London Cycling Campaign trustee and sustainable transport academic Dr Rachel Aldred explains what policies underpin our 2014 Local Election Campaign.
22 May 2014 is when the whole of Greater London re-elects its local councillors, who are the key decision-makers on local street design. They, more than anyone else, have the power to make our local streets more cycle-friendly.
We wanted to ensure providing safe space for cycling was a major issue during the local elections, and was on the agenda of incoming ward councillors.
The Mayor's Vision for Cycling promises a lot, but achieving that positive change depends on strong political leadership at many levels, including from borough councils.
Over the last year, the elected London Cycling Campaign Policy Forum has developed six policy themes, which we feel are most important to make your neighbourhood safe and inviting for everyone to cycle:
- Safer Routes for schoolchildren
- Areas without through motor traffic
- Protected space on main roads/major junctions
- Safe cycle routes via parks and canals
- 20mph speed limits
- Liveable town centres
With your help, we identified a single measure for each ward (the smallest electoral sub-division): this single measure is based on one of our policy themes, and we'll lobbied incumbent councillors and candidates to commit to putting that measure in place ahead of the 2014 local elections.
Campaigning at ward level meant our campaign was truly 'local' while at the same time promoting broader LCC policies that benefit the entire city.
However, all the themes are linked to creating the kind of cycling conditions that are hospitable to the young, the old, the nervous and the wobbly, as well as existing cyclists.
Our key aim is to guarantee safe space for cycling for Londoners of all ages and abilities.
Our Six Policy Themes
Our six policy themes are the kinds of measures already shown to work in high-cycling cities and countries, and we want to see all these measures consistently applied across London.
This campaign is our opportunity to put the ideas on the table at a local level, and build support for them locally.
It's important that we get across the message that these measures will not only be good for people who cycle now (they will); they're also helpful in getting many more people cycling, and are also good for non-cyclists in that they help make our neighbourhoods more pleasant and prosperous places for everyone.
1. Safe Routes for schoolchildren
Only 1% of schoolchildren's journeys are currently made by bike in London, although many more children and young people would like to ride. Our national child obesity levels are among the highest in Europe, and many of London's children have relatively little play space at home.
Cycling and walking to school are good for children's physical and mental health; less driving on the school run will make the streets safer and nicer for all.
We'll asked candidates to support measures to enable cycling to school, for example by installing a Toucan to enable children to cross a busy road between an estate and the local school.
2. Areas without through motor traffic
Areas where motor traffic cannot cut through side streets, while walking and cycling are encouraged. Through point closures (using bollards, planters, or trees), a residential area can be filtered, so that all parts can still be reached by motor vehicle (for deliveries, or to start or end journeys) but direct routes across quiet zones are only possible by non-motorised modes.
Such areas are more pleasant and liveable for residents, without stopping them reaching their homes by car, if need be. However, when an area is made safer, quieter, and more pleasant, walking and cycling become more attractive choices.
3. Protected Space on Main Roads
Quiet zones help keep through motor traffic away from residential streets. But often people will need to cycle along main roads: because that’s where shops and workplaces are, or because they are the most direct routes.
Currently, most main roads make cyclists mix with heavy and/or fast moving motor traffic, which most people find scary. Dedicated space for cycling on main roads gives people of all ages and abilities access to the whole road network by bicycle.
It can benefit local communities and economies, helping more people get to shopping parades and other facilities without having to drive.
We asked candidates to support installing dedicated infrastructure on a local main road, or to support the upgrade of currently inadequate or incomplete provision.
London’s Greenway network should be a fantastic local resource; pleasant and safe routes that are a joy to travel. Greenways provide some of the most appealing cycling environments, attracting groups currently under-represented among London cyclists (for example, older people).
People use them for all kinds of purposes: from commuting to work, to weekend family outings, to shopping trips. But our Greenway network is incomplete. Many planned routes have not been completed, and many gaps remain. Even some completed parts are problematic for cycling; for example, where barriers or poor surfacing exclude disabled cyclists and those carrying children.
5. 20mph speed limits
Increasingly it is accepted that 20mph speed limits save lives, and they are being implemented on residential roads across many London boroughs. Where cyclists must share space with motor traffic, reducing the speed differential is important: both for reducing the risk of death and injury, and for creating more pleasant cycling and walking environments. Yet many parts of London are still 30mph; although it's great to see boroughs adopting 20mph limits often it's only on 'residential roads', meaning that local high streets can still carry inappropriately fast traffic.
6. Liveable Town Centres
Many of London's high streets and town centres have become run down, congested traffic arteries. As the internet transforms our shopping habits, town centres have suffered but they can be revitalised. They need to be places where people want to spend time, meet friends, enjoy social activity and access a variety of services.
To build liveable town centres, we need to prioritise people over motor traffic, creating space that can be enjoyed by the local community and that encourages walking and cycling. This can create lively, pleasant places that are economically viable and socially vibrant.
You can find out exactly what we called for in each electoral ward by visiting our mapping site
About the Policy Forum
The LCC’s Policy Forum meets quarterly, reviewing and developing LCC’s policy positions. It’s been developing ways to evaluate the quality of cycling infrastructure, like the ‘Love London, Go Dutch Matrix’, which is a tool to examine cycle safety at junctions (eg, Aldgate). Other current work covers policy on inclusive cycling, and when we need protected space for cycling.
We organise a regular free policy seminar series, open to all, which was launched on 8 April 2013 with Andrew Gilligan and Danny Williams. Seminars cover topics such as the London Cycle Design Standards and gaining political support for LCC’s policies.
Please contact email@example.com for more on the Policy Forum. You can get involved in a variety of ways – by attending meetings, getting involved in our work, and/or standing for election to the Forum in January 2014. You can also make a donation by credit/debit card by visting www.space4cycling.org