All posts by tom harrison

Cycle Safari held on Sunday 26 April

Start of the Safari Ride 2015
Start of the Safari Ride 2015

Many thanks to everyone who attended, and all those that helped organise and marshal, our Cycle Safari on 26th April.

It showed how relaxed, enjoyable, and sociable cycling can be. Many people, including young children, want to cycle more, but don’t always feel it is safe to. So along the ride we showed best practice examples of ways of improving streets for cycling in the area, and all were bewildered that the council aren’t currently proposing what works. There was a huge amount of support for our more ambitious proposals for Transport for London funded cycle routes.





Anyone aged 8 to 80 can join us for on a slow ride discovering the best and more “unloved spots” for cycling in Islington.

Transport for London is giving millions of pounds to Islington Council to improve cycling in the borough, We’ve seen the designs for the first routes and they’re not really good enough; not safe enough, particularly for families.

The Cycle Safari is a fun way to remind Islington Council to do more and be more ambitious with what they can achieve with the money.

Also, dressing up is recommended!

The ride will begin from Freightliners Farm, in Sheringham Road, Holloway, at 10am on Sunday April 26, with various stops along the route ending back at the farm for food, free bike maintenance from Dr Bike and live music from Pedal Folk.

The route:



We look forward to seeing you there.

Don’t forget to invite your friends and family on facebook 

Stay tuned for updates on the campaigns we’ll be discussing.

Any questions, tweet @islingtoncycle or email alison.dines(at)

For more info about the farm, click here


Take action: Please tell TFL to maximise measures in Mildmay

KHWG Village
Coming soon to Mildmay? With your help King Henry’s Walk really could be like this. A big thanks to Vinita Dhume from Levitt Bernstein for providing this image.

The issue:

Transport for London latest “Cycle Superhighway” is planned to run along quiet back streets in parallel to the west of Kingsland High St between the City and Tottenham.

The proposals touch the edge of Islington, crossing Balls Pond Rd, up Kingsbury Rd, along St. Jude St and up Boleyn Rd before turning into Wordsworth Rd.


The small problem is, they are not quiet enough: Boleyn Rd and Crossway (becoming King Henry’s Walk) carry huge numbers of cars and lorries making them very unpleasant to cycle on.  And to be fair to Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan,  he recognizes there is scope to improve this stretch.

So what’s the solution?

To get space for cycling, we need to separate people on bikes from through motor traffic. We need to filter the busy streets to get the rat running vehicles away from residential streets and onto main roads, such as Balls Pond Rd and the A10.


Please write to  and tell them that their plans aren’t nearly safe enough. They need to reduce rat running on Boleyn Road, Mildmay Road, St Jude St, and King Henry’s Walk by installing trees or bollards. They also need to create a fully pedestrianised plaza on King Henry’s Walk. We would also really encourage TfL to enhance the public realm with more bike parking, seating, and urban greening to maximise the benefits of this cycling scheme for all Mildmay residents, not just long distance commuters.

(see featured picture by local design firm Levitt Bernstein of what it could look like).

If you would like to respond to the full consultation, please click here.

Filter map.Milldmay
4 bollards or trees planted in the road at the green stars is all it takes. There would need to be some flexibility to ensure buses can easily get through Boleyn Rd, and local buses elsewhere. Local traffic could access every building, but not drive through.

These 4 simple things will make Mildmay a calm, safe haven for walking and cycling.

Purple: Through traffic Blue: Bus route Green: Safe routes for walking and cycling
Purple: Through traffic
Blue: Bus route
Green: Safe routes for walking and cycling

What is more, at a stroke, Islington Council and TfL could dramatically reduce pollution in this area and bring it down to safe levels.

Mildmay Pollution
A current map of pollution. The excessive rat running along Crossway and King Henry’s Walk creates an obvious red/yellow diagonal line. Green is “legal”. Where it is yellow or red, Islington council have a legal obligation to take action..

The scheme was presented to the local community at a Mildmay Ward Partnership meeting last week. The overwhelming view of the room was incredibly positive. The only comments were that there needed to be even more seating all around Mildmay and how important secure bike parking is. We totally agree!

A slightly more detailed presentation can be viewed here.

We would love to hear your thoughts, either to address concerns or get ideas for further improvements we should be asking for in Islington. Please email tom(at)




Before and after. Which would you prefer?

KHWG Village






New census data argues for more active street designs.

Our roads are designed for driving, but we walk and cycle far more.

Last week, new census data was released highlighting where people work and how they get there. Then the wonderful people at CASA.UCL made a map for us simpletons to easily see what is happening.

The data is quite extraordinary. Having crunched the numbers, its clear that the overwhelming majority of Clerkenwell and Bunhill residents walk and cycle than get the bus or drive.

  • 6483:   Walk or Cycle
  • 3335:   Bus
  • 234:      Car or Taxi

Of course, this isn’t a completely full travel picture: we all vary our travel routines, and it’s just working age adults commuting, but it is undoubtedly indicative of general trends.

There are two lessons from this fascinating data set:

1. Many journeys by bus and car could easily be walked or cycled (proven by our neighbours making the same journeys).

2. There is now an overwhelming argument to use TfL’s £2m to make cycling and walking the most convenient, obvious modes of travel in the area. Islington Council pioneered 20mph zones, and now they have a strong mandate to develop the most liveable streets in London.

With careful planning and a few planters or “modal filters”, we could cheaply and easily re-focus our streets to reflect the growing demand for active travel. Our planned layout can be seen here:

Please get in touch to add your voice of support for our plans, or to hear more about our work, please do get in touch through or






A constructive solution for Beech St

Beech St. Cyclists Dismount

Dear Messrs Simmons and Presland,

I am writing to you regarding the current changes to the street layout at the Beech St/Silk St junction. The aim seems to be to widen the pavement and simplify the pedestrian crossings outside the new Barbican cinema, according to your website;

As a member of the Barbican, I welcome these changes to what has been a very unsatisfactory street layout. It is quite a positive step in creating a more attractive place.

However, I can’t help but notice that the worst bits of Beech St will remain: the ear splitting noise reverberating around the tunnel, air pollution that drips from the ceiling, and pavements so narrow that I am frequently forced onto the road at busy times when walking between the station and gallery. So a while small fragment of the street-scape may become more attractive,  it really seems a missed opportunity for creating a pleasant, healthy, or “liveable” environment

More dispiriting and perplexing though is that the pavement changes come at such a high cost to cycling along Beech St.  Whereas a month ago, people could cycle in their own, dedicated cycle lane all the way to the Whitecross St junction (going east), they will now be dangerously squeezed into the motor traffic as we can see in the picture below.

Beech St Cycle Lane End

So my 60 year old dad will probably no longer be willing to cycle along Beech St – which up to now has been one of only a handful of routes he is happy to use, precisely because he isn’t required to share the road. Having finally persuaded him to get back onto his bike after 30 years of driving, this is a blow to my skills of persuasion and to his health.

This damaging impact on the cycle lane is important. Beech St provides the only east-west cycle route through the city. The Central London Cycling Grid,  London’s vision for a network of quiet, welcoming cycle network really does rely on this route as seen in TfL’s map of the grid.

Grid with Beech St

More bizarre still, is that Beech St cycle lane has been so successful. As Mr Gilligan wrote in 2007, the City won an award for the lane from TfL. And the scheme was improved further in 2012 to much acclaim as seen in this blog and this video .

Indeed, this bike lane has helped Beech St see cyclists make up 20% of traffic and 30% in peak hours (almost certainly understimated), and these numbers would probably be higher if Chiswell St (immediately to the east of Beech st) had any provision for cyclists.

You may have seen that others have criticised your scheme here and here.

Without wanting to add to their flames too much, I urge you to consider a constructive solution. There is a way for the City of London to go beyond these aesthetic changes and create a more environmentally pleasant environment that is genuinely conducive to walking and cycling.

My solution? Keep doing what you are doing right now: keep the road closed.

During the building work, we have all seen how little traffic there is on Beech St and the other roads that spoke out from the junction. Indeed, it was bliss to walk through the tunnel, for the first time being able to hear my friend speaking about the gallery as we walked to the station. Cycling along Chiswell St felt safe and civilised, such was the transformation.

I hope you agree that the benefits of closing the road to through traffic permanently are extensive. Only a bus bollard is needed to let the 153 through, to filter other motor traffic out. The traffic could use London Wall instead, which according to DFT traffic counts, has seen a reduction of c.30% traffic since 2004.

Although this would only be a small change, I appreciate there may be concerns about the impact of traffic displacement from such a modal filtering scheme, but I hope you agree that with the road closed now, we have the perfect opportunity to do a trial and gather empirical evidence for what the effects would be.  My own hypothesis, would be that it would greatly improve traffic flows around Moorgate, Smithfield, and north into Islington which all suffer from too much traffic and high pollution.

I look forward to discussing my constructive proposal to this scheme and other quietways at the City Cycling Forum, 31st July.

Yours faithfully,


Tom Harrison, Committee Member for Islington Cyclists

Quietway Consultation is open. Deadline 5 April.


The consultation for the Quietway Route from Bloomsbury to Walthomstow is now live and can be found here

ICAG have had a number of meetings with the council to discuss the plans.

There are some big improvements planned, such as improving Owen St by City and Islington college.

But unfortunately, as it was a pilot route, the council didn’t have the time to develop the more ambitious proposals we feel are needed, such as removing rat running motor vehicles.

The primary benefit of the works will be upgraded signage and improved visibility at some junctions by moving parking.

We would really encourage you to respond to the consultation and request they make the more substantial changes needed for safe cycling when future funding becomes available (eg with the next round of quietways).

If you live near the route, and would like to help get more improvements, please get in touch with tom(at)

We would particularly like to hear from people who currently don’t cycle to get their views on the current conditions, so do send them our way.

Getting the Quietways underway for a more liveable Islington


The junction of two quietways. Amwell St and River St. There is so much potential to create something that benefits cyclists and the Amwell village residents.

Those of you who were at our ICAG meeting with Andrew Gilligan, or heard him speak at the end of the London Cycling Campaign’s Big Ride last month will be eagerly awaiting a new network of quiet routes. Aimed to attract a more comfortable, less lycra intensive cycle style across the capital.

As the grapevine buzzes with speculation about what we can expect from these “quietways”, we wanted to share what we know so far in order to start a discussion around what changes we want to see to attract “inclusive cycling” and ensure the proposals benefit all residents, whether or not they are regular cyclists.

Before diving into the detail, it’s worth bearing in mind a few extra principles:

  • Transport planning like this poses a wonderful opportunity to add value to the wider public realm than just being cycle friendly: by re-routing traffic, we can make streets quieter, create public spaces in the heart of residential areas, reduce pollution. With the right measures, streets can become nicer for everyone, especially local residents, cafes, pubs, and shops. In short, with the right imagination, these schemes aren’t just for cyclists, but promise to create more liveable streets for all Islingtonians.
  • It would be good if we can get to the route: far more people can benefit if the “quiet” route can be comfortably accessed by streets not directly on the route. We therefore need to think not just about the route itself, but the area surrounding it too – often known in the jargon as a “cell.”
  • We, as members of The London Cycling Campaign recognise that for a cycle route to be adequate it needs to be separated from other traffic, either by kerb segregation, or by reducing the amount of traffic on streets.

So, what’s the plan so far?

There are two routes that we expect to be developed first. The first, currently called “Quietway 38” is set to run between Southgate Rd/Northchurch St in the east to Calthorpe St in the west.The second, (as yet untitled) will go between Finsbury Square and up through Penton St.

No detailed plans have emerged so far, but initial suggestions from the council were for

  • traffic signal alterations
  • traffic management improvements
  • cycle facility upgrades
  • surface repairs
  • cycle contraflow lanes

A map of the the first route is below:

View Quietway Route 38 in Islington in a larger map

We’ve colour coded where we think the priorities are for changes to make the routes acceptable.

  • Red shows streets which dont need any change.
  • Light Blue denotes the route is pretty good but could be better.
  • Dark blue shows where there is currently too much traffic and changes are required.
  • Green highlights where other desire lines or planned routes intersect Quietway 38, such as on Amwell St for the route from Finsbury Square.

Since there probably isn’t the space to install segregated tracks, a few strategic “filters” or planters to close through traffic would be all that is needed make a much more pleasant walking and cycling environment. This approach is tried and tested already along the route, helping De Beauvoir to be one of the most pleasant places to live and travel through in London.


Image borrowed from Vincent Stops,
London’s most famous and successful 4 way road closure creates bliss for residents, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. This scheme in Hackney is also part of Quietway 38, and we could do something similar in Islington.

For more detail on what changes we suggest are made, click on the link for the larger map. If you agree or disagree , please get in touch and join the debate.

Two really exciting, innovative changes for us are the potential to create public squares in the heart of both Amwell and St Peters. By installing cheap bollards, “pocket plazas” can quickly appear, as recently occurred in Exhibition Row (pictured below). What’s more, done correctly, traffic does not need to be pushed onto other residential roads.


Closing small sections of streets to through traffic allows a liveable public area to grow as happened here in Kensington.
Could this come to Amwell St and St Peters St? Closing small sections of streets to through traffic allows a liveable public area to grow as happened here in Kensington.

Best of all for Islington Council, are proposals are incredibly cheap: TfL have allocated £1m/mile for the quietway network, which works out at £1.5m for Quietway 38 in Islngton. But our measures would probably cost less than £50,000.

We would love to continue the discussion, with cyclists and “non cyclists” alike, so please get in touch by commenting below, or through facebook or twitter @IslingtonCycle

Personal letters asking Islington Labour to improve their cycling record.

Inspired by our #space4cycling campaign, several residents have written to Islington Labour to urge them to support measures in their wards. We share a few below.


lslington residents want Space for Cycling
lslington residents want Space for Cycling


Dear Islington Labour Party,

As a former Labour party member, and as a present ditherer between Labour and Lib Dem, I am disappointed by this response.

The “Go Dutch” principles are clear, and may be found at  The Labour Party Mayoral candidate signed up to the Go Dutch principles.  Accordingly, I thought that we had won this particular debate in the Labour party.  However, you have not clearly signed up to “Space for Cycling” principles.

I am not at all sure that the Labour Council’s history is particularly impressive:

·        Virtually none of the “improvements” to which you refer in your letter have been carried out to “Go Dutch” principles.

·        The 20mph zone is widely flouted, and rarely (if ever?) enforced.

·        Provision of cycling facilities seems pretty low down the list of funding priorities.  Cycle improvements seem to be entirely dependent on TfL funding.

More importantly, so far as I can tell, none of your responses to LCC’s suggestions contains firm commitments to prompt, well designed provision of cycle paths.

I was particularly unimpressed by the following paragraph.

“If funding is forthcoming, we will develop designs to create high quality routes. These could [not will] include segregation and other safety features. However, careful consideration will need to be given to any significant traffic displacement onto nearby residential roads. It is therefore crucial that all schemes that propose improvements are subject to extensive public consultation to allow local residents the opportunity to influence the types of improvements that are delivered, and to build support for any changes to local roads that impact on the local community.”

That sounds to me suspiciously like code for “business as usual” – i.e. give motorists the right of veto, and let cyclists fend for themselves.

Yours sincerely,


Andy Hull, Labour candidate for Highbury West and Current Executive Member for Finance and Transport thinks there is no problem for cycling on Drayton Park. What do you think?
Andy Hull, Labour candidate for Highbury West and Current Executive Member for Finance and Transport thinks there is no problem with cycling on Drayton Park. What do you think?

Dear Andy and Richard,

Thank you for sending me this detailed answer.

You say that there is not much of a cycling issue with Drayton Park. I must challenge you on that! Even if casualty rates were close to the average, this is perceived safety that is most important to your residents. At present, actual safety in Islington isn’t ideal yet the risk of collision is so small that it is far outweigh by the fitness benefits. Hence my emphasis on perceived safety. Perceived safety is currently so poor that most residents consider it inconceivable to cycle here. Can you please tell me what is the proportion of children cycling to school in the ward? And the proportion of children being driven to school?
I notice that Labour is committed on several campaigns on the cost of living. Cycling is the cheapest and quickest mean of transport in Islington. It allows people to make the most of their income and spend their free time with the loved ones. Whilst at a national level the party is focussed on giving people cheaper fuel, I have been pleased to see the Labour Council deliver safer streets in Islington. I’m only worried that so much remains to be done, with the benefits of cycling often reserved to the young white men!
Now, talking about the work which is ahead of us. I think it’ll be hard to get ‘Quietway’ funding for a street which sees 25,000 motor vehicles a day. TfL considers that a street is quiet if there are less than 3,000. LCC sets the threshold at 2,000. However, it’s not mission impossible and I’m happy to assist you in putting a successful bid to TfL.
Regardless of TfL’s generosity, Islington cyclists (ICAG) have some design ideas that would cost peanuts and deliver enormous benefits. You must be worried about acceptability. We have solutions that do NOT necessarily involve filtered permeability and do NOT cause the loss of parking/trees/footway. Parking could become the physical segregation in the wide parts of Drayton Park.
To conclude, I would really encourage you to pledge and deliver on Drayton Park, regardless of funding source, as an acknowledgement of the wider health, social and financial benefits that cycling will bring to the community.
PS: I will be present at the Ward Partnership meeting in September, although I’d rather meet you straight after the election. Why so fast? Did I mention child obesity? One more reason to make strides!
Best regards,

Valerie Shawcross, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee for the GLA said Labour 100% support #space4cycling. But do Islington Labour?
Valerie Shawcross, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee for the GLA said Labour 100% support #space4cycling. But do Islington Labour?

Dear Islington Labour,

I do wish that Islington would be a progressive council which challenges the primacy of the motorist. There are progressive individuals in the Labour Party who want to create an environment for cyclists, Valerie Shawcross and Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Transport Spokesperson are determined to encourage cycling and make it safer, Labour Hackney has great achievements, yet Labour Islington, remains stuck in the past. Why? Let’s make Islington the Amsterdam of London.
Yours sincerely,

Islington #space4cycling Ride, Saturday 10th May



Saturday 10th May

Photo by Victor Heng
Photo by Victor Heng
Photo by Victor Heng
Photo by Victor Heng

This is the press release that was sent to The Islington Gazette and The Tribune

On Saturday May 10th, Islington Cyclists Action Group took to the
streets and visited locations that are difficult or dangerous for
cyclists to negotiate. The group ended up at the Town Hall (photos
below). The group is asking candidates to support specific measures in
each ward which will enable everyone to feel safe on a bike, from
8-year-old children to 80-year-old grandparents. Voters can find out
more about the measures at the Space for Cycling website

Tom Harrison (ICAG) said “One of the simplest and most effective
actions the council could do is make the roads safer and more
comfortable for older people to walk and cycle. This means separating
walking and cycling routes from busy traffic areas by closing
residential streets to through traffic, installing more seating areas,
and providing protected cycle tracks on busy roads which makes the
streets navigable by those of us with slower reaction speeds.”

John Ackers said “There are still councillors that regard cycling as a
niche activity for relatively fit people. But  actually cycling
is for everybody and it’s the answer to many of the borough’s
problems. Cycling improves people’s long term health, reduces
congestion, reduces air pollution, reduces obesity, reduces travel
costs and encourages social cohesion. We can learn much from
Copenhagen and Amsterdam.”


Join us on a ride from The Sobell Centre to the Town Hall

women cycling

Show your support and celebrate #space4cycling

The route of the Islington #space4cycling ride.
The route of the Islington #space4cycling ride.

Next Saturday, 10th May, join us to celebrate what #space4cycling really means!

We are asking candidates to support specific measures in each ward which will enable everyone to feel safe on a bike, from 8-year-old children to 80-year-old grandparents.  Join the Islington LCC on a ride as we visit some of the sites where we’re asking for change.

We’ll be meeting at the Sobell Centre for a 9.30 breakfast (free pastries!). The ride starts at 10.00 and will finish at 12.00 outside the Town Hall.

If you can’t join us on the ride itself, just turn up at the Town Hall at 12 to show your support for #space4cycling in Islington!

Can you put up a poster about this on a notice board?  Download here A4 Little Islington Ride

Or is there a place where you can leave fliers?  Download A5 fliers here A5 Little Islington Ride

And don’t forget to go online and ask candidates to pledge their support for our campaign.

Ride itinerary

09.30 — Breakfast at Sobell Centre
10.00 — Ride begins

1. Seven Sisters Road
2. Drayton Park
3. St. Peter’s
4. Bunhill Row
5. Clerkenwell Boulevard
6. Islington Town Hall

12.00 — Ride ends

Space4Cycling Little Event Poster