We were pleased to be a cosignatory to Extinction Rebellion Sutton’s Open Letter of 30 May 2020 calling on Sutton Council and Transport for London to take urgent action to make streets safe for walking and cycling.
An open letter to Sutton Council and Transport for London (30 May 2020)
We love our borough, but would like it to be cleaner, greener and provide greater opportunities for safe, active travel
Faced with the crisis of COVID-19, we call on the London Borough of Sutton council and Transport for London to prioritise health and well-being and take urgent action to make all streets safe for walking and cycling. We acknowledge and agree with TfL’s stated ‘Streetspace’ ambitions as set out in the linked document: https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/streetspace-for-london
During lockdown we have experienced cleaner air, heard more birds singing and have seen an increased number of people walking and cycling. Whilst residents will be keen to emerge from this lockdown state, we have an opportunity to make improvements to our local area that will be of benefit to all residents and visitors, to ensure we do not experience a second wave of Covid-19 cases and to try and retain health benefits into the future.
We are facing a public health emergency and a climate and ecological emergency.
The time for action is NOW!
Councils have been given additional emergency powers to make immediate changes as we are responding to an emergency situation.
Funding of £45million has been made available across 32 London boroughs with each initially being allocated £100,000.
Sutton’s initial announcement on Friday 22 May is a disappointing start in contrast to the ‘ambitious’ headline the council have provided. There is no timeline for implementation and provides minor measures to few locations across the borough with nothing included yet to encourage cycling. We expect more.
What do we need in Sutton?
The current infrastructure to support safe cycling in Sutton is virtually non-existent and requires huge improvement. Existing cycling routes are not well marked or sign-posted.
Extensive planning has already taken place to improve cycling safety and network connectivity in the borough and we request these plans are finally implemented having not been acted upon for many years.
We request Sutton Council
publicise the full draft plan for Emergency Measures to be implemented for Sutton’s streets with timescales for implementation. (As a draft plan – this can be published with the caveat that changes and additions may be made)
Considerations during review of the draft plan for Emergency Measures should include:
• Sutton’s declaration of a climate and ecological emergency as well as the immediate emergency related to Covid-19.
• The full range of pedestrians and cyclists to be inclusive of all genders, ages, backgrounds, abilities and the need to carry children and goods.
• a holistic view of ALL Sutton’s network of streets and green spaces as well as connections with outer boroughs for
– travel to work, shops, parks, schools
– residential streets for people to play, socialise and exercise safely within government guidelines.
• publicise the Get Sutton Cycling map and form for people to send their suggestions of roads that require improvements on the Sutton council website and to review plans in light of people’s suggestions or make use of the free licences available from Commonplace as many other local authorities have already got in place. https://www.commonplace.is/blog/why-we-are-giving-free-access-to-local-authorities-amid-covid-19
• Launch a communication campaign to encourage people to leave their car at home and walk and cycle instead, and to communicate to them a series of incentives, including free cycle training opportunities, bike and cycling equipment purchase and repair vouchers and Car Free Days.
• With less traffic on our roads there has been an increase in high-level speeding. 20mph speed limits should be introduced to more areas to try and improve safety for the increased number of pedestrians and cyclists.
• As traffic increases, parking charges should be resumed to discourage polluting vehicles.
• Set up bicycle workshops around the borough for refurbishment of 2nd hand bikes and opportunities to purchase refurbished bikes, sessions to teach bicycle repair and maintenance. (E.g. at Kimpton Park Re-use and recycling centre) – a separate funding pot has been set aside for this out of the main pot.
• Increase the number of bike hangars available for people to store bikes in Sutton, particularly in areas of high density living.
• Resume ‘Lime bikes’ cycle hire scheme or similar with reduced costs to encourage cycling.
Local Community Support
People in Sutton want cleaner air, quieter streets and a safer infrastructure to walk and cycle, particularly on main roads and high streets, that are the busiest and the most polluted.
Parents would like to be able to cycle with their children along safe routes including to school
An online petition has received over 300 signatures calling for safer streets
Extinction Rebellion Sutton chalked the streets and cycled around the borough with positive messages encouraging cycling and raising awareness of clean air on 16th May gaining positive responses.
We believe that many residents across the borough would now more readily support interventions that support low traffic neighbourhoods than would have been the case prior to the current Covid-19 crisis.
The following community groups and organisations have signed in support of this open letter;
Extinction Rebellion Sutton
Get Sutton Cycling
Sue Riddlestone OBE, CEO Bioregional
South West London Air Quality Monitoring Group
Sutton Living Streets
Sutton Green Party
Sutton Community Farm
Sutton LGBTQ+ Forum
Little Ninja UK (campaigning for action to reduce children’s air pollution exposure)
Sutton New Town Community Festival
Mums for Lungs