Hackney LCC meeting 7th November 2012

London Cycling Campaign in Hackney

Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, November 7th , 2012, 7:30pm

Marcon Court and Aspland Estates Community Hall

Present: Mohan de Benoit, Siobhan Blackshaw (rides co-ordinator), Michael Cordy (treasurer), Kathryn Johnson (Sustainable Hackney), Richard King (Canal and River Trust Towpath Ranger), David Lukes (committee member without portfolio), Trevor Parsons (co-ordinator), Oliver Schick (secretary, minutes).

Apologies: Marian Farrugia, Katie Hanson.

Agenda:

1. Minutes and matters arising

2. Air quality

3. Cycle crime and the perception of cycle crime

4. Local group grant

5. Cycle parking at Stoke Newington station

6. Old Street/City Road junction

7. Ponsford Street/Homerton High Street junction

8. Rides

9. Burns Night

10. Other events

11. Any other business

Tony Osborne

The meeting noted with sadness that Tony Osborne, the secretary of the Marcon Court and Aspland Estates Tenants’ and Residents’ Association had passed away on the 19th October, 2012.

We are in gratitude to him for his tireless work on the estate, and for co-ordinating the refurbishment of the Community Hall, which has enabled us and many other community groups to afford a centrally-located meeting venue. He will be much missed.

1. Minutes and matters arising

Lea Bridge Schoolhouse: We had unfortunately failed to submit comments on this.

Green Lanes/Stoke Newington Church Street/Collins Road junction: Action carried over.

Leonard Square: Soon to go out to public consultation.

Wilmer Place: We weren’t sure if our comments had been submitted. TP and OS to check with Marian Farrugia.

Mare Street: Action carried over.

Car-free Day debrief: MdB suggested circulating a report on the evaluation of Car-free Day to ward councillors in Haggerston and Queensbridge wards. Car-free Day took in the boundary between the two wards. Action: TP.

KJ mentioned that Hackney Play Association had likewise met with some opposition to their activities and suggested making links with the group. We noted that we had previously resolved to congratulate the group for their excellent work.

TP asked whether anyone had thought about possible locations for Car-free Day next year. MdB suggested the streets surrounding Haggerston Park. TP commented that Whiston Road would be a nice follow-on location.

Broadway Market awareness-raising: Action carried over.

A Vision for the Porters’ Route: OS had started work on this and invited others to contribute. SB asked whether a ride was still planned. OS said that it might take place in the New Year. The possible route inside Waltham Forest was not clear yet. OS still had to talk to Tower Hamlets Wheelers.

Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital for Children development: Action carried over.

Garage: Since selecting a garage, we have had an offer from the Re~Cycle charity (http://www.re-cycle.org/) to use some space in an unused building on City Road. TP visited the site. The building will be in the care of Re~Cycle for three years. As we hadn’t signed the papers for the garage yet, it was possible for us to consider taking Re~Cycle up on the offer. The meeting was in favour.

World Mental Health Day: SB reported that volunteers had been kept very busy at the day.

2. Air quality

KJ, who had previously co-ordinated Capital Transport Campaign, presented her more recent work on air quality in the borough. She highlighted the opportunity presented by the European Year of Air to do something about the problem. There was also the possibility to use transport-related weeks as a springboard for actions. KJ hoped the group could get involved in this work.

The annual cost of bad air quality to the country was around £20bn per year. It was not only a problem in the UK, but in many other locations all around Europe. Pollution from the Continent was also affecting the UK, and vice versa. However, the UK faced fines from the European Union for missing agreed targets. Under the Localism Act 2011, the Government passed such fines on to the local authorities in whose areas air pollution limits were exceeded.

In London, it was so bad that street tree leaves had to be incinerated because they collected so much pollution. Levels of nitrous oxides, particulate matter, and ozone routinely exceeded acceptable levels, although for some pollutants, no ‘safe’ levels could be recognised.

4,300 Londoners were dying prematurely owing to poor air quality every year. Bad air quality reduced life expectancy by, on average, 9 months in London. It disproportionately affected the most vulnerable members of society. DL commented that it was difficult to find a breakdown of figures for respiratory diseases into victims of air pollution and victims of smoking.

The main cause of bad air quality in urban areas was road transport, although other processes, such as industrial activity, also contributed. London Air Quality Network data showed a number of very busy roads with highly excessive levels, essentially those with levels of motor traffic in excess of 50,000 vehicles per day.

DL commented that air quality in London is far worse than the diagrams indicated, as monitoring stations had been sited where the pollution was much less than at the least polluted spots. He said that TfL had been given £60m to tackle air pollution and had spent it all on ‘green walls’ and hosing street pollution down.

KJ said that the London Borough of Hackney had done a reasonable job of measuring levels and taking the problem seriously. It worked together with other London authorities in the Central London Cluster Group. An upcoming opportunity was the Council’s three-year Update and Screening Assessment, a statutory requirement under the Air Quality Regulations 2010. She suggested that this should measure all pollutants rather than only a select few and that we seek to influence this and to find out how well Hackney is doing.

The Central London cluster had just received a new study on what actions could be taken. One of the key actions was to raise awareness so that people knew the implications of driving their vehicles, e.g. by putting up temporary road signs during pollution episodes.

OS commented that the group was heavily involved in helping to introduce measures of motor traffic restraint. TP added that our work mainly aimed at permanent outcomes rather than awareness-raising initiatives.

DL asked whether, given that the worst air quality was inevitably on the Transport for London Road Network, it was the Mayor of London who was responsible, rather than predominantly local authorities. KJ said that she would investigate.

We were not living within our means, and the environment could not absorb the amount of pollution which we generated. The message was in favour of walking and cycling and doing things locally.

The police didn’t do roadside emissions testing, but had done some work on licensing and vehicle insurance, in the process of which they did check the condition of vehicles.

We decided to join Sustainable Hackney, a membership organisation of local environmentally-concerned groups. They had recently started to charge a small amount for membership, £20 per organisation.

MdB thanked the group for the work we had done in the vicinity of Haggerston Park and said that some of the work in the local community there was to ‘make air pollution interesting’. TP asked what steps the group could take to support this.

Action: DL volunteered to lead on our work with Sustainable Hackney on air quality but also as a general link person. We decided to join Sustainable Hackney.

3. Cycle crime and the perception of cycle crime

DL had asked for this item to be on the agenda. While the main barrier to cycling was road danger and a perception of road danger, but that crime and the perception of crime also played a large role.

OS gave some history of work against bike theft and volunteered to be involved in a renewed campaign. Cycle theft became a priority target for reduction for the police (around 2006), but this was not sustained. There was an ongoing problem for the police of reuniting seized bikes with their owners. Work had been carried out between Hackney’s Community Safety Unit, the police, and Hackney Streetscene.

MdB said that bike shops in Hackney should be given more encouragement to mark bikes. TP replied that he was somewhat suspicious of the marking schemes, as there were several of them and their practicality for everyday police work was disputed.

TP mentioned that Philip Thomas of Love Bikes, who sells second-hand bikes which he checks for possible stolen provenance on the national bike registration database, is not happy with current arrangements for registration, which is done by private companies, data is not portable, and users do not own their data.

DL suggested that the LCC could run a free register for bikes. OS commented that such solutions were very good but that we would need to find someone to do this work for us for free, and that theft prevention was key and had a number of other important strands.

MdB suggested accessing corporate social responsibility budgets of Shoreditch-based technology companies. TP wasn’t sure such a project would work.

TP suggested speaking to MySociety about this idea (the company behind various open data web-sites such as theyworkforyou.co.uk. Another possibility was the Digital Rights Campaign. He said that such databases already existed and that the route to go down was to make their data portable. OS suggested cyclescape.net as a good template.

4. Local group grant

MC said that we had been asked whether we would be willing to forgo our local group grant. This was a query that went out to all local groups as it had been found that some groups had a lot of money in the bank which they weren’t spending.

He also mentioned that we had given £1,000 to support the Safer Lorries campaign. OS gave some background.

It was noted that we had been unable to run our annual fundraiser, Burns Night, this year, and that we had not yet found a venue for 2013.

Action: The meeting decided not to forgo the grant this year.

5. Cycle parking at Stoke Newington station

OS gave an introduction to progress. Hackney had £40k to improve the station forecourt, including cycle parking. Most of the money would go on paving, which CAAG thought was rather uniform and slippery. TP had been on a new site visit and suggested using a combination of Plantlocks either side of the line of trees proposed by officers, as well as other parking loops attached to the sides of the planters.

Action: TP to communicate the possibility of a solution he outlined

6. Old Street/City Road junction

We noted recent developments in the press. There was heavy promotion of plans to close the northwestern arm of the Old Street roundabout, enshrining the basic dysfunctional layout which ensured that the potential for activity at this junction was seriously depressed. We opposed this approach as we want the junction to be returned to its historic layout as a crossroads. While the option of closing one arm was not inappropriate at Highbury Corner, as there was something in the centre worth preserving, there was a very different situation at Old Street.

The strategy being pursued was one adopted by Islington Council in 2008, but there was also recent enthusiasm by promoters of ‘Tech City’ and an initiative which wanted to build a ‘hub’ on land in the centre of the roundabout. OS compared the proposal to the presence of the IMAX cinema whose presence blighted the gateway to Waterloo station and Waterloo Bridge and seriously damaged important views. TP stressed that it had been demonstrated that people walk more where it is possible to see along the street.

TP suggested working with ICAG to help promote the crossroads option

Action: OS and TP to speak to ICAG.

7. Ponsford Street/Homerton High Street junction

We considered options for this junction under TfL’s Better Junctions programme. We thought that Option 2a worthy of strongest support, as there were proposals to reduce the number of general traffic lanes on Ponsford Street and Homerton High Street, which would be extremely beneficial. Option 2b only proposed to reduce the number of approach lanes on Homerton High Street. Also, both Options 2a and 2b included straight-across crossings versus indirect crossings in Option 1. TfL claim staggered crossing enable quicker crossing times, which follows directly from their fundamentally flawed methodology in junction design. This almost never delivers sufficient benefits and we thought it was likely that they would revert to Option 1 in any case. We decided to support the straight-across crossing options irrespective of TfL’s claims about crossing times, as having the right layout in place was favoured over having better signal timings; signal timings could always be adjusted later, whereas infrastructure could not.

Action: We supported Option 2a.

8. Rides

SB said that no current rides were planned, as she was too busy.

9. Burns Night

No progress had been made on Burns Night yet. We still had to find a venue for the event. There were some options for schools which we had not yet explored.

Action: Brenda Puech to contact schools to find a venue. OS to mail the mailing list with a Doodle poll on possible dates for a meeting about organising Burns Night once we have a venue.

10. Other events

Shoreditch Two-way Day ten years on:

TP thought we might do a press call to celebrate this achievement and to call again for the additional measures needed to complete the work to be put in place. It was launched with a cake and might be celebrated with a cake, too. OS suggested contacting other groups in the area with whom we worked on the campaign to celebrate together with them.

Action: TP to organise press call.

11. Any other business

MC advised that he was moving out of the borough early next year and that we would need a new treasurer then.

The next meeting was going to be the Annual Meeting, with election of officers.

The meeting closed at 10:05pm.

Date of next meeting: Wednesday 5th December, 2012, 7:30pm.

  Minutes of Hackney LCC meeting 7th November 2012 in PDF