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London's former Cycling Commissioner says reluctance of boroughs to block streets to rat running traffic means only one of seven "Quietway" routes will be any good...

Pictured: Quietway, Q1, from Waterloo to Greenwich; will be the only one of an acceptable quality, according to Andrew Gilligan

London’s Quietways are at risk of death, if action isn’t taken to save them, according to London’s former Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan.

Gilligan told the Hackney Cycling Conference on Friday that of seven proposed quiet routes through borough-controlled roads, only one will be of an acceptable quality, because most London boroughs won’t close streets to rat running traffic.

Boris Johnson’s former cycling csar, who said air quality is to the 21st Century what clean water was to the 19th Century, and that struggle can’t be won without cycling, also revealed he will continue campaigning for cycling, as part of a coalition called Human Streets.

Cycle "Quietway" scheme being derailed by local residents

Gilligan said: “I think the Quietways programme is a failure at the moment. There’s going to be a couple of good ones, but not many more.”

Admitting it was always the programme he was “most worried about”, he said: “the key thing that was supposed to happen with Quietways – filtering - isn’t happening on the whole”.

He referred to Hackney’s Quietway, which road.cc reported on last week. Many believe without reducing rat running on these routes, those currently too afraid to cycle won’t be persuaded to do so. However, fears from local residents over the effect of road closures on traffic and air quality have prevented Hackney Council from trialling “filtering”.

Gilligan said: “If you can’t get road closures through in Hackney, we need to ask ourselves: is this programme worth anything at all?

“It is discouraging how little progress there has been on Quietways. We’ve got five segregated Superhighways in place now, on extremely difficult roads, busy roads, with massive traffic, massive political sensitivity, and we did that. We haven’t got a single Quietway route open, not one.”  

He said Q1, from Waterloo to Greenwich (pictured above), will be an “acceptable quality”, but there are no signs the others will be any good.

"Failure of ambition" on London Quietways

 The main problems, he says, are disagreements over the quality of the routes between TfL and the boroughs, and because too few staff in TfL have been appointed to the Quietways programme. He says these staff are essential to anticipate objections and manage stakeholdersGilligan describes the Quietway programme as “at a very clear risk of death” unless they are “much more actively managed by TfL (Transport for London)” in the same way the Superhighways were.

He says cycling is a key tool in cleaning up London's air and needs to be used by the new Mayor.

“I think the struggle for clean air in London is as important as the struggle for clean water in the 19th century and that struggle cannot be won without a significant increase in cycling, so the new team has, in its hands, a policy instrument - the segregated cycle lane - which is now proven to bring about dramatic and huge increases in cycling, and I hope they use it.”

He also broke the news he will keep working for cycling.

“I’m still going to be involved in cycling advocacy more broadly”, he said, “and a group of us are coming together to set up a blog, which will be called Human Streets, and will hopefully keep up the pressure on the Mayor and others for cycling improvements. It will draw on my knowledge, it will draw on my time at City Hall, but it will be broader than that as well,” he said.

17 comments

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dafyddp [428 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

Interesting. The general view about urban transport in general seems to be 'start in London, and remainder of the country will follow'. In fact, I wonder whether we need to leave London alone to choke on it's own fumes for a few years and switch our attention to acelerating the process of getting all the smaller citites up to scratch? 8 million people live in London, but that means over 50 million don't.

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StoopidUserName [295 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes
dafyddp wrote:

Interesting. The general view about urban transport in general seems to be 'start in London, and remainder of the country will follow'. In fact, I wonder whether we need to leave London alone to choke on it's own fumes for a few years and switch our attention to acelerating the process of getting all the smaller citites up to scratch? 8 million people live in London, but that means over 50 million don't.

Non London types: Do your own thing, don't badmouth us, just get on with it. Peace, love, be happy and so on.

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angus_h [2 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

This feels a little disingenuous on Gilligan's part, although in keeping with other statements of his over the last year or so.

Back when the Mayors Cycling Vision was first announced, he made a whistle-stop tour of most? all? of the LCC Borough Groups. I attended a fairly large LCC meeting in Lewisham as a guest, and a few representatives of Croydon's group, of which I was one, met him at the GLA building.

As someone who is an existing user of quietway-style LCN routes for my commute and a strong proponent of all-abilities family cycling, I was keen to find out more about the plans - was quite aware that the conditions on those routes are far from being all-abilities - especially at busier times of day.

So I asked Gilligan directly what he and his team would be doing to ensure Quietways would in fact be quiet - I don't recall his exact wording, but very much felt like I'd gotten a politician's non-answer. Any firm commitment to modal filters was very noticeable by its absence.

Now, to be fair, this meeting pre-dated the London Cycle Design Standards and its CLOS metrics by more than a year. Gilligan had ridden many of the routes already at this point - but off-peak. I don't think he really grasped how busy they get, or how a relatively small amount of aggressive traffic makes such routes unusable by families. Campaigners, those of us who actually ride these routes day-in, day-out, have always insisted that viable QWs would need extensive modal filtering - it seemed to be a long time before TfL & the Boroughs caught up with that reality.

But having seen the failure of these schemes at consultation level first-hand, a massive part of the problem was that big-picture communication of them, from the top down, was completely missing. Local "residents" (usually elderly, small-c-conservative Residents-Association types) knew that traffic restrictions were being proposed "to encourage cycling", but there was never any real vision of what might become possible.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
StoopidUserName wrote:
dafyddp wrote:

Interesting. The general view about urban transport in general seems to be 'start in London, and remainder of the country will follow'. In fact, I wonder whether we need to leave London alone to choke on it's own fumes for a few years and switch our attention to acelerating the process of getting all the smaller citites up to scratch? 8 million people live in London, but that means over 50 million don't.

Non London types: Do your own thing, don't badmouth us, just get on with it. Peace, love, be happy and so on.

Quite. And as for "leave London alone", in what way has anyone outside London intervened on cycling?

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Tartle [5 posts] 1 year ago
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"rat running traffic"

 

Can anybody translate this phrase to someone that hasn't lived in the UK for 30 years?

 

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mike the bike [900 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
Tartle wrote:

 "rat running traffic" Can anybody translate this phrase to someone that hasn't lived in the UK for 30 years? 

 

Certainly sir.  A rat run is a route used by car drivers that goes past your house.

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Morat [258 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
bikebot wrote:
StoopidUserName wrote:
dafyddp wrote:

Interesting. The general view about urban transport in general seems to be 'start in London, and remainder of the country will follow'. In fact, I wonder whether we need to leave London alone to choke on it's own fumes for a few years and switch our attention to acelerating the process of getting all the smaller citites up to scratch? 8 million people live in London, but that means over 50 million don't.

Non London types: Do your own thing, don't badmouth us, just get on with it. Peace, love, be happy and so on.

Quite. And as for "leave London alone", in what way has anyone outside London intervened on cycling?

Not that it affects London but York has loads of good cycling infrastructure. I'm not saying it's perfect by any stretch... but it's pretty good.

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HarrogateSpa [462 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

In response to angus_h, I suspect the reason Gilligan wouldn't give a firm commitment to filtering was that it wasn't in his power. The Quietways rely on the Boroughs to make the decisions, as I understand it, not TfL.

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AJ101 [276 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Wouldnt it be great if the quietways were given over totally to motorised vehicles and the main routes were for cycling.

Then we'd see a definite modal shift.

Regards

Tony

Bikesy.co.uk

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Colin Peyresourde [1810 posts] 1 year ago
10 likes
Tartle wrote:

"rat running traffic"

 

Can anybody translate this phrase to someone that hasn't lived in the UK for 30 years?

 

my definition would be motorists using side roads to avoid the traffic of main thoroughfares. They normally speed and drive aggressively in an attempt to ameliorate the added distance they added by taking the side route.

speed bumps were made for this traffic. 

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Colin Peyresourde [1810 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes
dafyddp wrote:

Interesting. The general view about urban transport in general seems to be 'start in London, and remainder of the country will follow'. In fact, I wonder whether we need to leave London alone to choke on it's own fumes for a few years and switch our attention to acelerating the process of getting all the smaller citites up to scratch? 8 million people live in London, but that means over 50 million don't.

Traffic in London is typically more congested and so the reasons for taking a car over bike are less, and the pressure on public transport means that a bicycle is actually the perfect answer.

i can't see the point of having a car in London, other than to drive out of it.

living outside of London the traffic moves much faster and the space between your functional environment makes a car more of a necessity.

i know where I would focus my attention.

 

 

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Roggie [2 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I can't think of any part of Q1 that is filtered, some was proposed in Lewisham but that was dropped. There was some tinkering in Southwark but much of the alignment can be reasonably busy. Even a new signalised junction is arguably more dangerous than previously. I never did see any CLOS scored for any sections. Boroughs are still running scared of upsetting locals unlike TfL who just got on with it, much due to Gilligan IMHO. Q1 does have a very good new off-road route, which is very good but too many compromises were made on other sections and the signage is confusing at best.

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cqexbesd [87 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes
Tartle wrote:

Can anybody translate this phrase to someone that hasn't lived in the UK for 30 years?

Traffic taking minor roads, often at excessive speed, to bypass other traffic on major routes. Like rats down a drainpipe -> fast moving down narrow roads. Though I haven't lived in the UK for a while either now you mention it...

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Paul_C [496 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

road near me was closed to all motor traffic by major roadworks (rebuilding the weir at the side) for four glorious weeks...what was a pain to cycle along as constantly being passed by motons who took any chance they could to overtake (especially when speed cushions forced me out of primary) became a nice pleasant backwater. Vehicles could access their properties, but could drive through...

sadly, it all came to an end and was back to the normal hell within the three or four days for people to realise the road closed signs had gone...  2

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fluffy_mike [103 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Why need it be either/or?

 

there are obvious reasons why TfL is backing cycling, chiefly massive population growth predicted for next decade

doesnt mean other towns / cities can't do the same though not clear where else has the money / political will?

 

Central gov clearly doesn't give a shit about bicycle transport

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angus_h [2 posts] 1 year ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:

In response to angus_h, I suspect the reason Gilligan wouldn't give a firm commitment to filtering was that it wasn't in his power. The Quietways rely on the Boroughs to make the decisions, as I understand it, not TfL.

 

Indeed. But my point is not so much about whether he was committed or empowered to delivering it - more whether he thought it was necessary to even attempt it. My viewpoint is that he didn't think it was necessary at all - until he commissioned TfL engineers to design CLOS, and had them, and Sustrans, and borough officers, go out and do traffic counts and other surveys on the route alignments.

Only when the true situation became apparent - which campaigners knew about from day one - did he change his viewpoint on that issue, some time in the last 18 months. So to pretend that modal filters were part of his and TfL's plan from day one is disingenuous.

Part of the problem is that they were promising different things to different people:

To cycle campaigners, QW had to mean high quality universal routes - when you understand that the Mayor's Cycle Vision was announced against a background of regular large protests, thousands and in some cases tens of thousands strong, and pledges from London Assembly politicans to support Go Dutch (and later Space For Cycling). A clear sense of Something Must Be Done.

To TfL, it had to be about transport  capacity, at an attractive cost/benefit ratio - because that's what TfL's job is to care about. It doesn't matter to them whether or not 8yr olds can use QW to get to school or on weekends - it's about getting a few busloads or trainloads of short- and medium-distance commuters to switch, to buy time before the entire network grinds to an overcrowded halt.

To parks groups, they had to present QW as if there is some sort of leisure / recreational aspect, beyond purely transport capacity - because taking a chunk of a park or common for transport is detrimental to said park, whereas enhancing its recreational amenity is a benefit.

To boroughs, particularly Inner London Tory boroughs, they had to present it as minimal-intervention signs-and-paint routes - and not too much even of that - otherwise getting any QW network at all in key areas like Westminster and Kensington would be politically impossible.

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Simon E [3020 posts] 1 year ago
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fluffy_mike wrote:

Central gov clearly doesn't give a shit about bicycle transport

Has it ever?

Local government is the same.  2