We were very pleased to welcome our guest speaker Cllr Phil Jones, Camden Cabinet Member for Sustainability who has kindly provided us with his slides and the text of his talk. You can access the slides for the talk from this link.
Phil Jones talk
Thank you very much to Camden Cycling Campaign for inviting me to your AGM to speak today.
Promoting cycling in Camden is a priority for the council, and for me personally, so it’s great to have an opportunity to talk to you about what is happening locally and to hear your views.
CCC is an important and influential organisation in Camden that makes a really valued contribution to shaping our policies and transport schemes.
You’ve managed to achieve that rare balance for a campaign organisation between being a tough advocate for cyclists’ interests pressing hard for change from outside the system, combined with detailed working on the inside as a trusted and informed partner influencing the council.
Today I want to talk to you about how the council wants to encourage more people to cycle in Camden and what we are doing with others to make this happen.
I’m also going to update you on our plans for a borough-wide speed limit of 20mph and some of our major new schemes in the borough.
From our design of our improvement schemes to our policies to support cycling I want Camden to aspire to be the best in London, and to give a clear political lead on that from the Town Hall.
Goals and constraints
Our approach to cycling in Camden is ambitious but realistic. We want to:
- Increase levels of cycling in Camden and reduce traffic domination
- Make cycling as safe as possible
- Implement wide ranging new improvement schemes on our streets that exemplify the best in holistic design
We face a number of challenges in achieving our goals:
- The policies of other boroughs
- Dealing with TfL and the fact we don’t control the TLRN: the ‘red routes’
- Competing demands from different transport mode: there is only so much space to go around.
But our political agenda isn’t just about cycling itself, it’s part of a wider vision of how we want the borough to function and what kind of place it is for residents and visitors.
Too often our streets are dominated by motorised traffic to the detriment of everyone else. This inflicts pollution and congestion on everybody, and can make our streets unpleasant places to be.
Take Euston Road as an example: a gateway between Britain and Europe and between the, location of some of the UK’s most significant cultural, educational and scientific institutions, a site of major economic regeneration on the King’s Cross railway lands.
But currently a dirty, intimidating road dominated by cars and lorries.
Pedestrians have difficulty crossing and cyclists sometimes get knocked down.
Air quality is terrible. Around 4,000 deaths each year in London have air pollution as a contributory factor, and Euston Road is a hotspot for the problem.
We need to make our streets and neighbourhoods more liveable places where their use has been balanced between the needs of different people and demands of different functions.
They are places where people live, work and shop – not just routes for ever greater numbers of vehicles to pass through as quickly as possible.
Most Camden residents themselves do not even own a car and those that do also want the council to safeguard the community and neighbourhood aspects of where we live.
Most of those visiting, working or studying in the borough do not get around by private motorised transport and want an attractive environment not dominated by traffic when they are here.
More trees and greening, slower speeds, wider pavements, fewer cars, high quality cycle facilities: a calmer, gentler, safer environment where businesses can thrive and communities can interact.
That’s why we prioritise sustainable transport modes: walking and cycling first, and then public transport.
Facilitating shifts to these modes help us to:
- Improve health, for example on our key public health goal of supporting residents to maintain healthy weight
- Reduce congestion
- Improve air quality
We have an ambitious target to cut our carbon emissions in Camden by 27% against baseline by 2017 and encouraging sustainable transport is a key part of the strategy.
Camden’s record on modal shift
So how are we doing in meeting our aspirations?
According to our survey data, we have been successful in encouraging more people to switch to cycling in recent years while trips by motorised vehicles have fallen.
Camden’s annual screenline survey data shows that between 2006 and 2012 cycling increased by 59%, while motorised traffic fell by 14%. This resulted in cycling increasing its mode share of traffic from 9% to 16% over this period
The recent census also found that the proportion of residents who do not own a car rose from 56 per cent in 2001 to 61 per cent in 2011.
Camden continues to grow, in employment, and with more residents, and yet becomes more sustainable in terms of our movement around the borough.
Key to encouraging more cycling is of course ensuring that cycling is as safe as possible, and that cyclists and – crucially- potential cyclists also feel safe.
The almost universal reaction by non-cyclists to my recent decision to begin cycling every day has been a kind of worried grimace where they express concern over my safety or commend my bravery for daring to cycle in London.
This may be overstated given the chance of being hurt while cycling is still extremely small, however, it isn’t surprising when on a regular basis we see sad and horrible incidents occurring on London streets that should not have happened.
Long terms trends in casualties and those killed or seriously injured (KSIs) remain positive. Although numbers fluctuate year on year KSIs in Camden fell from an annual average of 250 during 1994 to 1998 (the old base line) to 114 in 2012. This is also a fall from the 125 annual average between 2005 to 2009 (the new baseline).
However, it is very concerning that cyclist deaths across London have increased, including in Camden and this is subject of close assessment and action.
Cyclist KSIs fell from an annual average of 31 between 1994 to 1998 to a low of 16 in 2006, but have increased to 31 again in 2012. This should be considered in the context of a large increase in cycling numbers, but it is still not acceptable.
The council’s response involves a combination of engineering interventions, education and awareness raising, and encouraging more fundamental change in the way in which roads are designed and used.
We are all very aware from the statistics and campaigning by London cyclists of the terrible risk from HGVs.
I commend LCC for the focus they have brought on this issue – it just isn’t acceptable that such dangerous machines are being driven around London in such close and sometimes deadly proximity to cyclists without all reasonable safety measures being taken.
Camden council is expecting to achieve Bronze FORS accreditation this summer.
We are working towards all our contractors becoming Bronze FORS accredited (or equivalent) within 90 days of the contract; that drivers must undertake cycle awareness training or equivalent within a certain timescale; and that all vehicles are fitted with the specified safety equipment.
We have also introduced similar requirements into S106 agreements for when the council grants planning permission on significant developments.
20mph borough-wide speed limit
Another of our key policies to improving safety for cyclists and encouraging more people to cycle is establishing a 20mph borough-wide speed limit on all Camden roads.
I have been very keen to achieve this goal since I took up my current post one year ago and I know it has been a long-standing campaign goal of CCC.
I want to share with you today some good news following our recent consultation on the proposal.
Thank you to everybody who participated in the consultation: we had 819 responses.
On the key question of support for our proposal for all roads managed by Camden council, 66% of individuals and 91% of groups were in favour.
On the ‘red routes’ that are managed by TfL, overall 51% supported on all red routes while 43% were opposed.
Responses both in favour and against were distributed evenly across the borough with 22% responding from outside Camden.
Support for 20mph was overwhelming from daily cyclists and strong amongst those walking and using the bus as their main way to get around.
Daily car drivers were more sceptical with 37% in favour.
The small numbers of taxi drivers who responded were universally opposed.
Overall I view these results as decisive support for a default 20mph on Camden’s roads to prevent casualties and boost numbers of people walking and cycling.
A decision-making report has been timetabled to come to the council’s Cabinet in July, where I will seek approval for the policy and we will consider implementation issues.
On the ‘red routes’ we do not of course have the power to implement 20mph as these roads are controlled by TfL.
What is clear is that there is appetite within Camden to look at this and we will do so on a case by case basis and in discussion with TfLto see what can be achieved.
Design of improvement schemes
As well as changing our approach to speed we want to deliver some really innovative improvement schemes on our streets to make cycling safer and encourage more people to cycle.
The council’s approach is that the street determines the design and not that we seek to impose ideas rigidly on places that aren’t suitable. CCC have campaigned for ‘Go Dutch’ and I believe this increased focus on quality design and learning from best practice is very welcome. After all, we do not need to reinvent the wheel in London when we have decades of experience and myriad examples of success just a few hundred miles away in cities in the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere. We should learn from this and be ambitious in our approach: ‘Go Dutch’ principles and design ideas should be used in Camden when it is appropriate to do so.
I am very keen to see bold and innovative schemes designed that really represent a step-change in prioritising cycling and encouraging more people to cycle. It’s undoubtedly the case that attracting more people to cycling will require us to provide safe and attractive cycle routes and we’ll need to use a range of different measures to achieve this. You all know about the popularity of our segregated routes in the borough where they already exist and that Camden will giveconsideration to implementing new segregated facilities, for example our plans for two way segregated cycling on Royal College Street.
Encouraging cycling is not the only goal. Facilitating walking and protecting pedestrians is just as important to the council as cycling and we don’t want to set up conflicts between those two groups. We also want to improve the public realm within the borough: to regenerate the economy, make our neighbourhoods more liveable and boost business to deliver jobs. So designing our schemes must be done holistically with input from a range of different stakeholders, including CCC.
There are additional challenges.
First I have in the past been concerned by the approach that TfL sometimes takes towards designing improvements and working with the boroughs and the public. Differing priorities can exist within the organisation and there can be too much of a focus on smoothing traffic flow at the expense of delivering the shift to sustainable transport that is needed. Too often decision-making has been opaque and unaccountable with scant information shared: the recent examples the Camden Road /St Pancras Way junction springs to mind.
It is not the role of the council just to go along with TfL where they are not delivering the best outcomes for Camden. We will challenge them to do better where we need to, and make that case at whatever level it requires to be heard. Second we all know how badly Camden, in common with other urban authorities, has been impacted by national budgetary cuts. This has meant reductions in the money we have available to implement changes and fewer officers working on transport issues who can do the work required. This means we can’t do all that we want and have to make choices.
The good news is that on both these issues of funding and ways of working, we are seeing some really positive signs. We very much welcome the Mayor’s vision on cycling and the work that the Mayor’s cycling commissioner is doing – ambitious plans to deliver better routes and junctions backed up with funding is an approach that Camden will enthusiastically support. Meetings of the inter-borough working group to create the ‘central London grid’ have started and I am pleased that a Camden representative is vice-chair of the group.
There’s a real difference between Camden and some other boroughs in how easy it is get around, particularly in central London, so hopefully we can build on some existing success.
I’d like to thank Jean and CCC for the nomination of Camden for the Best Borough Cycling Project at the London Cycling Campaign awards recently.
I was delighted that Camden won the award jointly with the City for allowing two-way cycling on one way streets in Bloomsbury, King’s Cross, West Hampstead, Fitzrovia and Camden Town. This initiative has been pursued for some years in Camden by our officers – sometimes facing opposition from individuals and groups who don’t necessarily see the benefits of increasing permeability for cyclists. They did a great job.
This shows the importance of clear and consistent focus over time on making our streets more suitable for cycling, and to having this as a key driver for our transport strategy.
Other boroughs need to up their game and make their one way streets less of a barrier to cyclists trying to get around.
And there is more for Camden to do to roll out the success of the permeability schemes that have been implemented to date across the borough.
And to make changes where they can bring benefits:
- We’ve closed Earlham Street at Seven Dials at one end to prevent cars using the road to cut through the area.
- We’ve provided cycle only access on Warren Street.
Turning to some future schemes…….
One of the major schemes where Camden is working closely with TfL is on what we call the West End Project, focusing on Tottenham Court Road: this is the number one priority of the borough and we recently allocated £2 million to it in the recent council budget.
The scheme involves four distinct segments and the first part is now being built at Euston Circus: the junction of Euston Road, Tottenham Court Road and Hampstead Road. There are still some details to work through but this will change a particularly ugly piece of 1970s engineering in to a safer and more attractive interchange better suited to cyclists and pedestrians.
Designs for Tottenham Court Road itself are now being developed and some useful discussions have been held with local groups, including CCC. This is a major public realm and regeneration scheme of city-wide importance.
As part of the transport benefits, we want to remove the gyratory around TCR and Gower Street to allow two-way travel.
We will be proposing to prevent cars from accessing Tottenham Court Road – it will be for buses and cycles only.
The number of side roads that can be accessed by cyclists will triple from 7 to 22, marking a significant increase in permeability for cycling.
The narrowness of the road at the southern end, the number of buses and the potential for conflict with pedestrians mean delivering segregated cycle lanes will unfortunately not be possible, although the council will continue to discuss options and seek to deliver a really great environment to cycle.
On Royal College Street, you may have noticed that the works have now commenced and are due to be completed by July this year.
I am really excited about the two way segregated lanes and the use of the new light segregation method, which should deliver an excellent, safe environment for cycling.
We are also developing plans for phase two of the scheme, which will involve extension from Randolph Street up to Kentish Town Road, and south down to Goods Way.
The Regent’s Canal is a beautiful location for cycling and walking and we have lodged a funding bid to build a ramp from Camley Street to the towpath to make cycle access easier. We also support developing new cycling routes in the area to ensure that there is balanced use of the towpath.
At Cobden Junction, we are expecting to launch a consultation next month to get views on the plans that have been drawn up by TfL, the council and the local business community to regenerate the area.
I was very disappointed that it has not been possible to deliver the additional east-west cycle link that we need in Camden Town at this location.
This option was the preference of the council and has received in-depth consideration and investigation.
Unfortunately, it would have imposed delays of around 4 minutes in the middle of the day and 2-3 minutes at peak on bus users. The usual extra delay considered acceptable by TfL is around 1 minute maximum.
There would be costs of around £1 million pa to provide the additional services to maintain frequency.
So, we tried, but we can’t always deliver as much for cycling as we want.
Despite this, passive measures will be included in the scheme to allow the inclusion of the east/west cycling link should traffic levels continue to drop in the years ahead.
A renewed push will now also take place on finding alternative east/west cycling links in Camden Town.
The link via Oakley Square is being looked at by TfL and will proceed if feasible.
A link via Delancey Street is being investigated by Camden this financial year and again will proceed if feasible
Further north, the gyratory around Hawley Road and Hawley Crescent is being studied this year.
There has not yet been a definitive outcome on cycle superhighway 11 but the options of Finchley Road or Avenue Road are still being discussed.
On Malden Road, the council is keen to slow traffic and provide cycle lanes and early feasibility work has been undertaken. A consultation should be ready in the coming months.
I am particularly hopeful that we will be able to move forward with segregated cycle lanes on Hampstead Road and the council is working hard to make this happen. This will be discussed with TfL alongside with discussions about a possible 20mph limit on this road.
But it isn’t all just about changing our streets and junctions, important as that is. As we all as the cycle training I mentioned earlier, we are delivering a range of smarter travel initiatives to boost cycling.
There are Dr Bikes, guided bike rides and the ‘please cycle’ incentive scheme where you can sign up to earn points and gain prizes. If you’re on Facebook then join over a thousand others and ‘like’ our Cycle Camden page to get tips and information and find out what is happening locally.
Today for example, you can suggest places on there that need extra cycle parking. The council is currently introducing our largest programme of new cycle parking ever. The programme is targeted at areas of very high demand e.g. Covent Garden, Holborn, Fitzrovia and Kings Cross.
We will be extending our programme of providing larger cycle parking areas on the carriageway and 6 areas are planned this year including in Camden Town and Covent Garden. There is also a focus on providing more cycle parking within housing land and all estates will be covered this year. We are looking at introducing our first pilot secure residential cycle parking areas in South Hill Park, Hampstead and College Place, Camden Town. We are lobbying TfL for further expansion of the Barclays cycle hire scheme in the borough. We are looking at suggested locations to help build a case for extensions to be funded here not just limited to the south and west of London.
Finally the council is funding the around Camden bike ride that some of you have organised and I look forward to joining you on it in a few weeks time. Conclusion So in conclusion, we want to make Camden the best borough in London for cycling and to work with you all at CCC to get there. We have a firm political commitment to prioritising sustainable transport and want to deliver the improvement schemes and policies, alongside others, to get more people cycling and to make cycling safer and more enjoyable. I look forward to hearing your opinions.