Sutton Cycle Funding 2015-16

Sutton Council’s report, Local Implementation Plan Funding 2015/2016, has been published as part of an agenda item to the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 15 January 2015. For anyone who wishes to know what new cycling infrastructure to expect across the borough in the next twelve months or so, it makes for useful and interesting reading.

Local Implementation Plan Funding 2015/2016 outlines Transport for London’s funding allocation towards certain transport related initiatives in Sutton, including borough cycling schemes, for the financial year beginning in April 2015. The funding forms part of the annual Local Implementation Plan (LIP), a process through which TfL provides financial support to boroughs for schemes to improve their transport networks. The document notes that the cycling schemes to be delivered in the borough were either chosen, or agreed, by ward councillors, and that the schemes were selected “..following site visits and a degree of initial investigation to ensure the proposals were practicable, that they meet Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) goals and the Borough’s transport objectives..”. The document suggests that the total LIP funding allocation for 2015-16 in Sutton will be of the order of £1,553,000.

Local Implementation Plan Funding 2015/2016 can be downloaded from the link below.

Local Implementation Plan Funding (Sutton) 2015-2016 203 KB (PDF document)

Detail from Local Implementation Plan Funding 2015/2016

Detail from Local Implementation Plan Funding 2015/2016, Environment and Neighbourhood Committee, Sutton Council, 15 January 2015

So, what are the borough cycling schemes that we can expect to see delivered in the next 15 months, and how much funding has been allocated towards them? Let’s start with an overview of the schemes that specifically relate to cycling, and that are to be delivered by March 2016.

Extension of new cycle way Boscombe Road to Green Lane £50,000
[Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]
Worcester Park ward | Cheam North and Worcester Park Local Committee
We knew this was in the pipeline, see our post Worcester Park footway: improvements and designation as cycle route

Provision of a contra-flow cycle lane in Manor Lane £40,000
[Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]
Sutton Central ward | Sutton Local Committee
This is very welcome, and was mentioned in Sutton’s Mini-Holland Bid in June 2013. It will make journeys by bicycle in the New Town area more appealing, and remove the need to make a significant detour when cycling eastbound from Sutton towards Carshalton. Although some sort of engineering solution will be required where Manor Lane/The Broadway intersects with Benhill Avenue and Lind Road, and it’s not just simply a case of installing ‘except cycles’ signs, can something like this really cost £40,000 to implement? And why has it taken so long to come to fruition?

Extension of a cycle way through Oaks Park to Woodmansterne Road £30,000
[Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]
Carshalton South and Clockhouse ward | Carshalton and Clockhouse Local Committee
Oaks Park features in our ‘ward ask‘ for Carshalton South and Clockhouse, so this extension can only be a good thing. The park was visited in June 2014, and the first section of path received some praise!

Extension of off-road cycle route along Green Wrythe Lane £100,000
[Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]
St Helier ward/The Wrythe ward | St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee
We are pleased to note that TfL have asked for further details of this scheme before agreeing to release the funding. The reasons for this are discussed in Green Wrythe Lane footway cycleway proposal –  lack of vision for cycling. [Update 22.04.2015: Also see Green Wrythe Lane – an update (23.01.2015) and A compromise is reached on Green Wrythe Lane (24.03.2015)]

Provision of an off-road cycleway adjacent to Netley Close (?) £50,000
[Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]
Cheam ward | Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee
This is the first we have heard of this! Let’s hope it’s not another Green Wrythe Lane.

Summing the funding allocations for these five schemes, plus allocations for minor cycle facility improvements at £20,000 (part of which is expected to deliver improvements at Peterborough Road/Bishopsford Road) and for cycle parking at £10,000, gives a total figure of £300,000 (19% of the total LIP). With the population in Sutton borough of around 191,000 in March 2011 (Office for National Statistics, Neighbourhood Statistics), this is equivalent to £1.57 per head of population. This is just less than the current price of two pints of semi-skimmed milk delivered to your door (81p/pint or £1.42/litre), or the purchase of just over 4.5 pints/2.5 litres through a special offer currently available at Morrisons (61.2p/litre).

Of course, there are other measures to be funded from the LIP that could also be of benefit to people who chose to cycle. Apart from the maintenance of bridges and structures (£170,000), there are two corridor schemes that are intended to reduce accidents and improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. These are along Malden Road £75,000 [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map] and Stanley Park Road £100,000 [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map].

Cycle training at £95,000, cycle promotion at £4,000, and a review of School Travel Plans at £22,000, are reported as being revenue funding interventions, presumably because these activities relate to services rather than to capital expenditure. They appear to be within the LIP remit though.

Major schemes, such as the Sutton Station Gateway project, are also intended to have components that will make cycling a better experience. These are not included in the LIP process, however, due to the sums involved. The Sutton Station Gateway project, part-funded by TfL (along with Network Rail and the train operating companies), is currently close to completion. It won’t be long, therefore, before an assessment can be made as to this scheme’s cycle-friendly credentials.

Meanwhile, there is always the possibility that during the year other major schemes could appear that indirectly help cycling too.  There is to be a reassessment of proposals for Beddington Lane, for example. There is definitely potential for major improvements for enabling cycling here. Unfortunately, some former major schemes, such as Integrated Transport Packages (including Wallington) and Outer London Fund allocations (North Cheam and Worcester Park, Hackbridge), have done little for cycling. So how optimistic can we be?

Then there is the £287,500 bid the council submitted for 2015-2016 through the Borough Cycling Programme (again, in addition to the LIP £1.533m). The Borough Cycling Programme is a three-year (2014-2017) commitment of funding from the Mayor, totally £17.3m across London (and forms part of the £1bn funding announced with the publication of Vision for Cycling). TfL’s press release from January 2014 has the background to this, but you need to look at at a news item from Road CC for the borough by borough funding allocations. From this, it appears Sutton was initially allocated £398,640. It would be interesting to know if any of this has been spent. Perhaps if a proportion of this funding was added to the £100,000 already allocated for the Green Wrythe Lane scheme, and a revised scheme were to be developed using the guidelines set out in the new London Cycling Design Standards (December 2014), something really useful could be delivered.

LCDS Design Principles. Detail from a presentation by Brian Deegan, 21 November 2013

Detail from TRL Cycling Infrastructure Trails and the London Cycling Design Standards by Brian Deegan, 21 November 2013 (over a year before the publication of the finalised LCDS)

But perhaps it is the Quietways Programme (again, to be delivered by a funding stream outside the remit of the LIP) that gives more reason to be optimistic. Although the LIP funding document for Sutton declares that the two routes prioritised for delivery in Sutton will follow existing London Cycling Network alignments for most of their lengths, it is important to recognise that Quietways are not simply the LCN re-signed, the LCN re-branded or the LCN revamped. Unlike the old London Cycling Network, Quietways will be direct, have better surfaces, be clearly signed and delivered as a whole, not piecemeal. Barriers and “cyclists dismount” signs will not feature. Quietways are to consist of traffic-calmed neighbourhoods and streets (LCDS, chapter 3), and, where Quietways join a main road, full segregation and direct crossing points will be provided (Vision for Cycling).

All of this means that, in order to deliver routes that can be declared Quietways, many of the ideas and principles outlined in our Space for Cycling ward asks from May 2014 will need to be employed. Quite simply, Quietways should mean the end to schemes that marginalise cycling. Sutton Council’s commitment to carry out a full review of our ward asks, and produce a Cycling Strategy later in the year, tends to suggest that progress is being made on Space for Cycling in the borough.

Just a word on the timescale and funding of Quietways. Sutton’s LIP document notes that funding details for the borough’s first two Quietways (St Helier – Sutton and Worcester Park – Croydon) have yet to be provided, but that implementation is likely to be progressed in 2015/16. In actual fact, given the magnitude of the work involved with the delivery, and the challenges that will need to be met to achieve the required criteria, my personal thoughts on this are that it is highly unlikely that implementation will start before 2016/17 at the earliest.

Clearly, the sooner they are delivered the better, and the Mayor wishes for a legacy when he leaves office in May 2016. But it is important that speed of delivery does not compromise quality of delivery. Quietways phase 1 relates to seven Quietway routes, for completion by summer 2016 (although even this may be ambitious). The first two are to be ready by summer 2015 (Bloomsbury – Hackney and Waterloo to Greenwich), and it is hoped that these will set the bar high. Meanwhile, the two routes so far identified in Sutton, are part of phase 2, and a larger cluster of routes. So, inevitably, there will be much work to do across London to deliver this phase from 2016. On 10 December 2014 it was announced that Sustrans had been awarded a three-year contract to help deliver the first Quietways.

If the council decides to take up Sustrans’ offer to deliver the first Quietway routes in Sutton (‘if’, because, apparently, the council does not have to), the funding arrangements may not be something that directly concerns them anyway. Either way, the funding necessary to deliver Sutton’s Quietways is going to be many times the magnitude of the annual LIP settlement on borough cycling schemes thus far. And that has to be celebrated.

Of course, it will be interesting to hear what our councillors have to say about Quietways coming to their wards. After all, if they don’t welcome them (possibly on the grounds of the tough criteria needed to deliver them), then really we shouldn’t be getting any TfL funding for cycling at all.

So let’s conclude this overview of Sutton cycle funding for 2015-16, by reminding ourselves what the cycling vision is all about. It’s ultimately about better places for everyone. And that has to be celebrated too. Meanwhile, here’s to a bigger, better Local Implementation Plan Funding 2016/2017, that has plenty of room for Space for Cycling!

Detail from presentation by Andrew Gilligan

Detail from Delivering the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, by Andrew Gilligan, London Cycling Commissioner, 21 April 2013

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