Notes from our March 2015 meeting

Our second meeting of 2015 was held at the Cock and Bull, Sutton High Street on Monday 16 March. The Cock and Bull provided a suitably relaxed atmosphere, and there was plenty of space at a couple of tables for the thirteen or so people who came and went during the course of the evening.

GetSuttonCyclingMeeting_CockAndBull_20150316

Get Sutton Cycling meeting in full swing (Photo Ben Rafferty)

Charles Martin reported that we are currently in a bit of a waiting game in terms of the anticipated cycling strategy for the borough, the associated workshop, and the review of our ‘ward asks’.

Cycling Strategy and workshop

Consultants have been appointed by the council to prepare and write a Cycling Delivery Strategy, and it believed that the draft version will be available by the end of April. It is hoped that cycling groups will be invited to contribute to strategy, but this has yet to be confirmed. Once the draft strategy has been prepared, there is likely to be a workshop to discuss the contents. The date of the workshop has not yet been finalised.

Sutton Council’s Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting, to be held on 19 March, is set to approve the Sustainable Transport Strategy. It was gratifying to see, in documentation published on the council’s website prior to the meeting, that the final version of the Sustainable Transport Strategy (March 2015) includes the additional action “Commissioning a Borough Cycling Delivery Strategy” in its Action Plan, and that the stated purpose/outcome of this is “to provide a framework for delivering a step change in cycling provision and take-up in the borough” (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Extract from London Borough of Sutton Sustainable Transport Strategy (March 2015), Action Plan. This formed part of Agenda Item 5 of the public reports pack (page 73) for the meeting held on 19 March 2015. Columns left to right are: Action; Delivery mechanism; Purpose/outcome; Delivery partners; Timescale.

This action was not in the Draft Sustainable Transport Strategy (October 2014), and its addition may, in a large part, be due to the comments received as part of the consultation (see Figure 2). (Although we were, of course, told in September last year that a cycling strategy would be produced. See Notes from our November 2014 meeting for more on this).

Extract from the

Figure 2. Extract from the Environment and Neighbourhood Committees report “Sustainable Transport Strategy – feedback on consultation” (Appendix A, Main changes proposed to (draft) strategy). This formed part of Agenda Item 5 of the public reports pack (page 32) for the meeting held on 19 March 2015. Columns left to right are: Respondent (believed to be TfL); Comment; Task and Finish Group response; Recommended change.

It is hoped that the Cycling Delivery Strategy will relate as much to policy as it does to delivery. That was the understanding at the 29 September meeting (and, again, Notes from our November 2014 meeting has more on this).

Action: To write to Mary Morrissey, Strategic Director of Environment and Neighbourhoods, to advise that we would like to meet the consultants and have some involvement with the preparation of the draft strategy. [Update 04.05.2014. Although this action was not followed through, Mary Morrissey was copied-in to an email sent to Eleanor Purser, see ‘Review of our ‘ward asks’ below] 

Review of our ‘ward asks’

It is now five and a half months since we were told that we could expect a review of our Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ within a month, and we are still waiting. One positive outcome of this delay could be that the review will be enhanced by the process of establishing a cycling strategy. Time will tell whether this is wishful thinking or not!

Action: To write to Eleanor Purser, Executive Head of Economic Development Planning and Sustainability, to ask for an update on progress. [Update 04.05.2015: An email was sent on 29.03.2015, see below] 

To:
Eleanor Purser, Executive Head of Economic Development, Planning and Sustainability, London Borough of Sutton

Copied to:
Cllr. Colin Hall, Deputy Leader of Council, London Borough of Sutton
Mary Morrissey, Strategic Director, Environment and Neighbourhoods Directorate, LBS
Cllr. Jill Whitehead, Chair, Environment and Neighbourhood Committee; Liberal Democrat Councillor, Carshalton Central Ward
Alex Forrest, Principle Transport Planner, Strategic Planning, LBS
Chris Rutland, Get Sutton Cycling

Dear Eleanor,

Space for cycling ‘ward asks’ review: expected within one month, still awaited after six months

I am writing further to our meeting on the 29 September 2014 (which was also attended by Cllr. Colin Hall and Chris Rutland), the purpose of which was to talk over some of our concerns relating to the general lack of support amongst Sutton’s Councillors for the London Cycling Campaign’s Space for Cycling initiative and the associated ‘ward asks’. One of the two outcomes of the meeting was that the Council would undertake a review of the ‘asks’ within a month, and report back shortly afterwards.

In early November you confirmed that officers had made a start on the assessment of the ‘ward asks’, but that these were not progressing as fast as had been hoped due to other pressures. Nevertheless, you suggested that the response would be produced by the end of November and that you would continue to progress this as fast as possible. On 11 December, Alex Forrest advised that an initial review of the ‘ward asks’ had been completed and that the review was in the process of being agreed internally. Beyond that, nothing more has been heard in relation to this review.

It is understood, from reports issued for the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee on 19 March, that Sutton Council has commissioned consultants to produce a cycling strategy “to provide the framework for delivering a step change in cycling provision and take-up in the borough”. This is potentially very good news. The production of a report outlining the Council’s strategic position on cycling was, of course, the other key outcome from our meeting six months ago. Indeed, as previously mentioned, it has always been hoped that a statement of policy, setting the context and giving an indication of the degree of aspiration for cycling within the Council, would take priority over any assessment or review of the ‘ward asks’. In this way, the review of the ‘ward asks’ would be carried out in light of updated policy.

Nevertheless, given the expectation that we would hear “within a month”, it is very disappointing not to have received some sort of communication as to why there has been a further delay with the review. It would have been good to know, at the very least, whether internal agreement of the initial review had been reached. Furthermore, the extended delay means that there is now some concern that the cycling strategy will be developed without consideration to our ‘ward asks’. Equally worrying is the possibility that the strategy could be produced based on a review of the ‘ward asks’ that we have nor been able to comment on. For all of these reasons, it would be very much appreciated if you could provide an update on the current status of the review, and the strategy, as soon as possible please.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,

Charles Martin
Sutton borough coordinator, London Cycling Campaign

29 March 2015

Eleanor replied the following day (30.03.2015):

Charles,

I’ll ask the team to provide an update for you and in particular to clarify the links between the cycling delivery strategy and the ward asks. The cycling delivery strategy doesn’t sit under me but I know it must feel frustrating and so I will also ensure that you are provided with the right senior contacts

Eleanor

30 March 2015

As of 14 June 2015, nothing further has been heard.

[Review of our ‘ward asks’ was updated 05.04.2015 and 14.06.2015]

Update on Green Wrythe Lane

It is believed that work started on pavement widening last week (from 9 March). Footway is to be a shared-use facility, but will not form part of a cycle route. More information will be provided in a forthcoming post [….subsequently published as A compromise is reached on Green Wrythe Lane on 24 March 2015].

Also see Green Wrythe Lane footway cycleway proposal – a lack of vision for cycling (November 2014), Green Wrythe Lane: an update (January 2015), and “More pavements in St Helier to be shared-use” in our March 2015 newsletter (available from our Newsletter page).

Fiveways Croydon

Our response to this consultation was submitted to Transport for London on 14 March. Everyone was thanked for their input to this.

Action: To publish the Fiveways response on the Get Sutton Cycling website. [The response was subsequently published online as Transforming Fiveways Croydon on 26 March]

Space for Cycling petition

Ideas on how further to promote this petition were discussed. These included posters at main cycle parking areas at stations, and in libraries; a High Street stall; making contact with the borough’s schools. Sutton’s petition can be viewed here.

Action: various/all to progress this

Quietways 

It is anticipated that, initially, there will be up to two Quietways in the borough, the alignments of which will be the same as, or close to, those of the existing London Cycling Network routes (east-west 75: Beddington – Sutton – Worcester Park, extending to Croydon and Kingston; north-south 29: St Helier – Sutton, extending to Wimbledon and Clapham). An announcement on the selected routes for phase two of the programme (which may include Sutton) is expected within a month or so. If Quietways are to be delivered to a very high quality, a quality that is consistent with the aspirations set out in the Mayor of London’s vision for cycling, it is unlikely that routes in Sutton will be completed before 2018 at the earliest. We would much prefer a later delivery with the work done properly, than an earlier delivery with it done badly. To help this process, we will start to carry out an audit of the likely routes this summer.

There will be a considerable amount of work involved with the Quietway development, and close liaison with neighbouring boroughs will be necessary if the finished product is to be of the standard expected. In the case of the Kingston to Croydon route, for example, the route alignment will require vastly improved provision across Sutton town centre, at the intersection with the A217 and A24 in North Cheam and with the A2043 in Worcester Park. Additionally, it will be necessary to address concerns around residential streets used as rat-runs by drivers avoiding the main roads (streets which therefore become anything other than “quiet” for a large proportion of the day). Browning Avenue and Dorchester Road in Worcester Park are an example of this (and were highlighted as such in our Worcester Park ‘ward ask’). Of course, whilst the incumbent Worcester Park ward councillors, Richard Marston, Arthur Hookway and Paul Wingfield, do not feel able to support the provision of safe routes to school in their ward, the chances of achieving Quietway status here are diminished.

Meanwhile, a map of the Quietways to be delivered as part of phase one has been published. Phase one comprises of seven pilot routes that are, apparently, to be completed by June 2016. Of note is the proposed route alignment of the Clapham Common to Wimbledon route, part of which lies within our neighbouring borough of Merton. In particular, the section between Wimbledon and Haydens Road. Why is the chosen alignment between Wimbledon and Haydens Road not more direct? Why cycle east to go north? (Figure 3)

Figure 3. Quietways due for

Figure 3. Extract from “Quietways due for delivery 2016” map, showing the currently proposed alignment of the southern end of the Clapham Common to Wimbledon Quietway. Source Google Maps (no scale of the map provided, but the distance across map left to right is approximately 4km)

One possible reason for this less direct route alignment is to avoid a right-hand turn for those cycling south on Haydons Road towards Wimbledon. If this is the case, the requirement here is for infrastructure that would make turning right an inviting option. After all, it is unlikely that anyone is going to feel particularly comfortable turning left, when instinct tells them they need to turn right to reach their destination. Surely this is not part of the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling?

Another possibility is that there is a plan, at some point in the future, to link Cowper Road with North Road and for this to link into the Wandle Trail further to the south. In other words, leave Wimbledon and immediately head for the safety of the Wandle Trail even though this may add significant additional distance to the route.

Either way, the alignment of the Clapham Common to Wimbledon Quietway as currently proposed, meandering as it does in a circuitous fashion, and clinging to the Wandle Trail when not appropriate, does little to install confidence that the Quietway programme will deliver what is it actually required. And what is actually required is space for cycling on the streets where people live, work and shop, so that everyone from 8 to 80 can, if they so wish, make short local journeys by bicycle. The sort of short journeys we regularly make on a day to day basis, but which so many people feel compelled to do by car because the streets do not feel safe and inviting for cycling.

We think Sustrans need to go back to the drawing board on this one, and quickly. When it comes to the provision of cycling facilities, the days of doing what is easy, but leaving what is difficult, should be behind us. Proof that this is indeed the case is required sooner rather than later.

A map outlining all the Quietways due for delivery in 2016 can be viewed here.

Action: to ask Sustrans about the proposed Quietway alignment at Wimbledon. [Email sent 22.03.2015, reply received 26.03.2015 – see update below]

Update to Quietways (27 March 2015):

Sustrans’ route coordinator for the Clapham Common to Wimbledon Quietway, Mark Callaghan, has advised that all inquiries on Quietways are being handled in the first instance by the relevant boroughs (in this case Merton). Marks says “TfL has asked Sustrans to take on Delivery Agent role to support the work of the boroughs. Some boroughs will also choose to use us for technical support or to help with engagement activities to progress designs, some will choose their own resources to do this – so between boroughs our role can be very different. As each borough remains the Lead Delivery Partner for Quietways within its boundary, all LCC inquiries will continue to be handled in the first instance by each Borough”. Mark also said that neither LCC or TfL have published anything on Quietways other than Shhh! the Quietways are coming (LCC) and Quietways (TfL).

Well, of course, LCC has published something other than the online version of Shhh! the Quietways are coming. in the print version of this article, supplied in LCC’s London Cyclist magazine (Spring 2015) and distributed to members in early March, the link to the map showing the Quietways due for delivery in 2016, http://tinyurl.com/l6srzvj, is cleared provided on the second page of the article.

From Mark’s reply, it would indicate that it was clearly incorrect for us to presume at our March meeting that Sustrans has the lead responsibility for any of the proposed route alignments of the Quietway network (specifically, in this case, between Wimbledon and Haydens Road). We would therefore like to apologise for suggesting that “Sustrans need to go back to the drawing board”. It looks as though the responsibility for the kink in the route lies with Merton Council.

Tom Bogdanowicz, Senior Policy and Development Officer at the London Cycling Campaign, has been in touch to say that the Quietways due for delivery in 2016 map was checked against a map shown by TfL at a public conference, and was the best information available at the time of going to press. Tom also says that his article makes clear TfL are the route sponsors but boroughs both propose and deliver the routes.

Tom went on to say: “As we understand it, Sustrans is coordinating route delivery where requested by boroughs. In most cases Sustrans’ long experience of working with local cycling groups has the potential to add value from informed user comment on both alignments and designs. Local cyclists ride routes at night, during rush hours and on weekends and will often be aware of issues that may not be spotted by an engineer or a consultant on a couple of visits. As LCC and Kelly Clarke, Sustrans’ lead on Quietways, agreed, a productive relationship between Sustrans officers and local groups was very much in the interest of the programme’s success. LCC staff plan to have regular meetings with Kelly and bring up issues were required”.

In a further response, Mark Callaghan added that Sustrans’ role in the Quietways project is explained in London Quietways (Sustrans’ website). The article (December 2014) declares that “Sustrans has been awarded the role as the main contractor of the programme in partnership with Transport for London, 31 London boroughs, the Canal and River TrustThe Royal Parks and others” (our emphasis on ‘main contractor’). There is also the confirmation that “Quietways will be quiet, direct cycle routes, which follow back streets, and run through parks or along waterways” (our emphasis on ‘direct’). A link to Sustrans to deliver Quietways in London is also provided (our emphasis on ‘Sustrans to deliver’).

Let’s hope that the Wimbledon to Haydens Road ‘kink’ gets ironed out. If Sustrans cannot make the case to Merton Council (presuming, of course, that Sustrans are involved with this route – we don’t know whether that is the case for certain although we do know that a route coordinator has been appointed), then TfL really needs to withhold funding for this Quietway (and any other like it). If none of this happens and it goes ahead as proposed, and if there is not a clearly stated reason for the indirect alignment, who will take the flak? More importantly, what future will there be for Quietways?

Local Transport Today (Issue 668 | 20 March 2015) “TfL revises cycle spending plans”

An item in Local Transport Today, 20 March 2015, notes that the budget for delivery of Quietways has been increased by about £7m to around £122m.

Transport for London has revised how it plans to spend the £913m cycling budget proposed for 2013 to 2022. Provision for “expanding and improving” the capital’s cycle hire scheme has been increased by £80m, from £33m to £113m. Funding provision for the cycle superhighways programme has been increased from £150m to £189m. The Quietways programme has increased by £7m from £115m to £122m. The biggest reduction in funding is for the operating costs of cycle hire, down from £149m to £81m. A TfL spokesman said this was due to efficiencies already achieved in the Serco contract. A £33m cycle to school partnerships programme has been dropped entirely. This was to have been a fund to which boroughs and schools would bid to improve safe routes to school for cycling. The spokesman said the scheme had been dropped because there was considerable overlap between its objectives and the Quietways programme. About £8m has been transferred into Quietways programme with the rest going into the superhighways.

Update on Quietways programme (as supplied by LCC 24.04.2015)

Quietways phase 1 boroughs

Brent; Camden; City; Croydon; Greenwich; Islington; Hackney; Lambeth; Lewisham; Merton; Newham; Redbridge; Southwark; Tower Hamlets; Waltham Forest; Wandsworth; Westminster.

Quietways phase 2.1 routes/specific location interventions

Thames Path – Greenwich; Farringdon to Bowes Park; Clapham to Roehampton; Wimbledon – New Malden; Canada Water; Apex junction to London Fields (Hackney); Greville Road, Camden; St Marks, Acton; A406 crossing; A315 Hounslow; Barking and Dagenham; A316.

Quietways phase 2.2

No details

Quietways phase 2.3

No details

At the moment, it is pleasing to see that Sutton is not yet included in this extensive programme of works. With a lot happening elsewhere (and in a relatively short period of time) it will soon be possible to make a judgement on how well the Quietways programme is being delivered. This will hopefully set a high benchmark for Sutton. Also, a later delivery of the Quietways programme in Sutton will give more time for our local authority to make the case as to why delivering transformative cycling infrastructure is important. Sutton needs to demonstrate an understanding of this for the cash to be released. Again, it is hoped that the borough’s forthcoming cycling strategy will help with this.

Update on Quietways 14.06.2015:

The Merton Cycling Campaign discuss the Wimbledon Quietway, which includes a video of part of the proposed route, in Wimbledon Quietway published 17.05.2015.

Update on Quietways programme (as supplied by LCC 12.06.2015):

Delivery of Quietway 1 (Waterloo to Greenwich) and Quietway 2 (Bloomsbury to Hackney, Mare Street) is likely to be delayed until the autumn (2015). These routes are being managed by TfL.

Routes 3 to 7 (Regent’s Park to Gladstone Park; Elephant and Castle to Crystal Palace; Aldgate to Hainault; Waterloo to Wimbledon; Clapham Common to Croydon) are managed by Sustrans and delivery is still planned for 2016.

Quietways phase 2.1

Feasibility is beginning now on phase 2.1, with delivery commencing this autumn.

Quietways phase 2.2

Feasibility will begin in the autumn. Includes spur from Barnet to Haringey.

Quietways phase 2.3

To include route through Thamesmead and Abbey Wood; route north west Brent into Harrow; route through centre of Harrow

This June update included the following: “Sustrans are not doing CLoS assessments on Quietway routes as standard, only if boroughs ask them to. TfL have a plan to do CLoS assessments on all the routes.” Make of that, what you will!

Note: CLoS is Cycling Level of Service assessment. The London Cycling Design Standards (section 2.2) gives details of this: “A Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessment has been developed in order to set a common standard for the performance of cycling infrastructure for routes and schemes, and for individual junctions. The purpose of the CLoS assessment is to frame discussion about design options so that schemes are appealing for existing cyclists and can entice new cyclists onto the network. It should be used on any scheme that has an impact on the street environment.”

[Quietways was updated 19.03.2015, 22.03.2015, 26.03.2015, 27.03.2015, 4.05.2015 and 14.06.205]

Questions at Council meetings

Chris Rutland was thanked for tabling two cycling-related questions at the Council meeting on 2 March. The replies to his questions will be available by the end of the month, and will subsequently be posted on the Get Sutton Cycling website. Posts commenting on the replies that Councillor Neil Garratt received to the questions he asked at the Council meeting on 19 January  are still in preparation.

Action: complete posts on 19 January Council meeting

Update on Questions at Council meetings 14.06.2015:

Some commentary on the replies relating to Councillor Neil Garratt’s Hackbridge questions were published as “Heart of Hackbridge and space for cycling” on 31.05.2015. Green Wrythe Lane is still outstanding.

Letter to Sutton Guardian

It was proposed to write to the ‘letters page’ of the Sutton Guardian, highlighting the poor support for Space for Cycling by Sutton’s councillors and how this appears to be a odds with the council’s ambition, set out in the foreword to the Sustainable Transport Strategy, for Sutton to be London’s most sustainable suburb.

Action: write to Sutton Guardian [Letter sent by email 20.03.2015, see below] 

Cycling has to be a key component of any sustainable transport strategy

To: The Editor, Sutton Guardian

Sutton Council’s Sustainable Transport Strategy, approved on 19 March by the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee, refers to “Sutton’s reputation as a pioneering borough for sustainable transport”. It also says that Sutton “aims to become London’s most sustainable suburb”. Councillor Jill Whitehead’s foreword to the document continues with a mention of the great challenge of climate change; she writes: “here in Sutton we are determined to continue making a difference”.

In the light of these admirable -and very clear- words, why are cycling facilities and infrastructure in Sutton still so poor? Yes, there are shared cycle-pedestrian paths through parks and on footpaths, but other boroughs have long abandoned such compromises and are creating something more ambitious.

We now know that Sutton Council is commissioning a new strategy for cycling, and it is hoped that this will signal a new approach. However, the signs are not good. Why, for example, have so few Sutton councillors signed up to support the London Cycling Campaign’s “Space for Cycling” initiative? Across London, 47% of all councillors support that campaign- in Sutton a mere 15% of councillors are recorded as showing support.

From: Charles Martin, Sutton borough coordinator London Cycling Campaign, Get Sutton Cycling
20 March 2015

An edited version of this letter appeared in the 2 April print edition of the Sutton Guardian (Figure 4).

SuttonGuardian_CycleStrategyLetter_April2015_Collage01_Large_Graphic_V2

Figure 4: Get Sutton Cycling’s letter as it appeared in the Sutton Guardian, 2 April 2015

The letter was also published online by the Sutton Guardian, and this includes comments subsequently received (see below).

SuttonGuardian_CycleStrategyLetter_April2015_Comment1

SuttonGuardian_CycleStrategyLetter_April2015_Comment2

SuttonGuardian_CycleStrategyLetter_April2015_Comment3

[Letter to Sutton Guardian was updated 05.04.2015]

Newsletter

We published out first quarterly newsletter earlier this month. This was distributed with the Spring edition of London Cyclist to LCC’s members residing in the borough. An slightly updated version is available from our Newsletters page of from LCC’s Local Group Page (where you can also download newsletters from other boroughs).

We will endeavour to produce a newsletter four times a year from now on. Contributions to the next newsletter welcome by about mid-May for publication in June.

Thanks to everyone for coming to the meeting. Great to have your input. The next formal meeting is scheduled for Monday, 19 May. For details of this, and other events, see the Meet-up page.

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One comment on “Notes from our March 2015 meeting
  1. Our council, W Sussex, is also looking to come up with a cycling plan -would you like to swap notes on experiences? Horsham District Cycling Forum. You can make initial contact via info@hdcf.org.uk or @CycleForumHorsh

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