Here is the text of a e-mail sent to Councillor Asser, Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways and Sustainable Transport, copied to the Mayor and Council Officers. The film and audit document are found in the post concerning the Romford Rd of 29 June:
“Following the Newham Cyclists meeting of 29 June I am writing in relation to the three aspects of the Council’s response to the Covid – 19 crisis as it affects active travel.
We were pleased to hear that the Council had secured £250K for installing temporary cycle lanes in the Romford Rd and North Woolwich Rd. As you know we think that Barking Rd should have been a priority over North Woolwich Rd, and as a consequence we urge the preponderance of the funds to be spent on ensuring a good quality scheme for the Romford Rd.
On 19 June we carried out an audit of the Romford Rd looking at how it could be quickly and practically converted into a continuous borough corridor in which those cycling could feel safe. The result is attached.
We very much believe that it is possible to create a temporary safe corridor based on a combination of (a) creating 24 hr mandatory cycle lanes segregated by wands and “armadillos” (b) turning existing bus lanes to 24 hrs (c) removing legal parking in both of these and (d) removing pinch points. However these measures must be supported by enforcement of parking and loading regulations, and a 20 mph speed limit. None of this is novel.
We filmed out audit, which provides a clear illustration of why residents now see the Romford Rd as too dangerous to cycle. Also, the attached texts of e-mails from a Redbridge teacher who finds the Romford Rd difficult and whose pupils are inhibited from cycling to school because of the danger of the Romford Rd reinforces this perception. We urge you to progress this scheme as fast as possible addressing those parts that can be done immediately rather than waiting for the whole scheme to be implemented in one go.
We are very happy to discuss the principles of our audit and the detail with you or the Officers concerned. We intend to invite relevant Councillors to discuss with us the sections passing through their wards.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
We applaud your success in securing funding for three low traffic neighbourhoods. We also appreciate the detailed consultation to date on the joint scheme with Waltham Forest. We are happy to provide input into the other schemes that have been funded.
DfT have stated that boroughs which do not demonstrate rapid progress risk having this funding withdrawn. Given that we are now in July, Newham’s disappointing inaction must now make this a real danger, especially when compared with neighbouring boroughs already putting their schemes into place on the streets. Given that the Council has the relevant powers as the highway authority, we should be grateful if you could let us know if there are specific issues holding these schemes up so that we can publicly lend support where we can.
We understand that the restoration of existing school streets has been made dependent on the consent or even request of the school concerned. If true this is very concerning, risks wasting public money and bodes ill for the implementation of further school streets for which financial provision was made by the Cabinet. We would appreciate it if you would confirm what the actual position is?
What we are seeking in relation to all three of these matters is absolutely consistent with Statutory Guidance given to local authorities, and progresses other Council policies.
The grim circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis has given the opportunity for the Council to demonstrate how its residents can keep safe whilst going about their daily lives, and that it is ready to realise the potential and benefits of active travel. This opportunity needs to be grasped for the reasons highlighted in the paper considered by the Cabinet on 11 June. It is unlikely to arise again.
This correspondence will be published on our website.