Notes from our August 2015 meeting

On one of the wettest August days in living memory (ignoring five or six other days during the same month, of course), the fifth Get Sutton Cycling meeting of 2015 took place on the evening of Monday the 24th at the Cock and Bull. Of the nine people who braved the elements to get to the venue, it is believed that two or three of them actually cycled! Great to see some new faces too!

The main discussion point this month was again the Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy, focusing on the six objectives and how these relate to the delivery items in the document’s Action Plan. The meeting began with updates of what had been happening since our previous meeting on 27 July.

NotesFromOurAugust2015Meeting_IMG_0339

Review of ‘ward asks’

The review by Sutton Council of our Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ is still awaited, although it is believed there has been some progress behind the scenes. Council Leader Ruth Dombey’s PA, Duncan Borrowman, advised in an e-mail on 30 July, that he planned to meet with Cycling Champion Cllr. Manuel Abellan and council officers to identify ‘asks’ that could be considered for progression. Once this had taken place, there is the expectation that Manuel will meet with us to take things forward (as also noted at the time of the Space for Cycling petition handover on 23 July).

Space for Cycling petition response

A formal response from Cllr Dombey, in relation to the Space for Cycling petition presented on 23 July, has yet to be received. (For background on this, see Space for Cycling petition presented to the Leader of the Council).

Preparation of response to Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy

This was the major part of the evening, and everyone contributed with ideas and suggestions on the six outlined objectives in the Draft Cycling Strategy and the corresponding thirty-five items in the Action Plan for delivery. A lot of ground was covered, and the comments (too many to cover in detail here) will greatly assist with our combined response to the strategy. Just a couple of highlights though. It was agreed that an audit of the existing network and infrastructure must be a priority, and all projects really need to adhere to the London Cycling Design Standards (2014) – ideally with an aim of achieving at least 65% compliance for Cycling Level of Service. Thanks were extended to Chris Rutland for publishing his thoughts and priorities on the consultation on the previous Friday (21 August) in Sutton’s Draft Cycling Strategy Consultation – We need your help!

During the discussions, it was noted that, as a result of a written question tabled by Cllr Neil Garratt (link to be provided), there was some potentially good news on how the London Cycling Design Standards will be applied in Sutton:

Question asked by Councillor Neil Garratt to Councillor Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment & Neighbourhood Committee

The draft Cycling Strategy, currently open for public consultation, states in paragraph 3.9 that “All new schemes or improvement works should, as far as possible, be designed and delivered in accordance with the latest London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS), with clear adherence to the guiding principles”.

Could I ask Cllr Whitehead, as lead member for transport, the following questions:

  1. In her opinion, does the wording in the Draft Cycling Strategy mean that this council would always do its best to meet the LCDS? Should residents expect LCDS compliance as the norm?
  2. If the council is committed to meeting LCDS “as far as possible”, could reports to committees which propose road schemes include a statement outlining whether the LCDS have been met, and if not then which aspects fall short? This would allow committee members, who may not be well versed in the detail of LCDS, to be reassured that the council is sticking to its commitment in the Cycling Strategy?
  3. Has Cllr Whitehead intervened to weaken the commitment to LCDS in the draft Cycling Strategy?
Reply by Councillor Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment & Neighbourhood Committee
  1. Yes the Council will always do its best to meet the LCDS and compliance of the LCDS will be the norm, however, it will not always be possible to meet the requirements of the LCDS. The most common reason for not meeting the requirements of the LCDS is where the existing road geometry is insufficient and a compromise has to be reached to ensure that the layout is considered to be safe for all road users.
  2. Yes all future Council committee reports proposing road schemes will include a statement outlining whether the LCDS requirements have been met, where any aspects of the LCDS have not been met these areas will be highlighted in the committee report. [Our emphasis]
  3. No the draft Cycling Strategy is based on the requirements of the LCDS.

Cycling tours with Cllr Manuel Abellan

A tour by bicycle of the Rosehill area (St Helier ward) with Sutton Council’s newly appointed Cycling Champion Cllr Manuel Abellan, took place on Monday 10 August. This tour had been arranged by John Courtman, our St Helier cycling champion, and Ben Rafferty joined the first part of the tour too. John gave feedback later the same day, and reported that the tour had been very useful. Areas visited, and discussed, had included Rosehill roundabout, the Reigate Avenue A217 cycle paths (including the intersection with Glastonbury Road), and the idea of a cycle path alongside Robertsbridge Road. Manuel had not been very impressed by the condition of the existing cycle path linking Grennell Road with Wrythe Lane. Neither are we! From all accounts, the tour (hopefully the first of many) was very successful, and feedback from Manuel is awaited with anticipation.

In preparation for this tour of Rosehill, Charles Martin joined John for a pre-tour ‘recce’ on 7 August, and you could read about what they saw in Preparing for a tour of Rosehill with Cllr Manuel Abellan.

A second tour is to be arranged, this time of Sutton town centre. It was suggested that this tour should begin in the High Street, with a ride north to Sutton Green, and then back to the centre before continuing south to Sutton Station, and then returning to the centre. This would highlight the difficulties, or the inconvenience experienced, when endeavouring to join or leave the High Street by bicycle from the north and south. Travelling north by bike there is effectively a lock-out between Marshall’s Road and Crown Road due to one-way working, and travelling south there is a disconnect between the section of High Street generally closed to vehicular traffic and the trafficked section to the railway station (i.e. at the intersection of the High Street with Sutton Court Road and Grove Road). In this latter case, trying to turn right from the High Street on to Grove Road can hardly be described as a cycle-friendly manoeuvre (a manoeuvre we made when we celebrated Space for Cycling with a Small Ride in May 2014). Equally, endeavouring to cycle from Cheam Road onto the High Street at the intersection of the High Street with Cheam Road and Carshalton Road is far from ideal too. Other suggestions included extending the ride with Manuel to and from Sutton Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital, to experience the “delight” of the Chiltern Road, Cotswold Road and Brighton Road intersection by bicycle. However, this was felt to be outside the current remit, and left at a future ride of Belmont.

Of course, a major issue for Sutton town centre is the the one-way gyratory (St Nicholas Way  – Crown Road – High Street – Marshall’s Road – Throwley Way – Chalk Pit Road – Sutton Court Road – Grove Road – Sutton Park Road – Cheam Road) which effectively acts as a barrier for cycling and isolates the core shopping and business centre from the surrounding areas. The gyratory is not, of course, a pleasant road to cycle on in it’s own right either. So it was also suggested that the ride with Manuel should include a section of the existing London Cycle Network alignment (LCN75) east-west across the town centre. This would involve crossing the gyratory at least four times, including St Nicholas Way on Greenford Road, Throwley Way on Benhill Avenue, and Throwley Way on the Manor Lane to Lodge Palace alignment. All of these are in need of major improvements, and we have some ideas.

It is worth noting that some proposed improvements to the Greenford Road contraflow (between St Nicholas Way and High Street) had been put forward by Sutton Council in January 2015. These “improvements” had consisted of two options, which were essentially either to install a contraflow cycle lane (painted) on the carriageway for eastbound contraflow travel, or just formally make the pavement shared use (so cycle on it in both directions). We suggested that there were bigger issues at this town centre location that needed to be considered. These related to the inadequacy of the existing crossing arrangements for cycling between the two sections of Greenford Road across St Nicholas Way (and similarly the two sections of Benhill Avenue across Throwley Way). We were disappointed that more robust ideas for these locations had not yet been brought forward. This was especially so given that Sutton Council’s Cycle Forum had stated in 2011 or 2012 that cycle crossing facilities for the gyratory were to be a priority.

Update: The second tour, around Sutton town centre, took place on Wednesday 26 August. John Courtman and Ben Rafferty accompanied Manuel. See A ride around Sutton Town Centre with Councillor Manuel Abellan for more on this.

Green Wrythe Lane

On 29 July, a notification was received from Sutton Council detailing proposals to extend the “current cycling facilities in Green Wrythe Lane”. See Green Wrythe Lane off-road cycle facility – next stage announced for more on this. Although comments were welcomed on this proposal by 24 August, this was unfortunately overlooked and we did not respond. Perhaps, though, enough has already been said!

Website – recent posts (and delayed ones too)

As the preparation of a group response to the draft Cycling Delivery Strategy continues to be the primary focus of activity, several items due to be posted to this blog continue to be delayed, including an important one relating to a question submitted by Cllr Neil Garratt at the 19 January 2015 Council Meeting on Green Wrythe Lane. It was noted that six items have been published since the July meeting, four of which are mentioned elsewhere in this post, plus Wandle Trail Worry, and “Sutton is a pro-cycling borough”. This latter post even got a mention in the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain’s weekly blog for the 10 August: The Great Big Silly Season Bike Blog roundup!

‘healthy and active’ local group

It is hoped that everyone will continue to consider how we ensure Get Sutton Cycling reflects the objectives of a ‘healthy and active’ local group, as outlined last month in relation to the feedback to July’s LCC Local Groups Forum.

Update: The annual Local Group survey from LCC for 2015 went live on 28 August, and group members, regular attendees of meetings, and others have been invited to complete this. If you have not received the link to this, and would like to participate, please get in touch.

Sutton borough news and update for September

The latest borough news and update, or Get Sutton Cycling Newsletter, for inclusion with the September edition of the London Cyclist magazine, met today’s (24 August) deadline. This edition leads with an item on the presentation of the Space for Cycling petition to the Leader of the Council in July. There is more on Sutton Council’s Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy and consultation, and the announcement, at the Cycle Summit consultation workshop, of the appointment of Cllr Manuel Abellan as Cycling Champion for the Council. In an editorial, Charles Martin, expresses concern that the aspiration to establish two Quietways in the borough in a “short to medium” timeframe will almost certainly result in delivery not being anywhere near the standard expected. The Newsletter will be available to download from the Newsletters page in early September. The deadline for content to be included in the next edition (December 2015) will be around 24 November.

Ride London, Free Cycle

Feedback has not been received on the FreeCycle led ride from Sutton to the Ride London event in central London on 1 August, either from the LCC or from the marshals who led the feeder ride. This is a little disappointing, and it is hoped that there will be something to report on this at a future meeting. Charles Martin, who attended the FreeCycle event itself in central London, said he found the new routes worked very well and the day had been a great success.

Other current consultations

A reminder of two other consultations currently taking place: Health and Wellbeing Strategy (closes tomorrow, 25 August), and a scoping document for the Sutton Local Plan – Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Document closing 27 August).

Update on the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Document: On 27 August, the consultation period was extended by two weeks to 10 September.

Update on the Health and Wellbeing Strategy: Although an option was not given to submit a response on behalf of a group, Charles Martin submitted an individual response on 25 August:

“Of the nine key areas for action to improve people’s health, I would like to see ‘Active and safe travel’ given more prominence. The interventions detailed for this area could be built on by making reference to the following:

(1) Improving the Health of Londoners – transport action plan (TfL, February 2014), noting the ‘whole street approach’;

(2) Transport and Health in London – the main impacts of London’s road transport on health (GLA, February 2014);

(3) Travel In London Report 7 (TfL, December 2015) especially section 9: Spotlight on improving the evidence base for health and transport;

(4) Better Streets Delivered 2 (TfL, forthcoming) – building on Better Street Delivered (TfL, September 2013) > healthy communities

In the context of Sutton, a new Cycling Delivery Strategy for the borough is to be published later in 2015.

Active and safe travel is important because it links directly to several of the other areas highlighted for health and wellbeing: Healthy schools and pupils; Helping people find good jobs and stay in work; Access to green and open spaces and the role of leisure services; Strong communities, wellbeing and resilience; Health and spatial planning.”

Cycle to Work Day

Thursday, 3 September is Cycle To Work Day 2015. An opportunity, perhaps, to try and persuade friends, family, work colleagues, to give cycling a go. Of course, it would be great if more people felt that cycling was something they could do more than once a year, and for some of those shorter day-to-day journeys nearer to home, whilst wearing ordinary clothes. But if this event raises the profile of cycling it has to be a good thing. Marcus had suggested that we set up feeder rides rides to help less experienced people get started. Certainly something to consider for the future, but at the moment it was felt we did not have the capacity for this. Maeve suggested that she would write to a contact at Sutton Council to see if support for people wishing to try cycling to work was something that the Council could take forward.

Sustainable Transport Strategy

Sutton Council’s Sustainable Transport Strategy (approved March 2015, and dated June 2015) was made available to download for the first time at the end of July through a link on Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy consultation page. A search of the council’s website, however, still fails to find it. We believe that this important document needs to be fully promoted so that Sutton’s residents are more likely to be aware of it.

It was good to see that a link to the Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy consultation page was provided on the front page of the council’s website for a period of about two weeks following the consultation launch on 21 July.

We have added a link to the Sustainable Transport Strategy our new Publications page.

Dates of future meetings

The fourth Monday of the month is currently the preferred day for our regular public meetings, but the format will alter on alternate months between formal one month (although never very formal) and social the next. The more formal meetings (like the most recent one on 24 August) will continue for the time being at the Cock and Bull, 30 High Street, Sutton, SM1 1HF, and for the less formal ones we thought we would go “on tour”.

The next two meetings are scheduled as follows:

Monday, 28 September 2015, 7.45pm, Lord Nelson.

Monday, 26 October 2015, 7.45pm Cock and Bull

AOB

It was great to meet John W at the meeting, recently moved to the borough from Lambeth. John had got in touch with us at the beginning of August to ask about the process for acquiring a Bikehangar cycle storage facility near his home in Carshalton. He thanked us for contacting Sutton Council on his behalf, in order to start the process. We wished him well taking this forward, and that we would include the council’s comments on Bikehangars in our forthcoming newsletter (September 2015).

The meeting finished around 10pm.

Thanks for attending the meeting this month. Any further input to the Draft Cycling Strategy consultation will be appreciated, but don’t forget to respond individually too. The consultation runs until 7 September: Draft Cycling Delivery Strategy consultation page.

v2: 29.11.2016 In AOB, added item regarding Bikehangars (originally overlooked)!

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