This is the response from Brent Cycling Campaign, the local group of London Cycling Campaign, to the consultation over Dudden Hill Lane/Willesden High Road Junction. We represent around 300 supporters and attempt to represent the interests of all who cycle or would like to cycle in NW London.
In the past month or so, we have seen a few schemes coming through that seem to completely ignore the past year and any progressive schemes put forward. This one, just like a few others, appears at odds with the wider, longer-term vision expressed in the Council’s Covid recovery transport plan.
According to the consultation documents, this scheme claims that this work will:
- help reduce congestion by easing traffic movements through the junction, helping to improve bus journey times and reduce the impact from expected increases in traffic levels.
- also help to improve the junction’s road alignment and deliver wider benefits such as improving road safety, accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and creating a better public realm.
1/Induced demand or ‘improving traffic flow’ will not relieve congestion. This really needs to be acknowledged by the council now. There has been enough evidence in the past few decades to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that measures that ‘ease traffic movement’ inevitably lead to more congestion. Congestion is what affects bus reliability and this is due to too many private vehicles on the road. The only way to reduce it is to reduce the volume of private motor traffic, and the only way to do that is to offer safe, convenient, and inclusive alternative modes of transportation.
What “expected increase in traffic levels” are you referring to? Are you saying that you have knowledge of an imminent increase in motor traffic level and that you have decided to make it easier for it to happen? In a post-Covid world and during a climate emergency? In a borough that is regularly singled out for its high level of obesity in children and high diabetes? With some of the worst places for pollution?
2/Please point out to us exactly how this proposal “will also deliver wider benefits such as improving road safety, accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists and creating a better public realm” as claimed? What was the score in the Junction Assessment Tool?
Any scheme put forward that does not include some provision – especially at junctions and especially at a destination such as a high street – to protect and support people choosing to cycle and therefore alleviating congestion, is simply not a genuine attempt to tackle the urgent issues arising from urban living and transport. And certainly does not align with the principles of Gear Change, Healthy Streets, and any other policy documents published by the Council over public health, air quality, climate emergency, walking, and cycling.
Where is the council’s attempt to meet the latest guidance, most specifically Chapter 10 of the LTN 1/20 which stipulates: “It is essential that the needs of cyclists are taken into account in the design of all new and improved junctions, not just those on designated cycle routes, and that crossings are provided where cycle routes continue across busy highways. Safety is vital, but junctions and crossings should also enable cyclists to negotiate them in comfort without undue delay or deviation. Junctions should be designed to enable cycle movements in all permitted directions“. All that space taken by islands and hatchings could be far better used if it was reallocated to walking and cycling.
A staggered pedestrian crossing does not signal ‘safety and comfort for pedestrians, it means your needs are second to those driving. There are no benefits as it will cement their place in public realm terms for years to come (hint: second to motor traffic). Please do try it, preferably with children in tow and a pushchair, and see how it feels to wait there in the middle of moving traffic and breathing in all the toxic fumes. No feelings of comfort, just relief when you finally make it onto the other side. Given that the biggest danger to pedestrians is motor vehicles, this is just not a serious attempt to address the cause of danger.
We welcome the removal of the guardrail. Tactile paving on a crossing is the bare minimum but won’t make it that much easier for visually impaired people to cross a road so wide that it requires a refuge from danger halfway through.
I would also refer you to the latest Travel in London report which shows that in the last three years in Brent, shopping trips by public transport represented 20%, and for walking and cycling it was 40%. That is 60% of trips not made by private motor vehicles. And yet, improving motor traffic flow is not only what this proposal focuses on, but there is no serious attempt to make it better for people cycling and walking, even though it is well established that this is an inherent part of reducing congestion. Why?
We oppose this scheme and we really would like to see some basic principles applied at policy level that individual schemes have to abide by and to stop seeing schemes conceived in isolation that negate any progress made elsewhere.
Sylvia is the current Brent Cycling Campaign Coordinator. She is a Cricklewood resident and a cargobike mum of two.