Cycling in Hackney News
Bridge to the future
Chips, anyone? Cops on bikes. Better watch your back!
The right to move. Don't slow me down! Mapping the blocks to cycle traffic.
Izzies get busy. Victory for cyclists at the Angel, Islington.
Learn a trade - see the world! Cycle mechanics at Tower Hamlets College.
Speed and power. Just how fast are they going?
Road sense. The rise of cycle training.
Our friend Dave.
Bridge to the future
A dramatic 67-tonne winged bridge was manoevred into position
across the River Lea last month by Groundwork, the environmental
Designed to resemble an autumn leaf, the
40-metre foot and cycle bridge links two sections of cycleway to form
the Lea Valley Pathway, part of the National Cycle Network. The bridge
also opens up a brand new commuter route from Walthamstow Forest to the
Greg McNeill, project manager for Groundwork
Hackney, said: "The marshes are a fantastic resource for local people.
We hope that the Friends Bridge will encourage people to make better
use of them."
The Friends Bridge is one element in a
£500 project to improve access and recreational facilities on
Hackney Marshes, run by Groundowrk in partnership with the London
Borough of Hackney and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.
Hackney LCC's borough co-ordinator Douglas
Carnall is delighted:"Although the existing routes to the bridge are
still far from perfect, Friends Bridge forms a critical link in the
National Cycle Network which, within a decade, should be bringing
thousands of cycle tourists from the Harwich ferry to the heart of
London. Hackney may not seem the most likely destination for
Euro-tourists, but we believe that its pleasant local amenities, from
Tent City to swinging Shoreditch, make the borough an attractive
stop-over for cycle tourists - and that means more income for local
Cops in Seattle and Stratclyde are using bikes, writes Douglas Carnall. Why should they have all the fun?
You may have read the recent articles in the London Cyclist
about police forces training up cycle officers and been impressed, as I
was. That's why I thought that the LCC in Hackney should encourage our
local police to get on to bikes.
We sent an outline proposal to the Police
Community Liaison Committee, and the matter was discussed at its last
meeting on Thursday October 15th. The advantages of police cycle
patrols are many. In the urban environment, a cycling police officer
combines the power of the police officer in a car with the reassurance
of a police officer on the beat. Like a foot patrol, officers can
easily interact with members of the public, and acquire detailed
knowledge of the local area and its people. Unlike a foot patrol, the
maximum speed of a reasonably fit police officer on a bicycle can
approach 30 km/h, easily enough to outrun the fittest suspect on foot.
Police can also approach the scene of an incident silently, surprise
the suspects, and avoid the need for pursuit altogether. Although a
patrol car is obviously capable of greater speeds, in the heavy
congestion that is now commonplace on London's roads, cycling may
provide a more reliable response.
We estimate that an ordinary cycle commuter
could reach most locations within Stoke Newington division within eight
minutes. To demonstrate this, we plan to conduct a pilot study of
potential response times from Stoke Newington Police Station. In times
of congestion, we suggest that the adoption of bicycles may even enable
officers to cut response times in comparision with the use of cars.
Cycling is also cheaper: a fully-equipped,
lightweight police cycle with racks and panniers can be bought for less
than £1000, meaning that 12 could be bought for the cost of a new
patrol car. Running and maintenance costs for bicycles are also
considerably lower than for motor patrol vehicles. Enabling officers to
take regular exercise will also have a beneficial effect on morale, not
only through increased effectiveness, but also because it is an
intrinsically enjoyable activity. An increased police presence on
cycles will set a good example to other road users, leading to a
calmer, safer traffic environment. And, if it becomes a policy
priority, this would be the most effective way of enforcing the law on
those cyclists who ignore the basic precepts of courteous behaviour.
We want to offer our support and expertise to
the police, and we have proposed the formation of a local cycle squad
composed of volunteer officers from Stoke Newington and Shoreditch
police stations liaising with members of the campaign to share
Get in touch with Douglas Carnall if you are
interested in this issue and would like to have a bit of fun doing the
response time survey.
We all know that cycling is a top way to get around, writes Trevor Parsons,
but sometimes it's enough to drive you round the bend, literally.
No-entry signs against you, road closures without access for cycle
traffic, central reservations preventing you from crossing from one
street to another, banned turns - you name it, we've got it.
Most of these obstacles have been deliberately
put there to deal with motor traffic, some to mitigate its effects, and
some (one-way systems in particular) to accommodate higher volumes of
moving and stored motor vehicles. We should be able to travel around as
freely as possible, with minimum diversion and maximum route choice.
That's why the LCC in Hackney is proposing the Permeability Project
- a two-stage process aiming to remove as many of these obstacles as
possible. The first stage is to make a dynamic map of the whole
borough, identifying all blockages. The information will have to be in
a form which can be easily integrated with the Council's existing data.
The second stage? Well, that's making it
happen. Highway and traffic management schemes are going on all the
time, and much of the work that needs doing should be integrated with
that work, saving time and money. And then we can prioritise getting
the rest of the work done fresh.
At the moment, councils are usually focussed
on providing special cycle facilities such as the cycle network. That's
OK as far as it goes, but we know that most cycling is, and always will
be, done on ordinary streets. If we are to meet the ambitious targets
for increase in cycling and reduction in motor traffic, we must have a
road network which is not only safe and healthy for cyclists, but also as convenient as possible.
We have already secured the addition of this
important principle to Hackney's new Transport Action Plan from now
until 2020. Robert Biggs, direct of Regulatory Services (which includes
transport and land use), likes the idea of the Permeability Project and
would be keen to implement it if and when resources were available. In
the meantime he has asked us to submit a list of obstacles which we
think should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
We've had lots of suggestions already.
Examples range from the Brooke Road one-way stretch up to the post
office on Stoke Newington High Street to the raised kerb next to the
Rio Cinema in Kingsland High Street which prevents crossing from
Sandringham Road to John Campbell Road. You know lots more.
Write, email or phone Trevor Parsons with your
least favourite obstacles to cycling in Hackney, and let's get this
show on the road!
The main cycle link from Hackney to central
London was recently blocked to suit a developer, even before planning
permission had been granted. A case for our efficient Islington
Owen Street is a key link in a cycle route
into central London from Islington, Highbury, Stoke Newington, Hackney,
Dalston, and beyond, cutting off the heavily-trafficked Angel junction
corner, linking City Road and St John Street.
Recently it was closed so that redevelopment
could take place on a vacant neighbouring site - work that might take
up to two-and-a-half years. High wooden hoardings went up, with a
narrow footway down on side and a dozen barriers across the path to
Pretty bad, huh? But go up to the Angel now,
and you'll find the route open again, thanks to our super-efficient
compañeros in the Islington Cyclists' Action Group (ICAG). In
just four hours on the mornings of 24th and 25th September, they got
440 signatures on a petition, which they presented to Islington
Council's Environment, Leisure & Transport committee, and also to
local ward councillor George Allan (formerly City LCC's borough
co-ordinator) on 29th September, with a local press photo call. The
previous week, the local paper ran a picture of a cyclist struggling
ICAG arranged meetings with Cllr Allan,
officers from Islington Council Highways Dept., representatives from
Groveworld (the developers), police, representatives from the Angel
Forum, and Disability Action in Islington, and argued for the cycle
route to be re-opened, given that the hoarding had been put up before
planning permission had been given for the scheme. They succeeded!
What can we do now?
1. Write letters to keep Owen Street at the front of people's minds. Here are some points you might like to make:
- Islington Council has policies committing it to promoting cycling.
- The re-directed route increases hazards to cyclists, taking in two right-hand turns across fast-moving traffic.
- At peak times the route attracts 240 cyclists an hour - one every 15 seconds.
- Planning permission should be made
conditional on giving consideration to the needs of cyclists and
pedestrians, especially those using wheelchairs, buggies and other
Who to write to:
- Cllr Wally Burgess, Chair, Planning Committee, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London N1 2UD
- Cllr Michael Boye-Anawomah, Chair, Environment, Leisure & Transport Committee, at the same address
- Clive Chapman, Assistant Head, Environment and Leisure Services (Engineering), PO Box 3333, 222 Upper Street, London N1 1YA
- Ivor Jones, Team Leader (West), Development Control, 222 Upper Street, London N1 1XR.
- Your local MP at: House of Commons, London SW1
2. Get involved in planning issues - making
comments and objections based on detailed study of plans and
applications. This means more work than letter-writing, but it crucial
to our success in getting Owen Street re-opened. If you would like to
know more, ask the LCC office for a copy of the Owen Street Planning
If you would like to get involved in the
Re-open Owen Street Campaign, contact Gavin Killip (ICAG co-ordinator),
c/o LCC, Unit 228, 30 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0HS, or call
him on 0171-607 1950.
Not up to much at the moment? You could do
worse than take up the offer of free training in cycle mechanics by the
Poplar Centre of Tower Hamlets College.
With the growing interest in cycle use there
is definitely a demand for skilled cycle mechanics. London Fields
Cycles is presently looking for one (tel. 0181-525 0077).
This new course will train participants in all
aspects of cycle maintenance and repair and allows you to combine
on-the-job experience with college-based training.
Students attend college on Thursdays and
Fridays and work with experienced engineering lecturers in
well-equipped welding workshops at Poplar. Later in the year, there
will also be the chance to learn frame-painting skills using
industry-standard spray booths.
The college will help students to find a work
placement, but if you already have links with a cycle shop, you could
approach them for a placement.
The course aims towards the Cytech
qualifications at Foundation and Intermediate levels. These
qualifications are assessed by the ACT (Assocation of Cycle Traders)
with the possibility of moving on to Advanced or perhaps NVQ.There is
also the chance of getting a welding qualification (CENTRA) at Level 1.
Both these qualifications are recognised and valued by the industry.
The course contents are: health and safety in
the workplace; basic workshop practices; cycle repair and fault
diagnosis; cycle construction (fitting wheels, brakes, handlebars,
chains, dynamos, gears, oxyacetylene welding, MAGS and TIG welding).
The course is part-funded by the European
Social Fund under Objective 2, and forms part of the 'Re-inventing the
Wheel' project developed by the London Enterprise Agency. This aims to
establish a bike rental scheme for the local area.
If you are interested, you can get further
details from Tower Hamlets College, 112 Poplar High Street, London E14
0AF. Speak to the tutor, Martyn Joyce, or the advice line - both on
0171-538 5888, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Speed limits are widely ignored on main urban roads, writes Douglas Carnall,
with speeds of 40 or 50mph commonplace, and one of the main reasons
people give for not cycling is the perception of danger from motor
vehicles. As many as three quarters of all drivers admit to regularly
exceeding the speed limit, despite the knowledge that nine out of ten
collisions at 20mph are non-fatal, and nine out of ten collisions at
40mph and fatal.
LCC's top current campaign is for a 20mph
London-wide speed limit. This follows evidence from the pilot 20mph
zones that both adult and child road casualties are reduced by
enforcing the lower limit. hackney Council has done well implementing
20mph limits in residential areas, but we need to take the campaign a
We plan to conduct a speed survey of vehicles
at selected locations. This will not only give us data that we can use
to pursue the issue with the police and local government, but will help
tackle another cycle-related issue.
According to Green Party Councillor Yen Chit
Chong, who is Chair of Hackney's Police/Community Liaison Comittee, bad
cycling behaviour is one of the commonest reasons for a member of the
public to complain to the police. Our speed survey will note the
registration number of every vehicle that we witness exceeding the
speed limit, or indeed driving dangerously in any other way. Each
incident will be reported to the poliace, and additionally, if a
commercial vehicle is involved, to the management of the company
concerned. It shouldn't take long for cyclists to be knocked off the
We can also gather individual complaints by
email and, finances permitting, pre-paid postcards with a proforma for
reporting incidents involving badly-driven motor vehicles.
This campaign could have a significant effect,
but will only work with your support, so do get involved if you can.
Contact Douglas Carnall.
"You must be mad to ride a bike in London!" It's a comment you often hear from people who don't.
In fact, once you get to know the rules, it's quite straightforward.
But there is now quality training that means you don't have to learn by
trail and error...unless you really want to.
Cycle training has been about since bikes were
invented, but until recently what was available was not very relevant
to the needs of the contemporary urban cyclist.
You know the score - getting children to weave
around cones in the schoolyard, then telling them to wear a helment and
to stay on the pavement because the road is too dangerous, after all.
And as for training adults...I mean, you what?
In fact, people of all ages want to learn to
cycle effectively because it's such a handy thing to be able to do, and
when they find someone to show them that riding effectively on the road
isn't a superhuman skill, but a matter of learning some straightforward
skills, they're happy.
Our own Patrick Field, of the London School of
Cycling, has been busy on two schemes recently. In Surrey he has been
developing training for parents and children to ride to school together.
"Giving people training together is a very
good way to deliver it," says Patrick, "because children under 12
usually aren't going to be travelling on their own, plus it's a way of
getting the parents to do some training themselves."
Patrick has also been consulting on the
development of Sim Bamford's snappily-entitled 'Cycle Training', which
has a similar parent-and-child approach. Pilot courses are happening
right now, and there are plans to expand throughout London.
Sim has done the spadework on the legal side,
and there's a sound syllabus in place. It seems like a ready-made
oportunity for us in Hackney to start to address the training need
If you'd like to be training, to get your
youngsters trained, to become an instructor, or if you can contribute
in some other way, call Sim Bamford on 0171-732 6639, or email
Way to go
Labour councillor Jessica Crowe has been
chatting to her colleagues about our proposals to return all two-way
streets to one-way, at least for cycle traffic. Seems she got a warm
reception to the idea. Nice one, Jessica!
Reporting smoking exhausts and bad driving just got easier, writes Douglas Carnall.
It's such a hassle to stop and rummage through a pannier for paper and
pen. To the rescue comes Southwark cyclist Chris Eldridge with his
'Fumin' Pad', basically a stack of slim PostIt notes with a strip of
Velcro on the back. Stick the velcro on your handlebars, place the
pencil in the slot provided, and set off on your journey. Now, noting
the time, place and registration number of any offending vehicle is but
a matter of milliseconds.
And watch for future developments. Hackney web
gurus are hard at work on a plan to systematise the gathering of
Fumin'Pad data using internet technology. The idea is for you to be
able to upload the details on your Fumin'Pad to a web database. The
webmaster there will hand the complaint to the relevant authority on
Contact: Southwark Cyclists International Sales Division c/o Chris Eldridge, 92 Lyndhurst Grove, London SE15 5AH.
Personally, I just say 'memo' into my
headset, dictate the details, say 'send', and it gets transmitted to my
secretary via my GSM phone. Ed.
New, simpler net chat
Being part of the LCC in Hackney's online
discussion group is now very straightforward. You don't even have to
have a dial-up internet account at home. There's free access at Hackney
libraries and at the new Community Access Centre in Mare Street, and
you can read messages and send your own either via email or directly on
To subscribe to the Hackney LCC 'eGroup', send a blank email to:
We were very sorry to hear of Dave Bracken's death on the 4th August, writes Douglas Carnall. He died in St. Bartholemew's Hospital after a relapse of his lymphoma.
Billed in this newsletter as 'The Planning
Bloodhound', Dave was a tireless worker on local issues in the Stoke
Newington area, especially on the reservoirs and Clissold park, and
spoke out fearlessly on cycling issues at many a local meeting. He cut
a distinctive figure travelling around the area on his Pashley trick.
All of us who knew him will not only miss his work, but also his
splendidly rubust and sociable personality. He leaves his partner and a
The funeral was held the week after, and
although it was a sad occasion, Dave's memory will live on among his
wide circle of family and friends.
Proposals are afoot to name the next
significant piece of cycle infrastructure that goes into Stoke
Newington after him. Suggestions about appropriate sites would be