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Harrow Cyclists response to consultation on a new road scheme

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 originally proposed ‘Metropolitan’ cycle routes along the A404 (Pinner Road / Marsh Road) and A4090 (Imperial Drive). This current plan is a different set of routes mostly along minor roads, heading west from the town centre towards Pinner and Eastcote but avoiding most of Pinner and North Harrow town centres. They are planning to upgrade the existing narrow footpath between Cambridge Road and Pinner Road and make it suitable for cycle use, improve the connection between Church Avenue and Durley Avenue, and build a parallel crossing of Rayners Lane leading towards Whittington Way. There is a brief section of shared footway along Marsh Road. There are a few minor improvements to some of the junctions (level footway outside Vaughan School, raised table and reduced flare at the Cecil Park / Marsh Road junction), but these improvements are primarily to help pedestrians.

The rest of the routes will be signed without any specific infrastructure. There are no concrete plans to build the segregated paths along main roads, as originally proposed.

Detailed proposals are on cyclescape (https://www.cyclescape.org/threads/3714).

The deadline for response is 17 Dec 2017 – please respond online (https://consult.harrow.gov.uk/consult.ti/metcyc/consultationHome).

Our response

We oppose the scheme overall because there is inadequate separation from motor traffic (some of the minor roads are quite busy) and this scheme avoids key destinations (such as the North Harrow and Pinner shops), unlike the previous scheme with cycle paths along main roads in the 2013 Vision for Cycling (which we supported). Some of the minor improvements are reasonable but do not justify marketing the entire route as a cycle route, so signage and bicycle symbols on the road (as proposed) would be a waste of money. Most importantly, we do not want this substandard scheme to be used as a tick-box exercise by the council to say that they have built 5 miles of new cycle route. It would be much better to spend this money on a high quality localised  improvements (e.g. the North Harrow to Rayners Lane link), and to apply for larger amounts of funding to complete the original route along Pinner Road (which is fully justified, as this is a desire line identified in TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis and good quality cycling infrastructure has a huge benefit:cost ratio).

Proposed improvements

Overall route: to include segregated cycle paths along main roads:

Proposed modifications to Metropolitan routes

Outside North Harrow station:

Note that Harrow’s original 2013 proposal involved a network of cycle paths along the main roads:

Detailed response

This consultation response is on behalf of Harrow Cyclists, the local branch of the London Cycling Campaign. We are grateful for the opportunity to comment on these proposals.

We oppose this scheme. Specifically, we oppose the marketing of these routes as cycle routes because the level of infrastructure proposed will not make them sufficiently quiet to enable a wide range of people to cycle. Some parts of these routes have dangerous conditions that are “critical issues” in both TfL’s Healthy Streets Check and Cycling Level of Service matrices. Signing this route and painting bicycle symbols on the road will be a waste of money and should not be funded.

Unlike Harrow Council’s 2013 Metropolitan cycle route proposals in the mini-Holland bid, which consisted of segregated cycle paths along important desire lines (Pinner Road, Marsh Road, Bridge Street and Imperial Drive), this proposal also avoids important destinations such as Pinner High Street, Pinner Sainsbury’s, North Harrow shops, Nower Hill School and Rayners Lane station. The detour through Cecil Park avoids potentially useful junctions with Rayners Lane and Field End Road. The route along Church Avenue may be useful for local journeys but does not serve any important destinations – a more comprehensive approach to improving links across Whittington Way may be useful (cycle paths to link up the service roads), but the primary signed cycle route needs to follow the main desire line, which would be along Imperial Drive towards Rayners Lane.

Specific points about this scheme:

  • Routes through this area are marked as featuring very high potential to cycle in TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis, and were included in the council’s 2013 proposals.
  • For a scheme aimed at providing a route “using quieter and safer residential streets”, this route both crosses and proceeds along the A4090, with bicycle symbols marked in the road near North Harrow Station. This road is not quiet or safe. Above 2,000 PCUs and/or 20mph, physical separation between motor traffic and cycling flows is required. Imperial Drive traffic counts show circa 17,000 daily motor vehicle movements on a 30mph road. Continuous cycle tracks are required the whole length of Imperial Drive.
  • The proposed traffic island at Marsh Road (northern end of Cecil Park) will result in lane widths that are between 3.25m and 4m wide – a “critical issue” in TfL’s London Cycling Design Standards, on top of that, a second “critical issue” comes from simply the sheer volume of motor vehicle traffic those cycling will be expected to mix with on this section of Marsh Road. A 2m advisory cycle lane is not a suitable “quieter and safer” treatment on Marsh Road between Cecil Park and West End Lane. For roads featuring high volumes of motor vehicle traffic, physical separation throughout is required.
  • The birectional cycle track outside North Harrow station needs to be continuous with safe design of side road junctions, such as the junction with Cambridge Road. The proposed shared footway outside North Harrow station is inappropriate – segregation and bus stop bypasses are required in busy areas such as this (see attachment).
  • Some of the residential streets used feature high volumes and sometimes high speeds of motor vehicle traffic using them as through or “ratrun” routes, especially on school days. These streets require further treatment – physical separation or restrictions to through traffic on an area-wide basis – to be successfully made “quieter and safer”.
    • 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 not tried to reduce the volume of traffic).
    •  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.
    • 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.

Comments on specific interventions included in the scheme:

  1. Raised table across entrance to Vaughan primary school (page 1) – we support this as it will aid pedestrians, but it does not do anything to improve conditions for cycling
  2. Imperial Drive, near North Harrow station (page 2) – this is a poor design. The cycle path to the north of North Harrow Station should be extended southwards to join up with the Rayners Lane cycle path, as we have consistently campaigned for years. Car parking in bus laybys will delay buses, and bus stops will remain inaccessible because it is difficult for buses to line up with the kerb. For cyclists, crossing from Argyle Road to Northumberland involves a 100 metre detour via the existing toucan crossing. Shared footway outside the shops in the middle of a cycle route will cause conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. Bicycle symbols painted in the carriageway of a 30mph road are useless. We recommend extension of the  segregated cycle path and a new parallel priority (‘tiger’) crossing  further south, between Blenheim Road and Lancaster Road. This would shorten the route of the southern arm of this quietway and also provide a useful crossing facility for pedestrians.
  3. Northumberland Road, level access to path along Yeading Brook  (page 3): instead of building a complicated area of shared footway, would it not be easier and cheaper just to replace the guard rail with a dropped kerb? This would have the added benefit of allowing cyclists to enter or leave Northumberland Road in either direction.
  4. Streamside open space, between Church Avenue and Durley Avenue (page 4): this route will not be easily accessible for disabled cyclists if it has a gate. We would recommend removing the gate if possible, and providing the alternative route via St Michael’s Crescent (which is just as quick, entirely along residential roads and has higher social safety).
  5. Rayners Lane junction with Whittington Way (page 5) – this plan provides cycling provision for a very specific route through the junction but the crossing of Whittington Way is poor – the refuge island is too narrow for cycles with trailers. There is plenty of space along Whittington Way for cycle paths to link up the side roads. For example, the Yeading Brook path already extends to Whittington Way but ends abruptly at a bus stop without a dropped kerb; this should be extended to link up with the service roads on either wide of Whittington Way with a tiger crossing across Whittington Way. This would allow cyclists to use St Michael’s Crescent as an alternative to Church Avenue.
  6. Melrose Road raised table (page 6) – we support this.
  7. Cannon Lane / Cannonbury Avenue junction (page 7) – we do not feel that bicycle symbols would add much because this is no different to most of the roads in Harrow.
  8. Marsh Road between Cecil Park and West End Lane (page 8) – this is a poor design which does not safely accommodate people cycling along Marsh Lane itself (who have an intermittent short cycle lane southbound and an indirect route northbound via the service road. Segregation of cyclists and motor vehicles here is essential because Marsh Road is very busy. The pedestrian layout remains poor; people have to cross multiple wide-mouthed service roads. We recommend removal of the service road, with car parking off the main carriageway with a segregated northbound cycle path on Marsh Road and stepped cycle lane southbound. The northbound cycle path on the west side of Marsh Road should be two-way between the junctions with Cecil Park and West End Lane, to allow cyclists to use the tiger crossing and avoid having to cycle on Marsh Road itself.
  9. South entrance of Cecil Park, near Chessington Court (page 9) – the parallel ‘tiger’ crossing is welcome but the scheme does not accommodate people cycling along Marsh Road very well. Marsh Road needs segregated cycle lanes, and there is plenty of space on this stretch of road to accommodate them.

General points about cycling schemes:

  • LCC requires schemes to be designed to accommodate growth in cycling. Providing space for cycling is a more efficient use of road space than providing space for driving private motor vehicles, particularly for journeys of 5km or less. In terms of providing maximum efficiency for space and energy use, walking, cycling, then public transport are key.
  • As demonstrated by the success of recent Cycle Superhighways and mini-Holland projects, people cycle when they feel safe. For cycling to become mainstream, a network with a minimum 400m  mesh density is required, with high-quality, direct routes separate from high volumes and speeds of motor vehicle traffic to all key destinations and residential areas in an area. Schemes should be planned, designed and implemented to maximise potential to increase journeys – with links to nearby amenities, schools, residential centres and transport hubs considered from the outset.
  •  Spending money on cycling infrastructure has been shown to dramatically boost health outcomes in an area. This is particularly important in Harrow, which has the highest level of diabetes in London and Spending on cycling schemes outranks all other transport mode for return on investment according to a DfT study. Schemes which promote cycling meet TfL’s “Healthy Streets” checklist. A healthy street is one where people choose to cycle.
  • All schemes should be designed to enable people of all ages and abilities to cycle, including disabled people.
  • LCC wants, as a condition of funding, all highway development designed to London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS), with a Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) rating of 70 or above, with all “Critical Fails” eliminated.

Harrow High Road safety scheme, Sep 2016

Harrow Council is proposing a ‘safety’ scheme at the High Street / Long Elmes roundabout which involves making the approaches wider to stop buses from being stuck in traffic. However the roundabout itself is too wide and dangerous, and there is no protected space for cycling.

Harrow Council's proposed changes to High Road / Long Elmes roundabout
Harrow Council’s proposed changes to High Road / Long Elmes roundabout

Click here to read our draft response.

Click here to respond to the consultation (deadline 30 Sep).

Vaughan Road car park redevelopment, Oct 2016

Proposal

Harrow Council is proposing to build flats on the site of the Vaughan Road car park. Each flat would have access to indoor cycle parking but there will be only 3 standard and 3 disabled car parking spaces for the whole development of about 30 flats.

Harrow Cyclists response

We have asked for the adjacent subway under the Roxborough Bridge roundabout to be made more cyclist and pedestrian friendly, and for cycle routes along nearby roads to be improved.

Vaughan Road redevelopment website

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Harrow Cyclists initial response

Harrow Cyclists response to revised design (Jul 2017)

The improvements to the public realm near the subway are welcome. However, it is disappointing that the plans do not improve transport in the surrounding area. We strongly urge the council to consider our suggestions which we have previously stated:

1. Cycle path and subway

The conversion of the existing segregated cycle path to a shared use area on will lead to delays to cyclists and discomfort for pedestrians on what will be a designated ‘Metropolitan’ cycle route.
At the entrance to the subway, the cycle path is currently north of the footway, but swaps position with the footway under the middle of the roundabout. The gap between the cycle path and the northern wall of the subway is filled with hostile paving. This scheme should be a good opportunity to realign the cycle path and footway, to provide a continuous footway to the north and west of the cycle path. This would minimise cyclist / pedestrian conflict and maximise convenience, as I pointed out on the site visit last year (see modified plan below).
Harrow Cyclists suggestion to realign cycle path in subway

2. Cycling facilities in surrounding roads

The expectation of a car-free lifestyle for tenants of the new block is completely at odds with the prioritisation of motor vehicle capacity in the design of Harrow’s roads. There is no safe space for cycling in the surrounding streets, which needs to be addressed for this development to work. Vaughan Road needs changes to traffic flow to discourage through motor traffic, and removal of some parking to enable motor vehicles and cyclists to safely pass each other. Lowlands Road and Bessborough Road need segregated cycling facilities created by removing some space from motor vehicles.

3. Car parking

It is essential that convenient car parking is available for residents and visitors, whilst reducing the number of parking spaces on the minor roads in the area (especially Vaughan Road). The only way to do this is by encouraging people to convert from car ownership to hiring a car when necessary, by (1) providing car clubs and (2) increasing the cost of on-street parking. The surrounding area needs regulated parking for residents and short stay parking for visitors (currently there are patchy controlled parking zones with unrestricted parking on parts of Vaughan Road and Bouverie Road). The income from such a scheme can be used to fund road improvements, and can potentially be fed back to residents in the form of a council tax rebate so that they do not feel it is an unfair money-making exercise.

 

Wealdstone redevelopment, Dec 2016

Proposal

Harrow Council is proposing a £3million redevelopment of the roads in Wealdstone town centre. This will involve rerouting buses, removing pedestrian guardrail and improving some pedestrian crossings. The existing short section of cycle track alongside the Peel House car park (which will become the new civic centre) will be retained but there will be no new segregated cycle tracks, and proposed cycle routes which were in Harrow’s 2013 Cycling Vision (mini-Holland bid) and the current Cycling Strategy are not included in the plans. Disappointingly, the Goodwill to All junction (Headstone Drive / Harrow View) will be redeveloped with inconvenient multi-stage crossings for pedestrians and additional motor traffic lanes, but no space for cycling.

Previous proposals

Vision for Cycling (2013)

In the ‘Vision for Cycling’ submitted as the mini-Holland bid in 2013, Harrow proposed a ‘Heart of Harrow’ cycle route along the Station Road corridor (orange in the map blow). You can download the document here.

Harrow Council’s Heart of Harrow mini-Holland proposal (2013)

There was also a Cross-Harrow cycle route proposed along Headstone Drive (red in the map above). More details about the proposals can be downloaded here.

Heart of Harrow Action Plan (2014)

In the Heart of Harrow Area Action Plan (a detailed development plan for Harrow and Wealdstone town centres), the Station Road corridor was identified as a key cycling desire line along which cycling facilities were poor.

Improvements proposed for Wealstone Town Centre included replacement of the George Gange Way roundabout with a signalised junction and a new walking/cycling bridge over the railway between the Kodak site and Tudor Road. You can download the document here.

Current proposals

Overview of proposals

Current Wealdstone proposals overview

The overview map shows a number of proposed cycle routes (green lines), including the cross-Harrow route. However, the Station Road route is absent. The overall network is quite sparse, and needs to be supplemented by cycle-friendly minor roads and good permeability for cyclists among the residential road network (avoiding unnecessary one-way systems or detours).

The Station Road route has been dropped because the road is ‘too narrow’, although nothing has changed since the 2013 Vision for Cycling when it was considered wide enough to become a key cycle route.

Details of proposals in Wealdstone town centre

Current Wealdstone proposals details

Details of the town centre proposals include re-routing of buses and removal of pedestrian guardrailing. However, there are also some changes proposed which will make cycling more difficult:

  • One-way traffic on Palmerston Road with no cyclist exemption
  • One-way bus traffic on part of the High Street with no cyclist exemption
  • Conversion of the segregated cycle track outside Trinity Church (part of the cross-Harrow cycle route) to a shared use public square, intended to be used for markets and public events

You can download details of the proposals here.

Proposals for Ellen Webb Drive

The proposal for the Ellen Webb Drive junction is for this to be signalised with a toucan crossing and shared footway for cyclists.

Proposals for Goodwill Junction crossroads

The proposals for Goodwill Junction are for an additional left turn slip lane and a traffic island on Headstone Drive, but no cycling facilities.

Harrow Cyclists response

We sent the following email to all councillors on the Traffic and Road Safety Advisory Panel.

Continue reading Wealdstone redevelopment, Dec 2016

Alexandra Avenue junction, Jan 2017

Proposal

Harrow council is proposing to convert a semi-circle at the junction of Alexandra Avenue, Treganna Avenue and Arundel Drive to one-way operation. Unfortunately there will be no exemption to the one-way system for cyclists, meaning that some cycle routes joining or leaving the Alexandra Avenue cycle track will become long and circuitous.

There are no proposed improvements to the Alexandra Avenue cycle track itself, which suffers from poor surfacing and lack of priority over side roads.

Detour for cyclists at Alexandra Avenue

Harrow Cyclists response

We officially objected to this scheme.

Retaining two-way cycle access is recommend in current guidelines and would be safe. We believe that local improvements to the Alexandra Avenue cycle track should be included in this scheme.

Council response

The council is going ahead with the scheme as planned, with no modifications.  Their response:

I am writing to inform you that your objection has been considered by the Traffic and Highway Asset Service Manager in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment, Crime & Community Safety and has been set aside.

They did not explain the rationale for the changes, so we emailed them again on 9 Feb 2017:

Thank you for your response. However, we are still unclear as to the justification for the works presented. We believe they will degrade the already poor provision for cycling in this area and contravene Harrow’s Cycling Strategy, the public health policy and the London Cycling Design Standard.
Exemption of cyclists from new one way restriction:
The London Cycling Design Standard states that cyclists should be exempt from one way restrictions unless it is unsafe. This is a minor road which is wide enough for contraflow cycling, which is permitted in similar situations in other boroughs (which have a much better cycling safety record than Harrow). If safety was a serious concern, a segregated contraflow cycle lane could be built.
Cycle track priority over side roads:
A poor design feature of the cycle track when it was originally built was that it did not have priority over side roads, thus making cycling inconvenient and dangerous. The London Cycling Design Standard states that cycle tracks should have priority over side roads. Best practice would be for the track to be slewed gently away from the junction by a car length, which there is space to do here.
Please could you explain Harrow Council’s justification for these two aspects of the scheme.

Liaison with Public Health Harrow

Local health authorities have a public health duty to promote walking and cycling, because lack of physical exercise is a major cause of ill health. This responsibility is stated in national guidelines. However, many of the road schemes in Harrow have not improved cycling conditions.
Harrow Cyclists engages with the public health team in Harrow Council to try to push cycling up the agenda, with the aim of improving health and quality of life for people in Harrow.