Our response to Islington’s unambitious Transport Strategy

Many thanks to Alison Dines, Jon Parker, Tom Bogdanowicz, Andrew (by email), Jim Gleeson, Ralph Smyth and John Ackers who contributed to this response and Stephen Taylor and Chris Ashby for providing comment.

Islington Cyclists’ Action Group (ICAG) is the local branch of the London Cycling Campaign and has 700 members. We welcome the opportunity to comment on the draft of Islington’s Transport Strategy.

ICAG believes it is important to give sustainable travel choices, and particularly active travel such as cycling, comparative advantages over driving. This includes measures such as slower speed limits (with 20mph on all borough roads), motor traffic reduction targets and increasing cycle parking while decreasing space for car parking. We think that the target for the modal share of cycling in Islington is particularly unambitious. In addition, we urge the council to set additional local targets.

ICAG feels that without the amendments below being made to the LIP, the document would represent a backwards step in Islington transport policy. We recognise that the budgetary context in which this transport strategy has been produced is very different to the context in which the 2006 transport strategy was written. However neighbouring boroughs have still managed to point their policies in the right direction.

20 M.P.H.
2.50 ICAG wants to see the 20MPH zones properly enforced, and to see 20MPH extended to principal roads.

At 2.53, the LIP acknowledges that cyclists are over-represented in deaths and serious injuries on the road, and under the performance monitoring plan (6.10) pledges to reduce these. However the document’s proposed means of achieving this goal (continuing ‘smarter travel’, road safety education and travel awareness projects) are limited in scope and ill-defined. ICAG believes that fewer deaths and serious injuries can be best achieved by LBI committing to reducing motor traffic and road speeds.

At the Transport Liaison meeting on 12 October 2011, Zahur Khan said that DfT approved, area based speed cameras are expensive and that the police were reluctant to get involved with enforcement, it wasn’t a police priority, and they didn’t receive any of the collected fines. Because of this, Z thought it would be difficult to extended 20MPH to all Islington roads. This challenge should be highlighted in this section of the LIP.

Islington’s transport objectives outlined in 3.4 are vague. There is no commitment to reduce motor traffic levels, which according to DfT is a major obstacle to cycling. This is in contradiction to Islington’s Fairness Agenda, as poorer people and under 18s do not have access to motor vehicles, and are thus discriminated against. According to the LIP’s own figures (table 4), 58% of homes do not own a motor vehicle. Furthermore Council leader Catherine West argues (Islington Tribune November 4th 2011) that “more people turning to cycling to escape the … inflation-busting fare rises”.

There is also no commitment to reduce air pollution, to which cyclists are particularly exposed. The last and the ‘Green’ objective in the LIP says merely that the ‘negative environmental impacts of travel will be managed’ …not reduced!

In contrast, the objectives in the Camden LIP are more substantial. Specifically in para 5.3 under “Delivering Camden’s Transport Objectives”, the Camden LIP says “By helping to create a transport system which will improve air quality, reduce transport’s contributions to climate change, while also continuing to innovate and adopt best-practice, Camden intends to be at the forefront of this effort.” There is no comparable statement of intent anywhere in the Islington LIP.

Our other neighbour Hackney has equally progressive policies; their first objective is ‘Improve transport sustainability and choice for all’.

ICAG would like to see sustainable travel choices, in particular active travel, given comparative advantages over driving throughout the LIP. This includes lower speed limits, filtered permeability and increased cycle parking, while decreasing space for car parking. It’s not enough to simply encourage ‘less damaging forms of transport’.

Key transport policies (3.16), prioritising demands for road space. We think that cycling should be raised above public transport in the hierarchy because it meets Islington’s transport objectives of being green, efficient and fair, and more so than public transport. In addition, and as the report acknowledges, public transport is over capacity at peak times, and therefore the objective should be to increase cycle use, which reduces pressure on public transport.

We welcome the initiatives at 4.0, especially the removal of one-way systems and gyratories.

We feel that 4.29, 4.30, and 4.31 understate the miserable transport environment around the Nag’s Head. Area residents have to tolerate a high volume and high speed traffic. Unsurprisingly, cyclists are rarely seen on Seven Sisters Road despite this being a key shopping destination. 4.33 states that there is heavy traffic congestion on Holloway Rd. No intervention is proposed in later chapters. Cyclists are deterred by the fast speeds and three lanes of motor traffic, and it is our view that to encourage cycling, these lanes should be reduced in number from three to two, and traffic slowed. Buses and service vehicles should also be filtered at specific points and given priority over private vehicles to give them comparative advantage in line with the modal hierarchy.

At 5.52, the LIP states that ‘in 2008, the Council commissioned a Strategic Route Design for the Islington Connect2 Route. The development of the design included engagement with local stakeholders, which created the vision for the route and design ideas for walking and cycling improvements along the route’. However the document should reflect the fact that some stakeholders were critical of the scheme, and that ICAG formally withdrew its support because the scheme did not meet Sustran’s own objectives, and offers poor value.

The section on on-street cycle parking targets at 5.74 is very vague, and lacks targets. (Although ICAG acknowledges that targets can lead to cycle parking being installed in less useful locations). However, cycle parking for commuters should accommodate not only the present numbers of cyclists but also those projected in future targets, which is why the targets are important.

The quantity and quality of cycle parking at Islington’s stations is in particular very poor. Many railway stations in central London and outside London have far better facilities. The lack of secure and sheltered parking discourages Islington residents from cycling part of their commute and potentially removing one leg of a journey by public transport. Measures to address this should be added to the LIP. Hackney plans to spend £135K over three years to increase cycle parking at all rail, overground and tube stations in the borough.

While ICAG acknowledges that Cycle Superhighways are a TfL initiative and are largely situated on TfL controlled roads, we would like Islington to express a greater commitment to the scheme than it does in the draft LIP at 5.79.

5.86 While the numerical replacement of a mature street tree with a sapling is welcome, this is not a like for like replacement so this is not really an improvement to the ‘urban forest’.


6.7 Modal share for cycling
Both the short-term and long-term targets for the modal share of cycling are disappointingly unambitious. Islington aims to increase cycling as model share from 3.4% (2006 too 2009) to 4%, an increase of 17% by 2013/14. By comparison, Hackney aims to increase cycling from 4% (in 2010) to 7%, a 75% increase by 2013/14. And Camden aims to increase cycling as model share from 3% (2006 too 2009) to 4.5%, an increase of 50% by 2013/14. We believe that the City is planning on similar increases.

Additional Local Targets
Although the 7 day a week, modal share is a valuable target, another significant indicator in terms of carbon, air pollution and obesity, is the ratio of cycles and private cars on the road, particularly during the busy commuting hours. Barnsbury Road and Colebrooke Row at 8.30AM on a weekday morning, provide a glimpse of what cycling could be like across the borough – with the right interventions. The continual stream of cyclists tames the speed of the few motorists.

The Analysis of Cycling Potential [in London boroughs], December 2010, from TfL says:

“On average, a higher proportion of mechanised trips made by residents of inner London are potentially cyclable (39 per cent compared to 33 per cent in outer London). Boroughs with a particularly high proportion of cyclable trips made by mechanised modes are Islington (50 per cent)…” second only to the City of London at 55%.

We note that Camden Council to the west of Islington is monitoring the proportion of cyclists in road traffic flow (see 3.72 of their LIP). The Camden LIP says ‘Increase cycling’s proportion of road traffic flow from 9.7% in 2009/10 to 20.5% in 2019/20’.

We note also that Hackney Council have set a local target for “Residents travelling to work by cycle”. Their baseline for 2010 is 13% and their 2014 target is 15%. Hackney have also set rising and falling targets for the number of Hackney Council employees arriving by bike and car respectively.

ICAG likes the targets introduced by Camden and Hackney and urge that Islington explore creating and setting similar local targets.

6.19 The 37% carbon reduction mentioned in 3.7.1 in the (draft) Islington 40:20: Achieving the 40% CO2 emission reduction target by 2020 draft action plan for reducing carbon emissions is not explicitly mentioned in this LIP. Yet this is the key document that might be expected to outline how the carbon reduction might be achieved. Furthermore emissions carbon reduction is not even listed as an objective in 3.4. Section 6.19 itemises policies, but the effect of each is not quantified. It is not possible to test the theory that the ‘target is ambitious and and realistic’. More efficient engine design is surely responsible for some carbon reduction. MTS Goal 5, section 1.19 mentions a 71kt reduction (60% 1990-2025) and says the ‘council cannot deliver this alone’. But what can the council deliver?

APPENDIX C Locally Specific targets for Mandatory Performance Indicators

2.19 and 2.31 say that the transport strategy aims to reduce CO2 and NOx. But that’s not a listed objective in 3.4 in the main document.


Figure 3 shows a huge unsatisfied demand from primary pupils for cycling to school – 33% want to cycle to school but only 4% currently do. Road danger is the obvious reason why – children and/or their parents don’t think it’s safe to cycle to school in Islington. This frustrated demand is a clear sign that the school travel strategy is not working.

Monitoring school travel plans 7.7 specifies targets relating to the administration of the scheme. Given the scale of this programme, it would be useful to set some real targets in terms of modal shift away from private car.