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

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

Consultation response: Silvertown Tunnel bus network

We have responded to TfL’s consultation for its initial proposals for the Silvertown Tunnel bus network.

We oppose the Tunnel in general, and also specifically oppose these proposals.

They do not provide anything like a sufficient bus network to mitigate the effects of opening a new urban motorway funnelling traffic into Newham—only one of the new bus routes even serves Newham, and the other is an express from south east London to Canary Wharf.

We would like to see the Tunnel re-tooled as a crossing only for a more substantial public transport network, along with walking and cycling—for which 24/7 step-free links east of Tower Bridge are desperately needed but currently sorely lacking. The mooted cycle-bus trial is also missing from the consultation—so with the Silvertown Tunnel, active travel modes get absolutely nothing.

The consultation is open until tomorrow (11th Jan.) We encourage locals in Newham and beyond to respond with their own views.

Silvertown-Tunnel-bus-network-response-Newham-Cyclists

Consultation response to LLDC’s Carpenters Road designs

The London Legacy Development Corporation is consulting on highway designs for Carpenters Road, due to re-open with the East Bank/Stratford Waterfront development. The planning references are 22/00256/AOD and 22/00249/NMA and can be checked on LLDC’s planning register.

We have been consulted throughout the design process for this as part of LLDC’s Sustainable and Active Travel Group, and this early engagement has been welcome.

We support the principle of a cycleway on Carpenters Road, but are concerned about the details of the proposals. In particular, we worry that they repeat mistakes made elsewhere in the park (e.g. on Montfichet Road) and don’t adequately deal with speeding and rat-running, which was a major problem before Carpenters Road closed for construction (over 80% of vehicles exceeded the 20mph speed limit.) We think that a longer term solution must involve serious measures to reduce traffic, which would then unlock space for better walking and cycling provision.

You can read our consultation response PDF below.

Newham-Cyclists-Carpenters-Rd-consultation-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”

Some January News

First: you may have seen in the Recorder that half of Newham Councillors are now backtracking on the proposal to introduce a charge for a first parking permit in Newham. They have apparently been “overwhelmed” by requests to remove what is falsely described as a “regressive tax”

Newham Cyclists have been supporting a permit charge since October 2018, as a necessary and welcome element of rebalancing of Newham’s traditional discrimination in favour of motor traffic at the expense of active travel; and in line with all other London boroughs save one.

You are invited to let your local councillors know your views and would be welcome to draw on our earlier letter or the following (in italics). This takes account of the implications Covid 19 and addresses head on the fallacy that a charge for a first permit is a tax:

Dear Councillor

I am writing to ask for your support for the Council’s proposals for an emissions related charge for a first on-street parking permit, as does every other London Council save one.  

This Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the absolute necessity for walking and cycling to be better promoted in Newham.  The Council needs to do some catching up following a long period favouring motor traffic over walking and cycling.  Without a significant change in direction Newham will continue to suffer from poor air quality and its crowded and polluted streets will create a hostile environment for residents and in the broader context the Council’s declaration of a climate change emergency will remain mere hollow words.  We need to avoid a migration back to private motor vehicles in response to Covid-19 making public transport less attractive.

As one of the objectives of the charge is to address the overcrowding of our streets it would be right for electric vehicles to be charged, albeit at the lowest rate.

It is wrong to consider a charge for a first permit as a “tax” on Newham’s motorists.  Rather it is the removal of an unfair subsidy to those better off residents of Newham who have access to a vehicle.  The free permit does not even cover the administration costs of the parking scheme let alone address the “external costs” to the community of private use as a car park of public space.

Second: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are being implemented slowly in Newham. In the meantime more evidence (as opposed to the noisy myths against) is emerging of their benefits. Please continue to talk to your neighbours about the benefits of LTNs.

Third: our next (virtual) meeting is on 25 January at 7.30pm. If you would like any particular item to be on the agenda please let me know. In any event this will be an opportunity for a full catch up.

If you would like further information on any of the above please get in touch at our e-mail address.

Arnold

Westfield Avenue and Surrounding Streets

The LLDC and Newham Council have launched a consultation on Commonplace on how to improve Westfield Ave and the surrounding streets. The poor cycle facilities in this area is a matter on which Newham Cyclists have been campaigning for nearly a decade.

The deadline is 8 November.

In this document are some photographs of the area with our suggestions. Please feel free to use this in making comments or supporting the comments already made on the basis of this document.

Arnold

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

The appearance of the first of the planned low traffic neighbourhoods in Newham has given rise to a good deal of discussion, some of it not based on evidence from other well established schemes.

Other local low traffic neighbourhoods are still in the pipeline.

Ealing Council have issued an interesting FAQ document setting out the case for, and the evidence concerning, “Street Parks” as they are being called in that borough.

A short factsheet more focussed on Newham indicates that the common issues that worry residents are either without foundation or are minor when compared to the proven benefits of low traffic neighbourhoods.

Arnold