‘Time to make the case and rise to the challenges’, is the title given to our response to Sutton Council’s draft Cycling Delivery Strategy 2015. The response was submitted on 7 September, the last day of the six-week consultation period. The full document can be downloaded from the link at the end of this post, and both the response and the draft strategy are available from our Publications page.
Why is it time to make the case, and why is it the time to rise to the challenges that are required to make Sutton a fantastic place for cycling? It is time because:
- We now have plenty of evidence that the provision of safe, attractive and high-quality space in which to cycle will attract significantly greater numbers, and a more diverse cross-section of society, to embrace everyday cycling.
- We now, potentially, have the opportunity to receive substantially more funding for cycling that ever before.
- We now know that cycling is a transport option that can help alleviate congestion, alleviate pressure on parking, improve health and well-being, offer freedom and choice for the young, the old, and those less mobile, as well as improve the look and feel of our local neighbourhoods.
Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Yes.
The key messages in our response:
- We welcome the new Strategy and strongly support the Council’s vision to make cycling a natural choice for people of all ages and backgrounds for more of their trips in and through the borough. However, we are disappointed with the lack of ambition in practical terms, the limited proposals in the action plan (many of which are far from new), and the very relaxed timescale.
- We welcome the aspiration to deliver a step-change in cycling in the borough. In order for this to be successfully achieved, we believe that a step-change in the approach the Council takes to cycling is required. Although the draft Strategy is definitely a step in the right direction, there needs to be more of a recognition that cycling is for the many and not just for the few.
- The case for cycling, and the many benefits it can have for society in general, has to be made to ensure there is public support. For the case to be successfully made, political support is paramount. We consider there to be a lack of detail in the Strategy on how the case will be made in garnering public support for the broader vision.
- Cycling can and does thrive in towns and cities where there are high levels of income and high levels of car ownership, but there is a long way to go before cycling fulfills its potential to improve the life of the citizens of Sutton.
Some recommendations include:
- For this Cycling Strategy to successfully start the process of ultimately delivering a step-change for cycling in the borough, it will require:
- Strong political commitment locally
- A recognition that things will be challenging and that the case, however difficult, needs to be made
- A commitment on action, rather than just words
- The Strategy needs to give more recognition to the many challenges that are faced in the delivery of stress-free cycling, given the current propensity for even short journeys to be made by car. In cities (and suburbs) throughout Europe where high-quality cycling infrastructure is provided, and where income and high car ownership levels exist, cycling thrives. Evidence of high aspiration needs to feature strongly, as does an ability to demonstrate a renewed vigor for delivery. We would recommend closer liaison with Transport for London, closer co-operation with other agencies delivery cycling and with boroughs that are currently delivering their mini-Holland schemes, and for staff to visit other European countries to appreciate what can be done and learn from their lessons.
- The borough’s new Sustainable Transport Strategy (June 2015) committed to a target of increasing cycle mode share from a baseline of 1% (average 2009/10 – 2010/11) to 2.2% by 2017 and to 4% by 2025. In other words, a four-fold (300%) increase in the number of trips by bicycle over about fifteen years (2010 – 2025). We recommend the 4% target date be brought forward to 2022 (equating to a four-fold increase over twelve years) and that a target of 6% is set for 2025 (more accurately reflecting, perhaps, a significant take-up in cycling aligned to a the period during which high-quality infrastructure can be expected to be more widespread across the borough (2020 -2025)).
- To give the Strategy immediate relevance, we would like the final version to include supportive quotes from a number of councillors across all political parties. These could include those who have shown support for Space for Cycling in their wards, and it would be helpful to have input from Ruth Dombey, Leader of the Council, too.
- The final Strategy needs to be fully promoted. This is an absolutely fundamental requirement. We recommend that the Council ensures that every resident knows about it, everyone who drives through Hackbridge, cycles the Wandle Trail, scoots to school, takes the bus, walks to our local centres, or thinks it is acceptable to park their private vehicle in areas demarcated for loading only on Woodcote Road in Wallington, know about it.
You can read the full report from the link below, and comments and suggestions are of course very welcome. Meanwhile, our grateful thanks are extended to everyone who contributed with the production of the document.
Time to make the case and rise to the challenges (7 September 2015) | PDF document | 2.7 MB
v2: 06.10.2015 (Time to make the case… v1e replaced by v1f)