Tuesday, 30 September 2014

London boroughs rejecting segregated cycling

TfL have rightly had a lot of scrutiny on their schemes, including here. However the London boroughs who control 95% of our roads have escaped the spotlight.

It doesn't take long to find serious examples of boroughs failing to provide for cycling or worse, actively resisting it. Freedom of Information requests also reveal that many boroughs have virtually no segregated lanes, except ones built by TfL. It is also becoming apparent that some boroughs are holding back TfL cycling schemes by refusing to cooperate.

In March we ran a poll which found over half of the respondents wanted us to focus on segregated lanes. So with TfL bringing forward ambitious plans, it's time to take a look at the boroughs. We might not like what we see.

City of London Oppose Segregated Superhighways

The City of London are opposing the new North-South and East-West segregated superhighways using spurious objections they seem to have made up on the spot - for instance concerns about the air and noise pollution... from bikes.

They are also removing (unprotected) lanes & instead of removing motor traffic or providing physical protection, they are forcing cyclists to jostle with motor traffic.

Their 20mph limit and plans to make one way streets two way for bikes are welcome, but they don't replace the need for segregated cycle lanes on main roads.

Southwark's Own Transport Department Against Segregated Cycling

Southwark have a poor record and made a U-turn on their cycling commitments. However pressure from grass roots campaigners has led to a review of a major scheme and may signal a change in direction. This is great news however with a history of going back on promises and after admitting their own transport department is the main barrier we need to keep the pressure on every step of the way and also fight for a major change in direction in Southwark - business as usual is not acceptable.

Also in Southwark we have a sad situation where the residents of an exclusive square are seeking to block a quietway.

Westminster Blocked Segregated Cycle Superhighway 5

Despite large numbers of cyclists travelling & working in Westminster, it is one of the least cycle friendly boroughs in London. They also have one of the worst records for cyclist safety.

TfL have proposed a largely segregated lane for the rest of the route, but it appears taking this the full length was blocked by Westminster who are proposing to draw pictures of bikes on side street. Effectively this means CS5 stops at the end of the bridge.

No Segregated Cycling in Camden's West End Plans

Camden's consultation for transforming Tottenham Court Road fails to provide segregated or protected cycling, is disappointing from a borough which has made ambitious proposals in the past. It doesn't do anything to encourage more people to cycle and does not provide for young & old, inexperienced, disabled, less fit people, people with kids cycling or cargo bikes.

Further north Camden are proposing to extend the light segregation on Royal College Street up to Kentish Town. While the improvements & extension are to be welcomed, we aren't going to see large numbers of people take up cycling unless we have a proper network of safe & convenient routes throughout.

And more:

Name and Shame

Are there any examples of opposing councils we have missed, or schemes where councils have shown leadership & support? Please let us know below, our next step will be to turn up the pressure on the anti-cycling boroughs.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Save Our Cyclists Petition - Update

Dear Friends,

Last winter 36'000 people signed the 'Save Our Cyclists' petition calling for action to keep cyclists safe. After nine cyclist deaths in London this year and 7 months since Andrew Gilligan responded, here is an update of what we've achieved and where we need to keep pushing [1] [2]:

  • Ambitious plans for North-South & East West segregated superhighways were released by TfL, which need your support [3]. 
  • HGVs safety: TfL are proposing Safer Lorries measures and it appears the HGV enforcement team will be expanded [4] [5].
  • CS2 delayed: We were promised designs in June & works starting this year. Detailed proposals have just been announced for works starting next year and completed in 2016 [6] [7]. However we were alarmed to notice the lane disappears at one point and no improvements are proposed for Bow roundabout [8].

We're making progress but the delayed CS2 plans need major changes to address serious gaps in provision. The superhighway must extend the full length of the route and Bow roundabout must be improved for cycling and walking [8].

You can follow campaign developments at saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk

One campaign development we want to tell everyone about is that Rhiannon, who started the campaign, has moved to Switzerland and handed the campaign to me, Fred [9]. A big thanks to Rhiannon for creating the petition and all her hard work. Rhiannon will continue to support the campaign as an advisor, and looks forward to seeing where we go next!

In March we asked you about our next steps and over half chose segregated lanes and in second one fifth chose HGV safety [10]. We will be pushing for both of these in the coming months, and with some councils actively opposing segregated lanes we be widening the campaign.

We will be in touch about this soon but until then please support the ambitious plans for segregated superhighways!

Many thanks for your support,

Fred Smith


-  We asked Andrew Gilligan for comments but he didn't reply.
-  Finally, the petition is still open for new supporters: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-cyclists!

[1] http://cycling-intelligence.com/fatal-cycling-accidents-in-london/
[2] http://saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/gilligans-response.html
[3] http://cyclelondoncity.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/how-you-can-help-make-londons-planned.html
[4] http://ibikelondon.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/want-safer-lorries-in-london-say-yes-to.html
[5] http://saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/hgv-enforcement-statistics-update.html
[6] http://saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/gilligans-response.html
[7] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/cycle-superhighway-2-boris-johnson-announces-25m-upgrade-to-notorious-bowwhitechapel-cycle-route-9750149.html
[8] http://saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/cs2-plans-theres-something-missing.html
[9] http://saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/petition-news-since-february.html
[10] http://saveourcyclists.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/survey-results-what-issue-do-you-think.html

CS2 plans, there's something missing

After a quick look, the new plans for CS2 generally look good and are a very significant improvement on the current situation. A majority of the route appears to be 2m wide segregated lanes which will be safe, convenient and likely to appeal to cyclists of all ages and abilities.

You can view the details & respond here: consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/cs2-upgrade

However on inspection of the plans there appear to be two huge omissions.

White Horse Lane to Bancroft Road - NOTHING

At this point the cycle lanes just merge in to the bus lane. This is simply not good enough & a huge let down on the scheme. The plans are here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/8b1b95ac

Google street view shows a large area of grass on one side of the road.

TfL need to buy that land and widen the road by a couple of metres so the segregated cycle lane can be carried through. In parallel they should work to offset the loss of green space either using their own land, in partnership with the local authority or by buying land. Doing nothing is not an option.

Bow Roundabout - NOTHING

It appears the reason the most dangerous and intimidating part of this route is missing is because they have not been able to finalise proposals. TfL have stated:

"We are working in partnership with the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham and other key stakeholders to deliver the Vision for Bow: to transform the Bow roundabout junction into a place which all road users will find accessible, safe and connected. We will consult on our proposals this winter."

The current situation is not safe for cyclists and there are no pedestrian facilities at all. A proposal which doesn't tackle the roundabout in the middle of CS2 is not enough. 

I was talking to an able bodied young lady at the London Velodrome (seeing off the night ride to Brighton for Challenge Cancer). She lives on one side of the roundabout and her local shops are on the other side. She said it felt intimidating and unsafe every time she had to dash across the road in between the traffic, especially when carrying shopping. If an able bodied adult feels that way, how can this be acceptable in a residential area with children, the elderly and disabled people?

We must demand the proposals include significant improvements to the roundabout for cycling and walking. At the very least means pedestrian lights & phases. These could be concurrent with cycling phases as the cyclists won't be going down the slip roads on to the A14. Some of the traffic islands might need to be enlarged to safely accommodate pedestrians.

What do you think?

Let us know your comments.

Monday, 22 September 2014

TfL - mixed progress on segregated cycling

Recent schemes bought forward by TfL have shown mixed progress on segregated cycling. While some schemes have failed to meet expectations, the new superhighways proposals are a big step forward and show the message is starting to get through.

This is our opportunity to keep up the pressure and ensure safe cycling is included in every scheme.

Segregated cycling is the number one issue our supporters care about, so please support the new superhighways (if you haven't already). But with some business lobby groups briefing against the proposals, we need to show cycling is good for business. Please also support a new initiative by asking your employer to show their support.

A summary of recent TfL schemes:


These schemes show TfL are willing to make space for cycling & propose segregated lanes suitable for everyone on roads which are currently dangerous & intimidating.


While at Elephant and Castle some attempt has been made, these schemes show that TfL still have problems following through promises to provide safe cycling.


TfL are showing signs of change. We need to keep pushing to make sure we get safe and segregated cycling. Although members of the public have been supporting the new superhighways, big business groups have been opposing.

So please support a new campaign to set the record straight and ask your employer to take part.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Petition news since February

The Save Our Cyclists petition has been quiet since February, so this post is to tell you there have been some big changes within the campaign.

Rhiannon, who started Save Our Cyclists, has moved to Switzerland for work and didn’t feel she could run the campaign from such a distance. After some searching in the cycle-campaigning community, Rhiannon has handed over the campaign to me, Fred, a structural engineer and cycle campaigner.  Rhiannon will continue to support the campaign as an advisor, and looks forward to seeing where we go next!

I feel there is still a lot the petition can achieve, especially on segregated lanes which was the issue most of our supporters told us we should push on. So expect more action on this soon, but in the meantime please support the North-South & East-West superhighways proposal if you haven't already.

I set up this blog to record the progress of the petition. It also includes a related petition I started before I became involved with Save Our Cyclists (the link is here and you're welcome to sign it). We will be using this to coordinate our next steps on the petition.  Please comment below if you have anything you'd like to share with us.

Finally I would like to leave you with an inspiring video from the Netherlands and if that speaks to you, here's a post about getting involved in cycle campaigning!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

HGV enforcement statistics update

Following my request for updated HGV enforcement statistics TfL have now given me the following update:

"Thank you for your email.
TfL, MPS, and City of London Police (CoLP) work in close partnership with Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to proactively enforce against the most non-compliant and dangerous commercial vehicles on London's roads.
Between 1 October 2013 and 1 August 2014, the Industrial HGV Taskforce stopped over 3000 vehicles, issued over 800 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), and seized 36 vehicles.
It is important to note the IHTF actively target the worst offenders, and therefore the results of the IHTF are not indicative of compliance across all HGVs in London.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. "

Compare this to their previous statement from June:
"Between 1 October 2013 and 7 June 2014, 2577 vehicles were targeted and stopped, over 600 fixed penalty notices were issued and 35 of the most unsafe vehicles were seized."
From this I've worked out that in June and July the HGV taskforce:

  • Stopped over 400 vehicles - which works out as 200+ per month, which is down from approximately 322 per month reported previously.
  • Issued around 200 Fixed Penalty Notices - 100 per month, up from approximately 75 per month previously.
  • Seized one vehicle in two months, compared to an average of 4.3 in the previous months.
There appears to be a significant reduction in the number of vehicles stopped, which may be a lull over the summer, but an even greater fall in the numbers of vehicles seized.

This is concerning given the importance of improving lorry safety to keep cyclists safe. It has been reported the HGV task force is to be boosted by over 50%, which would be very welcome, however we haven't seen this officially announced, so we need to keep this in the spotlight.

You can still sign the HGV petition we started earlier this year here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/London-Mayor-Must-End-Lethal-Truck-Epidemic-Now

Monday, 8 September 2014

Cycle campaigning - How to guide

The responses to Rhiannon's survey showed huge enthusiasm for cycle campaigning, however many people felt disconnected from the big campaigns (and our petition too). We need more people to get involved so they can have their voices heard & help make the difference.

This post is a guide for people who want to get involved with campaigning or start their own campaign, with a focus on utilising social media. Cyclenation have a guide to help people run a local group which focusses on more old-school campaigning and is worth a read - the best campaigns do both effectively. Also, the CTC are offering campaigner training and general campaigning advice can be found at campaigncentral.org.uk.

Why social media? 

With social media it's possible for anyone to campaign, from re-tweeting messages to organising a protest. It enables people to make a difference even if they just have an hour or two a week. Small groups of dedicated people are able to run effective and successful campaigns which can reach decision makers & the media, raise public awareness and make a difference.

If you don't have much time to spend you can help by spreading the word about campaigns, respond to consultations & join/support an established group. If you have more time you might want to help run an existing group or start your own. Many older groups don't use social media effectively, if you use social media regularly, running that aspect for an existing campaign can really boost their support & effectiveness.

Social media has two different main uses: discussion & coordination between members of the group and communicating with people outside the group. Different platforms (Facebook pages/groups, Twitter etc.) sit on different parts of the spectrum between internal conversations & engaging with the public.

Social media 1: Building a group

To build a group & work together you will need a place to have your internal discussions. Traditionally this has been monthly meetings, but using social media the platforms best for this are:
  • Facebook groups - easy for people to join & get involved. It can also be a good way to reach new people via their friends.
  • Yahoo Groups - a hybrid between an internet forum and an email list.
  • An email list 
If you need to share lots of files or collaborate on documents you can use a Dropbox folder or Google Drive, which comes with Google Docs for on-line editing. This could be used for campaign materials (poster designs etc.) and minutes from meetings.

Social media 2: Spreading the message

The best platforms for engaging with people & reaching new supporters are:
  • Twitter - the most democratic platform.
  • Facebook - via a Facebook page or from your personal profile.
  • Blogs (and websites) are a great way to present detailed information about your cause & can serve as a resource for campaigners as well as a showcase for your campaign. Most also enable visitors to leave comments and sign up for updates.
  • Google+ - everyone with a Google account has access however except for via YouTube and Blogger not many people use Google+.

How to: Build a campaign on social media

With so many platforms it can be difficult to know where to start - you certainly don't need to be on all of them (at least in the beginning). If you or your supporters are already using platforms regularly it's best to start with what you know. A good way to cover the bases & spread the work is to find supporters to take charge of each channel - typically Facebook, Twitter and blog/website leads.

Setting up a campaign might involve the following:
  1. Create a platform on which to build the group (see above) - the choice of which will be driven by what your supporters are using already or prefer.
  2. Create a website in the form of a blog. For those starting out I would suggest creating a simple blog on Blogger (like this one). If you know what you're doing Wordpress is versatile & can look extremely professional (but for beginners can be problematic, time consuming & look poor). 
  3. Create either a Facebook page, a twitter account or preferably both!
  4. Use twitterfeed.com to link your blog to your facebook/twitter so when you publish a new post it is automatically shared across your platforms. In this way you can use the blog as the centre of your campaign and reach all your followers.
  5. Put links to your twitter or facebook on your blog.
  6. Fill out all the profile information, come up with a common profile picture etc.
  7. Get everyone to share the new accounts & website with their contacts so you get some followers.

In order to build engagement try to share as much as you can. The downside of having an email group is that no one will see the conversation you're having and want to get involved - where you can try to get your supporters to comment on the blog or on facebook instead. It will also make your page look more popular & relevant to people who visit.

Taking action

Effective campaigns are about supporters, press coverage, engaging decision makers, but mostly getting results. There isn't a magic bullet, you will probably need to use several different approaches, perseverance is key and don't worry if one thing doesn't work.

Here are some ideas:
  • You will need to keep in the loop with related & nearby campaigns. A good start is to search Twitter, Facebook and the internet for groups, email lists, campaigns and potential supporters.
  • Write letters/emails to decision makers, answer consultations and attend meetings with politicians - many of them don't get much lobbying so this can be effective.
  • Put up posters or give out flyers in places potential supporters are likely to be found - for instance local bike shops.
  • Stage an event or protest (maybe a cycle ride). This can also be a good way to gather supporters and publicise your group. If you're on Facebook create an event for people to sign up to. 
  • Start a petition, for instance with 38degrees (or others)! It's not just about collecting signatures you also need deliver the petition to the decision maker & check they follow through.
  • Contact the local press with details and a photo opportunity from your protest/petition and you can often get in the paper.
  • Don't give up! It can take a long time to get a campaign moving but you'll be picking up contacts supporters and knowledge all the time. You never know when a contact or speculative enquiry will come good, sometimes months after you contacted them.

Links to check out:

Note: This post is based on my experience with stopkillingcyclists.org a group which was started, and mainly operates, via social media. This approach won't work for all groups but I hope you've found some useful suggestions & ideas.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Support needed for North-South & East-West superhighway proposals

This week TfL revealed proposals for North-South & East-West segregated superhighways through the centre of London. It's a major step forward with TfL giving space for cycling and proposing lanes suitable for everyone on roads which are currently dangerous & intimidating.


This sets a strong precedent and is also a major milestone cycle campaigning, BUT business and motoring groups are already lining up to shoot them down. We need to show our support to make sure they go ahead.

The plans have been reviewed in detail by aseasyasridingabike, which has a good summary of why we should support them. They're not perfect but they're one of the best and most ambitious plans we've seen, so we need to show our support as well as pointing out the parts which could be improved.

Please make sure you go support both proposals:

The key part to fill in is the 'Overall Proposals' section, if you want to comment on any of the specific sections of the schemes you can also do that. Finally click 'Finish' at the bottom & make sure you click 'Submit response' on the next page & you're done. Thanks!

23/09/14 update - 'Cycling Works' launched

Cycling Works is new initiative to get employers in London to support the new superhighways. Big business groups are trying to get the plans cancelled and we need to show that cycling is good for employees and good for employers. 

Ask your employer if they will join: http://cyclingworks.wordpress.com/take-action/

Further info:

What do you think about the North-South options?

The North-South has an option for one part being semi segregated which I feel is not as good as carrying their proposal for a fully segregated 2 way path all the way through. I don't think it makes sense to create an additional set of lights to swap half way down the road. However this is one which might divide opinions so please let me know what you think.