Trevor Parsons has recently noticed lots of barred right turns at junctions around the borough, and wondered if we could get some exceptions sorted out. Examples quoted in discussion were Cecilia Road into Dalston Lane (where the bar is clearly an anti-rat run measure), various right turns off Kingsland Road, (where the object seems to be to keep the motor traffic flowing), and Whiston Road into Kingsland Road, (where the bar is to stop motor traffic turning across a green pedestrian phase). The view was expressed that cycles should be allowed to cross pedestrian phases while giving way to pedestrians, naturally. ‘Except cycles’ signs would be good advertising, as well as deflecting criticism by other road users. (It was pointed out that the Council has a policy to reduce the number of high level signs, but this seems to be in conflict with the current proposal to install 100 large French-style illuminated advertising panels.) The traffic orders might be in our favour in some cases, but the signs are not there to show that fact.
It was agreed that this should be raised with traffic engineers at the next cycle liaison meeting in September.
Our Leader, Douglas ‘Alfie’ Carnall, wondered, ‘What’s it all about?’ Seriously, though, folks, he would us to keep reviewing the goals and activities of our organisation. For example, there seems to be an untapped demand for social rides from members. It was suggested that a prolonged brainstorming session was required, perhaps a weekend in the country, and Simon Bannister said that he would look into the possibility of booking a dacha in Suffolk which the Council apparently offers for such events.
We now have an internet site and some space, but nothing is yet on it. Previously mooted plans for an ambitious site involving commercial input have not yet come to fruition. Trevor Parsons suggested that we start as soon as possible by making available the information we already possess, and offered to co-ordinate this in the first instance. Examples of material which could easily be put on the site now include a report on Project Modal Shift (see below), an archive of our newsletters, news about Neville’s rides, and the Agenda 21 transport survey. Anyone who wants to submit material should please call Trevor on 0171-729 2273. (His email is unfortunately out of order at the moment!)
* Stoke Newington street festival
The stall did well, with lots of interest expressed and one new member signed up. £110 worth of goods were sold, and for some unknown reason there was an unaccountable extra tranche of cash in the pot at the end of the day. Fingers have been pointed at the tooth fairy. (?)
* Victoria Park Bike Week event
The feelings of the meeting were overwhelmingly negative about the recent BikeFest. “Too few things happening, and little direction.” “Only the kids’ show saved the day.” “The Health Authority organised it, and, well, they’re not cyclists!” “Victoria Park is too big – it swamps the event.” “At least it has lots of roads to cycle on.” Jonathan Edwards, Hackney City Farm’s manager, proposed Haggerston Park as a better venue, and said that it should happen on a Sunday, which is much more of a day for going out. The event would benefit from the crowds attending the nearby markets. Crispin said that the central LCC should take some of the blame and would like our thoughts to be communicated in that direction. Patrick Field said that the event was more successful in the past when it was organised by Hackney LCC. The Montreal annual mass ride, 30-40 000 strong, was pointed to as a better idea for launching Bike Week. It was decided that we should consider this further, and invite comments from the wider membership.
* Project Modal Shift
Patrick reported on the project to get most of the Council’s traffic engineers to shift to cycle mode during Bike Week. Seven bikes were provided, and some people used their own bikes. Officers were asked to fill out questionnaires at the beginning and end of the week, detailing their experiences. Some gave up after the first day, making the usual complaints of inexperienced cyclists, but others were considerably more enthusiastic, finding not only that they got to work more quickly, but also that they were able to get site visits done with less hassle. One pleasing outcome was that the secure bike parking at 161 City Road overflowed, and a second shed had to be used. Officers said it was very instructive to be able to view the streetscape from a cyclist’s perspective.
Patrick, Harry, Douglas and Claire have had a meeting with Groundwork Trust. The project, which would train people to ride and maintain bikes, was originally considered for the City fringe, but now a large ex-railway building at Hackney Central (corner of Amhurst Road and Mare Street) is being earmarked for the project. Considerable amounts of capital are expected to be available to set the project up, but revenue costs would have to look after themselves. There is room in the premises for an associated revenue-generating activity, conceivably a cyclists’ café and/or a bikepark. A trust will have to be set up, and the possibility exists for training jobs to be included in the package. Patrick and others enthused about the great potential of a cycle centre in this nodal position. The next exciting event will be a site visit.
Dave Bracken raised the issue of the proposed sailing centre at the West Reservoir in Stoke Newington. He reported that planned cycle parking facilities have now been withdrawn or scaled down, due, reportedly, to Hackney LCC’s recent rejection of proposals for cycle lockers at railway stations. [Dave vented his displeasure about our near-unanimous preference for dependable Sheffield stands over expensive, bulky and untested lockers, but admitted that he had not attended the meetings and the station survey at which this matter was discussed and decided.] Other members expressed their surprise at the bizarre linkage of these two issues, and mandated Douglas to write to the planning department to clarify the position.
Dave also mentioned that there will be a survey of cyclists in August, with automated logging of cycle traffic at Lea Bridge Road, Kingsland Road and De Beauvoir.
Crispin Truman alerted the meeting to the fact that much of the business of centralised, specialised Council sub-committees has now been devolved to generalised ‘neighbourhood committees’. He warned that bad measures may now slip through even more easily, unless cyclists attend and oppose them. For instance, the first action of the new Clapton neighbourhood committee was to approve a pavement parking scheme. Members of the public can arrange to put an item on the agenda, organise a deputation, or contribute to ‘question and answer sessions’. The Committee Secretariat at the Town Hall will tell people how to do this, and provide information on dates and locations of meetings.
Any other business
Crispin was pleased to report that one hundred members of Hackney LCC have returned their Agenda 21 travel diaries. He requested those who have not yet filled theirs in to do so and get them to him as soon as possible.
Patrick has had correspondence with the Department of the Environment about proposals for a huge car park associated with the Channel Tunnel rail link at Stratford. A public enquiry is being held on the 8th October, with a pre-enquiry meeting in September. Patrick will arrange for Hackney LCC to present evidence.