I was wondering what you’ve heard from Islington Labour (& indeed most if the other parties) so far? I’m surprised to see that on the website most candidates are not even listed, despite the confirmed nominations having been published for at least a week. I’m also surprised that all the Islington Labour candidates I’ve seen listed are marked as being opposed to Space4Cycling.
I increasingly think the Space4cycling campaign is badly misconceived; it is all too easy for candidates who are not going to be in power particularly, I notice, the Greens to support it, but it is not so easy if you are from a party that might, but have not had an opportunity to be involved in the selection of schemes. In my own ward, Caledonian, the scheme is on a road that Islington Council doesn’t control, as are several other schemes, whilst one is I understand for a scheme Islington Council proposed, consulted on and got an overwhelming negative consultation response.
I have copied this to 2 of my own ward councillors, who I know are in favour of cycling, and the Islington LCC / ICAG contact. I regret not taking part in the discussions in Islington, which I must have missed at a busy time, but I never heard anything like as much about the discussion in Islington, where I live, as I heard about the discussion in Haringey, where I work. I am an LCC member and thoroughly support the principles of Space4cycling, of giving cyclists safe space on the roads, where necessary (which will be a lot of the time) separated road space, either as physically segregated lanes or separate quiet roads, and ultimately normalising cycling.
We chose some big schemes for the ward asks as we found that in the LCC survey many people highlighted how difficult it was to cycle in places like Highbury Corner or Archway. In Islington, Labour have replied as one party with the attached e-mail which includes a letter and spreadsheet and your e-mail is timely as we are discussing how best to use their response. We are hoping for local ward engagement with the Space for Cycling campaign so I hope other Labour candidates will reply to the e-mails they receive.
The reply that I have sent to the approximately one dozen emailers says that there may be much safer ways to bring cyclists travelling north-south through our neighbourhood and through the Kings Cross junction in particular. I also mention that York Way is not an Islington Council controlled road because Camden is the highway authority and we therefore have less direct control over it than if it were an Islington road.
But I also think there may be higher priorities for cycle-friendly initiatives in Caledonian Ward, for example, east-west permeability and safer routes to school for children on bikes. I have not been party to the mechanism that, in the words of the campaign “local people have decided” they want a segreagted cycle lane on York Way. But this proposal has never been discussed with the Council and certainly not raised with members representing either Caledonian Ward or Somerstown Ward (the Camden side of the road).
York Way is a particularly difficult road not least because it forms part of the Kings Cross gyratory system. Over the past 4 years, we have worked hard to remove the gyratory system which blights hundreds of homes in our neighbourhood. The gyratory is mainly controlled by TfL who have proved very resistant to change until quite recently. However, as a first step, Islington Council is shortly going to return part of the Caledonian Rd to 2-way working. So, we are making some progress. As part of these works, a new crossing treatment will be engineered for cyclists at the junction of Caledonian Road and Killick Street.
Obviously this is an election period. People use it to make demands. Fair enough. As candidates we are all big enough and experienced enough to take this on the chin. But it is not a good way for LCC to engage with a Labour led Council that is fundamentally committed to road safety and to encouraging cycling when you put-up demands which appear designed to “fail” some candidates not because they actually oppose more space for cyclists but because the proposal itself is too complicated to just superficially “support”.
I am a Labour Party member but I’m particularly motivated over Space4Cycling to ensure LCC & the cyclists cause is not marginalised as a fringe “outgroup” issue of only interest to extreme greens. That’s I suppose Labour philosophy in general; a force for progressive politics but that can command a majority; I argue in the Labour Party for cycling (& get a good hearing) but recognise it needs to be balanced against other worthy causes & what can be achieved. And I do believe it is practical & justify able to create more space for cycling, proper Dutch space; for instance I argued (too late it turned out) within LCC & within the Labour Party for Drayton Park to be properly Dutch-ified with continuous segregated cycle lanes, but I think helped get the rotten original scheme at least made less bad. I’m confident under Labour Islington would be keen to create good Dutch style segregated cycling facilities where achievable & commanding public support. So let’s avoid becoming marginalised and engage with all parties fairly!