A few weeks ago Sutton published a draft of a new Cycling Delivery Strategy. It sets out how the Council aims “to make cycling the mode of choice for short local journeys, by improving the quality and legibility of cycle routes, addressing safety concerns through road safety measures, improving cycle parking facilities, and ensuring the wider road network is as cycle-friendly as possible.”
Sounds good doesn’t it? The devil is in the detail, and we need help to make this document as strong as possible and to remove the inbuilt loopholes the Council leaders have inserted.
In short the problems are these:
2) In the Sustainable Transport Strategy, figure 2.1 shows a map highlighting areas of the borough which are 400m from a bus route. The new London Cycling Design Standards recommends a minimum mesh of no more than 400m (Chap 2.3.3). it would like to see, at a minimum, a similar map for cycling infrastructure in the borough’s Cycling Strategy, plus a commitment to get 95% of the population within 400m of some LCDS approved cycling infrastructure.
3) Chapter 2 (2.3.7) of the LCDS refers to how good filtered permeability is at dramatically improving a Cycling Level of Service score (CLoS) in a cost effective manner. The council have only included this as the last bullet point of 3.15 in the Cycling Strategy. This would seem to demonstrate that the Council are simply not considering this option at all seriously enough. Is there any evidence that 20mph zones improve cycling mode share? Presumably filtered permeability beats a 20mph zone every time in terms of a CLoS score?
4) An audit (Objective 1.4 in Table 4.1) of the current network should be a short term, not medium term (i.e. any time up to the end of 2019) action. Otherwise we’ll most probably be waiting until after the next election before anything is done. At the least there should be a commitment that it is done in the next financial year.
5) Segregation should be done on the basis of need, not opportunity (as 3.10 of the Delivery Strategy states).
So what can you do? Currently the council have a consultation questionaire on the Strategy, and we need to let them know that it needs to be stronger. So here are some suggested answers to the main questions:
Q5) Please prioritise the six objectives that underpin the cycling strategy.
Objective 1 Make Sutton a more attractive borough for cycling and create a high quality cycle network – 1
Objective 2 Make Sutton a safer borough for cycling – 2
Other options left to personal preference.
Q6) How far do you support targets to increase the proportion of Sutton residents’ trips by bicycle from 1% now to 2.2% by 2017 and 4% by 2025?
Q7) How far do you support the measures being proposed under Objective 1 to make Sutton a more attractive borough for cycling and create a high quality cycle network?
Q8) Do you have any other suggestions for improving the cycle network in Sutton?
Sutton needs to have a comprehensive and properly joined up cycle network. Cyclists should not have to travel more than 400m to find a parallel route of similar quality. This may mean using filtered permeability to close rat runs and building segregated cycle paths on busier roads. Anything less than this is unacceptable.
Q9) How far do you support the measures being proposed under Objective 2 to make Sutton a safer borough for cycling?
Q10) Do you have any other suggestions for improving cycle safety in the borough?
Reducing the speed and number of motor vehicles travelling on the borough’s roads is critical. Segregation on busy roads should be used on the basis of need, not opportunity. Motorised traffic on residential roads should be reduced to a minimum through the use of filtered permeability. Simply creating 20mph zones will not be enough – the police don’t have the resources to ensure the law is upheld, and in the end money will be spent on street decorations and very little achieved.
Q11) How far do you support the measures being proposed under Objective 3 to encourage a shift from the car to cycling for shorter journeys?
Q12) Do you have any other suggestions for encouraging a shift from the car to cycling?
Cycling must be made as easy as driving. This requires routes that are direct and quick to navigate. There need to be good cross-borough and inter-borough routes which are attractive to those who don’t currently cycle. People also need to see that cycling is a safe activity – seperation from fast travelling motor vehicles is the only way to achieve this.
Q13) How far do you support the measures being proposed under Objective 4 to encourage safe and considerate behaviour by all road users?
Q14) Do you have any other suggestions for encouraging safer and more considerate behaviour by all road users?
Good physical design and high quality infrastructure is the key to designing out the potential for conflict between people on bikes and those in motor vehicles. The council already a lot to train people to ride safely. Good infrastructure and safe space for cycling is what is lacking in the borough.
Q15) How far do you support the measures being proposed under Objective 5 to create a cycling culture and promote cycling to a wider range of people?
Q16) Do you have any other suggestions for encouraging a wider range of people to cycle?
This should be a very small part of what the council is concentrating on over the next few years. For Sutton to become a cycling borough, residents need to see a high density of good quality cycling routes. Those that want to cycle will simply say to themselves – ‘I can do that’.
Q17) How far do you support the measures being proposed under Objective 6 to actively promote cycling within the Council’s Sustainable Transport Strategy and maximise the wider opportunities and benefits?
Q18) No comment
Q19) How far do you support the actions in the Action Plan?
Q20) Do you have any other suggestions for the Action Plan?
Paragraph 2.3 of the London Cycling Design Standards gives a five step method to developing a coherant cycle network. Without this the current Action Plan will be haphazard and probably a waste of time and taxpayer’s money. This should be done within a short term timeframe. The Council needs to tackle the major problems head-on and stop using delaying tactics to avoid making decisions.
Q21) Do you have any other suggestions or comments about cycling in Sutton?
Whilst it is welcome that the council have published this draft, it is obvious that there is a lot missing from it. Why not aim for 5% by May 2022, when the next Council Term ends? Also, so that the political leaders can understand what good quality cycling infrastructure looks and feels like, they should go on David Hembrow’s study tour in the Netherlands.
The consultation closes on 7 September. Thank you for your assistance.
The Get Sutton Cycling Team