This is our response to the consultation on this document 15 January 2021.
This is the response from Brent Cycling Campaign, the local group of the London Cycling Campaign. We represent about 200 members who live in the borough, and try to represent the interests of all those who cycle or would like to cycle in this part of London.
Our comments concentrate on the Transport Theme. We agree with the general approach of the strategy, and with the transport targets to halve petrol and diesel road journeys and achieve a doubling in walking and a 5-fold increase in cycling by 2030. Unfortunately we do not think the detailed measures and targets listed will be sufficient to achieve these objectives.
To achieve the targets for cycling and walking very significant infrastructure change will be required in a very short time, that there is, of yet, little sign of even starting. The council needs to stop promoting and start enabling: telling people ‘cycle or walk more’, does not work, while the general environment remains a barrier to most people cycling, and, to a lesser extent, a barrier to them walking as much as they should.
One critical point is that we need safe, convenient and inclusive infrastructure to enable people cycling and walking to cross the North Circular Road. This is the biggest barrier we have in Brent and responsible for stark differences in cycling uptake between the North and South of the Borough. This is such a large issue for the borough that any credible Brent plan for transport needs to address it specifically.
Other dangerous and congested main roads constitute barriers to cycling and are best dealt with by reallocation of space to create segregated cycle lanes or tracks. That the strategy does not specifically mention these measures is unacceptable A clear strategy would state how many miles of high-quality cycle infrastructure will be built each year to 2030, and would give a target for residents’ average distance from a high-quality cycle route in 2030 (e.g. 100% of residents to live within 1 km, or 500 m, of a high quality cycle route).
A further strand that the strategy should specifically discuss is removal of traffic from minor and residential roads by well-understood means such as traffic filtering, use of bus gates, and strategically-planned one-way systems (with cycle exceptions) to create Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (Healthy Neighbourhoods). Targets are needed to ensure all parts of the borough are covered by these by 2030.
The cheapest and quickest way to enable people to walk and cycle more is to reduce the number of cars on the road, and to reduce the need for cars, which requires integration of all land-use planning with transport and climate objectives, an area where Brent has fallen far short in the past. All new developments should incorporate first-class walking and cycling infrastructure, but it is easy to quote recent and current developments in Brent that do not. Recognising that this process is currently failing would provide a basis for improvement. Car-free developments are the right way forward but require the transport alternatives to be obvious and natural choices. The strategy needs to recognise that electric vehicles are not ‘the’ answer, only a small part thereof, because they are not zero-emissions.
It is vital to get the younger generation into low-carbon transport habits. As such, enabling walking and cycling to schools, and actually preventing children being driven to schools, is critical. There is an ongoing programme of School Streets, where inessential traffic is removed from outside schools, and this should be covered, with targets for extending it to all schools in the borough. The School Travel Plans mentioned on p. 32 are not the same thing as true School Streets at all, and are failing to deliver the change needed.
The Strategy identifies ‘lack of coordinated action’ as a major challenge, but only aims to address this by ‘linking like-minded groups and individuals together’. This rather passive-sounding approach is inadequate to the emergency. The council needs to address how it can persuade or force the involvement of groups and individuals who are reluctant to participate.