Dear Mayor Johnson,
On Tuesday the 19th June this year, as you rode through the sunny morning peloton of Islington, I’m sure the conditions for cycling at a northerly crossing of the A406 were the last thing on your mind. That was certainly the case for me. All that changed when I found myself waiting at the lights with none other than the Chairman of TfL himself.
I would never normally trouble a public figure in the street as I consider it to be rude but in this case I had to make an exception. After all, I have been trying to get some issues flagged up with your office for some time now and the opportunity was too good to miss.
We had a short exchange at the lights, perhaps you remember…
Me: It seems churlish not to ask you a question as I find myself at the lights with you. Would that be ok?
You: Fire away!
Me: Would you be surprised to know that local cyclists and cycling groups are unhappy with the new Henlys Corner?
You: Oh fuck them! We have spent billions up there!
Me: I live up there and the money has been spent badly with respect cyclists…
The lights changed and off you went…
I will admit that I was shocked at your language… but in no way offended. I don’t mind a bit of rude language. I am also certain that you have the needs of London’s growing cycling community in your heart. Actually, you spoke from your heart and I have a lot of respect for that, despite disagreeing. I understand your remark to mean something along the lines of… those whinging cyclists are never happy! “Oh fuck them! We have spent billions up there!”. I can quite understand that you could feel that way given the expense and endless planning process. As Mayor, you cannot be expected to know the fine details of every junction redesign. Your commitment to the “go Dutch” tests and to cycling, more widely, means that you will be able to see the problem if only I can get the message to you.
You were not to know…
– That I am one of those whinging cyclists so it was really me you were telling to get fucked. That felt great, cheers.
– That, as an experienced National Standard Cycling Instructor, who has to carry out risk assessments of roads and junctions for cyclists as a daily part of my job, I have the expertise to make the judgement. Safety and amenity are worse for people on bikes, who use the junction, post the redesign, despite major improvements for other modes.
– That it’s not just folk like me who can see the problem… For example, Cllr Brian Coleman. Before the elections this year, I found myself on the phone with, the then, AM Coleman and took the opportunity of putting the same question to him. He was surprised, being under the impression that the new design was better for all. Like you he mentioned that loads had been spent… but without the swearing. After meeting me for 15 mins at Henlys corner one morning, he accepted that there, “is a problem” and showed willingness to work toward a solution. He gets it.
– That the plenary question put by AM Andrew Dismore about Henlys Corner, on the day after we met, was as a response to a meeting he had with me at Henlys Corner recently. He gets it too.
– That Phil Jones, who delivers training to TFL engineers, on cycling provision, has looked at the video I made about the new Henlys design. His verdict – “Excellent – clear, unemotional, irrefutable”. He gets it so much that he has offered help getting whatever proposals are eventually made into a really useful and compliant form. – Gold dust… Cheers Phil!
– That I attended the Talk London event in Barnet earlier this year to try to raise the issue but was only able to talk to one of Isabel Dedring’s team, a Mr. McGeevey. In any case, the GLA office has been aware of the issues at least since January 2012 when we began corresponding.
– That The Great Divide Ride took place in March to highlight the issue of poor provision for cyclists crossing the A406.
Please see this video:
When one really looks at what has happened to the cycling provision at this flagship scheme, “fuck them” may well have been key design guidance. There are many other issues too technical to go into in the video. I am really pleased that TfL is working with Barnet on the issue of Barnet’s refusal to allow a Cycle Superhighway. Henlys Corner will need re-designing, in any case, should that ever change. The question remains; Why wasn’t state of the art provision included in the original design, given the “cycling revolution” and this junction’s planned inclusion in a CS? Seems like an own goal.
A positive result would be someone senior from each of TfL/GLA and Barnet coming to meet the local stakeholder group (www.barnetlcc.com) as a matter of urgency. We have a number of suggestions/solutions and a top transport consultant in Phil Jones to help present them in the most usefull way. (Note: since I began writing this last week, there has been a very positive contact with senior GLA people and I expect a constructive meeting to take place soon! Hurrah!)
Alternatively, you and I could enjoy some wonderful Salt Beef after a brief tour of Henlys Corner one afternoon… during the school run perhaps, when there are lots of children riding across. What do you say?
The new Henlys corner design lets cyclists down badly and fails to support your vision of cycling in our city. Local cyclists, transport consultants and two AMs have been able to see the problem. Can I get my message to you…?