Our first meeting of 2016 took place on the 25th of January at the Lord Nelson Pub on Lower Road. Thanks for attending Victoria, Councillor Neil Garratt, John, Mike, Alex, Shirley, Colin, Maeve, Gary, Charles, Chris, Ben and John. Special thanks to our guest Nick from the Kingston Cycling Campaign, the group representing the London Cycling Campaign in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.
Topics discussed at the meeting included:
- The recent approval of the borough’s new Cycling Strategy
- An update on issues and actions since our previous meeting in November, including the lack of a formal response from Leader of the Council Ruth Dombey to our ‘Space for Cycling’ petition, and the outcome of our formal complaint to the Council regarding the 8 October 2015 meeting of the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee
- The prospective Mayor’s cycling policies
- A possible cycle loop around Beddington Park
- An update from Nick on the Kingston Mini-Holland project
- A request from Nick for us and other local groups to lend our support to the Kingston LCC when they need it, to help show support for the Mini-Holland, so that it can hopefully be used as an example of good cycling infrastructure to inspire other boroughs.
- Chris’ idea for a film to show to local councillors explaining the ideals of ‘Space for Cycling’
1: Cycling Strategy: The borough’s new Cycling Strategy was approved and adopted by members of the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee at their meeting on 26 November 2015. A London Borough of Sutton officer introduced the Report on the Cycling Strategy, and this report, along with a number of appendices, can be downloaded from our publications page.
The Committee were told that the strategy will be used to raise the profile of cycling in the borough, seek funding for cycling, and to make sure cycling is given higher priority in all the Council’s transport schemes and projects. It will also assist in meeting the targets to raise cycling levels to 2.2% by 2017 and 4% by 2025 which were agreed in the Sustainable Transport Strategy.
The strategy has six objectives. Firstly, to make Sutton a more attractive place for cycling, create a high-quality cycle network. Secondly, to make Sutton a safer borough for cycling. Thirdly, to encourage a shift from the car to cycling for shorter journeys. Fourth, encourage safe and considerate behaviour by all road users. Fifth, create a cycling culture by promoting cycling to a wider range of people. And sixthly, to promote cycling within the council’s sustainable transport strategy. The cycling strategy is part of a bigger package of measures to promote sustainable transport. Under each of the six objectives, the strategy sets out what the council is currently doing, and what it proposes to do over the short, medium and long time scale.
The Action Plan at the back of the strategy sets out in more detail a programme of actions to meet these objectives in various timescales. This Action Plan will be updated annually, and separately from the strategy.
The draft strategy was prepared with the assistance of consultants Steer Davies Gleave, who presented the draft version to the consultation workshop held on the 23 July. This workshop was attended by Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s Cycling Commissioner, Carolyn Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat Chair of Transport Committee of the GLA, around 50 stakeholders and several councillors. Some of the feedback from that workshop is set out in Appendix A.
The wider consultation, which ran until early September, produced a very good response. The Council received 163 online responses, and about 10 paper questionnaires were returned, as well as some detailed responses from various stakeholder groups including Get Sutton Cycling (the local campaigning group LCC), Cyclists’ Touring Club, and Transport for London. A summary of those responses is set out in appendices C and D. The vast majority of the respondents supported the aims of the strategy and the action plan. There was also quite a large number of detailed comments and suggestions, which again were largely supportive.
Some people were calling for a stronger commitment to cycling, better quality and better maintenance of existing cycling facilities, reduced traffic speeds and improved road safety, better cycle parking, and more ambitious programme in the action plan. A balance had to be made between what could be achieved with the limited funding the council has, whilst showing some ambition for improvement should further funding be made available. Hopefully, that balance has been achieved. Appendix D sets out comments with officer response, along with any proposed changes to the strategy as a result. Appendix E is a copy of the strategy, showing the report with the changes made that the Council are proposing, so that is what we are seeking you approval for this evening.
The main changes we are making are: (1) a greater emphasis on infrastructure improvements – a lot of responses said they would like to see more emphasis on improvements to infrastructure rather than things like training, which is also important but infrastructure was seen by many as the key to getting more people cycling; (2) A stronger commitment to the London Cycling Design Standards, which is a new document produced by Transport for London recently setting out detailed design guidelines and standards for cycling, which replaces their earlier version. It’s something TfL expect boroughs to follow when they are implementing schemes; (3) an amendment to time frames just to reflect the fact that we are now almost towards the end of our short term time frame, so we have let that move forward to the next year as well; (4) more detail on how the Council will develop and promote cycling schemes; (5) more information on improving driver and cyclists behaviour (for example, poor behaviour by some cyclists riding on pavement; (6) more information about maintenance of cycling routes and facilities.
Subject to the committees approval, the final strategy will be published early in the new year. A launch event to publicise it is proposed, and then an annual monitoring report will be published every year setting out progress towards meeting the strategy.
Cllr. Manuel Abellan (Liberal Democrat, Beddington South), the borough’s Cycling Champion, said he was excited about the strategy. He thought it was an ambitious one, with the right objectives, and that it gives a clear indication of the Council’s commitment to cycling and getting more people on their bikes. He was pleased that such a large number of people had responded to the consultation.
Cllr. Abellan went on to say that he had carried out an online search, first using the term “cycling in Britain”, and then “cycling in Denmark”. The former search returned images of Olympians Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, and men in lycra! The latter search returned families cycling together, elderly people on their bikes, children cycling to school, men in suits going to work. This contrast, Cllr Abellan said, highlighted what the Council were trying to achieve. The challenge was to try to make cycling a mode of transport that could be used on a daily basis, and not just a sport watched on television every four years when the Olympics took place. He highlighted that 50% of our journeys by car are under 5 km or 3 miles, and consequently there was big scope for casual cycling.
Cllr Abellan concluded by saying that the strategy was a step in the right direction, although it would not be easy. Nevertheless, the strategy set out the Council’s ambition. He thanked Council staff, in particular Alex Forrest and Lynn Robinson, who had done a lot of work, despite being stretched. The document was comprehensive, and hopefully will be a live document and not something put on the shelves. The Council were very keen to get a conversation going with residents and with stakeholders.
Cllr. Paul Wingfield (Liberal Democrat, Worcester Park) spoke next. He thanked Manuel for highlighting the issue of getting families to cycle in the UK, and the poor cycling infrastructure. Although cycling on the pavement is a problem, he went on, nervous cyclists or beginner cyclists will feel unsafe on roads. They have good reasons to feel unsafe on roads, and so it was understandable that they will inadvertently go on the pavement in some locations. Cllr. Wingfield said he could think of one location (but did not name it) where you have to go the pavement. He suggested that if cyclists who used the pavement were attacked too vociferously, people will be out off cycling altogether. Cllr. Wingfield said that this was a major issue, that had to be very carefully handled. After all, Cllr. Wingfield concluded, “at the end of the day, there aren’t many pedestrians killed by cyclists, but there are quite a few cyclists who are killed by vehicles so you do have to consider that when handling this subject”.
Cllr. Tony Shields (Conservative, Sutton South; Deputy Leader of the Opposition; Chair South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee) asked for confirmation that cycling on the pavement was illegal. This was confirmed, and Cllr. Shields then asked how much enforcement was taking place to ensure it did not happen.
Cllr. Adrian Davey (Liberal Democrat, Stonecot) said the strategy was exciting, and a journey that we should all look forward to taking. He asked whether, particularly in light of Wednesday’s Comprehensive Spending Review and resultant lack of funding, the Council were working with neighbouring boroughs to get some more efficiencies of scale. The officer replied by saying that Sutton certainly did work with their neighbours, including Merton and Kingston on the forthcoming Quietways programme, and with the South London Partnership and TfL. Sutton Council are working much more closely with Kingston now that we have there is a a joint shared transport service between the two boroughs. Kingston are receiving £30m for their mini-Holland project, so Sutton get some spin-off benefits from that.
Cllr. Patrick McManus (Conservative, Belmont) said he was very pleased that the strategy was being adopted, and he could not fault it. Cllr. MacManus reminded everyone that the mini-Holland schemes had been part of the current, Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson’s Vision for Cycling in London.
Cllr. Abellan then spoke again to conclude the debate. He said that the Comprehensive Spending Review was about delivering a 37% cut to the transport budget. Consequently, the council’s cycling vision may have already been punctured by the Chancellor, George Osbourne. Cllr. Abellan asked how that budget cut may impact on the funding the council receive from TfL. The officer replied by saying that these sorts of cuts take some time to filter down to local authorities. At the moment there had been no cuts, and the current mayor of London (without wishing to get involved in the politics of it) is providing quite a lot of funding for cycling. He has made cycling a top priority during his mayoralty with his vision for cycling and has provided large sums to boroughs. Obviously Sutton hasn’t acquired quite as much as other boroughs like Kingston but there is money that can be bid for and hopefully there will be further opportunities to bid for funds such as the mini-Holland biding round which took place a couple of years ago (which Sutton did put in a bid for but didn’t get). Sutton does receive the annual local LIP budget, with an announcement on next years budget expected in a couple of weeks. Sutton allocates a significant proportion of that to cycling, and will continue to do so. It’s a case of just trying to make the most of what funding the Council get. Cycling is relatively low cost, in terms of making provision for cycling compared to other forms of transport. Consequently, it provides good value for money, and helps tackle traffic congestion and air pollution, and ticks a lot of boxes. Spending on cycling is a good value for money way of spending transport budgets.
This concluded the debate, and the committee agreed with the recommendation to approve the final cycling strategy.
2: Updates from the November 2015 meeting:
(a) Space for Cycling petition (July 2015):
Charles Martin, Sutton borough coordinator LCC, wrote to Duncan Borrowman, PA to Council Leader Ruth Dombey, on 1 December 2015 to remind him that a response to the petition presented to Ruth in July had still not been received. Had Ruth simply overlooked this, and would Duncan mind reminding her please?
Duncan replied the same day. He said he would see what could be done, but was of the view that the Cycling Strategy (approved a few days earlier) along with progress on the ‘ward asks’ (presumably referring to Major cycling schemes for TfL roads to be presented to councillors – also see below), was the answer to the petition. He added, “but as they say, action speaks louder than words”).
Charles replied later the same day to say that he tended to agree, but was left wondering whether the petition had specifically made a difference to progress. Without a response it was hard to say. Nevertheless, outcome was what mattered, so perhaps just to move on was the right thing to do. With Cllr. Dombey fully behind it, then progress should continue.
A response to our Space for Cycling petition is no longer expected. Consequently, this topic item is now closed.
(b) Responses to Sustainable Transport Strategy consultation
These documents have still not been uploaded to our Publications page. Action: to upload to website.
Update 6 March 2016: Documents uploaded to the Publications page (November 2015). Also available from links below:
(c) Cycling schemes for TfL roads
Subsequent to our November meeting, the report ‘Proposed cycle facilities on the TfL Road Network’ has even presented to, and approved by, the Beddington and Wallington local Committee on 1 December (see Beddington and Wallington agree that cycling proposals be presented to TfL), and the Cheam North and Worcester Park Local Committee on 3 December (see destination North Cheam!). These were the final two committees to receive the report. As reported in November, three other committees had previously received the report (with Carshalton and Clockhouse being the only committee of the six across the borough not to do so), and all had agreed to the officers’ recommendations except St Helier, the Wrythe and Wandle Valley.
Despite the approval given by the final two committees, the future of the report remains uncertain due to the rejection by the northern wards. In an update for this meeting received on 19 January 2016, Lynn Robinson, Senior Engineer, Parking and Regeneration (and Chair of the Council’s Cycle Forum), told us that she would summarise the feedback / minutes from the committees and compile a report to send to TfL. However, first she needed to check if the St.Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee were going to discuss this issue at their 28 January 2016 committee (having rejected the recommendation for Rosehill roundabout at their 8 October 2015 meeting).
(d) Complaint to Sutton Council
Our formal complaint to Sutton Council on 15 November, in regard to how the report ‘Proposed cycle facilities on the TfL Road Network’ was poorly presented to, and not considered by, the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee at their meeting on 8 October 2015, along with the ambiguity of the draft minutes, (see November 2015 meeting) resulted in the following notification on 1 December 2015:
From Alexa Coates, Committee and Management Services and Support Manager
1 December 2015
Dear Mr Martin,
As discussed I have reviewed your complaint (Complaint Ref: RES16-026) relating to the reporting of agenda item 8 ‘Proposed cycle facilities on the Transport for London cycle network’, at the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee meeting held on the 8 October 2015 as a Stage 1 Complaint.
In investigating this complaint I have reviewed the report presented to the committee, the audio recording of the meeting and the draft minutes.
The purpose of the minutes is not to provide a verbatim record of a meeting but to provide a summary of proceedings and most importantly an accurate record of any decisions taken. On the first point you make about the reporting of the item and that the report was not fully presented. The use of the phrase ‘the committee considered a report’ is common in committee minutes and does not suggest that members of the committee are taken through the report in detail. Members of the committee are provided with copies of the report 10 days before the meeting. At the meeting the officer introduced the report and gave a brief outline of what the committee were asked to consider; he made it clear to the committee what recommendations they were being asked to consider. As members are provided with reports in accordance with statutory access to information requirements, it is accurate to describe this process as having ‘considered a report’, therefore this element of your complaint is not upheld.
On the second aspect of your complaint regarding the use and ambiguity of ‘due to safety concerns’ in the preamble to the resolution. I agree that this is ambiguous and the draft minute could better reflect the reason given by members, which was that the redesign of the roundabout would likely reduce the width of traffic lanes for cars. The minutes are draft and are subject to the agreement of the committee at the next meeting, I will therefore recommend to the chair that the draft minutes are amended and that under item 8 they also include a line that improvements and concerns relating to the Rosehill roundabout had already been discussed in detail under item 6. ‘Transport for London’. This aspect of your complaint is upheld.
Agreement of the draft minutes is subject to the approval of the committee. If the chair agrees, a revised set of draft minutes will be presented to the committee at their next meeting scheduled for 28 January 2016.
If you remain unhappy with the outcome of your complaint or the way it has been handled please contact (name provided), Customer Care & Improvement Manager, Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA or email email@example.com and request a review under Stage 2 of the Council’s complaints procedure. Please be specific about which of the following grounds you are requesting the review:
- The investigation was not thorough and did not fully address my complaint (provide details);
- My complaint had several aspects and one or more was not covered (provide details);
- The promised follow up actions did not take place (provide details);
- The compensation offered was not adequate (only include if applicable)
Please do this within 28 days of this response.
So, the Committee and Management Services and Support Manager, having reviewed the audio recording of the meeting, has concluded that the officer “made it clear to the committee what recommendations they were being asked to consider”. We beg to differ. If you would like to listen to the audio clip to make you own mind up, you can do so at St Helier effectively says no cycling.
The second part of the complaint, regarding the use and ambiguity of ‘due to safety concerns’ in the minutes, was upheld, and has resulted in an amendment to the minutes.
The draft minutes read: “Members were not happy with the proposal for Rosehill roundabout due to safety concerns”.
This final minutes read: “Members were not happy with the proposal for cycle lanes on Rosehill roundabout due to safety concerns because the redesign of the roundabout would likely reduce the width of traffic lanes for cars. Improvements and concerns relating to the Rosehill roundabout had also been discussed in detail under item 6 – Transport for London.”
Of course, again, this demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what was being proposed. Designs proposals for the roundabout were not being presented, so how was it possible to conclude that “the redesign of the roundabout would likely reduce the width of traffic lanes for cars”? The wording is interesting though. It tends to let the cat out of the bag by declaring that our borough, which has a Sustainable Transport Strategy with a road hierarchy that purports to put cyclists above motor vehicles, is actually prioritising prioritising motor traffic over cycling. Apart from that, the change to the minutes still does not fully reflect the farcical way in which the agenda item was managed.
If you are reading this in 2025, and wondering why Sutton’s streets remain uninviting for cycling, you will be forgiven for thinking this fiasco ten years earlier played its part. A full list of the councillors representing the borough in 2015, can be found here.
This topic is closed.
(e) Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’ review
At Sutton Council’s Cycle Forum meeting on 8 December 2015, we were presented with a report listing 61 potential cycling schemes, or locations for potential schemes, on borough and TfL roads across Sutton. Based on our Space for Cycling ‘ward asks’, this report is effectively the review that we had been told, in September 2014, “to expect within a month”. Over a year later, and better late then never. However, we were asked not to share this document publicly for the time being. What we can say is that against each of the 61 items, three indicators are given: Implement now, with options “yes”, “no”, or “TfL responsibility”; Cost, with options “low”, “medium”, “high”, “TfL”; and Increase cycling, with options “low”, “medium”, “high” or “TfL”.
The document includes the potential schemes outlined in the report ‘Proposed cycle facilties on the transport for London Highway Network” presented to the Local Committees at St Helier, the Wrythe, and Wandle Valley (8 October 2015); Sutton (3 November 2015); South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont (19 November 2015); Beddington and Wallington (1 December 2015); Cheam North and Worcester Park (3 December 2015).
It was agreed at the Cycle Forum meeting that, for the moment, the focus needed to be on the report on TfL roads (with the anticipation that the St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley Local Committee would rescind their rejection to the Rosehill roundabout recommendation).
This topic is temporarily suspended, but will be reviewed.
3: Update from Sutton Council:
This section provides further details of the update received on 19 January 2016, provided by Lynn Robinson, Senior Engineer, Parking and Regeneration (and Chair of the Council’s Cycle Forum). Location specific schemes are given first, listed alphabetically by Local Committee area.
Beddington and Wallington
Nothing to report.
Carshalton and Clockhouse
Oaks Park path: Starting on site 1 February 2016. Presumably the final phase?
Carshalton Station: progress not know. This is the issue regarding two-way cycling on the access road to Carshalton Station being undermined by large painted one-way signs on the newly resurfaced carriageway along with poor signage to indicate to all users that cycling is permitted in both directions.
Cheam North and Worcester Park
North Cheam to Worcester Park phase 2: Work to start on site 22 February 2016. See Worcester Park footpath: improvements and designation as a cycle route for more on this.
St Helier, The Wrythe and Wandle Valley
Peterborough Road: No action. (!) The issue for Peterborough Road, relates to people parking vehicles in such a way that restricts access to a cycle path. It was highlighted, not for the first time, in July 2014. We were told in October 2014 that this was being looked at. In September 2015, we were told that “Keep Clear” would be painted on the carriageway. This lack of progress, on something relatively simple, instills little confidence that the borough’s newly approved Cycling Strategy is anything other than words.
Manor Lane contraflow: A formal consultation to be undertaken from next week. Subject to no objections it will be implemented by end of March 2016. See our response to the consultation in Manor Lane cycling contraflow, subsequently submitted on 11 February.
Brighton Road: See Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont below.
Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont
Cheam Park path: Started on site 11 January for 3 weeks. See Another path in another park for more on this.
Brighton Road: There are discussions in Development Control / Planning at the moment regarding the possible developments on and around the hospital sites. Our views of good cycle facilities on Brighton Road, and linking to the site, will be made known. For more see The idea of Space for Cycling on Brighton Road gathers support.
Bikehangars: Three bikehangars have been installed, with a fourth at Dover Gardens at the consultation stage
Cycle parking: No action at present, but looking for suitable locations. Disappointed about this. At the Council’s Cycle Forum meeting on 8 December 2015 we specifically requested that suitable locations for cycle parking included all the venues used by Local Committees for their meetings. For example, Wallington County Grammar School, Croydon Road, Wallington, SM6 7PH (used by the Beddington and Wallington Local Committee) and Overton Grange School, Stanley Rd, Sutton, SM2 6TQ (Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee). Although cycle parking is available for the pupils and staff at these schools, facilities are not available for visitors out of hours. Another example, this time a venue used by the Cheam North and Worcester Park Local Committee, was St Bede’s Conference Centre, St Anthony’s Hospital, London Road, North Cheam, SM3 9DX. Ample car parking, no cycle parking.
Borough road ward asks: Please look through a list of highway schemes for next year (provided) to see which overlap because those are the locations that currently have funding for 2016/17. More on this likely in a future post.
LIP allocation 2016/17: A report is going to E&N on the 4 February. More on this in a future post, Sutton Cycle Funding 2016-2017.
Sutton Cycling Strategy: It was hoped to have this available on-line soon. Subsequently published on 26 February, see Strategy published, promotion awaited.
Quietways: Officers had had a meeting with TfL about future cycling routes. The Rosehill to Sutton route is in phase 2.1, and therefore anticipated to be progressed from April 2016. Kingston to Croydon via Sutton is in phase 2.3 and therefore not likely to be progressed until later in the year. Our expectation is for these to be done properly, or not at all.
4: Kingston mini-Holland:
We were delighted to be joined Nicholas Davies, Mini-Holland Officer for the Kingston Cy Martin, cling Campaign. Nick told us that progress on the Kingston Mini Holland schemes, which had been called GO Cycle, but were now rebranded as “GO Developments Programme“, had been slower than originally anticipated. One bright spot was that a fully segregated bi directional cycle track on Portsmouth Road was now on target to be completed by late summer this year (2016). Work was also continuing on the design of the other routes.
Nick explained that, despite the slow start, it was now apparent that RBK Mini-Holland Officers were trying their best and working hard on designing almost all the remaining Mini-Holland schemes. Everything was subject to Council approval and to consultation, and some schemes still need improving. The Council recognised almost all schemes had to be started by the end of the next financial year (March 2017). Partially because of these circumstances, and partially learning from Waltham Forest’s experience as to the best way forward (ie dealing with the likely opposition), the Council were aiming to consult on almost all schemes between May and August this year. Nick suggested that this was going to be a serious challenge for the Kingston Cycling Campaign, and that any help they can get from us, and others, would be vital.
It was certainly an exciting time to be a cyclist in London (and an exciting time for future cyclists too). Given the extent of the Kingston routes, there was the real prospect to make the Borough one of the most cycle friendly in outer London. More importantly, if the Mini Holland projects in Kingston, Waltham Forest (where real progress has already been made) and Enfield are a success, then the call for a “Mini Holland in every Borough” could become a reality.
Nick advised that information on the Kingston mini-Holland schemes, complete with regular updates, were available on the Kingston Cycling Campaign’s website.
We thanked Nick for attending, and asked him to keep in touch. We said we would be delighted to assist in any way that we could, especially in the crucial consultation period between May and August.
Update 17 February: Today, in Local community’s chance to have their say on improving Kingston’s ring road, the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames announced that a consultation on the ‘Wheatfield Way area’ (part of Kingston’s ring-road) would open on 19 February. A link to the consultation, which runs until 18 March 2016, is available here. Please take a look and make your views known.
5: March newsletter: Topics for inclusion in the March 2016 edition of the Borough news and update for London Cyclist were discussed. This would include the Cycling Strategy (approval and hopefully publication), and the forthcoming Sign for Cycling campaign in the run up to the mayoral election in May. Other topics could include cycle funding 2016-2017; formal complaint on reporting St Helier’s decision on Rosehill roundabout; North Sutton site development potential for cycling infractucture.
6: Cycling Infrastructure Skills: Applying levels of Cycling Service In Practice: Lynn Robinson, Senior Engineer, Sutton Council, and Charles Martin, Sutton borough coordinator for London Cycling Campaign, attended a one-day course and workshop on the Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) assessment on 9 December 2015 at Urban Design London.
The CLoS assessment has been developed (and is continuing to be developed) in order to set a common standard for the performance of cycling infrastructure for routes and schemes, and for individual junctions. The purpose of the CLoS assessment is to frame discussion about design options so that schemes are appealing for existing cyclists and can entice new cyclists onto the network. It should be used on any scheme that has an impact on the street environment.
Get Sutton Cycling looks forward to using CLoS in practice, with Sutton Council officers, on forthcoming street audits and cycling schemes.