To test the waters, I asked Richmond Council its response to the Times’ ‘Cities fit for Cycling’ manifesto.
And this is what I got:
Question: “Will the Council actively endorse and enact the Times’ cycle safety manifesto, including the commitment to specific budgets toward the provision of worthwhile cycling facilities in the borough?”
Response: “The Council supports improved safety for cyclists, indeed for all users of the highway, and we applaud The Times for the work it is doing. The Times makes several recommendations which I am pleased to say are already part of the Council’s work programme, including providing training courses for cyclists, safety awareness literature and improving cycling infrastructure. Looking at budgets, if we exclude major project and maintenance spends which benefit all transport users alike, in the coming year around £300,000 or 15 percent of the Local Implementation Plan grant from TfL will be spent on promoting and improving cycling in the Borough. As the cycle share of all journeys made in the borough currently stands at 5%, I think it can be seen that we are by no means neglecting cycling in the overall work programme.
N.B. for information – modal breakdown of journeys in LBRUT:
Train 6% / Underground 2% / Bus 11% / Taxi 1% / Car 44% / Walking 31% / Cycling 5%
LBRUT ties with Hackney as the highest London borough use share for cycling. The outer London average is 2% for cycling, whereas in this borough the use share for cycling is 5% of journeys.”
Richmond v. the manifesto
So, looking at the manifesto points which might apply in Richmond:
1. Lorries entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.
2. The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side.
I’m not aware any of these are in Richmond, and they’ll probably say this is covered by a well-intentioned ‘concern for safety’.
3. A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety.
Again, a London-wide item – Richmond is actually a reasonably safe borough to cycle in, statistically, but then with a whopping 5% modal share it’s not like there are that many people cycling around to get injured in the first place.
4. Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.
Supposedly this one is covered by the “£300k, or 15%” line, except that the figure excludes ‘major project and maintenance spend which benefits all transport users alike’.
5. The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
So yes, Richmond does cycle training, and yes, it hardly has much input on the driving test.
6. 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
Conspicuous silence on this one, no doubt because Richmond’s current policy on 20mph zones is that a majority of residents on a road need to ask for it, whereas neighbouring boroughs are taking 20mph as a default limit for a wide range of roads …
7. Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
This would require the council to have a policy about actively promoting cycling, and creating cycling infrastructure. Which it doesn’t. (Local Implementation Plan is here, if you need to fall asleep.)
8. Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.
Well, at least Richmond does have a cycling champion, Cllr Harborne, although the post sadly appears not to come with any power.
But can we count?
Dredging through the Local Implementation plan suggests that whoever wrote the plan thinks that cycling has about 3-4% penetration, and not the 5% quoted above. Which seems minor, but you’d be up in arms if I told you it was 50% when it was 30%, wouldn’t you?
And that £300k? I don’t know how they got to their figures, but page 56 of the LIP (PDF – 28Mb) quotes a total budget, in 2011/12, of £7.563m. 2% of which is about £151k. Although it’s not clear what that will really provide, infrastructure-wise.
(I was planning to add more analysis of the detail in the LIP2 document, but fell asleep reading endless platitudes about cycling, supported by few concrete proposals.)