The next London mayor should take forward the city’s ‘unprecedented progress’ made towards better cycling and pedestrian environments. But they must also avoid rushing to ban lorries during rush hour and instead concentrate on rational, evidence-base agendas.
That was according to Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan as he gave the keynote address during this week’s Cycling Summit at the NLA. Gilligan said it had been ‘quite a busy year’ and a ‘test of strength’, but despite a lot of opposition to some of the bigger cycling schemes, plans had largely prevailed, with superhighways, segregated junctions and Quietways all well advanced. Political leadership was crucial, said Gilligan, but there was of course a risk that the next mayor may not care ‘quite so passionately’ about cycling as the current one, and Gilligan is a political appointee that may expire in 2016. Opting for a ban on rush hour lorries would, though, be making policy on a low base of figures and might mean failing to do something with more impact elsewhere, he said. ‘It might save three lives in three years but cost pedestrian lives at other times of the day’, he said. Gilligan revealed that the safer lorries scheme may require more glass to be used in door and electronic devices to be fitted, but is concerned about the ‘vast’ number of lorry movements to the Convoys Wharf development, near to Cycle Superhighway 4.
Construction Industry Cycling Commission chairman and CEO of Almacantar Mike Hussey said the whole debate should not be confrontational, but aimed at ‘zero deaths’ relating to cycling on London’s roads. To that end, the CICC is creating a manifesto aimed at better training and Almacantar intends to use its building hoardings to push cycling messages. Part of the CICC’s work is a cycle safety report being produced by Phil Jones Associates. Jones told the audience that more information was needed on causes and effective solutions as well as better collision and near miss reporting. There might also be a case for increased payloads of lorries, so that there would be fewer on the road. But despite the growth of cycling in London so that there are more winter bikes on the road now than there were during the summer of 2000, the numbers of female cyclists had dropped, and a high proportion of the fatalities were female.
For Brian Deegan, Principal Technical Specialist - Cycling, Transport for London, safety is at the heart of new London cycling design standards, with Deegan’s task to look at junctions and anticipate what sort of collisions could happen there. Innovations on the way are ‘Hold the Left’ junctions where cyclists go ahead and left turning is held back, low-level cycle signals, protected junctions, and two-stage right turns on the continental model, being tested at a site in Southampton.
At Waltham Forest, said the area’s ‘critical friend’, Roger Hawkins, Partner of HawkinsBrown, Mini-Hollands have made a great impact as they include high quality landscaping and involve a great deal of trials and consultation. Walthamstow is looking to roll out this ‘walk, cycle, enjoy!’ programme and the moves have contributed to placemaking and a better environment for all, said Hawkins.
The conference also heard from speakers including Sustrans’ head of Quietways, Kelly Clark who said £123m had been earmarked for the 30-40 or so routes using quiet back streets and ending some busy cut-throughs. Hackney Principal Transport Planner Ben Kennedy showed how Leonard Circus in his borough had become a broadly successful shared space, with Narrow Way set to follow, while Lipton Rogers Development director Yair Ginor showed how plans for 22 Bishopsgate will respond to the growing cycling fraternity in the workplace by including 1600 spaces, ramps, a hire kiosk, electronic bike storage, workshop and 160 showers. The developer also plans to reduce deliveries to the scheme by half, from 360 to 180 per day. Inmidtown chief executive Tass Mavrogordato showed the 100-space Midtown Cycle Vault as a response to cycling growth, and Anna Hill showed the River Cycleway Consortium’s Thames Deckway idea, a £700m, two lane energy-generating cycleway floating on pontoons off the south bank of the Thames designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and Arup. But for Henk Bouwman, Academy of Urbanism, one of the key answers in this whole area was to have fewer ‘armies with helmets’ and more social road users. ‘London can become a ‘hello, how are you city’ or a ‘slow-down city’ he said. ‘Slow down, say hello and be aware there are other people on the street.’
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly