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Westminster City Council "ignoring cycle safety concerns"

In a recent consultation on a major cycle link Westminster Council separated out cycling responses and discounted them, while ignoring 'critical' safety failures raised...

Westminster City Council has been accused of ignoring ‘critical failures’ over cycling safety and of ignoring hundreds of consultation responses from cyclists relating to the overhaul of a major one-way system in Central London.

The Baker Street two-way project will be a key cycling route between Oxford Street and Cycle Superhighway 11. However, the London Cycling Campaign is calling on Transport for London (TfL) not to fund the scheme because of several “critical failures” according to TfL's own assessment criteria, including left hook risks for cyclists, on the route, and the fact the scheme is “capacity neutral” for motor traffic, meaning cycles will mix with heavy traffic on intermittent, part time bike lanes, where those exist.

By separating cycling responses, which were 28 per cent of all responses to a consultation, which ran February to March 2016, and then effectively discounting them, Westminster City Council has been able to claim a majority support for the scheme, which was opposed by between 32 and 51 per cent of respondents, and only partially supported by residents.

Westminster City Council's Baker Street plans mysteriously lacking cycling provision

The London Cycling Campaign’s Infrastructure Campaigner, Simon Munk, told road.cc: “Baker Street’s two-way project removes a massive one-way system, but by choosing the scheme to be ‘capacity neutral’ to motor traffic as the prime concern, Westminster have ensured the area will remain a huge barrier to cycling. Junctions retain hook risks, motor vehicle volume remains very high and there is no real space for cycling proposed – just a few time-limited painted lanes.”

The scheme will see cycle lanes on key routes, including Gloucester Place, introduced, which cease to exist at junctions and at bus stops, and are only in operation 7am-7pm. The scheme also boasts Advanced Stop Boxes for people on bikes, and more cycle parking.

This was the second round of consultation on the Baker Street two-way scheme after safety concerns were raised over the original proposals, including over cycling and pedestrian provision.

Munk says while the second phase dealt with some left hook risks, it introduced others, and asserts Westminster City Council has dismissed critical safety fails on parts of the scheme, according to Transport for London’s own Cycling Level of Service assessment tool. He says the scheme, which covers an 800m by 300m area around Baker Street, including 13 junctions, is of strategic importance for London but the current proposal “risks locking in poor provision for years, possibly decades”.

“Given residents, businesses and visitors have all variously said they don’t want it, it is baffling that Westminster and its partners have chosen to push ahead with the scheme. Instead, we call on them to work to create a bolder scheme that works better for everyone.”

Gloucester Place Baker Street two way (Google Streetview)

Current one-way layout on Gloucester Place. Plans will be 'capacity neutral' for motor traffic, with part time painted lanes for cycling 

An emergency motion was proposed at the LCC’s AGM last weekend to call on Transport for London not to fund the scheme, which LCC says is against London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s stated agenda to make London a more people-friendly city and reduce motor traffic.

Munk said: “All too often, TfL has funded weak schemes with too many barriers or dangerous points for cycling and walking – because some boroughs don’t like cycling. In that case, it can be better to get no scheme, and spend the money elsewhere.”

Ben Plowden, TfL’s Director of Surface Strategy and Planning, told road.cc: “Westminster City Council's Baker Street two-way scheme will provide an important north-south route for cyclists on Gloucester Place, linking the Central London Cycle Grid with the proposed Cycle Superhighway 11.

“Cycling forms a core part of the council’s project and it includes cycle lanes up to two-metres wide on Gloucester Place, advanced stop lines at junctions and cycle-specific traffic lights, which will give cyclists a head start to vehicles.”

TfL says it will make a final decision on the amount of funding it will award the scheme towards the end of the year.

Westminster Council criticised for "mind boggling" road casualty figures after die in for second cyclist killed on its streets this year

Westminster Council noted a higher opposition than support for new proposals at five locations across the consultation, which is broken down by junction. However, when removing consultation responses from visitors to the area, most of whom were cyclists, voicing concerns suggested by the London Cycling Campaign, there was a higher support for the schemes.

Baker Street two way consultation cycle v residents responses

 

Example of separated cycle and residents' responses from Westminster City Council's Baker Street two-way consultation report

An extract from Westminster City Council’s consultation report, on the junction of Taunton Place and the A41 Gloucester Place Junction, says: “Across the total responses to this question, 20% strongly support the alternative proposed design, with 16% saying they tend to support it. However, there are a higher proportion of respondents who oppose the alternative proposed design with 43% of those who responded saying they strongly oppose it, while 4% said they tend to oppose it."

Those responses include objections based on cycling, which made up 25 per cent of the total, and which the council went on to exclude in the following paragraph, the figures it based its decision on.

“When we analyse the responses excluding those who oppose the proposals due to cycling, we see a very different picture, with far higher support. 28% of these respondents strongly support the alternative proposed design, with 21% saying they tend to support it. A far lower proportion oppose the alternative proposed design, with 25% saying they strongly oppose it and 3% saying they tend to oppose it.”

The next phase of the scheme involves Westminster City Council consulting on parking and loading bays.

Westminster Cyclists, Regents Park Cyclists and Westminster Living Streets are now seeking to ‘engage very strongly’ with Westminster City Council on its concerns, according to Munk.

Cllr Robert Davis, MBE DL, Deputy Leader & Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for the Built Environment and Chairman of Planning, told road.cc: “Westminster City Council has taken the decision to press ahead with the next stage of the landmark Baker Street Two Way project. As part of this, we will be carrying out a detailed design and traffic order consultation.

“Many local residents and businesses contributed to the last round of consultation, which helped to inform our work going forward in tackling a number of important issues, including cycling facilities, increased accessibility and a reduction in traffic speed.

“The views of cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign were included in the consultation response report, and we have also responded to specific issues raised by cyclists, including ‘critical fail’ widths, ‘left hook’ risks and ‘segregated cycle lanes’. These comments led us to propose a number of changes, as seen in our recently published Cabinet Member Report.

“The proposals include the introduction of two-metre wide mandatory cycle lanes on either side of the carriageway on Gloucester Place and straight across crossings on Marylebone Road. In addition, the proposed cycling facilities on Gloucester Place will significantly help the connection with quiet way routes on George Street and Crawford Street.” 

In an email to respondents of the Baker Street two-way consultation, Cllr Davis said the plans would help improve traffic flow while ensuring a safer travelling experience for all, and would "create a more connected and welcoming area for residents, businesses and visitors".

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9 comments

Avatar
psling | 292 posts | 6 years ago
1 like

What exactly does capacity neutral to motor traffic mean? Anyone?

(I like to think of myself as reasonably well educated but that one has got me beaten so I bow to those with a greater understanding of such modern parlance).

Avatar
StuInNorway replied to psling | 417 posts | 6 years ago
2 likes

psling wrote:

What exactly does capacity neutral to motor traffic mean? Anyone?

(I like to think of myself as reasonably well educated but that one has got me beaten so I bow to those with a greater understanding of such modern parlance).

 

It means "We as a council are too scared to suggest removing even a single lane metre of 'motor traffic lanes' in our burough as the BMW X5 owners 'must get darling to school'

In other words, move lanes around so 2 previouslly 1 way roads are 2 way and do bugger all else. Oh yeah, we'll paint in a few part time cycle lanes with magic paint to proect them from the mums in SUVs who can't drive and will ignore active times on cycle lane paint.

Avatar
Username | 247 posts | 6 years ago
1 like

Westminster team meeting: "Hmmn, if we ignore the answers we don't like, then the consultation response will support our aims".

Avatar
Caspar | 9 posts | 6 years ago
0 likes

"When we analyse the responses excluding those who oppose the proposals due to cycling, we see a very different picture, with far higher support". 

Can we run the same consultation again and clearly delineate each transport mode then remove the drivers responses and act on that data?

Why is this even possibly, surely you can manipulate the outcomes to suit your view if you exclude the responses that don't support your desired changes.

 

Avatar
wycombewheeler | 4053 posts | 6 years ago
2 likes

Official cyclists are nit real people in Westminster so their views and safety concerns can be ignored.

Seems a but like the republicans pointing out Trump would win if we ignore the views of women.

Shameful.

Avatar
dand_uk | 5 posts | 6 years ago
2 likes

Next time I will be responding as a resident of London and objecting on air quality and climate change grounds. Hopefully then my objection won't be ignored completely.

Avatar
Hamster | 135 posts | 6 years ago
2 likes

A clever lawyer type could probably prove incompetence from that approach to survey answers. Just saying...

Avatar
burtthebike | 3438 posts | 6 years ago
3 likes

Unfortunately, Westminster are hardly alone in their hypocritical support of cycling in words, and their complete opposition in deeds, and many other councils throughout the UK do exactly the same, including my own South Gloucestershire.

What is needed is government action to ensure that all new highway schemes improve things for cyclists, but despite thirty years of great speeches and declarations of intent, very little changes, with many schemes making life more difficult and dangerous for cyclists.  Even when the council's own policies are directly contravened, there is no way to hold the council to account, and failing to carry out your own policies is not a matter the ombudsman is interested in.

We also need much firmer rules about not increasing risk to cyclists in road schemes, as the current situation makes it almost impossible to take action against authorities which ignore their duty of care to cyclists, including councils and Highways England.  They can make roads more dangerous for cyclists, fail to ensure that proper Road Safety Audits or Non-Motorised User Reviews are carried out, and just ignore any protests.

Avatar
emishi55 | 201 posts | 6 years ago
4 likes

“Cycling forms a core part of the council’s project and it includes cycle lanes up to two-metres wide on Gloucester Place, advanced stop lines at junctions and cycle-specific traffic lights, which will give cyclists a head start to vehicles.”

What more could any seventy year old wanting to have a go at cycling through the capital, or a mum deciding to try riding with her kids to school or a museum, ask for?

There are places in Wesminster where a few metres of segregated track exist. These generally flow staight into multi-lane environments, with LGVs, HGVs, buses, taxis and all the rest competing to meet their own deadlines on routes that still permit driving at 30mph.

 

Councillors at Westminster doing a grand job at keeping cycling effectively bannd in their borough.

The E-W CS route went in despite the outlook of these people still holding office, not because of.

 

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