Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Vote 2014: Vote #Space4Cycling

It's election time again on 22nd May with local and European votes taking place.

The local elections will give people the opportunity to vote for those candidates they feel best represent their interests and not surprisingly, I am going to vote for cycling (although the candidates in my area don't seem to be taking much interest sadly).

For those of us in London, all council seats in the 32 boroughs are up for grabs. Elsewhere there are various elections in the metropolitan boroughs, unitary authorities, district councils and others.

In London, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) has been running its #Space4Cycling campaign for a while now with a website designed to help you contact candidates in your area to tell them what is being asked for at ward level following a huge amount of work by local LCC groups. The campaign has also gone countrywide with help from CTC.

So, what does the campaign call for? Well, here are the headlines;

Protected space on main roads
This means fully protected space on those busy and fast main roads. LCC's policy is that any street with more than 2000 Passenger Car Units per day is the cut off point.

We are not talking about painting a white line down the middle of an already cluttered footway, we don't want to make conditions worse for pedestrians. Protected space means a proper job that everyone can use. It means proper investment in serious civil engineering to deal with pinch points at bridges and big junctions.

Removing through motor traffic in residential areas
Our residential streets are all to often the bypasses to the busy main roads which makes them horrible to cycle on and very intimidating for pedestrians too.

Through fairly simple pieces of highway engineering, we can rework these streets to prevent rat running by people with no real need to be there. Children no longer play in the streets, neighbours don't spend time talking to each other - changing these streets is not just about cycling.

There are challenges for sure. Parking and servicing will be problems in some places, but my view is most of these problems can be overcome. We are able to use experimental Traffic Regulation Orders to cheaply try layouts. If there are problems, we can change things. With rat-running, comes speed.

Lower speed limits
20mph should be the default speed limit where people live and indeed work, walk, cycle and play. On those streets where through traffic has been removed, 20mph can help drivers realise that they are the visitors. Many other European countries have a lower speeds which work, why can't we do the same? If we need to go back up to a higher speed limit, then it should be with protected space.

Cycle-friendly town centres
People on bikes spend money. Pedestrians spend money. Retailers don't always see this. Indeed, studies are showing that people walking and cycling spend more in town centres than those arriving by car do.

We are not talking about the out-of-town or edge-of-town retail centres, we are talking about our town centres. These are the town centres which politicians always go on about and where many think cheap parking is the answer. This is yesterday's news. Town centres need to adapt and cycling is helping many to do just that.

Safe routes to school
School Travel Plans, training and encouragement will only get you so far, but if your route to school is on a busy or fast road; if your route is full of parents parking everywhere (like in the photo); if your route crosses big roads; you are not going to be allowed to cycle to school. Travel habits stay with people through their lives. Kids want to ride their bikes. Adults with their cars stop them riding their bikes, whether driving them to school or making the roads feel to unsafe to cycle on.

Routes through green spaces
No traffic, no pollution, no noise. Cycling through parks, open spaces and greenways is wonderful and feels safe.

But, routes need to be direct, open 24 hours a day (many parks close at night) and lit so they can still be used in the evenings, especially in winter.

These open spaces can often create very short direct links, but other users need to be won over as again, pedestrians, dog walkers and people with young children may not want to mix with those on the head-down commute. As usual, it is all about designing for the context and not settling for a second-rate scheme.

I have used the LCC's tool to contact the candidates in my ward to ask if they will support #Space4Cycling, I hope you can too - it only takes a couple of minutes.

There are also loads of resources to help with local campaigns - it might even be a personal campaign where you put a poster in your window to remind door-stepping candidates what matters to you.

For those of you in London or who can get to London, keep Saturday 17th May free as the LCC has organised its #Space4Cycling Big Ride

The ride will be on marshaled, traffic-free streets and as well as being a fun event for the family, it will be sending a message to the politicians that people want to cycle in safety.

Your vote is important to those wishing to get elected and so if you get a chance, let them know that there are an awful lot of voters out there who either ride bikes or would like to ride and we demand #Space4Cycling! See you in the saddle!

No comments:

Post a Comment