The first Felnex crossing
In Felnex redevelopment – an acid test for cycling (June 2016), we made known our extreme disappointment at the lack-lustre plans for cycling that were being put forward as part of a major residential and commercial building project in Hackbridge. Outdated proposals included sections of shared footway, interspersed with numerous “Cyclists Dismount” signs, a shared Toucan crossing along with associated ninety-degree turns, and inadequate junctions. Outdated proposals that, if implemented, would simply perpetuate the marginalisation of cycling, and give a very negative indication of the commitment given by the council to cycling.
Today we learn, with considerable annoyance, that at least part of these mediocre plans have been taken forward. A controlled crossing on Hackbridge Road [Open Street Map | Google Streetview] has been converted to a shared Toucan Crossing, and short sections of the adjacent footway have been converted to shared use (see Photo 1), in an attempt to facilitate a right turn. Essentially, this is about as bad as it gets. This is neither, to quote the borough’s one year-old cycling strategy, “a step-change in cycling infrastructure”, nor will it “leave a long term legacy for future generations”.
More cycle parking for Hackbridge
Meanwhile, 300 metres away, on London Road [Open Street Map | Google Streetview], eight new Sheffield cycle parking stands have recently been installed, taking the total number here to nineteen. Consequently, there is now the capacity to park thirty-eight bicycles at Hackbridge Corner, making this neighbourhood centre probably the most well served area for cycle parking in the borough.
It is believed that the additional cycle parking stands were installed around the time a Zebra Crossing was reinstated on London Road (see the Outer London Fund Heart of Hackbridge Fund Update – August 2016 (LBSutton, August 2016)). Parking is not permitted in the immediate vicinity of Zebra Crossings, so the installation of the crossing probably required the removal of parking bays to either side. This, in turn, would have provided the opportunity to reuse the space for additional cycle stands (and the presence of the cycle stands would help to discourage illegal parking too).
Without wishing to be critical of the provision of the additional (arguably, over-supplied) cycle parking, these stands are unlikely to become heavily used whilst access to them remains anything but safe and inviting. Interestingly, with so many stands located on the west side of London Road, adjacent to the shops, there is the impression that the space to provide a dedicated cycle path, separate from general traffic, could be made available here after all (as hoped for in Heart of Hackbridge and space for cycling (May 2015)).
It will be interesting to see what residents, shoppers and shop-keepers make of this cycle parking provision. Will the displacement of three or four car-parking slots have an impact on footfall in the coming months for instance? Hopefully not. Then again, spending in the shops could actually go up if infrastructure that made cycling to the shops much more attractive and appealing option was provided.
There is no denying that the provision of dedicated space for cycling would require funding that was many orders of magnitude greater than that needed for cycle parking stands or a Toucan crossing. The question which need to be answered though is if funding for cycling was not the issue (perhaps as a result of a commitment by the new mayor Sadiq Khan) would our local authority have the ability to deliver? It is tempting to conclude from what is happening in Hackbridge right now, that the answer is probably no. Evidence to indicate that this assertion is wrong, is needed sooner rather than later.
For now, it’s happy parking if not happy cycling!