Nice one Boris

I think we may have got somewhere. It took a lot of prodding and even some swearing but there are positive signs.

Thank you Mayor Johnson for sending out your top folks!

Last Friday, members of BarnetLCC met at Henlys Corner, with Isabel Dedring (Deputy Mayor for Transport) and senior members of her team, including the designer of the scheme. They listened to our issues and made many positive noises. Since the meeting there have been good contacts with Tfl and I really believe that we may get some movement here.

The issues we raised were:

–          The junction has been made worse for cyclists despite really excellent improvements for other modes.

–          The “cycling facilities” offered, amount to a over engineered “cyclist dismount” sign and are not being used by most riders, including the schoolchildren who kindly rode through the junction, on cue, while we stood there.

–          The cycle facilities are poorly engineered and introduce new and rather serious risks.

–          The potential Super Highway route here will mean that this junction needs redesign in any case.

–          The same problems can be seen at the newly designed crossing of the A406 at Bounds Green.

–          There is a systemic issue in that junctions are being designed that worsen conditions for cyclists. This should not be happening.

To be fair to the designer(a thouroughly nice chap), it seems clear that within the brief he had, he did a fantastic job. There was little or no instruction to provide for cyclists. I won’t blame the workmen. The problem here is with the client’s brief.

I put it to them that an underlying issue was the lack of an overall plan for cycling in London. A genuine point of reference that designers/clients could look at to determine what cycling provision is needed at a given location. There is no such plan and there never has been in my memory. Aspirations…  yes. But no plan.

Since I was calling for a Cycling Plan, it seemed churlish to me not to suggest one myself, so I cobbled together a collection of my own ideas and presented them in this document:

A Cycle Plan for London? (pdf)

Obviously, putting it up here is inviting comment and I would welcome that. I’m sure that many will have opinions but if you want to have a “Segregation vs. Integration” debate please don’t have it with me. I think it a false polemic. We should do what is appropriate to a given location and we should do what works.

A big thanks to all those who have retweeted, blogged and particularly those who came on The Great Divide Ride. You are what got us to this point. I should also thank our Mayor again, whose off the cuff comments have also played a positive role. Cheers Boris.



14 responses to “Nice one Boris

  1. I was impressed with the commonsense honest approach of Isabel Dedring when she was on the podium with Boris at Talk London Peel Centre

  2. Well done on an effective piece of lobbying – I hope it changes the way TfL approach these matters. I’ve just got one question – when you say we need “A genuine point of reference that designers/clients could look at to determine what cycling provision is needed at a given location”, isn’t that sort of what TfL’s existing Cycle Design Standards are meant to do? As Henly’s Corner demonstrates clearly these standards are ignored in many cases, but from what you say it sounds like TfL have forgotten they even exist.

    • Indeed it is…. But the LCDS is only guidance not a true standard. A standard would be mandatory. Also, it says nothing about a Londonwide strategy which should be the the priority. What to build and how flows from that.

      Also, it is easy to talk about Tfl as if it is a single entity but that may not be the case. My impression is that there are many factions and sub organisations within Tfl which don’t necessarily agree with each other.

  3. Having read your Cycling Plan for London you might be interested in our embryonic campaign Tufnell Park Cycles to School which aims to provide a safe walking and cycling route linking 6 local schools and 6 local parks or playgrounds in a circular route. Good luck with Henlys Corner (I was on the Great Divide Ride).

  4. I have downloaded and read your plan with great interest. I work in an outer London highways department and so end up in the middle of all of the competing arguments.

    I know we have the LCN+, but it is of variable quality and I like the way in which you are looking to make schools local hubs. Yes, the school travel plan is a very powerful tool and I think some schools are realising it now. It used to be something they had to do to unlock some cash, but when lobbying politicians (who do ultimately make the decisions) the STP when properly presented, is effectively a representation of many current voters (parents) and many potential voters (pupils) and this may get the politicians looking beyond the next election to the one after. I will be circulating the plan at work next week for discussion.

    In defence of local authority engineers, we work in a political environment and have to progress schemes with an eye on this. Some politicians are downright hostile to cyclists and cycling and so we have a long game. With Henley’s Corner, I am not sure what the brief was (is there anything written down) – local authorities are bad at setting out aims for a project (believe me, I push really hard for aims and briefs to be set out from the start).

    I expect the brief at Henley’s was to provide pedestrian and cycle facilities (because we have to), but to try and improve traffic flow through the junction. What we now have is more tarmac, cyclists and peds having to cross several stages at the junction (to mix in with the traffic phasing) and for cyclists, slip roads which are a nightmare if you need to go straight ahead. Perhaps the answer is to accept that the junction is stuffed as it is, but only provide walking and cycling improvements on the basis that those being used will help reduce the net traffic demand. Easy for me to say given some of the schemes I have had to deliver over the years…

    • Thanks for the well informed comments.

      I for one, never dis the engineers. In my experience they are (mostly) a very well read and informed bunch who, as you say, get stuck in the middle. Many of the engineers I have met are regular riders too! They build what they are asked to build and often this doesn’t include much for cyclists. One once said to me, “We’re like painter/decorators. We deliver what the client wants even if it’s not to our personal tastes”.

      The LCN+ was always rather poor. In my view, it was simply lines on a map that attempted to join up the various fragments of provision. Boris stopped funding it in his first term anyway…

      As to Henlys… the issue for me is that it has been made better for drivers and peds but conditions have worsened for cyclists. That is the wrong direction of movement. Things should be improving even if only marginally and it seems no one was watching that. We have put forward some ideas which seemed to be taken seriously. we’ll see…

      There are certainly anti cycling politicians but their irrational views are becoming more and more marginal and I have hope for the future.

      I look forward to hearing the feedback from your office 😉


  5. Nice cycle plan for London. I wondered if you also wanted to mention potential NHS savings from increased active travel (1) (estimated at £17 billion over 20 years for England and Wales), which would outweight the construction cost of a cycle network. Guidance to local authorities for their public health duties state that walking and cycling should be given priority over motorised transport (2,3).

    (1) Jarrett J, Woodcock J, Griffiths UK, Chalabi Z, Edwards P, Roberts I, Haines A. Effect of increasing active travel in urban England and Wales on costs to the National Health Service. The Lancet – 9 June 2012 (Vol. 379, Issue 9832, Pages 2198-2205) DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60766-1

    (2) British Medical Association. Healthy transport = Healthy lives, 2012.

    (3) NICE Clinical Guideline 43. Obesity: the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and children. National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010.

  6. I think a key factor in the Henlys redevelopment was its strategic importance on the Olympic Route Network for which ensuring fast throughput of vehicles, especially those on official Olympic business, was the disproportionately overriding factor. Had it not been for that we may have seen a more balanced redesign.

    Now that M. Rogge and friends have exited stage left there may be an argument for this junction ( and other ORN affected junctions ) to be reviewed.

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