Meade McCloughan writes
Barry described how up to a couple of years ago, the pedestrian lobby in Southwark was made up of two long-standing, vociferous, unaccountable and over-influential anti-cyclists. This unsatisfactory situation changed when some Southwark cyclists, in conjunction with Living Streets (as the Pedestrian Association is now known), arranged a public meeting to set up a Southwark branch of Living Streets. Fifty people attended and the consensus which emerged from the floor was that pedestrians and cyclists had more in common than not and should work together. Southwark Living Streets (SLS) thus took shape, effectively displacing the previous lobby. The organization is open, democratic and well-supported, indeed is one of the most active such groups in London. It is entirely independent from Southwark Cyclists – no-one from the former is on the latter’s committee. The co-ordinator, Alistair Hanton, was to have come along to our meeting too but had been in the end unable to. Barry went on to describe the “synergy” that exists between SLS and Southwark Cyclists. The two groups often now submit joint responses to major consultations (e.g. London Bridge, Elephant & Castle).
How was the initial Southwark meeting publicized? Via the Southwark Community Council [our equivalent: – Voluntary Action Camden] and schools. (Parents tend to be keen on both pedestrian and cycling issues.)
One of the problems we have in Camden is with the parks, where cyclist/pedestrian conflicts seem to be an issue and we have the Ramblers’ Association and other parties with fixed ideas about the Heath. Barry commented that this was not the case in Southwark, where all the parks are in the hands of the Council. He added that the focus for problems in Southwark was the Thames Path, where some narrow sections, the multitude of tourists and some reckless cyclists often made shared-use difficult. Some Residents’ Associations in the area have asked for cycling on the Path to be banned. Barry added that one solution would be to improve the parallel route close by along Upper Ground.
The issue of pavement cycling was raised. In Southwark, Street Wardens are known to chastise pavement cyclists, but with what impact it is not known. The meeting was reminded of Camden Council’s pavement cyclist leaflet, which we had had a hand in producing. (It would be good if we a stock of these leaflets.) The police had planned to have a mini-clampdown on pavement cycling in Kentish Town one day in the summer using these leaflets, but this didn’t take place. We assume it will happen sometime when they are less busy. Questions were raised about the point of this exercise – is it just a symbolic gesture, or it is a foretaste of a more widespread campaign? What is the Council doing with its leaflets? Has there been any publicity?
Stefano added that we had invited Nick Harding, the Camden representative of Living Streets to the meeting, but he unfortunately was unable to come. Nick has recognized that Living Streets needs to be better organized in Camden. Is this something we could help with, along the lines of the Southwark developments?
Photo Lionel Shapiro