Present:
Douglas Carnall
Clare Groom
Tim Evans
Rowena (Tower Hamlets LCC)
Lucy Thomas
Charlie Lloyd
Tom Kelly
Jonathan Edwards
Nick Hutt
John Dash
Simon Bannister
Crispin Truman
Patrick Field
Trevor Parsons

Topics discussed:

1. Footway cycling

Trevor reported the recent meeting about footway cycling much as he had in Cycling in Hackney News Feb/March ’99. With reference to the aim of LCC contributing direction to the proposed publicity in favour of on-road cycling, Tim Evans hoped that we could get the LCC logo on the material. We agreed that we should aim to be taken on as a partner in the exercise, offering consultancy and distribution in return for references to the organisation.

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2. M11 Link Road

The fundamentally mistaken and much-delayed M11 Link Road is set to be opened in stages throughout the year. We discussed what we might do to ‘mark’ such an unfortunate event. It was suggested that we could do a nice slow, leisurely ride along the length of the road to check its suitability for cycling – an issue brought up in the public inquiry to justify the road. Of course, the road is designed as a motor road, lacking features such as wide kerb lanes which would actually make it useful as a fast route for competent cyclists, but it would be interesting to check it out, we agreed. Nick Hutt suggested that a good and symbolic point for a ride to start would be Cassland Road, to show the connection with Hackney. Charlie said that we might not get to know when the ‘opening ceremony’ will happen, since those responsible will probably be too ashamed (and too afraid) to hold such an event, but we could hold our ride on the Saturday following any opening.

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3. Shoreditch one-way system

We welcomed Rowena [sorry, missed her surname], who had come specially from the Tower Hamlets LCC group to hear the latest on the Shoreditch one-way system review. We went over the story about Islington blocking Hackney’s two-way test-out, as reported in Cycling in Hackney News Feb/March ’99. Crispin Truman said that all the borough groups affected – Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Islington – should make a joint approach to the Islington Council foot-draggers.

Charlie Lloyd pointed out that large cuts are being made in Islington’s transport department, and this may not be a bad thing in this case, depending on which officers are getting the chop! He also added that this was more than an ‘officer problem’ – public opinion in the Clerkenwell area is currently against the return of Shoreditch to two-way, fearing (wrongly, we believe) increased motor traffic levels in their area. Douglas cautioned against too much Islington bashing, saying that it had not been unknown in the past for Hackney to blame others when it preferred inaction itself. Simon asked whether anyone knew about Islington Agenda 21. Crispin accepted the task of liaising with them, in his role as co-chair of Hackney Agenda 21. Trevor mentioned that he had recently spoken to John Ackers of Islington Alert/Islington Green Party, and that they were pushing for reform of the one-way system at the Nag’s Head, so we could usefully push from both ends. Douglas passed round copies of a list of Islington people who should be lobbied.

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4. Owen Street

The Owen Street cycle route saga drags on. [See Cycling in Hackney News November ’98 for background.] Douglas said that people should continue to make representation to the same Islington contacts on this subject too, since it does not seem to be sorted out favourably yet, with Owen Street due to be closed to cyclists very soon. Charlie said that events will depend on a decision of the Highway Authority on whether a lane of Goswell Road can be used for vehicle access to the development site, and that if we are able to stir up Islington councillors, that may help the Highway Authority to decide in favour of cycle traffic. Patrick agreed that pressuring councillors would be more useful than trying to lobby the Highway Authority bods, who are semi-detached bureaucrats and therefore unresponsive to public pressure. Douglas suggested that it was time for us to lobby Hackney’s MPs Diane Abbott and Brian Sedgemore.

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5. National Cycle Network North East London corridor

Rick Andrew and John Grimshaw, planners of the National Cycle Network, have been in touch with Douglas to discuss options for designating the route through North East London. Their original plan ran through Owen Street (!), onto Hackney’s east/west route and up to the Lea. Douglas suggested bringing the route through Hackney’s town centre, bringing cyclists through the Narroway and the ‘cultural quarter’ which the Council is planning to replace the one it has been bulldozing next to London Fields. Trevor wondered if Sustrans were bringing any extra cash to be spent. Charlie said that there wasn’t extra money as such, but that Sustrans had been given de facto control over co-ordinating through routes, so what they approved would get Government Office for London cash.

We wondered what needed the money more – a crossing of Balls Pond Road or improvements to Hackney Central. Patrick favoured Hackney Central, as somewhere which is close enough to greenness (London Fields/Clapton Square), yet still historic and commercial. Douglas agreed and said that Rick Andrew had sounded convinced of the merits of this routing. Nick Hutt turned the focus to the nitty gritty of how Hackney Central could be improved. We agreed that one interesting model might be traffic signals spread wide across the junction of Mare Street and Amhurst Road, allowing co-ordinated pedestrian phases and easy manoeuvres into and out of the Narroway. John Dash said that there was a long term plan being discussed to block through motor traffic on Mare Street from the Town Hall. Crispin Truman commented that that left a lot to deal with as far as Graham road and Amhurst Road were concerned.

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6. Accounts

Our new treasurer Clare Groom made a welcome presentation on the state of Hackney LCC’s accounts. There was some uncertainty about the receipts from the Burns Night do, but the balance would appear to be at least £1000, even after paying a donation of £800 to Hackney City Farm, to whom we have not given anything for two years or so as a sign of appreciation for the space they give us for our self-help workshop.

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7. Workshop

Crispin asked who was running the workshop at the moment, in the knowledge that Martin was keen to pass the job on after many years of devotion to it. Douglas said that he had had various offers of help, but was not yet able to say for certain who could take on the responsibility. He said that the best thing would be for people to drop in of a Thursday and see how things are going. It was suggested that we could again commission some mechanical training to be given to workshop volunteers by a professional in return for a commitment to help – e.g. six training sessions in return for attendance at the workshop once a month for six months. Crispin suggested that perhaps a student from the Tower Hamlets College cycle technicians course might be up for the job.

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8. Delivery businesses

We had been expecting an appearance by a representative of Groundwork to discuss their plans for cycle-powered delivery and social businesses, but due to a mix-up there was a no-show. The idea is for non-mobile residents of New Islington & Hackney Housing Association sheltered housing to have their shopping delivered. Jonathan explained that he had tendered for this job, as have Zero and the Red Star cycle operation. We await developments.

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9. Stoke Newington Church Street Festival

Simon ran through proposals for Stokey Festival this year. Last year LCC in Hackney ran a bike park, and two years ago there was a family bike ride around the streets of Stoke Newington. This year we would like to do both these things and more besides! We think that bike parking should be regarded as a core function of the festival organisation in the same way as other traffic management issues. Simon and Trevor have had a meeting Stuart of Bikefix, who wants to show off the latest and greatest recumbents, and Simon is keen that this could be combined with a demonstration of the practicality of family cycling (being the responsible dad that he is now). Clare said that she has been a steward at the festival before, and that maybe we could get our ideas advanced by encouraging Hackney LCC people to be stewards, with special responsibility for bike parking etc. Douglas hoped that there could be a real crowd-pulling activity on the LCC stall this year in the shape of a ‘test your cycling strength’ ergometer. Simon and Trevor will be approaching the festival organisers with all these ideas.

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10. Any other business

Douglas reported on health promotion progress. After all the optimism of our bid for Health Action Zone cash to promote cycling for recovering cardiac sufferers, it turns out that there is just £40 grand to support cardiovasculation health promotion in Hackney, most of which is going to support gym-based activities. There is, however, a chance of a small amount of seed money to go towards the training of cycle trainers, which will be better than nothing.

Charlie announced that there was no sponsor for National Bike Week this year (June 12th-20th), so it’s DIY time again! As far as Hackney activities goes, we agreed to have a repeat of last year’s delightful breakfast, on the Friday, and we will aim to promote it more generally, leafleting cyclists in the area a couple of mornings before.

Crispin felt that we need to decide priorities and direction for the group, so we agreed to discuss strategy at our April meeting, giving us a chance to trail the meeting in the next newsletter.