Friday 4 March 2011

Islington 20 mph zones slammed by cyclist

THE leader of Islington’s largest cycling group, Alison Dines, this week branded the borough’s much-heralded 20mph zones “unenforced and ineffectual”.

She also blames Islington Council for not being as cycle friendly as it should be. “I detect an atmosphere of anti-cycling officialdom. We’re not being consulted on a number of issues. Street barriers are put up, like the one recently in Tufnell Park, and we’re not told about it. We are having to fight against more car parking, which results in dangerous obstacles in roads that are currently cycle friendly.”

“Speeding traffic is not the only problem,” Ms Dines continued. “On top of that, there are the big gyratory systems at Archway, Highbury Corner and Old Street which pose big dangers.”

So far so good. And I'm quite interested to learn that Islington Council (like Waltham Forest Council) is introducing yet more on-street car parking, to the detriment of cyclists. Another sign that London is going backwards, and that the Mayor's feeble and unambitious target of 5% modal share for Greater London by 2026 will not be achieved.

Then, alas, it all goes pear-shaped.

Ms Dines would like to see Islington leading the way for London to become as cycle friendly as many cities in Europe and Scandinavia. “But unfortunately the car still has precedence on our streets and will do for some time.

“People who don’t cycle say they would like to see segregated bike lanes like they do in some European cities.
Unfortunately, it is never going to happen in London because we don’t have the space.”

Which simply isn't true. It's yet another reminder that among the biggest obstacles to cycling ever taking off in London are some leading LCC activists with their parochial prejudices. They endeavour to protect and promote the rights of existing vehicular cyclists but are hopeless at representing the interests of non-cyclists who are prepared to cycle but won't do so in traffic.

And there's no better way of ensuring that cycling infrastructure that works will never happen by insisting that it will never happen. (Presumably Ms. Dines is not acquainted with this.)

Incidentally, cycling's modal share in Islington [Londoners’ trips by borough of origin, trips per day and shares by main mode, average day (seven-day week) 2007/08 to 2009/10] is a risible 3%.

(modal share statistic source)

Some context:

Islington at its widest point is 6.2 miles by 4.4 miles in length

Islington is London's smallest borough, covering an area of just over six square miles.

It's also a borough which is relatively close to the West End.

In other words, cycling ought to be absolutely massive in Islington. But with a car-centric council on the one hand, and an LCC branch resistant even to the idea of Dutch-style infrastructure on the other, cycling is currently languishing, and likely to continue in this condition for the foreseeable future.

If you want a cheap larf, look at the first picture here. This Islington Council document contains a few interesting facts:

The total distance of journeys made by motor vehicles in Islington in 2007 was 477 million kilometres.

• This figure is a slight increase over 2006 (474 million kilometres), although over the last five years the figure has stayed fairly constant, ranging between 489 and 467 million kilometres.

• It is likely that much of the traffic included in this estimate is traffic passing through the borough, particularly as car ownership in Islington is low by national standards; however precise figures are unknown

Around 61% of children walked to school in 2008-09, while 5% cycled, 17% travelled by bus, 13% by car and 5% by other means such as rail.

There was an increase (1.3 percentage points) in the number of children travelling to school by car between 2007-08 and 2008-09. Over this period, the number of children walking or cycling to school increased from 63% to 65%
[a bogus statistic as walking is a robust travel mode, whereas cycling is a fragile one, and conflating the two is meaningless], whilst the number of people travelling to school by bus dropped from 21% to 17%.