Thursday, 12 December 2013

Progress and priorities

What's been happening?

Southwark appointed Aecom to examine our local roads and pavements in the light of our ambitions to encourage more children to cycle to school. Their job is to consider feasibility and make clear recommendations and suggestions to improve conditions for cycling. Informed by what parents have told us, we were particularly keen to stress the importance of segregated cycling solutions for the busiest routes around schools.

 The engineer is producing a report for Southwark Council which comments on the existing space for cycling. This includes noting housekeeping issues like poorly surfaced bike lanes, 'shared use paths' which are not signed, or which join the road at awkward places, or which are blocked by street clutter, as well as junctions which do not work well for cyclists or pedestrians.

We are also awaiting detailed recommendations for safe space for children cycling through the heart of Dulwich to and from school.

We are delighted that TfL and Southwark continue to be supportive of a Cycle to School partnership in Dulwich. This should unlock funding and expertise to start to make meaningful changes to the way we use our roads and enjoy our journeys.

Why here?

Dulwich is an exceptional location for a Cycle to School partnership, with its unique concentration of schools and 10,000 pupils. A staggering number of parents drive their children and even teenagers to school in Dulwich - and then drive back home or onto work in the rush hour with an empty car - because they feel they have no alternative. We need to prioritise safe space for cycling in order to break the vicious cycle of heavy motor traffic leading to more parents feeling they should drive to keep their children safe.

Families travel to school in Dulwich from all over London
If more people cycled to school, fewer cars and less congestion will benefit road users across a much wider area. This map shows where our survey respondents live - all have children at Dulwich schools. Of course not everyone will cycle to school; Orpington or Shepherd's Bush to Dulwich would be quite intrepid. But the school run would be much more pleasant for everyone if those who lived less than 3 miles from school cycled or walked.

TfL's own research shows that most car journeys in London are less than 3 miles, a third are less than 2, and most carry no passengers. Car use tends to be heavier in households with children. Our research shows that most of those who crawl to school by car will not consider allowing their children to take the healthier, quicker option unless or until they can see clear space for cycling. Even those whose children already cycle to school say they fear for their safety.

We will focus our initial efforts immediately around the secondary schools in Dulwich, and the routes to and from them through the heart of Dulwich. We hope that a combination of measures - including infrastructure solutions which allow better space for cycling - will start to change behaviour and expectations for the school run and to make walking and cycling the obvious, easy, fun, safe and healthy choices for local journeys. The impact of this, and of other measures to improve cycling routes in London, will benefit those who have told us they would like to cycle to their school in Dulwich from their home in Clapham, Brixton, Peckham, Victoria, Blackheath, Beckenham, or even further afield. And that should make it easier and more pleasant for all of us to get around.


Separately, we understand that our local councils and TfL are moving forward in their discussions with Sustrans for plans for the new 'Quietways' routes.

Through the Quietways schemes we anticipate improvements from 2014 to the existing London Cycle Network route 23 (London Bridge to Crystal Palace via Greendale/ Calton Avenue/ College Road). We also understand that LCN 25 is being carefully looked at (Clapham to Peckham around Brockwell Park and along Turney Road and Court Lane), as well as a potential new bike-friendly family-friendly route running parallel to the South Circular.

We would like to work closely with Southwark Cyclists and Lambeth Cyclists, Lambeth and Southwark Councils and Sustrans to ensure that the new Quietways routes are a dramatic improvement on the previous LCN routes, and will be widely regarded as suitable for use by children cycling independently to school. This means cycle routes which are clear, continuous and avoid aggressive or fast motor traffic, which are useable all year round, day or night, and which have bike-friendly and child-friendly junctions.

The extract below from the TfL policy document 'The Mayor's vision for cycling in London' sets out the aims for the Quietways programme. Fingers crossed.

click to enlarge