If you live in London, or cycle in London, please respond to the Central London Grid Consultation. It closes Friday, so time is short. The consultation page is here. I’ve copied below a draft of the response that I’ll be putting in by Friday; please feel free to borrow bits of it (or add suggestions). Email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s quite a challenge to respond to a Grid covering all of Central London, and involving eleven organisations (which was why I was putting it off). But it’s important that the voices of people who want to see more cycling are heard, particularly where we think that a route is (a) important and/or (b) missing. I’d focus on the following two issues, remembering that detailed consultation on route interventions will follow:
1. Briefly commenting in broad terms on the general principle of having a Central London Cycle Grid.
2. Commenting briefly on the plans put forward by (or in the area of) each organisation involved – both the good and the bad as the good is not confirmed and the bad may yet be avoided… I’ve only highlighted a few key issues here, and I have more knowledge about some boroughs than others; more detail can be found elsewhere (e.g. via LCC local groups).
My draft response:
I am writing in response to the Central London Cycle Grid consultation, as someone who works in Central London and frequently travels through the area, primarily for work purposes. I support the principle of a Central London Grid. It’s important to have this kind of strategic overview for cycling, and I’m pleased to see the eleven partners involved taking this forward. The existence of a mesh of high quality, direct routes – whether Superhighways, Quietways, or park routes – in Central London will, if realised, encourage much wider take-up of cycling. Adequate funding and ongoing political support across the area will be crucial.
I hope that the good parts of the current Grid plan will be swiftly implemented, and the more problematic aspects – such as the lack of routes in Kensington and Chelsea, or circuitous proposed routes in Westminster – can be remedied so that the Grid works as a coherent whole. Whatever the infrastructure type – Superhighway, Quietway, park route – all need to be suitable for a broad range of cycling abilities, meaning direct routes where interaction with motor traffic is minimised (the LCC benchmark being no more than 2,000 Passenger Car Units per day for routes shared with motor traffic).
I would like to comment specifically on some of the routes offered by the various partners.
Canal & River Trust
The Regents Canal forms part of the Central London Grid. I’d like to see access improved to the towpath where it is currently difficult (e.g. Charlbert Street Bridge) and the improvement of alternative cycle routes (e.g. along Outer Circle) so that they provide similarly pleasant and attractive environments, which offer higher capacity and are more suitable for use after dark.
City of London
The superhighway links over the bridges into City are welcome, and I hope that the link across Smithfield Market (Grand Avenue) can be opened up to cycles when not in use by the early morning market. The route around Bank looks confusing.
City of Westminster
The Westminster section includes some very useful routes, and some that need to be re-thought. Cycle Superhighway 11 (presumably, it would continue along Gloucester Street, given the starting point) and the suggested Quietway on Harley Street are very important direct N-S routes, that cross Marylebone Road and link up with routes to the North through Regent’s Park. Some of the other routes – in particular, the convoluted section north of St James’s Park – are patently not direct, and do not meet the aspirations of the Vision. It is disappointing not to be offered a safe route through Trafalgar Square, which will remain a barrier. Routes need to be developed through Soho.
London Borough of Camden
Very pleased to see the inclusion of Clerkenwell Road which fills what would otherwise be a gap in the grid; and which is currently used by very high numbers of cyclists albeit in relatively poor conditions. Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street are currently marked as ‘alternative’ route suggestions. It is important that at least one of these routes is designated as part of the Cycle Grid, with the quality implications that that entails. Both are highly problematic for cycling, yet are direct routes on key desire lines. East-West connectivity could be improved – there’s no joined up East-West route between Tavistock Place and the North of Regent’s Park.
London Borough of Hackney; London Borough of Islington
Again commend the inclusion of Clerkenwell Road.
London Borough of Lambeth
Clearly Lambeth has been enthusiastic in its designation of Grid routes: perhaps too much so, because it’s hard to see what the core Grid proposals are (those that are to form part of the joined up core Central network, as opposed to additional local routes).
London Borough of Southwark
Southwark should benefit from the additional Superhighway bridge crossings; more could be done to join these up though, for example there is no route shown continuing South from London Bridge. Other gaps include a large hole around Elephant and Castle.
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Kensington and Chelsea seem to have done the opposite of Lambeth; very few routes are proposed here and large gaps remain, more so than in any other borough. There is little in the way of East-West connectivity. One obvious option would be to open up a route within Holland Park for cycling; even just allowing cycling in the short link between Duchess of Bedford’s Walk and Ilchester Place would be useful. As it is, it’s hard to see how Kensington and Chelsea’s part of the map will facilitate cycling among those currently put off by heavy motor traffic; the links just aren’t there and to get anywhere you’d need to divert to busy main roads (with no dedicated space for cycling). Routes just stop, and the centre of Kensington is impermeable, while proposed routes through Hyde Park go nowhere when they leave the park. This section of the map needs a clear re-think.
The Royal Parks
It is good to see the Royal Parks considering facilitating cycle routes to a greater extent than previously. The proposed routes through Green Park and St James’s Park will be crucial for providing pleasant and direct routes through an area with many unpleasantly busy roads. Similarly transforming the Outer Circle into a high quality cycle route does much needed work to facilitate North-South and East-West journeys in that area.
Opening hours need to be re-thought; more parks should be made 24 hour and some current opening hours are clearly unsuitable for Grid routes: at present Kensington Gardens closes at dusk, which makes routes unusable for much for the year. There’s scope for considering additional routes, for example in Regents Park – why is the South section of the Broad Walk not included?