Sutton’s new Cycling Strategy was approved by members of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee on the 26 November 2015.
For the first time, the borough has a Cycling Strategy that has full endorsement of the Council’s leadership. For the first time, the borough has a Cycling Strategy that is intended to instigate a ‘step-change’ in provision for cycling.
This is a Cycling Strategy which declares that “All new schemes or improvement works should be designed and delivered in accordance with TfL’s latest London Cycling Design Standards”. This is a Cycling Strategy where “Good quality cycling infrastructure is recognised as an important factor in achieving wider participation in cycling”.
This is a Cycling Strategy that declares the Council will:
- “work closely with residents and stakeholders through local committees and the Environment and Neighbourhood committee to gain support for cycling schemes and promote the wider benefits of cycling”
- “work closely with TfL, neighbouring boroughs and other key stakeholders to ensure a joined up approach and maximise funding opportunities and synergies”
- “aim to ensure that the Strategy achieves a step-change in cycling infrastructure and participation in the borough in order to deliver the Council’s Cycling Vision and leave a long-term legacy for future generations”
The final strategy is expected to be published early in 2016.
“The Council fully supports the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, and we are keen to help deliver our own part of the cycling revolution in outer London, in order to make cycling an attractive mode of transport for the many, not just the few“.
Extract from the final draft strategy (November 2015). The phrase “…in order to make cycling an attractive mode of transport for the many, not just the few” was not included in the draft strategy.
At the meeting on 26 November, Committee members considered the Report on the Cycling Delivery Strategy. The Report provided the background to the Strategy, and detailed some of the issues highlighted as a result of the consultation on the Draft Strategy. It recommended that the Committee “agree the final Cycling Strategy…, 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”. The Committee did agree to these recommendations.
Read more about the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 26 November 2015, including the comments made by councillors in relating to the Cycling Strategy, in the Notes from our January 2016 meeting.
In addition to the Report, six appendices, were provided at the meeting. These related to comments made at the cycling workshop held in July (Appendix A), the consultation questionnaire (Appendix B), a summary of the questionnaire comments (Appendix C), a schedule of the comments made to the consultation (Appendix D), a marked-up copy of the final draft Strategy (Appendix E), and an impact assessment (Appendix F). The Report and the six background documents were originally made available on the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee 26 November 2015 meeting page, and are now available on our Publications page too (November 2015).
Cycling Strategy Consultation Comments
The responses given by London Borough of Sutton Officers to many of the comments made by respondents to the consultation, are set out in ‘Appendix D – Cycling Strategy Consultation Comments’. An outline of the proposed changes that could be included in the final Strategy are included.
Here we summarise, from Appendix D, a selection of the fifty-seven references that are made to many of the comments that Get Sutton Cycling made in our response to the consultation in September 2015 (see Time to make the case and rise to the challenges).
2. A step-change in the approach the council takes to cycling is required. The Strategy is a step in the right direction, but there needs to be more recognition that cycling is for the many and not just for the few.
LBS officer comment: The Strategy seeks to establish the foundations for a step-change, and also to recognise that cycling is for the many. We will consider whether this can be made clearer.
Proposed change: Add a new sentence to para. 1.4 about making cycling attractive to the many and not just the few.
3. Political support is paramount. We consider there to be lack of detail in the strategy on how the case will be made in garnering public support for the broader vision.
LBS officer comment: The Foreword from Cllr. Whitehead hopefully demonstrates the political support. Further quotes will be added from Cllr. Dombey and an opposition Councillor.
Proposed change: Quotes from Councillors to be added.
8. There is considerable disappointment to read that the “overarching principle for the Quietways infrastructure is ‘lines and signs’ rather than major new infrastructure”. This is not how the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling describes Quietways. New infrastructure will be required.
LBS officer comment: Agreed, although the Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner has referred to Quietways being largely ‘lines and signs’ we will amend this reference to recognise the need for some infrastructure improvements as well.
Proposed change: Amend para. 3.4 on Quietways to reflect need for some infrastructure improvements. Page 12; Para. 3.4 (new para. 3.10)
9. There is some concern over the caveat “as far as possible” in regards to how all new schemes or improvement works should be designed in accordance with the latest London Cycling Design Standards. To ensure that ‘as far as possible’ is not interpreted as meaning ‘too difficult’ the Strategy needs to qualify and expand on this, and cite likely examples of the circumstances under which exemption would be justified.
LBS officer comment: For the avoidance of doubt it may be preferable to remove the caveat ‘as far as possible’. TfL require all cycling schemes that they are funding to be in compliance with the LCDS and the Council should aspire to these standards in any other schemes it funds. The word ‘should’ provides sufficient get out if there are situations where it is not possible.
Proposed change: Remove the words ‘as far as possible’ in para 3.9. Page 15; Para. 3.9 (new para. 3.6)
10. “A full audit of our current cycle network to investigate how specific infrastructure for cycling and the network as a whole performs against the LCDS” is welcome, but we would like to see this process start in the short term rather than in the medium term as specified. We understand that prior to Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessment being made, there is a requirement to review the existing conditions, develop analysis on route density (ideally no more than 400 metre separation), make a classification of streets against bikeability levels, and carry out area porosity analysis to identify gateways for routes. These are important and essential procedures and relatively simple actions to organise and implement.
LBS officer comment: The short term is defined in the Strategy as 2015/16. Given that the final Strategy will not be published until early 2016 it is recommended changing the definitions of the timeframes so that short term includes 2016/17. This means this action will start in the short term. However it is quite a labour and time intensive exercise so it could take some time and as it is not funded directly by TfL it will not be a priority, unless funding can be found to employ consultants to carry out this work.
Proposed change: Amend timeframes to include the year 2016/17 in the short term. Page 15; Para. 3.9 (new para. 3.7)
11. Identifying “quick-win, short–term actions” is understandable. However, suggesting that “surface improvements, maintenance and signage” is amongst them does not seem appropriate for the Strategy. If Sutton was the pro-cycling borough it claims to be, such actions would be ongoing and street surfaces and signage would not be in need of repair.
LBS officer comment: Agreed. We will consider how to change this wording to include other ‘quick-wins’ that show more ambition. Surface improvements and maintenance are important but ought to be a given, and should be referred to elsewhere in the Strategy.
Proposed change: Remove reference to surface improvements and maintenance here and add alternative suggestions for short term quickens. Page 15, para. 3.9, (new para. 3.8). [Actually, see page 16: para. 3.15 and para 3.16]
12. The development of “implementation-ready … high-impact schemes” that can be taken forward “within the shortest possible timeframe” on occasions “when funding opportunities arise”, sounds, in theory, to be an extremely useful proposal. In practice, though, the process of delivering high-impact schemes is likely to meet with demanding and challenging resistance from some quarters. The Strategy needs to set out how such issues will be addressed, to ensure the case has been made, well ahead of receiving any financial commitment.
LBS officer comment: It is accepted that the case will need to be made for any cycling scheme and approval sought through the appropriate mechanism. We could add a paragraph under Objective 6 setting out how the Council will seek to gain public and political support for cycling schemes and overcome resistance from some quarters. We will start to develop a two-year rolling programme of schemes so that we can spend a year getting schemes designed and approved prior to implementation.
Proposed change: Add a new para. under Objective 6 about how the Council will build support and gain approval for cycling schemes. Page 18; Para. 3.10 (new para. 3.13) [Note: the quoted paragraphs do not relate to this, but para 3.45 does (fifth bullet point on page 27). Also see officer comment in comment reference 44. ]
13. The claim that interventions to “deliver packages of measures to reduce traffic volumes and speeds through residential areas to create environments suitable for cycling” is included under what we do, is interesting. The addition of the phrase “over the years” only seems to further emphasise the low priority that has been given to cycling. A stronger statement than “there are further opportunities that we wish to explore” is required to give more confidence that there is true commitment to actually do so.
LBS officer comment: The phraseology throughout the Strategy is that of the consultant and in some cases it is too vague or noncommittal. We could strengthen this statement to provide more certainty and commitment.
Proposed change: Strengthen the wording in para. 3.15. Page 18; Para. 3.11 and 3.15 (new para. 3.17)
14. The Strategy needs to state precisely how the incorporation of measures to benefit “all users” in the corridor safety schemes will result in a landscape that will feel safe enough to entice more people to cycle. All of these projects must be taken as opportunities to attempt to reduce motor traffic volume and levels, and ideally incorporate cycling infrastructure.
LBS officer comment: Agreed. A number of examples will be provided of how such corridor and neighbourhood schemes will improve conditions for cycling. Further detail could be provided in a supporting document on designing for cycling.
Proposed change: Add more detail on how corridor and neighbourhood schemes will incorporate measures to improve conditions for cycling. Page 18; Para. 3.13 (new para. 3.21)
15. There is concern that the Council’s current policy, piecemeal approach, and method of implementation to 20mph is inconsistent and ineffective, with the result that many existing 20mph zones do little for cycling.
LBS officer comment: Noted. Policy on 20mph speed limits is outside the scope of the Cycling Strategy. It was covered briefly in the Sustainable Transport Strategy and a more detailed policy is currently being developed.
Proposed change: No change. Page 18; 3.15 (new para. 3.22)
19. We would like the Strategy to include details of funding that has been secured for each of the junior school expansions, and what this had actually delivered. Future projects need to focus on securing funding that provides improvements beyond “the immediate environment around the school”.
LBS officer comment: Providing such information is too detailed for this strategy but could be provided as an Appendix or supporting document.
Proposed change: Consider including information on school transport improvements as an Appendix or supporting document. Page 19; Para. 3.18 (new para. 3.27)
21. While we welcome the commitment to training, we question the degree to which it is the key to “encouraging and instilling positive and safe interactions between cyclists and other road users”, especially compared to the contribution of good infrastructure.
LBS officer comment: Noted. We could consider rewording that sentence to reflect the importance of good design and infrastructure.
Proposed change: Change the emphasis of the first sentence of para. 3.26 by replacing the word ‘key’ with ‘important’. Page 21; Para. 3.26 (new para. 3.34)
25. One indicator of how seriously the Council takes cycling, is the degree to which existing infrastructure is maintained. Currently, whether it is the routine sweeping of paths, periodic checks on signage, or major repairs to path surfaces, this is to all intents and purposes completely lacking.
LBS officer comment: Noted. This is something that should be done routinely. We could include a paragraph on maintenance in the Strategy, stating the importance of this and the need for a more thorough maintenance regime for cycle routes.
Proposed change: Add a paragraph on maintenance in an appropriate place in the Strategy.
26. Sutton needs a comprehensive, high quality, and properly joined up cycle network, where people do not have to cycle more than 400m to find a parallel route of similar quality. This will mean using filtered permeability to close rat runs and building segregated cycle paths on busier roads.
LBS officer comment: Reference could be made to the need to create a comprehensive cycle network with the aim that the majority of residents are no more than 400m from a cycle route (as with bus routes).
Proposed change: Add a reference to the need to create a comprehensive cycle route network in para. 3.7. [Note, this actually appears in para. 3.4]
27. The successful delivery of Sutton’s first two Quietways is highly important, and there is a need to set a high standard from the outset. There is an expectation that route alignment will be direct, with the difference between route length and the straightline distance kept to a minimum. Delivery must be in accordance with the London Cycling Design Standards, and there is an expectation that all sections of each route will achieve a score of at least 60% on the Cycling Level of Service assessment. The longer term aim for compliance of 70% or above.
LBS officer comment: Noted. Reference could be made to the principle of ‘Cycling Level of Service’ (CLOS) and the need for Quietways to be high quality and in accordance with the LCDS.
Proposed change: Make reference to CLoS and LCDS in the section on Quietways (paras. 3.4-3.10).
32. To achieve any meaningful shift from the car to bicycle, cycling must be made at least as easy as driving. Cycling is a true door-to-door form of transport, but when residents have nowhere to conveniently keep their vehicle at home a lot of the convenience disappears. One option could be on-street Bikehangars.
LBS officer comment: Agreed. Make reference to the need for convenient cycle parking at home and the Council’s programme to install residential cycle parking in public housing estates, and the potential for Bike-hangars on street.
Proposed change: Add a reference to this in para. 3.20/3.21.
36. The role that walking and cycling can play in ensuring that people put active travel into their day-to-day routines, and so reduce the risk of an number of illnesses, is being seen as increasingly important factor.
LBS officer comment: Agreed. The Strategy does not refer to the health benefits of cycling, yet this is an important benefit that should be promoted.
Proposed change: Make reference to the health benefits of cycling, particularly for older people, under Objective 5.
38. 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
LBS officer comment: Noted
Proposed change: No change.
39. 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 the period during which high-quality infrastructure can be expected to be more widespread across the borough (2020-2025).
LBS officer comment: Noted. These targets have now been agreed in the new Sustainable Transport Strategy so cannot be changed. However, they could be revised when both the STS and the Cycling Delivery Strategy are reviewed and progress towards them monitored.
Proposed change: No change.
40. We would like the Strategy to provide details of how cycle use is monitored (whether by automatic traffic counters, manual counts, cordon and screenline counts, national data, surveys, etc.), and for regular updates on findings to be provided.
LBS officer comment: Noted. A paragraph on how cycle use is monitored could be included after para. 4.5 under Monitoring and Review.
Proposed change: Add a new para. on how cycle use is monitored after para. 4.5.
41. The street environment in the borough is generally not conducive to attracting new people to cycling. Rather than claiming a lot has been achieved in the past, we recommend that the Strategy’s focus be directed more on how a new approach will bring changes.
LBS officer comment: The focus of the Strategy is intended to be forward looking and setting out a new approach. The Strategy could be reviewed to ensure this is clearer.
Proposed change: Review wording / approach of Strategy to ensure it is forward looking and clearly sets out a new approach.
42. The Strategy needs to give more recognition to the many challenges that are faced in the delivery of stress-free cycling, give the current propensity for even short journeys to be made by car. We would recommend closer liaison with Transport for London, closer co-operation with other agencies delivering 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.
LBS officer comment: Noted. We could add something about the challenges of delivery and the need for close co-operation with TfL and other boroughs under Objective 6.
Proposed change: Add additional paras. under Objective 6 about the challenges involved in the delivery process and how these will be addressed, and the need for close co-operation with TfL and other boroughs.
43. We recommend that an additional benefit resulting from the delivery of a step change in cycling. ‘Better places for everyone’, is added to the list detailed in the introduction, and that this be more strongly promoted throughout the document:
- A fitter, healthier and happier population;
- Improved air quality and reduced CO2 emissions;
- Reduced congestion and enhanced transport efficiency;
- Improved and enhanced mobility for those without access to cars, and better social inclusion;
- Encouraging greater use of local shops and facilities to support the local economy; and
- Better places for everyone (as detailed as one of four important outcomes highlighted for the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling)
LBS officer comment: Agreed. Include this additional bullet point.
Proposed change: Add this additional bullet point to the list in para. 1.6.
44. We would like the Strategy to provide clear detail of how it will be used at Local Area Committee meetings, particularly in respect of transport and planning related decisions, and contentious issues including parking.
LBS officer comment: It is not considered appropriate to set this out in the Strategy but it will hopefully be used to influence decision making at a Local Committee and Boroughwide Committee level to ensure a higher priority for cycling. [See also comment to reference 12]
Proposed change: No change
45. We would like a commitment to the production of quarterly updates to compliment the ‘live’ nature of the Strategy.
LBS officer comment: It is considered that quarterly updates would be too onerous on scarce staff resources but an annual update report will be produced.
Proposed change: No change
46. 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.
LBS officer comment: Noted. It has been agreed that such quotes will be included in the final Strategy.
Proposed change: Include quotes from Cllr. Dombey and Cllr. Garrett (opposition) in the final strategy.
47. We would like to see the Strategy clearly state that all councillors will work together with the residents in their wards on a united front.
LBS officer comment: A new para. to this effect could be included under Objective 6 ‘what we will do’.
Proposed change: Consider including a new para. on the role of Councillors in assisting to promote the Strategy under Objective 6.
48. At the moment in Sutton we seem to be planning facilities with the expectation that the current low levels of cycling will continue. In the future, cycling needs to be treated as a grownup form of transport and worthy of delivering the best schemes.
LBS officer comment: Noted. The Strategy is intended to instigate a ‘stepchange’ in provision and design standards, influenced by the London Cycling Design Standards.
Proposed change: No change
49. 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.
LBS officer comment: Once it has been approved the final Strategy will be fully promoted both within and outside the Council.
Proposed change: No change
50. A step-change in the approach taken by the Council to deliver on cycling is a key requirement. The Strategy needs to indicate that bold decisions will be made, set out how improvements for cycling can benefit society as a whole, and give some indication of what its legacy will be in twenty years time.
LBS officer comment: A new para. on ‘Implementation’ could be added either under Objective 6 what we will do, or in Section 4, Making it Happen, covering these issues.
Proposed change: Consider adding a new para. on ‘Implementation’.
51. There needs to be recognition in the Strategy that a major barrier to wider participation in cycling is lack of infrastructure.
LBS officer comment: A reference to the importance of good quality cycling infrastructure to wider cycling participation could be added to para. 3.7.
Proposed change: Add such a reference to para. 3.7.
52. A full audit of the current network needs to be identified in the Strategy as a short term, as well as medium term objective.
LBS officer comment: This audit will be carried out as soon as is practicable and resources allow. It is intended to amend the definition of short term to include the financial year 2016/17, when it is hoped to commence this audit.
Proposed change: No change
53. The Strategy needs to provide a guarantee to undertake regular checks of existing cycling infrastructure, including the sweeping of paths, repairs to signage, and an undertaking to maintain and repair path surfaces and to report that this had been carried out.
LBS officer comment: A new bullet point could be added under Objective 6 setting out an action on inspections and maintenance of cycle paths and signage, which is an important demonstration of the Council’s commitment to cycling.
Proposed change: Add a new bullet under Objective 6 on inspection and maintenance of existing cycle infrastructure.
54. We would recommend a commitment in the Strategy for the Council to allocate a proportion of the LIP funding allocation for the coming year towards staff training on the London Cycling Design Standards, Network Analysis, and Cycling Level of Service assessments, as a priority over the production of many of the currently proposed cycle schemes that will have impact on cycling levels.
LBS officer comment: LIP funding should not really be used for training, but other budgets may be available, and some training courses are free, such as the Urban Design London ones, to which the Council subscribes. Staff involved in designing and implementing traffic and cycling schemes will be encouraged to attend such training courses and be aware of current guidance and thinking. This is covered in para. 3.7.
Proposed change: No change
55. If the Council genuinely wants to encourage cycling and walking, this of necessity implies some discouragement of driving.
LBS officer comment: Noted. The Council’s new Sustainable Transport Strategy sets out the broader approach to promoting sustainable transport, which includes seeking to achieve a modal shift from the car to walking and cycling. This includes a ‘Road User Hierarchy’ setting out the relative priority of the modes. The Cycling Strategy supports this approach.
Proposed change: No change
56. The ongoing major schools expansion project continues to provide a source of funding for local transport improvements, and these have generally focused on the immediate environment around the school. It would be useful to include one or more case studies in the final Strategy, highlighting what has been achieved.
LBS officer comment: Generally school expansion projects, which are largely Council-led, do not provide substantial funds for transport improvements. Any improvements are usually confined to the site and immediate vicinity. For new schools the Council can apply for additional funding from the Government’s Education Funding Authority for transport improvements.
Proposed change: No change
57. Where funding is available for the expansion of a school that is located on a residential street e.g. Dorchester Primary, we would like to see a commitment in the Strategy for an approach towards making all areas outside the school low traffic-volume ‘cycle streets’. For major school developments, situated on busy roads, like that currently proposed for Hackbridge Primary School, London Road (A237), the Strategy could reflect the opportunities that such projects provide for sustainable transport enhancements over a wider area.
LBS officer comment: A new sentence could be added in para. 3.18 under Objective 3 stating that the Council will seek to improve the cycling environment around schools as part of school expansions and new schools.
Proposed change: Include new sentence to this effect in para. 3.18.
Update (25 November 2016):
The Cycling Strategy was subsequently published on the council’s website towards the end of February 2016, a full three months after being approved and adopted at the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting on 26 November 2015. For more on this, see Strategy published, promotion awaited (February 2016). The strategy is available on our Publications page (November 2015).
v1: 30.11.2015; v2: 25.11.2016