All posts by Anoop Shah

Christmas Social 20 Dec 2017

We are holding a Christmas evening meal to meet fellow cyclists.

It will be at the Masa Afghan restaurant, Headstone Road, Wealdstone starting 7.30pm.  To avoid confusion, it’s the one on the same side as the Post Office. (There’s another one with almost the same name on the other side of the road.

This is a very reasonably priced place with both veggie and meat dishes. And while it does not serve beer or wine, you can bring your own if you wish.

Please let Tony know if you would like to come (tony@harrowcy).

Ride to Brent Cross 19 Nov 2017

Harrow Cyclists next ride will be to Brent Cross, on Sunday 19th November.

We will depart from the North Harrow Bike shop at 10am.

For more information and to register, visit https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/111104

Harrow Cyclists ride down the Chess Valley 29 Oct 2017

We shall be taking the 0943 train from North Harrow arriving in Chesham at 1014. This ride will get your heart pumping in more ways than one, covering some of the most beautiful Chiltern countryside as we descend the Chess Valley from Chesham to Croxley along quiet lanes. There are some hills (it is the Chilterns, after all) but you can push your bike up them if necessary and we always wait for the slowest rider. The views are stunning. There are a few short, busier stretches of road. Leaving Chesham we pass through Ley Hill, Latimer and Chenies before re-crossing the Chess and climbing to Sarratt. We’ll have a drink in The Boot before descending to Croxley via Rousebarn Lane. The ride ends at Croxley Metropolitan Line station, from which you can take the train back to Harrow. Don’t forget to pump up your tyres, check your brakes are working and wheels turning, and bring an Oyster card, water, a snack for energy, money for a drink in the pub, and a bike lock. If you can change your tyre – bring a spare inner tube! A hybrid is the best kind of bike for this ride as there are both road stretches up hills, and sections on tracks which could be muddy after rain.

https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/harrow-cyclists-ride-down-the-chess-valley

Please note, this ride is now fully booked. Join our letsride group to find out about future rides:

https://www.letsride.co.uk/groups/harrow-cyclists

Mayoral Transport Strategy 2017

The draft Mayoral Transport Strategy is open for consultation: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/how-we-work/planning-for-the-future/the-mayors-transport-strategy

This is Harrow Cyclists’ draft response:

Harrow Cyclists response to Mayoral Transport Strategy

18 September 2017

We are responding to the draft Mayoral Strategy as Harrow Cyclists, a local borough group of the London Cycling Campaign, a membership organisation which campaigns for better conditions for cycling in London.

Overview

The draft Mayoral Transport Strategy has the broad aim of increasing active travel and reducing car use, as recommended in the Association of Directors of Public Health’s call for action on active travel [1]. However, it is based on projections to 2041, and there is a risk that short term interventions to reduce the dominance of motor traffic on London’s streets will be avoided because of opposition from the motor lobby.

High quality road schemes such as the East-West cycle superhighway and the Waltham Forest mini-Holland required strong political leadership in order to succeed against this opposition. Current public concern about air pollution should bolster support for better streets, but the motor industry is heavily promoting electric cars (rather than walking and cycling) as the solution. These will maintain income for car manufacturers and may reduce local pollution, but will not solve the problems of congestion, physical inactivity or carbon dioxide emissions.

Currently, London’s transport system encourages widespread ownership and use of cars, the most inefficient means of urban transport. Car parking in outer London is free or highly subsidised, and fees for road use are charged only in a small area of central London. A key intervention to improve the efficiency of the roads would be to introduce charges for car parking and road use. These will reduce the volume of traffic and reduce congestion, and create space for cycle lanes or wider footways. Car clubs should be provided as an alternative to car ownership. Cycling should be enabled for everyone, including women, children and disabled people; this requires convenient, direct routes that are protected from motor vehicles.

Specific comments

Chapter 1 – the challenge

The challenges of poor health and overcrowding on public transport are correctly identified. A key underlying reason is that the cars can use most of the roads freely and prevent use of other modes of transport (e.g. walking, cycling, buses) which could solve many of London’s transport problems.

We feel there are two additional challenges that need to be addressed directly:

1. Commercial lobby groups with vested interests

Transport is a significant source of revenue for commercial organisations including the oil and energy sector, the motor industry and privatised bus companies. Cycling is much cheaper than other forms of transport, so a shift from cars to bikes results in a net loss of commercial income (but financial gain for individuals). Influence from think-tanks, the media and professional lobbyists may explain why provision for such an efficient and effective mode of transport as cycling has been resisted.

The Mayor was elected by Londoners and should act in the best interests of Londoners rather than attempting to appease an interest group. The Mayoral Transport Strategy should be informed by evidence-based advice from public health and transport researchers, such as the National Institute of Health and care Excellence guidelines [2,3], which recommend that walking and cycling are prioritised in all new road schemes. If people in England cycled as much as people in Denmark, reductions in diseases such as diabetes and dementia would save 1% of the entire NHS budget [4].

It is important to note there was initial opposition to cycling schemes even in the Netherlands, but it is now one of the most cycle-friendly countries in the world.

2. Car ownership, parking and use of road space

A huge proportion of road space in London is currently used for residential car parking. This is because of a historical lack of parking charges while cars gradually became more affordable and more common over the past few decades. New parking charges can be unpopular. In outer London boroughs such as Harrow, regulated parking is introduced only if local residents ask for it, and its sole aim is to prevent non-residents (e.g. commuters) from parking rather than actively reduce car ownership. Parking fees are just high enough to cover the administration costs of the scheme and do not generate much income.

The Mayoral Transport Strategy should have an explicit aim to reduce car ownership by increasing parking charges, providing car clubs (i.e. an alternative to car ownership) and providing alternatives to car use (better cycling facilities and public transport) throughout London.

Chapter 2 – the vision

The Mayor’s aim for 2041 is for 80% of trips to be on foot, cycle or public transport; this is a long term aim, and there is a risk that effective long-term measures with short-term disbenefits will be avoided during the current Mayoralty. The strategy should include short term aims (over 5-10 years) that current policies can directly act towards.

‘Healthy streets’

Current schemes branded as ‘Healthy Streets’ (e.g. the Baker Street two-way project, Kingsbury Road, Tottenham Court Road) do not provide cycling infrastructure separate from motor vehicles, and we do not consider them ‘Healthy’. There needs to be much stricter eligibility for a street to be considered ‘Healthy’; it should not be just a tick-box exercise. A high cycling level of service (London Cycling Design Standard) should be an essential criterion, and healthy streets should have ‘pedestrians and cyclists from all walks of life’.

The strategy should specifically consider ‘rat-running’ (inappropriate through motor vehicle traffic on minor roads). Closing streets to through motor traffic is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of improving the street environment for walking and cycling, but can lead to short term opposition from motorists. The mini-Holland competition incentivised councils to propose the removal of through traffic from residential areas with the potential prize of a substantial funding pot for other improvements.

Chapter 3 – Healthy streets

The strategy should include short-term aims. The aim of Policy 1 (‘The Mayor’s aim is that, by 2041, all Londoners do at least the 20 minutes of active travel they need to stay healthy each day’) is a nice aspiration but is too far in the future and difficult to measure. It would be more useful to set specific aims directly relating to short-medium term policies, such as the percentage of children walking or cycling to school.

Proposal 1

a) ‘Liveable neighbourhoods’

It is essential that liveable neighbourhoods continue the good examples of the mini-Hollands, and require the creation of space for walking and cycling by removing or restricting through motor traffic. Without this condition, these schemes may end up being just cosmetic urban realm improvements (e.g. repaving, art, street trees) with no improvements for walking or cycling. Funding should be sufficient for all boroughs to have a substantial scheme in place within 10 years.

b) ‘Healthy routes’

These should be high quality walking and cycling routes separate from motor traffic, with segregation between pedestrians and cyclists on busy routes. The routes should not give up or take long detours on encountering barriers such as busy roads.

d) Improving accessibility, removing street clutter

The strategy should specifically mention the removal of on-street parking, particularly footway parking. Inappropriate on-street parking blocks traffic and causes delays to buses, as well as endangering cyclists and pedestrians.

e) Ensuring any scheme being undertaken on London’s streets for any reason improves conditions for walking and cycling.

This proposal is very important, and needs to be enforced. Currently it is not being followed – either walking and cycling are not considered, or there is not enough funding, or modelling shows an increase in motor vehicle journey times if walking or cycling facilities are provided so the decision is taken not to provide these facilities.

Proposal 2

We strongly support changes to Oxford Street and Parliament Square to reduce the domination of motor traffic. If Oxford Street is fully pedestrianised is it essential that a high quality parallel cycle route is provided. However, it would be best to provide a cycle track on Oxford Street itself to improve accessibility for disabled people, some of whom use a bicycle as a mobility aid.

Proposal 3 – a London-wide network of cycle routes by 2041

We believe it is possible to build an initial network much more quickly. The mini-Hollands are being built within a few years, and it should be possible to make major changes to London’s roads within 10 years. A distant 2041 aim is a potential excuse for inaction now.

Proposal 4 – leisure walking routes

It is important to improve walking conditions in London’s parks by removing through motor traffic, such as in Regent’s Park Outer Circle.

Policy 2 – Vision Zero

We approve the aim of eliminating all road casualties through safe road design. It is essential that schemes to improve safety do not reduce convenience (and lead to people taking dangerous shortcuts); for example some boroughs have cited safety concerns as reasons why they do not permit two-way cycling on one-way streets, or use guardrails to force pedestrians to cross roads where it is convenient for motorists. There is a need for much stricter enforcement of traffic laws such as speed limits, with resources targeted at road users that cause the most harm (i.e. motorists).

Proposal 9

a) Speed limits

Some boroughs are more proactive than others in introducing 20mph speed limits on non-trunk roads. This is partly due to the attitude of councillors and partly due to misunderstandings by trafic officers, some of whom believe that speed humps are required on any 20mph street. There should be better enforcement of speed limits by much wider use of average speed cameras.

b) Road danger reduction

People avoid the most dangerous junctions so they do not have high casualties. A network-wide strategy is needed to remove barriers to walking and cycling.

c) Safety standards for vehicles

Safety standards for vehicles should be built into TfL and local authority contracts.

Proposal 11

Bus lanes do not constitute adequate space for cycling. If space is at a premium, the priority should be to provide segregated cycle lanes, because motor vehicles can use general traffic lanes safely but many people will be prevented from cycling at all if they have to mix with motor vehicles. Proposal

Proposal 15

Charging for road use will incentivise logistics companies to plan journeys in a more cost-effective way. Companies should be encouraged to use cargo bikes for local deliveries.

Proposal 17 – car clubs

Car clubs should be provided throughout London, and all on-street parking should be regulated. Parking charges should be set according to demand to ensure that there are always free spaces available, and should be high enough to deter unnecessary car ownership. Ideally only people who need to commute regularly to places outside London would need to own a car.

Proposal 18 – congestion charging

The proposal to ‘keep congestion charging schemes under review’ is a weak statement on the future development of road user charging. The existing congestion charge applies at limited times on weekdays only, for a tiny area of London. However, the camera technology has been well tested. It would be reasonably straightforward to extend the hours of the existing zone and remove exemptions for private hire vehicles. Similar zones should be set up elsewhere across London, for example in each borough (where people driving into a borough pay a contribution towards the cost of traffic in the borough) – this would provide much-needed income for boroughs.

Proposal 20 – borough traffic reduction strategies

Although improvements to other modes of transport may encourage motorists to switch from driving, the resultant decrease in congestion may encourage more people to drive until traffic returns to its previous level. Charges for parking and road use are therefore essential elements of a strategy to reduce traffic.

Proposal 21 – TfL will work with boroughs who wish traffic demand management strategies

Some of the boroughs which urgently need traffic reduction strategies will be politically unwilling to upset motorists. TfL and the mayor need to provide top-down leadership (e.g. incentives for councils to implement parking and road user charges) to ensure that local politics do not get in the way. TfL should standardise the charging systems for motorists to ensure fairness, convenience and consistency.

Policy 5 – to reduce emissions

In view of particulate pollution from electric vehicles and the public health benefits of active travel, reduction in motor vehicle use is much more important than switching from one type of vehicle to another. The commercial pressure from the automotive industry to switch to electric cars rather than walking, cycling or public transport must be resisted.

Proposal 24 – emergency measures to restrict vehicle use during high pollution

The primary aim of such measures should be to reduce pollution by reducing traffic. It is not acceptable to tell victims of pollution to try to protect themselves.

Proposal 25 – local pollution hotspots

The number of pollution hotspots is so large, and they will occur on every major road, so we believe that pollution reduction strategies will be more effective if they aim to reduce traffic overall in the entire road network.

Proposal 41 – trees on TRLN road network

We encourage the planting of more street trees, but it is also important to note that trees can be replaced and moved when streets are redesigned. This can improve the road layout and accommodate cycle lanes. Where a street has car parking, trees should be planted ideally between parking spaces rather than on the footway, where they reduce the available width of footway.

Proposal 42 – reduce run-off

We welcome strategies to reduce water run-off by reducing the amount of hard surfacing. We recommend that road widths and the number of lanes are reduced where possible.

Chapter 4 – public transport

Policy 10 – affordability

Road user charges and parking charges should be used to subsidise public transport and reduce tube and train fares.

Proposal 54 – bus priority schemes

Key strategies to improve bus journey times are to reduce motor traffic by road user charging and removing obstructing parking. Bus lanes may be helpful in some locations, but not if the road does not have segregated cycling infrastructure, because buses will be stuck behind slow cyclists.

Proposal 102 – funding

Currently the majority of TfL’s funding comes from public transport users. Additional funding for transport should be derived from from road user charging, workplace parking levy and residential parking charges.

Policy 21 – technology

Although it is important to be aware of new technology, appropriate implementation of traditional technology will go along way to solving London’s transport problems. The key barriers are social and political. Bicycles have existed for over a hundred years and high quality cycle networks have been built in the Netherlands for the past 40 years. Many road schemes in London still continue to ignore cycling. There is a need for clear guidelines on future road capacity in new developments; for example junctions near the Kodak development in Harrow ar being rebuilt to accommodate huge numbers of cars, leaving no space for cycling. The guidance should plan for a decline in motor traffic, ensuring that more space can be allocated to walking and cycling at junctions.

Policy 23 – Local Implementation Plan

Councils need more money for local walking and cycling infrastructure in order to be able to implement a high quality cycle network. The current low level of funding means that current schemes have such a low ambition they will never enable mass cycling.

Summary of recommended changes

We would recommend the following changes to make the Mayoral Transport Strategy fit for purpose:

1. Short term goals (e.g. over 5 to 10 years) to ensure that action is taken now.

2. Tighter oversight of road schemes, with funding withdrawn from schemes that fail to provide an adequate Cycling Level of Service

3. A mini-Holland style scheme in every borough within the next 10 years

4. London-wide road user charging

5. London-wide regulated car parking

Conclusion

The Mayoral Transport Strategy broadly aims to improve health and transport provision for all Londoners by aspiring to a shift away from cars. However, for these benefits to be realised, it needs to set short term (5-10 year) targets and include concrete measures to reduce car ownership (e.g. parking charges), reduce car use (e.g. road user charges), remove through traffic from minor roads, improve pedestrian crossings and build a comprehensive cycle network.

References

1. Association of Directors of Public Health. Is England taking action on active travel? 2012. http://www.adph.org.uk/2012/01/action-on-active-travel-2012-update-2/

2. NICE public health guideline on walking and cycling, https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/PH41/

3. NICE clinical guideline on obesity prevention, https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg43/

4. Jarrett J, Woodcock J, Griffiths U et al. Effect of increasing active travel in urban England and Wales on costs to the National Health Service. Lancet 2012; 379: 2198–205.

“Metropolitan line” cycle routes

Overview

Harrow council proposes two ‘Metropolitan’ cycle routes mostly along quiet roads, heading west from the town centre towards Pinner and Eastcote. They are planning to upgrade the existing narrow footpath between Cambridge Road and Pinner Road and make it suitable for cycle use, and improve the connection between Church Avenue and Durley Avenue. Other parts of the route have not yet been finalised.

Proposed ‘Metropolitan’ cycle routes

Our specific comments:

  1. The subway under Roxborough Bridge should retain segregation between pedestrians and cyclists, but they should be realigned so they do not cross over.
  2. Vaughan Road is a route for through motor traffic and can be busy at times. The road is one-way for cars in the uphill (eastbound) direction, but there is car parking on both sides and not enough space remaining for cars to overtake cyclists safely. The council proposes to install speed cushions on this road even though they are not recommended for use on cycle routes. Full-width sinusoidal profile humps should be used instead.
    Ideally, this route should be blocked for through motor traffic, for example by installing a modal filter at West Harrow station. This would make the West Harrow residential area more pleasant for walking and cycling. If this is not possible, we recommend that the direction of the road is changed, so it is one way westbound with entry only from the south (i.e. no right turn to enter). This would encourage motorists to use the parallel Butler Road instead, reducing traffic on Vaughan Road. It is also essential that some car parking spaces are removed to provide safe places for cars and bikes to pass each other.
  3. Cycle parking is required at West Harrow station, where there is currently none.
  4. Like Vaughan Road, The Gardens is also narrowed by car parking on both sides and can be busy at times. Sometimes it is blocked by cars trying to travel in opposite directions at the same time. A modal filter at West Harrow station would significantly improve the walking and cycling environment outside Vaughan School and West Harrow station.
  5. The North Harrow cycle track needs to be extended along Imperial Drive to link up with the Rayners Lane cycle track. There is plenty of space on the verge and excess space on the road (advisory cycle lanes which can be removed) for this to be done. This will provide an essential link to Rayners Lane station, and by making the road narrower it will reduce motor vehicle speeds and improve safety. (We have been consistently asking for this link for the past few years).
  6. Crossing facilities near North Harrow station need to be reviewed. Currently there is a toucan crossing near the station but nothing further south, e.g. between Blenheim Road and Lancaster Road. We would recommend a new priority zebra / cycle crossing here, and restrictions on motor vehicle movements (e.g. exit only from Blenheim Road, entry only to Lancaster Road) to reduce conflicts. The toucan crossing at North Harrow station can be converted to a zebra crossing as cyclists will no longer need to cross here, which will reduce delays to motorists and pedestrians.
  7. The North Harrow cycle track along Pinner Road needs to have priority over side roads and the car park entrance.
  8. The Yeading Walk shared path should be extended a few metres to directly join the eastern section of Suffolk Road; this will avoid the need for cyclists to use a short section of the busy road to make the link.
  9. Northumberland Road is very narrow but is often used as a through route by motor vehicles, making it unpleasant for pedestrians, cyclists and residents. A modal filter near the Scout Hut / Yeading Walk would not hinder motor vehicle access but would prevent rat-running. (Residents of Northumberland Road have repeatedly complained about speeding on this road but the council has so far decided not to try to reduce the traffic on this road).
  10. Whittington Way has wide verges and intermittent service roads. There is plenty of space for cycle tracks to link up the service roads, which would provide new cycling route opportunities (e.g. along St Michael’s Crescent). A zebra / cycle crossing of Whittington Way and cycle track around the roundabout would also be useful, to allow cyclists to reach Church Avenue without having to cross the roundabout.
  11. The link betwen Durley Avenue and Church Avenue currently has a gate which makes it inaccessible for disabled cyclists; this needs to be removed.
  12. Cycle tracks along Marsh Road and a safe crossing of Marsh Road (ideally a cycle / zebra) are needed. The Cecil Park / Marsh Road junction is very wide which encourages speeding and makes it difficult for pedestrians to cross; this junction should have tighter geometry, with Cecil Park reduced to the minimum possible width, and a zebra crossing to help children walking to the nearby school.
  13. The Marsh Road zebra crossing should be upgraded to a zebra and cycle crossing, to enable cyclists to enter the service road from Cecil Park, and use the service road to link to West End Avenue without having to cycle on the busy Marsh Road itself. The scheme should fit in with future schemes for segregated cycle tracks along Pinner Road / Marsh Road itself.

Ride to RideLondon FreeCycle 29 July 2017

Harrow Cyclists provided feeder rides to and from the RideLondon FreeCycle in Central London. The FreeCycle is an event for all abilities, where people will be able to cycle around an 8-mile circuit in Central London along roads closed to motor traffic.

We had about 40 people on the outward ride, which was led by Tony, and 15 people on the return ride led by Veronica.

Ride to FreeCycle 29 Jul 2017 - setting off
Ride to FreeCycle 29 Jul 2017 – setting off

Byways and Superhighways of Central London 25 Jun 2017

Come and explore central London on a bike! You will be amazed at the places you can reach. Our journey will explore useful back roads, plus some of the new quality superhighways that London Cycling Campaign has fought for.

We will meet at the Harrow entrance to Harrow & Wealdstone Station (near the Civic Centre) at 9.45am. We shall catch the fast train into Euston (please bring your Oyster or contactless card).

Please bring water and a bike lock. You can bring a packed lunch or buy something en route.

Return time will be around 4-5pm. It may be easier to return via Baker Street or Marylebone.

Please sign up on the letsride website: https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/harrow-cyclists-byways-and-superhighways-of-central-london-whole-day

If you have any questions, please contact Tony on 07828 580931.

Harrow bike ride 28 May 2017

 

Lovely day for our second regular Harrow Cyclists’ ride beginning at The Bike Shop in North Harrow. We did a loop round Ruislip, Eastcote and Harrow through parks, quiet roads and paths to reach the new cafe at Headstone Manor for a well-deserved coffee/smoothie and delicious cakes. Also managed to interest some of the customers outside the Bike Shop in joining us next time! Thanks to Penny for back-marking and guiding us through the junctions, as well as Anoop, Divya, Pinar, Tony, Nicola, Tapash, Jo, Amanda, David and Vicky for coming.

Annual general meeting Wed 10 May 2017

Annual General Meeting

Wed 10 May, 7.30pm at 60 Longley Road, Harrow, HA1 4TH.

Attendees: Tony, Alan, David Turner, Anoop

Apologies: Veronica

1. Report on the year

In 2016-2017 we led a successful ride to and from the RideLondon FreeCycle, with about 60 people on the way in and 30 people on the way back. However, we have not made much progress with the council, and key cycle routes proposed in the Vision for Cycling and the Cycling Strategy have been abandoned in the new Heart of Harrow development.

2. Finances 2016-2017

Income: £2 (bank interest)
(Income from Prudential RideLondon 2016 has not yet been received)

Opening balance at 1/4/2016 £1733
Closing balance at 31/3/2017 £1735

Money from police project to refurbish bicycles (about 6 years ago) will be transferred from restricted funds to general funds.

We originally responded to LCC’s request for funds by offering £1000 for LCC central funds, but they have not requested it so far. We therefore decide to keep this money in the Harrow account. David Turner and Anoop Shah will be the signatories for cheques.

3. Election of officers

a) Co-ordinator

Tony was re-elected as co-ordinator.

b) Secretary

Anoop was re-elected as secretary.

c) Treasurer

David Turner was re-elected as treasurer.

Ordinary meeting

 

Harrow bike ride 23 Apr 2017

We had our first regular Harrow Cyclists’ ride on Sunday led by Penny – great turnout! Thanks to Catherine, Pinar, Nutan, Anoop, Divya, Tony, Tim, Veronica, Claire, Sue and Marie for coming. Here we are ready to set off from The Bike Shop in North Harrow. Look out for our rides. The next is a 14-mile one on Sunday 28th May, so do sign up on the Letsride website:

https://www.letsride.co.uk/rides/harrow-cyclists-ride-round-ruislip-and-north-harrow

Harrow Cyclists easy ride