Pub on the Park, London Fields, London E8
Oliver Schick (co-ordinator), Richard Lewis (secretary), Trevor Parsons (communications), Alix Stredwick, Janice Cartwright, Steven Collins, Anna Trafford, Vicky Lack, Katie Hanson, David A Smith, Jonathan Cheifetz, Jarvia Foxter, Owen Pearson, Robert Vaughan, Colin Waters, Patrick Field, Keith Jones, Nathan Carr, Carol Gray, Brenda Puech.
PCs Justin Sarhy(sp?), Josie Plant and Amanda Lovegrove of the Shoreditch cycle unit of Hackney police.
1. Hülya Türkmen
On Friday 20 August Hackney Learning Trust worker Hülya Türkmen suffered grievous injuries on her way to work in a collision with an HGV at the junction of Essex Road and St Paul’s Road, resulting in the amputation of a leg. Oliver reported that the monthly mass bike ride on Friday 27 August 2004 went to the location of the collision.
Hülya is an artist, and her friends tell us that she loves hand-made cards. Members who would like to send her a card to cheer her up can send it to: Hülya Türkmen, c/o The Under 5s Project, TLC Building, 2nd Floor, 1 Reading Lane, London E8 1GQ
Alix Stredwick, known previously for her work with Tower Hamlets Wheelers and with the Women’s Design Service women’s cycling project, introduced herself in her new role as school travel plan (STP) adviser for Hackney. She is working part time, based in the council’s traffic and transportation department but funded via Sustrans and reporting to the London regional STP coordinator (Emma Sheridan at TfL). The STP advisor post is funded until March 2007.
Alix introduced schools travel plans, which are produced for and by the school and are chiefly intended to find ways of reducing private car use in the journey to school. An important part of Alix’s job will be identifying and supporting travel plan champions (whether a teacher, parent or governor), who will develop the travel plan for their school.
Priority areas for STPs are currently Cazenove Road (where traffic calming is going in) and Rendlesham Road, and next year Bethune Road will be included. The target is for ten schools to have a travel plan by the end of March 2005, and for 40% of to have one by 2006. A completed travel plan will qualify schools for £5,000-10,000 each in capital funding. This is not ring-fenced, but is intended to be spent on supporting sustainable travel to school.
Alix is very keen for LCC members to put her in touch with contacts in Hackney schools, including governors, parents and local residents; with any other schools in Hackney that are undertaking cycling training; and more widely with any other useful people either within the council or otherwise.
Katie mentioned that she is a governor at Homerton school.
Among other things, Alix said that she would be conducting a survey of travel patterns in January 2005, and that the new Mossbourne Academy is doing some travel planning. For more detail, see her notes for this meeting.
A welcome was given to the three members of the Shoreditch cycle squad, who were attending to follow up on the visit by two of their colleagues to last month’s meeting.
First up for discussion was once again the problem of theft and especially the disposal of stolen bikes at Brick Lane (off patch for these Hackney-based officers). A comparison was made with illegal DVD selling, against which action has been taken with some success. In recent weeks a market action group has been formed, which has resulted in the temporary clearing of fly traders, but everyone agreed that they would just come straight back if the enforcement activity wasn’t kept up. Keith (of Tower Hamlets Wheelers) confirmed that the Brick Lane initiative went well, but last Sunday was business as usual. Amanda said that when they spoke to Tower Hamlets colleagues about doing a combined operation they said there would be Sundays when they couldn’t provide cover.
Amanda emphasised that street crime, particularly robbery and attacks, is the main remit of the cycle squad, rather than theft. In addition to the cycle squad, there are also plain clothes officers involved – a total of 40 officers at the moment. These crimes against the person are currently given the highest priority in the borough, and it was admitted therefore that crimes such as theft and burglary receive significantly lower priority.
Borough police each have a ‘problem solving team’, which can be deployed to particular areas of concern. Currently in Hackney these are mainly being used to clear crack houses, but it could be possible to get the Hackney (north and south) and Tower Hamlets problem solving teams to turn their attention to the trade in stolen bikes for a time. Some work has apparently been done on Hoxton Square, which was a cycle theft hotspot and has been targeted with observation. Amanda also recounted a success story, where they questioned a suspect who had a suspiciously tasty bike and found on his person a tool that picks a D-lock that you can buy them on the net. He was arrested and the bike restored to its owner in Kingston.
Once again it was emphasised that it is crucially important for us all to record the details of our bikes, to make it easier for the police to reunite stolen property with their owners. The burden of proof is on the owner not the possessor to prove title. Recording the details of your bike can be as easy as taking a digital photo, though it is also worth writing down all distinguishing details, naturally including the unique frame number which is usually found underneath the bottom bracket. Thieves are currently too lazy or stupid in general to try to obscure the frame number. Some cycle shops (including Evans and Cycle Surgery) record the frame number of all bikes sold. Amanda said she would try to get us a copy of the police bike theft reporting form.
Robbery / street crime
The robbery initiative has been going for about a year, and is based in the south of the borough. The Shoreditch cycle squad is pretty much unique in being robbery-oriented. It was quite expensive to set up, but it has been a success and has strong support from their superintendant.
The cycle squad is mainly about deterrence and prevention in hotspots, taking details of possible suspects, doing overt photography (not kept for long) of suspicious youths, detailing their clothing and the cycles they are currently using. The squad has a good success rate in catching robbery suspects (Lee is particularly fast) and has reduced robbery and snatches. The officers mentioned that special authority is required for covert photography, and that in their opinion CCTV was the best tool they currently have for tackling street crime. There was a lot of value in the deterrence of highly visible cycle patrols – plainclothes cycle patrols would pose major officer safety problems.
The first response when a member of the public reports a robbery or attack is fast cars with plain clothes officers. Uniforms will go as well, but the victim will generally be asked to go for a drive-around in a car to see if they can see the attackers in the vicinity. They will then put in crime report, and show the victim a ‘rogue’s gallery’ of known villains, which is often useful.
David talked about the canal towpath, and said that although it is a pleasant place to cycle it provides many opportunities to the robber, because there are so many exit points. Angela mentioned that one youth now has bail conditions to keep him away from the towpath.
Angela emphasised that they try to get the kids onside as much as they can, offering them advice, and even mending their bikes. Patrick mentioned that all Newham community policing teams now going onto bikes.
The officers advised against people carrying sprays, since these are classed as firearms. Ear-splittingly loud panic alarms were suggested as a good and legal alternative.
The meeting thanked the squad for their attendance and for their excellent work.
Residents living near the Lee Navigation towpath have been expressing concern about careless cycling at the area known as High Hill Ferry (near the Anchor and Hope pub). There has apparently been a collision between a child and a cyclist. The residents have been in touch with the council and were asking for a staggered gates to be introduced. Members familiar with this location agreed that some commuters using this towpath can be fast and aggressive.
Trevor reported that rumble strips were being scheduled by Olu, rather than barriers [This has since changed back to widely spaced staggered gates. Ed.]. Oliver is keen on leafleting during the morning peak. He has the contact name of the concerned resident, who is a friendly and reasonable chap. Richard said that signage and a bollard had been effective on a comparable track in Oxford.
Robert Vaughan said he was happy to help with leafleting. He can also can post a message to 70 members of the canal users’ mailing list. Richard, Anna, Brenda and Robert agreed to work on leafleting.
David A Smith is taking the lead on our response to the current consultation for a Hackney Parking and Enforcement Plan. Half of Hackney is now covered by residents’ parking zones, and a key question in the consultation is how the continued rollout of parking zones should be arranged (ie piecemeal or wholesale). There was some discussion about pricing, and about prioritisation of road users. David welcomed the fact that the consultation document makes positive statements on cycling, and that the percentage of car ownership is still noted as being low. The document talks about off-street parking a bit, but makes no strong statement either way. We would be in favour of reducing parking spaces both on- and off-street, because parking space reduction is one of the key levers to reducing car ownership and use.
A major omission in the current consultation document is any specific mention of the needs of cycling in the enforcement section. We will request that special attention be paid to parking which obstructs the safe and convenient passage of cycle traffic, including parking which blocks mode filters (road blocks with cycle gaps) and cycle lanes.
Other important points were that no new one-way streets should be permitted in order to increase on-street parking provision; and that the number of car parking spaces on highly trafficked streets should be reduced.
David will draft a response and circulate it to our mailing list, and was advised to ask the advice of Ralph Smyth, Hackney resident, City Cyclists’ co-ordinator and chair of the LCC Policing and Enforcement Working Group. David wondered whether we could identify specific streets as priorities, but Richard said that this would not be appropriate in a strategic document.
It was noted that things are not as bad here as in some other London boroughs. Redbridge, for example, is apparently encouraging people to pave over their front gardens and turn them into car parking, so as to reduce pressure on on-street parking spaces!
We are working with Satu Vaisanen of the council’s traffic team to promote two events on the cycling day of European Mobility Week: in the morning a good old cyclists’ breakfast and in the evening a ‘pitstop’, in which quick mechanical assistance would be offered to passing cyclists, as well as free reflectors and subsidised lights. Richard, Nathan, Brenda, Patrick and Katie offered their assistance.
Trevor said that he and colleagues in the Shoreditch Carnival team were working hard to deliver the event on Sunday 19th September. He mentioned that the Shoreditch Carnival had been incorporated as a non-profit company limited by guarantee, to remove risk and liability from Hackney LCC. He also appealed for members to volunteer as stewards for the day.
There was some discussion of the new barriers at some of the entrances to Victoria Park, which are intended to deter motorcycles and scooters but unfortunately are obstructing wheelchairs, trikes, and bikes with trailers etc. We have drafted a letter to Tower Hamlets council but not sent it yet, although we have contacted Hackney councillors and officers asking them to speak to their TH counterparts.
Owen is meeting the TH officers tomorrow so will raise the issue. Obviously the scooters are a real problem, but deterring them presents us with this well-recognised catch 22. Richard suggested referring to Sustrans as they have expertise on this issue.
Wednesday 6 October, 8pm, Pub on the Park.