Category Archives: news

Whitecross St / Beech St

A constructive solution for Beech St

Beech St. Cyclists Dismount

Dear Messrs Simmons and Presland,

I am writing to you regarding the current changes to the street layout at the Beech St/Silk St junction. The aim seems to be to widen the pavement and simplify the pedestrian crossings outside the new Barbican cinema, according to your website; https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/transport-and-streets/traffic-management/Pages/silk-street-enhancement-works.aspx

As a member of the Barbican, I welcome these changes to what has been a very unsatisfactory street layout. It is quite a positive step in creating a more attractive place.

However, I can’t help but notice that the worst bits of Beech St will remain: the ear splitting noise reverberating around the tunnel, air pollution that drips from the ceiling, and pavements so narrow that I am frequently forced onto the road at busy times when walking between the station and gallery. So a while small fragment of the street-scape may become more attractive,  it really seems a missed opportunity for creating a pleasant, healthy, or “liveable” environment

More dispiriting and perplexing though is that the pavement changes come at such a high cost to cycling along Beech St.  Whereas a month ago, people could cycle in their own, dedicated cycle lane all the way to the Whitecross St junction (going east), they will now be dangerously squeezed into the motor traffic as we can see in the picture below.

Beech St Cycle Lane End

So my 60 year old dad will probably no longer be willing to cycle along Beech St – which up to now has been one of only a handful of routes he is happy to use, precisely because he isn’t required to share the road. Having finally persuaded him to get back onto his bike after 30 years of driving, this is a blow to my skills of persuasion and to his health.

This damaging impact on the cycle lane is important. Beech St provides the only east-west cycle route through the city. The Central London Cycling Grid,  London’s vision for a network of quiet, welcoming cycle network really does rely on this route as seen in TfL’s map of the grid.

Grid with Beech St

More bizarre still, is that Beech St cycle lane has been so successful. As Mr Gilligan wrote in 2007, the City won an award for the lane from TfL. And the scheme was improved further in 2012 to much acclaim as seen in this blog and this video .

Indeed, this bike lane has helped Beech St see cyclists make up 20% of traffic and 30% in peak hours (almost certainly understimated), and these numbers would probably be higher if Chiswell St (immediately to the east of Beech st) had any provision for cyclists.

You may have seen that others have criticised your scheme here and here.

Without wanting to add to their flames too much, I urge you to consider a constructive solution. There is a way for the City of London to go beyond these aesthetic changes and create a more environmentally pleasant environment that is genuinely conducive to walking and cycling.

My solution? Keep doing what you are doing right now: keep the road closed.

During the building work, we have all seen how little traffic there is on Beech St and the other roads that spoke out from the junction. Indeed, it was bliss to walk through the tunnel, for the first time being able to hear my friend speaking about the gallery as we walked to the station. Cycling along Chiswell St felt safe and civilised, such was the transformation.

I hope you agree that the benefits of closing the road to through traffic permanently are extensive. Only a bus bollard is needed to let the 153 through, to filter other motor traffic out. The traffic could use London Wall instead, which according to DFT traffic counts, has seen a reduction of c.30% traffic since 2004.

Although this would only be a small change, I appreciate there may be concerns about the impact of traffic displacement from such a modal filtering scheme, but I hope you agree that with the road closed now, we have the perfect opportunity to do a trial and gather empirical evidence for what the effects would be.  My own hypothesis, would be that it would greatly improve traffic flows around Moorgate, Smithfield, and north into Islington which all suffer from too much traffic and high pollution.

I look forward to discussing my constructive proposal to this scheme and other quietways at the City Cycling Forum, 31st July.

Yours faithfully,

 

Tom Harrison, Committee Member for Islington Cyclists

The junction of two quietways. Amwell St and River St. There is so much potential to create something that benefits cyclists and the Amwell village residents.

Getting the Quietways underway for a more liveable Islington

Getting the Quietways underway for a more liveable Islington

 

The junction of two quietways. Amwell St and River St. There is so much potential to create something that benefits cyclists and the Amwell village residents.

Those of you who were at our ICAG meeting with Andrew Gilligan, or heard him speak at the end of the London Cycling Campaign’s Big Ride last month will be eagerly awaiting a new network of quiet routes. Aimed to attract a more comfortable, less lycra intensive cycle style across the capital.

As the grapevine buzzes with speculation about what we can expect from these “quietways”, we wanted to share what we know so far in order to start a discussion around what changes we want to see to attract “inclusive cycling” and ensure the proposals benefit all residents, whether or not they are regular cyclists.

Before diving into the detail, it’s worth bearing in mind a few extra principles:

  • Transport planning like this poses a wonderful opportunity to add value to the wider public realm than just being cycle friendly: by re-routing traffic, we can make streets quieter, create public spaces in the heart of residential areas, reduce pollution. With the right measures, streets can become nicer for everyone, especially local residents, cafes, pubs, and shops. In short, with the right imagination, these schemes aren’t just for cyclists, but promise to create more liveable streets for all Islingtonians.
  • It would be good if we can get to the route: far more people can benefit if the “quiet” route can be comfortably accessed by streets not directly on the route. We therefore need to think not just about the route itself, but the area surrounding it too – often known in the jargon as a “cell.”
  • We, as members of The London Cycling Campaign recognise that for a cycle route to be adequate it needs to be separated from other traffic, either by kerb segregation, or by reducing the amount of traffic on streets.

So, what’s the plan so far?

There are two routes that we expect to be developed first. The first, currently called “Quietway 38” is set to run between Southgate Rd/Northchurch St in the east to Calthorpe St in the west.The second, (as yet untitled) will go between Finsbury Square and up through Penton St.

No detailed plans have emerged so far, but initial suggestions from the council were for

  • traffic signal alterations
  • traffic management improvements
  • cycle facility upgrades
  • surface repairs
  • cycle contraflow lanes

A map of the the first route is below:


View Quietway Route 38 in Islington in a larger map

We’ve colour coded where we think the priorities are for changes to make the routes acceptable.

  • Red shows streets which dont need any change.
  • Light Blue denotes the route is pretty good but could be better.
  • Dark blue shows where there is currently too much traffic and changes are required.
  • Green highlights where other desire lines or planned routes intersect Quietway 38, such as on Amwell St for the route from Finsbury Square.

Since there probably isn’t the space to install segregated tracks, a few strategic “filters” or planters to close through traffic would be all that is needed make a much more pleasant walking and cycling environment. This approach is tried and tested already along the route, helping De Beauvoir to be one of the most pleasant places to live and travel through in London.

 

Image borrowed from Vincent Stops, http://cycleandwalkhackney.blogspot.co.uk/2013_03_01_archive.html

London’s most famous and successful 4 way road closure creates bliss for residents, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. This scheme in Hackney is also part of Quietway 38, and we could do something similar in Islington.

For more detail on what changes we suggest are made, click on the link for the larger map. If you agree or disagree , please get in touch and join the debate.

Two really exciting, innovative changes for us are the potential to create public squares in the heart of both Amwell and St Peters. By installing cheap bollards, “pocket plazas” can quickly appear, as recently occurred in Exhibition Row (pictured below). What’s more, done correctly, traffic does not need to be pushed onto other residential roads.

 

Closing small sections of streets to through traffic allows a liveable public area to grow as happened here in Kensington.

Could this come to Amwell St and St Peters St? Closing small sections of streets to through traffic allows a liveable public area to grow as happened here in Kensington.

Best of all for Islington Council, are proposals are incredibly cheap: TfL have allocated £1m/mile for the quietway network, which works out at £1.5m for Quietway 38 in Islngton. But our measures would probably cost less than £50,000.

We would love to continue the discussion, with cyclists and “non cyclists” alike, so please get in touch by commenting below, or through facebook or twitter @IslingtonCycle
clkwll 1

Something’s got to change

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The idea of this post is to show the volume of cyclists using Old Street – Clerkenwell Road route.  Seeing is believing – 22 slides to support improvements for cyclists along this route…

But we have a man with a plan – Andrea Casalotti – who has a scheme called Clerkenwell Boulevard.

Seeing as you ask…these shots were taken between 6.10 and 6.35pm on June 25 2014 at the traffic lights, junction Old Street, Helmet Row and Whitecross Street. I included only shots with 6 or more cyclists – with one exception; I’ll leave someone else to count the total!

BikeWeek_rgb

Bike Week 2014

Great to be working with LCC members from Haringey and Hackney last Sunday

Great to be working with LCC members from Haringey and Hackney last Sunday

We had a steady stream of visitors during the day

We had a steady stream of visitors during the day

They found plenty to interest them

They found plenty to interest them

Haringey Council had a stall, but Islington didn't

Haringey Council had a stall, but Islington didn’t

But we were visited by four Islington Councillors; here Nick is talking to two of them - Gary Heather and Caroline Russell

But we were visited by four Islington Councillors; here Nick is talking to two of them – Gary Heather and Caroline Russell

Islington Cycling Club is going from strength to strength – a handful of members last year and around 240 now – with a significant number of women cyclists.

There was a long queue for Doctor Bike all day and the Police “Changing Places” was popular too.  (“Changing Places” lets cyclists sit in the driver’s seat of a huge lorry and to see how much (or how little) the driver can see of cyclists on the near side of the lorry.)

For the first time, we ran out of membership application leaflets.  Normally we have to cajole people to take them; instead people were coming to the stall saying, “I’d like to join LCC.”   We must be doing something right!

It looks like this event will be a regular fixture on the calendar – it could be bigger and better next year.

 

Pavement Artist - Olly Kenyon

Pavement Artist – Olly Kenyon

As usual, plenty of interest...

As usual, plenty of interest…

Bent backs courtesy of the bike mechanics

Bent backs courtesy of the bike mechanics

Croissanted!

Croissanted!

Family commuters - with croissant!

Family commuters – with croissant!

Another cyclist has been croissanted!

Another cyclist has been croissanted!

Numbers are up!

Numbers are up!

Only 17 in this shot - Suzy works the queue

Only 17 in this shot – Suzy works the queue

Micheal listens...

Micheal listens…

The joys of security marking

The joys of security marking

Pastries by Euphorium

Pastries by Euphorium

A police information bike outside the Town Hall

A police information bike outside the Town Hall

 

CYCLE SAFETY AND SECURITY OPEN DAY Islington Police Station, 2 Tolpuddle Street, N1 0YY at 10am-4pm on Saturday June 21
- Free cycle security marking and registration
- Cycle security and safety advice
- Recovered bicycles display

Our warm thanks to everyone who made all this happen.

Space4Cycling Little Event Poster

Islington #space4cycling Ride, Saturday 10th May

 

#space4cycling

Saturday 10th May

Photo by Victor Heng

Photo by Victor Heng

Photo by Victor Heng

Photo by Victor Heng

This is the press release that was sent to The Islington Gazette and The Tribune

On Saturday May 10th, Islington Cyclists Action Group took to the
streets and visited locations that are difficult or dangerous for
cyclists to negotiate. The group ended up at the Town Hall (photos
below). The group is asking candidates to support specific measures in
each ward which will enable everyone to feel safe on a bike, from
8-year-old children to 80-year-old grandparents. Voters can find out
more about the measures at the Space for Cycling website

Tom Harrison (ICAG) said “One of the simplest and most effective
actions the council could do is make the roads safer and more
comfortable for older people to walk and cycle. This means separating
walking and cycling routes from busy traffic areas by closing
residential streets to through traffic, installing more seating areas,
and providing protected cycle tracks on busy roads which makes the
streets navigable by those of us with slower reaction speeds.”

John Ackers said “There are still councillors that regard cycling as a
niche activity for relatively fit people. But  actually cycling
is for everybody and it’s the answer to many of the borough’s
problems. Cycling improves people’s long term health, reduces
congestion, reduces air pollution, reduces obesity, reduces travel
costs and encourages social cohesion. We can learn much from
Copenhagen and Amsterdam.”

 

Join us on a ride from The Sobell Centre to the Town Hall

women cycling

Show your support and celebrate #space4cycling

The route of the Islington #space4cycling ride.

The route of the Islington #space4cycling ride.

Next Saturday, 10th May, join us to celebrate what #space4cycling really means!

We are asking candidates to support specific measures in each ward which will enable everyone to feel safe on a bike, from 8-year-old children to 80-year-old grandparents.  Join the Islington LCC on a ride as we visit some of the sites where we’re asking for change.

We’ll be meeting at the Sobell Centre for a 9.30 breakfast (free pastries!). The ride starts at 10.00 and will finish at 12.00 outside the Town Hall.

If you can’t join us on the ride itself, just turn up at the Town Hall at 12 to show your support for #space4cycling in Islington!

Can you put up a poster about this on a notice board?  Download here A4 Little Islington Ride

Or is there a place where you can leave fliers?  Download A5 fliers here A5 Little Islington Ride

And don’t forget to go online and ask candidates to pledge their support for our campaign. http://space4cycling.org/

Ride itinerary

09.30 — Breakfast at Sobell Centre
10.00 — Ride begins

1. Seven Sisters Road
2. Drayton Park
3. St. Peter’s
4. Bunhill Row
5. Clerkenwell Boulevard
6. Islington Town Hall

12.00 — Ride ends

Space4Cycling Little Event Poster

Highbury & Islington

Update::#space4cycling

Thanks to everyone who turned up for the feeder ride and made it so good. Special thanks go to Nick for the route and Sergeant Kendall and his team from Islington Safer Transport Team – we haven’t had a police escort van before!  Congratulations to Suzy for a fine speech and Jono for winning the ‘Evans’ Prize.  Photos still on their way…

 

Support Space for Cycling

Amazing!   124 of 177 Islington candidates have supported Space for Cycling. We’re second borough at 70.6% on May 21. 240 of 242 Hackney candidates signed up – giving them the top percentage of 99.17%.  All impressive. 112 of 225 Camden candidates committed to  Space for Cycling, giving that borough a score of 49.78%.

Since the launch, over 82,256 emails have been sent from all over London – by 18.30 on the eve of the polls. Look at the LCC site to see the number updating.

Once the elections are over, we may move into another phase.  We could find ourselves writing to the ward councillors to honour their promises…

Whittington Park

At the LCC office, volunteers are working hard to keep the website up-to-date.  You may have to adjust the view on your computer (Zoom out) to see the pages properly. On the page for each ward, is the “ask” and it also displays the percentage of candidates who are supporting the “ask.”


Support Space for Cycling

Active travel is the easiest way to get a healthy lifestyle. Seperating cyclists from motor traffic makes this possible for everyone.

What’s wrong with Labour’s manifesto? No #space4cycling!

UPDATE: Just in case anyone reading this hasn’t seen our more recent blog posts, we want to be clear that Islington Labour are now supporting some of our asks, which is great news. In fact, it is worth saying that they have been very open and honest about their views with us, which we are particularly grateful for.

They have made clear that they are committed to working with TfL to install protected space4cycling in Archway, Nags Head, and Highbury Corner. Thank you to all the candidates in these wards for supporting what could be major improvements for Islington. With properly designed segregated tracks, these junctions may be accessible to anyone wanting to use a bike in the not too distant future.

In the week of the election though, not all Labour candidates support our space4cycling requests, so if you havent done so already, do email them as its not too late to try to change their mind.

No Labour candididates in Islington have signed up to support Space for Cycling. This makes their Manifesto look like empty promises.

Last week, Islington Labour released their manifesto for the May elections. We at ICAG couldn’t help noticing that it doesn’t really understand the benefits that an active travel approach would have for Islington.

Of course, we recognise it’s a bit late to change the manifesto so instead, we’re asking the Labour candidates to commit to implement the #space4cycling asks in each ward.

Disappointingly Labour candidates have not yet signed up to support our campaign, despite our “asks” being the easiest way to meet many of their stated objectives.

Lets hope we can persuade them to join the thousands of Islington residents who do want #space4cycling.

Continue reading to see how supporting our cycling asks could add some real substance to Labour’s promises.

Cost of living – cutting energy bills through insulation programmes and building new local power stations, and providing free school meals to all primary school children

Oops, they forgot transport! With average travel costs in excess of £1000 a year, Labour could really help residents with the cost of living if they made it possible for everyone to walk and cycle, which after all, are practically free.

Islington council has already had to close a budget gap of £112 million since 2010…We are expecting further cuts of £34 million in 2015/16 alone. Islington is facing more severe cuts that most parts of the country,

Investing in getting more people walking and cycling is one of the best ways of saving money. The health service could save millions for instance. And with more people cycling than driving, the council would also save on road maintenance.

But we know that times are tough for small businesses and we will work with small business owners to make sure they have the support they need.

Comfortable cycle routes to and from small businesses would help as cycle tracks are known to boost trade and attract the best workers.

The cost of travel in London is a major burden on people on low and middle incomes. We will continue to campaign against unfair increases in public transport fares.

They can do so much more than campaign on price increases.  They could provide an almost free alternative to public transport by committing to the #space4cycling aks and investing in walking and cycling routes which anyone can use without fear (the biggest barrier to cycling in London).

Islington has the lowest amount of open space of any borough in London. We will look after our parks, adventure playgrounds and other open spaces so that children have safe places to play. We will also make it easier for residents to close their streets to traffic on particular days to create ‘play streets’.

One of the key #space4cyling asks is to remove through motor traffic on certain streets. Not only would this create safe cycling routes, but it would also create spaces to play so that children can play on these streets every day.

Too many elderly people face loneliness and isolation, and the council will continue to focus on helping elderly and vulnerable people stay active and connected. We will campaign to protect the Freedom Pass so that older people can get out and about, and we will protect funding for free swimming for older people

One of the simplest and most effective actions the council could do is make the roads safer and more comfortable for elderly people to walk and cycle. This means separating walking and cycling routes from busy traffic areas by closing residential streets to through traffic, installing more seating areas, and providing protected cycle tracks on busy roads which makes the streets navigable by those of us with slower reaction speeds.

We will use the council’s new responsibilities for public health to tackle health problems early and promote healthy lifestyles. For example, we will use our public health funding to invest in stronger health services for young children and new parents, and to support sports programmes for young people.

All the biggest health problems faced by Islington residents would be tackled by more cycling and walking. That’s why the most effective and lasting health policy would be to sign up to the #space4cycling asks.

Active travel is the easiest way to get a healthy lifestyle. Seperating cyclists from motor traffic makes this possible for everyone.

Active travel is the easiest way to get a healthy lifestyle. Seperating cyclists from motor traffic makes this possible for everyone.

Air quality has been improving in Islington but is still not good enough, particularly along our main roads. Poor air quality is a major health risk as it can cause childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. We will campaign to force the Mayor of London to take action to improve air quality in the borough, for example by tightening up emissions standards for taxis, HGVs and buses.

95% of roads are owned by the council. There are plenty of things the council can do alongside TfL. Making #space4cycling on side roads would encourage an awful lot of people out of their polluting cars and buses. Replacing car parking with bike parking or wider pavements would also encourage people out of their cars.

We are proud of our record as the first borough in the country to introduce a 20 mile per hour speed limit on all our roads. This makes our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and brings both health and environmental benefits. We will work with local police to ensure that this new limit is observed throughout the borough. Encouraging more people to walk and cycle will help improve residents’ health, cut emissions and improve air quality.

You can add in that it will save the council and individuals money too, as well as boost business.

We have introduced new planning rules to make sure that new developments are car-free (except for blue badge holders and car clubs) and we are fitting more bike stands and stores to encourage residents to cycle.

While you’re at it, hows about more safe cycle racks at places we might want to go? Highbury and Islington, Angel – demand for racks is way outstripping supply but no there doesn’t seem to be any plans to do anything about it.

The station bike racks are full on a wet weekend, let alone a sunny weekday. But Labour have no plans to improve conditions.

The station bike racks are full on a wet weekend, let alone a sunny weekday. But Labour have no plans to improve conditions.

Islington Labour is committed to making cycling and walking in the borough safer so that residents have the confidence to leave their cars behind. By summer 2014, all of the council’s own HGV drivers will have attended safe urban driving training and we will require all major new council contractors and major developers operating in the borough to do the same. The council plans to achieve silver accreditation under the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (which sets out safety requirements beyond the legal minimum for the council’s own vehicles) by summer 2014, followed by action to achieve gold status.

OK, but most HGVs in the borough are coming through it. And no mention of subjective safety – HGVs aren’t a main reason people don’t want to walk or cycle – bikes need to be separated from all motor vehicles including buses: so build protected bike tracks and close roads to through motor traffic as the #space4cycling campaign calls for.

 Main roads and large roundabouts in Islington are controlled by Transport for London, and these are where most accidents occur and also where air quality is particularly bad. We will lobby Transport for London to introduce 20 mile per hour speed limits on their roads in Islington and improve cycle safety on the roads they manage. We will work with Transport for London to review the operation of all major roundabouts in Islington to make sure they are working as best they can for Islington’s residents, including cyclists and pedestrians.

The council controls 95% of roads. Sure, lobby TfL, but get on with your own stuff too! Its worth pointing out that Islington Labour have had numerous opportunities to encourage TfL to improve the roads for cyclists, but they haven’t taken them. The redesign of the Nags Head is a current example: Labour councillors prefer a scheme which doesn’t improve the area for cycling at all. We look forward to this change in policy.

Our long- term aspiration is to remove the major gyratories in the borough.

Removing gyratories is no good unless you provide deliberate cycling infrastructure and better walking provision as well. Several of our #space4cycling asks involve making these gyratories cycleable, so why not sign up to make the commitment now?

 

Take action now: http://space4cycling.org/

Take action now: http://space4cycling.org/

Bruce McVean is speaking at our AGM

Our AGM – May 14, 7.30pm

Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 14, starting at 7.30pm at Islington Town Hall, London N1 2UD.

Our guest speaker will be Bruce McVean. He is the founder of the Movement for Liveable London.  His subject will be – Towards a healthier and happier city; why London’s transport system needs to change.

Bruce McVean is speaking at our AGM

Bruce McVean is speaking at our AGM

There’s a lot of talk about making London more liveable, but what does this really mean? Bruce’s talk will consider how the way people and goods travel around the city must change if we’re to ensure a healthy and happy future for London and Londoners.

As well as founding the Movement for Liveable London, Bruce is an Associate Director of Beyond Green, and a Trustee of Living Streets.  He was previously a Senior Policy Advisor at the Commision for Architecture and the built Environment (CABE).

Light refreshments will be available prior to Bruce’s talk which will start at 8.30pm.