Islington Cyclists’ Action Group submission to the Consultation on the “Cally Plan, Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) August 2013”
We welcome efforts by Islington Council and the Caledonian Ward Partnership to improve the Cally. In particular we welcome the stated goal of making walking and cycling in the area easier. We think that making cycling safer and more convenient should be prioritised in the plan, especially supporting cycling among people who tend to be less confident about cycling including: families, young people and older people.
This goal should be prioritised because it is the best way to bring shoppers from other neighbourhoods into Caledonian Rd. It would also significantly improve the lives of residents by promoting cycling as a viable way of shopping, commuting to work and of children getting to and from school thus reducing congestion and promoting public health.
Thanks to traffic calming measures which already exist in Barnsbury and, to a lesser extent, in the Bemerton Estate there are great opportunities for linking together safe cycle routes. However, there is an urgent need to provide safe crossing points for less confident cyclists across Caledonian Rd, York Way and Copenhagen Street.
In this consultation response we first consider Opportunities and Challenges for the Cally and highlight the need to improve access for less confident cyclists. We go on to give specific recommendations for the plan which are:
- Provide safe crossing points across Caledonian Road for cyclists
- Provide a cycle route along Bingfield Park southern edge
- Improve cycle permeability along Tilloch Street, Bridgeman Rd and Richmond Ave
- Improve the junction of Copenhagen St and Caledonian Rd for pedestrians and cyclists
- Provide crossing points on York Way for cyclists
- Provide direct access from York Way to Outram Place for pedestrians
- Provide a cycle crossing across Copenhagen St for primary schools and children’s centre
- Encourage housing associations to provide more access for cyclists
- Increase cycle parking throughout the area
- Ensure cycle training is available for less confident cyclists
- Block off the traffic cut-through along Bemerton St, Twyford St and Bingfield St
We end the document by urging more enforcement against antisocial cyclists along pavements but point out that blocking off Tilloch St to cycling is no solution.
Islingon Cyclists’ Action Group (ICAG) is a volunteer run group of local residents who work to improve facilities for cyclists and encourage more people to take up cycling. ICAG was formed in 1976. Find out more: cycleislington.uk Coordinator contact: alison.dines at icag.org.uk
Opportunities and Challenges for the Cally
We broadly agree with the Opportunities and Challenges outlined in section 1.3 of the document. However, the following opportunities should also be mentioned in the document
- Promoting cycling in the Cally could bring significant numbers of customers to local businesses especially as it is a thoroughfare for cycling commuters and many young families live within close cycling distance.
- Improving walking and cycling routes could significantly reduce congestion from local motorists
- There is a lot of potential to link safe cycling routes across the major road barriers if safe crossing points are provided for cyclists especially across Caledonian Rd and York Way
The following challenges should also be mentioned:
- Caledonian Road itself is still a major barrier for less confident cyclists who are unwilling to make right turns or cross Caledonian Rd without dismounting.
- Other barriers to cycling and walking include York Way, Copenhagen St, Regents Canal and the railway line.
- Several roads are used as “cut-throughs” for cars, taxis and HGVs especially Bemerton Street, Twyford Street and Bingfield Street which makes them unsafe for local residents and cyclists.
Prioritise improving access for less confident cyclists:
Cycling improvements in London often tend to be aimed at trying to calm the traffic along major arterial roads by encouraging cycling commuters to use these routes and mix together with vehicular traffic. While this is a valid strategy to make the roads safer for pedestrians and more confident cyclists we believe more needs to be done to promote cycling among less confident cyclists. These are people who might be willing to go shopping by bike in their local neighbourhood or take young children to school or nursery by bike if roads were improved and would include young people who are still learning about road safety and older people who might use cycling as a way of staying active. We believe the Cally Plan could make progress in improving cycling among the above groups if roads were made safer through the following measures:
Cycle Routes and Bicycle Permeability:
In the long term the best way of encouraging less confident cyclists would be to provide separated cycle lanes along the entire length of Caledonian Rd. This could be most easily achieved along the stretch between the Canal and the railway bridge because of its superior width. However, in the shorter term the following measures should be taken:
- Need for crossing points across Caledonian Road
We welcome the plans to institute an east-west cycle route across Bemerton estate. However, for this to be effective adequate crossing points for less confident cyclists must be provided across Caledonian Road. We recommend that these could be provided to link Lyon Street with Huntingdon Street, Bridgeman Road with Tilloch Street and Richmond Avenue with either Bingfield Street or Richmond Avenue. These could be provided in the form of pelican style traffic lights with “green cycle” symbols that link up with separated cycle lanes that would allow less confident cyclists to reach side roads without having to cycle on Caledonian Road. Alternatively, “Give way to cyclist” signs, road markings and raised crossing points could be instated to provide a kind of cyclist equivalent of a zebra crossing.
- West/East Cycle Route
We welcome plans for an east west cycle path through the Bemerton Estate. This should be of a high quality and well lit. The route provided for cyclists should be free from pot holes, road defects and should allow cyclists to avoid speed bumps.
In addition to the proposed cycle route around the north side of Bingfield Park there should also be a cycle route around the south of Bingfield Park either by providing a direct link between Bingfield Street and Randell’s Road or by providing a cycle route within the park along its southern edge. This would have the advantage of linking the new Kings Cross railway lands development with the heart of Caledonian Road, improving the likelihood that cycling commuters, families and young people from other areas will start to see the shopping street in Caledonian Road as a destination, rather than just an area to pass through.
- Cycle permeability for the side roads around Caledonian Road
We welcome plans to pedestrianize the area of Carnoustie Drive between Tilloch Street and Freeling Street and the plan to provide a cycle lane through this pedestrianized area. However, we would strongly urge that a cycle lane should also be provided through Tilloch Street and Bridgeman Road to provide a way for less confident cyclists to cross Caledonian Rd to the facilities of Bridgeman Road including the park, library and the cycling route up to Upper Street. The crossing between Tilloch Street and Bridgeman Road is the obvious point for less confident cyclists to cross Caledonian Road without having to cycle along Caledonian Road and should therefore be opened for them.
Further cycle permeability could be provided by making Richmond Ave two-way to cyclists, while remaining one way for cars.
The improvements should also include creating cycle access from Caledonian Road onto Huntingdon St. We understand that the dropped curb was removed at this junction to prevent access by mopeds. This problem should instead be resolved by installing enforcement cameras to stop mopeds using cycle accesses.
- Improve junction between Copenhagen St and Caledonian Rd for pedestrians and cyclists
This junction could be much improved for cyclists and pedestrians by:
- increasing the timings to allow pedestrians more time to cross the road
- having a separate green light for cyclists so that they can start before the cars.
- Improve Copenhagen Street
On the consultation it is indicated that Copenhagen Street is intended to provide a safe cycle path from Caledonian Way to York Way. However, the width restrictions combined with speed humps on Caledonian Road do not provide a safe environment for cyclists because cars and taxis especially often try to cut in front of cyclists ahead of the width restrictions. We suggest that parking should be reduced so that a separate, segregated cycle lane could be provided in a westerly direction provided by armadillos similar to the Camden Royal Camden scheme. The existing width restrictions should be retained in the easterly direction with a separate cycle lane provided in the lead up to the junction with Caledonian Road in an easterly direction.
- Provide crossing points on York Way for pedestrians and cyclists
Due to the weight of traffic and the importance of the Railway Lands development behind Kings Cross there is a desperate need for safe crossing points across York Way. These should include:
- A combined pedestrian and cycle crossing point from Randell’s Road to Beaconsfield Street.
- An improved junction between Copenhagen Street, York Way and Copenhagen Street including a cycle lane along the south side of Copenhagen Street approaching the junction, and timed traffic lights to allow cyclists to set off before cars.
- Improve Pedestrian Permeability from Bemerton Estate to York Way
There is a lack of pedestrian permeability between the Bemerton Estate and the new development to the West of York Way. This could easily be provided by making a gap in the barrier between York Way and the car park behind the maisonettes on the west side of Outram Place which would make a pedestrian route that linked up with an existing zebra crossing on York Way.
Team Cally should lobby to improve York Way for cyclists and pedestrians, especially by providing separated cycle lanes in both directions
- Provide a crossing point for cyclists across Copenhagen St
Young families could be encouraged to bring their children to school by bicycle by providing a safe cycle crossing next to the zebra crossing on Copenhagen Street from Bemerton Street to Treaty Street where two primary Schools are located (Blessed Sacrament School and Copenhagen St School)
- Encourage housing associations to provide more access for cyclists through their estates:
In particular this could help improve cycle routes for less confident cyclists:
- Around the back of the Cally Pool by providing a route along Stanmore St and through the Harry Weston Housing Cooperative car park.
- From Twyford Street to Copenhagen St behind the Cooperative Petrol Station and Orkney House
- Along Bryan St on the east side of Caledonian Rd between Copenhagen St and Carnegie St.
Housing associations should also be encouraged to provide more secure and dry cycle parking for residents.
- Improved Cycle parking throughout the area
We welcome the plans to increase bicycle parking along Caledonian road. Cycle parking could also be installed to prevent parking on pavements instead of bollards. The advantage of using cycle parking for this purpose is that they would provide a dual function.
- Ensure cycle training is available for parents, young people and older people
Islington’s cycle training should be advertised and targeted at youth centres, in schools and at children centres in the neighbourhood. Parents should be given advice on safe methods to bring their child to school and nursery. Cycling training and free bike mechanics could also be provided at the Cally Festival to engage young people with this issue. By increasing confidence of families and young people on residential roads we would create a critical mass of cyclists who would encourage motorists to use these roads more carefully.
- Stop taxis and other traffic using Bemerton St, Twyford St and Bingfield St as a cut through
At the moment it is unsafe for families and young people to cycle along Bemerton St, Twyford St and Bingfield St because these routes are routinely used as a cut through for taxis and other traffic avoiding the junction between Caledonian Road and Copenhagen Street. This could easily be solved by blocking off Bemerton Street just south of the junction with Twyford Street, providing an access only for cyclists. At the same time Bingfield Street should be made one way in a westerly direction on the west side of Bemerton Street and one way in an easterly direction on east side of Bemerton St. (See map below) Both streets should remain two-way for cyclists.
We are aware of the recent problem of a small minority of people cycling dangerously along the pavements of Caledonian Rd. Enforcement action should be taken to stop this behaviour – which could take the form of patrols by Community Police Officers at problem times. At the same time safe alternative routes must be provided for young people especially as cycling along the road itself may seem very intimidating for many young people, especially if they have not had cycle safety training.
This issue seems to have been confounded with another recent phenomenon of young people “gathering on bikes” on Tilloch St which seems to have come up in your consultation with local businesses (mentioned on page 3 of the Consultation Statement). We would point out that “gathering on bikes” is not in itself antisocial behaviour. If there are other related instances of antisocial behaviour these need to be better explained.
Putting barriers across Tilloch Street to prevent cycling is a misguided policy as it will not prevent people cycling on pavements in any other area of Caledonian Rd. Also it will remove the most obvious point for less confident cyclists to cross Caledonian Rd.