Thursday, 26 April 2018

Chobham Manor: The newest neighbourhood in the Olympic Park

The first residents of the Olympic Park moved into their homes in the East Village at the end of 2013, following over a year of it being converted from the Athletes village. Construction of the next phase of the residential development of the park, Chobham Manor, began in 2015. Located directly opposite the East Village, where the Basketball Arena and Athletes dining hall were in 2012, 75% of the homes in Chobham Manor will be designed for families with large townhouses, private gardens and green squares a dominant feature. The first three streets, Kieren Road and Peloton Avenue, linked by Villiers Gardens, opened in 2016

Google maps satellite view shows the recently opened streets as they were last year, accessible by motor traffic but not possible to use any of them as a through route
Peloton Avenue shortly after it opened in 2016
Unfortunately at the end of last year Peloton Avenue was extended south to link up with Honour Lea Avenue and it was a real shame to see the road was not 'filtered' so motor traffic could not use it as a through route.

The same spot as above this year, now with painted cycle lanes added
Peloton Avenue, running north to south through the western end of Chobham Manor, despite Chobham Manor already being surrounded by through roads on all four sides. A couple of bollards at the junction of Villiers Gardens would have ensured the new family homes could all still be accessible by motor vehicles but only people walking or cycling could use them as through routes, leading to a safer and quieter neighbourhood
A residential road through a new development in Delft in the Netherlands, motor vehicles can access every home but not use it as a through route, as it is filtered outside a childrens play area halfway long
A photo of the bottom section of Peloton Avenue, taken through the fence late last year

The same location this year, with painted cycle lanes which "END" shortly before Honour Lea Avenue
The painted cycle lanes are not very good at all, not wide enough to ride side by side in them, they are also located in the door zone of the car parking, with cars having to drive over them to park.

 A better layout would have been to simply close the road to through traffic instead

Families can now safely cycle through residential roads in De Beauvoir Town, recently closed to through traffic by Hackney Council. A shame Peloton Avenue was not designed like this from the start
At the southern end of the Peloton Avenue is Honour Lea Avenue, pictured below in 2012, weeks before the Olympic games, taken from google street view

and here was the same spot as above in 2014, with a new bidirectional cycle track built alongside it

Whilst this cycle track was a welcome feature of the newly reconstructed road it does not connect well at either end, becoming a shared footway and difficult to access from the park on the western end of the road. The cycle track is also only 2 metres wide, which would just about be adequate if it was intended to be used in only one direction but a bidirectional cycle track should ideally be twice the width of this

People cycling on this track in opposite directions can pass each other in single file but that isn't possible if people are riding side by side, as many friends will want to do, or parents with their children

Last year a cyclists dismount sign appeared on the track

For the construction of a new road, initially for works access but eventually to become Madison Way, linking Villiers Gardens with Honour Lea Avenue.

This new road cut through the track, with kerbs and tactile paving laid across the cycle track

Thankfully the workmen have recently returned, removed the kerbs and paving and the cycle track is now continuous across the junction, although a shame the footway isn't.

Give Way signage has been added to the road for traffic exiting Chobham Manor onto Honour Lea Avenue but for motor traffic entering Chobham Manor that is not the case, just a freestanding plastic "cyclists have priority" sign

With the same happening on Peloton avenue

Which can, and does, blow over in the wind

There is a sign warning drivers of cyclists on Honour Lea Avenue but it still isn't clear that this is for those turning left, certainly not as clear as the equivalent Dutch sign I've seen many times whilst cycling in the Netherlands

These signs also recently been installed on the exits of  the four closes on the other side of Honour Lea Avenue, warning people exiting to beware of cyclists, despite the fact that the cycle track runs on the opposite side of the carriageway. This is because Honour Lea Avenue will soon form part of Quietway 6 and bizarrely the budget will go on painted Q signs on the main carriageway, rather than upgrading the existing cycle track:

"Applying the LCDS levels of service street type matrix categorises Honour Lea Avenue into the local street category which does not require segregation. The existing two way track does not connect to cycle infrastructure at either end of it. Using the link for the quietway would restrict local access for the route therefore a preference for keeping the quietway on street has been agreed by Newham Council, TFL and Sustrans" 

This is despite the fact that Honour Lea Avenue is far from quiet, every time I have been here there is a high volume of traffic, including many lorries and vans. It absolutely is a main road and will only get busier over time. Note that this "quietway" also has a 30mph speed limit

Residents exiting Chobham Manor by bike are expected to cycle over the cycle track to then cycle on the road, among lorries travelling at 30mph, or quite often, faster

I'll continue to use the cycle track and ignore the "quietway" carriageway altogether, as I suspect most families on bikes will!

One of the negative aspects of the cycle track along Honour Lea Avenue has always been that people tend to walk on it, as there really wasn't anywhere else for them to walk on this side of the road. However wide as-yet-unopened pavements have recently constructed alongside, with greenery separating them from the cycle track

The pavements are very wide here so it is just a shame that the opportunity wasn't taken to widen the cycle track at the same time

With the pavement, cycle track and door zone buffer this is almost the perfect layout - if only the cycle track wasn't so narrow and didn't give up entirely at either end!

As for Madison Way, the new road running parallel to Peleton Avenue, the footway almost immediately gives way to the entrance to substantial car parking under the apartments. I think the paved area should have continued along here to give pedestrians priority

The same applies to "Weavers Row" slightly further along

Which only leads to a dozen garages for the townhouses and also links Peleton Avenue with Madison Way

before the Olympic games the southern loop of the Eastway cycle circuit used to pass through this very point
Villiers Gardens links Peleton Avenue, Kierin Road and Madison Way. It has a large green square with seating and a small children's play area, even thought the popular tumbling bay playground is less then 100 metres away

It's nice and I like that kids can play right outside their homes; I just wish the Peleton Avenue outside was closed to through traffic so kids could play in the street alongside too!

Although at least Villiers Gardens is closed at it's western end but I think they could have designed it in a way to allow people walking and cycling through, rather than just footway and trees

There are not many people living in Chobham Manor so far but judging by the removal lorries and cardboard in the recycling bins every weekend that is soon set to change. Construction of the rest of Chobham Manor continues alongside the recently completed area. If the legacy plans are to come to fruition and this neighbourhood is filled with families then I hope improvements do come to the roads and to walking and cycling provision. The families who will grow up here and call it home deserve to have infrastructure that allows them to be able to easily walk or cycle to local schools, shopping areas and parks in perfect safety. 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Cycling with buses in Hackney

Hackney has a lot of buses and therefore a lot of bus lanes. Cycling is allowed in all of these bus lanes and whilst this might be slightly better than cycling on the main carriageway, sharing space with buses is still not a comfortable experience that most of the population of the borough are willing to take up. There have been claims in the past that buses are more dangerous than lorries to cyclists in London and I wondered just what the collision and injury rate is in Hackney between buses and people cycling. A few years ago I wrote about cycle injuries and fatalities in Hackney over a ten year period from 2004-2014. I have gone back to the raw data and have extracted all collisions within the borough involving someone cycling and a bus that caused an injury and have plotted them all onto a  map:

click here to view the map

I've included the age and sex of the person injured or killed, along with the severity of their injuries and a brief description of the collision itself (these descriptions are lifted directly off the police report and not my own words). Here is a breakdown of the statistics:

There were a total of 81 collisions within that ten year period involving bikes and buses in Hackney that resulted in an injury to the person cycling. 11 of these were serious injuries and 70 resulted in slight injuries to the cyclist. There was one fatality which was Dan Harris, who was killed by a Stagecoach bus ferrying journalists from the Olympic Park during the Olympic games in 2012. This highlights that not all of these collisions will involve TFL buses running scheduled route services but as in this case may be the same contractors running other services, such as rail replacement buses.

Over 80% of the collisions occurred on A roads, which is not surprising as that is where the majority of buses run. As for the roads these collisions took place on 27 of them, exactly a third, occurred on the A10. I have previously already reported that the A10 is the most dangerous road for cycling in the borough with 28% of ALL cycling collisions resulting in serous or fatal injuries to the person cycling occurring on this road.

A woman cycles with her child on the pavement along the A10 in Hackney. Would you cycle with your children in that wide bus lane on a road with such horrific casualty statistics?
The A10 in Haggerston, a narrow pavement alongside five wide lanes for motor traffic. If you want to encourage families to cycle then don't design roads where cycling on the pavement is the most attractive option 
The A10 in Dalston Kingsland, described as "an ideal road layout" by a former co-ordinator of the Hackney cycling campaign
The A107 was the next road with the worst bus/bike casualty record with 15 collisions; 6 on Mare Street, 6 on Lower Clapton Road and 3 on Upper Clapton Road. As for the 11 collisions which resulted in serious injuries, 5 of these occurred on the A10. 

Statistics on the age and sex of all those involved in the collisions is similar to the breakdown of all cycle collisions and is dominated by young men, with two thirds of the casualties male. Nearly half were aged in their twenties with nearly 80% aged between 20 and 39. Five were children; two sixteen year olds, a twelve year old, a ten year old and an eight year old. 

As for the 11 who suffered serious injuries 9 were male and two female. Five were in their twenties, four in their thirties and two aged above 40.

Following a long campaign by Tom Kearney Transport for London have been publishing details of bus collisions online since 2014. Whilst these reports do not give the exact location of the collision we can extract data that shows where someone cycling has been injured by a bus in Hackney. Three more people were injured after the data above in the second half of 2014, four in 2015, six in 2016 and three in 2017, up to the end of September as Q4 data has still not been published.

Another issue with cycling in bus lanes is that buses generally travel faster than people cycling but stop often, and so buses and cyclists often leapfrog each other, with people cycling often having to pull out of the bus lanes to overtake them at bus stops. 

There were numerous collisions reported where this happened, which obviously would not have been the case if there were protected cycle lanes available to use, inside of the bus lanes. 

"Serious injury - lorry tried overtaking cycle who was overtaking a bus causing a collision. Old Street / Hoxton Street"
"Slight injury - cyclist overtaking stationary bus is hit from behind by a car which stops but fails to give details. A10 / Arcola Street"
"Slight injury - car overtaking stationary bus when cyclist also attempts to overtake bus causing a collision. Hackney Road / Cremer Street"

Collisions also occur due to having to share the bus lanes with taxis and motorbikes

"Slight injury - cyclist in bus lane overtaken and clipped by motorcycle. Seven Sisters Road / Blackstock Road"
"Slight injury - taxi pulled into bus lane and failed to observe cyclist. Seven Sisters Road / Amhurst Park"

Clearly with this level of casualties involving bikes and buses, just in Hackney alone, we should not treat bus lanes as adequate cycling infrastructure and should try to separate the two modes wherever possible. This is especially important if the council is committed to their 2014-2024 cycling plan, with the ultimate aim to "make cycling a normal, safe and attractive choice for travel and recreation for our residents and addressing barriers that prevent other residents from taking up cycling" and to "make Hackney's roads the most attractive and safest in the UK where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, to cycle"

Schoolchildren and buses safely separated in Utrecht, the Netherlands
If Hackney is serious about having 9% of all school children aged 5-15 cycling to school within little over a decade then clearly protected cycle tracks must be built on busy bus corridors, unless they want to hugely increase the level of illegal pavement cycling

Even if Hackney did manage to hit the levels of cycling they are aiming for, with 20% of all journeys and 30% of all journeys to work made by bike, then that would severely slow down the bus network as bus lanes would be swamped with people cycling

Separating people cycling and buses leads to safer cycling conditions and speeds up bus journeys. I also uses buses often in Hackney and want a more efficient bus service as the current average speed of most bus routes in Hackney is around 6 or 7mph
The council rightly puts the safety of people walking and cycling above the speed of buses in their road user hierarchy

But this does not necessarily mean slowing down buses. There are clearly many main roads in the borough that are wide enough for cycle tracks to be accommodated alongside bus lanes

Mare Street
Other measures could also be taken and recently Hackney Council announced that they wanted to install a bus gate on Amhurst Road, along with protected cycle tracks on Mare Street. Making Amhurst Road a through route for buses and cycling only, with access maintained for residents and business deliveries, would mean no need for the westbound bus lane freeing up space for protected cycle tracks

Amhurst Road
Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam. When I visited this street in 2016 it was just a normal road with no cycling infrastructure. When I returned a year later cycle lanes had been added with the road only open in one direction to buses and trams
Installing cycle tracks can also be an opportunity to upgrade the entire street and improve the environment for pedestrians as well 

Continuous footway and cycle track past a side road in Amsterdam. This design gives pedestrians and cyclists priority over motor vehicles and slows down motor traffic as it turns into and out of the side road. This type of infrastructure improves safety for all road users
The Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission will meet on Monday to discuss protected cycle tracks in the borough, chaired by labour councillor Sharon Patrick, who recently expressed concerns about floating bus stops
She is right to be concerned about the Wick Road plans where the cycle tracks disappear behind almost all of the bus stops to become a shared space area. It is perfectly possible to create a floating bus stop which does not cause conflict with pedestrians getting on or off buses. 

"In order to increase the borough's cycling levels the borough will need to target currently non-cycling residents that view cycling to be less appealing than other modes of transport." The Hackney Council cycling plan
Floating bus stops are an essential requirement to keep cyclists safe, rather than expecting them to overtake buses within streams of traffic 

A father cycling with his son on CS2 near Whitechapel approaching a floating bus stop. Were it not there he would have to overtake that bus, in front of the lorry
Whilst it is perfectly reasonable for the chair of the Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission to be concerned with pedestrian safety at floating bus stops (and there are plenty of examples available to ease those concerns) I hope she is equally concerned with cycling casualties. 15 cyclists have been killed in Hackney since 2005, with hundreds seriously injured and nearly a hundred injured by bus collisions. I hope all seven Hackney labour councillors on the committee are also concerned by these figures and support protected cycle tracks on the main roads in the borough to help reduce casualties and enable cycling in Hackney to be possible for the many and not the few

Monday, 12 February 2018

Going one way in Hackney

Last year I wrote about the most dangerous junction for cycling in Hackney, locally named as Britannia junction it is located where Pitfield Street, Hyde Road, Whitmore Road and Hoxton Street meet, or if you prefer, where cycle superhighway 1 and the Central London Cycle grid quietway 16 meet. It was converted from a roundabout into a crossroads in 2011 and despite the space available no dedicated cycle provision was provided with people cycling expected to "take the lane" on a narrow carriageway, alongside gigantic pavements. Following its conversion in the three year period to the end of 2014 there were 14 casualties for cyclists at this junction, more than double the amount of cycling casualties than any other junction in Hackney. The times also reported that this was the 7th most dangerous junction for cycling in the entire UK.

Although I don't have collision statistics available I'm convinced that for the past year this junction has been much safer than it previously was. The reason for this is due to the Colville Estate regeneration, where Penn Street has been made one way for motor traffic but has been kept open in both directions for bicycles just west of Britannia junction

Whilst motor traffic continues to cross CS1 westbound, travelling from Whiston Road and the A10 to New North road, the only motor traffic going eastbound across this junction are from residents living along Penn Street and Hyde Road or those driving back from the Britannia Leisure Centre. The junction is still far from perfect and I've had a few near misses this year where drivers have failed to give way as they cross it but at least the majority of the time you now only have to beware of this happening in one direction, instead of two.

Once the regeneration of the Colville Estate has been completed it would be a real shame if the road was reopened in both directions and I would hope this long, enforced experiment would be enough to convince Hackney Council that keeping the road one way for motor traffic and two way for people cycling makes for a safer junction. 

A one way road for motor vehicles in Utrecht provides safe space for people of all ages to cycle. Imagine how worse it would be if driving were allowed in both directions and the cycle lanes were removed

Before and after in Rotterdam. An example of how to create space for cycling, along with new street furniture and trees, on a narrow urban street by converting the road from two way to one direction for motor traffic
Hyde Road, just west of Britannia junction, alongside the Britannia Leisure Centre car park. Not too narrow here as it has two lanes for motor traffic and two lanes for car parking 
This cycle track in Eindhoven links the university with the centre of the city, via the John Cleese "silly walks" Tunnel under the railway lines. It is one way for motor traffic and provides a direct, quick route through the centre of the city. 

Breaks in car parking provide space for trees, flowers and crossing points for pedestrians
The "still in experimental phase" redevelopment of  Tavistock Place in Central London, a lane of traffic has been removed to allow for cycle tracks on both sides of the road, rather than the narrow bidirectional cycle track which existed here previously
One of the great elements of this scheme is that the one-way arrangement is being used to reduce motor traffic levels by having opposing directions of traffic, meaning motor traffic cannot use this route as a through route from Tottenham Court Road to Clerkenwell, or vice-versa

Unfortunately the position of Hackney Council has traditionally been to oppose one way streets and convert them back to two way
This occurred on Pitfield Street as part of Cycle Superhighway 1, where people cycling previously had a protected lane to head south (albeit a narrow one with high kerbs), this was removed to allow motor vehicles to use this route southbound too

I find this particularly bad in the morning peak, where vans and taxis especially use it to cut down Haberdasher Street and onto Old Street via Coronet Street, something that was impossible to do before CS1. This scheme has created new routes for drivers and encourages rat running. Whilst the removal of large one way gyratory systems designed to enable more motor traffic capacity is welcome (ideally with protected cycle tracks, as is happening in Stratford), turning roads one way can be an effective way to reduce levels of motor traffic whilst providing a better environment for people walking and cycling.

Hackney Council have pledged to improve both Pitfield Street and Britannia junction and I hope making some or all of it one way for motor traffic will be considered. Certainly reopening Penn Street to motor traffic in both directions once the regeneration is complete and reintroducing the East to West 'quietway' motoring rat run through the most dangerous junction for cycling would be a huge step backwards.