Readout from February Meeting

Well attended and lively as usual.  There is still a lot going on – much is positive.

  • We discussed the latest TfL consultation on Bow Flyover for pedestrian improvements – see the earlier post.
  • We discussed the recent Greenway diversion.  Whilst it is disappointing that the shorter diversion using Canning Rd was not chosen, there are some improvements to the chosen route planned for the immediate future: signage throughout,  improving the crossing of Manor Rd into  Leywick St and opening up more the pathway near Abbey Rd DLR.  The latter two are in any event  “ward audit” improvements.  It is heartening to see the efforts put into the ward audit bearing fruit.
  • We decided to object to Council plans for the Upton Corridor (i.e. Upton lane between West Ham Park and Romford Rd) on the grounds that the improvements (extra zebra crossings, raised table on side roads, removal of staggered crossings) needed to be accompanied by a 20 mph speed limit.
  • We agreed the general thrust of our vision for Stratford gyratory (see post of 22 February) which when it has received its final tweaking will be distributed to neighbouring boroughs, Councillors and LCC.  TfL are presently indicating a finishing date of 2019 for this project.  We raised the issue of how long the current Windmill Lane diversion was due to last.
  • Quietways news: (1) Newham Council is waiting to hear from TfL which of the planned second tranche of quietways in the borough (the northern quietway was in the first batch); (2) a pilot of delimiting solar lighting is being trialled on the Greenway around Upper St, although the Council’s aspiration is for high quality lighting along its whole length; (3) the Roding Way study is progressing.
  • Olympic Park news:  (1) we are attending, with the LCC campaigns manager,  a meeting on 4 March with LLDC, which has been responsible for the current substandard cycling provision; (2) consultants hired by the Council have already made some cycle friendly recommendations for Westfield Ave/Montfichet Rd.  The study is being extended to a broader area around Westfield where the cycle provision is shameful; (3) Northwall (formerly the Northern Loop Road) is currently redundant and closed but was identified as a potential leisure cycling asset; (4) we are in discussion with Waltham Forest Cyclists concerning improvements to the northern section of Temple Mills Lane to Ruckholt Rd (which is due for improvement under their mini-Holland scheme.  Temple Mills lane east has no been made a permanent bus/cyclist only link but there is room for improvement to remove conflicts with buses.
  • We agreed to have a talk at our next meeting about CLOS (Cycle Level Of Service) – a system for evaluating how cycle friendly a street/area is.  It is now becoming widely used (including by TfL and Newham Council)and is regarded as a good tool by the LCC.  We will have some serious training for those interested in the spring.
  • We agreed to submit observations on the Newham Local Plan and Statement suggesting some further cycle and pedestrian quietways which Newham should as a matter of planning policy protect for future development.
  • We decided to develop this website to have a (moderated) comments facility.
  • Our annual meeting on 30 March 2015 at Coffee E7 at 7.00p will include a light buffet.  If you have any nominations for posts (Co-ordinator, Secretary, Treasurer)  please lodge them via the contact details on this site.
  • Our first two rides for 2015 will be 22 March up the Lea Valley to Ware, and a Newham Ride on 4 April. See the events calendar.  The rest of the programme will now be put on the calendar.
  • The Council have prepared some good plans for the Silvertown Way/Canning Town area.

If you would like further details on any of these items please get in touch through the contact details on this site.

Phew

Stratford Gyratory: Our Vision

Stratford Gyratory is a key cycling node.  More than £1m is available for design and consultation of a new junction.  Here are the principles we are working on for its improvement from the cycling angle.

This link will open a drawing (which will need rotating clockwise).

Stratford Gyratory General Details 

In narrative:

  • The main axis for motorised traffic would be Stratford Broadway through to the Grove i.e. the A11.
  • Stratford Broadway to be bi-directional with segregated cycle lanes forming part of CS2 (on existing westbound carriageway).
  • Tramway Avenue sliproad closed.
  • A subsidiary traffic axis  from Leyton Rd / Angel lane through to Great Eastern Rd (eastern section to the Grove) to be single single bidirectional lanes with  cycle tracks and bus islands.
  • Eastbound, one way bus, taxi, delivery and cycle traffic only on Great Eastern Rd from the “Rhubarb” sculpture to Angel Lane, with cycle contraflow.
  • This leaves (essentially) a series of  T junctions (at (1)the “Rhubarb” sculpture), (2)Tramway Ave/Broadway, Broadway/Romford Rd,   (3) Grove/Great Eastern Rd  (4) Angel Lane/Great Eastern Rd.) These to have, in principle “hold left” arrangements to prevent left hooks and attractive options for cycles turning right.
  • Additional cycle parking at convenient points with large footfall.
  • Maintain and, in some areas  improve, existing facilities e.g. at pavement level on the Grove, the Grove Crescent contraflow, Oxford Rd, the eastbound bus lane in the Broadway.
  • 20mph throughout.

This form of design would bring huge public realm gains including the link between the Stratford Centre to Westfield; permit the repositioning of crossings and bus stops to more convenient locations; and reduce conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and motor traffic.

 

 

 

 

 

Newham Council and Cycle Superhighway 2

As long ago as 31 July 2103 Councillor Conor Mcauley, then Executive Member for Regeneration,  trumpeted in the Newham Recorder “Our vision is for Newham’s streets to be made more accessible for cyclists” and called for more of the Cycle Superhighway type of infrastructure in Newham.  He ended “We’ll keep lobbying TfL to do their bit and deliver a cycle hire scheme and a cycling network that will benefit all.”  This looked like a change of approach from the Council that had previously blocked Cycle Superhighway 2 through Newham. Completing CS2 to Ilford is one of Newham Cyclists Space for Cycling suggestions to which Councillor Patel of Manor Park signed up.  It was included in Newham Council’s mini-Holland bid, but this was unsuccessful.  Since then  we have seen  no sign that Newham Council has pressed for this and it now appears to be dropped from TfL’s Cycle superhighway programme.

This unsurprising  outcome is compounded by Newham Council’s approach to the existing CS2.  It has secured the removal of a key section providing protection for cyclists from being “left hooked” at the junction of Broadway and Tramway Avenue, leaving the current dogs breakfast, which needs a plethora of signs addressed to both drivers and cyclists to be careful. This change was demanded in the face of a safety audit that confirmed that this change made this junction more dangerous for cyclists.  The reason? As the Council eventually admitted, this was to accomodate “driver misbehaviour”.

On 17 September 2014 Councillor Corbett  told the Recorder “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.”

” We will return to install the final, agreed design later this year once the local development works are fully completed, and remain committed to provide safe cycling infrastructure across London.”

There has been no change to this unction, made more dangerous for cyclists by the actions of Newham Council itself.

 

P1000741

On 3 December 2014  a spokeswoman for the Council misleadingly told the Recorder that the removal was at the behest of TfL, wrongly said that the Council only closed the risky sliproad (which is still open) and that the changes were done following unspecified “concerns” raised by the police and cyclists. The Council have  now admitted  that these “concerns”  were expressed by three cyclists who happened to randomly stop when Council officials were looking at the junction, but they have still to reveal the nature of these “concerns” despite two freedom of Information requests concerning this junction.  There is no indication that these cyclists preferred the current situation to the protection provided by the CS2 with its “wands” i.e. the latest version provided by TfL.

At no time were Newham Cyclists consulted despite the latest in a series of claims that ” We value the views of Newham’s cycling community and are committed to ensuring that there are safe cycling routes in the borough.”

Readout from January Meeting and Review of the Olympic Park

On 26 January we held another lively and well attended meeting.  Forest Gate Councillor Ellie Robinson attended with two Newham Council Officers.

The main item on the agenda was discussion of how Crossrail money for environmental improvements around Forest Gate and Maryland Stations could be spent.  See earlier post for the initial drawings.  Plenty of concrete suggestions were made to improve the the initial plans as far as cycling is concerned and these were taken away by the Council officers.  We emphasised to Councillor Robinson how important it was to give priority to pedestrians and cyclists, including by imposing a 20mph limit.  She took a lively interest and invited further representations from individuals by e-mail to her Council e-mail address.

There was also an outline of our vision for redesigning the Stratford gyratory .  TfL and Newham Council will soon be starting serious design work for which £1m in funding is available.  Newham cyclists are working up detailed representations which will be fed into this process, including the LCC Infrastructure review group.

There were other short updates on some positive developments: (1) the Aldgate to Hainault Quietway as it goes through north Newham.  This is in TfL’s second tranche of quietways and we are ahead of our neighbouring boroughs in planning this; (2) the first fruits of the Ward Audit  – with 19 permeability schemes for “urban Newham” already having been approved by the Council and the other 400+ being prioritised for approval; (3) the preliminary results of the initial study for remedial work on Westfield Ave and Montfichet Rd ;  (4) news that a further study of how to improve the wider  Olympic Park/Westfield area for cyclists in view of the possible adoption of the roads by the Council  is going out to tender; and (5) an indication that the Roding Valley cycle and footway study is progressing.

Less promising was the continued dog’s breakfast that is the junction of Tramway Avenue and the Broadway.  It is a key demand that this be improved as part of the reworking of Stratford gyratory.  This episode acts as a timely reminder that our input is vital to avoid poor designs which ultimately waste public money.

Finally, our draft ride programme for 2015 was circulated.  Watch this space.

In relation to item (4), on 30 January a group of Newham Cyclists rode around the Olympic Park area with two Newham Council sustainable transport officers, looking particularly at the periphery of the area and points of access.  From this it became clear that a coherent and useful study must  cover as wide an area as possible, even if it strayed slightly outside the borough.  Some good news is that Temple Mill Lane east is to be permanently bus/cycles only.  This is something that we have campaigned for over several years.

We also took the opportunity to discuss ideas  for the Canning Town to Excel Centre area.

It has become clear what opportunity there is to link these various improvements, together with the Greenway and the Lea Valley to create a major generator for both leisure and utility cycling in Newham.

New Manhattan?

Prior to the Olympics Stratford High Street was being touted as a potential Manhattan style area, with its wide carriageway and tall buildings.  But of course whereas Newham Council blocked segregated cycle lanes,  New York City has been busy installing segregated cycle lanes and to very beneficial effect:

  • Injuries to pedestians down by over one fifth.
  • Cycle volumes rise but with a slight decrease in cycle injuries.
  • Greater increase in retail sales compared with streets with no cycle lanes.
  • IN many streets journey times actually decreased.

For a full report and some pictures of what can be done:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2014-09-03-bicycle-path-data-analysis.pdf

 

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.

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