The way forward
The committee and some of our members met on Monday night (May 19th) to discuss ideas as to how CCC should progress its campaigning in the near future.
Secure cycle storage
The most interesting new direction is a decision to put considerable efforts into a new campaign towards an adequate provision of secure cycle storage. This idea originated from a lively discussion on the CCC mailing list, which started when Andrew Conway said he would like to get a van and park it outside his house with his bikes and trailer locked up inside. During that email discussion, Rob Jinman suggested that we should campaign for cycle storage.
At the meeting we felt that the availability of secure cycle storage at home, at work and at other destinations such as stations is a big factor in enabling people to cycle. Strong evidence for this is shown in the early results in Alix Stredwick’s current survey.
We agreed that we should look first at secure storage for blocks of flats, particularly where improvements are taking place. Gospel Oak and Holly Lodge were mentioned as possibilities. We know that there is some obligation to provide cycle storage in new housing developments, but understand that with renovations, the provision depends on what is recommended by Camden housing and the local residents. Therefore we will approach Gerri Scott in the Camden housing department to air this idea.
It will be more difficult to find a way to improve the situation for people living in private accommodation. Something along the lines of a hut parked in the road or near to recycling bins might be an idea. We don’t need to design our own lock up cubicles as designs are already available.
The meeting decided to make efforts to increase our membership from the 550 or so that it has been at for several years. We have produced a T-Shirt with CCC logo that will be given to anyone who signs up to LCC at any of the stalls at our events, for example at the cyclists breakfast in Bike Week. We would like the present members to help in two ways: 1) help us with the stalls when they are announced. 2) we would like to suggest that everyone should bring in a new member. Any one that brings in two or more LCC members will also get a T shirt for him/herself (the new members do not have to be in Camden). We will also offer a prize of £50 for the person that has brought in the most members by the end of Bike week.
Cycle facility projects
We decided to follow Paul Gannon’s advice, which is to work on improving and completing the existing segregated tracks. Of particular concern is the part of Seven Stations Link (SSL) adjacent to Gordon Square (see below) and the need for links from the SSL to Euston and Kings Cross Station. We also have to try to get the eastern section of SSL through the planning committee in June (see below).
Respect for pedestrians
We plan to continue in our efforts to improve the relationship between cyclists and other road users. We are preparing an initiative aimed at stressing the need for showing respect to pedestrians.
CCC is suffering from the effects of the bad image of cyclists with the general public. Two recent examples of this are the problem with the Kelly Street gap mentioned in the March news update and the perpetual harassment at WCRSAG for example by proposed cycle registration schemes.
Our new website
As Paul Gasson would like eventually to give up managing the website that he has been running ever since 1998. Therefore CCC has to make plans for the future. We started by asking for volunteers to design a new website in the Feb/Mar newsletter. We had three offers, all of them much appreciated, and in the end Andrew Conway has agreed to take on the task.
Following this we had to look into what sort of system to use and where to get it hosted. One possibility was to be hosted for free at the LCC website with the domain name camden.lcc.org.uk. But we looked into that option and found that it would not give us the ability to have a true ‘CCC look and feel’ and the ability to do all the things that we would like to.
We then looked into the benefits of using a ‘content management system’ or CMS. With a CMS, members would be able to use the website interactively, adding their own contributions to pages they are interested in. This possibility would enable, for example, the latest news and forthcoming diary events to be added directly to the pages through a browser. The Plone/Zope CMS looks promising.
At Monday’s meeting. Andrew Conway presented these plans and asked for feedback on what members would like to do with a new website. Everybody was keen on having an interactive website. Rob Jinman was worried that a ‘template based’ site might be boring, but we tried to convince him that having templates improves consistency and that people can put in interesting content. James Brander expressed his concern that people using a search engine might end up in the middle of some page at the bottom of the hierarchy on the site. However, the template system makes it easy for every page to have a heading of ‘Camden Cycling Campaign’, a button for going to the home page and probably a CCC logo.
We decided very quickly to apply for the domain name camdencyclists.org.uk.
Andrew will look into the best option for hosting a site where we can make use of the Plone/Zope CMS. He hopes to have an initial design for the home page by June for us to give him feedback on.
The Seven Stations Link (SSL) runs from the west, across Tottenham Court Road and then along Torrington Place, past University College in Byng Place and Gordon Square, heading eastwards.
A two-way cycle track has been built along Byng Place and the south side of Gordon Square. The adjacent road is a two-way street. As reported in the Apr/May newsletter, CCC took the opportunity to distribute questionnaires to cyclists attending a breakfast in Byng Place. The results, which were summarised in that newsletter, confirmed our fears that the part of the cycle track past Gordon Square is very dangerous for cyclists. The main problem is that taxis approaching Euston station from Bedford Way go along the south side of Gordon Square and then turn right into Gordon Square, across the cycle track. Westbound cyclists going in the same direction as the taxis cannot see them getting ready to turn.
Although there is a ‘give way’ at the edge of the cycle tracks, it is in an unusual place and drivers don’t always notice it. CCC had a meeting with Dave Stewart at Camden Council last week. Dave is clearly very worried about the situation. He says no cycle/vehicle collision has yet been reported, but he fears that one will happen. He asked us for our ideas as to what to do. The following are possible options: bold tooth-marks at the edge of the lane; give way signs on the cycle lane; or raising the cycle lane to pavement height for the vehicle crossing, so both streams of traffic encounter a slight gradient. The last of these is likely to be the most effective.
CCC held a second meeting today with Stuart Croucher of the Bloomsbury Clear Zones team. This scheme resulted in the improvements in Malet Street. Camden’s original plans for Gordon Square under this scheme were turned down on consultation. Camden is now working on new plans that they hope will get through the consultation later this year, with the scheme being implemented in 2005-6. The details of the scheme are not yet completely decided. It will most likely include 1-way on the east side of Gordon Square with a contraflow cycle lane, which would overcome the current problem with the right-turning taxis. Apparently the alternative of a ‘no entry’ at this junction, is not feasible, because it is not enforceable. Vehicles coming up Bedford Way will be encouraged to go straight on – and will be prevented from entering the west side of Gordon Square. The scheme will include a cycle route linking the SSL to Euston along the west side of Gordon Square and Gordon Street. I will bring the sketch plan with me to the next meeting.
Seven Stations Link eastern section
The design for SSL running east from Judd Street to Grays Inn Road was completed in spring 2003 and was due to be considered by Camden council last June.
This is the last section of the SSL in Camden that requires the building of special cycle lanes. To the east of Grays Inn Road, SSL will follow Ampton Street and then go to join the Islington section of the SSL.
The council committee postponed considering the scheme and then stipulated that some monitoring must be done on the sets of traffic lights at Bedford Row and Woburn Place. The monitoring is at last complete and the scheme will come up for consideration at the committee meeting on June 15th. CCC will be present at the meeting with a delegation led by Paul Gannon.
CCC is worried about local opposition to the scheme, primarily from the councillors in the Kings Cross ward through which this route passes. In particular, two of these councillors: Barbara Hughes and Nick Smith are on the executive and will most likely be at the executive environment committee meeting. If you live or work in the Kings Cross ward it would be very helpful if you could lobby either of these councillors, persuading them of the need for this cycle facility. This is an opportunity to complete the Camden section of SSL and it will be a disaster if it is defeated at this late moment.