At the western end of Wick Road the already very large paved area on the northern side is to be made even larger with the road narrowed and moved onto where the pavement currently is to the south of Wick Road
when it is implemented in areas with large numbers of pedestrians but Wick Road is not the place for it, especially when such poor conditions remain for people cycling on the road alongside. This space would be much better used to build protected cycle infrastructure at this junction in order to keep people on bikes separate from left turning vehicles (especially lorries) whilst also creating a handy "red light bypass" for people cycling. Literally an improved version of the cycle tracks that existed at the other end of this very road before the council removed them in 2012.
|The old left turn cycle track at the Wick Road / Eastway junction. The council spent money ripping it out to create yet more wide unused pavement space rather than upgrading it to become a wider and more accessible track or even extending it|
Well Street used to have a thriving market and a certain Jack Cohen was one of the stallholders nearly a century ago until he left his pitch to open a shop; he named it Tesco. These days there is barely a market left here at all having ironically been killed off by the Tesco store located on it. It is sad to see this market dying whilst other markets in the borough, such as Broadway Market and Chatsworth Road, are both flourishing and expanding. Well Street could be closed to traffic which would no doubt help to return it to a bustling street market, perhaps with Broadway Market style restaurants and bars with pavement tables (although ideally without the cars speeding on the pavement, but more on that another day). If the council were to build cycle tracks along Wick Road linking Well Street to Hackney Wick and Homerton then perhaps families would feel safe enough to cycle to Well Street for a bit of market shopping rather than park their car on it to nip into Tesco instead. It could be a very different street to the one way car park surrounded by takeaways, launderettes and derelict pubs that it is now.
I'm not really for or against one way streets. I do believe that large multi-lane gyratories such as Stoke Newington do not belong in a city such as London and I support turning them back into two way roads but not if they are just replaced with nasty multi lane roads going in both directions, as has occurred in Shoreditch, Tottenham and Brixton. I also believe, unlike the Hackney cycling campaign, that one way streets (with two-way for people cycling and walking) are needed in our cities as a way to discourage through motor traffic, something which is pretty standard in Dutch cities. Camden Council are about to embark on a fantastic scheme; they're going to turn Tavistock Place from a two way road to one way for motor traffic. What was the westbound traffic lane will then become a cycle track, with the current hugely popular but narrow and overcrowded two-way cycle track on the northern side of the street becoming a one way track, doubling the capacity for cycling. Also because of the way the one way system is laid out it will discourage through traffic and should therefore lead to more pleasant conditions for pedestrians in the area as well. Hackney Council take note!
Wick Road, however, is very wide and therefore can be returned to two way and still have space remaining for protected cycle tracks
|The very wide western end of Wick Road, probably enough space to fit a motorway in here.|
|The eastern end of the one way section of Wick Road. No changes planned except two way traffic and a bus stop in the opposite direction. The pavement is to remain needlessly wide despite the very low numbers of people walking here|
|No real changes to the layout planned here except money is to be spent converting the parking on the pavement to the left into proper inset parking bays. Note the amount of space the father and his son are taking up cycling on the pavement, there is easily enough room for a cycle track with plenty of room left for people walking too. The parking could remain and form a barrier for a cycle track where the trees currently are. There is clearly enough room here for all.|
|A picture I took whilst cycling in the same spot as the picture I took whilst on a bus above it. There is not enough room for vehicles to overtake in this location if it becomes a two way road and vehicles are also travelling in the opposite direction, therefore you'll have to 'take the lane' in front of lorries and buses to avoid being 'doored'. These are the type of conditions that put people off cycling and makes others give up when they get to a certain age|
|A typical queue of traffic during the morning peak stretching along the entire length of Wick Road. Good luck getting past this lot safely on a bike if the road becomes two way|
As for bus users the proposed changes may be better if you live on or North of Wick Road and want to alight on the number 30 as it'll drop you off 200 metres closer to home. However should you live south of Cassland Road then it'll mean a slightly longer walk home from the bus stop. Either way this does very little to change things for bus users in the area. When the A12 gets clogged up you'll still be stuck in traffic and it'll take an age to move several miles through Hackney, just like now.
Not all of Wick Road is one way; the Eastern section of it is a two way dual carriageway which links the A12 to the one way section of Wick Road, Homerton High Street or Victoria Park Road. Here is some old footage from Thames News from 1984 illustrating that this section of Wick Road has barely changed in over 30 years.
|Wick Road in 1984 and the same view today (note the girl riding her bike on the pavement in the modern view)|
|There are people cycling on both sides of the pavement in this picture despite both travelling the correct way along this one way road. Most people are scared of cycling among heavy or fast moving traffic whether it is one way or two way|
|A father cycling towards Well Street with his child illegally using the pavement, just as I do if I cycle along here with my daughter (and will continue to do so if this scheme goes ahead). People shouldn't have to "skill up" just to ride a bike here, in the same way people walking do not have to due to the dedicated provision built for them|
|Cassland Road and the usual congestion here most weekdays as vehicles head for the A12|
Much of this traffic will instead choose to use Wick Road leading to unpleasant conditions on all three roads and a much greater volume of motor vehicles using Wick Road than currently do
|It is a regular occurrence for Cassland Road to have two lanes of stop-start traffic along it's entire length in the afternoon peak. Any collisions leading to congestion on the A12 and it has a huge knock on effect to many roads in the surrounding area. A glimpse of how much motor traffic may take to using Wick Road eastbound in the future|
|Homerton High Street, the other main road traffic uses along with Cassland Road to head east to the A12 at the spot where Akis Kollaros was killed whilst cycling earlier this year. A busy two way road and the scene of many serious cycle collisions including two fatalities within the past five years. Wick Road will have a similar layout|
It is also very frustrating to see Hackney Council ripping out yet another cycle track in the borough, one that provides a safe link for people cycling from Homerton towards Well Street Common and Victoria Park on a 'quietway' route
|The cycle track on Wick Road that Hackney Council want to spend money converting into yet another huge pavement. Picture via Rachel Aldred|
|Hackney Council on the limitations of cycle training, from their 2014-2024 cycling plan|
A two-way Wick Road with no cycle tracks means only the kind of people who currently cycle on the main roads will be willing to use it should this consultation go ahead with virtually no children cycling along here at all. To quote the Hackney cycling plan we need "safe and comfortable routes for experienced and less experienced cyclists alike" and "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." Hackney council need to be much more ambitious if they are to more than double the rates of cycling in the borough by 2024.
What you can do to help
Please respond to the consultation before this Friday 10th July stating clearly that you do not support this scheme in order to get a clear majority of local residents opposed to this scheme
|Please say no!|
|Rat running on residential roads between Mare Street and the A12|
The council claimed in the cycling plan that they are "open and willing to examine proposals for segregated and semi‐ segregated cycle lanes on principal roads" yet we're not given this option despite the layout of Wick Road. If Hackney Council won't build protected cycle tracks here on a wide road in a deprived area containing a high volume of traffic yet with only a couple of side roads and somewhere where hardly any on street activity takes place then I'm not convinced they'll build them anywhere. How is opening up a road that leads to a former motorway to motor traffic in both directions going to help active travel within Hackney?
It is a shame that any criticism I make of cycling provision in Hackney is often followed by claims of "Hackney bashing". However the statistics are quite clear: 7% of all journeys in Hackney are by bike with three times that amount (21%) by car, almost as many trips as by bus (23%). For children cycling to school the figure is just 2% and has not seen any significant increase for many years yet more than one in ten children travel to school in Hackney by car. Why are more than one in five journeys in Hackney by car when 65% of households are car free? Why is Hackney's mode share of trips by private motor car 21% yet in the nearby boroughs of Camden and Islington it is 15% and 18% in Tower Hamlets?
Hackney still has the highest levels of cycling for people who commute to work and it does some things very well, in particular making some residential roads safe, comfortable and attractive for cycling by filtering out motor traffic. However other boroughs are about to embark on some truly fantastic schemes and radical plans from Waltham Forest Council will make cycling on the main roads in Hackney seem horrendous compared to our neighbours. The Lea Bridge Road cycle tracks will revolutionize cycling to the East of the borough but will embarrassingly more than likely to give up as soon as you cross the border into Hackney.
I'm not suggesting that Hackney Council does not make Wick Road two-way but this design needs to be rejected with the plans for Wick Road taken back to the drawing board. We need to be more ambitious and should not be spending £700,000 creating even more routes for motor traffic to use whilst also removing well used, dedicated safe space for cycling. Rather than Wick Road remaining a busy and hostile road we need to consider other options and trial other ideas to create a road where it is safe and inviting for all road users and benefits local residents. A scheme which is as bold and progressive as the plans and visions coming from some of the other London boroughs.
The consultation is open until Friday 10th July. Please respond here and feel free to borrow any of what I have written, if you agree.