traffic signage. Put simply, the area would take on more of a sense of place without the signage. And surely a sense of place, somewhere for people to stop and talk and walk and cycle, is just what you need outside a village primary school.

Could Wallington become a cycling destination? Sutton Living Streets supporter John Kinnear considers some options that, if implemented, could help unlock Wallington’s potential as a more attractive place for cycling.

Wallington ought to be a honey pot for local cyclists. Its bustling town centre has the major shopping chains, but on a human scale. There are plenty of smaller shops and varied eating places, plus a regular farmers market, along with a post office and a railway station which is popular all day, not just for commuting. And there are large secondary schools just north and south of the town centre too. The town centre is surrounded, literally encircled, by residential areas made up of quiet roads, all of which easily link together to make pleasant cycle routes, some signed and some not. You can link up to the north with the signed route 75 from Sutton to Croydon through Beddington Park, and to the south an alternative route between the same areas. To the west there is national cycle route 20 which runs north and south. All those residential streets should be full of cyclists riding from home to their local town centre.

However, you don’t see too many cyclists cycling from home to Wallington town centre. It is not surprising why.

National Cycle Network route 20 along Park Lane is a busy, heavily trafficked road, with a nasty piece of cycling infrastructure on the Boundary Road rail bridge which forces a cyclist out into the fast flowing traffic. At the southern end of Boundary Road there is a busy roundabout with unhelpful cycling provision; at the northern end (Park Lane) there are busy road junctions. In Wallington, after the recent refurbishment of the town centre, Woodcote Road has been narrowed through the shops. As a cyclist you would share the one lane in each direction with buses that have stopped to load up in the middle of the traffic flow, other traffic stopping and starting at the traffic lights and trying to overtake the buses in both directions, and cars reversing out of the new parking places, not to mention pedestrians darting over the narrowed road. After the recent refurbishment, there are nice new cycle hoops for more cycle parking, but poorly designed. Each new hoop has a semi-circular metal panel, inside the hoop, with a P sign and a bike silhouette cut out. These bits of metal may look good but make it awkward to lock your bike to the hoop if you try to use the TfL-recommended D-lock. After the refurbishment of the area, there is also a cycle contraflow by Lidl in Beddington Gardens. Nice idea- it could be copied in so many places where there is one-way traffic. But what does it lead you out to in Wallington? Manor Road/ Woodcote Road, full of cars, buses, lorries- often moving off at speed from traffic lights just north of the rail bridge and also just south of the bridge. Crossing over into Ross Parade means a nasty right turn too. No wonder some cyclists going north just cycle along the wide pavement under the railway bridge. Probably illegal but no doubt feels a lot safer.

So Wallington may be surrounded by good cycling areas but the town centre, despite its attractions, is like a fortress designed to keep the cyclists out.

Is there an alternative to gain access to Wallington? One of the roads parallel to Woodcote Road is Shotfield (to the west). It could be an alternative access to the shops on a bike, but it is often full of traffic, usually larger vehicles, buses, coaches etc., and usually moving fast, along with cars eager to get in or out of the car park.

Strangely there is another alternative, which – with one exception – requires only a relatively small amount of attention, to create a cycle superhighway from Beddington Park all the way south almost to Woodcote Green, allowing a cyclist easy and safe access to all the shops and other facilities. It provides a way of opening up the cycling potential of the whole area, because it links with other routes, with residential areas and it provides safe and easy access on a bicycle to the Wallington town centre area.

Map of the Wallington Superhighway

A cycle superhigway for Wallington?

Route description and action needed table

Route description and action needed

1 Beddington Park, from signed route 75 to the car park
To formally allow cycling on the very short distance between route 75 and the road to the car park; perhaps improve the surface.

2 Car park to Croydon Road
Signage needed

3 Crossing Croydon Road
There is already an island refuge for pedestrians. This could be adapted to accommodate cyclists.

4 Bute Road
No action needed apart from signage

5 Right into Belmont Road
No action needed apart from signage (Melbourne Road could be used as an alternative)

6 Left into Bridge Road
No action needed apart from signage

7 Across the railway bridge
No action needed apart from signage

8 Ahead up Clarendon Road
Road markings need to be improved at the southern exit from the railway bridge. The current situation leads a cyclist on this route to believe they have right of way over Ross Parade traffic; motorists approaching from Ross Parade are also led to believe they have right of way over the junction with Clarendon Road. This is an extraordinarily dangerous situation.

9 Towards the south end of Clarendon Road:
existing cycle route is signposted into the shopping centre. (Diversion from the main proposed through route) Dropped edges needed to facilitate cycling into the shopping centre. More bike hoops needed in Woodcote Road making use of the very wide pavement.

10 South end of Clarendon Road:
slope up towards Stafford Road. Need for dropped edges and signage to make this a cyclable route.

11 Crossing Stafford Road.
Although there are traffic lights here, to control cars using the supermarket car park, this is currently a major barrier for cycling. It is not easy to cycle across Stafford Road; it is not easy to walk your bike across Stafford Road either. It is the one point on the route that needs significant attention. This is the only major work needed on this route.

12 The whole length of Onslow gardens to its junction with Shirley Road, where it is possible to join other established cycle routes or simply make use of the quiet back streets to continue a journey to the west, the south or the east.
No action needed apart from signage

Last week, the report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group inquiry “Get Britain Cycling” was published. A few weeks earlier, the Mayor of London had produced his “Vision for Cycling”. In light of these ground-breaking documents, Charles Martin, Sutton Living Streets’ supporter, and borough co-ordinator for the London Cycling Campaign, considers where Sutton stands politically when it comes to cycling issues in an open letter to Sutton councillors. This letter is also available to download as a pdf: GetSuttonCycling_April2013

An open letter to all Sutton Councillors:

Cllr. Pathumal Ali, Cllr. Eric Allen, Cllr. Sheila Andrews, Cllr. Sean Brennan, Cllr. Malcolm Brown, Cllr. Mary Burstow, Cllr. Moira Butt, Cllr. Anisha Callaghan, Cllr. Dave Callaghan, Cllr. Richard Clifton, Cllr. Monica Coleman, Cllr. Colin Hall, Cllr. Margaret Court, Cllr. Tim Crowley, Cllr. Adrian Davey, Cllr. Ruth Dombey, Cllr. John Drage, Cllr. Nick Emmerson, Cllr. Stephen Fenwick, Cllr. Peter Fosdike, Cllr. Peter Geiringer, Cllr. Bruce Glithero, Cllr. Sunita Gordon, Cllr. Stuart Gordon-Bullock, Cllr. Marlene Heron, Cllr. David Hicks, Cllr. Lester Holloway, Cllr. Heather Honour, Cllr. Miguel Javelot, Cllr. Gerry Jerome, Cllr. Kirsty Jerome, Cllr. Edward Joyce, Cllr. Paddy Kane, Cllr. John Keys, Cllr. John Leach, Cllr. Janet Lowne, Cllr. Wendy Mathys, Cllr. Jayne McCoy, Cllr. Joyce Melican, Cllr. Pamela Picknett, Cllr. Hamish Pollock, Cllr. Jonathan Pritchard, Cllr. Roger Roberts, Cllr. Alan Salter, Cllr. Tony Shields, Cllr. Colin Stears, Cllr. Sue Stears, Cllr. Stanley Theed, Cllr. Roger Thistle, Cllr. Graham Tope, Cllr. Simon Wales, Cllr. Myfanwy Wallace, Cllr. Jill Whitehead, Cllr. Graham Whitham

Dear Sutton councillors,

Get Sutton Cycling: Introduction

You may remember that last April I wrote to you all [1] to ask for your support, in regard to walking and cycling related issues in your ward, in the run-up to the 2014 council elections [2]. I am writing to you again, a year later almost to the day, because last Wednesday (24 April 2013) was a landmark day for cycling (and for walking, and for the public realm, and for a happier and healthier nation).

Get Britain Cycling: happier and healthier – cycling makes life better for us all

Last Wednesday the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group published the Get Britain Cycling report [3] which, as a result of an inquiry looking at extensive public evidence from over 100 individuals and organisations (including cycling organisations, the Automobile Association, and a wide range of government departments and ministers), is able to conclusively demonstrate why the whole of Britain needs to, essentially, get cycling. And this is a reference to the whole of Britain, not just healthy people or sporty young males, but people of all ages and backgrounds, in urban and rural areas, and of course in Sutton not just in Cambridge or York, Hackney or Lambeth. It’s about broadening the cycling demographic. So it’s for those who currently say “you will never get me on a bicycle” because they just don’t feel safe, as much as it is for the “Bradley Wiggins” type of cyclist. It’s about those who find mobility difficult, and it’s about 8 to 16 year-olds, 60 to 100 year-olds, many of whom are effectively being deprived of the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle anywhere other than in the local park.

Key recommendations from the Get Britain Cycling inquiry include the need for vision, ambition and strong political leadership, plus the creation of a cycling budget to spend at least £10 per person per year increasing to £20. This follows closely on from the Mayor of London’s Vision for Cycling in London announced last month [4] [5], which invited outer London boroughs to apply for relatively substantial funding to create “mini-Hollands” in the suburbs – and more on that in a moment.

Clearly therefore, since writing to you a year ago, cycling has climbed the political agenda. And this is summed up quite nicely in a quote reproduced in the full Get Britain Cycling inquiry report from one witness, Andy Salkeld, of Leicester City Council, who said, “cycling is the mode of transport ‘on the cusp of greatness'”.

Cycling towards 2014, one year on

With all this activity around cycling, and with just over a year to go to the local elections, I thought this was perhaps a good opportunity to reflect on where the London borough of Sutton stands in relation to all things cycling. Is, for example, Sutton worthy of funding from Transport for London (TfL) to become one of the three trial “mini-Holland” outer London boroughs? I would like to say yes, but from my viewpoint, the available evidence on this at the moment would probably suggest no, and I’ll endeavour to explain why in this letter.

But I would like to start by thanking those of you who responded directly to my Cycling towards 2014 email last year. A total of 13 (24%) did so, and I give special thanks to Cllr. Jill Whitehead (Carshalton Central) for not only taking such a positive lead and suggesting that her ward be the first to “Go Dutch”, but also for inviting Sutton Living Streets and Cyclism (London Cycling Campaign in Sutton) to hold a stall at an event in Carshalton in July 2012 that celebrated the arrival of the Olympic torch relay to the borough [6]. Thanks, also, to all three councillors in Sutton South ward (this was the only ward where all the elected representatives responded); and to the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont local committee for inviting me to talk at their committee meeting on 5 July 2012 [7].

For the record, the overall response rate to Cycling towards 2014 by local committee area was as follows (with number of councillors responding directly given as a percentage of the total number of councillors in each committee area):

Beddington and Wallington: (3/12) 33%

Carshalton and Clockhouse: (2/6) 33%

Cheam North and Worcester Park: (0/9) 0%

St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley: (1/9) 11%

Sutton: (3/9) 33%

South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont: (4/9) 44%

This level of response, although not all bad, certainly does not suggest that there is (or was) a particularly high level of interest in cycling by councillors across the borough. It is worth mentioning that, one or two exceptions besides, there have been few on-going conversations since. Although perhaps not all that surprising, this apathy and low priority given to cycling is a pity. It’s a pity because many of the problems and issues that residents are often concerned about, and which re-occur time and time again at local committee meetings (such as topics around parking and the school-run), are all subjects that could, to a greater of lesser extent, be resolved if cycling became more mainstream. This general dis-interest in cycling is even more worrying, given how the borough is proud to declare itself as the first London borough to sign-up to the principles of One Planet Living [8], and likes to be seen as taking the lead across London in promoting green-living, advocating healthy lifestyles and championing sustainability. Also of course, low interest could be said to indicate a lack of understanding on the existing status of the cycling debate (and my April 2012 letter had attempted to give the heads-up on this), which, in turn, could be interpreted as being slightly out-of-touch on current thinking. 

How smart is travel in Sutton in 2013?

Four years ago, the behaviour change initiative “Smarter Travel Sutton” reported a 75% increase in cycling in the borough in 2009 compared to 2007. This increase was subsequently given the qualification “from a very low base”. Nevertheless, the program went on to deservedly win a number of industry awards, and the fact that it took place showed the borough had ambition. In Enabling Smarter Travel Choices – Sutton’s Sustainable Transport Policy and Action Plan (June 2008) [9] the initiative was seen to have had good public support, and the borough was keen to build on its success. Specifically, the document notes: “It is now necessary to “lock in the benefits” of Smarter Travel Sutton to ensure that these gains are not lost”. Well, have those benefits been locked-in? When I asked that question to the Head of Smarter Travel Sutton at a One Planet Sutton event in January this year, he gave the answer “no idea”. But I didn’t have long to wait to find out. Last month the Department for Transport published a statistical release Local area walking and cycling statistics England 2011/12 [10]. This data set includes the proportion of adults who cycle at least once a week across all 326 local authority areas in England in the year to October 2012. The average for England was 10% (down from 11% the previous year), whereas in the London borough of Sutton the figure was 7% (down from 9% the previous year). So the answer, as to whether the benefits have been locked-in, is probably no. Incidentally, across London the figures ranged from 19% in Richmond to 4% in Enfield and Redbridge.

Has Sutton made the case for “Going Dutch”, taken up the challenge, or began the discussion with residents?

These arguments alone may not be good enough reasons for depriving Sutton of “mini-Holland” funding. But there are other indicators. For example, is there robust and plentiful evidence that the borough would spend any funding wisely if it were to receive it? After all, there is absolutely no point in being awarded, and attempting to spend, any substantial funding for Dutch-style cycling promotion if the conversation and discussion with residents, as to how best to take forward what many will perceive are challenging and difficult ideas, has not yet even began. Such potentially challenging topics for discussion would include 20 mph maximum speed limits on all (or at least most) of the borough controlled roads and some TfL roads (although this need not be all that challenging) [11]; the need to close certain roads to through-traffic, except for those on foot or bicycle; the requirement to convert some streets to one-way operation, allowing contra-flow for cyclists (in order to give people on bicycles some advantage over those in cars and so help encourage the switch from one form of transport to the other); ideas on reducing road space for motor vehicles in order to facilitate cycle paths, and, most contentious of all perhaps, parking constraints (again to make space for cycling). However, from reading the notes of local committee meetings it would appear that any controversial discussions such as these usually result in councillors succumbing and acquiescing to the vocal few who attend such meetings, rather than making the case in a coherent and policy-driven way as to why sometimes these ideas can be advantageous (especially in the longer term).

Meanwhile, “TfL and the boroughs lack sufficient expertise”…

Last week (22 April 2013) I received an email from CaroIine Pidgeon, Leader of the London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group and Chair of London Assembly Transport Committee, in which she gave an update on her work at the London Assembly on the issue of safer cycling in London. Caroline said she had continued to push to make sure that cycling is a key priority for the Mayor and that he spends his budget wisely. She went on to note that the previous week the Assembly had quizzed Peter Hendy, the Commissioner at transport for London, about how the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling would be implemented. Peter had replied that TfL and the Boroughs lacked sufficient expertise to start multiple projects and that therefore their approach will be to focus on a handful of projects and learn as they go.

…so, in 2013, we get a dropped-kerb, raised junction entry and some paint

I have to say that if a recent joint TfL/borough cycle improvement scheme is anything to go by, Peter is absolutely right about this. The Grove Road proposal [12] [13], on the border of the Sutton Central and Sutton West wards, developed with the intention of improving facilities for cyclists at the junction of the A232 Grove Road and Bridge Road, was completed a week or so ago. This improvement (which allows cyclists to share a section of pavement (which they did anyway), and provides a dropped-kerb and a raised junction entry, may well make life easier for those who already cycle (under 2% of journeys), but in my view will do little to get those who want to cycle on to their bicycles. This is reflected in the response to the consultation from CTC and Cyclism: “We have been campaigning for this contra flow track to be installed for several years and are pleased that you are now proceeding to implementation.” I see this not as a success, but more as a major criticism. After all, if this is all we get after several years of campaigning, what hope is there of ever “Going Dutch”? I was going to add that there is absolutely nothing Dutch about this scheme, but actually, for a short section, cyclists could in theory pass each other cycling on the right-side (i.e. the wrong as opposed to correct side) of the road – so I guess that might count!

An invitation to find out what “Going Dutch” actually means

I think that Sutton would stand a much better chance of being awarded “mini-Holland” funding if councillors and planners in the borough could demonstrate to TfL (and to LCC) that they have an understanding of what “Going Dutch” actually means. There is no better way of experiencing what the Netherlands has to offer than to actually visit. As I have mentioned previously, I can highly recommend a cycling study tour given by David Hembrow [14]. If you are concerned about the cost to tax-payers of such a visit, or what the Sutton Guardian might say, you could pay for the trip from just a small proportion of the £10,000 that was proposed (or possibly is still proposed) to be spent on widening a path in Beddington Park [15], and then everyone would be happy! As a precursor to such a visit, interested parties may wish to liaise with Hackney councillors to see what has been achieved there. I understand that invitations for such a visit have been offered by Hackney. It’s just £2.90 each way Sutton to Hoxton outside peak times using Oyster, with simple same-platform interchange at West Croydon. And they serve a lovely cup of tea at the Geffrye Museum.

Cycling towards 2014, the final twelve months

I understand that you are all very busy people with a lot of demands on your time. But as we now enter the final year in the run-up to the elections next May, I would be very grateful if one councillor from each ward (or at least one councillor from each local committee area) would be prepared to be the point of contact for cycling and/or walking issues in their part of the borough. If you feel this is something you would be happy to do, please get in touch. In the meantime, one of the best ways to keep abreast of cycling issues is to view the weekly blog from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain [16]. Who knows, you may even find a link to this letter there. 

Get Britain Cycling – and please don’t leave the London borough of Sutton behind

Finally, there is one favour that I would like you to consider doing today that would be very helpful. That is to sign the The Times’ e-petition ‘Promote cycling by implementing the recommendations in the Get Britain Cycling report: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49196 [17] (thank you if you have already done so). As Ian Austin and Julian Huppert, co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group note in the foreword to the summary report: “This generation of politicians has the chance to be long remembered for having a vision for cycling that includes us all”. This could include you of course, and I hope it does.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Martin

Sutton Living Streets; Sutton borough co-ordinator, London Cycling Campaign

30 April 2013

Notes and references:

[1] As detailed at the head of this letter, with the exception of Cllr. Nick Emmerson. Nick was subsequently elected as Liberal Democrat ward councillor in a by-election in Stonecot ward (Cheam North and Worcester Park local committee) in December 2012, following Brendan Hudson’s decision to stand down as Liberal Democrat ward councillor in November 2012. Welcome Nick.

[2] Sutton Living Streets, Cycling towards 2014, (23 April 2012): https://suttonlivingstreets.org.uk/2012/04/.

[3] All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, Get Britain Cycling (24 April 2013): http://allpartycycling.org/2013/04/24/one-in-ten-of-all-journeys-should-be-by-bike-press-release-and-links-to-the-reports/.

[4] Greater London Authority, The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London, an Olympic Legacy for all Londoners, (7 March 2013): http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/transport/publications/mayor-s-vision-for-cycling.

[5] London Cycling Campaign, Mayor’s new Vision for Cycling is “ground-breaking” says London Cycling Campaign, (7 March 2013): http://lcc.org.uk/articles/mayors-new-vision-for-cycling-is-ground-breaking-says-london-cycling-campaign.

[6] Sutton Living Streets/Cyclism, Some analysis and findings from the Carshalton event questionnaire, July 2012 (working title, not yet published). 68% of the respondents to this small-scale survey indicated that they did not currently cycle, but only 18% of these stated that “cycling was not for me”. This suggests that a substantial majority (82%) of the respondents would consider cycling. Of these “future cyclists”, 76% said that they would be encouraged to cycle through the provision of segregated cycle paths on busy roads or high-quality cycle paths. Effectively, respondents told us that they would cycle if they felt safe doing so.

[7] Sutton Living Streets, Love South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont, Go Dutch: as yet unpublished presentation given to South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont local committee, 5 July 2012  

[8] Bio Regional, What is One Planet Living?, (accessed 24 April 2013): http://www.bioregional.com/oneplanetliving/what-is-one-planet-living/

[9] London Borough of Sutton, Enabling Smarter Travel Choices – Sutton’s Sustainable Transport Policy and Action Plan (June 2008): https://www.sutton.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11905.

[10] Department for Transport, Local area walking and cycling in England 2011/12 (16 April 2013). Table CW0111: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-area-walking-and-cycling-in-england-2011-12.

[11] Despite the government’s announcement in June 2011 that 20 mph had become easier and cheaper to implement (http://www.normanbaker.org.uk/pr/2011/110616_20mph.htm); despite the Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment to 20 mph in April 2012 as part of Brian Paddick’s bid to be Mayor (page 25: “extend 20 mph speed limits to dangerous busy streets controlled by TfL where Londoners live, work and play – so reducing accidents and saving millions of pounds from the health service budget alone”), despite the implementation of 20 mph as the default speed limit for residential streets in 37 local authorities from Portsmouth to Glasgow and including the London boroughs of Camden, Greenwich, Islington, Hackney, Southwark and Waltham Forest (equating to a total residential population of nearly 9 million) (http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/ 30 April 2013), and despite speeding traffic, or road safety, being a concern to Sutton’s residents in nine of the eighteen wards across the borough (as reported by the Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhoods team in December 2012 (http://content.met.police.uk/Page/YourBorough > ‘Sutton’ > ‘Sutton has 18 teams…’), the introduction of 20 mph as a default speed limit in the borough seems to be amazingly slow in coming to fruition. Is this due to a weakness of local politicians to make the case? And, given that it will happen sooner or later, how will Sutton explain in the future why the local authority delayed borough-wide implementation?

[12] Sutton Living Streets, Proposals to improve facilities for cyclists in Grove Road: but will they encourage you to cycle? (26 February 2013):  https://suttonlivingstreets.org.uk/2013/02/26/groveroad/.

[13] Transport for London, A232 Grove Road – Cycle improvement scheme. Consultation report, (March 2013): https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/a232groveroad.

[14] David Hembrow Cycling Study Tour: http://www.hembrowcyclingholidays.com/studytour.html.

[15] Sutton Living Streets, As easy as taking a walk (or bicycle ride) in the park, (14 January 2013): https://suttonlivingstreets.org.uk/2013/01/.

[16] Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, CEofGB blog, (latest post 29 April 2013, archived weekly, on-going): http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/blog

[17] The Times, Cameron climbs aboard cycle revolution, (25 April 2013), http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3748181.ece

 

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