Notes from our November 2015 meeting

Our eighth, and final meeting, of 2015, took place on 23 November. This time we were back at the Trinity Church Halls in the centre of Sutton, where, once again, we were given a very warm welcome.

NotesFromOurNovember2015Meeting_IMG_5126

Welcome and introductions

Our thanks to Alex, Ben, Charles, Chris, Colin, both Johns, Karl, Maeve, Marcus, Michael, Seb and Shirley for attending this evening. Charles agreed to write the notes.

Review, and some updates, on our October meeting.

Space for Cycling petition (July 2015): A formal response has not been received to this petition, which was handed to the Leader of the Council at Sutton’s second Cycle Summit and workshop event on 23 July . It was suggested that we chased this up, perhaps using the imminent approval of the Cycling Strategy as the basis for follow-up.

Sustainable Transport Strategy (June 2015): The consultation on the borough’s draft Sustainable Transport Strategy took place between 5 November 2014 and 4 January 2015. Approval for the publication of the final document was given by the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee on 19 March 2015, and published three months later in June (the delay possibly as a result of the parliamentary elections in May). We are pleased to report that, following some pressure from us, the responses to the sustainable transport strategy consultation are now available on the improved Transport Policy section of the Sutton Council website (since mid-November).

There is some disappointment, however, that Get Sutton Cycling is not specifically mentioned in these documents. Especially so, considering the expansive detail of our response, and the fact that our input resulted in the final version of the strategy (unlike the draft) having the additional point added to the Action Plan: “Commissioning a Borough Cycling Delivery Strategy”.

As reported in the notes to our October meeting, the final Sustainable Transport Strategy only readily became available on Sutton Council’s website on around 9 October, about seven months after its adoption. This delay does not give much confidence to one response from the task and finish group (in respect of one of our comments) that “once adopted the strategy will be widely promoted“. Action: to upload Sustainable Transport Strategy consultation responses to Publications page (November 2015).

December borough news and update: Our latest newsletter, to be distributed with London Cyclist magazine to LCC members resident in the borough in early December, was finalised and submitted on 22 November (one day ahead of the deadline). This will be available from Get Sutton Cycling Newsletters, and from LCC Local Group News. This edition of the newsletter leads with our response to the cycling strategy consultation, and includes the positive quote on cycling from Leader of the Council, Cllr. Ruth Dombey, that appears in the final draft of the strategy (see below for more on this).

Our top media tweets of the last twelve months!

Chas gave a short presentation on the most popular @cyclinginsutton media tweets from November 2014 to October 2015.

Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ review

One year on, and this review is beginning to emerge. As noted last month, proposals for TfL roads have been prioritised over those for borough roads (see Major cycling schemes for TfL roads to be presented to councillors for more on this). It now looks as though a second report will be produced, focussed on some ideas for borough roads.

1. TfL roads: Report ‘Proposed cycle facilities on the TfL Road Network’ and accompanying ‘Appendix A: London Cycling Campaign ward asks on TfL roads’

As mentioned at the October meeting, Council Officers had informed us at the Cycle Forum on 16 September that a report, focusing on our ‘ward asks’ relating to TfL roads, was to be produced. The first committee to receive the report was the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley on 8 October.  Although we knew at our October meeting that the Committee members had not agreed to the recommendation from Council officers that proposals for Rosehill roundabout be presented to TfL for consideration, we were not aware of the manner in which the report had been presented or how the minutes had reported the rejection (see St Helier effectively says no to cycling and St Helier’s decision on Rosehill roundabout – a summary).

Charles Martin contacted Sutton Council about this on 15 November:

To: Jessica Crow, Executive Head of Customers, Commissioning and Governance, Sutton Council

Dear Jessica,

Further to my email to Caroline Pidgeon, ‘Cycling in Sutton | November 2015’, a copy of which you should have received, I am writing to make an official complaint about the reporting to agenda item 8 “Proposed cycle facilities on the Transport for London cycle network”, part of the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee meeting on the 8 October.

Although I did not attend the meeting, I have listened to an audio recording. I appreciate that the written minutes are not intended to detail every minutia of proceedings, or be a substitute for a transcript of everything that was said. However, in this case, I would suggest that the minutes to the agenda item reflect poorly on proceedings. The audio recording is available here.

The agenda and minutes are available here. (Item 22 “proposed cycle facilities on the transport for london highway network”).

The printed minutes state: “The Committee considered a report that outlined a number of cycling infrastructure schemes on the Transport for London highway network that had been suggested by the Sutton representatives of the London Cycling Campaign and supported in principle by officers. With the support of Councillors, the cycling infrastructure schemes would be presented to Transport for London for consideration.”

I think it would be fair to say that our elected representatives did not consider the report at all. Indeed, the report was not fully presented to them.

The minutes then go on: “Members were not happy with the proposal for Rosehill roundabout due to safety concerns”.

Apart for the ambiguity of “due to safety concerns” (ambiguous, because improving the safety of people on bicycles was one very important reasons for the proposals) this single sentence does not reflect how I would interpret proceedings. There is more background to the agenda item here.

Thanks for your help with this, and I look forward to receiving your comments and views in the near future.

Regards,

Charles Martin

Sutton borough coordinator for the London Cycling Campaign

Jessica replied the following day, copied in to the Customer Care and Improvement Manager. Charles was then asked to register his concerns to another email address, which he did the same day (16 November). On the 17 November, a Customer Care and Improvement Officer replied to say his concerns had been logged as a formal complaint and that he can expect to receive a response within twenty working days (i.e by 15 December).

As noted in his email to Jessica above, Charles also sent an email to Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and Deputy Chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee, on 15 November, about this issue. Caroline’s reply, on the 17 November, was very encouraging. Caroline said she could understand why the decision by the local committee has caused concern. She has been reassured that the Council recognises what went wrong, and will be taking steps to ensure that future committee meetings are managed more effectively. It is her understanding that there is a strong push from the leadership at Sutton Council to support cycling in the borough, and that when the cycling strategy comes out there will be endorsements from the leadership to make it a genuine priority.

The “Proposed cycle facilities on the TfL road network’ report was subsequently submitted to the Sutton Local Committee on 3 November and the Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee on 19 November. These were the second and third of five Local Committees scheduled to receive the report. Both committees have agreed to the council officers recommendations, see Sutton Local Committee agree that cycling proposals be presented to TfL and Further support for A217 cycle path upgrades for more on this. The final two committees expected to receive the report are Beddington and Wallington on Tuesday 1 December and the Cheam North and Worcester Park Committee on Thursday 3 December.

2. Borough roads ‘ward asks’

We had been advised on 26 October that, as part of a response to our notification that there was growing support for cycle paths on Brighton Road from employees of the Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research (more on this in a future post), Council officers were working on the borough road ‘ward asks’ in a second report. Brighton Road (which features strongly in our  Space for Cycling ‘ward ask’ for the Belmont ward) would be investigated for segregation and recommended as a high priority. The timing of the publication of this report is not yet known.

We are clearly pleased that the review of the ‘ward asks’ is progressing. However, as discussed in our response to the consultation on the cycling strategy, many challenges need to be recognised and addressed before the ‘asks’ go to the consultation stage. The case behind the ideas of “filtered permeability”, “point-closures”, and other necessary interventions associated with making cycling an attractive, stress-free, form of transport for many more people to consider, has to be made first.

Therefore, we are also pleased to note that the final version of the draft Cycling Strategy (see below) expands on how the Council will make the planning and delivery of cycling projects a more collaborative process. In line with one of our recommendations, an additional commitment to work closely with residents and stakeholders through local committees and the Environment and Neighbourhood committee in order to gain support for cycling schemes and promote the wider benefits of cycling is now included (page 27, fifth bullet point para 3.45). This is all part of making the case, and getting residents on-board. Without this essential element included in the strategy, the task of making the borough’s streets cycle-friendly cannot begin.

Cycling Strategy

The updated, final, draft strategy was published online (on about 17 November) ahead of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 26 November (see Item 7, Appendix E – Draft Cycling Strategy Nov15).

In the accompanying report to the Committee, “Cycling Strategy”, the background and related issues to the strategy are given, and two recommendations are presented:

  • “To agree the final Cycling Delivery Strategy in Appendix E, incorporating the proposed changes as a result of the consultation”, and
  • “Agree to delegate authority to the Executive Head of Safer and Stronger Communities, in consultation with the Chair, to approve any final changes to the Strategy requested by the Committee, and its subsequent publication”.

In addition to this report, (and the aforementioned, marked-up, Draft Cycling Strategy, Appendix E), a number of other documents are included a part of the agenda item 7: Cycling Strategy:

  • Appendix A – Cycling Delivery Strategy Workshop comments
  • Appendix B – Cycling Strategy Questionnaire
  • Appendix C – Summary of Questionnaire responses
  • Appendix D – Cycling Strategy Consultation Comments
  • Appendix E – Draft Cycling Strategy Nov15
  • Appendix F – Integrated Impact Assessment

We had a preliminary look at Appendix D – Cycling Strategy Consultation Comments, at our meeting. Of the fifty-seven references to comments made by Get Sutton Cycling detailed in this document, twenty-eight have an element that includes a proposed change to the draft strategy. This is great news, and there will be more on this in a forthcoming post.

In addition to the commitment noted above, regarding working with residents at local committee meetings, we are also very pleased to see the final draft includes quotes from the Leader of the Council, Cllr. Ruth Dombey, and the Cycling Champion, Cllr. Manuel Abellan. The inclusion of quotes from councillors was one of the recommendations we made in our response to the consultation.

It was agreed that everyone would review the documentation. An article based on Appendix D, and highlighting the comments of London Borough of Sutton Officers to some of our comments made on the draft strategy, will be published online soon. We wish the strategy easy passage at the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 26 November.

All documents referred to above will be made available on our Publications page (November 2015) in due course.

Round-up of other topics
  • Cycling tours with Cllr. Manuel Abellan: The fifth tour took place on 7 November. This time in Beddington Village (report to follow). This follows on St Helier/Rosehill on 10 August; Sutton town centre on 26 August; Cheam on 8 October and Beddington South on 10 October (a report on this also planned). One or two more tours are planned before the end of the year, with Worcester Park, North Cheam, Stonecot and possibly Carshalton as likely venues. Please let us know of issues that you would like us to mention and highlight.
  • Cycling petition: Following the debacle around Rosehill roundabout, Chris has been out and about canvassing peoples thoughts on cycling. On a recent visit to Rosehill, he gained many signatures in support of cycling facilities from people shopping  there. The petitioning will continue, and if anyone would like to help Chris please get in touch.
  • Royal Marsden Hospital / Institute of Cancer Research and Brighton Road: Support for protected space for cycling on Brighton Road, and improved access to the hospital sites, is growing. A blog post on will be published soon.
  • Bikehangars: Residents of a development in Carshalton signalled their interest in the summer of having a Bikehanger (bicycle storage facility) installed. Progress on this has been made, and the Council are keen to start introducing them elsewhere provided there is sufficient, proven, demand.
  • Fiveways, Croydon, consultation: On 11 November,  TfL published their response to the consultation responses on Fiveways. Get Sutton Cycling is mentioned, as a result of our our submission to the consultation in March. The majority of respondents prefer option 1 (i.e. construction of a bridge at Waddon on the alignment of the A232). We said this was only acceptable if cycling infrastructure that “would be the envy of the Dutch” was provided too! Croydon Cyclists received a direct reply from TfL in April, following their submission against the proposals. TfL intend to publish a preferred proposal early in 2016, and we will probably have to wait until the autumn of 2016 before seeing whether cycling infrastructure that will be the envy of the Dutch is to be included in the final proposals.
  • Cycle Forum, hosted by Sutton Council: The next quarterly cycle forum is taking place on 8 December. If there any request or questions, please let us know. From 2016 it is hoped to have at least two of these meetings a year organised along similar lines to the  Croydon Council Cycle Forum (agenda for the most recent meeting on 10 November here). Croydon’s meetings are held in the evenings, chaired by a councillor, and attended by the Head of Transport as well as cycling officers. This was a recommendation for Sutton in our response to the cycling strategy consultation.
  • Newsletter for December 2015 edition of London Cyclist: The borough news and update for submitted this morning (23 November). The newsletter leads with our response to cycling strategy consultation Time to make the case and rise to the challenges and includes the quote from Leader of the Council, Cllr. Ruth Dombey, taken from the final draft version of the cycling strategy. The other stories relate to “Space for cycling schemes, on TfL roads, to be presented to councillors“, “Staff at the Royal Marsden and Institute of Cancer Research would like to see improvements for cycling on Brighton Road” (post imminent), and “Tours of the borough with Cycling Champion continue” (see above).
  • Hackbridge formal crossings consultation: A consultation on three options for the reintroduction of formal crossing at Hackbridge got underway on 11 November and runs until 18 December. Details at Heart of Hackbridge controlled crossings consultation.  This is not a cycling scheme (Hackbridge never has been), but it will be interesting to see whether, in London’s most sustainable suburb, ‘space for crossings’ is prioritised over ‘space for parking’ (something that ‘space for cycling’ was unable to achieve).
  • Quietways: Phase 1, pilot phase, now eight routes, up from seven. The first two routes (Quiteway 1: Bloomsbury to Hackney. Quietway 2: Waterloo to Greenwich) are now expected to be launched early in 2016. Originally these had been scheduled to open May this year. The delay perhaps reflecting an underestimation in what is required to introduce these “low intervention” routes. We believe that Sutton Council is meeting with TfL to discuss the two Sutton routes in the next few weeks, but we do not expect anything to be rushed through. The feeling at the moment is that the Sutton routes are more likely to feature in phase 2.2 of the Quietways Programme than in phase 2.1 (see table below). After all, there is a lot to do first. More may been known after the Cycle Forum on 8 December. The Quietways Programme was discussed quite extensively in the notes to our March 2015 meeting: Quietways

NotesFromOurNovember2015Meeting_QuietwaysProgramme

  • Londoners on Bikes: This ‘pop-up’ campaign, which first appeared ahead of the May 2012 mayoral election and was very influential in helping to put cycling on the political agenda of all the candidates, has popped-up again. The message is very simple: what’s good for bikes is good for London. We concur! Take a look at Londoners on Bikes for more information on how to vote with your bike.
  • London Cycling Campaign membership: Attendees were reminded of the current offer from London Cycling Campaign. Join now, and receive a free pair of, highly recommended, Lezyne lights! Details here.
Looking ahead to 2016

A short discussion followed on where our focus should be during the next few months. In part, this depends on the second ‘ward asks’ report currently being prepared. Certainly more engagement with councillors would be a good thing. The current round of Local Committees (and the TfL ‘ward asks’) is providing one opportunity, visiting ward surgeries is another (details of these to be published here shortly). Regular engagement with Clr. Manuel Abellan and Cllr. Neil Garratt will continue, and we would like to thank both councillors for their time and interest.

It was felt that it would be good to continue and develop the petitioning, and to distribute publicity. We are very keen to contribute to the Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessments (as outlined in final draft cycling strategy). It was suggested that in return for our efforts in saving TfL money, we could ask for something back – like a commitment to a certain amount of extra funding on cycling in the borough. Funding, for example, towards improvement work on Park Lane (as opposed to posters or training).

We await news of LCC’s campaign ahead of the mayoral and London Assembly elections in May 2016. A mini-Holland in every borough is believed to be one campaign. Meanwhile, we will consider whether our Facebook group should be replace by a Facebook page. Maintaining a calendar of all activities and important dates was another great suggestion.

Forthcoming meetings

Thursday, 26 November 2015: Environment and Neighbourhood Committee – set to approve/adopt Cycling Strategy

Tuesday, 1 December 2015: Beddington and Wallington Local Committee ‘Proposed cycle facilities on the TfL Road Network’

Thursday, 3 December 2015: Cheam North and Worcester Park Local Committee ‘Proposed cycle facilities on the TfL Road Network’

Tuesday, 8 December 2015: Cycle Forum hosted by Sutton Council

Date of next Get Sutton Cycling meeting

Monday, 25 January 2015, Lord Nelson. Details on the Next Meet-up page.

Closing remarks

The meeting ended at 9.20pm. Some attendees adjourned to the Moon on the Hill to continue the discussions!

Thanks to everyone for coming this evening, and for all your suggestions. Look our for news on Sutton’s new Cycling Strategy later this week.

An archive of notes from all our meetings can be found from the Local Groups Meeting Minutes page at the London Cycling Campaign, or from this link.

v1: 29.11.2015

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