Deputation to TARSAP 31 October 2018 – Harrow Cyclists

Agenda Item 8 – Draft Local Implementation Plan 3

Thank you Chair

Before I begin Chair, I’d just like to raise the question of the timescale for this consultation. The consultation period ended last Friday, 26 October, and the deadline for submission is 2 November. That gives precisely one week to turn it round. Which means one of two things: either officers have been burning the midnight oil to read our responses and modify the document; or it was always going to be too late to change anything. Which was it? Could we have an assurance that future consultations will not come out so close to the deadline? Perhaps you can deal with this afterwards.

Now, moving on to tonight’s deputation. I have with me Harrow Cyclists members Alan Blann, well-known to this Panel, Tony Levene, Penny Hayward and of course Dr Anoop Shah is an Advisor to your Panel. I am Veronica Chamberlain, I’m a ride leader who takes women out on bike rides in Harrow and I’m very familiar with barriers to cycling. I shall be covering cycling, but would like to stress that we want healthy streets for people: walkers as well as cyclists, who are often one and the same.

We support your commitment:

‘The overarching aim of the Mayor of London’s transport strategy is for 80 per cent of all trips in London to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041. Harrow is committed to supporting these aims and priorities.’

We agree. You need to make it attractive to cycle and not so attractive to drive cars. There are bikes in sheds all over Harrow just waiting for their owners to feel confident enough to take them on the road.

In this deputation I’m going to address the key barriers to cycling, where the LIP3 draft falls down and what we as cyclists know will actually work.

Policy C3 says: give priority to increasing cycling as an alternative to car use. Yet a recent proposal for modification to the Goodwill to All junction, using Section 106 money, contained no cycling provision at all.

In 2.4.47 there’s a proposal to increase short-stay shopper parking, which will encourage residents to make short journeys by car – surely we should be enabling them to make those journeys by bike.

Enabling cycling supports every one of the Mayor’s Strategic Outcomes except Outcomes 5 and 7.

But..this plan has the very sad ambition of a 0% increase or reduction in car use – in other words, the status quo.

We need measures in the LIP3 which are actually going to work - not measures which have already been tried and failed.

To achieve behaviour change, we need to ‘nudge’ people to see it as in their best interests. Just exhorting them to change will not work. We all do what is easiest and most convenient. Cycling needs to be the easiest and most attractive option.

So…What are the key barriers to cycling?

  1. Traffic density – lorries, buses and coaches sharing the space; too many cars; pollution, congestion
  2. Driver behaviour – scary: speeding, mobile phone use, close passing, aggressive and abusive behaviour and language, parking on cycle lanes, and much more
  3. Poor infrastructure – our so-called cycle network isn’t fit for purpose
  4. Lack of access by cycle to important destinations such as Harrow Town Centre, Wealdstone Town Centre, Northwick Park Hospital, schools, colleges –surrounded by dangerous drivers and vehicles.
  5. Parents are frightened to let their children cycle anywhere except in parks (where in theory they aren’t allowed to).

This plan hardly addresses any of the key barriers to cycling. There is no information in the plan about how many car journeys will be replaced by cycle journeys. There is nothing at all about correcting driver behaviour.

The proposed measures: Quietways, cycle training, signage, exhorting people to walk and cycle more, do not address any of the key barriers to cycling.

Quietways: commonly described as indirect routes from nowhere useful to nowhere useful; In this case the proposed £3m Quietway does cross Wealdstone Town centre in a roundabout way, but not Harrow. The route to the Town Centre takes the cyclist round via Bonnersfield Lane. Cycle routes need to go along desire lines. Main roads are main for a reason – they’re the most popular routes for everyone.

A recent review of the London Cycle Network +, had three key conclusions:

  1. Shared-use paths don’t work. They pit pedestrians against people on cycles, without making it any more difficult to drive. No one likes them.
  2. Dealing with dangerous junctions is crucial. For example, where Imperial Drive meets the Ridgeway, the cycle path spits people out into the traffic as they are making a left turn. Very dangerous. There is no point in creating a pretty path which finishes before the junction and leaves cyclists to fend for themselves.
  3. 20mph speed limits across an area do work.

If you live in Northwick Park and want to go to the St Ann’s Centre, how would you go? Your obvious and quickest route would be: Kenton Road, Station Road, College Road. Or possibly Sheepcote Road, Gayton Road, Station Road. So if we want to make it easy for people to cycle, would it not be sensible to make those routes pleasant and safe for cycling? Should not the cycle infrastructure plans concentrate on delivering the most benefit to the largest number of people? Surely the Northwick Park roundabout, a huge barrier to people on cycles, is a higher priority than wobbling around the back streets of Harrow Weald?

So, just to be clear, the proposed cycle routes are prioritising motor vehicles over cycles, by making the cyclists take the longer route and allowing the motorists the shorter route.

We have submitted a large number of suggestions to improve the LIP3, including its effect on Equalities; but will focus here on three key recommendations which will actually work.

Our first key recommendation is

1. Low traffic neighbourhoods which are cheap and quick to build

- minor residential streets should be enjoyed by people and not be rat-runs for through motor traffic 

- filtered permeability, allowing walkers and cyclists through but not cars

- improve air quality, reduce traffic, increase walking and cycling

- should be a top priority using existing funds instead of Quietways

A recent study in Waltham Forest showed that removing rat-runs from neighbourhoods caused a reduction in air pollution. In fact, five year olds in Waltham Forest have gained an extra 6 weeks of life as a result. Wouldn’t we like that for Harrow? We are a borough where people settle to raise their children – don’t we want them to be healthy?

You have petitions at every TARSAP from residents complaining about rat-running. Look at Merrion Avenue, The Highlands or College Avenue recently.

To date we’ve provided cycle training and cycle parking but there is nowhere safe to cycle; parents will not allow their children to cycle. So it hasn’t worked. Lack of training is not a key barrier to cycling.

I mentioned scary traffic. The single biggest barrier to people cycling. So our second key recommendation is

2. A Default 20mph speed limit

- guidelines recommend 20mph as the safe limit for most urban streets

- a higher limit appropriate only where there are low numbers of pedestrians, and cyclists are segregated from motorists

- we recommend 20mph limits on all minor roads, on high streets and on distributor roads that lack segregated cycle lanes

And our third key recommendation is:


3. Segregated cycle lanes along major roads

- most people will not cycle unless they can use the most obvious, direct route and it has safe, dedicated space

- roads such as Station Road, Sheepcote Road, Headstone Drive, Lowlands Road, Imperial Drive and Pinner Road are key desire lines in TfL's Strategic Cycling Analysis, but the LIP contains no concrete plan to deliver cycle lanes along these routes

- all new road schemes should include cycle lanes where needed (the proposed redesign of Goodwill junction does not, despite its being on a strategic cycle route)

- Harrow should use section 106, CIL, Neighbourhood of the Future and Liveable Neighbourhood funds to build cycle lanes.

When Cllr Parmar kindly met with us recently, she said that she wanted to think outside the box, as previous initiatives had not worked. Low-traffic neighbourhoods, a 20 mph speed limit and segregated cycle routes on major roads have been shown to work elsewhere and can work in Harrow – for everyone.

I hope that the Panel will take our recommendations on board and ensure that the Plan submitted is one which will deliver the results we all want for Harrow. Thank you.

Veronica Chamberlain 31.10.18 on behalf of Harrow Cyclists