Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Cycling and Coronavirus

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, last week Ealing Cycling Campaign suspended its social rides. Yesterday (23 March) the Prime Minister announced further restrictions. The main requirement is to stay at home. You can cycle to shop for basic essentials, but only when you really need to. You can cycle to work – but only where this is absolutely necessary. You can cycle for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or to deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person. And finally, you are allowed to take one form of exercise a day, including cycling. In all cases, you must keep at least two metres away from other people. Cycle shops are considered an essential retail outlet and will remain open.

The new advice is in contrast to Italy, which banned recreational cycling on March 9, and Spain which prohibited it on March 14  - in part through fears that cycle-related injuries would add a further burden to over-stretched hospitals. The policy here is closer to that in the Netherlands where cycling is still allowed and cycle shops remain open.

In practice, it is easier to keep two metres away from other people by riding a bicycle on the road, than it is by walking along the pavement. There is a problem on narrow paths, such as the canal towpath, where it is not possible to stick to this rule, so cyclists should probably keep to the roads at this critical time. Fortunately, there are very few motor vehicles about.

Cycle shops reported booming business last weekend. If you're new to cycling or returning to it, London Cycling Campaign has some tips for cycling during the coronavirus crisis.

Cycling UK updated its guidance yesterday:

"It remains advisable for people to cycle for their health, fitness and well-being, but in line with our previous guidance, you should only do this alone or with members of your household unless any of them have reason to self-isolate.

Under no circumstance should you cycle or take part in any cycling activity in groups.

This is critical to stop the coronavirus disease spreading between households.

We are also advising that anyone who needs to travel to work if it’s absolutely necessary should consider cycling to avoid using public transport, where possible.

Cycling should also be considered as the best means of transport when essential shopping for food for medicines

The guidance for avoiding contamination remains unchanged, keeping at least two metres away from anyone else, regularly washing your hands and catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and throwing them away immediately. See further advice on the NHS website."


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Wednesday, 18 March 2020

A Bridge too Small



High Speed Two (HS2) has submitted planning applications for its station at Old Oak Common, but hasn’t included a safe access route for cyclists. Instead of segregated cycle lanes, which are specified in the planning guidelines, cyclists will have to share the only access road, Old Oak Common Lane (above), with motor vehicles. The reason - HS2's new bridge over the road won't be wide enough for cycle tracks.

HS2's illustration of Old Oak Common Station

Old Oak Common Station will be a major transport hub, linking HS2 to a brand new Great Western main line station and the new Elizabeth Line. It will be the centrepiece of the Old Oak and Park Royal development, the largest regeneration project in the UK. This huge, 650-hectare area is supposed to be cycle friendly. Its Local Plan specifically calls for the “widening [of] Old Oak Common Lane to include generous footpaths and segregated cycle lanes” but HS2’s plans will make that impossible. The planning application for a new bridge to carry the Great Western Main Line over Old Oak Common Lane reveals that it will be only about 13 metres wide. To provide room for segregated cycle tracks, it should be around 20 metres wide. 

The proposed bridge will be about 13 metres wide

To carry cycle tracks and footpaths it should be around 20 metres wide

HS2 has plans to modify the highway under another bridge, south of the Great Western Main Line, to create enough room for buses to pass, but it doesn't plan to create space for segregated cycle lanes here either.

These aren't the only issues we've found with the station plans. The proposed lifts are 20 cm shorter than set out in the London Cycling Design Standards, which will mean some people on all-ability cycles won't be able to use them. Cyclists will be expected to walk the last 100 metres to the cycle parking, and a segregated cycle track running past the station will be split in two by a zebra crossing where cyclists will have to dismount and walk across to the other half of the route. Needless to say, we've objected to these aspects of the plans and are hopeful they will be improved.

The proposed east-west cycle track past the station


Despite these faults, there are some good proposals for the station and surrounding area - especially in the long term. The station will open with parking for 550 cycles, with plans for a further 925. Although this is tiny compared to European standards (Utrecht station has 22,000 cycle parking spaces), it's not bad for the UK. We have recommended that they leave room for expansion. The east-west cycle route past the station will eventually be extended to link North Acton to the area east of the Grand Union Canal - though this might not happen until the 2040's! Hopefully coming sooner are segregated cycle lanes along Victoria Road, Park Road and where possible on Old Oak Lane. 
Indicative Future Cycle Network from Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation's Local Plan


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Monday, 17 February 2020

Bollo Lane Development

Ealing Cycling Campaign is pushing for an orbital cycle route to be included in Transport for London's plans for a large housing development next to Bollo Lane in Acton. TfL has proposed a scheme to build a string of residential tower blocks on the strip of land it owns between the District Line and Bollo Lane, but its proposals don't include a cycle route along Bollo Lane itself that would link up with neighbouring routes. At present Bollo Lane is an unfriendly place for cycling. One of the worst areas is the northern end, near Acton Town Station, where cars parked outside the automotive workshops block the road. This development is a great opportunity to create much needed space for cyclists - especially on this northern stretch of Bollo Lane, but the "cycling zone" included in the current proposals is on the other side of the residential blocks, and doesn't run for the whole length of the development.

Bollo Lane is a vital north-south link in the cycle route network in this part of London. It is shown as a cycle route in Ealing Council’s most recently published route network (the 2014 mini-Holland bid network), so it should be a priority to bring up to a good standard. We would like to see a route of the standard of the segregated two-way path recently opened on Boston Manor Road.
Ealing Cycling Campaign has also put forward a proposal for a route that will bridge over the two railway lines that cross Bollo Lane - avoiding the need to use the level crossings. This will be important in the future - if the proposed West London Orbital Rail service goes ahead, then the Bollo Lane level crossings could possibly be the busiest in the UK.

See TfL's Plans here

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Review of 2019



Welcome to the new decade. In the last year we saw a lot of proposals for new street schemes in Ealing. Here's what happened in 2019 with an update on what we can expect in 2020.

March
Construction started on the East-West Cycle Superhighway alongside the A40 between Acton and Wood Lane (above). It was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2019, but the discovery of unknown ground utilities, which have had to be moved, has delayed progress. TfL now expect it to be finished by the end of March 2020.

June
Ealing council consulted on a section of the proposed cycle route between Ealing Broadway and Greenford. We wait to hear details of the proposed plans.

August
The council revealed plans for the section of The Broadway, outside Ealing Broadway Station. The proposals would have removed parking for 60 bicycles, and didn’t include the long-proposed contra-flow cycle lane. Many thanks to the many of you who responded to the consultation. The council is now reconsidering the plans. We will let you know when we hear more.

September
The council announced that it is bidding for money from TfL for a Liveable Neighbourhood scheme in the centre of Ealing. It has held initial drop-in consultation sessions. If successful, this could transform the area making it much more pleasant to walk and cycle. TfL should announce the successful bids in February 2020.

November
The council consulted on the West Ealing Liveable Neighbourhood. The proposals contained many good features, but did little to reduce through traffic in the area south of the Broadway. Many thanks to all of you who responded. The council is now looking to reduce rat running in this area and is holding new consultations.

We joined TfL engineers on a tour of the A40 subways and gave them feedback on their plans to remove the barrriers that currently obstruct the shared-use paths. Three years ago we submitted a report on the subways and Ealing Council has already improved the ones they are responsible for. We expect to hear back from TfL any day. Hopefully work will take place in the coming year.

December

Brent and Ealing Councils, together with the Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) put in a bid to TfL for funding for a £11.5m Liveable Neighbourhood scheme in Park Royal. If successful this will improve cycle facilities and create a joined up cycle network in the area. TfL should announce the winning bids in February 2020. If successful, the scheme will take 3-5 years to complete. More info here.

As part of its Healthy Streets around schools initiative, Ealing council consulted with people living near Perivale Primary and St John Fisher Catholic Primary to investigate the feasibility of a Mini Liveable Neighbourhood.

The council extended the Boston Manor Road cycle path a short distance along Boston Road to provide protected cycle routes to the surrounding back streets.

Thank you
Many thanks to all of you who have responded to consultations. It really makes a difference. Please spread the word and encourage your friends and neighbours to help make our air cleaner, our streets safer, and transform Ealing into a healthier, more fun place to live.

We are plannning a full programme of rides for 2020 along with Dr Bike sessions and stalls at local events. All details will be on the Rides and Events page of our website. We always have opportunities for people to get involved, so please, if you're at all interested, do come along to one of our meetings. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm, in the Library, Questors Theatre, 12 Mattock Lane, Ealing W5 5BQ. All welcome.
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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Heathrow Airport Expansion and Cycling


The latest consultation on the proposal to expand Heathrow Airport has just closed. Ealing Cycling Campaign went through several hundred pages of documents to see how it would affect cycling.
The airport has set a target of 6% of employees cycling to work, which seems low compared to Schiphol Airport's target of about 15% by 2024. However, Heathrow may find even that low target hard to meet. Its plans present several obstacles to people who want to commute by bike. The first barrier is the expanded perimeter. Someone who commutes to Terminal 5 from north of the airport would have to cycle about 6 km further to get around the proposed new third runway. An easy 3 km trip will turn into a 9 km commute. The airport is making provision for the M25 to pass under the runway, but there is no similar shortcut for cyclists.
The second obstacle is the lack of direct routes to the places of employment inside the perimeter. The only access to the future expanded Terminal 5 complex (T5, T5X, T5NX), will be from the south west, but most employees currently live north-east of the airport, many of them in Southall. The new Terminal 5NX will be only a hundred or so metres from roads in the north, but people working there will need to travel around the airport perimeter to access it.
Getting to the Central Terminal Area (Terminals 1, 2 and 3) will also be difficult. Heathrow is considering re-opening the cycle tunnel that is currently closed, but it then plans to shut it again to cyclists, and use it instead for a passenger shuttle service from the car park. This will cut off cycle access from the north. The airport has a plan to run a cycle tunnel to the Central Terminal Area from the south, but at the moment this is only indicative. Probably over half of Heathrow's employees will work at buildings inside the perimeter, which will only be accessible via tunnels from the south.
The third problem is the lack of through routes. From west to east the extended site will be 7.5 km long – that’s 4.7 miles. With no cycle way through, this will be one of the largest barriers to north-south cycling in London. Other airports provide transit routes for cyclists. Schiphol has two public cycle paths through it. We would like to see Heathrow do the same.
You can read Ealing Cycling Campaign's response to the consultation here.

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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Ealing Broadway Station Cycle Path



Ealing Cycling Campaign (ECC) has put forward plans to the council for a new two-way cycle path outside Ealing Broadway Station.

Our plan for a Station Broadway Cycle Route. Click on image to enlarge

The path would run from just north of the Mall up to the roundabout with Madeley Road. The scheme is our response to the council's current consultation, and builds on the council's plans. It will transform an area that is currently a barrier to cycling, into a route that even less-confident cyclists will feel comfortable to use.

Detail of Ealing's planned Cycle Network showing Station Broadway as a 'Direct Route'. (from 2013 Mini Holland bid) 
















This stretch of Ealing Broadway in front of the station is part of Ealing's Cycle Network - streets that anyone aged eight to eighty is meant to be able to ride along. At the moment, though, it's a scary place to cycle through. There is also no north-bound cycling, so people approaching from the south and east have to detour around the Arcadia Centre and Haven Green.
















The need for a northbound cycle route has been recognised for at least two decades; such a route was included in the council’s 2013 mini-Holland bid (above). In that scheme adults and children riding south would still have to use the busy main carriageway; in Ealing Cycling Campaign's new plans they will have protected space for cycling in both directions.

The new cycle path will:
  • Provide a safe route for people to cycle to and from the station
  • Create a calming space between the road and Haven Green
  • Keep the full extent of common land on Haven Green
  • Create two taxi pick-up points immediately outside the station for people travelling south.
  • Enable a future link with the Uxbridge Road 

What happened to the original cycle path?
A cycle path was the council's preferred option in 2013, so why has it removed it from its plans? The answer appears to be down to the issue of cycle parking. When the council completed the Bike Hub in 2012, it wasn't large enough to meet demand, so the council left the 'toast rack' cycle stands on the grass on Haven Green. As the green is common land, these stands are only allowed as a temporary measure. At some point, the council must remove them. Its initial plan was to move the parking to the car park between Haven Green and the railway line. Unfortunately, it hasn't been able to negotiate permission from one of the lease holders. Instead, it now plans to put cycle stands outside the station - in the area where the cycle path was due to run. There are two problems with this:

First, the area outside the station has insufficient capacity to meet the demand for cycle parking. The council's latest plans show just 29 new stands. These would replace the 50 'toast rack' stands on Haven Green and another four already on Station Broadway. The result will be 60 fewer cycle parking spaces.

At peak demand the cycle stands on Haven Green are full

Already, at periods of peak demand all the current stands are occupied, and people resort to locking bicycles to trees and other objects. In the long term, the new cycleway from Greenford, and the arrival of the Elizabeth Line will further increase demand.
Secondly, and more importantly, placing cycle parking along Ealing Broadway will prevent the installation of any cycle route along it for the foreseeable future.

What is the solution?
A far better solution for all-day station cycle parking would be at a covered location, with scope for expansion. The car park between Haven Green and the railway has long been recognised as an ideal site and its use for this is included in the Central Ealing Neighbourhood Plan. Access to this site should now be dealt with at a high level, and compulsory powers initiated if needed. New cycle parking on this site should be programmed for completion by the time the Crossrail offices are removed from Haven Green, at which point the temporary cycle stands can be removed and the whole common restored to its proper state.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Have your Say on the Cycleway



The long awaited East-West Cycle Super Highway from Shepherd's Bush is finally coming to Ealing and the council wants to hear your views. At four side roads with the A40, it plans to ban motor vehicles turning across the cycle path. This will make it much safer for cyclists as it removes the risk of being hit by a turning vehicle. The surrounding streets should be more pleasant to cycle in, as cars and lorries will no longer be able to cut through Allan Way to Saxon Drive - two roads that cyclists are likely to use as they provide the most direct link between Ealing town centre and the the new cycleway.

If you cycle through here and would like to see a safer cycle route, please take a minute to support this scheme by completing the survey.



You can see full details of the consultation here.

The consultation will be open until 2 September 2019


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