While there's ongoing frustration at the changes to London's dangerous junctions, Tom Bogdanowicz looks back at some of the year's big campaign wins...
It's been a tumultuous year for cycling improvements in the capital. Despite hold-ups on Cycle Superhighway 9 and 11, your campaigning paid off with some outstanding victories for common sense and healthier, safer London streets.
It took the tragic death of Ying Tao (a cyclist killed by a turning lorry at Bank) to push the City of London into action. Following our demonstration, the City took a radical step: restricting motor traffic at the notorious Bank junction to buses and cycles only, from 7am to 7pm daily.
The initial 18-month trial faced concerted opposition, notably from black cabs which blocked the junction in protest.
LCC rallied supporters who sent in thousands of consultation responses and LCC staffers made impassioned presentations to City committees. Eventually common sense triumphed, and in September the City's Common Council voted to make the scheme permanent. Removing buses and redesigning the roadspace next would make this landmark location, with its iconic buildings, the liveable neighbourhood it deserves to be.
If you are one of the several thousand who cycle daily along the Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury, you will likely remember the many leaflet handouts by LCC and Camden Cyclists, to try and make this essential cycle scheme permanent. Those riders who didn't have leaflets shoved in their hands (we may have missed a few) might not realise the improved cycle tracks, built in 2016, were only there on a trial basis. The council faced enourmous opposition, with black cabs taking their familiar anit-cycling stance.
Of the 15,000 consultation responses (thank you all!) the great majority supported the cycle tracks. Members of Camden Cyclists made the case at a public enquiry. LCC's Infrastructure Campaigner faced cross-examination and eventually the council cabinet agreed to make the tracks permanent. Reversing the current one-way scheme for motor vehichles, however, is still to be considered - it could have negative impacts.
‘Direct Vision’ Lorries Standard
LCC argues strongly for lorries with good 'direct vision' for the simple reason that lorry drivers repeatedly blame blindspots for collisions. Responding to a promise made to LCC to make safer lorries the norm, Mayor Khan has published the world's first Direct Vision Standard (0 to 5 star rating) which comes into play in 2020, albeit with an option for operators to install 'mitigating measures' such as cameras and altert systems if any of their current lorries are still '0-star'.
The direct vision standard is also due to become part of EU legistlation as of 2026 unless industry lobbyists succeed in delaying it. Mayor Khan is lobbying for an earlier, 2024, start.
Hounslow, Boston Manor Road
You only have to look at the headcam video of Boston Manor Road to see the radical difference between the new, two-way, separated cycle track and the still-visible narrow painted lane it replaced. The road carries 17,000 cars and 700 HGVs per day which made cycling there extremely unpleasant.
Inevitably, as with other transformation impacting car parking, the project’s acceptance required the local LCC group to defend the principle of cyclist safety at council meetings.
With initial plans submitted in 2014, it’s been a long four-year campaign, but the results are well worth riding.
North-South Cycle Superhighway Extension
It’s not perfect, but the northern extension to the North-South CSH is at least partly in place, helping riders get further, safely. At time of writing, Crossrail works continued to punch a gap in the scheme, and the quiet route north of Greville Street was incomplete, missing the Judd street section.
LCC's Camden and Islington groups, along with staffers, worked to ensure major and dangerous junctions were done right - with Snow Hill, Charterhouse and Clerkenwell Road junctions all getting major improvements north-south. Two-way cycle traffic down very narrow streets was also avoided thanks to early interventions.
The Enfield - a composite beast that is fox, eagle, wolf and lion - will surely rejoice that its home borough has at last welcomed the composite creature that is part human, part machine.
Enfield's local LCC activists have won awards for their impressive efforts in shifting what was once a staunchly motoring borogh. The transformation of the A105 from a road that's best avoided, to a street that can be enjoyed is a taster of more to come in one of the three 'mini-Holland' boroughs.
The A105 (Green Lanes) now has protected cycle lanes on both sides of the street, using a combination of raised kerbs, 'orca' separators and kerb separation. And the borough is now building its second major scheme.
Gone are the days when you dreaded the moment that you had to negotiate the Stratford Gyratory — it was like Hyde Park only longer, faster and more chaotic. The gyratory is going (at time of writing) and there are fresh cycle tracks all around the Stratford Centre shopping mall.
The Newham LCC group has long pushed for a better deal here, and after Newham narrowly missed mini-Holland funding, the borough and TfL pushed forward with the major scheme. It’s a great improvement and is nearly complete. During its consultation and build, the local group was heavily involved and also intervened to make the roadworks safe for cycling.
Waltham Forest Mini-Holland
Where once local residents carried a coffin to protest the death of their shopping street, there are now tables with happy diners and businesses doing well in a more liveable neighbourhood. And transport experts from London and abroad now cajole the tired, but successful, LCC activists and local officers to give them guided tours of the award-winning cycling schemes in Waltham Forest.
Orford Road (where the coffin was once displayed) is a visual trope for a ‘healthy street,’ while the 4km of protected cycle track along Lee Bridge Road is close to completion. There are also several cycle hubs at stations and further low traffic neighbourhoods to come. Studies have shown that local residents are now more active and air quality is improving.
If you ride along Embankment you’ll know the link between the North-South and East-West Cycle Superhighways (CS6 and CS3) at Blackfriars is being dug up for the Thames Tideway project. What is surprising, given past roadworks, is the 10,000 daily cycle trips here that have barely been interrupted by one of the capital’s biggest construction schemes.
Southwark Cyclists, LCC staffers and TfL worked with Tideway to ensure tracks were kept open, instead of the old way of taking cyclists on a long detour or abandoning them altogether. TfL roadworks supremo, Michael Barratt, worked with LCC members and engineers to minimise disruption. And the lessons learned are, increasingly, being applied elsewhere.
Consultation Outcomes: 20mph, Adapted Bikes & Cycle Parking
A little known, but valuable part of LCC’s work is responding to numerous consultations. It may be dull to those not putting in the work, but that work can pay off inspades — in more ways than one. The original version of the Mayor’s London Plan put cycle parking for adapted bikes (used by people with disabilities) and cargo bikes into the ‘non-obligatory’ text of the document. Following objections from LCC and others, provision for such bikes is included in the (draft) official policy. The Plan (cover inset, pictured left), which is subject to a public enquiry, also includes higher cycle parking standards, which developers may attack. A commitment to 20mph as London’s default speed limit, a long-standing LCC position, came closer in the final version of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS), committing TfL to consider 20mph in every new traffic scheme.