My response to Camden Council’s proposals for Royal College Street

Another one: Camden Council are proposing some pretty impressive improvements to the already good cycling provision on Royal College Street.

I dropped them a quick email to Brian Deegan at Camden Council to support this work:

Dear Brian,

I would like to voice my support for the proposed improvements to Royal College Street.

I live in West London, and cycle to work in Shoreditch via Bloomsbury. I support this work not because of its direct effect on my journey, but because it is a significant step in raising the standard of cycle provision in London, something that is all the more relevant now TfL are showing willingness to adopt new best practices in cycling infrastructure.

Camden council already has some of London’s best cycle provision. I use the Bloomsbury cycle route every day because, despite its weird chicanes, it is possibly the most pleasant way to cross central London. It is great to see that, with the plans for Royal College Street, you are still at the forefront of cycling provision in this city.

On your specific questions

1. I agree entirely with the installation of a southbound cycle lane, and the resulting provision of two wide cycle paths, and I hope this can serve as a blueprint for future implementations of segregated cycle infrastructure.

2. I agree with the raised junctions, as this will slow traffic down and reduce the risk of cyclists being cut up.

3. I agree with the replacement of traffic signals with a raised junction, again as a way of reducing the risk of cyclists being cut up.

4. I have no direct opinion on the changes to parking, but support them as part of the overall scheme.

5. The segregation proposals look generally very good. I would like to raise two notes of caution: first, that there is enough separation between parked cars and the cycle path to avoid risk to cyclists from car doors being opened; and secondly, if a stretch of parking is entirely empty, then there is the possibility that drivers will use it as a second lane, possibly for overtaking, and that the segregation along this stretch should still be significant enough to reduce the risk of drivers erring into the cycle path.

6. I have no direct opinion on the removal of road humps; if you feel that other measures will keep speeds under control, then I am satisfied with that.

I wish you all the best in implementing this scheme,

Yours,

Matthew Butt

Update: TfL reconsider plans for Lambeth Bridge Northern Roundabout

Back in October, I responded to TfL’s Lambeth Bridge Northern Roundabout Consultation, criticising their plan to make cyclists and pedestrians “share” the pavement at this busy and awkward junction, and encouraging them to put in place a proper, Dutch-style junction with segregated cycle lanes.

Well, today’s my birthday, and it seems TfL have prepared a little surprise birthday present for me.

I first heard about it through a few tweets from Mark Treasure:

I then opened my emails to find this message from TfL:

Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for responding to our consultation on the proposed early benefit scheme for cyclists at Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout. Following consultation, TfL has decided not to proceed with this scheme.

The scheme was designed to provide improvements for cyclists, whilst also allowing TfL to continue exploring further, more radical improvements to improve facilities at this location. The proposals were developed following careful analysis of casualty statistics at the roundabout and a thorough review of the current physical road layout. However, having considered responses to consultation, and following concerns voiced by Westminster City Council, we have decided not to proceed with these planned initial improvements at Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout. Instead, we will concentrate our resources on developing more substantial improvements that meet the expectations of Westminster City Council and other stakeholders.

Some of the measures suggested by respondents, such as a segregated cycle track around the outside of the roundabout with cyclist priority at slip roads, would be new features on London’s roads, and therefore require off-street trials. We have started building the infrastructure for these trials at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire, and we will work with our stakeholders to ensure their views are considered as part of this work. Suggestions made as part of this and other consultations will be considered by the team planning the trials.

A summary of the consultation and TfL’s response to it can be found online at https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/streets/betterjunctions-lambethbridgenorth.

Yours sincerely

Oliver Birtill

(The full consultation report gives more details of the responses, as well as details of future proposals, and is well worth a read.)

What I find significant about this is that not only have they agreed not to make the situation worse, but they are working on off-street trials which should in future allow them to make the situation much better. On top of the (for the UK) revolutionary plans for the Bow–Stratford extension of CS2, this suggests that TfL are really listening to the voices of cyclists and experts in cycle infrastructure.

What is particularly gratifying is the feeling that we spoke, and TfL listened to us. As a cyclist in London, and indeed as an ordinary person in our modern plutocracy, you get inured to the attrition of powerlessness, so to find that just for once your voice is being heard is like seeing a shaft of sunlight through a storm cloud.

It is also instructive to see how the consultation report accounts for the responses given: for each element of the scheme, the responses for, partially for, and against are added, but those that do not mention this feature are not taken into account. This suggests that in responding to a consultation like this, it is well worth specifically mentioning that you support a particular feature—raised zebras, for example—, rather than just mentioning your criticisms.

So, some final thoughts:

  • Respond to these consultations: we everyday people on bikes will be listened to as well as the experts.
  • Be specific, cover all points in the proposal, and be positive about the good points: this will make it into the report.
  • If we keep up the work on this, there is every chance we can make London’s roads safer and more pleasant for cyclists, pedestrians and even drivers.

This final point is vital: we must remember why we are doing this. First, 14 cyclists died on London’s roads last year, and hundreds were seriously injured. This has to change. Second, for cycling to take off as a serious means of transport around this city, we need to make it pleasant and convenient for everyone, and we can only do this with infrastructure that respects the needs of ordinary people on bikes; today’s news suggests that this has just got a step closer.