At the start of the first week of her second term as Mayor of Newham, we received the following email in response to an email sent by Simon Munk at LCC (Comments from us included in our response are set out in red italics):
Thank you for your email to Rokhsana, who is absolutely committed to reducing traffic, making our roads safer and enabling active travel. This was clearly outlined in the Newham Labour manifesto. As you say, this is absolutely in line with the Mayor’s priorities locally and Labour Party policy nationally.
Newham Cyclists recognise that the Labour Manifesto does represent a step change towards rebalancing the Council’s approach in favour of active travel. We very much welcome a shift in priority and recognise the recently positive steps that have been made to promote active travel. However given the low base from which Newham started it is important that this progress is not impeded by the conditions attached to the manifesto promises. In this context we make the following comments.
In her manifesto, the Mayor committed to:
· Consult and work with residents to identify residential roads and areas in the borough that are affected by dangerous driving, rat-runs and traffic congestion to design schemes to make these roads safer, quitter and healthier for all our residents, including wheelchairs users and those with visual impairments and disabilities
Newham Cyclist’s ask was for Borough-wide low traffic neighbourhoods and cycle friendly connection between them. The low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) so far put in place, mostly in the north of the borough have proven to be successful. It is time to go beyond simply identifying areas affected by dangerous driving and congestion. Areas bounded by legitimate through routes (i.e. not rat runs) should be identified as potential LTNs and a rolling plan of implementing them in consultation with residents should be established.
· Making our roads safer places by continuing to target dangerous driving and enforce parking rules across the borough, as well as launch a safety awareness campaign about electrical scooters and bikes
The borough is still plagued by illegal parking as has been recognised for some time, including by local councillors. To “continue” enforcement at the same level does not address this problem. Enforcement has to be improved if it is to become effective in accordance with the Newham Cyclists’ ask.
· Continue to work with residents and TfL on accessible streets, public areas, improved green spaces, public transport facilities and a 20mph speed limit with a focus on making all residential streets safer
Most 20mph areas in Newham are on lesser used residential streets. The real safety dividend comes from an enforced 20mph on busier through roads. A start has been made in odd spots such as Stratford Town Centre. Newham should follow many other London boroughs and apply a 20mph on all its roads (i.e. all but the A13 and A12 trunk roads)
· Continue to work with our schools and parents on the introduction of Healthy School Streets schemes across all schools in Newham to protect our children going to school
Schools should not have a veto on Healthy Schools Streets.
· Install at least 1000 Electric Vehicle charging points across the borough to support the transition to cleaner vehicles, alongside 500 cycle hangars and the expansion of our cycle hire scheme with to encourage more cycle usage
The promise of 500 cycle hangers is notable amongst the active travel manifesto promises as being a concrete, unconditional promise that gives rise to true accountability. It reflects a strong demand in a borough where where space in the flats and terraced houses that predominate is not available to store bikes.
· Work with Transport for London to expand our cycling facilities and cycle routes as part of our plans to create a borough-wide cycle network, including good quality cycle provision for Romford Road and Barking Road
Newham Council needs to recognise that Transport for London is not necessarily a benign promoter of active travel. For example it has been the generator of an antipathetic bus priority scheme on the Barking Road and continues to press for more poor quality schemes. Newham Council needs to insist on schemes that promote safe active travel when pressure from TfL is to the contrary.
· Continue to invest in our road and pavement resurfacing and repair programmes; investing at least £10 million a year. This will deliver a programme of resurfacing and patching works, pavement upgrades including those damaged by overgrown tree roots.
Newham Cyclists would welcome a separate capital programme for improvements specifically aimed at active travel. Prolonging the motor vehicle- centric “Keep Newham Moving” facility is not it.
· Continue with a borough-wide programme to repaint road markings and zebra crossings, alongside improvements to our streets with more trees.
There are further policies in relation to tackling climate emergency and greening the borough also in the manifesto. I hope this confirms the Mayor’s commitments in relation to your asks and she looks forward to working with residents to ensure this is all delivered.
Katie Clark I Political Assistant to the Mayor
London Borough of Newham