Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Serious and fatal cycle collisions in Hackney 2009-2014

Last week I came across this freedom of information request made to Hackney council requesting a full list of all cycle related collisions within Hackney. The council in response provided a document containing all reported 1297 cycle collisions for the five year period up to June 2014, with locations, sex and age of the persons involved, a brief description of the cause and whether the injury was slight, serious or fatal. I have taken all of the 164 collisions that resulted in serious injury to the person cycling and the four cycle fatalities within the borough over this five-year period and mapped them here:

Click here for an updated post on ten years of collisions

I've included the vehicles involved, age and sex of the person injured or killed and a brief description of the collision itself (please note that these descriptions are lifted directly off the council document and not my own words). Please do take a minute or two to have a look at the map to see where the collisions have occurred in the borough. Some of the accident statistics are extremely interesting:

65% of all serious and fatal collisions were reported on A roads, with the other 35% on B roads and unclassified roads. This backs up the councils own admission in their recent cycling plan:

the majority of serious [cycling] accidents occur on our busier roads with high traffic flows and often multiple bus routes

A breakdown of those main roads show that a staggering  27% of all of the 164 collisions that caused serious injury occurred on one road in particular; the A10. This road was also singled out by the council in the cycling plan as the road with a high number of cycle collisions and they vowed to "continue to lobby TfL and work with them to resolve the cyclist accident problems along the A10 corridor in Hackney." Except of course TFL wanted to build a cycle superhighway down the A10 but Hackney council blocked it preferring instead to plan for an indirect "super quietway" on minor roads alongside the A10. They obviously feel the way to deal with the high number of casualties on this road is to remove people cycling from the A10 leaving it reserved for buses, private motor vehicles and the small minority of vehicular cyclists who are still happy to use it. However because the A10 slices through the very centre of Tottenham, Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Dalston, Haggerston, Shoreditch and the City within a few short miles people cycling will continue to use it as not only is it direct but also a place where people live, work and play. As the council pointed out in the cycling plan:

It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes.

The A10 was also the location of one of the four fatalities within the borough in this period. Not included in this map is the four additional cycle fatalities that occurred on the A10 in Hackney between 2006-2010.

Statistics on the age and sex of the people involved in these collisions is also interesting. 73% of the people suffering serious injuries were male and 27% female. 45% were aged 18-29, 28% were aged 30-39, 15% 40-49 and 5% were in their fifties. Only two were aged over 60, the eldest being a 71 year old male and only three were aged under 18, the youngest a 7 year old boy hit by a left turning tipper truck. This backs up the statistics that most people cycling in Hackney are relatively young and mostly male. Of the four fatalities there was an even split, two male and two female with all four aged in their 20's.

As for other vehicles involved in these collisions I was surprised that 75% of all serious injuries involved a cycle and a car. I've always been more careful when cycling in the vicinity of lorries and buses in the borough but whilst it is true that you're more likely to be killed cycling by a lorry or bus, a car is much more likely to cause you serious injury. Next on the list was buses involved in 5% of all serious injuries followed by Vans, lorries, taxi's, people falling from cycles without colliding with any other vehicles, and motorbikes.

Recently a group of us who live and cycle in Hackney formed a new group, Hackney people on bikes. We've compiled a letter to the Hackney Cycling Campaign and representatives from our group will be attending their meeting this Wednesday to discuss our concerns.

We think that whilst Hackney has had some success in catering for people cycling on some of the minor roads in the borough we want main roads within Hackney, the roads that cause the most serious accidents to people cycling, to gain Dutch style protected cycle tracks. We believe that whilst Hackney does have the highest mode share in London for people cycling (approximately 6%) we should be looking at other counties, and the Netherlands in particular, to copy their measures that have resulted in much higher rates of people cycling and much lower accident rates. We believe that people cycling in Hackney should not have to share space with buses and that fast one-way systems should only be returned to two way if high quality cycle tracks are also built. We want the most dangerous road in Hackney, the A10, to have a cycle superhighway installed on it, rather than only catering for people cycling if they use indirect back routes. We believe that installing cycle tracks on the A10 is the only way to stop the killing of people who choose to use it to cycle on and it needs cycle tracks due to the high volume of motor traffic on it, as voted for by LCC members in the 2013 AGM.

We're also concerned by some recent publications from the Hackney cycling campaign, including describing the highly dangerous A10 as "ideal" and the very safe cycle tracks on Waterden road in the Olympic Park as "poor quality cycle provision" that has "no place in Hackney". We want Hackney to be a place where people can cycle no matter what their age or sex and we acknowledge that whilst reducing the impact of motor traffic on minor roads in the borough goes some way to achieving this the separation of people cycling and motor vehicles on the main roads within the borough is needed to make cycling in Hackney truly safe and inviting for all.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Hackney Council Cycling Plan 2014-2024

Still up for consultation until Friday is Hackney councils transport strategy for the next ten years. The strategy consists of one core document and six "Daughter documents." One of these daughter documents is the 98-page long cycling plan.

Hackney council declare their goal in the very first paragraph, which is "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."

They make it clear that they want Hackney to be a place where anyone can cycle:

A place where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, background or ethnicity to cycle already exists of course but with cycling still being a very small minority of trips within Hackney it's going to take an awful lot of change to Hackneys roads to enable us to get anywhere even close to the kind of levels of cycling you see in the Netherlands within the next ten years.

The objectives of the cycling plan include that "there will be high levels of cycling amongst residents from all backgrounds and communities in Hackney" and they hope that "the causes of real and perceived road danger for cyclists will have been tackled through improvements to the physical environment"

We'll skip over the introduction along with Policy background and wider influences and onto current cycling trends in Hackney where the council "outlines some of the more successful measures that have worked to increase levels and to identify some of the barriers the prevent others from regular cycling." It also reports that Hackney is "the borough [in London] with the highest cycling mode share for all trips with a figure of approximately 6%"

On existing cycling conditions in Hackney the council state that in recent years they have "taken a slightly different approach to cycling provision than the traditional approach of providing on-road cycle lanes focusing instead on improving the permeability and accessibility of the whole road network for cyclists, encouraging all users to share the road and improving safety by reducing traffic speed" and that "many of the measures previously undertaken in Hackney are now regarded as best practice and promoted elsewhere across London". Which is worrying if other boroughs of London wanting to provide for cyclists are looking to Hackney as best practice, an area which still has a fairly low cycling mode share of just 6%. They should instead be looking at other countries who have achieved much, much higher levels of cycling using the "traditional approach" of providing actual cycling provision that Hackney has avoided in recent years.

One thing the council can be praised for is its cycle permeability where strategic road closures have been placed on some of the more minor and residential streets, which have no doubt helped push the cycling levels up. Many of these, such as in De Beauvoir Town were installed decades ago so today's Labour council can't really take credit for that. The council have created some recently and they point out that they have "done this to good effect in Goldsmiths Row and London Fields, which is one of the key cycling routes in the borough"which is true and Goldsmith's Row is one of the best streets in Hackney to cycle along but this was, and always will be, one of the most popular cycle routes in the borough due to its location.

Here is a map showing the route with motor traffic free routes in green, shared routes in blue and the main bus route in red.

Even without the filtered permeability this would still be the busiest route as it's the shortest and quickest way to get from Hackney Central to Hackney Road. Still, Goldsmiths Row is very pleasant to cycle along and the council should be applauded for their efforts in improving a key cycle route in the borough.

Barriers to cycling in London

The council recognises that despite the "obvious progress made there remains a lot to be done to normalise cycling as a default mode of transport." Indeed, the statistics tell us that getting around by bike is the default option for only a small minority of residents of London with an overall mode share of around 2.4%. Stand on any road in the capital for a short while and you'll see that, on the whole, you do not get people from all backgrounds cycling. Whilst it is not totally exclusive to young, fit men it is still rare to see pensioners or very young children cycling on any of London's, or indeed, Hackney's main roads. Again just spend a short amount of time stood on any main road in Hackney and you can understand why this is, as surely the council can as well.

"Concerns about cyclist safety figure prominently as the primary barrier as to why many people do not cycle. The recently-published Mayor's Vision for Cycling states that the fear of injury is the number one reason why Londoners do not cycle. Similarly, a DfT study of a sample of 3,155 adults living in England found that 63% of potential cyclists surveyed agreed they would find cycling on the roads stressful and that 60% said it was too dangerous to cycle on the roads"

So we've quite clearly established that the number one reason why people do not cycle in London is due to the fear of injury whilst cycling on the roads. This is an entirely rational fear to have and most people share it, thankfully other countries have found a solution to this and that is to ensure people cycling do not have to share the road with heavy and fast moving traffic on main roads.

So how does Hackney intend to deal with this? Immediately after establishing that fear of cycling on London's roads is the main reason why people do not cycle they boast that "Hackney council has implemented free cycle awareness training course for HGV drivers" and work to "improving driver awareness through a series of advertisements on billboards, newspapers and radio" Except of course that does nothing whatsoever to conquer peoples fear of cycling on the roads. Plus all drivers have to take a test, and HGV drivers an extended test but we still have a very large amount of people being killed or seriously injured on the roads each year. People driving lorries sometimes make mistakes so how about taking that money spent on training and adverts and instead spend it on designing the roads so people do not have to share it with buses, lorries and other heavy or fast moving traffic. You know, the one and only way that mass cycling has been achieved since the rise of the motor vehicle. People talking about training and lorry driver awareness in the context of children or old people cycling are frankly not living in reality. Focusing on training and education hasn't led to safe mass cycling anywhere in the world so why persist with it? Why not just copy what does work?

Dangerous junctions is the next item listed as a barrier to cycling in London and they note that TFL is undertaking a junction review where they plan to improve six junctions located within Hackney "using Dutch-style bicycle-friendly traffic engineering technique." Thankfully TFL are finally starting to understand how to accommodate people cycling on their roads. Hackney council vow to "engage with TfL to address cyclist safety concerns at these junctions" so let us all hope this means Hackney councillors supporting the Dutch-style traffic engineering techniques, instead of blocking them for some unsafe "share the road" crossroads nonsense.

"Lack of secure cycle parking" and "incomplete cycle route and gyratories" are the other two barriers to cycling in London listed in this report.

We then move onto barriers to cycling in Hackney where I hope to be able to find out why 94% of trips in Hackney are made by other modes, an awful lot of them people sitting on buses taking over an hour to travel a few miles.

The first barrier to cycling in Hackney is a "need for improved network and junctions." Well, that is true; we need a high quality and joined up network of cycle routes and need these routes to continue to be safe as they pass through junctions "the need to provide safer cycle routes and safer crossings figures prominently in responses to all workplace and school travel surveys undertaken" say the council, followed by "there are a number of one-way streets on Hackney's road network that create obstacles for cyclists, leading to greater journey times and heightened perception of danger due to high vehicle speeds." I'm not sure why one-way streets are being mentioned here. People are scared to cycle amongst  traffic, they are not scared of cycling amongst traffic travelling in one direction only! The only section of that paragraph that is true is that one-way streets "lead to greater journey times". The only positive outcome for cyclists following the conversion of the Shoreditch one way system was to make it quicker to travel from Hackney Road to the Old Street roundabout for people who already cycled from Hackney Road to the Old Street roundabout. It is still a fast, wide multi-lane road which most choose to get the bus through. Removing gyratories and one way systems  offer nothing to people wanting to take up cycling unless you also add cycle provision.

"The council seeks to remove the gyratory on the A10 at Stoke Newington." Assuming the council don't install cycle tracks then it'll just be like Shoreditch is now. Or like Tottenham. Or like Brixton. A road that offers slightly quicker journey times for people already cycling but does nothing for the 94% who will continue to use other methods to travel through.

Old Street, which used to have four lanes of motor traffic going in one direction, now has two lanes of motor traffic in each direction thanks largely  to the Hackney cycling campaign. A truly awful place for people cycling. 

The entire area to the left used to be the road, now an over-sized pavement with no space for people cycling
"Lack of suitable bicycle storage and parking" is listed as another barrier to cycling in Hackney, which is what happens when you provide a tiny fraction of cycle parking spaces on your road as you do car parking spaces. The council have started to address this by installing bike hangers and to be fair to them I could be talking about any area in London, or indeed the rest of the UK.

Brenthouse Road, in Hackney Central. A road I used to live on and chose to illegally cycle the wrong way down each evening to get back to my flat, due to car parking on both sides of the road for the minority of residents who drove.

"In addition to secure cycle parking, the lack of other end-of-trip facilities such as shower and changing facilities has been identified as a significant barrier to workplaces and destinations in Hackney." This is not an issue in the Netherlands where people are not expected to ride fast road bikes at 20mph in the primary position and end up drenched in sweat after a 3 mile bike ride.

"Bike theft" is the next barrier to cycling in Hackney followed by "lack of cycle skills / training"

People should not have to have the necessary "road skills, fitness and confidence" just to get around the borough by bike, especially if you plan to have people cycling "no matter what their age." Cycling simply shouldn't be like that. Also if cycle training is not provided until Year 5 what about people aged under ten, are they excluded from cycling on Hackney's roads?

Picture courtesy of Mark Treasure
A Dutch child that does not have to worry about lacking road skills, fitness or confidence. If he moved to Hackney he "wouldn't need segregated cycle tracks" and could simply "develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to cycle to school safely using the roads"

Picture courtesy of Ross
Hackney Road, one of the busiest cycle routes in Hackney, do we really expect children to cycle on roads like this in Hackney once they have had the necessary training to develop "road skills"?

"Culture and attitudes to cycling" is the next barrier to cycling in the borough. "Hackney is a place with a renowned cycling culture" apparently. Whilst we do now have a look mum no hands on Mare Street I'm not sure that counts as having a cycling culture! If the only place you see young kids cycling is in parks or along the canal towpath then I really don't think you can claim to have a cycling culture.

"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." Of course if you want to increase the cycle share by any significant amount then you'll certainly have to get people cycling who are currently not cycling rather than relying on new people moving into the borough.

Which brings us nicely on to the Cycling targets of this ten-year plan.

Well we've already managed to increase the share from 6% on page 21 to 7% here on page 36 so some positive progress there already. However to more than double the share from 6 or 7% to 15% in ten years then you'll certainly have to get people cycling who are currently choosing a different mode of travel. Also if you want Hackney to be "a place where it is second nature for everyone, no matter what their age, back ground or ethnicity to cycle" then you're going to have to do more than offer training and turn one-way roads back to two-way.

We've already established that if you're aged under ten then cycling on Hackney's roads is not for you, however with pursuing with bikeability the council hope to see a push from the current rate of 2.3% of children in Hackney cycling to school up to a staggering 5% of children in ten years time. Compare this to the Netherlands where 49% of primary school children go to school by bike and more than 90% of children aged over 12 do so all year round. Lets dip out of the cycling plan for a moment and into the walking plan where we can see how children in Hackney currently get to school.

A staggering 65% of children walk to school, presumably because the council provide safe and segregated pavements rather than expecting them to walk directly in front of lorries and buses.

Outside London Fields Primary School two lollipop ladies assist children crossing the road

The road leading to London Fields Primary school 
How many of these 65% would cycle to school if the conditions were right for them to do so?

The school run in the Netherlands, courtesy of Mark Treasure, where children are given a choice of safe walking or cycling
Childhood obesity is a major problem in Hackney with rates significantly higher than national levels. In recent 2012/13 surveys carried out in the borough 13.1% of children aged 4-5 years were found to be overweight while another 13.2% were classed as obese. Among children aged 10-11 years old 16% were overweight and 25.2% classed as obese.

Back to the cycling plan and the council then compare their target of 15% to other cities:

with no comment as to why we are already so far behind Amsterdam's share (from six years ago) or how to get closer to it.

Picture by Amsterdamize
We then move onto cycling plan principles and design principles for cycling infrastructure where the council admit that "Creating a quality environment for cycling is generally recognised as being concerned with providing accessible, direct and convenient, attractive, safe and comfortable routes for experienced and less experienced cyclists alike to provide access to key destinations such as the borough’s town centres and other key destinations for employment, education and leisure.  Cycling routes need to legible and intuitive, continuous and uninterrupted by barriers or loss of priority." Key destinations being mainly located on main roads of course.

They then state that "selection of appropriate infrastructure provision for cycle users should follow the hierarchy of provision"

They plan to "reduce the impact of motor traffic" before redesigning junctions, reallocating space or building cycle tracks as that means "it is often possible to meet cyclists’ needs without the need for cycle‐specific infrastructure, potentially freeing up cycling budgets for other smarter choices measures." Whilst this is sometimes the best way to tackle the quieter, residential streets in Hackney and is something Hackney has done to good effect in some areas this approach simply will not work on the main roads that carry buses, lorries and large amounts of motor traffic. Joe Dunckley has written at length about the hierarchy of provision here so little point in me repeating what he says, however it is disappointing to see that the council "will introduce infrastructure provision for cycle users in accordance with the hierarchy of provision set out in LTN 2/08, considering traffic volumes and speed reduction first, followed by junction treatments and reallocation of carriageway spaces, with shared used or on‐footway provision introduced only when all other options have been exhausted."

One area the council do not have control of is Route Provision on the TLRN where they note that "The Mayor of London has recently indicated that he will seek to introduce segregated or semi‐segregated cycle lanes on some of London’s busiest roads over the next ten years as a key cornerstone of his Cycling Vision for London" and that "full details of how this will impact on cycle route provision in Hackney is unclear. The document does state however that cyclists will not be restricted from using any other part of the road network. The Council intend to work with TfL as more details emerge about these proposals and will use the opportunity to advance long‐standing aspirations relating to the removal of gyratory systems at Stoke Newington and providing better cycling conditions in the general Shoreditch area." Pointing out that "cyclists will not be restricted from using any other part of the road network" in the context of building segregated cycle lanes is the kind of language a committed vehicular cyclist would use and this kind of thinking should have no place in designing cycle routes that can be used by everyone.

The report then briefly touches on Reallocation of Road Space and "where provided and developed, bus lanes should always be available to cyclists and wide enough for cyclists to overtake buses safely (around 4.5m wide)." Bikes and buses should never mix and the council need to stop thinking that bus lanes counts as adequate cycling infrastructure. Buses in London are now more dangerous to cyclists than lorries and we need to look at separating the two modes, not integrating them. "Narrower lanes that are appropriate in particularly in built up areas of the borough such as Dalston and Hackney Central, will result in carriageways that are easier for pedestrians to cross and encouraging lower traffic speeds without causing a significant loss of traffic capacity. However this should not result in a loss of clear space for cyclists." Clear space for cyclists presumably means 4.5m wide traffic lanes, such as those seen on the A10 at Dalston, described as ideal by Hackney cycling campaign?

The A10 in Dalston
Smarter Travel and Cycling Promotion is the next section where "the Council will pursue a consistent range of cycling promotion to encourage people who do not presently cycle regularly to undertake more cycling journeys." They plan "to target two socio‐economic groups in particular: Hard Presses Families (who make up 46% of Hackneys residents) and Young Couples and Families" (making up 13% of the boroughs population). Presumably the main reason that the majority of people from these groups do not cycle is the same reason for all other groups of people; the fear of injury whilst cycling on the roads? The council doesn't agree, in the case of Hard pressed families "in many cases, a lack of suitable storage space for bicycles and lower levels of cycle training have been identified as a barrier to cycling lack of storage and lower levels of cycle training." Of course the flats and houses of Hackney are not lucky enough to have enough storage space for a bicycle, unlike the mansions of Central Amsterdam. Meanwhile young couples and families "have low levels of car ownership and are considered to be of prime age for cycling." In the Netherlands there is no "prime age for cycling" as they have engineered solutions that make cycling safe and inviting for people of all ages.

Picture courtesy of Mark Treasure
We then move onto the most interesting section of the whole plan, Safer Cycling in Hackney. "Chapter 5 established that fear of injury and the perception of cycling as dangerous activity is a primary reason why many residents do not currently cycle" and "this section will set out some of the over‐arching engineering principles, approaches and cyclist safety measures and initiatives that the Council intends to take to promote a higher level of cyclist safety in our borough." These measures include Reducing speeds, Bikeability where they hope all children will have completed level 2 by the time they are 10-11 years old, with "the ultimate aim of level 2 training is that on completion a cyclist could safely make the journey from home to school." Again Hackney's cycling vision is that no primary school children should cycle to school, unlike the 49% of Dutch primary school children. The council will "aim to make every residential road safe enough to be assessed as being appropriate for children trained up to Bikeability Standard Level 2 to ride on." Note they only pledge to do this for residential roads, meaning that the vast majority of routes for children will not be up to the expected standard for bikeability level 2 from their home all the way to their school gates.

Other safer cycling in Hackney measures include Filtered Permeability, Sinusoidal speed humps, Parking restrictions near junctions, Guardrail removal, Advanced Stop Lanes, and then, on page 56...

"Clear space for cyclists"

"The Council has been highly successful at implementing schemes on quieter roads however there have been limited improvements for cyclists on our busiest roads. It is inevitable that cyclists will continue to use our busy high streets and strategic roads that carry high volumes of vehicular traffic because often they are the most direct and quickest routes."

Bingo! For the vast majority of cycling trips within the borough we undoubtedly have to use the main routes at some point. Also, as is the case on my trip to work, I have to cycle down a very hostile main road, any alternative route through quieter residential streets would take me twice as long to get to work. This is why Hackney council are wrong to block the superhighway down the A10; people WANT to travel from Stoke Newington to Dalston and onto Shoreditch but the quicker and more direct route is reserved for buses and private motor vehicles. People cycling this route are either expected to either "man up" or use an indirect back route.

"Mapping of cyclist accidents reveals that the majority of serious accidents occur on our busier roads with high traffic flows and often multiple bus routes, and as such these routes need to be specifically considered."

The majority of serious accidents involving people cycling in Hackney happen on the main roads with bus routes, so why block cycling infrastructure on these very roads and push for people to use quieter roads instead?

Absolutely spot on. This shows the limitations of cycle training and reinforces what we were told way back in chapter four. Most people simply will not cycle on the main roads where they have to share with buses and lorries, and those that do try it are likely to give it up when they get to a certain age, or after a certain number of close passes. It is ridiculous to produce a "plan for cycling " if you do not address this very clear number one obstacle to cycling in Hackney.

They continue on that they will "investigate the most suitable options for ensuring cyclist safety whilst not negatively impacting on the safety of pedestrians and bus users." Hackney Council have a road user hierarchy where they place people cycling above that of people using the buses.

Therefore the council must consider the safety of people cycling above delays to buses. Building segregated cycle lanes and reducing the amount of people being killed or seriously injured on the roads is far more important than delays of just a couple of minutes on a five mile bus journey that takes over an hour no matter what certain bus obsessed local councillors think. When the council talk about the safety of bus users I assume they are talking about bus stop bypasses and the safety of people making the transition from the pavement to the bus stop and having to walk over the cycle track. I really do not see this as an issue myself. I've never actually cycled on the segregated section of the cycle superhighway that runs from Stratford Town Centre to the Bow roundabout which has several bus stops bypasses that lie on the route of London's busiest bus route by far. I have however used one of the bus stops as a bus passenger after taking my daughter to the Discover children's story centre and it was absolutely fine for me to use with the pushchair, as it was for the several pensioners I saw using them then as well. Bus stop bypasses are not an issue for pedestrians in London despite what Hackney's MP says with seemingly no evidence whatsoever to back up her claim. Indeed as Mark Treasure points out Hackney has had a bus stop bypass for many years, as have other areas of London. So time to stop this pointless debate about bus stop bypasses, if pedestrians were being injured whilst using them in Stratford or elsewhere we would know about it by now. They work on London's roads and thankfully we'll see many more of them appear over the next few years. So let's stop the silly scaremongering about these bus stop bypasses and focus instead of the real danger and that is the continued slaughter of people cycling in London. On busy road with buses there is nothing else you can do except segregation. Do Hackney Council agree?

So there it is, right at the bottom of page 57; a very luke warm promise that the council are "open and willing to examine" segregation but only after visual landscape, interaction with bus users and competing demands for road space are taken into account.

The plan then moves on to Reducing Cycling Accident rates where they admit they have "been significantly less successful in achieving reductions in numbers of numbers of cyclists killed or seriously injured with an increase of 23% in 2009 from the 1994‐98 average baseline figures" and that "the plan recognises that much more needs to be done to tackle this unacceptably high figure." A map then illustrates the broad locations of Cyclist accidents in Hackney from 2009‐2012 with "729 casualties over this 36 month period of which 616 were slight, 110 resulted in serious injury and 3 were fatal"

The A10
The A102, outside The City Academy school
The A5201

The A1202 
The A107 

We've established that people mainly cycle on the main roads, the majority of accidents happen on the main roads, so Hackney Council need to make the main roads safe for cycling. This does not mean "being open and willing to examine segregation" but should be absolutely the number one priority of this whole plan; the separation of people cycling from buses and lorries on Hackney's main roads. It increases safety and increases the mode share as well.

The plan highlights the A10 as a particularly dangerous roads with a high number of accidents involving people cycling (there were five cycle fatalities along this road in Hackney between 2006-2010), and says that they "will continue to lobby TfL and work with them to resolve the cyclist accident problems along the A10 corridor in Hackney". Except of course TFL wanted to build a cycle superhighway down the A10 but Hackney council blocked it.

Moving on to the delivery strategy where the council talks about principal routes

then on the very next page is a map of the "Hackney cycling programme" where virtually all of the cycle routes drawn on it are on minor roads. Absolutely nothing planned for all of the main roads listed as the most dangerous routes in the previous chapter. We can even see the indirect back route that "Cycle Superhighway 1" is due to take (in light blue) and the large, wide, direct A10 next to it; the road with the highest number of cycling accidents in Hackney which the council blocked the superhighway from going down.

However there is a clear line that runs along Clerkenwell Road, along Old Street and then along Hackney Road to Victoria Park and onto the Olympic Park. This is the proposed West End – Old Street – iCity/Olympic Park Cycle Corridor; at last a proposal to build a cycle route along one of the busiest main roads in the borough. It is a long term project and involves roads that fall under the responsibility of Camden, Islington, TFL, Hackney and Tower Hamlets so will need a lot of co-operation but one to keep a close eye on.

The plan then continues to discuss cycle parking, filtered permeability, cycle hire extension, cycle to school program, cycle training, targeting potential cyclists and cycle promotion, none of which I think I need to elaborate on as I'm sure I've covered all this already and I've taken up more than enough of your time.

Hackney Council can be applauded for some of the measures they have taken to improve cycling in the borough, even if these were generally traffic reduction measures that benefited people cycling. It can be applauded for producing a cycling plan and vowing to include cycling in any future infrastructure projects. However Hackney really needs to sort out the main roads for people cycling. The vast majority of serious accidents and deaths occur on the main roads that carry high volumes of traffic and numerous bus routes. They need to stop being vague and promising "clear space for cyclists" and make it clear what that clear space is. It cannot be 4.5m wide roads, or shared bus lanes, or traffic speed reduction. They need to stop listening to the selfish views of members of the local cycling campaign who declare segregation as "poor quality cycle specific provison" and arrogantly claim it has "no place in Hackney" even though it seems to have royal approval. If you want people from all ages and backgrounds cycling safely then you simply have to separate them from buses and lorries and give people in Hackney a choice. Until the council do this the slaughter of cyclists on the main roads of Hackney will continue.

You can reply to the consultation until 5pm on Friday 24th October. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Hackney Road

Hackney Road is exactly one mile long and runs from Shoreditch to Cambridge Heath along the southern edge of Hackney. According to Hackney council it is the second busiest cycle commuting route into Central London. I have cycled along it twice a day for around ten years and I absolutely hate it. It is without a doubt the worst part of my daily cycle commute.

Before I get on with sharing some pictures of the busiest cycle route from Hackney to the City why not virtually cycle it yourself in this five minute helmet cam clip of someone cycling almost the entire stretch westbound here during tube strike day. The traffic isn't always this bad but can quite often get this way during a "normal" rush hour as was exactly the case when I cycled along this very Wednesday morning due to the closure of Shoreditch High Street.

We'll start at the Shoreditch end of Hackney Road and for those heading into Central London coming to the end of Hackney Road you have two choices; head to Bishopsgate to the left where you have a very thin cycle lane

and an ASL awaiting you. However should you need to carry on to Old Street then you'll need to cross over two lanes of traffic to a junction where there is absolutely no cycle provision at all.

so should you want to leave Hackney Road, the second busiest cycle route into Central London, and continue your journey on towards Clerkenwell Road, the busiest cycle route in London, then you'll just have to mix it with traffic at these traffic lights

if you're cycling East then private hire cabs will be illegally parked up on the TFL red route or Hackney council double yellow lines on the corner pretty much 24/7, pushing you into the middle of the road. You can report it to TFL or Hackney Council if you like, it'll make no difference as neither of them will enforce it here.

passing Columbia Road the council have gone to the trouble of installing a "think bike" sign. You can see it here, just behind the tree on the left.

It would be nice if the council did! Continuing East we then head past our first Tesco on Hackney Road, which has car parking and a very large pavement which could easily accommodate a cycle track. To cycle East past here you pretty much have to cycle directly down the centre of the lane to stay out of the busy Tesco shopping door zone. I've seen many an angry driver here over the years and had plenty of close passes

we then pass the Fellowes Court estate, where again you have to take the lane here due to parking on both sides of the road

not to worry, this is Hackney so thankfully your young children can simply take the free cycle training on offer from the council and take the lane past here

we then continue on towards the junction of Queensbridge Road where there is again no room for a cycle track

and at the Queensbridge road lights the ASL has faded away so much it may as well not be there. Certainly most drivers don't notice it anyway.

Going the other direction towards Central London the ASL has again almost faded away entirely.

This is the spot where the LTDA recorded cyclists jumping red lights last year, choosing this specific spot on the second busiest cycle route into Central London as it was just a "normal" crossroads

once past Queensbridge Road you can then thankfully turn off onto the car free Goldsmith's Row assuming you don't get a puncture first that is

For those of us that don't want to head towards London Fields or Hackney Central we have to continue East into the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and on towards Cambridge Heath where the road is clearly not wide enough to accommodate a cycle track

leaving you at rush hour to either navigate your way through small gaps, like you're playing a buzz wire game, or cycle on the other side of the road

we then pass the RE hotel where Peter McGreal was killed by a lorry whilst cycling in 2011 just after this junction was "improved"

and just a mile and a hair raising five minute cycle later we're at the Eastern end of Hackney Road, where anyone heading towards Hackney Central would have probably already turned off onto Goldsmith's Row by this point so the vast majority are going to be travelling ahead towards Victoria Park. Meaning you have to navigate into the middle of three busy lanes of traffic to access the ASL

that is assuming you can actually get into the ASL in the first place

or heading west you get this beautifully smooth road

The road has been like this for years as Tower Hamlets simply can't afford to fix this during these times of austerity.

No plans exist for cycle tracks along Hackney Road from either Hackney or Tower Hamlets council and no one seems to be asking for it, with both of the local London cycling campaign groups choosing neighbouring roads to concentrate on their "ward asks" instead of what must be the busiest cycle route in their boroughs. Indeed a search through Hackney cycling campaigns website for Hackney Road produces very few results, one of the few I can find is this piece from 2002 where they refer to the old layout of Goldsmith's Row as having an "outdated segregationist approach"

Here's to ten more years of cycling along Hackney Road daily, dodging in an out of the primary position and constantly shoulder checking. Unless I'm with my daughter in which case, like most people travelling along here, we'll be in a car or on the bus.