Newham Council mislead over CS2

Newham Council have now belatedly provided information about the removal of CS2 at Tramway Avenue.  The documents provided confirm the story of TfL that the changes were driven by Newham Council because of “confusion” and “driver misbehaviour” and also reveal that the cycle lane was removed in the face of a safety audit pointing out the reduction in the protection for cyclists.

Nevertheless the Council’s subsequent conduct can only be described as grossly misleading.  Here is the statement made to the Newham Recorder published on  3 December.  :

“CS2 route was removed by TfL, not the council, who only closed the risky sliproad.”

In fact Newham Council was the driving force behind the removal the protected cycle lane.  If it was just a case of closing the sliproad there would have been no need at all to remove CS2.   Newham Cyclists would welcome the closing of Tramway Avenue.  It is one of our long term aims.

Following concerns raised by the police and cyclists and a number of serious near misses on this route, a decision to close the Tramway Avenue sliproad was taken in September”

In fact the documents provided by both TfL and Newham Council do not reveal any concerns by cyclists, particularly in its latest – “wands” version. We shall be following this up. The police did raise concerns at an early stage but participated in the safety audit that took place.  The “risky” sliproad remains open.

“We value the views of Newham’s cycling community and are committed to ensuring that there are safe cycling routes in the borough”

Why  not, then, consult on this high profile action to revert back to a dangerous junction layout for cyclists?  The Council have resisted since 2009 our suggestion for a cycling liaison group and consistently resist our suggestions for greater safety such as 20mph. The Council’s values and the level of their commitment can be judged by their actions rather than their words.

 

 

Inactive Newham

Indeed, Newham, an Olympic Borough, is the least active local authority in England!   How has this happened?

One clue may be found in Newham Council’s historic antipathy at the political level to promoting cycle provision, even when this would not have cost it anything extra.  A prime example is Stratford High St.  Several million pounds were made available to the Council  to improve this stretch of road in the run up to the Olympics.  No cycling facilities were installed,  but the money was used  for multi-coloured vanity balls.  Then  the Council blocked the early development of  Cycle Superhighway 2 in the borough.    Since the Olympics, an extension to Cycle Superhighway  has had to be retrofitted to the recently regenerated Stratford High St,  and despite the Council later reversing  its opposition to extending  CS2 to Ilford,  the legacy is that TfL no longer seem interested.    Another serious example is The Council’s diversion of earlier TFL  funding intended primarily for transport schemes to other purposes.  Furthermore Newham Councillors on the Olympic Planning Committee supported the minimalist approach to cycling mentioned earlier.

There is some good work being done at official level in the Council, such as  putting together an excellent mini-Holland bid and the very thorough ward audit exercise of cycle permeability.  At the political level the Council does at least professes support for cycling in its public statements.  However a series of recent examples looks like a disturbing  trend of  casual negligence (at best) at the political level:

  • Protection for cyclists has been actively removed by Newham Council  intervention  by  the removal of  Cycle Superhighway 2 at the junction of Tramway Avenue.  See this website for the full story.
  • Our proposal for a 20mph limit on Upper Street, a residential rat run was refused, on the grounds that this was a bus route.  Putting to one side the question why buses would want to travel at more than 20 mph along this road, it is notable that our neighbouring borough  Tower Hamlets Council is now consulting on making virtually the whole borough 20mph.  This is just the latest in the series of local authorities  (even stretching to New York) looking to reduce speed limits.  Newham Council, however, remains behind the times.
  • Cycle permeability on yet another one way street in “urban Newham” ,  Cramner  Rd,  was blocked on the grounds of lack of width of the carriageway , despite this road being no narrower that the adjacent  two way streets. Cycle contra flows on one way streets  are now  encouraged by new Department for Transport rules.  Again Newham Council is behind the times.
  • The apparent  inadvertent removal of cycle parking at various locations, without any effort to put this right.

Promoting cycling is a well recognised  easy winner for increasing regular exercise, and terrific value for money.  Hackney, another neighbouring borough, has achieved one of the highest cycling rates in the country.  Newham is recognised as having very great untapped potential for everyday cycling with sources of funding available.  What appears lacking is the political will to even match the examples set by our neighbours

 

Readout from meeting on 25 November 2014

Mostly a social meeting with excellent cheese and beer.  Nevertheless some business transacted as there is still a lot going on.

  • Crossrail funding had come through for environmental improvements around Maryland, Forest Gate and Manor Park Stations.  Forest Gate Councillors have been invited to attend our next meeting to discuss the plans for Forest Gate  which will take place on 26 January.  Councillor Patel of Manor Park had agreed to pre-consultation on those for Manor Park which is planned for mid January.  If you are interested in attending the Manor Park meeting please contact us through the details provided on this site.
  • We are now in possession of an excellent A3 map of Newham streets showing all of the 495 small improvements to improve cycle permeability.  It will be available for close inspection at our next meeting at the end of January.
  • Discussions are continuing between TfL and Newham Council on the Aldgate to Hainault Quietway on which we have provided input.  There is emerging recognition from both bodies of the potential for a network of quietways, as per our vision.
  • Arnold will be visiting the Outdoors in the City Project on 29 November to explore the possibilities of co-ordination with  Community Links, who run a cycle club there.  If anyone is interested in coming along get in touch with Arnold through the contact details on this site.
  • There was an update on the sorry saga of CS2 at Tramway Avenue.
  • The meeting was keen for the group to run a variety of rides next year- including some  Newham based  ones providing variations on the traditional Newham Ride,  some slightly longer rides and a call for the popular summer evening series of rides.  We will be putting together a programme shortly so volunteer leaders very welcome.
  • Stratford Gyratory is moving up the agenda of TFL junction improvements and the Committee will work out some thoughts for presentation at the January meeting.

Cycle Superhighway 2 at Tramway Avenue: a sorry tale

An earlier post gives a short film clip of the evolution of the evolution of CS2 at this junction.  First TfL installed CS2, then an island was put in to protect cyclists and then this as relaced with “wands” and finally this section of CS2 was removed altogether.  All in the space of a few weeks.

On the front page of the Newham Recorder on 17 September indicated:

Cllr Ian Corbett, mayoral adviser for environment and infrastructure, said concerns about CS2 had been raised following “a number of serious near misses”.

The Council has made clear to TfL the urgent need to fully address all safety issues at this location and review the design proposals,” he said. “This should be done in conjunction with key stakeholders such as the council, police, emergency services and cycling groups.

Newham Council were formally asked for information concerning the evidence for this change.  Despite a legal obligation to answer and giving themselves more time to do so they have not, and having received a reminder (copied to Councillor Corbett) nothing has been forthcoming at the time of this post.

TfLhowever have, belatedly, responded to a request for information.  I you would like to see the actual response please e-mail at newham@lcc.org

Whilst the response takes some untangling, it is clear that:

(1) TfL did not construct CS2 here as originally planned due to adjacent building work.   It will be completed according to the original plan when that work is completed.

(2) Newham Council then  agreed to the wand solution, but when they raised concerns it was considered by a safety auditor.

(3) The safety auditor is reported as noting “that the risk of collision with left-turning vehicles pre-dates the scheme and that the wands are having the effect of reducing the speed of turning vehicles, and therefore reducing the likelihood and severity of any collision when compared to the pre-construction layout. It was also recognised that until the final scheme can be delivered, options are limited. Removing the Cycle Superhighway from this section of Broadway altogether would not be recommended as the risk would remain, along with any new potential risks by removing the dedicated space for cyclists and conspicuous road surface.”

(3) TfL ‘s response and the supporting document indicate that the priniciple concern with the wands was confusion “poor driver behaviour” for example instances of drivers missing the turn into Tramway Avenue and backing up.

Newham Cyclists’ view is that the wands were the best of the options used from the perspective of cycle safety, but believed it was not properly signed, nor given sufficient time to bed in.

From the above it is reasonable to draw the following conclusions:

(a) Councillor Corbett has been less than forthcoming about Newham Council’s role, which has resulted in the waste of over £3000 of precious public funding for cycling facilities.

(b) The Council is not willing to substantiate his allegation of “a number of serious near misses” which is far different to confusion and poor driver behaviour.

(c) Newham Council has actively sacrificed cyclists protection in the face of a safety audit to accommodate driver misbehaviour and for the sake of a few signs.

At no time before or since have Newham Cyclists or LCC been consulted over these changes despite the Council’s apparent conversion to consultation.

End of year social

Our last meeting of the year will be a social event – with a few bits of business thrown in!  We will be holding it at the Wanstead Tap and Dan will be laying on some bread and cheese to go with the beer.

Tuesday 25th November 7pm

So that we can cater accordingly, can you please let us know if you are coming along – just drop an email to kerena@newhamcyclists.org.uk

Thanks!

Readout from the October Meeting

Another lively meeting on Monday 27th October in the new, and very comfortable, room in Coffee7.

  • We  agreed in principle to helping Newham Council with cycle related traffic surveys and had three instant volunteers for training.
  • We started by discussing the proposed Quietway proposal from Aldgate to Hainault which would pass across the north of the borough.  We thought this was a good idea in principle.   The question of traffic calming humps excited much interest – see earler post.  The points already made were confirmed by the meeting – see the earlier post of meeting with  Newham Council on 10 October.
  • We looked again at our ward asks.  Most stand the test of a few month’s hindsight and fit in to the basic “vision” of a network of  quietways infilled with permeability.  The ask for Beckton,  which was recently questioned by Councillor Christie, could be clarified.  Its essence is to provide a crossing, and continuity of the cycle track, over the access road to the ASDA car park.  Subsequent to the meeting more detailed suggestions have been put forward for this junction.
  • Bernard set out his vision for a traffic calmed area covering north of the Romford Rd between Forest Gate an Manor Park, which he would like to pursue.  The scheme woul not present an absolute bar to traffic but a “load of bollards” would create an area which deterred through traffic.  The meeting reacted favourably, making the points that any scheme would need to cover the whole area, and be “holistic” in the sense that it incorporated parking, 20 mph limits etc.  A precise plan would assist implemetnation, particularly if it took into account of the ward audit exercise of 400+ minor permeability improvements which was being developed and the Quietway proposal which would affect Capel Rd.  Bernard would welcome future ideas and suggestions.
  • The meeting was reminded of, and discussed, the outstanding consultations on CS2, the Silvertown Tunnel and the Central London east-west and north -south routes.  Please respond individually using the avaialble cycle friendly templates if your wish. Newham Cyclists had participated at the earlier CS2 event in Whitechapel and  it appeared that the market traders were not antipathetic to a better CS2.  No response had been received to the Freedom of Information requests to Newham and TfL concerning the removal of CS2 at Tramway Avenue.  The initial response to Councillor Christie’s invitation to put forward suggestions was that the best solution was to remove the sliproad in favour of a proper junction at West Ham Lane; and, of the less effective alternatives, the best was the wands that were previously there with better signage.  We will pursue this further.
  • Further information would be sought concerning the prolonged closure of CS2 eastbound in Statford Broadway and the closure of the cycle lane in Manby Grove
  • The monthly newsletter for October was well received and we will continue with this format, using the Yahoo Group for rides and urgent news until LCC provided the more flexible functionality.  It was suggested that a “core e-mail group” be compiled for day to day use.  If you are interested on being on this please let me know.
  • We agreed to Bill’s internet banking proposal.
  • Our next meeting will be on Tuesday November 25.  it will be a social occasion with some form of refreshment and take place at the Wanstead Tap in Pevensey Rd.  We will focus our business on next years’ rides, so please come prepared with ideas and rides you would like to see and may be willing to lead.

Arnold

Meetings with Councillor Christie and Newham Council Officers – 9 & 10 October

Meeting with Councillor Christie 9/10/14

Bill, Kerena, Arnold from Newham Cyclists (NC)

Handling cycle issues

• Councillor Christie indicated that his role as Mayor’s Cycling Office had always been informal. Whilst he now had another formal executive post, he did still take an active interest in cycling issues. The removal of cycle parking and other infelicities happened by oversight rather than deliberate policy. NC made the point that consultation was not full. Given the possibility of oversight, this was important. DC agreed to look into more effective consultation. NC to follow up disappearing cycle parking in Leytonstone Rd and Romford Rd. [10 October Richard Wadey (RW) informed us that he was populating a database of "assets" such as cycle parking, cycle lanes and this should pick up for reference to him, all instances where projects impacted on cycle assets.]

• The Council were preparing new design standards (complementing the new LCDS) that would help avoid cycling issues falling through the cracks.

• Some discussion on the removal of CS2 at Tramway Ave. Counciloor Christie distinguished this junction from others as (a) not signalised and (b) a sliproad rather than a junction. He indicated that there had been numerous near misses and that it was a question of balancing out providing incomplete protection for cyclists (as complete protection was not practicable) against giving cyclists a false sense of security. Newham Council had responded to the CS2 consultation by asking for CS2 extension to be brought up to the same standards i.e. “hold left turns”. He invited suggestions for improvements.

Olympic Park/Westfield

Councillor Christie had no progress to report re Westfield s, but offered to ask the Mayor to write to Andrew Gillighan re need for LLDC to up their game. NC asked that Newham Council engage in favour of improving the cycle facilities in the LLDC planning process.

Cycle Strategy

• Councillor Christie stressed that funding was tight and that highway money would be priorities on surfacing and pavement improvements which were getting particularly poor. NC stressed that for cyclists junctions were a priority. Financial constraints also bore down on the proposed cycle strategy.

• NC suggested a straightforward strategy built upon (a) a network of quietways (b) infilled with permeability measures in urban Newham and (c) 20 mph and (d) protection for cyclists on the relatively few major corridors (Romford and Barking Rds being LCN+ – albeit substandard). Councillor Christie was sympathetic to 20mph, but explained why politically it needed a robust evidential basis, and may be better approached piecemeal. NC were invited to assist in this. They indicated that immediate enforcement problems should not be a problem and 20mph could take effect over the long term. NC raised specifically 20 mph in Woodgrange Rd , but this was not discussed.

• Councillor Christie set out some current activity, particularly where funding was being sought or had been obtained: CS2; the Quietways programme -building especially on the Greenway, Royal Docks walking and cycling programme; the Roding greenway; and Gallions roundabout.

• Councillor Christie had obtained an update on the LCC ward asks: CTN – Leaway funded and in train; CTS – Silvertown Viaduct being looked at; Custom House – route from Building 1000 to UEL being sought from developers; SNT – Stratford gyratory junction improvement being sought from TfL; LI – Roding greenway study funded. He asked NC to look at their ward asks to ensure they were what we really wanted and gave the example of the Beckton roundabout. Posible future engagement with other Councillors discussed.

Meeting with Richard Wadey (Newham Council) 10/10/14

Bill, Anold and Olawale from Newham Cyclists

Aldgate to Hainault Quietway points:

• NC supported mini-Holland project of  a route  going past City of London Cemetery and over a new bridge to Ilford town centre.
• Junctions need particular attention, with proper crossings.
• Choice of route either Henniker Rd or Chobham Ave balanced.
• 20mph on route and on periphery very important.

Ward audit

RW outlined priorities based on (a) what could be achieved bearing in mind 2014-5 needed spending quickly and DfT rules on transport signing facilitating contraflows changed in March 2015 (c) need to spread the work around wards and (d) links to coherent routes.

NC to seek to obtain the map of the ward audits etc.

Silvertown Viaduct

Wok on this depended on there being funding left over from the priority section from Canning Town to Silvertown Viaduct including Tidal Basin roundabout. A cycle around revealed there was enough space s-e bound for two way track to link with that starting at West Sivertown DLR, and also a cycle facilities n-w bound using dock road and thus avoiding a difficult slip road. This may need to be held due to closure of tunnel under Sivertown Viaduct and pending development money becoming available.

RW asked if NC would be prepared to be trained to help with traffic surveys.

Rainham Ride: Sunday 4 October

In what is turning out to be a Newham Cyclists tradition, the weather was amazingly good. The ride was enjoyable; 25 miles, mostly off road.  Particularly notable was the Thames in the autumn light –  as still as a mill pond.  Below are a couple of phots, taken by Chris.  The first is the group stopping by the river for a photoshoot and the second on the marsh path approaching the RSPB.

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