Major cycling schemes for TfL roads to be presented to councillors

A year after our meeting with Sutton Council to discuss our Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ (see the Notes to our November 2014 meeting for the background on the meeting), there is now at last some progress to report.

On 16 September 2015, at the Council’s quarterly Cycle Forum, Chair and Senior Engineer Lynn Robinson told us that Council officers had been asked to assess our proposals once again, and to prioritise those relating to the Transport for London road network (i.e. the A24, A217, A232). A report was being produced, and this would be presented to each of the local committees during the autumn. The report would set out the proposals, provide comments from officers, and include recommendations that councillors agree that the proposals for their wards be presented to Transport for London.

Cycling prominent on the agenda

This is very welcome news. Given that the suggested proposals for cycling infrastructure along these key routes are contained within eight of the borough’s eighteen wards, the report is likely to form part of the agenda at five of the six Local Committees scheduled to take place during the coming weeks and months. Consequently, it is probably true to say that cycling has never before featured so prominently on the agenda of Sutton Council Local Committee meetings.

“…it is probably true to say that cycling has never before featured so prominently on the agenda of Sutton Council Local Committee meetings”

The report ‘Proposed Cycle Facilities on the Transport for London Road Network’ (17 September 2015), along with an associated ‘Appendix A’ (28 September 2015), has now been published, and can be downloaded from the Local Committee pages (see below) or from the following links:

Proposed cycle facilities on the Transport for London Road Network | Sutton Council | PDF document 142 KB

Appendix A: London Cycling Campaign ward asks on TfL roads | Sutton Council | PDF document 149 KB

A summary of the proposals and recommendations to Local Committees

Here is a summary of the proposals and recommendations to be made at each of the six Local Committee areas:

St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley, 8 October 2015

Proposals:

A217 – Redesign of Rosehill roundabout to provide protected space for cyclists with a fully signalised perimeter path. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street MapNote: a redesign from the ground up will be required.

A217 – Upgrades to the segregated cycle paths on Reigate Avenue and St Helier Avenue. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street MapNote: major upgrades are necessary, not just cosmetic ones.

Recommendation: Agree that the proposals (relating to protected space on main roads and at junctions) should be presented to Transport for London for consideration.

Update on 8 October 2015 Committee meeting: Although councillors in this committee thought that upgrades to the existing cycle paths on Reigate Avenue and St Helier Avenue were acceptable, they did not think that TfL should be asked to consider designing cycling schemes for Rosehill roundabout. As a result, it is likely that cycling will the remain the last mode of choice for short local journeys in and around St Helier for some time to come. For more on this see St Helier effectively says no to cycling; St Helier’s decision on Rosehill roundabout – a summary; and the notes to our meetings (in particular December 2015 and January 2016).

Carshalton and Clockhouse, 13 October 2015

Space for Cycling suggestions in this Committee area not directly related to TfL roads – although there is a recommendation to agree that proposals relating to the A232 elsewhere should be presented to Transport for London for consideration.

Beddington and Wallington, 20 October 2015

Note: The proposals to be included in this committee area, were not detailed in the Agenda prepared for the 20 October 2015 meeting. Presumably, therefore, they will feature in the next meeting on 1 December 2015.

Proposals:

A232 – Protected space for cyclists on Croydon Road; [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

A232 – Dutch-standard crossing points on Croydon Road; Note: Including at junctions.

A232 – Improvements for cyclists on A232. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

Recommendation: Agree that the proposals (relating to protected space on main roads and at junctions) should be presented to Transport for London for consideration.

Update on 1 December 2015 Committee meeting: Councillors agreed to all the recommendations. See Beddington and Wallington agree that cycling proposals be presented to TfL for more.

Sutton, 3 November 2015

Proposals:

A217 – The Council should work with TfL to upgrade the existing segregated cycle track along the A217 to Dutch standards; [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

A217- Major upgrade to the A217 cycle path with Dutch-style crossing points at Seears Park to Love Lane and Alberta Avenue to Churchill Road. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

Recommendation: Agree that the proposals (relating to protected space on main roads and at junctions) should be presented to Transport for London for consideration.

Update on 3 November 2015 Committee meeting: Councillors agreed to all the recommendations. See Sutton Local Committee agree that cycling proposals be presented to TfL for more. 

Oldfield Road (A217). West side, looking north, near Willow Walk. Photo|: Charles Martin (8 March 2015)

Oldfield Road (A217). West side, looking north, near Willow Walk. [Google Maps] One day it might be just as easy to cycle past (or cycle to) McDonalds, as it to drive past (or drive thru’) today. Photo: Charles Martin (8 March 2015)

Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont, 19 November 2015

Note: As of 23 October 2015, the Agenda for this meeting was not available. Consequently, it can not yet be confirmed that the proposals will be presented at this time.

Proposals:

A232 – Implement a 20mph speed limit in Cheam Village including A232; [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

A217 – Engage with TfL to upgrade the cycle paths on A217. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

Recommendation: Agree that the proposals (relating to 20mph speed limits and protected space on main roads and at junctions) should be presented to Transport for London for consideration.

Update on 19 November 2015 Committee meeting: Councillors agreed to all the recommendations. See Further support for A217 cycle path upgrades for more.

Cheam North and Worcester Park, 3 December 2015

Note: As of 23 October 2015, the Agenda for this meeting was not available. Consequently, it can not yet be confirmed that the proposals will be presented at this time.

Proposals:

A24 – Improve links on the Greenway in Nonsuch Park and the proposed Quietway on LCN route 75 via the centre of North Cheam on A24; [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

A24 – Improvements for cyclists in North Cheam district centre along the A24 and continuing north to Stonecot and Morden. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

A24 – Protected space / segregation to improve cycle facilities on the A24 Stonecot Hill. [Open Street Map | Google Maps | Street Map]

Recommendation: Agree that the proposals (relating to protected space on main roads and at junctions) should be presented to Transport for London for consideration.

Update on 3 December 2015 Committee meeting: Councillors agreed to all the recommendations. See Destination North Cheam! for more on this.

Across the borough, officers prioritise the A217 over the A24, and the A24 over the A232. Their reasons for this are outlined in the report.

What a difference a year makes

It’s quite amazing what a difference a year makes. It was only a year ago, in October 2014, when councillors at the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee, gave the go-ahead to proposals for phase two of the Green Wrythe Lane footway conversion to a shared use cycleway. Our response to the proposals, in which we suggested that more radical ideas were required, had been effectively ignored. Council officers, and the majority of councillors, presumably believed, at the time, that cycling on the pavement was what constituted a cycling facility. Now, in October 2015, councillors are being presented with ideas around the provision of protected space for cycling on main roads (with the added bonus that the expected recommendation from the Council for the third stage of the Green Wrythe Lane pavement conversion to shared use was not on the agenda – for the moment at least).

Passing the buck….

So what is going on? Well, taking a bit of a cynical view, the Council’s focus on Transport for London roads could be interpreted as passing the buck. After all, by simply providing a recommendation to councillors to agree that proposals for roads out of their immediate control be presented to Transport for London for consideration, is arguably a lot simpler and potentially far less controversial than responding positively to our ‘ward asks’ for borough roads. The Transport for London initiatives, if they are to be progressed, will not directly affect the streets that come under the responsibility of the Council, and so the consequences, challenges and difficulties with implementation will lay with that authority. The Council can simply walk away, wash their hands of everything, and when residents, traders or other stakeholders take umbrage, simply place the blame with another agency. Don’t blame us, blame them.

…or a canny move?

On the other hand, prioritising and concentrating on the big roads and the big money could be considered a canny move. An opportunity to endeavour to kick-start the process of ultimately bringing significant, major funding for cycling to the borough, funding that would deliver some transformative, well-designed, and ‘proven in practice elsewhere’, infrastructure. The thinking could be that investment in cycling infrastructure on Transport for London roads in the borough would unquestionably make cycling a hot topic in Sutton. As a result, this would help pave the way for initiatives on borough roads.

In terms of providing protected space for cycling on main roads, the A217 (Sutton bypass) would be an obvious place to start if only because much (not all) of the space required is in situ. Redesigning Rosehill roundabout so that it becomes a beacon of cycling infrastructure excellence (delivering the essential requirement of joined-up transition between all access and egress points) would be a challenge (and would be expensive). Equally challenging (and costly) would be the management of the many intersections along the 6 km of the A217 (between the boundary with the London Borough of Merton and the boundary with Surrey) to provide priority for those on bicycles. Of course, the paths would also need to be furnished with a super-smooth rolling surface (better than the carriageway), be well drained and kept immaculately maintained. Nevertheless, all of this is achievable provided that the right skills, total commitment and significant funding are made available. And, it goes without saying, that all of this would be very welcome to existing users, and will undoubtedly get more people onto bicycles.

There is a need to demonstrate a commitment to cycling on borough roads

But here is the rub. From our point of view, Transport for London is much more likely to make funding available to boroughs that have demonstrated that they have a commitment to cycling. So, just presenting proposals to Transport for London for infrastructure on Transport for London roads in the borough, without first (or, at least, at the same time) grasping the thorny nettle of local streets, is possibly not going to be enough to convince the decision makers to part with millions of pounds of cash.

Of course, there are likely to be on-going conversations between TfL and the Council that we are unaware of, that are perhaps specifically focussed on the Quietways programme. This engagement will provide the opportunity for cooperation and reinvigoration, and help concentrate the mind. Also, in summer 2013, the Council submitted a bid for mini-Holland funding and, although not successful, this did give an indication of intent. The report can be downloaded from our Publications page (July 2013).

On the plus side, we have an emerging Cycling Delivery Strategy….

Now, it is true that a Cycling Delivery Strategy for Sutton is on its way, expected towards the end of 2015 or early 2016, so that will definitely help (and, of course, we submitted our comprehensive response to the consultation on the draft strategy, aptly entitled “Time to make the case and rise to the challenges”, in September).

…. an official Cycling Champion…

It also great that we now have Cllr Manuel Abellan (Liberal Democrat, Beddington South) as an official Cycling Champion for Sutton. Manuel is almost certainly the only councillor in London (out of nearly 2,000 in total) who has attended all three London-based cycling conferences that have taken place during 2015 – the Hackney Cycling Conference (5 June), the London Cycling Show 2015 in Waltham Forest (15 September), and the Haringey Cycling Conference (24 September 2015) – all in addition to the Sutton Cycle Summit (23 July).

“Cllr. Manuel Abellan is almost certainly the only councillor in London (out of nearly 2,000 in total) who has attended all three London-based cycling conferences that have taken place this year”

Manuel also has the intention of exploring the whole of the borough by bicycle by the end of the year (and during the last few weeks has cycled with Get Sutton Cycling in St Helier and Rosehill, Sutton town centre, Cheam, and Beddington and Wallington).

…and an unofficial Cycling Champion…

It is equally good to know that we have Cllr Neil Garratt (Conservative, Beddington South) as our unofficial Cycling Champion. Neil has regularly been in contact with us, and has asked several insightful and timely questions to the Council, including topics relating to Green Wrythe Lane and Hackbridge. This has not only put cycling strongly on the agenda, but also helped to keep the debate moving forward.

So all of that is positive and impressive, and we are sure that Transport for London will take note!

… but there is still room for improvement

Obviously we are disappointed that Sutton has the lowest support by councillors for the Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ of all the London boroughs (apart from two – and this remains the case even with the welcome additional support this week from the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Tim Crowley (Conservative, Carshalton South and Clockhouse)). We had also hoped to receive a formal response to our Space for Cycling petition this summer from the Leader of the Council, Cllr Ruth Dombey (Liberal Democrat, Sutton North). Then there has been the frustration around the Council’s Sustainable Transport Strategy (June 2015) not being available, until very recently, on the Council’s website. We are pleased to report that the strategy is now available on a newly created and dedicated Sustainable Transport Policy page (and, of course, on our Publications page).

However, there are other less positive areas too, where there is definite room for improvement. These relate to issues such as an inertia to change, resulting in out-dated cycling infrastructure that is frankly not fit for purpose but which is still in situ; lack of aspiration (in other words doing what is easy, but not doing what is difficult); an unwillingness to review schemes and address what does not work; and not making the most of certain opportunities when they are presented. Examples of these, in practical terms, will appear in a forthcoming post ‘Ideas for boosting Sutton’s cycling aspirations’.

We can do better

We really do not like being too negative, and in a sense we are deliberately playing the devil’s advocate. We want TfL to invest in Sutton, of course we do, but at the same time we need Sutton Council to give a positive indication that a lead is being taken locally too. Otherwise, a request to prioritise cycling on TfL roads over cycling on borough streets will seem less like an opportunity to kick-start the process of delivering transformative cycling infrastructure, and more like an opportunity to pass the buck.

v1: 25.10.2015 (with additional links added 12.02.2016 and 13.03.2016)

Advertisements
Posted in News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow us on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 825 other followers

Support Space for Cycling
%d bloggers like this: