RBKC Bike Grid: The Missing Links

Please have a read of this: http://rbkccycling.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/central-london-bike-grid-in-kensington-and-chelsea-the-missing-links/

Replies

 

Thanks for posting this. I should say it makes me depressed. RBK&C together with Westminster, Camden and the City form the core historic heart of London, north of the Thames. Westminster's grid is hopeless in my opinion (although may be when we see actual details we might be surprised, but I doubt it) and as your article points out so is RBK&C's.

There should be an outrage that such duff, spineless ideas could be trotted out like they were transformational. They're not. Yet what annoys me most is that most Londoners - all of whom would benefit if we really did Go Dutch or Danish or whatever - seem not to give a toss. It means that there is no consenus on what change should happen, which means, of course, that there is no change.

I have a theory (actually two theories) of why this is so: 

First, there is the obvious problem of how local politics is managed in this City. Local councillors have too much power over something as important as transport and public space management. (95% of roads in this city are controlled by the boroughs). You know the story, something gets proposed, a shop owner fears he will lose customers, taxi drivers representatives are concerned, no one with a direct interest in the area speaks in favour of the scheme (change is a bit of dirty word in this city and you can all too often understand why), and the scheme does not go forward. My solution: the boroughs should lose control of all the major roads in this City and quite a few minor ones too. Only strategic planning can bring about change. 

Second, and this is more fundamental, London is divided between Stable Neighbourhoods and Transitory Neighbourhoods. Stable Neighbourhoods are instinctively against change; they don't see a need for it. Why should they? They are doing just fine. Transitory Neighbourhoods - well the people there aren't so interested, they don't trust the institutions very much, they don't have the time or skills to get involved, but more fundamentally they have no self-interest, they'd prefer to get out if they could. I appreciate that this is simplistic. Moreover, there is a third category of neighbourhood, namely the Gentrfying Neighbourhood, which is usually squezzed somewhere between the other two. I have to admit that there is scope in such nighbourhoods for change, but road architecture, almost inevitably, runs across and between all kinds of neighbourhoods: Some don't want chage, others do, (many) others don't care, they have other more immediate problems than seeking to transform this city's public realm. 

In a perfect world the boroughs would take this on - but which boroughs apart from Camden, Islington and perhaps Southwark have anything like the political will to really do this?

It's depressing because with the political will and with the imagination this city could be truly great. And the bits that would be the greatest would be the core historic centres. All of a sudden they would have a new lease of life and not be traffic choked arteries of which we are all so familiar: Queensgate with its four lanes of parked cars; Kensington Gore with six lanes of traffic; Bayswater Road which is an urban clearway in all but name; and most of all Oxford Street, which I think every Londoner I've ever met actively loathes. Quite simply these streets could and should become streets for people, not streets for traffic. Yet no one, least of all the people (or businesses) which actually 'live' on these streets wants anything of the kind. And so we are condemned.

I'd love to be optimistic. I like to think that many of the solutions would be quite straightforward: parking spaces lost here and there; a real look at what is a necessary burden (buses, delivery vans) and what we could live without; a charge on parents who drop-off and collect their children from school by car on a regular basis (for the same oney they could opt to lease a cargo bike); licensed loading bays; and an exploration of ways to open up public spaces - why are the Kings Roads and Fulham Road which often lie not a quarter of a mile apart from each other both major two way thorough fares? -  why are so many of London's fine squares nothing but glorified roundabouts? Looking at you: Grosvenor Square, Berkley Square, Soho Square, Connaught Square, Hanover Square, Russell Square, Cavendish Square, Portman Square, etc. It's a depressingly long list.

Many changes could be introduced almost incrementally, on a test basis. The DoT would have to get more flexible on its road signalling, etc. There would have to be lots of persuading people that this is needed, there would have to tough decisions.  

But it can't be sold as though this is a change that needs to happen to benefit cyclists. We're hated in this city, often by other cyclists, certainly by all too many other roads users. And on that score many cyclists (and would be cyclists) hate the thought of cycling here, and understanbly so too. It's too hostile: from the toxic air quality; to the agrressive driving; to the lack of awareness; to the lack of space to do a peaceful, sustainable activity safely, to the sheer everyday criminality of so many road users. It's horrible and it must change. But if there is to be a change - it has to be for everyone and it can only be one that is directed from above the level of the boroughs.    

Great blog.  

 

It's all very well lobbying TFL, but LCC also needs to be focusing on councils - particularly the cycling unfriendly councils of Kensington and Westminster.

I've spoken to the local candidates in Earl's Court ward, and most would back restoring the Earl's Court one way system to two-way use if a credible proposal were put to them. I don't think this is a difficult campaign, if a good case were put to TFL. Consequently, I'm considering starting a local campaign, including local residents and businesses, as well as, of course, cyclists, to restore a sensible use to these roads. Would anyone here be keen to help with, or at the very least support this?

RBKC have listed it as an issue to consider in 2015, using some funds from the redevelopment of the Exhibition Centre, so it's not an unrealistic project.

edward - 

making space for cycling in earl's court is clearly a good idea - but just returning the one way system to two way isn't enough to do that. for example, tfl have just changed much of the one way system in tottenham hale to two way - and it's still lousy to cycle through.

also, read this:  http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/in-praise-of-gyratories-why-more-of-them-could-be-the-answer/

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