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Hackney Council forced to backpedal on cycle quietway trial

Local opposition has forced the council to rethink how best to reduce traffic on what will become one of London's cycling "quietways"...

Hackney Council has been forced to back pedal on a proposed trial closure of 13 junctions, designed to cut rat running and encourage more walking and cycling, following vociferous local opposition to the scheme.

Hackney Council was originally going to trial the scheme before consultation, so people could see the changes before making up their minds about it, but was forced to abandon this plan amid fierce opposition and will now consult on a number of options first.

The proposed three month trial closure of a handful of streets around London Fields, on what will become a quietway for cyclists, attracted coverage in national newspapers and hundreds of signatures for petitions on both sides, and became a flashpoint for residents, with some reporting sabotage and online trolling following their involvement in campaigns to support the scheme.

Sabotage, trolling and threats as Hackney rat run row turns nasty

At a council meeting attended by road.cc and around 350 residents and campaigners on Monday, some local people complained of a lack of consultation from the Council while others said the scheme was biased towards cycling. Concerns were also raised over the threat cyclists pose to pedestrians and potential negative effects on the community of closing streets to through traffic.

Following the meeting Kim Wright, Hackney Council’s Corporate Director of Health and Community Services, told road.cc: “The Council had planned to trial a road closure scheme in the new year and consult residents at the same time. However, due to very strong feeling on both sides and the high levels of public interest, the Council will instead hold a full public consultation, starting in January, which will allow residents to have their say on a number of options, before any decisions are made.

“The data will be independently analysed by a market research organisation, to ensure that residents can have full confidence in the integrity of the analysis. We hope we can move forward in the new year with something that has broad public support.”

Attendees were angry about aggressive cycling in the area, and questioned why cyclists, a small minority of road users, were being given so much attention, while some failed to see there is a problem with traffic in the area to begin with.

In Hackney more people commute by bike than by car, and the Council has set a target that a quarter of all Hackney commutes are made by bike by 2024. It also wants to encourage more people to walk and cycle more, and to reduce air pollution, which more than 20,000 school children in the borough are exposed to.  

The London Fields area under question, specifically Middleton Road, will form part of a Transport for London (TfL) funded “quietway” from Bloomsbury to Walthamstow, primarily along the existing London Cycle Network route, which has existed since the early 2000s.

Under criteria set out by TfL, in order for a quietway to feel safe for less confident cyclists the route needs less than 2000 vehicles using it per day. Hackney Council traffic count data shows Middleton Road has an average of between 3800 and 4600 vehicles along different sections of the route.

The trial 13 junction closures were originally planned to reduce some of this traffic, and now Wright says the council will put forward different options to meet TfL standards and one of its own key objectives, which is to “reduce non-essential private car journeys and reduce the impact of through traffic”.

Monday’s meeting was originally due to take place last month but had to be relocated to a larger venue following an unprecedented high turnout - normally Hackney Council ward meetings attract around 20 attendees. The council will use residents’ ideas and points raised to help shape the consultation. 

Wright says Hackney Council recognises as more residents choose to cycle conflict, both real and perceived, will increase, and says it will seek to address these issues, adding “the safety and comfort of pedestrians and vulnerable road users is our highest priority.”

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19 comments

Avatar
Bob's Bikes | 8 years ago
2 likes

I take it that when the council next has a public consultation they only allow LOCALS in. Because I think the only people who are going to object to this trial are the car owners/drivers using these roads as rat runs and they're the minority when it comes to that area.

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thereverent | 8 years ago
1 like

I bet the majority of the people complaining live just outside the area affected, but use it to rat run themselves (similar to the Loughborough Junction protests).

Hackney might have done better to sell it as an anti-rat running measure and got support first from the people on those streets (who like rat running traffic outside their house). Hopefully the residents of these streets will now lobby Hackney council for the filtering, as they would be the losers from the scheme being delayed.

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RedfishUK | 8 years ago
1 like

Perhaps the Council should have been a bit more inclusive about the scheme. Call it a cycling scheme and everyone who doesn't cycle feel it is something for someone else that is being imposed on them (and yes it is a sad reflection of how selfish people tend to be)

Why not combine all the benefits, reduction of traffic, making it safer for children to play and go to school, make it easier to walk to the shops/station and make it easier to cycle.

This is a much bigger potential coalition of supporters, all of whom now feel they have a stake.

There will always be the odd loser, eg you live next to a new barrier and have to make a detour to get home, but if you can get enough support then you can over come that. 

Avatar
teaboy replied to RedfishUK | 8 years ago
4 likes
RedfishUK wrote:

There will always be the odd loser, eg you live next to a new barrier and have to make a detour to get home, but if you can get enough support then you can over come that. 

No, you have to make a detour to DRIVE home. The roads are not "blocked" preventing all movement.

It's pretty much the same as the 5p plastic bag charge thing - people up in arms about it beforehand, then realising that they're perfectly capable of adjusting their behaviour to something more sensible under the 'new' conditions. 

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JohnAc | 8 years ago
1 like

Not having a trial is a very great pity and a lost opportunity.  But even if Jan Gehl was there presenting the scheme at the public meeting, it would have been hard to change the minds of most of the self-selecting people in the hall. 

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bumble | 8 years ago
1 like

stupid wins, again.

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P3t3 | 8 years ago
1 like

Must have been a half-decent scheme if it attracted that much backlash!  Bit weak of the council not to press ahead with a trial.  Even chopping it down to 1 month duration would have made been better.  

It is only a trial after all, the point about a trial is you don't have to make it permanent if it isn't better than what is there now.  

Now they will waste loads of money on a public consultation and external contractors.  Nightmare waste of money, just do the fekin trial!!!!

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SimonS | 8 years ago
1 like

"others said the scheme was biased towards cycling"

It's a *cycling* scheme - what did they expect?  Of course - the norm - for this cycling scheme we've opitimised car parking and vehicle flows so that any people on bikes foolish enough to use the road won't get in anyone's way. 

 

There's a standard list of these objections - the problem is that councils are taking notice of them.  How much consultation is there for changes to the road network that are 'biased towards cars'?  How many road schemes are 'imposed on us'?

 

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brooksby | 8 years ago
5 likes

I don't know the area, so please forgive me if I'm missing something, but how can there be "negative impact on the community" by discouraging through traffic? I didn't think anyone is proposing a 50 foot wall around the area, just more one way roads and filtered permeability. To make it harder to rat-run. Y'know: rat-running, which is a bad thing on the road you live on but absolutely necessary on the roads you drive through to get to work. Apparently.

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alotronic replied to brooksby | 8 years ago
4 likes
brooksby wrote:

I don't know the area, so please forgive me if I'm missing something, but how can there be "negative impact on the community" by discouraging through traffic? I didn't think anyone is proposing a 50 foot wall around the area, just more one way roads and filtered permeability. To make it harder to rat-run. Y'know: rat-running, which is a bad thing on the road you live on but absolutely necessary on the roads you drive through to get to work. Apparently.

 

Well you'd think that wouldn't you?

I watched my local community go at each others throats recently in Walthamstow Mini Holland over this and it can get very ugly very fast.

Basically it's not about cycling it's about libertarian car drivers being incensed that they have to change their behaviour and sacrifice their freedom in favour of non-car methods of travel. One of my friends, a perfectly reasonable left-wing  arty type, were incensed that it was taking them 5 minutes longer to do the monthly run to the rubbish depot. Classic nimby stuff. Never mind that their children were going to be safer...

There are plenty of arguments they pitch in, like emergency vechicle access and increased traffic on main roads.  That last one seems ridiculous but now *all* slowdowns in our area are apparently the fault of cyclists. Everything is true on Twitter right?

I was actually quite neutral on MIni Holland, but now that's its in place it's amazing. I stood in the middle of my own road the other night - which has just had one end closed - No arses in beemers running at 30mph down a narrow residential street... truly fantastic. They might have had their liberty infringed but the benefit to the neighbourhood is going to be great and I suspect that even the nay-sayers will soften up over time.

But it is a bloody and illogical fight, make no mistake.

 

 

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bikebot replied to alotronic | 8 years ago
1 like
alotronic wrote:

I watched my local community go at each others throats recently in Walthamstow Mini Holland over this and it can get very ugly very fast.

As my local miniholland is Kingston, I envy you. They've taken forever to get even one scheme underway, I rode past it yesterday and finally saw that about 100m of curb was being dug up on the Portsmouth Rd.  

Nothing else seems to be moving forward.  I think some of the councillors have seen the Walthamstow and Enfield battles, and would rather the whole thing went away.

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alotronic replied to bikebot | 8 years ago
1 like
bikebot wrote:
alotronic wrote:

I watched my local community go at each others throats recently in Walthamstow Mini Holland over this and it can get very ugly very fast.

As my local miniholland is Kingston, I envy you. They've taken forever to get even one scheme underway, I rode past it yesterday and finally saw that about 100m of curb was being dug up on the Portsmouth Rd.  

Nothing else seems to be moving forward.  I think some of the councillors have seen the Walthamstow and Enfield battles, and would rather the whole thing went away.

Yes, you have to have some people in the council who are prepared to push very hard indeed. Credit to Waltham Forest (who used to be awful) who have really got their act together in the last couple of years.

It's one of those things (like bombng syria) where the politicos have to actually take a stand, which seems to be troubling for them!

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P3t3 replied to alotronic | 8 years ago
0 likes
alotronic wrote:

I was actually quite neutral on MIni Holland, but now that's its in place it's amazing. I stood in the middle of my own road the other night - which has just had one end closed - No arses in beemers running at 30mph down a narrow residential street... truly fantastic. They might have had their liberty infringed but the benefit to the neighbourhood is going to be great and I suspect that even the nay-sayers will soften up over time.

But it is a bloody and illogical fight, make no mistake.

 

Do you think enough residents are of the same mind as you are?  If enough of them are then it needs to be heard.  Surely you need to be giving the feedback to the council that they made local residents happy making these changes.  

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Housecathst | 8 years ago
6 likes

Wow, selfish motorists are selfish, who'd have guessed ? 

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mrchrispy | 8 years ago
7 likes

I reckon they should introduce a 6 lane urban clearway right though the middle of the place then.  I'm sure they'll soon change their tune

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ibike | 8 years ago
10 likes

How can cyclists be "a small minority of road users" and at the same time "more people commute by bike than by car"?

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Dnnnnnn replied to ibike | 8 years ago
1 like
ibike wrote:

How can cyclists be "a small minority of road users" and at the same time "more people commute by bike than by car"?

There will be lots of other car (and van, truck, bus) journeys, as well as pedestrians, which aren't journeys to work. I suspect that cycling does relatively well in its commuting share but less well in others (and it was only 15% of commuters in the last Census)

Travel to work (by any mode) accounted for only 20% of total distance travelled in 2014 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/nts04-purpose-of-trips

Avatar
JonD replied to Dnnnnnn | 8 years ago
1 like
Duncann wrote:
ibike wrote:

How can cyclists be "a small minority of road users" and at the same time "more people commute by bike than by car"?

There will be lots of other car (and van, truck, bus) journeys, as well as pedestrians, which aren't journeys to work. I suspect that cycling does relatively well in its commuting share but less well in others (and it was only 15% of commuters in the last Census)

Travel to work (by any mode) accounted for only 20% of total distance travelled in 2014 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/nts04-purpose-of-trips

Poor use of countrywide figures - and long distance journeys -which could typically be going out of a city - will skew the figures in an unrepresentative fashion. In London the number of commuters in morning/evening rush hour is huge, and much of it by public transport - owning a car in central (or not even that central) London is a PITA - congestion aside you have to park it at both ends of your journey. ...good luck with that ! Not to mention trying to drive there is a bloody silly idea.

In any case, wasn't Hackney one of the boroughs with the highest cycle commuter peak ?

Avatar
Dnnnnnn replied to JonD | 8 years ago
0 likes
JonD wrote:
Duncann wrote:
ibike wrote:

How can cyclists be "a small minority of road users" and at the same time "more people commute by bike than by car"?

There will be lots of other car (and van, truck, bus) journeys, as well as pedestrians, which aren't journeys to work. I suspect that cycling does relatively well in its commuting share but less well in others (and it was only 15% of commuters in the last Census)

Travel to work (by any mode) accounted for only 20% of total distance travelled in 2014 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/nts04-purpose-of-trips

Poor use of countrywide figures - and long distance journeys -which could typically be going out of a city - will skew the figures in an unrepresentative fashion. In London the number of commuters in morning/evening rush hour is huge, and much of it by public transport - owning a car in central (or not even that central) London is a PITA - congestion aside you have to park it at both ends of your journey. ...good luck with that ! Not to mention trying to drive there is a bloody silly idea. In any case, wasn't Hackney one of the boroughs with the highest cycle commuter peak ?

It's reasonable to call out the England-wide and distance-based nature of that data. But even if you look at Inner London-specific data and for trips (not distance), the % of daily trips that are for commuting is still c.20% (Fig 2.5 http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-travel-demand-survey-report.pdf). 

Hackney is a bit different again, of course, as it does indeed have more cycle than car commuters. For *all* trips though, I couldn't find very recent data but Tables 8.2, 8.3 (http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-travel-demand-survey.pdf) suggests that when looking at overall traffic, cars still account for far more trips than bikes.

I agree that owning a car in inner London would be a PITA, which is why I (and most others) don't.

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