This is the first of a new series of posts from Get Sutton Cycling about the Sutton Cycle Forum –a meeting that takes place once every three months between cyclists in Sutton and officers of the London Borough of Sutton.
At the meeting on March 15 2016, there were several members of Get Sutton Cycling for the LCC, two representatives of CTC, one member from Croydon Cycling Campaign and two Sutton Council officers, along with the welcome presence of Councillor Manuel Abellan who is Sutton’s special representative for cycling. Two Kingston Council officers also attended – reflecting the gradual establishment of the joint service between Sutton and Kingston which will be managing issues of concern to cyclists in the borough.
This meeting, as is normally the case, was informal (although there was an agenda and minutes were taken) and that very informality made it easier for everyone to express their viewpoints – something we all value.
If there is ever to be real progress in Sutton with regard to cycling infrastructure, it has to come through the Council. So it was positive to see Councillor Abellan at this meeting; it was positive to hear from committed council officers; it was positive to see campaigners give up a morning to share thoughts and offer to help the Council with completing audits and surveys. Sutton Council has recently published its Cycling Strategy ( https://www.sutton.gov.uk/downloads/file/2591/sutton_council_cycling_strategy_2016 ) and that ought to be another positive.
We heard that Dr Bike sessions will continue in 2016, along with bicycle maintenance sessions in some workplaces; lorry drivers working for the Council will be better trained and their vehicles better equipped with regard to awareness of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
However…. perhaps inevitably a certain amount of time was spent on negatives. The implications of the reorganisation of the Council department that provides services for cyclists and the lack of human and financial resources cannot be overlooked. Reviewing schemes currently in the pipeline was at best a story of slow progress, if any (see below). And the mayoral elections mean that the future of London-wide funding is somewhat uncertain at the moment.
Going back to the positives, Sutton Council officers and Get Sutton Cycling are preparing lists of schemes which could be progressed if funds become available. The Council is doing traffic counts again to collect data on road use. There is going to be a first meeting soon between the Council and TfL on the long-promised Quietways- at least the route from Sutton to Morden.
So, Sutton’s Cycling Strategy is up there on their website, but so far it seems that nothing has been done to publicise it, even though, on the download page for the Strategy, it says: We are a green borough and are determined to promote pedal power in Sutton. Needless to say, plenty of ideas in that area were aired at the meeting. Several attendees called for the Council to show more leadership in order to turn the strategy document into action – which is where you come in.
It became clear that nothing will be done about the Cycling Strategy unless we all demand it – please contact your local councillors and ask what they are doing to support the Strategy in practical terms.
Ask to meet them and discuss what could be done in your ward… because they will be asking you for your vote again in a few years’ time. Discuss with them the positives of closing a side-road to through traffic or of removing the odd parking space to help cyclists and pedestrians go about their daily business. Talk to them about how they could make your cycle ride easier- or what they could do to encourage more people to cycle in your ward.
Remind them of the health benefits to individuals not only of getting exercise but also of improving air quality with every car journey that is saved. Go to the local committee meetings and speak up for cycling (https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200474/democracy_and_voting/1172/local_committees/2 ). If councillors know the voters want something done about cycling, the Strategy may come off the printed page and become reality.
Your councillor is listed here: https://moderngov.sutton.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1
Updates given at the March 2016 Cycle Forum relating to some specific ongoing cycling schemes in the borough, along with higher profile issues, can be found from the links below:
Report for TfL: Proposed Cycle Facilities on the Transport for London Road Network. See reference to this in Notes from our April 2016 meeting
Cycling Strategy. Published in February, three months after approval last year. No news on any impact this strategy is having. Get Sutton Cycling disappointed that the strategy appears not to have been promoted, and so we have requested a meeting with Cllr. Jill Whitehead to discuss moving forward with the strategy. More on this in Notes from our April 2016 meeting.