Lower Lea Crossing: Is that it?

TfL are consulting on changes to the Lower Lea Crossing and Aspen Way Roundabout. It’s not too bad—tweaking some crossings here, widening some cycle tracks there, etc.

But it’s also not especially transformative: there’s already a cycle track here, and it already provides an important connection to the Royal Docks. Some of the changes will be nice to have, but they could’ve been better. One arm of Aspen Way roundabout on the north side, amazingly, still won’t even have crossings!

The bad news is that this scheme ties in to the Tidal Basin Roundabout and the Silvertown Tunnel. The Tunnel will bring much, much more traffic to the Lower Lea Crossing and Aspen Way. Maybe these changes to the Lower Lea Crossing cycle track are an attempt to mitigate these negative effects—but they’re nowhere near enough.

The consultation is open until Monday 12th February. We recommend responding and telling TfL:

  • The scheme won’t really make a difference to the number of people walking and cycling in the area.
  • TfL should build crossings on all arms of the Aspen Way roundabout, and they should all be separated for walking and cycling (no shared areas please.)
  • In the medium term, TfL should look at grade-separating walking and cycling at the roundabouts, like at the Green Man Roundabout.
  • Where the cycle track is interrupted for servicing entrances, drivers of servicing vehicles need to be given adequate warning to watch for people walking and cycling.
  • The main problem in the area will still be the Silvertown Tunnel, a 1960s quality urban motorway scheme which shouldn’t have been approved. This scheme, combined with the threadbare bus network and silly cycle shuttle bus, comes across as a tick-box exercise to let the Tunnel’s promoters pretend they’re doing something worthwhile for people who don’t have a car, don’t want one, or can’t afford one.

You can also read our consultation response here:

Lower-Lea-Crossing-consultation-response

Everybody needs good neighbours!

Our neighbours in Tower Hamlets need support!

Many of us cycle into Central London via the Tower Hamlets cycling network.

However “Mayor Lutfur Rahman has taken the most extreme, undemocratic and dangerous decision available to him. He has decided to rip out all the walking and cycling infrastructure in Bethnal Green. “

“Save Our Safer Streets” is fighting back.

Find out more below. Can you help our neighbours?

Silvertown cycle bus: Embarrassing

TfL are consulting on a long-awaited and much-needed new crossing of the Thames east of Tower Bridge. The bad news is, it’s not the bridge that got cancelled, or even a high quality RoRo ferry like the ones in Amsterdam. Why have an actual cycle crossing, or even a ferry you can cycle onto, when you could have… a bus with some bike racks?

A rendering of a bus stop with a futuristic-looking bus shelter, next to a single decker bus with bicycle racks on it and middle doors. Someone on a hand cycle is negotiating the entrance (although it's not clear how she'll be able to turn around once inside.) A commuter type wearing a tie, hi-vis jacket, and helmet, waits to load his bicycle on behind her. A woman sits on the bench holding a helmet, presumably waiting for other people to get onto the bus.

This is part of the new Silvertown Tunnel scheme, a new crossing for cars and lorries (with a piecemeal bus network) that will run from the Royal Docks to North Greenwich. We oppose this scheme as it stands, and this—presumably intended to say the scheme does something for cycling—is frankly embarrassing. There are many reasons it won’t work:

  • Larger cargo cycles unlikely to fit (meaning deliveries by car or van would enjoy an unfair advantage over zero-emissions last mile freight)
  • Adapted cycles are unlikely to fit—especially if the bus eventually looks like a minivan with a trailer
  • Unpredictable journey times
  • Low capacity that doesn’t allow for large volumes of people cycling
  • No clarity on what form the service will take, frequencies, operating hours, or whether a fare will be charged
  • The physical awkwardness of dismounting and loading your cycle into racks when getting on/off. We find it hard to believe the Silvertown Tunnel would’ve been approved if drivers had to load their cars onto car transporters to be driven through the tunnel

We can’t support the cycle bus scheme because it’s not viable as a 24/7, step-free, accessible cycle crossing that people will be able to use independently. Historical precedent suggests it is doomed to failure. It’s a box-ticking exercise that allows the promoters of the Silvertown Tunnel to pretend they’re doing something for people who don’t have a car, don’t want one, or can’t afford one.

Because of this, we have no confidence in TfL or the current Mayor delivering a viable cycle crossing east of Tower Bridge—despite the fact we desperately need them. We would love to be proven wrong, so invite TfL to seek funding for and commit to things that would actually work, including:

  • Increasing frequency and operating hours on the Woolwich Ferry, and removing the need for cyclists to dismount on the ferry decks
  • Abolishing fares on the Cable Car and extending operating hours
  • A new ferry at Rotherhithe, which TfL’s own modelling suggests could be very popular
  • Pedestrianising the Rotherhithe Tunnel, or the Blackwall Tunnel’s original Victorian bore (by TfL’s own omission, not suitable for high volumes of motor traffic, and built with a bend to prevent horses from bolting)
  • Building new fixed links—be that new cycle-only bores for the existing foot tunnels, or reviving the Rotherhithe Bridge proposal

Tell TfL to stop making excuses & do better

There’s a consultation open until this Sunday (10th September) where you can tell TfL what you think of these proposals. We’ve posted our response below in case you need inspiration, but we recommend telling them:

  • East London is crying out for actual river crossings that don’t require a car
  • A bus service that allows people to bring bikes as luggage is fundamentally flawed & won’t meet that demand
  • TfL should be prioritising high-quality crossings that would actually scale to large volumes of cyclists—ferries at the very minimum, and fixed crossings in the longer term
Newham-Cyclists-Silvertown-Tunnel-cycle-bus-response

Take Action: Say YES to plans for new look Westfield Avenue and a fresh start for cycling in the Olympic Park

An artists' impression of a two-way cycle track next to a wide pavement and a 2 lane road, with rain gardens separating the track and the pavement. People say, "so much space!" and "no more dodging trees & bus stops!" and one silhouetted person cycling is marked out as "this could be you in 2025!"

For a long time, Westfield Avenue has been one of the worst places to cycle in our borough. Pedestrian lights across tiny crossovers. Surprise obstacles. Pavement parking. Crossings where you’re expected to wait up to four times on caged traffic islands for the light to turn green. It’s an embarrassment to the Olympic Legacy.

We’re thrilled that the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council are consulting on a brand new design for Westfield Avenue, which they hope to start building next year and finish by 2025. This is unlike anything we’ve seen in the Olympic Park before: a high quality, best-practice design from the start, with people walking and cycling taking priority over motorists. It’s been 10 long years, but this is much better late than never!

A two-lane road across a bridge, with a bus stop island accessed by a zebra crossing over a two-way cycle track, a pavement on both sides, and planters separating the cycle track from cars.
WESTFIELD AVENUE PLANS: Convenient, comfortable, at a human scale

LLDC and Newham need to know that local people want it. If you visit Westfield or the London Stadium, or if you live nearby at the Carpenters Estate, or in Hackney Wick, East Village, or International Quarter—tell them “yes please!”

Visualisation of a road with trees on both sides and a 2-way cycle track on the left side, with bus stop bypasses and a lighted pedestrian crossing.

Take action by Saturday 30th July

Here’s how to tell LLDC and Newham Council that you like the plans for Westfield Avenue’s makeover:

  1. Go to westfieldavenue.commonplace.is. You might need to provide your email address
  2. Click “Have Your Say”
  3. On the proposals for Westfield Avenue:
    • Say “Strongly Agree” for widened pavements, widened crossing points, improved lighting, and location of bus stops
    • Say “Strongly Agree” for a 3m cycleway separated from the road and pavement with crossings, relocation of bus stops and loading bays, additional cycle stands and e-bike charging, and additional Santander cycle hire facilities on Westfield Avenue
    • Say what you think of the idea to move the Aquatics Centre cycle hire stand to Westfield Avenue, and also the locations of the motorcycle parking, taxi rank, loading bays, and the crossovers and side roads (e.g. at Glasshouse Gardens and Turing Street.)
  4. On the “Additional Features” page:
    • Say “Happy/Love It!” to the seating, trees, and planting on Westfield Avenue
    • Say what you think of the redesigned Stratford Walk (the bridge between Westfield and the Aquatics Centre)
  5. If you have time to write any more…
    • Support the new one-way southbound on Olympic Park Avenue—this will eliminate a rat-run through residential areas and allow a continuous cycle route across the railway line
    • Ask for further work in the future to redesign Marshgate Lane junction, to separate all modes and reduce speeds
    • Ask for a smooth, flat cycle track that’s accessible to all kinds of cycle (including tricycles, wheelchair clip-on hand cycles, recumbents, etc.)

Our Response

You can read our response to the consultation here. We strongly support the proposals, but suggest additional changes to the Marshgate Lane junction in future to fully separate all modes.

Westfield-Ave-consultation-repsonse-from-Newham-Cyclists

MSG Sphere: Open letter to Sadiq Khan

We have written to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to ask him to refuse planning permission for the MSG Sphere when it is referred to him. You can read the text of the letter here, or see the PDF we sent to the Mayor and Dr Will Norman (London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner) at the bottom of the page.

Dear Sadiq,

RE: Please refuse the MSG Sphere planning application (approved by LLDC)

We are Newham Cyclists, part of the London Cycling Campaign.

We are writing to ask you to direct refusal of the planning application for the MSG Sphere (19/00097/FUL) in Stratford, and insist the applicant makes changes to the proposed venue’s transport strategy and public realm design.

The MSG Sphere scheme as approved by the unelected members of LLDC’s planning committee:

  • Locks in a 0.44% mode share for cycling and potentially thousands of extra car trips to each event
  • Builds an important new cycle link that would be heavily used by schoolchildren going between East Village and the London Aquatics Centre—only to then routinely close it at peak times (including school run times) to allow ingress/egress to the Sphere
  • Endangers local people by proposing a highway design for Angel Lane that constitutes at least two “critical fails” according to the Government’s LTN 1/20 standard, locking out safe cycling on Cycle Future Route 7 for potentially decades and building in community severance
  • May overwhelm Stratford station, an already dangerously-congested station which is a critical link for many people (particularly key workers, who have to travel no matter what.) The Sphere proposals only include one extra entrance to the station, and propose nothing to fix the congestion in the platforms and subways
  • Provides no legal mechanism for Newham Council to stop the building operators from showing obnoxious or distracting advertising on the building’s surface that could propose a safety risk, by granting an advertising consent for illuminated video content on the Sphere’s surface for a quarter of a century
Continue reading “MSG Sphere: Open letter to Sadiq Khan”

MSG Sphere Proposals – Take Action

Take action: Stop MSG Sphere bringing more cars to Stratford

Planning applications 19/00097/FUL and 19/00098/ADV

The Madison Square Garden company wants to build a new 21,500-capacity music venue next door to Stratford Station. It will be in the shape of a giant, glowing sphere (similar to Rover from The Prisoner), towering over residential blocks and the newly improved Stratford Town Centre.

We at Newham Cyclists are deeply worried by the proposals for the Sphere:

  • MSG have taken a look at the current travel patterns to gigs at the London Stadium, decided they’re acceptable (we disagree), and proposed exactly the same modal share for this new, ‘state-of-the-art’ venue. That means:
    • around 2,600 people driving to a sold out event—and a paltry cycling modal share of 0.1%. (It’s not like people will never cycle to gigs: the cycle parking at the All Points East festival in Victoria Park was actually full up!)
    • thousands more people through Stratford station at rush hour, making the station unusable for local residents and pushing many more people into their cars for short journeys.
    • We want a travel plan that aims for a cycling modal share of 5-10%, and doesn’t create worse overcrowding at Stratford station.
  • Cycling has been tossed a carrot in the form of an extended cycleway on Montfichet Road… but it looks just as bad as some of the older stuff in the Olympic Park. Interrupted by shared areas, with conflict between walking and cycling baked into the design. In 2019, we should be doing better.
  • More worryingly, their answer to the current pinch point and painted cycle lanes on Angel Lane (the Sphere’s main access road)? Narrow the road, so everyone—kids, grandparents, Disabled folk—has to cycle uphill, in front of lorries, artists’ coaches, speeding minicabs… the lot. This is bad. TfL have found that lots more people could cycle along Angel Lane in future (see TfL Strategic Cycling Analysis Route 7)—but if these plans go ahead, that will lock many of these people out from cycling here for decades. Considering we need to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, that’s plain irresponsible. We want an exemplar cycling facility here.
  • Newham Cyclists will formally object to the MSG Sphere application… but we need your help. You can send your own response to the planning application and tell LLDC and MSG that this isn’t good enough.In a hurry? Use our template to send an objection email. Click here and your computer will pre-populate an email. Don’t forget to personalise it with your name, address, and ways the Sphere will affect you!

Got a little more time? Write your own objection like this:

  • Send an email to planningenquiries@londonlegacy.co.uk;
  • Quote references 19/00097/FUL and 19/00098/ADV;
  • State that you formally object to the planning application.
  • Feel free to use or reference our reasons for objecting—but don’t forget, put it in your own words and use your own experiences. (For instance: Live near Maryland? Don’t feel safe cycling in front of lorries on Angel Lane to get to the shops? Do your kids go to school in the Olympic Park? Expressing your concerns in terms of the impact the Sphere will have on you, and your family and friends, will hold more sway with the planning committee.)
  • Don’t forget to include your name and address.
  • Send the email by Friday 28th June 2019. You’ve not got long, but it doesn’t take long to object—just five minutes to send an email will be enough!

Infrastructure Issues

Every few months we have a “catch up” meeting with the Newham sustainable Transport Officer (Richard Wadey). A chart accessible through this link records the outcome of this meeting by reference to some specific major cycle infrastructure issues. Some headlines:

-The chart references areas affected by the draft LIP bid.

-There has been an increase in cycling in Newham on CS2 and the Greenway (Quietway 22).

-Cycle training has a high demand.

-There is also a High demand for secure cycle storage.

Any question please contact me through the Newham cyclists contact e-mail.

Arnold

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Westfield

Here is a letter Newham Cyclists have sent to Councillors Tripp and Ali – Cabinet members for Environment and Sustainable Transport respectively on 4 January:

QEOP letter

The prompt reply from Councillor Ali is as follows:

Dear Arnold, many thanks for your email and attachments  covering your concerns regarding the above.

Clearly cycling and walking facilities are  an integral part of our sustainable transport policies and great assets to help improve quality of air, health and well being of our community.  You may be aware that later this month and in early February, the Council is having extensive public and stakeholder consultation in this regard and I  look forward to contribution from groups like yours there. 
I have forwarded your concerns to our officers  for  an update to
myself  and Cllr Tripp. Once I have this, I will get back to you and if necessary meet to discuss any issues.
In any event I hope I will have the opportunity to meet you at the consultation events.
Best Regards

 

In addition LCC and ourselves we have raised concerns in respect of hte major Stratford Waterfront Development – largely on the grounds that this development should be an opportunity to correct some of the major defects in the cycling facilities in these areas.

Those wishing to see the submission should get in touch with me.

Arnold