Kingsbury Road plans need a re-think

Following the advent of the Carlton Vale cycle scheme in Kilburn, we have also been hoping to get a similar high-quality cycling scheme in the north of the borough, and last year consultancy Urban Movement produced an excellent redesign of Kingsbury Road incorporating segregated cycle tracks on both sides (to replace the current short, ineffective pavement track on one side).

We are therefore disappointed to see that the current consultation proposes provision that falls far short of this, with a layout (below) that implies just painted advisory lanes in between parking and moving traffic. The huge (30 metre) width of this road means it should be possible to get an optimum solution for all traffic here, and we are urgently seeking discussions to try to get this plan improved.

In the mean time we ask supporters to fill out the survey (by 7 April) by clicking on the link above, disagreeing with the scheme, and commenting that ‘The cycle tracks should be properly segregated and placed inside the parking, with bypasses provided at the bus stops’.

Kingsbury Road Public Realm Improvements Scheme

This is a response to this consultation, that closed on 7 April 2017.

This is the response from Brent Cyclists, the Brent Group of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC). We represent around 200 members in Brent, and aim to represent the interests of all who cycle or would like to cycle in NW London. We have discussed this scheme at a meeting, and agreed our response.

We would like to see a scheme in Kingsbury Road that provides properly segregated cycle tracks on both sides of the road. This route is a clear cycling desire-line, and features as a ‘short to medium-term link’ in Brent’s Cycle Strategy 2016-21 (p8). Hence it is essential that the opportunity is taken now to upgrade cycle provision on Kingsbury Road to the best standard.

The current consultation appears confused over what cycle provision is actually proposed, but as parking is located inside the cycle lanes or tracks, cars must cross them, so this is not quality, segregated cycle provision that is being proposed. Despite the provision of a buffer zone alongside the parked cars, the space between parked cars and large moving vehicles like buses is not an attractive, inclusive cycling environment that will support Brent’s policy objectives of widening participation in cycling. The design is not in accordance with our (LCC’s) standard for cycle routes, which is that we require physical segregation if motor vehicle flows are higher than 2000 Passenger Car Units per day. Also the design would score zero under the ‘Collision risk’ and ‘Feeling of safety’ categories in the Cycle Level of Service Assessment (TfL London Cycle Design Standards Chapter 2), so it is definitely not an optimum scheme for cycling. An existing segregated cycle track will be removed to create this scheme, so we feel it is actually retrograde.

We believe an optimal solution for cycling should be possible here because of the very great total width of the road (30m between buildings). Also the scale of reconstruction proposed suggests that the budget for the scheme should be capable of stretching to this.The distribution of space shown in the proposed Kingsbury Road cross-sction is quite actually good, but the spaces need rearranging. The parking needs to be located between the carriageway and the cycle tracks, protecting the cycle tracks. Cycle tracks should pass behind bus-stop bypass islands at the bus stops so the paths of cyclists and buses do not cross. The need to interact with buses in this way is one of the most off-putting aspects of cycling on roads for most people. We think there is space here for the general traffic lanes, for the parking, for two 0.5m segregation islands, and clear 2m wide cycle tracks on both sides, still preserving very ample pavement space.

There are welcome features in these proposals, such as the 20mph limit, the traffic -calming features and decluttering. But essentially the planned redistribution of space amounts to removal of the existing short segregated cycle track, putting cyclists on the carriageway with little or no protection, and moving parking on to the pavements. This is not welcome to us. We would also question the need for the scale of on-street parking envisaged, when there is an off-street car park behind the shops on the south side. In this supposed ‘public realm scheme’, the quality of the public realm created would be improved by minimising the on-street parking, though this is not essential to achieving good cycling infrastructure.

Response to Brent’s Air Quality Action Plan

This is our response to the consultation on Brent’s Air Quality Action Plan, concluded 30 March 2017.

How do you feel about air quality in Brent?

This response is from Brent Cyclists, the local group in Brent of the London Cycling Campaign. We believe air quality in Brent is poor.

In your opinion, are there other actions the council should include in the plan?

The council should create a comprehensive network of safe cycle routes

Please tell us what you like most about Brent’s Air Quality Action plan and why?

Reducing vehicle use associated with schools (p5)

Please tell us what you least like about Brent’s Air Quality Action plan and why?

The lack of detail and basic failure to engage with the necessity of reducing the use of motor vehicles in the borough are major problems with this plan.

Air quality will not be significantly improved without reducing motor traffic. The key to doing this is to create the conditions where people feel they do not need to use cars for journeys of less than 5 miles. The only entirely non-polluting mode of transport that can fill this gap is cycling. Though the ‘Summary Document’ mentions at the beginning ‘active travel such as walking and cycling’, the plan itself, extraordinarily, makes no mention of any strategy to transfer journeys to walking and cycling. It is thus left with a huge hole.

Words like ‘weak’, ‘nondescript’, ‘noncommittal’ and ‘meaningless’ come to mind when reviewing the actions outlined in this plan. It is almost totally lacking in measurable actions and targets.

The use of the term ‘green infrastructure’ is confusing. When we talk of ‘green infrastructure’ we mean infrastructure to allow active travel. This plan uses the term to mean barriers to contain pollution, not infrastructure that will enable people to change their travel behaviour so as to reduce pollution.

We can’t really see the rationale for any part of the borough being outside the ‘Air quality management area’.

The plan is all ’promoting’, not ‘enabling’ and not ‘enforcing’. For example, one elementary start to creating better conditions for active travel would be to make the entire borough a 20mph zone, but nothing like this is mentioned. Another measure might be to exclude motor traffic from roads round schools, ending the school run by car. But there is no sign of anything meaningfully impactful like this in the plan. School travel plan schemes on the roads in the past have been trivial and ineffective, and there is no sign here of this changing.

It is not really clear what Action 13 (planning controls) means. Does the requirement for new development to be ‘air quality neutral’ include all the transport impacts? It is hard to see how any development could ever have no impact on local air pollution unless it is accompanied by major mitigating cycling, walking and public transport infrastructure, which has never (so far) occurred in Brent.

The key to getting more cycling is to provide safe infrastructure for it, and this involves, to large extent, making political choices about how road space is used that are very different from the ones currently made. The plan makes no attempt to engage with this central issue.

This plan as it is definitely will not lead to a significant improvement in air quality in Brent.

In your opinion, how can the council help residents play their part in improving air quality in Brent?

By taking practical measures to make it the obvious and attractive option to cycle journeys of less than 5 miles, as outlined above.

 

Christchurch Avenue / Brondesbury Park Junction

This is the response of Brent Cyclists to this consultation. This change was proposed by Brent in response to our Space for Cycling Campaign (the Ward Ask for Brondesbury Park) and the location was also one of our ‘Top 10 Quick Win’ suggestions. Continue reading “Christchurch Avenue / Brondesbury Park Junction”