Hounslow Road Hanworth gets a safety makeover!

In April 2014, Hounslow Cycling took part in the Space for Cycling campaign. Across the borough we asked for different things to improve cycling. Hounslow Road is in Hanworth Ward and here we asked for Protected Space for Cycling, especially to provide a safe route for anyone cycling to Oriel Academy.

It is great that the council listened and that they are now consulting on plans to provide some protected space for cycling on Hounslow Road (A314) from the River Crane bridge near Middlesex Crematorium all the way to Bear Road flyover.

Problems with existing cycle lane

There are a range of obstacles in the existing cycle lane, including signs, lamp posts and cars parked on top of it.

There are a range of obstacles in the existing cycle lane, including signs, lamp posts and cars parked on top of it.

Unusually for this bit of London, there is a cycle lane marked along some of this route already that is separate from both the road and the pavement. The existing cycle lane is however substandard as it is very narrow and is blocked by vehicles that get parked on top of it and by poorly positioned road signs and lamp posts. There is also poor drainage a various places on the pavement and cycle lane that need to be addressed.

Hounslow Road is a key route for getting to Oriel Academy, so it is vital that this new cycle route is safe enough and good enough for everyone, including small children. Interestingly this scheme includes both cycle lanes and, in places, reduction of speed limit to 20mph.

How do the new designs stack up?
The council presents two options: A and B.
Option B is our favorite as it has bike lanes more clearly separated from cars.
(However, we’re not sure about the removal of traffic lights underneath Bear Rd flyover)

Full details of the consultation can be seen here. Please email your response to transportplanning@hounslow.gov.uk

There is one place where in both plan A and B, the northbound cycle lane cannot be described as protected space for cycling as it has car parking where motorists have to drive across the cycle lane to reach the parking bays. This place is the curb opposite Tescos. Do people really need car parking there? The design could be improved by installing armadillos to separate the cycle lane from the motor traffic outside Little Park Drive Doctors surgery.

In both option A and B, drivers will need to drive over the cycle lane leading north towards the Doctors surgery in order to use the car parking bays.

In both option A and B, drivers will need to drive over the cycle lane leading north (on the left side of the road) towards the Doctors surgery in order to use the car parking bays. (In option A, all those parking bays marked by grey boxes will have to be accessed by people driving over the cycle lane)

Option A

In general, more car and van drivers have to cross cycle lanes in order to reach parking than in option B. In the central section, the cycle lanes cross junctions right at the mouth of minor roads (eg Winslow Way), putting people traveling by bike in the near impossible of having to predict whether a vehicle overtaking them will suddenly turn left.

In Option A, people travelling by bike are thrust onto the road at junctions with minor roads, just when they need more protection.

In Option A, people travelling by bike are thrust onto the road at junctions with minor roads, just when they need more protection.

What layout would you prefer where the cycle lane crosses a side-road?

What layout would you prefer where the cycle lane crosses a side-road?

If a shared use pavement is marked outside Oriel Academy it will most likely look  as though the cycle lane has disappeared just when it is needed. Shared pavements carry the risk of conflicts with pedestrians and people waiting for the bus.

In option A, it also looks like the car parking bays could block people cycling into Hanworth Park on the new greenway cycle route.

Option B

In this option, most parking bays do not require motorists to drive on the cycle lane.

With the close proximity of the cycle lane to parked cars and vans, it is important that there is a boundary between them so that vehicles are not parked on the cycle lane and so that vehicle doors cannot be opened across the cycle lane. Such separation is typically done with bollards or with planting and we would like to see one of these options used on Hounslow Road.

bollards or planting

There will need to be clear separation between parking bays and the cycle lane. This could use bollards or a planting scheme.

In the central section of Option B, the cycle lanes are set back at the junctions of minor roads and cross these junctions on top of raised speed bumps.

Option B: the cycle lane crosses the minor roads on top of a raised table

Option B: the cycle lane crosses the minor roads on top of a raised table

With the cycle lane at the edge of the pedestrian pavement, in Option B it will be easier to access the Hanworth Park Greenway cycle route.
Despite the road speed limit being adjusted to 20mph, removal of traffic lights for motorists leaving the motorway style A316 seems a bad idea when the speed with which people drive here is considered.

Option B: Good to see 20mph being proposed but the proposal of removing traffic lights at the Bear Road flyover seems to put cyclists at threat of cars pulling out.

Option B: Good to see 20mph being proposed but the proposal of removing traffic lights at the Bear Road flyover seems to put cyclists at threat of cars pulling out.

Please take a moment to email transportplanning@hounslow.gov.uk in support of better cycle lanes in Hanworth, connecting to Oriel Academy.

Option A plan of north section
Option A plan of central section (near Oriel Academy)
Option A plan of south section

Option B plan of north section
Option B plan of central section (near Oriel Academy)
Option B plan of south section

Would you like the Hounslow Road cycle lane to look like this?

Would you like the Hounslow Road cycle lane to look like this?

Boston Manor Road: Vote for option A!

Hounslow Council are consulting on what could be high quality cycling infrastructure for getting to work at the GSK complex where over 3,000 people work. The cycle route links the GSK and Sky complexes with Boston Manor Underground Station.

See the details of the consultation here You can respond by sending an email to transportplanning@hounslow.gov.uk

boston manor street view

The current road layout: note the car parking bays that require motorists to drive over the advisory cycle lane

Respondents are offered two options:

Option A is a fully segregated, bi-directional cycle lane, similar to what has been built on Cable Street.

cable street

Cable Street in Tower Hamlets has a bi-directional cycle lane physically separated from motor vehicles

Option A is superior as it clearly physically separates people on bikes from motor traffic and provides a continuous unbroken route between the major workplace locations and the railway station. The plans do not provide detail on what will happen outside Boston Underground Station, but the bridge is wide and we will push for a reduction in road width allocated to motor vehicles and an increase in width allocated to pedestrians and a cycle lane that connects to the railway station. A high quality crossing outside the railway station is also important, particularly for people traveling north-south by bike.

boston manor underground station

Boston Manor Underground station is situated on the eastern side of the bridge. The pavements are narrow relative to the width of the bridge: this is an opportunity to allocate the space better

In option A the design of the switch-over underneath the motorway is also critical – it is important this is not staggered with people traveling by bike left waiting in the middle of the road.

South Option A

Separated cycle lane in Option A, south section near GSK buildings

boston manor north option a

Separated cycle lane in Option A: northern section near the railway station

Option B is partially segregated on-road cycle lanes. One issue is that Option B leaves people stranded at the roundabout with the difficulty of maintaining a strong road position when motorists overtake before turning left into Swyncombe Avenue.

South Option B

On-road cycle lane in Option B: southern section near GSK

boston manor north option b

On-road cycle lane in Option B: northern section near the railway station

However, Option B is a bit cheaper to install. So, if Councillors decide to go for the cheaper option, here are our suggestions for ways it can be improved:

If option B  goes ahead, at Boston Manor station and Boston Gardens, the cycle lane should be at the  edge of the road, with the cycle lane passing on the left of the car parking bays, rather than cars crossing the cycle lane to get to car parking bays.

For both options, it is not clear what the detailed designs for the road junctions will be, particularly where the streets: The Ride and Boston Gardens each join Boston Manor Road. The quality of these ‘entry treatments’ could significantly affect the safety of the cycle lane. There is also a bus stop near Swyncombe Avenue. We would favour the cycle lane passing behind the bus stop. We will require further detail regarding this part of the design too.

Do you cycle from Boston Manor Road into Swyncombe Avenue? If Option A goes ahead would you want an additional crossing to cross from the eastern side of the road over into Swyncombe Avenue? We are considering asking for the roundabout to be replaced with a traffic light junction with crossings to make this movement easier once the segregated cycle lane is installed.

If Option A is implemented, with its physically separated cycle lane, it is important that Hounslow Council has a clear strategy for sweeping the cycle lane even if conventional gutter sweeping lorries cannot gain access. It is important that this cycle lane is kept clear of mud and snow and is gritted in winter.

We’d urge people to vote for option A and to make Councillors aware of potential improvements to option B and option A. The council survey form is available here. Email you response to transportplanning@hounslow.gov.uk

When will Boris’s Cycling Vision come to Chiswick?

Image

Unless the Cycling Vision is applied to Chiswick’s A-roads, they will continue to be polluted barriers to cycling rather than permeable routes. Junction designs should include cycling infrastructure that makes riding a bike feel safe.

Hogarth Roundabout

How does Transport for London decide what infrastructure cyclists in Chiswick get?

Transport for London are well known for coordinating bus and underground services. Transport for London also control the layout of a many of London’s main roads, including the Great West Road (A4) and Chertsey Road (A316). What is much less well known is the way Transport for London’s rules and modelling of traffic flow overwhelmingly favour people in motor vehicles over people walking or cycling on the roads that Transport for London controls and those controlled by the local boroughs.

Transport for London is legally obliged to ensure effective movement of traffic whether on foot, bike or anything else. But the different elements of traffic are not valued equally…

Transport for London is legally obliged to ensure effective movement of traffic whether on foot, bike or anything else. But the different elements of traffic are not valued equally…

In Transport for London’s traffic modelling guidance a person on a bike is explicitly given a fifth of the value of a person in a car. So when Transport for London say they want to smooth the traffic flow, people on bikes are already discounted as the valuation is already biased against them. As a result, Transport for London have a history of only providing cycling infrastructure that does not reduce road capacity for motor vehicles which has typically been low quality cycling infrastructure. The fact that a person on a bike is more vulnerable than people in vehicles is not taken into account. De-valuing cycling is also contrary to NICE guidance that active travel should be prioritised over non active travel.

(Notably a bus that could easily be carrying 50 or more people is only given the value of two single occupant cars, so TfL roads don’t work well for those travelling by bus either).

How does this affect the roads around Chiswick?

In January 2012, Transport for London proposed changes to Sutton Court Road with the objective in their words to “improve facilities for cyclists and pedestrians and improve road safety for everyone who uses the A4 Ellesmere Road/Cedars Road junction with Sutton Court Road”.

where are the cycling facilities?

plan for Sutton Court Road/A4 junction proposed by Transport for London in 2012

With this objective, Hounslow Cycling could have reasonably expected cycle lanes of reasonable width, advance stop lines and a robust mechanism of giving cyclists a head start so they have a strong road position  are visible to motorists, especially on the uphill climb crossing the A4 northwards.

The London Cycling Campaign has been promoting cycling infrastructure of the standard seen in Denmark and the Netherlands in its Go Dutch campaign.  The London Cycling Campaign push for junction designs where the cyclists travelling straight on are not put into conflict with motorists wanting to turn left and where there is sufficient space for those walking and cycling that there aren’t conflicts between them.

Instead of proposing high quality cycling infrastructure, no doubt because of the imperative of smoothing the [motor] traffic flow, the plans for the Sutton Court junction included a left-turn-only lane on its uphill approach. Transport for London’s own London Cycling Design Standards  advise that “to reduce the distance where cyclists are vulnerable, the [left turn] slip lanes should be removed completely by re-configuring the junction or, where this is not feasible, reduced to the minimum required by reducing the taper” Under TfL’s models what is “feasible” seems to depend more on smoothing the [motor] traffic flow than giving a strong feeling of safety to cycle routes.

The result of TfL’s plans would have been to push people on bikes onto the small pedestrian crossing islands with likely increases in conflicts with pedestrians and with up to six crossings to make, a discouragingly slow journey (smoothing the cycling flow it aint). By the way, to their credit, Hounslow Council did not support Transport for London’s plans.

The response Hounslow Cycling received from Transport for London after asking for a better cycling infrastructure plan at Sutton Court Road’s junction with the A4:

“As part of our continued drive to reduce the number of people hurt on our roads this junction was identified as having a specific right turning problem from Sutton Court Road (north) onto the A4 (west).  This is a difficult manoeuvre … as a result a number of collisions have occurred. The left turn only lane on Sutton Court Road (south) is proposed in order to make it easier for vehicles to make this right turning movement by reducing the number of lanes of traffic they have to cross. In addition, cyclists travelling northbound from the outside lane will be more visible to these right turning vehicles because they will only have to identify an appropriate gap in one lane of traffic rather than two at present. Finally, the majority of vehicles travelling along Sutton Court Road south to north through the junction do so from the outside lane; particularly in the morning and evening peaks when 98% and 87% of vehicles respectively do so. Therefore the majority of vehicles in the inside lane are turning left and as a result cyclists are more likely to come into conflict with turning traffic if they travel through the junction in this lane. The designs for this scheme are not finalised and, as explained in the consultation response, the scheme will be going through our Junction Review process, which will ensure that we are doing all that we feasibly can to improve facilities for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”

The Junction Review process is a key part of Boris’s Cycling Vision, so perhaps that is why Hounslow Cycling has recently heard that Transport for London are re-evaluating their proposals; developing an amended scheme with a further consultation.

The A4 is a major barrier to cycling north-south. While Grove Park primary school and Strand on the Green Junior School have made excellent progress at promoting cycling to school by their students, those families living north of the A4 most likely find the prospect of cycling to these schools daunting and uninviting. Hounslow Council have also drawn up plans for cycle superhighway 9 to pass along Chiswick High Road, so it is vital that the A4 does not create a barrier to Chiswick cyclists reaching the cycle superhighway.

Will Boris’s Cycling Vision bring the solution?

The Cycling Vision promises that:

“London’s streets and spaces will become places where cyclists feel they belong and are safe. Spending on the junction review will be significantly increased, and it will be completely recast to prioritise major and substantial improvements to the worst junctions, though other junctions will still be tackled.”

In the Cycling Vision document, Transport for London claim to be refining their sophisticated traffic modelling systems to take better account of cyclists. With the benefit of these, all future road and junction builds or redevelopments and transport schemes on the roads controlled by TfL will be subjected to improved (but unspecified) forms of cycling safety assessment prior to approval. Boris’s cycling vision promises short stretches of segregated bike lane, where possible, just before busy traffic lights so cyclists can get through stationary traffic to reach the ASL at the front.

The original plan for the review of London’s 100  junctions most in need of a safety review included Sutton Court Road’s junction with the A4. Transport for London have since said that the number of junctions they will address has greatly reduced and we will have to wait and see whether the new designs proposed for Sutton Court Road will make it a place where cyclists feel they belong and are safe. We know that junctions at Blackfriars, Vauxhall, Tower, Aldgate, Swiss Cottage and Elephant & Castle, are being focused on and that  improvements at these places will include widening to allow more space for cyclists, creating more segregated cycle lanes and installing innovative ‘early-start’ traffic signals to allow cyclists to move onto the junction ahead of other traffic.

Hounslow Cycling will demand infrastructure of no lesser standard in Chiswick.

So, apart from Sutton Court Road, where else in Chiswick can you cross the A4? Well you could use the subway at Cedars Road, or how about Hogarth Roundabout?

There has been much confusion over the hideous cycle lane that almost crosses Hogarth Roundabout. Transport for London had proposed that the cycle path cross Dorchester Grove’s two lane approach to the Hogarth roundabout, on a curve, very close to the signalised junction, but without signals, thus placing cyclists into considerable potential danger. Both Hounslow Council and Hounslow Cycling proposed that the only way that these cycle lanes could be safe would be with traffic light controlled crossings for cyclists. Transport for London have repeatedly refused to install traffic light crossings claiming that:

“It is possible to introduce a signalised crossing on this arm [crossing across Dorchester Grove to link the currently closed cycle track under the flyover with the footway towards Chiswick Roundabout] but this would cause a significant increase in queue lengths around the roundabout and on all approach arms which is unlikely to be acceptable to local residents or users of the A4 and A316. There would also be an increase in traffic on local roads as vehicles seek alternative routes to avoid the junction and again this would be to the detriment of local residents including cyclists using these quieter routes.”

“The design work for the informal crossing across Dorchester Grove is ongoing and we expect to have a draft design ready to be road safety audited within a month after which we will consult with the council. Once we have a design that has been agreed with the council we will consult with other local stakeholders”

Informal crossings across very busy roads do not feature in Boris’s Cycling Vision. Nor should they as they do not give people on bikes a safe route nor do they provide the ‘calm junctions’ demanded by the London Cycling Campaign’s Go Dutch design criteria.

Along with Chiswick residents, Hounslow Cycling is waiting to see what plans Transport for London will produce next. At every step Hounslow Cycling will urge Transport for London to install high quality cycling infrastructure and to bring the Cycling Vision to Chiswick.

Transport for London is under the control of the London Assembly, so if you would like to find out more about the decisions being made, you can ask the Assembly Members that represent you: Tony Arbour ,Darren Johnson, Murad Qureshi ,Caroline Pidgeon , Gareth Bacon , Fiona Twycross , Andrew Boff , Tom CopleyVictoria BorwickJenny Jones , Nicky Gavron  , Stephen Knight .

You can contact Hounslow Cycling on Twitter or Facebook to share your views.

Postscript

Thank you to Rachel Aldred and many others who have highlighted the fact that Passenger Car Units can be used to highlight one of the benefits of cycling and cycling infrastructure: a given area of road can hold a greater number of people if they cycle than if they drive, just as a given area of road can hold more people if they travel by bus rather than drive. Most people don’t cycle unless the road design includes a clear space for cycling.

Rachel suggests that road designers should find good ways of estimating and modelling how many people are put off cycling or prevented from cycling by the current inadequate level of cycling infrastructure; people who would cycle if cycling infrastructure was present. The smaller road space required for these people would make the roads more efficient.

A lot can change in fifteen years…

 policy options

Hounslow Council are planning ahead. They have released their Local Plan for what new developments should happen in the borough over the next fifteen years. The council have also identified issues such as serious air pollution (mainly from road transport) that need to be tackled by the way the developments are designed.

We’re always on the lookout for plans that will make cycling in this borough safer and more convenient.  There are a few real gems in this document, so we thought we’d take you through the highlights! In particular, in Chapter Ten, the council propose to “develop a new cycle network consisting of greenways, quietways and a Cycle Superhighway linking our town centres with Central London”. Also in Chapter Ten, the council have identified a number of bridge improvements that would remove breaks currently found in the cycling network including the Clockhouse Lane Bridge, Whitton Road Bridge, Feltham High Street Rail Bridge and Barnes Rail Bridge Pedestrian walkway”. This is not small stuff. The council are proposing to rebuild significant bridges to allow a decent network of cycle lanes link the key sites in the borough and into central London via a Cycle Superhighway. We need to let the council know we support this.

We are disappointed that the plan makes no mention of 20mph speed limits as a way of promoting active travel and cycling in particular.

It is important that we show support for the parts of the plan that could help get more people cycling and prevent them from being ignored amongst all the detail. So why not get hold of a questionnaire and send the council your thoughts. Responses need to be in by 26 July.

policy map

Cycling in town centres

In the questionnaire, boxes TC1, TC2, TC3 and TC4 refer to plans for Hounslow, Brentford, Feltham and Chiswick from Chapter Two.

For Chiswick, the council are looking to “promote Chiswick’s connection with the River Thames”. We support this and would like to see a quietway for cycling through Chiswick to the River Thames, running along the east side of Chiswick House. We also support protecting Dukes Meadows. The cycle route along the Thames here could be improved. The Cycle Superhighway is probably going to go along Chiswick High Road which will bring more customers to the wide range of independent shops.

For Brentford, there are interesting plans to link the town centre with the businesses on the Great West Road, building on Brentford Connection. We support greater active travel along the River Brent greenway. The plans to develop the railway behind PC World on the A4 as a passenger service to Southall also provide the opportunity to establish a high quality cycle route over the River Brent, linking the Sky Office Complex with Boston Manor underground station. The proposed regeneration of Boston Manor and Gunnersbury Park provide the opportunity to improve greenway cycle routes here.

For Hounslow, there is an explicit priority to “improve visitor access by bus, rail, bicycle and foot” which we support. Similarly in Isleworth, the council aim to use “any opportunities to improve pedestrian access to and along the Duke of Northumberland River and River Crane”. We think these paths should be improved for cyclists too. It is important that when the Council protect the North Feltham Trading Estate, they also take the opportunity to improve the greenway cycle route along the River Crane.

For Feltham, there is an exciting plan to develop the Longford River as a cycle route into the Town Centre. There are also plans to redevelop the rail bridge so that cycle lanes can be incorporated. We strongly support these plans and would welcome access to the shops in central Feltham being easier for those travelling by bike.

Questionnaire boxes TC6 and TC8 deal with retail growth and improving High Streets. There are a number of studies, including this one from New York that show that increased access for people travelling by bike result in increased retail sales. The plan also identifies the importance of the Hotel industry around Heathrow (Questionnaire box ED3). We think that all employees at these hotels should have the option of a safe cycle route to work.

Greenways

The Council’s plan doesn’t pull its punches when it discusses the problem of air pollution coming from the Borough’s roads. “Hounslow exceeds the nitrogen dioxide levels set by the National Air Quality Strategy.” “The whole borough is now classified as an Air Quality Management Area”. “Air pollution levels in the borough regularly exceed European Union targets”. This has troubled the Mayor of London sufficiently for him to offer a slice of £5 million to Hounslow borough to invest in “schemes to encourage the uptake of low and zero emission transport modes”. Investing in cycle routes has a role to play in cleaning the air locally.

New routes away from polluted roads can also bring health benefits from active travel and active lifestyles. Some green corridors that need to be made accessible for people travelling by bike have already been identified in the All London Green Grid . Hounslow Council have realised that around Heston and Cranford, severance by big roads including the M4 make getting to open space difficult. We strongly urge the council to progress with preliminary plans to create a greenway along the River Crane, linking Hillingdon’s river Crane path with Richmond borough’s river Crane path. We support more active uses of open space and would like to see a green grid (Questionnaire box GB4) established across the borough including a link between Osterley Lane and Trumpers Way in Ealing.

We are glad that the policy options aim to create “green chains and corridors to ensure that suitable access is improved for both pedestrians and cyclists” (Chapter Seven). If you support this, please tell the council. (You can email comments to LDF@hounslow.gov.uk).

Transport connections

The Council point out that the borough’s prosperity centres on its location between Heathrow Airport and central London so we strongly urge the council to ensure that the Cycle Superhighway extends all the way to Heathrow Airport and links to improved greenways in this area too. We strongly support the planned improvements to allow safer cycling across Clockhouse Lane Bridge, Whitton Road Bridge, Feltham High Street Rail Bridge and Barnes Rail Bridge.  If you have thoughts on how these bridges could be improved, do tell us.

We strongly support the proposed policy of requiring development proposals to demonstrate access to cycling networks and the requirement for new developments to incorporate design measures to promote cycling, including cycle parking.

More houses and bigger schools

Over the next 15 years, the council aims to have 7800 more homes in the borough and many more school places (equivalent to 34 additional secondary school forms), with the possibility of a new school near Hanworth Park. We believe strongly that all young people should have the realistic and safe option of cycling to school or college.

This means that major road junctions such as this one near Hanworth Community College will need to be re-designed so that they are safe for cycling.

Hanowrth junction

The council are planning to invest significant amounts of money over the next fifteen years. Whether they invest in cycling facilities depends on the responses they receive. You can send the council your thoughts on these plans by filling out a questionnaire, emailing them (LDF@hounslow.gov.uk) or contacting your councilor.

When local campaigns just aren’t enough

Hounslow Cycling aim to promote safer and more convenient facilities for cycling in the borough of Hounslow. As a group we discuss and respond to local consultations. However sometimes it is national policy, written in Westminster as directed by Members of Parliament, that really needs to change in order to make cycling more safe and convenient here in west London.

As a group we have discussed how improved national policy could help cycling locally. Members of the group have cycled in Belgium where it is motor vehicles that have to give way to cyclists at side roads and where it is national policy that in the case of an collision involving a motorist and a cyclist, the motorist is regarded to be at fault unless there is strong evidence to suggest otherwise. At our monthly meetings at Express Tavern in Brentford we have discussed the need for traffic lights that only apply to cyclists and that either give people on bikes their own turn to cross a junction or at least give them a ‘head start’ before the lights for motor vehicles turn green.

So we were pleased to see that local MP Seema Malhotra asked  Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, who is responsible for national transport policy, some questions about whether national transport policy is changing to improve conditions for people who travel by bike.

Traffic lights specifically for cyclists was one of the issues raised by Seema Malhotra MP:

Seema Malhotra: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to promote the use of cycle-specific traffic lights.

Stephen Hammond: Provision of cycling measures, including traffic lights, is for local traffic authorities. The Government is committed to improving cycling safety and has provided extra funding through the Cycling Safety Fund for local authorities to tackle the most dangerous junctions on their networks.

DFT officials are working closely with Transport for London on a project trialling a range of new measures, including low-level signals for cyclists. We are also working with Cambridgeshire county council, who are trialling the use of cycle filter signals.

New ideas need to be properly tested to identify any potential problems, and establish what the benefits are likely to be. Subject to the results of the trials, we will consider approving trials at a limited number of sites on public roads.

More information here

It is good to know that the government minister responsible for transport policies is aware of the trials being done by Transport for London. Once the findings of this research is public, we would like to see Stephen Hammond describe what new national rules will apply to the use of traffic lights specifically for cyclists and actively promote their use, particularly at junctions with multiple vehicle lanes of where turning right can be complicated. (If you have junctions like this that you think need addressing do let us know).

Seema Malhotra MP also asked about whether the road design rules are taking into account the need to separate cycle lanes from motor lanes, especially on faster roads.

Seema Malhotra: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to vary the degree of separation between cycle lanes and motor vehicle lanes according to the speed limit applied in an area.

Stephen Hammond: Local highway authorities are responsible for the design of their networks, including cycle facilities such as cycle lanes and crossings. The Department provides comprehensive good practice guidance on road design to help them in this, for example, in “Local Transport Note 2/08; Cycle infrastructure Design”.

More information here.

So there we have it. While the Get Britain Cycling report says that making cycling a viable transport option requires clear political leadership from government, Stephen Hammond, the Government Minister with responsibility for road design rules thinks that each local authority should apply guidance as they see fit.

 Seema Malhotra: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to reduce casualties of pedestrians and cyclists as a result of road traffic accidents.

Stephen Hammond: Initiatives to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety include 20 mph zones, countdown crossings, Bikeability training, £107 million of additional investment in cycling infrastructure over the last year, including £35 million to tackle dangerous junctions for cyclists.

The European New Car Assessment Programme is increasing the rate at which collision avoidance technologies are brought to market and autonomous emergency braking systems capable of reacting to pedestrians and cyclists are under development

More information here.

Seema Malhotra’s final question is well timed. On 27th June 2013 the Department of Transport published statistics that show that 2012 was the eighth year in which the number of seriously injured cyclist casualties had increased in the UK.

 

We think that rather than waiting for motor vehicles to be fitted with ‘autonomous emergency braking systems’ the government should promote the extension of 20mph zones throughout urban areas, as advised in the Get Britain Cycling report. This report also says that mandatory cycling assessments should be carried out for all new road designs.

 

Since Seema Malhotra MP asked these questions, the Mayor of London has been asking the government similar questions too, particularly about cycle-specific traffic lights to make junctions safer.

While here in Hounslow, our local council has been pretty proactive at supporting cycling and has plans to improve cycling infrastructure, without clear leadership from people like Stephen Hammond MP over in Wimbledon, local councillors will be constrained in the improvements they can make.