Friday, 28 June 2013

Parking - so where can I park my bike?

Fortunately London Cycling Campaign have come up with this nifty little form below which can help you get bike parking near your home or workplace.

Here's the link to the LCC blog:

Coming soon to Tooting & Wandsworth I hope.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Witness dangerous/inconsiderate driving? What can you do?

This morning, like most mornings, I went for a ride around the neighbourhood before starting work. I work from home, and it's good to get out a bit, stretch the legs etc at the start of the day. Now I'm living in Furzedown, there is a dense network of residential streets through which I can cycle, avoiding busy and unpleasant main roads.

Sadly, there are also a large number of drivers who feel that this network is a good route for them to use as a short cut and drive at speeds which quite frankly I feel are dangerous, and I'm not one of the school children walking to school.

Fortunately for London based people there is now a Road Safe team where if you witness anti-social driving, dangerous driving you can report it, and this Met Police team will follow up on it. Whilst knowledge of this team is spreading through the cycling community, I think a lot of us when walking about town, and in our neighbourhoods will have seen irresponsible/dangerous driving and now you can do something about it.

A few important points:

  • This is not for reporting road collisions
  • Note down the licence plate of the vehicle as soon as possible after witnessing the incident/poor driving/speeding (our memory fades very quickly on details, so if you don't write/record the details immediately, even 30mins later the details will have become fuzzy)
  • When you have a moment visit and log the details

For too long inconsiderate drivers have been able to seemingly get away with bullying others on our roads. This Road Safe team allows us to report poor driving which hasn't resulted in someone being hurt, but poses a danger to others. We shouldn't have to wait for another person to be killed or injured for changes to be made to our streets, and the same goes for dangerous/irresponsible drivers.

I hope you'll join me in starting to report incidents. Getting a letter through the post from the police reminding you that you have responsibilities as a driver may not work for everyone, but I do think it's a positive step which will help kerb some of the excesses of those drivers that put all of us at risk.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Getting consensus on a solution to deal with rat-runs

As we hopefully approach the  first implementation of this scheme in Tooting, and having already started to share the concept with other campaigners it was about time I shared the approach more widely. With a bit of luck we should have change on the ground within 18 months of the petition being presented to the council.

Last year I ran a petition looking to make the streets I lived on safer. My petition was different from the ones which had been before it.

100% agreement on the problem

Over 10 years, 3 sets of petitions, 3 sets of public consultations had resulted in little tangible change on the ground. One lady whose house is on the corner of two residential streets, has the wall around her front garden rebuilt regularly as drivers crash into it.

Old approach => no solution

Each of the previous public consultations had proposed solutions devised by the officers. Then they were passed by key stakeholders before finally being presented as a take it or leave it option to local residents.

This type of approach resulted in people choosing to stick with the devil they know, as whilst wanting a solution to the problem, the proposed solution didn't appeal enough for them to support it.

New approach => trial a solution

243 people signed my petition. Whilst some have concerns about the proposed solution, given the recognition of the problem, giving something a go as a solution is very low risk for local residents.

If it works, we can keep the solution. If it doesn't we can roll it back.

Concerns raised:
Where will the traffic go?
I believe that the proposed trial will result in traffic evaporation. (see links below)
Are those who support the petition fully aware of the traffic issues and how this may affect them?
Yes, getting people to sign a petition with a specific ask like this needs explaining. People don't just sign up to things by magic.
How would the emergency services be affected?
All the streets in question are residential. Other boroughs in London have significant filtered permeability schemes in place with which the emergency services work in.
How would the success of the scheme be measured?
By a drop in the volume of motor traffic, and a qualitative survey with local residents.

Technical details:
An Experimental Traffic Order is perfect for this new approach. In the paper the officers highlighted:

“Experimental orders should not be seen as a way of quickly making an order without going through the normal procedures for permanent orders of consultation, consideration of objections and, where required, the holding of a public inquiry before the order can be made. To avoid the possibility of a successful challenge in the High Court, an authority must be able to demonstrate where the element of experiment or uncertainty lies as an experimental order can only be made for the purposes of carrying out an experimental scheme of traffic control.”

The authority must provide a statement explaining why experimental powers are being used, and the Committee should scrutinise and seek approval for such a statement.

I believe that 'traffic evaporation' will take place. Officers and indeed traffic models from the Department for Transport / TfL do not show that traffic evaporation occurs. Indeed, their models show that we will experience growth in motor traffic volumes even when the evidence of the past couple of decades shows their model to be broken.

Using experimental powers are therefore totally justified as until we change our local streets, we don't know how local people will adapt. In trialling we can see and experience how people adapt and see if it results in improving the local environment or not.

In each case there may be local mitigating circumstances which may result in the proposed scheme being successful or not as the case may be.

What can you do?

Use/tweak the template provided for your local streets.
Have a chat with local friends/neighbours to see if they would be keen to try something like this. It's much easier to go out and collect signatures if there are a few of you.
Contact your local councillor and the cabinet member for transport. Check with them how many signatures you need to get. In my case I was told around 25% of local households. This may vary depending on your local council.
Go out and ask people if they'll support it.


Rat-running time for a different solution (previous blogpost)

Reclaiming city streets for people. Chaos or Quality of life?

The concept of traffic evaporation - reallocating road space and 20 mph zones

Disappearing Traffic

Traffic Evaporation (examples from the USA)