What's Dutch about Hackney? Finding out what makes London's most successful cycling borough tick

There is a corner of London where canals, parkland paths, closed roads and cycle routes converge to create the perfect cycling scenario.  Stand on Broadway Market's Cat and Mutton bridge in the east London borough of Hackney and it is easy to imagine yourself transported to some bicycle-friendly corner of the continent, as oppose to inner London.  Bike stands groan with the pressure of parking.  Boris Bike docking stations ring to the sound of hire cycles being docked, hired, docked and hired again.  Creative types on fixed wheel bikes flash past, whilst regal ladies on upright Dutch bikes grace the scene with a touch of style.  You don't need the statisticians to tell you that there is a lot of bike riding happening in certain corners of Hackney; it is there for all to see.

Here at ibikelondon I've been cataloguing the cycling culture around Broadway Market for nearly four years.  From the cycle chic riders who braved the winter and kept riding in January 2012 and February 2011, to the football teams who pedal to practice on Hackney Marshes (not forgetting autumn and the long hot days of summer as well of course!).  There's the "cycle chic wall" outside Lock 7 cafe, not to mention the "bicycles-only road" where two wheels rule.  Noticing how the sun brings out the best in cyclists using Hackney's canal-side paths, to documenting the change from early adopters to everyday and ordinary cyclists, when it comes to London's bicycling borough I've really seen it all.

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And, being both an observer and a contributor to the borough's cycling culture, I've often thought about what makes Hackney tick, and why so many people choose to ride bikes here.  Unusually for an inner-London borough it doesn't have an Underground station (although it did gain a handful of Overground stations in 2010), meaning the fastest way to get around is on two wheels, with the 2nd and 3rd fastest means of transport - buses and cars - being prohibitively slow or expensive.  It's also always had a strong cycling 'scene', with specialist shops and bike polo and grass track racing groups for example.  With a strong creative class stationed in the borough there is also a lot of local area and home working, meaning distances between home and the office are eminently cycleable for many.  What's more, the borough benefited from the introduction of the Congestion Charge in its southern corner since 2000, and more people now cycle to work in the borough than drive.  But that's not all that has made Hackney an inviting place in which to ride a bike...

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The Hackney branch of the London Cycling Campaign have been working with the borough very closely for many years, encouraging the Council to consider the bicycle in all that they do; from approving planning applications, to which bin lorries they procure.  And where they've had the most evident success on the ground is with their programme of "filtered permeability" interventions; making one way streets two way again, using bollards to make streets no-through-roads for motorised traffic, hence becoming a handy cut-through for cyclists and pedestrians.  Clever short-cuts and links, made with little more than a dropped curb or a handy bollard, have allowed cyclists to avoid the busiest and most unpleasant roads, whilst efforts to unwind all of the biggest gyratories in the borough continue.  Long-serving Councillor and former cabinet member Vincent Stops has a long list on his blog of some of the interventions done in recent years to encourage more travel by bicycle, which is well worth a read.

But is this over-egging the pudding?  Is Hackney a popular spot for cycling simply by lucky coincidence, a chance concurrence of beneficial elements?  It is worth remembering that although 14.6% of trips to work might be by bike, the modal share for all journeys by bicycle in the borough remains low compared to other means of transport.  And not everyone agrees that Hackney is exactly a cycling paradise.  Much missed cycling blogger, the famously venomous Crap Cycling in Waltham Forest had this to say of the borough back in 2010; 
"East of Mare Street I quickly became lost in a labyrinth of one-way streets and hideous gyratories... After an hour cycling in Hackney I sobbed nostalgically for Waltham Forest. It's that bad."  
Even self-described vehicular cyclist "Buffalo" Bill Chidley of London bicycle courier scene fame is keen to point out that there are really big changes needed to some of Hackney's biggest and busiest roads; 
"I agree that there remains a lot to do in Hackney.  I live right by the A10 Kingsland Road, on which 3 cyclists have been killed in the last 10 years.  This road desperately needs some redesigning, but not just for cyclists, for pedestrians as well."
And every time I ride west along the throbbing, thronging Hackney Road I curse the absence of a separate cycle path on this busiest of arterial routes that seems to have been left as a festering free-for-all where anything goes.

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And this is where things start to get really strange...  Because the Hackney branch of the London Cycling Campaign - the LCC group for the most bicycling bicycley biking borough in biking Boris's London - is staunchly anti-cyclepaths and segregated cycling infrastructure.  So convinced are the lead members of this group of the potential damage that can be done by cycle lanes that they proudly write on their website how they have managed to block TfL from installing cycle paths on Old Street, a busy transport corridor in the borough; "We do not see any advantage in cycle lanes here" they opine.  On the At Home in Hackney blog, Hackney Cycling co-ordinator Trevor Parsons talks of lessons to be learnt from the greatest cycling nation in the world; 
"[in] the Netherlands people are compelled to ride on separate cycle tracks and paths where they exist and Dutch police shout at people for cycling on smooth, empty carriageways. We don't want that over here... ..we want to take the 'permeability' approach".

And this perhaps rather odd approach has trickled down to the borough Council with Vincent Stops asking on Twitter "How many miles of trip hazards is Boris going to install?" after the Mayor's recent announcement that he will build a 15km substantially segregated cycle track across central London.




So is Hackney a bicycling valhalla, or merely a lucky fluke?  Are its bicycle campaigners on the right track, or is their exclusion of separated cycling infrastructure as a useful, available tool holding back the two wheeled potential of the borough?  And if you had next to no cycling levels in your borough, what could London's most successful cycling borough teach you?  Should we even be looking to this unique and unusual corner of inner London as an example for other locations to copy at all?

All these themes and more will be explored at the June Street Talks, next Tuesday the 4th of June in the upstairs bar at The Yorkshire Grey pub.  As usual the bar opens from 6PM for drinks, food and networking before the presentation at 7PM which this month will be given by Hackney Cycling Campaign co-ordinator Trevor Parsons and Hackney Councillor Vincent Stops, who will explore the challenges they feel their borough faces, the success they have won, and what they would like to do differently to bring about more people on bikes.  See the Movement for Liveable London website for more details.

And if that's not enough Hackney in one month for you, spaces are still available for the Hackney Cycling Conference 2013, taking place on the 6th of June at Hackney Town Hall, and featuring key note speeches from the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan and the author of the Get Britain Cycing report Professor Phil Goodwin. Get your tickets here.

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36 comments:

buffalobillbikeblog said...

Nice post Mark. Looking forward to the debates.

ibikelondon said...

Thanks Bill, likewise I think the conference and Street Talks will be good, and will hopefully help to break any "us" and "them" deadlock that exists between different campaigning approaches to fixing things.

If you're there before 7PM would be good to catch up for a pint!

Trevor Parsons said...

Glad you are finding lots to like about cycling in our borough, Mark. Still lots to do, of course. Only caricaturists would suggest that anyone has ever claimed that Hackney is perfect. I don't, and Hackney LCC doesn't. Far from it.

If I may offer a correction, after a more careful reading of Hackney LCC's response to Transport for London's 2005 plans you will see that their engineers proposed to paint some cycle lanes on a section of Old Street -- the street -- not cycle paths on the roundabout as you've written. (Boring as it is, in these bollardiste discussions it's useful to be familiar with the difference between 'cycle lane' and 'cycle path', technical terms which are often used as if they are interchangeable but which actually refer to quite different things). The paper you link to provides detailed reasons why the particular proposals put forward by the engineers back then would in our opinion have been counter-productive. (I would be happy to walk that stretch of street with you and anyone else who's interested in discussing the issues, by the way).

Regarding the roundabout at the junction of Old Street and City Road (three quarters of which is in LB Islington and one quarter in LB Hackney), we regard it as one of the big mistakes of post-war planning in our area, and believe it should be completely remodelled to create the sort of excellent local centre that this key location deserves, enhancing conditions for walking and cycling in the process. More about that in due course!

Anyway, I look forward to meeting you at the Liveable London session next week and exploring together why Hackney might, arguably, already be London's most liveable borough and how we might be able to make it better. And indeed you and anyone else, LCC member or not, are always welcome to come to Hackney LCC's monthly meeting to discuss both the generalities and those all-important details of anything to do with cycling in the borough. It would be good to have you involved.

MrHappyCyclist said...

You had me there for a moment, but when I clicked on the word "opine" and read the document that it links to, I found that you have seriously misrepresented what they were actually opining in there.
You quote "We do not see any advantage in cycle paths here", which seems designed to mislead the reader. They actually said: "We do not, however, see any advantage in cycle lanes here, and we are concerned that in places they might make matters worse, potentially leading cycle traffic into unnecessary difficulties". This is a valid concern given that they are referring to the placement of narrow, kerb-hugging "advisory" cycle lanes: the type of rubbish farcility that we see across most of the country. Such lanes do not provide segregation, but do make it more difficult for a cyclist to be assertive, as is necessary in the absence of proper segregation.
You may or may not be right about the attitudes of the Hackney LCC - I don't know - but your use of this misrepresentation does not make me feel inclined to take your argument seriously.

MrHappyCyclist said...

Ah, apologies to Trevor; I see you already said it.

ibikelondon said...

@Trevor Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, they are most welcome as indeed will be your input to the debate next week which I am certain will be a fantastic one. There is lots that has been done in Hackney that should be aped elsewhere and it is good that the borough is having its "day in the sun". I wonder if there are lessons from other boroughs that could in turn be taken on board by Hackney?

My apologies for the misquote re paths / tracks / lanes; an honest mistake when writing late at night in order to rush a post out. I've now amended the quote so that it reads accurately. Whilst we can agree to disagree regarding the usefulness of cycle paths on Old Street roundabout, we can certainly both agree that it is a hideous hangover of a bygone age which should long ago have been swept away with more modern design. (And it will be interesting to see if the rumours of peninsularisation here in order to accommodate the Government's proposed Tech City Hub building will come up to scratch or not.)

Looking forward to seeing you next week!

ibikelondon said...

@Mrhappycyclist As mentioned in my response above to Trevor, the misquote was a mistake, typed in haste and subsequently corrected.

If you want to take that as a sign of some greater agenda then please do feel free.

As to my portrayal of Hackney LCC I'm not sure you'd find much here for them to disagree with - they are quite open about their dislike of cycle lanes, which we all enjoy debating the finer points of!

Trevor Parsons said...

Thanks for correcting the quote, Mark.

You still have the wrong end of the stick with respect to the 2005 proposals, though. They were for cycle lanes on the easternmost section of Old Street, east of the Pitfield Street / Great Eastern Street junction, and not anything to do with the abominable roundabout at the junction of Old Street and City Road. Once again, I do urge you to read our detailed response carefully.

I suspect that your confusion may arise from the common association of 'Old Street' with the roundabout and tube station, rather than the mile-long street that connects Shoreditch with Finsbury.

Regarding the idea of a new 'Tech City' building at that benighted junction, I hear that those plans are dead in the water. If so, that's a great relief, as it could clear the way for much better development opportunities on the corners of a restored crossroads, rather than the cheap bodge-job that peninsularisation would represent.

As to lessons from elsewhere -- yes of course. Who would argue otherwise?!

stuartclarkeuk said...

We would love some decent 'filtered permeability' in Leeds. The council seems to be against the idea; in the few areas where they have introduced it, they spoil the concept by building barriers that only the slimmest bike can squeeze through. See here for an example: http://www.leedscyclingcampaign.co.uk/?q=node/135

MrHappyCyclist said...

@ibikelondon Sorry for assuming that you deliberately misquoted; a little hasty I guess.
However, my real concern is not for the wording. It is that by quoting that particular response document as an example of people's being anti-infrastructure and anti-segregation, you are effectively encouraging the installation of the kind of dreadful, sub-standard infrastructure that causes problems for me and other cycle commuters across the country every day. There are many places on my commute where good, protected cycle ways would be great, but "advisory" painted gutters are making matters worse.
Whilst I am comfortable with applying Cyclecraft myself, I would much prefer to have dedicated facilities and can see how that would enable far more people to cycle, but something that's neither one nor the other is the worst of all worlds, and that's what that particular Hackney LCC document seems to be objecting to.

ibikelondon said...

@stuartclarkeuk Those A-frames are just shocking. What a waste of public funds, and what an eyesore. If you can't come to Street Talks next week you can tune in to the streettalks hashtag on twitter as it will be live-tweeted. I'm sure Trevor and Vincent will have some advice for dealing with this sort of mind set among Councillors.

ibikelondon said...

@Trevor Thanks for your further comments. I have amended the quote to remove any reference to Old Street ROB, and I have also included a new quote to try and demonstrate that despite Hackney's cycling success the approach of the local cycling campaign might seem somewhat unusual to an outsider at first glance. The fact that there is so much cycling in the borough in spite of there being little in the way of cycle paths is interesting in itself, as is thinking about the potential for the borough should Dutch-quality separated infrastructure of the type currently being tested at TRL be installed on some of the less pleasant busy main roads.

Looking forward to the debate next week!

ibikelondon said...

@MrHappyCyclists You do like to jump the gun somewhat don't you!

If you look over the historical content of my blog (and there's nearly 4 years and a 1000 posts now) you'll see that I've never advocated poor quality infrastructure, often classing bad quality cycle lanes as worse than nothing.

However, I do believe design has a place in encouraging cycling and that good quality cycle lanes, good quality cycle tracks and good quality speed control and permeability measures are all essential, can be realistically achieved in the UK (see what is being done in London at the moment due to campaigning pressure) and can fundamentally bring about much higher levels of bike riding. Whilst VC skills are useful, I do not believe they are enough to bring about mass cycling in the UK.

If you think this is mandating the construction of poor quality cycling provision then I'm afraid you and I are unlikely to ever really see eye-to-eye and I wish you wish well with your campaigning but I think we must agree to disagree.

Hackney cyclist said...

Whilst Hackney does have some decent cycle routes, such as Goldsmith Row and the De Beauvoir Town area the main roads are awful to cycle on and that is why Hackney's cycling share will always remain low compared to more advanced cycling nations, such as the Netherlands.

Hackney cycling campaign have done some good work, such as the Goldsmith's Row scheme but they should be campaiging for high quality cycle tracks on all main roads in Hackney, something they are opposed to and as far as I can see have never campaigned for. Making roads like the Shoreditch triangle two way does nothing for cyclists, expect make it a bit quicker. over 90% of people will still use public transport or motor vehicles to travel through Shoreditch as they feel cycling on the main roads is unsafe. Instead of restoring those roads to two way traffic ten years ago fully segregated dutch style cycle tracks should have been installed, until then the model share of cycling in Shoreditch will always remain very low. I see from their website Hackney LCC are actually campaigning for Shoreditch High Street, currently open northbound for buses, taxis and cyclists only to be opened up to all traffic. How can that be good for cyclists? Likewise a recent plan to install a contraflow cycle path on Victoria Park Road, which would have joined up with the cycle path on Gascoyne Road and would have been a safe way for families to navigate the one way system around Victoria Park was opposed by Hackney LCC who want the road two way for all trafic. Again, something that is fine for young, fit, vehicular cyclists but will ensure young families can never be allowed to cycle on Hackney's roads safely.

I would love to go cycling with my young daughter around Hackney but cannot outside of Victoria Park as there is so little dedicated cycling infrastructure. In Amsterdam we could cycle round the whole city together. It seems to be that Hackney's cycling plan is decided by a small group of fast vehicular cyclists who want to speed through the streets and don't want to be held up by kids or pensioners on their bikes.

Francis said...

As a fittish youngish man, I still hate cycling certain routes in Hackney, mainly because there are still too many one-way streets with nothing in the way of speed limitation or enforcement.

Victoria Park Road is a particular personal nightmare, as with parking on both sides and regular pinchpoints, cyclists regularly get buzzed by speeding traffic overtaking too close. Even cycling in the door zone doesn't leave much room for the 388 bus or the many lorries that use this route. Cyclists using the road 'safely' - staying away from the parked cars, taking the lane - regularly get bullied by drivers.

The same applies to Cassland Road, a two-lane one-way street treated like a high-speed dual carriageway by drivers.

The Stoke Newington gyratory is unnecessary and frightening.

The council's laissez-faire approach to speed enforcement and their refusal to follow Islington's lead of adopting a 20mph limit only compounds the problem.

Completely agree that Hackney's vision of cycling excludes anyone not able or willing to keep up with the traffic. There has been no attempt to make the roads appropriate for mass cycling. It is disturbing to read that the local cycle campaign is as set the council on stopping this from happening.

I've also got a huge problem with all the praise for the Goldsmith's Row scheme. It clearly wasn't done for the benefit of cyclists - it was to close a rat-run shortcut from Hackney Road to Mare Street. And in doing so, they actively removed a serviceable segregated bike path. When the hospital is redeveloped into luxury housing, I absolutely bet that this will be reopened to local traffic, and on-street parking will probably be introduced for the new residents - leaving cyclists with less than they even used to have.

ibikelondon said...

@Francis @Hackney Cyclist
Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences of cycling in the borough, I wonder if the local cycling campaign branch will take on your concerns and respond? My own reaction can only be that I agree - that too much emphasis has been placed on making the streets okay to cycle on if you are fit and confident but hopeless for children, OAPs etc. Removing the Shoreditch gyratory and returning it to two way working was a triumph of planning, but it is still a pig of a place to cycle.

Trevor Parsons said...

Thanks for removing the stuff about Hackney LCC opposing plans for cycle paths on Old Street roundabout, Mark.

It's still not right to say that we opposed "cycle paths on Old Street". What we opposed was a proposal for sub-standard, worse-than-nothing cycle lanes. The proposed lanes would have been discontinuous and less (often much less) than two metres wide. London-wide, LCC consistently opposes the installation of cycle lanes less than two metres wide because they result in cyclists being passed more closely than they would be on a street without a cycle lane.

As I say, I'd be very pleased to meet you (and anyone else who'd like to join us) on this stretch of Old Street to discuss what you would like to see done here for cycling, and how it would fit in with physical constraints and competing demands.

Trevor Parsons said...

I'll respond on individual points raised by 'Hackney cyclist' and Francis separately, but first I thought I should say a word about the general feelings of frustration which have been expressed.

I would ask you to focus the angst that you feel about your current experience of cycling on the root causes of the problems, rather than against easy targets such as allies that you don't happen to agree with on 100% of the issues. We are just volunteers, investing our time and effort freely into the campaign, and doing our best against a host of opposing pressures and interests to get better conditions for cycling.

Decisions on priorities are set by the people who get involved. Getting involved will help you to become better informed about the problems and opportunities, and about the nitty gritty of each location, and it will also help the campaign to be stronger, more effective, and yes, more reflective of the range of opinions which exist. If you have a solution in mind for a particular street or junction, please get out your map, tape measure, pencil, ruler and graph paper, draw your ideas up, and put them forward for discussion.

Getting involved is, or should be, infinitely more satisfying than moaning from the sidelines. So please do!

Trevor Parsons said...

Responding to the individual points made by 'Hackney cyclist'...

When we campaigned for the Shoreditch Triangle to be returned to two-way, we were doing so as part of a coalition with local residents, businesses and organisations, who agreed that the best solution was one which brought gains to people on foot and buses, and to the general liveability of the streets, as well as to people on bikes.

Leaving the gyratory in place in order to fit in cycle tracks was suggested by some people. Our calculation was that it would have preserved the delays and route incoherence for buses, and meant that heavy Inner Ring Road traffic continued to use all three streets of the Triangle. It would also have resulted in frustration for people on bikes, as those tracks would frequently be walked in, especially at the busiest points such as the junction of Shoreditch High Street, Kingsland Road, Hackney Road and Old Street. At busy times now you find people spilling off the pavements in Shoreditch. They would be all over cycle tracks, and I wouldn't blame them.

I am a bit surprised at your perception of the amount of cycling in today's two-way Shoreditch as being very low. The one-way system was a huge block on cycling movement to the south of our borough, and to the west of Tower Hamlets. Going two-way has unlocked lots of cycling, both for commuting and other journeys. I certainly use it much more now than I did before.

You're right that we are calling for northbound A10 private motor traffic to be returned to its traditional route, ie Shoreditch High Street. This would enable the filtering of Curtain Road and the creation of a great north-south cycling and walking route between Hoxton and the City -- something which would be eminently suitable for you and your daughter to use, and less noisy and polluted than the main streets.

Other things we want to see in and around the Shoreditch Triangle are: 20mph limits for all of the streets; a better connection between Tabernacle Square and Rivington Street across Great Eastern Street, giving people on bikes the opportunity to bypass Old Street completely if they wish; and the reduction of Great Eastern Street to one general traffic lane each way, redistributing space to be used for a shareable-width carriageway and wider footways, wide cycle lanes, or indeed cycle tracks.

You say that we opposed "a recent plan to install a contraflow cycle path on Victoria Park Road". In fact the plan was merely to sign the existing southern footway for shared use. We opposed this on principle because it would be spending money on a sticking-plaster solution which does nothing to improve conditions on Victoria Park Road itself or deal with the wider problem of A12 motor traffic blighting the east of our borough. In recognition of the fact that people cycle on this pavement already, with few conficts because it is not much used by pedestrians, we suggested that the council simply ask the police to tolerate considerate cycling on it, while we build momentum for area-wide solutions.

I'm glad to hear that you enjoy Goldsmith's Row and De Beauvoir. Mark kindly credits us for our consist advocacy of this approach of 'filtering' areas to create great conditions for walking and cycling, with motor access maintained to all addresses. Our next two filtering proposals would create a calmed cell bounded by Kingsland Road, Hackney Road, Mare Street and Richmond Road (albeit bisected by Queensbridge Road), and another bounded by Mare Street, Well Street/Cassland Road, Kenton Road and Morning Lane. Please lend your support to these proposals, and come and get involved in the campaign more generally.

Hackney Cyclist said...

@Trevor Parsons

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post.

With regards to the Shoreditch triangle there seems to me to be plenty of space to remove the gyratory AND install cycle tracks. As for the tracks being frequently walked in this is just one of the silly arguments always put forward by people against cycle tracks that has been proved to not be true - have you ever been to the Netherlands or Copenhagen? They work perfectly well there and would do so here in London, as they generally do in Tavistock Place and Royal College Street already. As the Netherlands has shown it is much safer and vastly increases cycling rates to separate cyclists from motor vehicles than ride in the same space as buses and lorries.

As for your claim that Shoreditch going two way has unlocked cycling - do you have any stats to back that up? Has it increased along the Shoreditch triangle more than it has increased across London as a whole? The 2011 census shows over 40% of people in Hackney use public transport or motor vehicles to get to work and less than 10% cycle. If you've ever used one of the 26 route 55 buses that run each hour during the peak period you would have noticed this! Hackney may have higher cycling rates than other London boroughs but we still have a tiny model share compared to countries who install dedicated cycing infrastructure. >10% is pathetic for an area so close to Central London. I personally cycle through Shoreditch everyday but I would also use it if it was still one way as it's the most direct route.

I disagree that filtering Curtain Road would create a great north-south cycle route, filtering really only works on streets that have very low car use, such as residential areas like De Beauvoir Town. I certainly won't be cycling along Hoxton Street with my daughter any time soon.

The contaflow cycle lane I took from your own minutes, didn't realise it was a shared use path, I'm against shared use pavements as much as you are. Clearly obvious that returning the roads around Victoria Park to two way for all vehicles will do nothing to increase cycling, it will just make it more convenient for dedicated vehicular cyclists but far more dangerous for less experienced cyclists or young / old people who would like to cycle by bringing them into more conflict with motor vehicles, especially lorries. A contraflow path similar to Gascoyne road would be the best solution.

Appreciate the work you're doing on filtering but, to use your own words, it really is just a sticking-plaster solution. LCC should be campaigning for dedicated high quality cycle tracks on the main roads in London above everything else.

tim said...

Could these cyclists look any more middle class in one of the most deprived boroughs in London?!

ibikelondon said...

Though I'd imagine it is clear that Trevor and I have contrary views as to what we think the best way to encourage more cyclists is, I can most certainly agree with his plea for people to turn up, set the agenda and get involved. "The agenda is set by those who show up" as they say!

ibikelondon said...

@tim If you look at the picures carefully again you'll see that there's a man in a tracksuit (image 3), an old man in greasy trousers (image 4), a football team (image 5) and a black man (last image). Surely not all middle class, and indeed surely not all of Hackney is derived. There are some very wealthy pockets indeed in Hackney too, and everyone has to live side by side. Accusing people of being middle class, as if that is something to be resented, is not exactly helpful. What's more, different groups can help to set trends and establish patterns for others, which can only be a beneficial thing, as detailing in my recent post about early adopters in the borough.

MrHappyCyclist said...

@ibikelondon You appear to have responded to a totally different post than the one I actually wrote (29 May 2013 17:12). If you go back and read it again, you will hopefully see that.

ibikelondon said...

@mrhappycyclist We do seem to be loosing something in translation via the awkwardness of the written word (my awkwardness, not yours) Hope to be able to meet in person soon to discuss these insights face to face - much easier!

tim said...

Pretty sure black people can be middle class you know.

ibikelondon said...

@Tim Or even the President of the USA if they're rich and work hard enough. I think you get my point; that all is not as first it seems.

George TwoWheelsGoodUK said...

I 100% support installing segregated cycle tracks. These are the only real solution.

I don't feel that people who oppose segregation are really thinking about *all* cyclists when they do that. Usually they are already very competent cyclists and they're only really thinking about themselves.

These new plans from Manchester are the kind of thing the Hackney branch of the LCC should be aiming for, in my opinion:

http://www.tfgm.com/Corporate/bus-priority-DEV/Pages/oxford-road-consultation.aspx

Shaun McDonald said...

If you really like aframes try going along the NCN1 through Kent, especially with a large group of cyclists!

Here's another style of barrier that's a total pain. This one was taken on one of the SkyRides, and Bromley Council when I last spoke to them refused to remove them for fear of motorcycles:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/68493542@N00/4961865538

Trevor Parsons said...

Manchester's plan for Oxford Road looks nice at first glance, George TwoWheelsGood UK. The boldest part of course is the proposed removal of through private motor traffic from much of it. I see that they're able to do this because a high-capacity parallell-ish alternative exists in the shape of the dual carriageway A5103 Princess Road.

I suspect it will be a while before we see private motor traffic removed from any of the principal streets in LB Hackney. We don't have any 20th century motor roads handy to act as bypasses -- in itself one of the reasons why our borough is liveable.

Excluding private motors (in effect filtering) was actually under consideration for the eastern end of Amhurst Road as part of the plan to re-route of buses away from Mare Street Narrow Way, a trial of which is starting in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the powers that be didn't deem a filter feasible, so the junction of Mare Street and Amhurst Road, by the railway bridge, will continue to be a, let's say, sub-optimal environment for walking and cycling. If you have ideas for how it could be improved, George TwoWheelsGood UK or anyone else, please sketch them up.

Trevor Parsons said...

What fun (and how time-consuming) this is.

Thoughts on Hackney Cyclist's followups...

On the question of whether there would have been space to remove the gyratory and install tracks around the Shoreditch Triangle, the most challenging spot is at the junction of Old Street and Curtain Road. How would you like to see things arranged at this location? Would you like to join me with Mark and other LCC comrades in a site visit to discuss what's possible?

Walking in tracks... Yes indeed, I've enjoyed cycling in both the Netherlands and Copenhagen (and on the lovely Danish island of Bornholm). On main streets in Copenhagen I did encounter people standing and walking in cycle tracks here and there. I was inadvertently an offender occasionally, because the footways can be rather narrow there. Didn't come across it so much in the Netherlands, but then I was mostly cycling in suburban and rural areas. Here, Stroud Green Road springs to mind as an urban street with moderate footfall where the cycle tracks are frequently walked on. Old Street and Shoreditch High Street, being high streets, have footways that are much, much busier than those of Tavistock Place and Royal College Street, and tracks in those would be walked very frequently. I'm sorry if you consider me a myth-spreader for saying so, but I would happily put money on it. Personally, I bless errant pedestrians, wherever they happen to be walking or standing, and curse the person who invented the word 'jaywalker'.

[ Just remembered a taxi ride I took in Bornholm, where the driver complained about a woman riding a bike ahead of him in the carriageway of the country road, despite there being a cycle path in the nearby wood she could have been using. #bloodycyclists eh? ]

Stats on cycling in Shoreditch... Nothing reliable to hand, sorry to say. Can't get the staff! There are the DfT Matrix figures, which show roughly a doubling, maybe more, but they are widely acknowledged to be poor data, some even say guesstimated. We seem to be reduced to using the evidence of our eyes.

2011 Census... Not sure where you your less-than-10% figure comes from. The cycling modal share of Hackney residents travelling to work was 15.4%, up from 6.8% in 2001. In overall numbers, the progress was more remarkable still. Our cycle-to-work 'fleet' was 17,312 strong, up from 4,000-odd in 2001. The trends for much of the rest of inner London were encouraging too, albeit surprisingly under-publicised.

Curtain Road... I know it's hard to imagine at the moment, but filtering it in the middle, thereby eliminating through motor traffic, together with suitable crossing arrangements at the Hoxton Street / Old Street junction and the Curtain Road / Great Eastern Street junction, would unlock a really pleasant north-south route to the City. Lots of scope for improving conditions along the way north and south of Curtain Road, including car parking reduction and, yes, filtering.

It's tragic that you feel unable to cycle along Hoxton Street with your daughter. Hoxton Street is my local shopping street, and I love it, but I absolutely agree that there are far too many private motor vehicles, parked and moving. Like every other market street, it needs to be spatially flexible, which means we can't even get much cycle parking installed there, so I struggle to think how cycle specific infrastructure would work. Like Broadway Market, it cries out to be less car dominated. Your advocacy would I'm sure be a valuable asset in the struggle to achieve this.

Well anyway, must get back to work (having first responded to Francis). Looking forward to meeting you to discuss these and other topics if you ever get the chance.

Trevor Parsons said...

And now on the points raised by Francis.

I wholeheartedly agree with you about one-way streets and the tolerance of lethal speeds, and in particular about Victoria Park Road, especially the bit with car parking both sides. Comfort, convenience and safety are sacrificed to the perceived 'right' to store private motor vehicles on public streets for free. Car-owning residents in the Victoria Park area have bitterly fought attempts to control car parking for more than a decade. Controlled parking has finally arrived in a small way in this area now, and includes a very short section of Victoria Park Road between Gore Road and Skipworth Road. It's a start. Whatever your preference for configuring streets, it's clear that large-scale reductions in car parking are going to be necessary.

Cassland Road... Agreed.

Stoke Newington gyratory... Agreed. They are TfL-controlled streets, but Hackney Council is committed to getting it removed. Badger Boris about it. It's his decision.

Speed enforcement... Agreed. Talk to the police. Time for speed limiters in cars?

20mph... Well, the council decided to prioritise the completion of 20mph zones on all 'residential' streets (and achieved that last year), because, much as we all dislike the associated humps and bumps, they are proven to reduce serious casualties, especially of pedestrians. You must admit that was a respectable decision, even if you might have put things in a different order of priority if you were the person doing the deciding.

The council has committed itself in two resolutions, the first in 2008 and the latest last year, to 20mph being the default speed limit on all our streets. The next steps towards this goal are being taken this year on the streets we share with Islington. Please help us hold them to their commitment.

Goldsmith's Row... They shut a rat run. Why quibble? As a recently demised former prime minister once put it: rejoice! In fact the decision to filter was taken chiefly in order to improve conditions for walking and cycling in Goldsmith's Row itself. The process which led to it started with the London Cycle Network Plus route planning effort eight or nine years ago. We were closely (some might say verbosely) involved.

It's better for walking now because there are wide footways and no motor traffic. The old arrangement -- cycle track, footway (partly parked on in the old days), one-way carriageway, narrow footway -- was counter-intuitive. People quite naturally walked in the cycle track, because it was where the footway should have been, and the layout resulted in constant pedestrian/cyclist conflict on the blind corner at the entrance to the city farm.

It's better for cycling now because there's a wide smooth surface to ride on, no motor traffic, no more conflict with pedestrians at the farm entrance, full two-way cycling, no more ban on turning left into Hackney Road, no more fiddly little track entrance to wiggle into at the north end, and a Sunday book market which includes some excellent feminist book sellers. Hang on, that last one's not just for people on bikes.

And no, Goldsmith's Row will not be re-opened to motors. Hackney Council has been absolutely inflexible on this point with the hospital site developers and with LB Tower Hamlets, the planning authority for it. Hackney Council knows that Goldsmith's Row is one of their crown jewels, and they're rightly proud of it.

However, if you'd still like to lay that bet, I will take you up on it to any value you choose. And I will take your shirt :-)

Are you an LCC member, by the way, Francis? If so, please come and get involved in the local group. Non-members are also very welcome to our meetings. The keyboard is mighty these days, but I think there's still a lot of value in face time. It can be a very efficient way to share ideas, dispel misconceptions, and of course make friends and influence people.

Vincent Stops said...

To answer your question "is Hackney a bicycling valhalla?" No it is not.

It is the borough where more residents cycle than any other, by a long way.

Hackney has, for a generation introduced measures that have created a better balance between pedestrians, cycles and motor vehicles. It has prioritised the bus over general traffic and restrained the private car.

The campaigning and work of the most sophisticated cycling campaign group in London has helped enormously, particularly their pragmatic approach in taking account of all modes, particularly walking, cycle and bus.

In my view all of this has contributed to the liveability of the borough and in turn attracted those which want to see public spaces for public life and streets less dominated by motor vehicles.

Best wishes

Cllr Vincent Stops

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