Sunday, 22 February 2015

Ten years of serious and fatal cycle collisions in Hackney

At the end of last year I wrote about fatal and serious cycle collisions within Hackney from 2009-2014. I have since acquired the same statistics for cycle collisions from 2004-2009 and so now have a complete breakdown of all 2095 collisions within Hackney involving people cycling that caused some kind of an injury for the ten year period up to the end of June 2014. Of these 2095 collisions 283 of them resulted in either serious or fatal injuries to the person cycling and I have mapped all of those collisions here:

Click here to view the map

Once again I've included the vehicles involved, age and sex of the person injured or killed and a brief description of the collision itself (again please note that these descriptions are lifted directly off the police report and not my own words). Here is a breakdown of the statistics:

Of those 283 collisions 271 resulted in serious injuries with 12 of them fatal. 65% of the collisions occurred on the main roads and 35% on B or unclassified roads.

Once again the A10 is the worst road in the borough by quite some distance for serious collisions with a staggering 28% of all cycling KSIs occurring on it. The A10 is a clear desire line for people cycling in the borough as it is a direct route though the heart of Hackney linking Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Haggerston, Shoreditch and the City together within a few miles . I know I used this quote from the Hackney Council cycling plan in the last post but it is worth repeating here:

It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes.

I'll save my thoughts on the recently announced Cycle 'Superhighway' 1 for another time. The Shoreditch Triangle, Green Lanes and Mare Street in Hackney Central were also other collision blackspots

Statistics on the age and sex of those involved in the collisions is not that surprising: 42% were aged 18-29, 26% were aged 30-39 and 7% were children. 72% were male and 28% female.  If you've spent any time on a street corner in Hackney watching the demographic of people cycling then it will not come as any great surprise that over 70% of people involved in these collisions were both male and under the age of 40.

As for the type of vehicles involved in the 'serious injury' collisions more than 70% involved people cycling being struck by a car with buses, lorries, vans and two cyclists colliding all accounting for about 5% each.

As for the twelve fatal collisions six of them, precisely 50%, occurred on the A10. Two were on the A106, one on the A102, one on the B113 Morning Lane (the point where it is a dual carriageway outside Tesco) and one occurred on Broadway Market. Five of the people killed were aged 18-29, six were in their thirties with the death in Broadway Market classed as "age unknown". Eight were male and four were female. As for vehicles involved again it is probably no great surprise that a Lorry was involved in just over half of the deaths, two involved a car and one each for bus, taxi and two cycles colliding. The fatal collision on Broadway Market was the fatal collision which involved two bicycles colliding; whilst the main roads in the borough are the most dangerous for people cycling, these tragic collisions can still occur in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Please take time to view the map and feel free to use it for your own research. In the eight months since this data was collated another two people cycling in Hackney have lost their lives and no doubt many more have suffered serious injuries. Lets hope that Hackney can learn from other countries and make improvements to the roads where these collisions occur.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Olympic Park 2.5

This week marks two-and-a-half years since the closing ceremony of the Paralympic games and the Olympic Park being sealed off again to be transformed into legacy mode. My first post was written in the Summer of 2013 when the Northern section of the park reopened to the public. I followed that up when the Southern half opened up around nine months ago. Since then there have been a few small changes to the park and, as I continue to live close to it, I thought I may as well continue to keep you updated on some of these changes, in particular when it comes to accommodating cycling.

For us local residents living on the Hackney side of the Park a new pedestrian and cycle bridge recently opened into the park from Fish Island. Unfortunately as I pointed out on the day it opened it isn't great if you're intending to use it on a bike or with a pushchair (the two main ways I use the bridge) as you're directed to use the zig-zag path to the side of the steps, having to make six very sharp turns, something I found near impossible on my Dutch bike with its big fat front wheel

So like most people who cycled here I just used the desire line instead

But they've put a stop to that now, the bastards.

So if you do want to visit Fish Island with your family on a cargo bike then I'm afraid you'll just have to find another route. Fish Island is mainly known for its graffiti-ed warehouses which contain artists studios (worth a trip during the Hackney Wicked festival when they are opened up for the weekend). It's also home to some small independent businesses such as the cafe and roastery that I buy my coffee beans from, a smoked Salmon factory and the new home of Trumans Brewary. The empty warehouses won't be hosting pop up events for much longer though as there are many planning applications, which you can view here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, to demolish a large chunk of Fish Island to make way for more characterless and unaffordable flats, most of which will be high up in the sky. Indeed some independent local businesses have already left so some of the unique features of the area are due to be lost forever

Fish island is not actually an island in the traditional sense of the word, it's just nicknamed that as it is hemmed in on all sides by either water, the A12 or victorian sewers. There is also only one road in and out which gives it the advantage it shares with other areas that have no through roads and that is a real lack of motor traffic. The bike and foot have a high mode share around here, perhaps beaten only by the learner drivers crawling around the streets at a very slow speed. I'm not sure how long it'll stay that way though as on a trip up to the top of the orbit I noticed the future map of the park on display showed the newly opened pedestrian bridge is to be replaced by a road bridge with a replacement pedestrian and cycle bridge built just a little further south instead. That seems to be confirmed by a similar layout on this map and also the new pedestrian bridge can be found here in this planning application. It'll be a real shame if another road is built into Fish Island which allows unlimited amounts of motor traffic to pass through. Currently everyone in Fish Island is either here for a reason or is lost; the South end of Hackney Wick was the same from 2007 until White Post Lane reopened last year. This area, along with Sweetwater on the other side of the river, will one day be home to thousands of people so it seems the London Legacy Development Corporation want motor vehicles to be able to speed through these areas unhindered, much like they've already allowed to happen within the Olympic Park itself.

Sweetwater is the name given to what is currently a vast empty area on the other side of the new bridge and where the worlds largest Mcdonalds traded for a few weeks in the Summer of 2012, along with the megastore. Sandwiched between the stadium and the river Lea it will one day have over 600 homes, a primary school, two nurseries, a library and a health centre. It was meant to stay empty until nearly 2030 but will now be completed within the next decade as development has been brought forward by a number of years in return for a reduction in the number of affordable housing, which sounds like a bad trade off to me. Back in the spring of last year the road leading into Sweetwater looked pretty much exactly the same as it did during the Olympics, when it was part of the ring road that ferried athletes to and from the Stadium:

And here is a picture I took in the Summer of last year, just as they had ripped everything up to start rebuilding the road again:

with the new final layout pictured below

I really don't understand why with all the space available here we have, yet again, ended up with the modern East London trend of building unnecessarily wide pavements whilst people cycling are expected to do so on the road directly in front of motor vehicles, presumably so as they can function as human speed bumps. You can pretty much guarantee the mums and kids heading to the nurseries or primary school here probably won't be cycling on the road. Below is an image of the new road compared with the Google maps Streetview image from the same location shortly before the Olympic games took place

I just think it is crazy to not build any provision for people cycling here if you're going to spend all that money ripping it up and replacing everything. This will not be a quiet road; it's named "loop Road" as, you've guessed it, this is the main road that loops around the southern half of the Olympic Park. It'll have flats on one side of it, a school and canal park on the other and it leads directly to the 54,000 capacity West Ham Stadium so the wide pavement should make an excellent car park on a Saturday afternoon in a couple of years time. Just to the left of here there is a shared path which runs alongside the River Lee so one could argue that there is no need to build cycle specific infrastructure on this road but the path is very narrow and also pitch dark from late afternoon at this time of year.

And don't get me started on the cobbled surfaces; I still find it a pain on the Dutch bike but tend to avoid it all together when I'm here on either my road bike or my fixed gear bike

They've now opened the new path round the back of the former Big Breakfast house in the spot where the Planet 24 production gallery and offices used to be on the Bow Industrial estate. Hard to believe that everyone from Hollywood stars through to pop stars have been in this spot over the years but now it's the loneliest spot in the park. If you fancy a bit of quiet time alone then come down here or to the Great British Garden next to the stadium as you're unlikely to be disturbed.

Although I couldn't help but notice all the CCTV cameras about this area and didn't want to be too obvious taking photos unless I was evicted from the park. It is easy to forget that around here, just like in the cycling friendly Canary Wharf, you're not wondering round a public park but are on private property.

Back on the loop road the lamp post on the pavement shows us that the speed limit here is 20mph

It remains 20mph up to White Post Lane, the junction in the distance, where the speed limit changes to 30mph. Turn right onto White post Lane itself and at the traffic lights 60m further on the sign on the lamp post indicates that the speed limit halves down to 15mph (although The Ranty Highwayman assures me the legal limit here would still be 20)

Note the desire line on the grass here! Turn left at these lights and after a short 200m drive over the London Overground line you come to Waterden Road; turn left from Tower Hamlets into Hackney and it is 20mph, turn right into Newham and it is a 30mph limit. The changes in speed limit is confusing me just writing about it so it must be a nightmare for people driving here. Not that it matters of course, everyone just drives through here at whatever speed they fancy, safe in the knowledge that it is not enforced and probably never will be.

Let us do that left turn into Hackney and onto Waterden Road which remains the best main road in Hackney to cycle along. It is rare for me to have to make a journey along here but when I do I love cycling along the cycle track where I can slowly pedal along without having to worry about motor traffic, just as I do when I visit the Netherlands

Here is Prince Harry using the cycle track in the same location of the picture above (before the pavement was boarded off for redevelopment works). 

Picture via @HereEast
Can you seriously imagine him riding helmetless and so casually on other main roads within Hackney such as the A10 or Mare Street? 

An image you won't be seeing anytime soon, Prince Harry on Hackney Road.
Original picture by Ross photoshop skills by Schrödinger's Cat
The cycle track also has priority over the side roads here and is set back from the main road providing an area where motor vehicles can wait to enter Waterden Road without obstructing the cycle track, and also an area to give way to people already cycling on the track, with good visibility

The road crossing the cycle track above will one day lead to some of the homes in East Wick and also a new primary school is due to be built here. Fantastic news that the residents and school children have the option to move around this area away from motor traffic and can safely navigate this junction based on a similar design that the Dutch have been using for years

A still from this video by Mark Wagenbuur showing how to build safer junctions 
There have been some strange comments from some within the London Cycling Campaign recently about the effectiveness of these kind of junctions but with three cyclists killed by lorries in London in the last three weeks, and two of those within Hackney, I strongly feel we should be implementing the junction layout above at many more locations in London. This cycle track is not as well designed as others I have used in the Netherlands but it remains a damn fine cycle route and I hope to see many more of these within the borough of Hackney in the future.

The Hackney cycling campaign don't agree with this cycle track however; in their vision for Hackney Wick they call this cycle track "poor-quality cycle-specific provision ... which should have no place in Hackney" and, quite unbelievably, that "ideally, the street would at some point in the future be upgraded to a shareable width". I simply do not understand why anyone would wish to rip up a perfectly good cycle track and instead share the road with lorries, buses and cars

These cars on Waterden Road are queueing to get into the car park at Westfield shopping centre, 1.3km further down the road.
It is simply not appropriate for children to share the road with buses and lorries on a main road like this in the same way that ripping up the pavements and expecting children to walk with lorries wouldn't be. I can't believe this even needs saying.

The children cycling here on Waterden Road are oblivious to the ambulance on an emergency call on the road alongside them

I was under the impression that LCCs motion 3 was quite clear in its meaning but apparently campaigning to remove cycle tracks and force people into vehicular cycling is in line with this policy. Someone will have to explain this to me as I just don't get it but in the meantime I'll continue to not renew my LCC membership until they no longer adopt a vehicular cycling policy within Hackney.

I've always found it strange that Waterden Road is the only road within the park to get this treatment. Elsewhere roads have cycle tracks that stop before any obstruction, tracks that don't stop for any obstruction, cycle lanes that are so small you can't even use them and others, such as in Sweetwater, offer nothing at all. The original planning application to upgrade Waterden Road back in 2011 granted permission for a dual carriageway to be built:

The original plans here show, just like on Westfield Avenue, cycle tracks on the pavement that give up way before you get to the junction and two-tier cycle provision with ASLs also at the traffic lights to cater for the eight people in Greater London who still want to cycle among heavy traffic.

For some reason this design was changed with another proposal submitted in early 2013 to instead create a single carriageway road. Planning permission was granted but included a number of conditions including regularly carrying out traffic surveys "to analyse traffic conditions on, and in the vicinity of, Waterden Road to demonstrate the performance of the road network. The performance of Waterden Road and the associated network will then determine if the road should be retained as a single lane, two-way route or to be widened to a two-way dual carriageway as per the original planning condition." In the most recent survey they've measured the amount of "vehicles" using the road but this presumably means only counting vehicles that use the road, with people using the cycle track not taken into account.

The survey also shows that traffic travels at an average speed of 30mph along here, despite having a 20mph speed limit.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a public transport destination they say here on this page explaining to people visiting the Copper Box Arena how to use the over-twice-as-long-as-the-Copper-Box Multi-Storey car park located in the North West of the park, which has space for 554 cars. Meanwhile this page says if you are not using a specific venue then they advise to use the 5,000 capacity car park at Westfield shopping Centre and they also talk of how the car parks are free of charge at the VeloPark and at the Hockey and Tennis centre. They don't even mention the 850 capacity Stratford International multi storey car park which is also located within the Olympic Park. Not forgetting the large amount of on street parking available and the total lack of enforcement when it comes to pavement parking. So it definitely is a public transport destination except for the fact they provide parking for thousand and thousands of cars and if enough of you do drive here then they'll rip up the cycle track and slap a dual carriageway down instead. Still, they've paid a web developer to write the sentence "public transport destination" on their website.

Westfield avenue and its assault course cycle track is now something didn't think could be possible, it is actually even worse to cycle on than it was last year. Firstly these roadworks have been in place for a few weeks

The vast empty space alongside Westfield Avenue where the army searched spectators during the Olympics has recently been both a circus and Hill Valley. This means the track often gets used as a storage area for barriers when the shows are over

and due to the dropped kerb here to allow security to let various vehicles into the central area of the park people like to use the cycle track as a car park or drop off point

Even the Google Streetview car caught a lorry doing this when it drove down Westfield Avenue last summer. Still, within the next year construction is due to start on the International Quarter here where a large number of Skyscrapers will be built, as you can see in this render here on the website of the Financial Conduct Authority, who will be moving 3000 staff here. TFL are also moving thousands of staff here so expect that cycle track to get much busier with parked vehicles.

Meanwhile the cycle track along the southern section of Westfield Avenue has been closed since last summer and will remain closed until 2016

With "Cyclists dismount and use other carriageway" signs in place but no temporary temporary cycle facilities have been built on the other carriageway to assist anyone

The closure of the cycle track is due to what is currently some concrete stubs but will soon be Glasshouse gardens, two towers of 30 and 17 storeys that don't look too different to the council blocks over the road in the Carpenters estate to me. Due to much needed local affordable housing in East London these were launched in Singapore and Hong Kong and Rightmove are already flogging compact one bedroom flats for just over half a mllion pounds

All of these closures and obstructions on the cycle track could have been avoided had the cycle tracks been built to Dutch standards in the first place, which should have been easy enough considering the Olympic Park was a complete blank slate. Astonishing to think that Westfield Avenue was just some mud in a building site exactly five years ago.

A lot has changed within the park over the last two-and-a-half years and there will be many more changes over the next few. Construction of the apartments in Chobham Manor and Glasshouse Gardens is underway with East Wick and Sweetwater due to start soon. The Olympic Stadium will once again welcome spectators during the World Cup later this year before West Ham move in a year later. By then it'll be a major workplace with people moving into offices in Here East and the International Quarter just in time for Crossrail to arrive in about four years time. The park will be a very different place with billions of pounds pumped into it. Let's hope they spend just a small amount of it on repairing the cycle infrastructure and make it a truly great place to cycle rather than the frustrating experience it can be now.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Old Street roundabout

Old Street Roundabout by Jack Torcello on flickr
If you cycle from the centre of town to Shoreditch or Hackney then chances are you'll use Clerkenwell Road. And if you use Clerenwell then chances are you'll use Old Street roundabout. Carved into the area in the 1960's with the aim of pushing as much motor traffic as possible through the area as quickly as possible, with only a small amount of space retained for pedestrians and virtually no space for cycling. Today over a third of all vehicles passing through the roundabout are people on bikes so at last there are ambitious plans by TFL to remove the roundabout completely. The plan is to close one 'arm' of the roundabout, hugely increasing the amount of space for pedestrians in the area and finally making use of all the wasted space in the middle of the roundabout. Finally we are to see segregated cycle lanes and also more direct crossing for pedestrians. Sounds good but the plan still has a few errors.

Here on Clerkenwell Road approaching the junction the plan is to have no space allocated for people cycling at all until you nearly get to the junction itself despite the wide road and the huge amount of space left for pedestrians

 A view of the same area from the top of a bus. Plenty of space could be taken from both the carriageway or from the pavement to create safe space for cycling here

In the picture above you can see how the cycle track could easily go down the middle, leaving plenty of space for people using the shops to the right and people wanting to access the bus stop to the left. In fact this space will be increased even further with all the space of the road in the picture below also becoming space for pedestrians:

The biggest error of the entire consultation is just near the end of Clerkenwell Road, adjacent to the underground station. Here there is a cycle lane but a new loading bay has inexplicably been placed inside the cycle lane, meaning lorries dropping off goods will have to drive across the cycle lane to reach the loading bay. An absolutely lethal design. If you're responding to this consultation please ensure you ask for the cycle lane to be placed inside the loading bay with a clear segregated strip as well.

The loading bay is proposed to go on the left of the picture here with the cycle track roughly in between the two vans.

East of the junction in Hackney the design is poor as well, they're removing the central reservation in the space below and taking space from the pavement but six wide lanes for motor traffic remains. People cycling West from Hackney are expected to mix it with three lanes of fast-moving traffic on the ring road until they get close to the junction where a cycle lane appears. 

Heading east towards hackney there is no Space for cycling at all just a "wide 24 hour bus lane"

Does it really need explaining to TFL that most people will not and should not cycle with buses so a wider bus lane is not good enough, especially when the parking bay remains.

So whilst this design is not perfect and it doesn't give enough space to people cycling as I would like, it it is a huge improvement on the current layout and benefits people cycling and walking greatly. Whatever the layout it is essential that people who choose to walk or cycle through this junction have the option to do so without having to share the same space as the many thousands of buses, lorries and motor vehicles that use this section of the Inner Ring Road.

Please respond to the consultation this weekend and, whatever your objections to the scheme, ensure you support the segregated cycle infrastructure on offer.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Serious and fatal cycle collisions in Hackney 2009-2014

Last week I came across this freedom of information request made to Hackney council requesting a full list of all cycle related collisions within Hackney. The council in response provided a document containing all reported 1297 cycle collisions for the five year period up to June 2014, with locations, sex and age of the persons involved, a brief description of the cause and whether the injury was slight, serious or fatal. I have taken all of the 164 collisions that resulted in serious injury to the person cycling and the four cycle fatalities within the borough over this five-year period and mapped them here:

Click here for an updated post on ten years of collisions

I've included the vehicles involved, age and sex of the person injured or killed and a brief description of the collision itself (please note that these descriptions are lifted directly off the council document and not my own words). Please do take a minute or two to have a look at the map to see where the collisions have occurred in the borough. Some of the accident statistics are extremely interesting:

65% of all serious and fatal collisions were reported on A roads, with the other 35% on B roads and unclassified roads. This backs up the councils own admission in their recent cycling plan:

the majority of serious [cycling] accidents occur on our busier roads with high traffic flows and often multiple bus routes

A breakdown of those main roads show that a staggering  27% of all of the 164 collisions that caused serious injury occurred on one road in particular; the A10. This road was also singled out by the council in the cycling plan as the road with a high number of cycle collisions and they vowed to "continue to lobby TfL and work with them to resolve the cyclist accident problems along the A10 corridor in Hackney." Except of course TFL wanted to build a cycle superhighway down the A10 but Hackney council blocked it preferring instead to plan for an indirect "super quietway" on minor roads alongside the A10. They obviously feel the way to deal with the high number of casualties on this road is to remove people cycling from the A10 leaving it reserved for buses, private motor vehicles and the small minority of vehicular cyclists who are still happy to use it. However because the A10 slices through the very centre of Tottenham, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Haggerston, Shoreditch and the City within a few short miles people cycling will continue to use it as not only is it direct but also a place where people live, work and play. As the council pointed out in the cycling plan:

It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes.

The A10 was also the location of one of the four fatalities within the borough in this period. Not included in this map is the four additional cycle fatalities that occurred on the A10 in Hackney between 2006-2010.

Statistics on the age and sex of the people involved in these collisions is also interesting. 73% of the people suffering serious injuries were male and 27% female. 45% were aged 18-29, 28% were aged 30-39, 15% 40-49 and 5% were in their fifties. Only two were aged over 60, the eldest being a 71 year old male and only three were aged under 18, the youngest a 7 year old boy hit by a left turning tipper truck. This backs up the statistics that most people cycling in Hackney are relatively young and mostly male. Of the four fatalities there was an even split, two male and two female with all four aged in their 20's.

As for other vehicles involved in these collisions I was surprised that 75% of all serious injuries involved a cycle and a car. I've always been more careful when cycling in the vicinity of lorries and buses in the borough but whilst it is true that you're more likely to be killed cycling by a lorry or bus, a car is much more likely to cause you serious injury. Next on the list was buses involved in 5% of all serious injuries followed by Vans, lorries, taxi's, people falling from cycles without colliding with any other vehicles, and motorbikes.

Recently a group of us who live and cycle in Hackney formed a new group, Hackney people on bikes. We've compiled a letter to the Hackney Cycling Campaign and representatives from our group will be attending their meeting this Wednesday to discuss our concerns.

We think that whilst Hackney has had some success in catering for people cycling on some of the minor roads in the borough we want main roads within Hackney, the roads that cause the most serious accidents to people cycling, to gain Dutch style protected cycle tracks. We believe that whilst Hackney does have the highest mode share in London for people cycling (approximately 6%) we should be looking at other counties, and the Netherlands in particular, to copy their measures that have resulted in much higher rates of people cycling and much lower accident rates. We believe that people cycling in Hackney should not have to share space with buses and that fast one-way systems should only be returned to two way if high quality cycle tracks are also built. We want the most dangerous road in Hackney, the A10, to have a cycle superhighway installed on it, rather than only catering for people cycling if they use indirect back routes. We believe that installing cycle tracks on the A10 is the only way to stop the killing of people who choose to use it to cycle on and it needs cycle tracks due to the high volume of motor traffic on it, as voted for by LCC members in the 2013 AGM.

We're also concerned by some recent publications from the Hackney cycling campaign, including describing the highly dangerous A10 as "ideal" and the very safe cycle tracks on Waterden road in the Olympic Park as "poor quality cycle provision" that has "no place in Hackney". We want Hackney to be a place where people can cycle no matter what their age or sex and we acknowledge that whilst reducing the impact of motor traffic on minor roads in the borough goes some way to achieving this the separation of people cycling and motor vehicles on the main roads within the borough is needed to make cycling in Hackney truly safe and inviting for all.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Hackney Council Cycling Plan 2014-2024

Still up for consultation until Friday is Hackney councils transport strategy for the next ten years. The strategy consists of one core document and six "Daughter documents." One of these daughter documents is the 98-page long cycling plan.

Hackney council declare their goal in the very first paragraph, which is "to make cycling a normal, safe and attractive choice for travel and recreation for our residents and addressing barriers that prevent other residents from taking up cycling."

They make it clear that they want Hackney to be a place where anyone can cycle:

A place where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, background or ethnicity to cycle already exists of course but with cycling still being a very small minority of trips within Hackney it's going to take an awful lot of change to Hackneys roads to enable us to get anywhere even close to the kind of levels of cycling you see in the Netherlands within the next ten years.

The objectives of the cycling plan include that "there will be high levels of cycling amongst residents from all backgrounds and communities in Hackney" and they hope that "the causes of real and perceived road danger for cyclists will have been tackled through improvements to the physical environment"

We'll skip over the introduction along with Policy background and wider influences and onto current cycling trends in Hackney where the council "outlines some of the more successful measures that have worked to increase levels and to identify some of the barriers the prevent others from regular cycling." It also reports that Hackney is "the borough [in London] with the highest cycling mode share for all trips with a figure of approximately 6%"

On existing cycling conditions in Hackney the council state that in recent years they have "taken a slightly different approach to cycling provision than the traditional approach of providing on-road cycle lanes focusing instead on improving the permeability and accessibility of the whole road network for cyclists, encouraging all users to share the road and improving safety by reducing traffic speed" and that "many of the measures previously undertaken in Hackney are now regarded as best practice and promoted elsewhere across London". Which is worrying if other boroughs of London wanting to provide for cyclists are looking to Hackney as best practice, an area which still has a fairly low cycling mode share of just 6%. They should instead be looking at other countries who have achieved much, much higher levels of cycling using the "traditional approach" of providing actual cycling provision that Hackney has avoided in recent years.

One thing the council can be praised for is its cycle permeability where strategic road closures have been placed on some of the more minor and residential streets, which have no doubt helped push the cycling levels up. Many of these, such as in De Beauvoir Town were installed decades ago so today's Labour council can't really take credit for that. The council have created some recently and they point out that they have "done this to good effect in Goldsmiths Row and London Fields, which is one of the key cycling routes in the borough"which is true and Goldsmith's Row is one of the best streets in Hackney to cycle along but this was, and always will be, one of the most popular cycle routes in the borough due to its location.

Here is a map showing the route with motor traffic free routes in green, shared routes in blue and the main bus route in red.

Even without the filtered permeability this would still be the busiest route as it's the shortest and quickest way to get from Hackney Central to Hackney Road. Still, Goldsmiths Row is very pleasant to cycle along and the council should be applauded for their efforts in improving a key cycle route in the borough.

Barriers to cycling in London

The council recognises that despite the "obvious progress made there remains a lot to be done to normalise cycling as a default mode of transport." Indeed, the statistics tell us that getting around by bike is the default option for only a small minority of residents of London with an overall mode share of around 2.4%. Stand on any road in the capital for a short while and you'll see that, on the whole, you do not get people from all backgrounds cycling. Whilst it is not totally exclusive to young, fit men it is still rare to see pensioners or very young children cycling on any of London's, or indeed, Hackney's main roads. Again just spend a short amount of time stood on any main road in Hackney and you can understand why this is, as surely the council can as well.

"Concerns about cyclist safety figure prominently as the primary barrier as to why many people do not cycle. The recently-published Mayor's Vision for Cycling states that the fear of injury is the number one reason why Londoners do not cycle. Similarly, a DfT study of a sample of 3,155 adults living in England found that 63% of potential cyclists surveyed agreed they would find cycling on the roads stressful and that 60% said it was too dangerous to cycle on the roads"

So we've quite clearly established that the number one reason why people do not cycle in London is due to the fear of injury whilst cycling on the roads. This is an entirely rational fear to have and most people share it, thankfully other countries have found a solution to this and that is to ensure people cycling do not have to share the road with heavy and fast moving traffic on main roads.

So how does Hackney intend to deal with this? Immediately after establishing that fear of cycling on London's roads is the main reason why people do not cycle they boast that "Hackney council has implemented free cycle awareness training course for HGV drivers" and work to "improving driver awareness through a series of advertisements on billboards, newspapers and radio" Except of course that does nothing whatsoever to conquer peoples fear of cycling on the roads. Plus all drivers have to take a test, and HGV drivers an extended test but we still have a very large amount of people being killed or seriously injured on the roads each year. People driving lorries sometimes make mistakes so how about taking that money spent on training and adverts and instead spend it on designing the roads so people do not have to share it with buses, lorries and other heavy or fast moving traffic. You know, the one and only way that mass cycling has been achieved since the rise of the motor vehicle. People talking about training and lorry driver awareness in the context of children or old people cycling are frankly not living in reality. Focusing on training and education hasn't led to safe mass cycling anywhere in the world so why persist with it? Why not just copy what does work?

Dangerous junctions is the next item listed as a barrier to cycling in London and they note that TFL is undertaking a junction review where they plan to improve six junctions located within Hackney "using Dutch-style bicycle-friendly traffic engineering technique." Thankfully TFL are finally starting to understand how to accommodate people cycling on their roads. Hackney council vow to "engage with TfL to address cyclist safety concerns at these junctions" so let us all hope this means Hackney councillors supporting the Dutch-style traffic engineering techniques, instead of blocking them for some unsafe "share the road" crossroads nonsense.

"Lack of secure cycle parking" and "incomplete cycle route and gyratories" are the other two barriers to cycling in London listed in this report.

We then move onto barriers to cycling in Hackney where I hope to be able to find out why 94% of trips in Hackney are made by other modes, an awful lot of them people sitting on buses taking over an hour to travel a few miles.

The first barrier to cycling in Hackney is a "need for improved network and junctions." Well, that is true; we need a high quality and joined up network of cycle routes and need these routes to continue to be safe as they pass through junctions "the need to provide safer cycle routes and safer crossings figures prominently in responses to all workplace and school travel surveys undertaken" say the council, followed by "there are a number of one-way streets on Hackney's road network that create obstacles for cyclists, leading to greater journey times and heightened perception of danger due to high vehicle speeds." I'm not sure why one-way streets are being mentioned here. People are scared to cycle amongst  traffic, they are not scared of cycling amongst traffic travelling in one direction only! The only section of that paragraph that is true is that one-way streets "lead to greater journey times". The only positive outcome for cyclists following the conversion of the Shoreditch one way system was to make it quicker to travel from Hackney Road to the Old Street roundabout for people who already cycled from Hackney Road to the Old Street roundabout. It is still a fast, wide multi-lane road which most choose to get the bus through. Removing gyratories and one way systems  offer nothing to people wanting to take up cycling unless you also add cycle provision.

"The council seeks to remove the gyratory on the A10 at Stoke Newington." Assuming the council don't install cycle tracks then it'll just be like Shoreditch is now. Or like Tottenham. Or like Brixton. A road that offers slightly quicker journey times for people already cycling but does nothing for the 94% who will continue to use other methods to travel through.

Old Street, which used to have four lanes of motor traffic going in one direction, now has two lanes of motor traffic in each direction thanks largely  to the Hackney cycling campaign. A truly awful place for people cycling. 

The entire area to the left used to be the road, now an over-sized pavement with no space for people cycling
"Lack of suitable bicycle storage and parking" is listed as another barrier to cycling in Hackney, which is what happens when you provide a tiny fraction of cycle parking spaces on your road as you do car parking spaces. The council have started to address this by installing bike hangers and to be fair to them I could be talking about any area in London, or indeed the rest of the UK.

Brenthouse Road, in Hackney Central. A road I used to live on and chose to illegally cycle the wrong way down each evening to get back to my flat, due to car parking on both sides of the road for the minority of residents who drove.

"In addition to secure cycle parking, the lack of other end-of-trip facilities such as shower and changing facilities has been identified as a significant barrier to workplaces and destinations in Hackney." This is not an issue in the Netherlands where people are not expected to ride fast road bikes at 20mph in the primary position and end up drenched in sweat after a 3 mile bike ride.

"Bike theft" is the next barrier to cycling in Hackney followed by "lack of cycle skills / training"

People should not have to have the necessary "road skills, fitness and confidence" just to get around the borough by bike, especially if you plan to have people cycling "no matter what their age." Cycling simply shouldn't be like that. Also if cycle training is not provided until Year 5 what about people aged under ten, are they excluded from cycling on Hackney's roads?

Picture courtesy of Mark Treasure
A Dutch child that does not have to worry about lacking road skills, fitness or confidence. If he moved to Hackney he "wouldn't need segregated cycle tracks" and could simply "develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to cycle to school safely using the roads"

Picture courtesy of Ross
Hackney Road, one of the busiest cycle routes in Hackney, do we really expect children to cycle on roads like this in Hackney once they have had the necessary training to develop "road skills"?

"Culture and attitudes to cycling" is the next barrier to cycling in the borough. "Hackney is a place with a renowned cycling culture" apparently. Whilst we do now have a look mum no hands on Mare Street I'm not sure that counts as having a cycling culture! If the only place you see young kids cycling is in parks or along the canal towpath then I really don't think you can claim to have a cycling culture.

"In order to increase the borough's cycling levels the borough will need to target currently non-cycling residents that view cycling to be less appealing than other modes of transport." Of course if you want to increase the cycle share by any significant amount then you'll certainly have to get people cycling who are currently not cycling rather than relying on new people moving into the borough.

Which brings us nicely on to the Cycling targets of this ten-year plan.

Well we've already managed to increase the share from 6% on page 21 to 7% here on page 36 so some positive progress there already. However to more than double the share from 6 or 7% to 15% in ten years then you'll certainly have to get people cycling who are currently choosing a different mode of travel. Also if you want Hackney to be "a place where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, back ground or ethnicity to cycle" then you're going to have to do more than offer training and turn one-way roads back to two-way.

We've already established that if you're aged under ten then cycling on Hackney's roads is not for you, however with pursuing with bikeability the council hope to see a push from the current rate of 2.3% of children in Hackney cycling to school up to a staggering 5% of children in ten years time. Compare this to the Netherlands where 49% of primary school children go to school by bike and more than 90% of children aged over 12 do so all year round. Lets dip out of the cycling plan for a moment and into the walking plan where we can see how children in Hackney currently get to school.

A staggering 65% of children walk to school, presumably because the council provide safe and segregated pavements rather than expecting them to walk directly in front of lorries and buses.

Outside London Fields Primary School two lollipop ladies assist children crossing the road

The road leading to London Fields Primary school 
How many of these 65% would cycle to school if the conditions were right for them to do so?

The school run in the Netherlands, courtesy of Mark Treasure, where children are given a choice of safe walking or cycling
Childhood obesity is a major problem in Hackney with rates significantly higher than national levels. In recent 2012/13 surveys carried out in the borough 13.1% of children aged 4-5 years were found to be overweight while another 13.2% were classed as obese. Among children aged 10-11 years old 16% were overweight and 25.2% classed as obese.

Back to the cycling plan and the council then compare their target of 15% to other cities:

with no comment as to why we are already so far behind Amsterdam's share (from six years ago) or how to get closer to it.

Picture by Amsterdamize
We then move onto cycling plan principles and design principles for cycling infrastructure where the council admit that "Creating a quality environment for cycling is generally recognised as being concerned with providing accessible, direct and convenient, attractive, safe and comfortable routes for experienced and less experienced cyclists alike to provide access to key destinations such as the borough’s town centres and other key destinations for employment, education and leisure.  Cycling routes need to legible and intuitive, continuous and uninterrupted by barriers or loss of priority." Key destinations being mainly located on main roads of course.

They then state that "selection of appropriate infrastructure provision for cycle users should follow the hierarchy of provision"

They plan to "reduce the impact of motor traffic" before redesigning junctions, reallocating space or building cycle tracks as that means "it is often possible to meet cyclists’ needs without the need for cycle‐specific infrastructure, potentially freeing up cycling budgets for other smarter choices measures." Whilst this is sometimes the best way to tackle the quieter, residential streets in Hackney and is something Hackney has done to good effect in some areas this approach simply will not work on the main roads that carry buses, lorries and large amounts of motor traffic. Joe Dunckley has written at length about the hierarchy of provision here so little point in me repeating what he says, however it is disappointing to see that the council "will introduce infrastructure provision for cycle users in accordance with the hierarchy of provision set out in LTN 2/08, considering traffic volumes and speed reduction first, followed by junction treatments and reallocation of carriageway spaces, with shared used or on‐footway provision introduced only when all other options have been exhausted."

One area the council do not have control of is Route Provision on the TLRN where they note that "The Mayor of London has recently indicated that he will seek to introduce segregated or semi‐segregated cycle lanes on some of London’s busiest roads over the next ten years as a key cornerstone of his Cycling Vision for London" and that "full details of how this will impact on cycle route provision in Hackney is unclear. The document does state however that cyclists will not be restricted from using any other part of the road network. The Council intend to work with TfL as more details emerge about these proposals and will use the opportunity to advance long‐standing aspirations relating to the removal of gyratory systems at Stoke Newington and providing better cycling conditions in the general Shoreditch area." Pointing out that "cyclists will not be restricted from using any other part of the road network" in the context of building segregated cycle lanes is the kind of language a committed vehicular cyclist would use and this kind of thinking should have no place in designing cycle routes that can be used by everyone.

The report then briefly touches on Reallocation of Road Space and "where provided and developed, bus lanes should always be available to cyclists and wide enough for cyclists to overtake buses safely (around 4.5m wide)." Bikes and buses should never mix and the council need to stop thinking that bus lanes counts as adequate cycling infrastructure. Buses in London are now more dangerous to cyclists than lorries and we need to look at separating the two modes, not integrating them. "Narrower lanes that are appropriate in particularly in built up areas of the borough such as Dalston and Hackney Central, will result in carriageways that are easier for pedestrians to cross and encouraging lower traffic speeds without causing a significant loss of traffic capacity. However this should not result in a loss of clear space for cyclists." Clear space for cyclists presumably means 4.5m wide traffic lanes, such as those seen on the A10 at Dalston, described as ideal by Hackney cycling campaign?

The A10 in Dalston
Smarter Travel and Cycling Promotion is the next section where "the Council will pursue a consistent range of cycling promotion to encourage people who do not presently cycle regularly to undertake more cycling journeys." They plan "to target two socio‐economic groups in particular: Hard Presses Families (who make up 46% of Hackneys residents) and Young Couples and Families" (making up 13% of the boroughs population). Presumably the main reason that the majority of people from these groups do not cycle is the same reason for all other groups of people; the fear of injury whilst cycling on the roads? The council doesn't agree, in the case of Hard pressed families "in many cases, a lack of suitable storage space for bicycles and lower levels of cycle training have been identified as a barrier to cycling lack of storage and lower levels of cycle training." Of course the flats and houses of Hackney are not lucky enough to have enough storage space for a bicycle, unlike the mansions of Central Amsterdam. Meanwhile young couples and families "have low levels of car ownership and are considered to be of prime age for cycling." In the Netherlands there is no "prime age for cycling" as they have engineered solutions that make cycling safe and inviting for people of all ages.

Picture courtesy of Mark Treasure
We then move onto the most interesting section of the whole plan, Safer Cycling in Hackney. "Chapter 5 established that fear of injury and the perception of cycling as dangerous activity is a primary reason why many residents do not currently cycle" and "this section will set out some of the over‐arching engineering principles, approaches and cyclist safety measures and initiatives that the Council intends to take to promote a higher level of cyclist safety in our borough." These measures include Reducing speeds, Bikeability where they hope all children will have completed level 2 by the time they are 10-11 years old, with "the ultimate aim of level 2 training is that on completion a cyclist could safely make the journey from home to school." Again Hackney's cycling vision is that no primary school children should cycle to school, unlike the 49% of Dutch primary school children. The council will "aim to make every residential road safe enough to be assessed as being appropriate for children trained up to Bikeability Standard Level 2 to ride on." Note they only pledge to do this for residential roads, meaning that the vast majority of routes for children will not be up to the expected standard for bikeability level 2 from their home all the way to their school gates.

Other safer cycling in Hackney measures include Filtered Permeability, Sinusoidal speed humps, Parking restrictions near junctions, Guardrail removal, Advanced Stop Lanes, and then, on page 56...

"Clear space for cyclists"

"The Council has been highly successful at implementing schemes on quieter roads however there have been limited improvements for cyclists on our busiest roads. It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes."

Bingo! For the vast majority of cycling trips within the borough we undoubtedly have to use the main routes at some point. Also, as is the case on my trip to work, I have to cycle down a very hostile main road, any alternative route through quieter residential streets would take me twice as long to get to work. This is why Hackney council are wrong to block the superhighway down the A10; people WANT to travel from Stoke Newington to Dalston and onto Shoreditch but the quicker and more direct route is reserved for buses and private motor vehicles. People cycling this route are either expected to either "man up" or use an indirect back route.

"Mapping of cyclist accidents reveals that the majority of serious accidents occur on our busier roads with high traffic flows and often multiple bus routes, and as such these routes need to be specifically considered."

The majority of serious accidents involving people cycling in Hackney happen on the main roads with bus routes, so why block cycling infrastructure on these very roads and push for people to use quieter roads instead?

Absolutely spot on. This shows the limitations of cycle training and reinforces what we were told way back in chapter four. Most people simply will not cycle on the main roads where they have to share with buses and lorries, and those that do try it are likely to give it up when they get to a certain age, or after a certain number of close passes. It is ridiculous to produce a "plan for cycling " if you do not address this very clear number one obstacle to cycling in Hackney.

They continue on that they will "investigate the most suitable options for ensuring cyclist safety whilst not negatively impacting on the safety of pedestrians and bus users." Hackney Council have a road user hierarchy where they place people cycling above that of people using the buses.

Therefore the council must consider the safety of people cycling above delays to buses. Building segregated cycle lanes and reducing the amount of people being killed or seriously injured on the roads is far more important than delays of just a couple of minutes on a five mile bus journey that takes over an hour no matter what certain bus obsessed local councillors think. When the council talk about the safety of bus users I assume they are talking about bus stop bypasses and the safety of people making the transition from the pavement to the bus stop and having to walk over the cycle track. I really do not see this as an issue myself. I've never actually cycled on the segregated section of the cycle superhighway that runs from Stratford Town Centre to the Bow roundabout which has several bus stops bypasses that lie on the route of London's busiest bus route by far. I have however used one of the bus stops as a bus passenger after taking my daughter to the Discover children's story centre and it was absolutely fine for me to use with the pushchair, as it was for the several pensioners I saw using them then as well. Bus stop bypasses are not an issue for pedestrians in London despite what Hackney's MP says with seemingly no evidence whatsoever to back up her claim. Indeed as Mark Treasure points out Hackney has had a bus stop bypass for many years, as have other areas of London. So time to stop this pointless debate about bus stop bypasses, if pedestrians were being injured whilst using them in Stratford or elsewhere we would know about it by now. They work on London's roads and thankfully we'll see many more of them appear over the next few years. So let's stop the silly scaremongering about these bus stop bypasses and focus instead of the real danger and that is the continued slaughter of people cycling in London. On busy road with buses there is nothing else you can do except segregation. Do Hackney Council agree?

So there it is, right at the bottom of page 57; a very luke warm promise that the council are "open and willing to examine" segregation but only after visual landscape, interaction with bus users and competing demands for road space are taken into account.

The plan then moves on to Reducing Cycling Accident rates where they admit they have "been significantly less successful in achieving reductions in numbers of numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured with an increase of 23% in 2009 from the 1994‐98 average baseline figures" and that "the plan recognises that much more needs to be done to tackle this unacceptably high figure." A map then illustrates the broad locations of Cyclist accidents in Hackney from 2009‐2012 with "729 casualties over this 36 month period of which 616 were slight, 110 resulted in serious injury and 3 were fatal"

The A10
The A102, outside The City Academy school
The A5201

The A1202 
The A107 

We've established that people mainly cycle on the main roads, the majority of accidents happen on the main roads, so Hackney Council need to make the main roads safe for cycling. This does not mean "being open and willing to examine segregation" but should be absolutely the number one priority of this whole plan; the separation of people cycling from buses and lorries on Hackney's main roads. It increases safety and increases the mode share as well.

The plan highlights the A10 as a particularly dangerous roads with a high number of accidents involving people cycling (there were five cycle fatalities along this road in Hackney between 2006-2010), and says that they "will continue to lobby TfL and work with them to resolve the cyclist accident problems along the A10 corridor in Hackney". Except of course TFL wanted to build a cycle superhighway down the A10 but Hackney council blocked it.

Moving on to the delivery strategy where the council talks about principal routes

then on the very next page is a map of the "Hackney cycling programme" where virtually all of the cycle routes drawn on it are on minor roads. Absolutely nothing planned for all of the main roads listed as the most dangerous routes in the previous chapter. We can even see the indirect back route that "Cycle Superhighway 1" is due to take (in light blue) and the large, wide, direct A10 next to it; the road with the highest number of cycling accidents in Hackney which the council blocked the superhighway from going down.

However there is a clear line that runs along Clerkenwell Road, along Old Street and then along Hackney Road to Victoria Park and onto the Olympic Park. This is the proposed West End – Old Street – iCity/Olympic Park Cycle Corridor; at last a proposal to build a cycle route along one of the busiest main roads in the borough. It is a long term project and involves roads that fall under the responsibility of Camden, Islington, TFL, Hackney and Tower Hamlets so will need a lot of co-operation but one to keep a close eye on.

The plan then continues to discuss cycle parking, filtered permeability, cycle hire extension, cycle to school program, cycle training, targeting potential cyclists and cycle promotion, none of which I think I need to elaborate on as I'm sure I've covered all this already and I've taken up more than enough of your time.

Hackney Council can be applauded for some of the measures they have taken to improve cycling in the borough, even if these were generally traffic reduction measures that benefited people cycling. It can be applauded for producing a cycling plan and vowing to include cycling in any future infrastructure projects. However Hackney really needs to sort out the main roads for people cycling. The vast majority of serious accidents and deaths occur on the main roads that carry high volumes of traffic and numerous bus routes. They need to stop being vague and promising "clear space for cyclists" and make it clear what that clear space is. It cannot be 4.5m wide roads, or shared bus lanes, or traffic speed reduction. They need to stop listening to the selfish views of members of the local cycling campaign who declare segregation as "poor quality cycle specific provison" and arrogantly claim it has "no place in Hackney" even though it seems to have royal approval. If you want people from all ages and backgrounds cycling safely then you simply have to separate them from buses and lorries and give people in Hackney a choice. Until the council do this the slaughter of cyclists on the main roads of Hackney will continue.

You can reply to the consultation until 5pm on Friday 24th October.