Cycling in Hackney News
February 1999/March 1999
City of London offers early relief for Shoreditch streets
A bold plan to return the main streets of Shoreditch to two-way operation several years ahead of schedule is being proposed by Hackney’s planners, writes Trevor Parsons. The exciting move follows a public meeting at Shoreditch Town Hall in December where the desire for an early resolution of the one-way nightmare — currently not likely until 2002 — was palpable.
The scheme, which would use temporary measures to pilot two-way working, depends on an offer of assistance made at the meeting by the City of London’s
senior engineer Joe Weiss, who entertainingly explained how he managed to implement the City’s highly successful motor traffic management measures (AKA the ‘ring of steel’) in a single weekend, thanks in no small part to Irish Republican architectural criticism.
But Islington’s planners are currently opposing the Hackney scheme on the grounds that it would shove extra motor traffic onto their patch. Perhaps news of the phenomenon of evaporation hasn’t yet reached Upper Street. Several recent studies have shown that if you reduce the capacity of roads to carry motor traffic, much of it simply ‘evaporates’. Objections in this case are particularly puzzling as the current Shoreditch plan doesn’t even entail a reduction in capacity (yet!).
Islington also stalled on the Southgate Road cycle crossing plans until recently, but faced with a few key facts they dropped their opposition. This suggests that a little persuasion directed across the borough boundary is time well spent. Our Islington LCC colleagues are coming to our meeting on the 4th Feb—be there!
Footway cycling - time to end the 'them and us'
“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” Plato
Vocal individuals continue to keep the issue of footway cycling on the agenda. Douglas Carnall and Trevor Parsons recently attended Hackney Council’s officer group on footway cycling. The meeting was addressed by Mr Waugh of Stamford Hill, a gentleman who is very concerned about the issue and often raises it at neighbourhood committee.
A frequent cyclist himself, Mr Waugh believes that the majority of the public share his view that footway cycling is a very serious problem for which fines and even imprisonment for offenders as the only solution.
The police representative at the meeting sympathised with Mr Waugh’s concerns, but went on to explain the reasons behind the lack of enforcement of the law. To begin with, it takes around an hour of officer time to process a suspect at the police station. If the matter then comes to court this consumes another five hours or so of officer time and associated costs can have reached up to £800. The court will more often than not simply dismiss such a case as not worthy of being heard, and even if it does convict, the fine is likely to be in the region of £20.
Given the level of actual harm caused by footway cycling, it is not therefore surprising that the police see it as among the lowest of their priorities. Interestingly, the police also said that in their recent crime audit—a process which aims to discover the public’s priorities for policing—footway cycling had hardly registered at all in the scale of people’s concerns about how to make Hackney safer.
Douglas sought to break down the perception of ‘them and us’ over this issue by agreeing with Mr Waugh that inconsiderate footway cycling can be a cause of annoyance and even, in rare but regrettable cases, serious injury. He went on to say that the view of Hackney LCC is that the problem is given a disproportionate amount of attention when compared to the problems caused by other highway users, and that the only way to improve things is by positive methods, such as returning streets to two-way working, at least for cycle traffic, reducing motor traffic speeds, and generally working towards a culture of consideration on the road. Inconsiderate footway cycling was, according to Douglas, a case of bad attitudes spilling over from the road onto the footway.
Council officers are very much in agreement with this analysis. To go some way towards meeting legitimate concerns about inconsiderate behaviour, however, they are planning an awareness day later in the year, in which footway cyclists could be stopped and warned. This would be combined with publicity and the distribution of information on safe and effective cycling, and there was also some enthusiasm for broadening the focus of the event to include the behaviour of road users in general.
A poster and leaflet campaign was also discussed. Trevor Parsons suggested that it would be good to have a positive images and messages, such as ‘It’s quicker and safer on the road’, rather than the standard ‘Pavements are for people’ and ‘Don’t cycle on the pavement’, which put over a negative image of cycling in general and are more likely to be ignored by those they are supposed to reach. Since actual inconsiderate footway cyclists are usually male and adolescent, Trevor also thought that there might also be mileage in an ego-prodding barb such as ‘You’re a big boy now—use the road!’
Officers agreed with this style of approach and Hackney LCC were invited to help draft the text and provide references for supporting information. If you have any other suggestions for a positive message to encourage on-road cycling, please let Douglas or Trevor know.
Get yer cheap bike loans here
Cycling in Hackney News was concerned to hear a rumour that Hackney Council employees were no longer entitled to claim an low-interest loan to help them buy a bike.
On checking the story, however, it eventually emerged that the loans are still offered, although the take-up is very low, (possibly because nobody has ever heard of it?)
So, let’s spread the word and start encouraging Hackney’s many public servants to take the opportunity to get themselves a new machine. The loan — with an attractive rate of 3% — is available to anyone who qualifies for a cycle allowance, and currently stands at a maximum £300 although there are plans to increase that to a figure which more realistically reflects the cost of a quality cycle and associated accessories.
Council spokesperson Ian Rathbone told Cycling in Hackney News: “Obviously we would sooner provide bike loans than car loans, and we encourage people to make the switch from car allowance to cycle allowance.”
There is significant support for the establishment of a BUG (bicycle user group) for the authority, which would put cyclists in a better position to encourage Hackney to become a cycle-friendly employer all round.
Donald where’s yer Lycra?
A great hoot was had by all at the annual LCC in Hackney Burns Night fundraiser, which took place at the Springfield Boat Club on 23rd January. Many stirring performances were given, and the haggis was uniquely heralded by the sound of four wind instruments imitating the pipes. Several hours of sweaty and variously competent dancing followed, and everyone went home merry (some more than others...Harry?! Ed.). The total money raised hasn’t yet been declared, but it’s always a very useful addition to our crock of gold.
Many thanks to all who helped put it on, especially to The Muckers for the music, to the fantastic Claire Tansley for her indefatigability, and to the ever-generous Darren of Chain Gang (a first class cycle emporium in case you haven’t been there—see ad on front page) who once again donated the prizes for the raffle. Why don’t we have more events like this?
Working for love
Hackney Agenda 21 is organising a Volunteer Action Fair to be held on Tuesday 23rd February, 6-8.30 pm, Assembly Room, Hackney Town Hall.
Organiser Gillian Symons says: “Building a sustainable future requires a strong community as well as an improved physical and economic environment. Come to the Volunteer Action Fair and meet a wide variety of organisations active in Hackney. Find out about the range of interesting volunteer jobs (ranging from a few hours a month to a few days a week) through which you can learn new skills, make new friends and get more involved locally.”
Organisations which will be present include the Hackney Transport and Urban Environment Working Group, Hackney Credit Union, Hackney Street Leaders, Growing Communities, Hackney Independent Living Team, Hackney Citizens Advice Bureau, Hackney Tree Wardens, Hackney Community Transport and many more. There’ll also be a quiz and refreshments will be served
For more information, e-mail Gillian Symons.
Green Transport Week
“Sim-simmer, who’s got the keys to my bimmer?”
This year’s Green Transport Week runs from 5th-13th June and includes National Car Free Day on Tuesday 8th. Now’s the time to get planning. To read up on ideas, e.g. how to plan a car free day, check out the Environmental Transport Association website.