Tuesday, 17 May 2011

City of London sort of approves measures to improve road safety, cycling and walking. And sort of doesn't.

New cycling route on City of London street. Located
underneath the HGV. Handy for mothers and children
on their bicycles.....
First the extremely good news. And then the really not so very good news.

Back at the start of the year, I covered the City's planned transport strategy in some detail. This strategy is called the City of London Local Implementation Plan and there's a summary of my criticisms at the time on this page here.

Impressively, 113 people or organisations submitted responses to the Plan. That's roughly 100 more responses than the City received last time it consulted on its strategy five years ago. The list of responses is on this page here and includes responses from individuals at Deloitte, RBS, Deutsche Bank, Nomura, Allen & Overy, Kirkland & Ellis, Thomson Reuters....The list goes on.


And now for the big news.

Having worked its way through several committees, the City of London Policy and Resources Committee, last week voted in principle  to support three amendments to the underwhelming original Local Implementation Plan.

The Policy and Resources Committee is essentially in charge of policy in the Square Mile and in charge of resource allocation between the various subcommittees.

These are the amendments to the original plan that were discussed last week:

"(1) More ambitious road traffic casualty targets to reduce the number of persons killed or seriously injured to 50% below the 2004–2008 average by 2020 and the total number of persons injured to 30% below the 2004–2008 average by 2020.

(2) A commitment to provide continuous high-quality conditions for cycling on several routes through the City, with a further recommendation that these routes include both the London Cycle Network routes on City Corporation streets and several north–south and east–west quieter back-street routes through the City.

(3) A commitment to formally investigate the desirability of a 20 mph speed limit or 20 mph zone covering the whole of the City, with a further recommendation that the preferred option for such a speed limit or zone incorporate the Transport for London road network in the City."


This is very very good news indeed and a hgue thank you goes to everyone who participated in this consultation to help push some of these amendments through the strategy planning process.

But now for the less good news. You might have noticed that I stated the Committee voted 'in principle' for these amendments. That's because the actual decision taken in the meeting was an agreement that:

"Investigation be carried out in the three areas identified by the consultation process in consultation with the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of this Committee, the Planning and Transportation Committee and the Town Clerk”.

Some of us have sat in the various committee meetings that led up to this decision. And we're none too sure what this resolution actually means. Our sense is that it may mean that a handful of committee chairs go sit in a room and work out whether or not to accept these amendments or to tweak them.

Now, the Chair of the Committee, Stuart Fraser, is one of those people. From the way he talked about cycling at the Committee meeting, we sense that he's not terribly aware of the conditions for cycling on the City's streets and bridges. The Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee is a chap called Martin Farr who's views we profiled a few months ago here.

Our sense from listening to various committee meetings recently is that very very few councillors are prepared to stick their necks out in favour of cycling (or walking for that matter), largely because the general level of discussion about cycling at these meetings is fairly tabloid. Various of the more senior figures will rant about 'dangerous and inconsiderate cycling' in a way they would never talk about any other group of City professionals. And this will generally set the tone that many other committee members follow. Only the braver members will risk making a more considered comment.

So, to be honest, the jury is still out on the City's thinking about transport issues.

In theory, here are three very worthy amendments that could go a long way to improving safety for all types of people on the City's roads and not just for cyclists. But we're going to have to play a bit of a waiting game to see how the committee chairmen decide to implement those recommendations.