For those of you who ever cycle along the South Bank, this email exchange might be of interest. My emails from yesterday and Kate Hoey's response. I was alerted to this issue by Lambeth's branch of the London Cycling Campaign. And by an initial email sent to Kate Hoey by Jack Thurston which I copy below. Jack runs the bikeshow on ResonanceFM here.
Make up your own mind what you think about this. It's not strictly City related but close enough. For more excellent coverage on the banning of bikes on the South Bank, read KenningtonPeopleonBikes here and here.
Sometimes I use the cycle hire bikes to come to work along the South Bank in the mornings. It's usually around 7.30am. Kate thinks that should be banned. Read the email trail below and decide for yourselves:
From: HOEY, Kate [mailto:HoeyK@parliament.uk]
Sent: Thu 11/4/2010 9:12 AM
To: Williams, Danny
Subject: RE: Letter from constituent re south bank cycling
Dear danny thanks. I was not talking about any part except the road behind St Thomas' which in my view is quite a good bit for cyclistsImproving roads for cycling is a separate issue and campaign than keeping the river walk safe for pedestrians. The river walk below st thomas' and in front of County hall are packed with pedestrians and not compatible with comuter cycling in the view of many many local people Thank for letting me know your view. Best wishes kate
From: "Williams, Danny
Sent: 04 Nov 2010 08:49
To: "HOEY, Kate" <HoeyK@parliament.uk>,
Subject: Letter from constituent re south bank cycling
Dear Kate Hoey
You recently responded to an email about cycling along the river front on the south bank to Jack Thurston. Jack forwarded that response to Lambeth Cyclists.
I live in Stockwell and cycle to the City of London along this route daily. You mention that the route along the main road parallel to the river is a sensible alternative. The words you use are: "There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital."
The cycling route between Blackfriars Bridge and Vauxhall is truly not 'excellent'.
A number of examples:
Roundabout at Lambeth Palace - the road layout is designed in a way that maximises danger for cycles. On a bicycle, you are expected to waddle between cars and buses queuing at the lights as the cycle facilities stop well before the roundabout (not to mention how unpleasant and difficult it is to turn right if you're heading soutbound on Lambeth Bridge).
Vauxhall gyratory is frankly terrifying on a bike. There are some bike lanes around this gyratory. But these are shared with pedestrians and there simply isn't space for both groups. For example, there can often be half a dozen cycles plus 20 or more pedestrians crammed on the narrow pavement outside the Royal Vauxhall Tavern waiting to cross. Of course, cars have only six lanes to themselves and priority on the traffic lights as well. There would be plenty of space for everyone if one of these lanes was removed from motor vehicles but the priority seemsd to be about making motor traffic flow smoothly, not about making the area accessible for everyone, on bike, on foot, on a bus etc.
Along the road behind the former GLC building: This road is a joke, I'm afraid. There are barriers, ropes, no clear cycle route through here at all.
Along the road behind the National Theatre: Poor quality road means that you spend your time swerving to avoid loose brick work which is highly dangerous here as this route is frankly a rat run for aggressive taxi drivers. It;s deeply unpleasant. The Cut is also not particularly nice. I'd say one in three times I use it, a motor vehicle will try to overtake but then realise they can't due to the humps. They will typically then drift into the side of me when I'm cycling. The way that the side of the carriageway now meanders in and out means I'm also forced to weave along the road, highly confusing to anyone behind me.
In short, this route is designed in a way that slows motor vehicle at parts, which is good. But by no means does it make conditions cycle-friendly. Meanwhile at othger points, eg Vauxhall, the road layout is designed to allow cars to trave as if on a motorway. Neither seems right to me.
I cycle in various forms. On a Borisk bike in my suit. On a fast road bike in cycling gear. And on a Dutch-style sit up bike. On the Boris bike and my Dutch bike, I take the riverside. For the simple reason that I don't want to have to cycle in the traffic in a way that I have to pretend to behave like a car, travelling at speed. For that is how this 'excellent' parallel route really functions. I wear a helmet on my fast bike. I simply don't want to on my other bikes. I'm using them to go out on those occasions, and would rather drive than wear a helmet. I drive this route most weekends and can assure you, it's designed for motor vehicles and not as a serious cycle route.
If you are serious about allowing more people to cycle in Lambeth, perhaps you should join me on a Boris bike on my morning commute to work and see for yourself just how inadequate this route is for cycling. It doesn't feel safe or encouraging to the cyclist at all.
I like a lot of what you stand for and I voted for you. But on cycling, I'm afraid you have it completely wrong.
Begin forwarded message:
> From: "HOEY, Kate" <HoeyK@parliament.uk>
> Date: 3 November 2010 19:44:35 GMT
> To: "'Jack Thurston'"
> Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Jack Thurston
> Dear Jack
> Thanks you for your e mail.As you may know cycling on the river bank has been a subject of great interest to residents for a long time with the issue constantly raised at the Forum meetings. St Thomas' hospital are particularly concerned about cycling along the stretch under their wall and there have been a number of incidents. Some of the landowners already have signs erected but in the part owned by lambeth the signs had been removed. That is why the notices that used to be there -NO CYCLING- are now being put up again. There is of course an excellent cycling route on the main road along past Lambeth Palace and the hospital. Pedestrians need protecting too and it is not anti cycling to be pro pedestrians. I can assure you that,I personally have had dozens of letters predominately from older people complaining about being frightened by some cyclists speeding along the river. I have also copied in your local Councillor Peter Truesdale who is aware of the history of all this from the Lambeth Council presepective.
> Best wishes Kate
> PS Your comments on 'your co-alition friends' was presumably meant to annoy me but I can assure you it did not
> From: Jack Thurston
> Sent: 03 November 2010 15:52
> To: HOEY, Kate
> Subject: Letter from your constituent Jack Thurston
Wednesday 3 November 2010
> Dear Kate Hoey,
> As your constituent and a member of the Vauxhall CLP, I am writing to urge you to oppose the proposed ban on cycling on the Thames path along the South Bank, from Westminster Bridge to the Oxo Tower.
> The path is widely used by cyclists, the vast majority of whom are sensible and courteous to others. The uncourteous few are unlikely to be deterred from their inconsiderate behaviour by a ban. The only result will be that courteous, law-abiding cyclists are pushed onto roads which are less safe and less pleasurable to ride along.
> I am also concerned that this ban is being proposed without any proper assessment of the cost and benefits. How many collisions have there been on the path? How many of those are the fault of cyclists? How many deaths and injuries would be avoided by a ban? I suspect no assessment of this kind has been carried out at all.
> It is my understanding that many of the recent developments on this stretch of the Thames (such as County Hall) entered into Section 106 agreements which included making provision for cyclists to use the Thames path. It is extremely ironic that the managers of these developments are now among those who are pushing for a ban.
> I think this ban is being proposed by a minority of people who are simply anti-cycling.
> It's quite possible for everyone to get along. Just look at how the Royal Parks manages its shared use paths, which are far narrower than the vast expanse of the Thames Path on the South Bank. Or look at how British Waterways manages its considerate cycling policy on the canal towpaths. Look at Berlin, Paris, where they have cycling on pavements and people are quite sensible about it.
> This looks to me like a profoundly illiberal measure. As your coalition friends put it 'we're all in this together'. So why can't we get along together.
> Considerate cycling policy: YES
> Blanket ban: NO
> I would be grateful to know what action you are taking on this issue and I hope I can count on you to represent my views to those who are responsible for making a decision on this matter.
> Yours sincerely,
> Jack Thurston