At the end of the week
before last’s Public Realm meeting, the one chairman Cheryl Bacon dodged,
the question of cycling cropped up and the answer from the chair dodger’s spouse
was quite interesting. This is a more or less verbatim report on what he said.
A councillor had referred to the mayor of London’s cycling initiatives and asked “what additional benefits will we have other than a few cycling lanes if we were successful with that bid?”
Cabinet member Gareth Bacon said we would get lots beside cycle lanes. “The mini-Holland scheme is being run by the mayor's cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan and is a £100 million pot. The idea is that Outer London boroughs bid competitively and the money is to be shared between three or four boroughs and the idea is that there will be a step change in take up [of cycling] in the boroughs that get the money.”
“Ours is a very strategic bid, North, South, East, West of the borough will benefit from it. The idea is that Bexley has a very low [cycling] take up at the moment, it is round about 2%, we don’t have great public transport links, a lot of people drive cars and we have a topographical problem in Bexley, the borough is hilly in certain parts.”
“The scheme is built around the idea of hubs and spokes the hubs being the destination and the spokes the travel to. Town centres being the obvious ones but also Abbey Wood is one of the central hubs with Crossrail going in there in 2018 becoming a destination that people will be very keen to get to.”
“Having established the hubs, the hubs are Sidcup, Bexleyheath, Erith and Abbey Wood. Then we have to establish how you get there, there will be a network of highways are what we are calling them, taking cycling away from the main roads where you bring people on bicycles into direct conflict with buses, lorries and cars. Down some of the quieter residential roads running parallel to these things. What we actually get with that is that all of those roads will be completely resurfaced and there will be a huge amount of public realm work to be done as part of the bid to a level we will never be able to afford if we are unsuccessful.”
“There will also be an awful lot of soft measures as well, so lots of things like cycle hire schemes, various things around cycling, various PR things, training things as well, and of course there will be lots of facilities like bike racks. There is no point in establishing cycle routes to get places if there is no means to leave your bicycle securely. What it won’t involve is lots of scrappy bits of cycle lane that go for 200 yards and then stop and go nowhere. There would be absolutely no point in spending money doing that. There won’t be cycle lanes on pavements it’s going to be about prioritising cycling without disadvantaging motor transport as far as its possible to do that. And where there is likely to be some kind of conflict taking it away from where [motorists] tend to be. What we don’t want to do is grossly upset one section of road user at the expense of another. We actually want to create an environment where people will think of cycling as a more state of mind activity rather than something they might choose to do once they [voice tailed off to inaudibility].”
Answering a question…
“Where most of the parking problems occur is around primary schools and I would not be keen on my children cycling to school at that age. Secondary schools frequently do. There are things that can be looked at around primary schools.”
In response to a question about the cycle lifts (and other things) from Labour councillor Seán Newman…
“There are two lifts proposed in the bid In New Road and one in Erith. In New Road it is proposed the lift will go on the woods side of the road where there is a wide grass verge and in Erith it will not go where the pedestrians go but will be taking some of that space. Shared space does not make a huge amount of sense to me. Right throughout there will be segregation between two wheeled transport and pedestrians.”
Good to see that councillor Bacon does not think cycling on the pavement is a good idea as advocated by his predecessor Peter Craske in 2009 and we will see no more “scrappy bits of cycle lane that go nowhere”. With Crossrail and possibly a cycle lift coming almost to my doorstep interesting times lie ahead. I can see the children of South London flocking to New Road with their skateboards. A free ride on the bus and a free hitch to the top of the hill and whizzing back down again.
In case you are wondering the cost would work out at about £150 per man woman and child in the borough but is shared across London.
Note: The cycling scheme discussed above is in addition to that featured in the News Shopper last month. Clearly councillor Bacon doesn’t know New Road very well, there are woods on both sides of the road and the grass verge is not very wide. Note also that it is bad to mix cyclists with pedestrians but apparently both can share the road with buses and lorries on Broadway.