Hackney LCC meeting Wednesday 4 August 2004

Venue:
Pub on the Park, London Fields, London E8

Present:
Oliver Schick (co-ordinator), Richard Lewis (secretary), Trevor Parsons (communications), Marian Farrugia, Paul Singer, Jane Willdig, Patrick Field, Frank Merrigan.

Guests:
PCs Mark Johns and Lee Hunt of the Shoreditch cycle unit of Hackney police.

Apologies:
None received.

Topics discussed:

1. Policing and the cycle squad
2. Good Going Week
3. Shoreditch Car Free Day
4. Car Free Day Wednesday 22 September
5. Feeder ride to The Peace Cycle
6. Lower Clapton
7. LCN+ CRISP
8. Shacklewell Lane
9. Community Strategy
9. AOB

1. Policing and the cycle squad
We are very grateful to Mark Johns and Lee Hunt for taking time to come and speak to us at the meeting. We found their contribution to be very useful and constructive.

Mark has been a police officer for seven years, and has been at Shoreditch for three months. Lee has been with the force since September 2003 as a cycling officer. He is a keen cyclist, and takes part in time trials. He also used to race at Harlow Velodrome until it was demolished.

The cycle squad was set up in response to Hackney’s poor performance with reducing street crime. Since the squad was set up, the borough has effectively tackled the problem so that the borough command is now near the top of the league. The squad operates in the southern half of Hackney, bounded by Balls Pond Road, Dalston Lane, Graham Street, Amhurst Road, Pembury Junction, Lower Clapton Road and Glenarm Road. They are active from 1pm to 9pm. The northern half of Hackney police operating area does not have a cycle squad.

Theft

Bike theft is one of the main problems faced by members of the campaign and others. Many stolen cycles are sold on at Brick Lane market on a Sunday. We asked about measures that could be taken to tackle this trade. We also asked about general measures to prevent theft and aid recovery of stolen bikes.

Mark and Lee said that the problem is well known and that the market area itself is in the jurisdiction of Tower Hamlets police. They said that the Tower Hamlets council officers who control the legitimate market have no powers to move on illegal traders outside of the defined market area. However Mark will contact Tower Hamlets to see whether an action plan can be formulated to deal with the issues.

Part of the challenge of dealing with cycle theft is that cyclists know little about their machines. If only people could arrive with an accurate description of their machines and put identifying marks on their cycles (such as postcode stamps, ultra-violet marks or microdots) the police’s job would be much easier. The police have a schools officer who can spread the message to children and parents (possibly via Supernova if required).

The police would be happy to co-operate with the campaign in providing publicity materials and services such as postcoding at stalls etc.

As mentioned on our info page, it is possible to self-report thefts online.

Attacks and robbery

We asked about muggings and other crime, and when it is appropriate to use 999. Members also asked whether the police take cycling seriously as an issue, since there have been problems of non-attendance by the police.

Mark and Lee said that street crime is one of Hackney’s priorities and that they have been conducting recent policing activities in London Fields. The gang that has been causing problems recently has been identified and the police are actively pursuing them. Current hotspots are London Fields, Haggerston Estate including the canal and the area around Homerton Station (the Trowbridge Estate).

With regard to 999 calls: there are levels of urgency based on the number of available officers and the stream of high priority calls. Hence it is not always possible for police to be in attendance as quickly as they would like. The three levels of urgency are: Immediate (target response time within 12 mins); Soon (up to an hour though in practice longer); Extended (no set target). The officers assured us that there would be no difference in prioritisation because you were cycling rather than motoring.

The 999 service is to be used when you or your property are in immediate danger. The police are unlikely to prioritise minor events such as fruit throwing. The alternative non-emergency 24-hour number for the whole of Hackney is 7739 1212. This is a switchboard that will be in operation until the service is centralised.

Traffic enforcement

We also asked about traffic enforcement and traffic offences. Mark and Lee said that traffic offences are dealt with by the Met’s Traffic Operational Command. They do however deal with uninsured vehicles for which a court appearance is required. Quite often, offending drivers are up to a lot of other illicit activity including transporting drugs and stolen goods.

Actions:

  • LCCiH to use stall opportunities and events such as Shoreditch Car Free Day, Good Going Week, the various festivals, Bike Week etc to publicise measures that would help people to prevent crime and report thefts.
  • RL to speak to London Fields Cycles about the possibility of their providing a cycle spec service, so that customers have a reference list of their cycles’ components and details such as make etc.
  • RL to receive publicity materials from the police for inclusion in the trailer stock.

>> See a history of the cycle squad in the newsletter of the International Police Mountain Bike Association

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2. Good Going Week

Ideas for events for Good Going Week (15-22 September 2004, formerly known as TravelWise Week AKA European Mobility Week) are invited, in addition to Shoreditch Car Free Day which already falls during that week. We need to establish some events to coincide with the week and let Tower Hamlets council, which has been assigned to co-ordinate the week, know as soon as possible what we are doing. We need to bear in mind the need to appeal to those who aren’t yet benefiting from cycling (current public transport users being the most likely to switch), as well as to support those who have already made the modal shift.

RL has already spoken to Stephen Taylor of Haringey Cyclists about a possible joint event, and it looks as if they might be able to encourage volunteers to attend an evening event.

RL suggested that in addition we ought to stage another breakfast on London Fields. Both events would also be an opportunity to distribute publicity materials about cycling generally and about crime reduction.

Actions:

  • A meeting between the Islington, Hackney and Haringey cycling campaign groups is needed to progress ideas. The boroughs should then publicise the event in the Good Going Newsletter, which requires them to sign up.
  • RL to badger Hackney, Islington and Haringey councils to clarify the issues and get action.

3. Shoreditch Car Free Day

Trevor outlined progress to date on the Shoreditch Carnival & Car Free Day. One of the main tasks at the moment is establishing final venues for stages etc.

To qualify as fully participating events, European Mobility Week events such as this are now required to show a permanent outcome. The idea we have for Shoreditch Car Free Day is the realignment of a proposed east-west link across south Shoreditch to run along Rivington Street. This link was originally planned to go via Boundary Passage and New Inn Yard, and TfL decided to install a toucan crossing of Shoreditch High Street at this point as part of the Shoreditch traffic reforms in 2002. The crossing at this point is very welcome for pedestrian traffic, but it has proved to be little used by cycle traffic, which much prefers to use the more northerly route of Calvert Avenue/Rivington Street, as we advised TfL at the time in our paper Applying The Permeability Principle (PDF format) – see section 5.2. The realignment would have the local benefit of making Rivington Street two way for cycle traffic, as well as potentially reducing the unnecessary green time on the aforementioned toucan crossing, thereby reducing delays to traffic (most importantly cycle and bus traffic) on Shoreditch High Street. The London Cycle Network Plus (LCN+) team is currently considering this proposed realignment (known technically in LCN+-speak as a ‘variation’).

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4. Car Free Day 22 September

Patrick said that he is considering a ride featuring Chinese Elvis across North London on Car Free Day on the ‘real’ Car Free Day, Wednesday 22 September.

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5. Feeder ride to The Peace Cycle

Paul is organising a feeder ride to Hyde Park on 14 August at 11am to see off a London to Jerusalem bike ride called The Peace Cycle. The start point will be the church of St John of Jerusalem. The feeder ride, together with further details, will be publicised on the mailing list and in the Hackney Gazette. [NB This item is for information only, the feeder ride being a cycle-related event starting in Hackney. This does not constitute an endorsement of the event by the LCCiH. Ed.]

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6. Lower Clapton

Oliver explained that we need to make sure we have a coherent view on Lower Clapton traffic management before the area review starts in October. He has contacted former borough co-ordinator Tim Evans with regard to the data protection arrangements for contacting LCC members in the area.

Action:

 

  • Volunteers needed to help identify LCC members in the Lower Clapton area and distribute information ahead of a possible meeting in September or October.

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7. LCN+ CRISP

Oliver reported that he had a long meeting with Hackney’s cycle projects officer Olu Soyoye, during which progress on Hackney’s London Cycle Network Plus CRISP (cycle route implementation stakeholder plan) was raised, following the route surveys in which we participated earlier this year. The CRISP report is apparently in a fairly final draft and a liaison meeting should be taking place soon. As a key stakeholder, it was agreed that LCCiH will need an opportunity to comment on the draft. [Update: RL has spoken to Olu about this. He is currently amending typos etc, indicating that further copies should become available once he has contacted the consultant to iron out problems].

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8. Shacklewell Lane

The draft layout of planned changes to our target junction looks good. A cycle track has been included to cut the corner and discourage cyclists from using the footway. This is a major success … years in the making, but we are confident it will have been worth it.

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9. Community Strategy

The Hackney Community Strategy has finally been completed and was adopted at a long, full council meeting. Cycling is fairly prominent in the document so we have some leverage. Hackney is likely to be devoting more staff resources to the promotion of cycling as a result of the document.

10. Any other business

Trevor reported that he has delivered a list of on-street cycle parking locations to Olu Soyoye, for installation in the next couple of months thanks to the availability of some funding. This was derived from a Hackney LCC members’ wishlist compiled during our 2002 Hackney Cycle Parking Survey.

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Next Meeting

Wednesday 1 September, 8pm, Pub on the Park.