Harrow Cyclists propose that cycling in Harrow should be pleasant, safe, convenient, and accessible to everyone. This can be achieved by converting our road network from being designed primarily for cars to providing for walking, cycling and driving. Roads should be designed according to Dutch best practice, because the Netherlands has managed to achieve the highest modal share of cycling anywhere in the world.
In order to achieve this vision, Harrow council needs to:
- Provide leadership for cycling in Harrow, a named councillor to champion cycle infrastructure. We recommend that engineers and council leaders attend a Dutch infrastructure study tour, such as one organised by David Hembrow (www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com)
- Increase funding for cycling to at least £20 per person per year, as recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG)
- Ensure that all road schemes prioritise walking and cycling
- Ensure that all new developments are cycle-friendly
- Apply for TfL funding for high quality cycle routes ideally according to Dutch best practice, but as a minimum conforming to the revised London Cycle Design Standards
- Reduce the speed limit to 20mph on all non-trunk roads, especially on routes used by pedestrians such as near shops
- Ensure that cycle facilities are well-maintained
- Follow all the other recommendations in the APPCG report, such as cycle training in schools and providing recreational off-road cycle routes.
The main reason why people do not cycle in Harrow is because cyclists are required to mix with motor traffic on the roads. Towns and countries with high levels of cycling separate cyclists from through motor traffic, by making minor roads access-only for cars and providing segregated cycle paths along main roads.
We commend Harrow Council on providing free cycle training; the popularity of this training in schools shows that there is huge latent demand for better cycle facilities. However, cycle training without infrastructure is ineffective in encouraging people to cycle regularly.
1. Leadership and engagement
Cycling needs strong leadership with champions among the councillors and council officers, to ensure that it is considered at the outset in all new developments.
It is unrealistic to expect more people to cycle without investing sufficient funds in building cycling infrastructure. Investment in cycling gives a good return; there are economic benefits to the healthcare system, to individuals (saving petrol costs or public transport fares) and businesses (reduced congestion). There are also non-financial benefits, such as the improvements in people’s health and happiness, and social benefits from improving mobility for people who cannot afford a car. Any new cycling or road schemes should be assessed for their health economic benefits using the WHO/Europe Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT). Given that the benefits outweigh the costs, we cannot afford not to build cycling infrastructure.
Harrow needs to provide enough sustained funding for engineers to develop schemes and bid for more money from TfL. Sustained investment of at least £20 per person per year in cycling will be required for Harrow to become like the Netherlands.
3. Ensuring good design
Many of the roads in Harrow are designed in a way which causes conflict between cyclists and motor vehicles and deters people from cycling. They are frequently inconvenient for pedestrians as well, with crossings located far from where people actually want to cross the road, lack of zebra crossings and long waits for the pedestrian phase at pelican crossings.
The Netherlands maintains excellent road safety without congestion by designating roads for a single purpose (through route or local access) and designing them in a way which prevents conflict between different road users. Trunk roads designed for free flow of motor vehicles have a segregated route for cyclists and are not expected to serve other functions such as parking and access. Cyclists and motor traffic mix on local access roads but they are usually unavailable as through routes for cars, so there is little traffic and the speed limit is 30km/h (18mph). It is also essential that junctions on main roads are sorted to be safe for cyclists, with elimination of the hazard of left turning lorries. Advanced stop lines at major multi-lane junctions do not do so and are not satisfactory; Dutch-style segregation and with separate cyclist traffic light phases are required at large junctions. Danish-style combined left turn and cycle lanes at junctions are an alternative solution for less busy junctions.
Harrow has a network of trunk roads, many of which have spare space (unnecessary extra traffic lanes, grass verges or parking space, e.g. Marsh Lane). Main roads with sufficient space should have segregated cycle paths. If they are necessary and wide enough they should have cycle paths; if they are narrow and alternative car routes are available they should be blocked to through motor traffic.
All new road developments in Harrow (whether or not specifically ‘cycling’ schemes) should consider walking and cycling at the outset and ensure that active modes of travel are facilitated.
4. Cycle-friendly development
All new developments should provide secure and convenient cycle parking. Large-scale developments should include convenient walking and cycling routes across the site, and section 106 money should be used to fund cycling schemes.
5. Designing new schemes
Harrow should develop a strategic masterplan for cycling following the recommendations of the APPCG report. Even if these schemes are not build immediately, no development should take place which will compromise their construction in the future.
6. 20mph speed limit
The speed limit on many roads in Harrow is still 30mph despite research demonstrating clear benefits of 20mph zones, with a significantly reduced risk of pedestrian fatality in collisions at 20mph compared to 30mph. The Get Britain Cycling report recommends a default urban speed limit of 20mph, with higher speeds permitted only on trunk roads where it is safe. This will reduce the human and financial cost due to collisions.
Designing a road for 20mph rather than 30mph affects every aspect of the design. It permits curves to have a tighter radius and reduces the amount of space needed by motor vehicles, leaving more space for walking and cycling. It makes it easier for traffic to filter and pass through junctions without requiring complex signals. It reduces congestion by encouraging people to walk or cycle, and prevents drivers from being forced to drive faster than they feel safe.
Harrow has so far opposed a 20mph speed limit because it might increase journey times for motorists, but in reality longer journeys would be mostly on trunk roads which with a higher speed limit. A cycle-friendly transport policy, of which the 20mph speed limit is an essential part, will reduce congestion and is likely to improve journey times.
Given that this is a nationally recommended low-cost measure which is supported by almost 80% of the public (British Social Attitudes Survey 2011), and is already being implemented in other boroughs such as Brent and Camden.
Cycle paths should be regularly swept of debris such as broken glass. Potholes must be repaired promptly, particularly on busy roads, with priority given to the outer third of the road which is most used by cyclists. Cycle routes must be kept open when a cycle path is closed for maintenance, for example by suspending car parking or closing a motor vehicle lane in order to create space. In the winter cycle paths must be cleared of snow and gritted to enable people to continue to travel safely.
8. Other considerations
Planning applications should require convenient, secure, accessible cycle parking. Cycling should be integrated with other modes of transport, particularly railways. More cycle parking needs to be provided at Harrow-on-the-Hill and Harrow & Wealdstone stations, along with convenient cycle routes to and from these stations. Promotion of cycling, training and other ‘soft’ measures are also important, but will be ineffective without substantial investment in infrastructure.
There are few off-road recreational cycle routes in Harrow, but there are many green spaces and scope to provide more cycle routes in places such as Bentley Priory.