Indeed, Newham, an Olympic Borough, is the least active local authority in England!Â Â How has this happened?
One clue may be found in Newham Council’s historic antipathy at the political level to promoting cycle provision, even when this would not have cost it anything extra.Â A prime example is Stratford High St.Â Several million pounds were made available to the CouncilÂ to improve this stretch of road in the run up to the Olympics.Â No cycling facilities were installed, Â but the money was used Â for multi-coloured vanity balls.Â ThenÂ the Council blocked the early development ofÂ Cycle Superhighway 2 in the borough.Â Â Â Since the Olympics, an extension to Cycle SuperhighwayÂ has had to be retrofitted to the recently regenerated Stratford High St, Â and despite the Council later reversing Â its opposition to extendingÂ CS2 to Ilford, Â the legacy is that TfL no longer seem interested.Â Â Â Another serious example is The Council’s diversion of earlier TFL Â funding intended primarily for transport schemes to other purposes.Â Furthermore Newham Councillors on the Olympic Planning Committee supported the minimalist approach to cycling mentioned earlier.
There is some good work being done at official level in the Council, such as Â putting together an excellent mini-Holland bid and the very thorough ward audit exercise of cycle permeability. Â At the political level the Council does at least professes support for cycling in its public statements.Â However a series of recent examples looks like a disturbingÂ trend of Â casual negligence (at best) at the political level:
- Protection for cyclists has been actively removed by Newham Council Â interventionÂ byÂ the removal of Â Cycle Superhighway 2 at the junction of Tramway Avenue.Â See thisÂ website for the full story.
- Our proposal for a 20mph limit on Upper Street, a residential rat run was refused, on the grounds that this was a bus route.Â Putting to one side the question why buses would want to travel at more than 20 mph along this road, it is notable that our neighbouring borough Â Tower Hamlets Council is now consulting on making virtually the whole borough 20mph.Â This is just the latest in the series of local authorities Â (even stretching to New York) looking to reduce speed limits.Â Newham Council, however, remains behind the times.
- Cycle permeability on yet another one way street in “urban Newham” ,Â Cramner Â Rd, Â was blocked on the grounds of lack of width of the carriageway , despite this road being no narrower that the adjacent Â two way streets. Cycle contra flows on one way streetsÂ are now Â encouraged by new Department for Transport rules.Â Again Newham Council is behind the times.
- The apparent Â inadvertent removal of cycle parking at various locations, without any effort to put this right.
Promoting cycling is a well recognised Â easy winner for increasing regular exercise, and terrific value for money.Â Hackney, another neighbouring borough, has achieved one of the highest cycling rates in the country.Â Newham is recognised as having very great untapped potential for everyday cycling with sources of funding available.Â What appears lacking is the political will to even match the examples set by our neighbours