Monday, 28 April 2014

Cycle lanes in Wandsworth and Tooting Bec Commons Desegregation

Here is the response I received about the planned changes to our local cycle lanes.  The answers are quite shocking.  

For Wandsworth Council to claim that the lines are too expensive to maintain, but to have spent virtually no money on maintenance of them is somewhat concerning!  

As you'll see there are no serious recorded accidents on the segregated cycle lanes, but there are numerous on the roads surrounding the Commons - spending money on cycle lanes that are relatively safe instead of on the roads that are not beggars belief.  Anyway, apologies for the delay in sharing this, I've not been well of late and been more on the stick than the wheels!

Please take a few seconds to sign our petition opposing the bizarre desegregation plans:

Response to FoI request from Wandsworth Council:

"Freedom of Information Act request - 2014/9209 - Desegregation of Shared-Use Paths

I refer to your request for information received on 24/03/2014.  Please see the information below in response to your request: -

Please provide the following information (preferably in an electronic format, such as .pdf files sent by email):

1 Confirmation of the numbers of people who have been recorded by Wandsworth Council ('the Council') as supporting, and the number of those opposing, the proposed changes to the cycle lanes in Tooting Bec Common and Wandsworth Common ('the cycle lanes'). 
In support
1 member of public
Wandsworth Common MAC
Tooting Common MAC
Open Spaces Society
1 member of public
Petition signed by 376 people

2 Details of the projected cost savings from the desegregation of the cycle lanes.
The projected cost saving of not having to remark the raised white line and repeater symbols is £22,195 every 6 to 10 years. 

3a Details of the amounts spent (specifically) on maintaining the cycle lanes per annum since the current layout was implemented (excluding cleaning / sweeping of paths).
See response to 3b

3b Details of any works that have been undertaken to repair or improve the painted lines, path surface or bicycle/pedestrian symbols on the cycle lanes since the current layout was implemented.
No maintenance works have been carried out to the central white line or cycle symbols on the cycle tracks since they were introduced in 2006/7.
Several small areas of tactile paving have been repaired. 

3c Details of the problems that the raised white lines have allegedly caused for Council vehicles (or those of the Council's contractors) and an explanation of the alleged associated costs, with supporting evidence.  If no such information is held, please explain why such an allegation was made to Sadiq Khan MP. 
The white lines in themselves pose no problems to Parks maintenance vehicles.  The problem was that heavy maintenance vehicles used to remark the white lines, which carry heavy boilers to heat the thermoplastic material, experience difficulty driving on the soft ground adjacent to the cycle tracks.  This would entail maintenance crews having to work uneconomically as they would regularly have to return to their lorry parked on the highway to fill their marking machines with material.

3d Please explain why the Council or its contractors would use vehicles in the Commons that are unable to cope with the raised, white dividing lines (which are significantly smaller than the large number of traffic-calming facilities in the borough, like speed humps and raised tables at junctions).
See response to 3c

4 Details of the number and severity of recorded collisions on the cycle lanes over the past ten years.  Details of the number and severity of collisions on the roads adjoining/bisecting the two Commons. 
Wandsworth Common cycle route
No recorded collisions

Wandsworth common adjoining/bisecting roads
Fatal= 1
Severe = 8
Slight =  85

Tooting Commons cycle route
No recorded collisions

Tooting Commons adjoining/bisecting roads
Fatal= 0
Severe = 2
Slight =  51

5 An explanation of how this desegregation proposal meets the policy of the Council to provide segregated cycle lanes 'where possible'.
Council policy on cycle route segregation was formulated in 2005; since then guidance from Transport for London, Department for Transport and SUSTRANS has progressed, and their policies encourages unsegregated use with off highway tracks where appropriate.  Council policy will be updated in due course to reflect this development.

6 Where was funding for the construction of the current layout of the cycle lanes obtained from?
Transport for London

7 Where will funding for the desegregation of the cycle lanes be obtained from?
Transport for London

8 If the project is to be financed from funds intended for the improvement of cycling facilities, why is a scheme that the vast majority of local cyclists oppose deemed to be an appropriate use of such funding?
There is no evidence to suggest that the vast majority of local cyclists oppose the proposal, as demonstrated by the Wandsworth Cycling Campaign’s support of the proposals.  Also, SUSTRANS’s  support lends weight to cyclists being in favour of desegregating these tracks.

9a What is the Council's understanding of the policy of Guide Dogs and the RNIB regarding unsegregated cycle lanes (particularly heavily-used ones)? 
The RNIB and Guide Dogs preference is for segregated facilities on cycle tracks.

9b How can the desegregation of the cycle lanes benefit those with visual, hearing or mobility disabilities?
Shared unsegregated use encourages cyclists to reduce their speeds and take more care as they do not have the perceived priority they experience under segregation.

9c What impact assessment has been undertaken of the impact of these proposed changes to the cycle lanes on disabled people, young and old people and other people who have 'protected characteristics' as defined by the Equality Act? 
Feedback from stakeholders and user groups, including those representing disabled groups, has been considered together with a safety audit which takes into account the needs of all users irrespective of age and both able bodied and disabled. 

10 What is the Council's understanding of other guidance regarding the segregation of shared-use cycle lanes that have high levels of usage (as issued by Sustrans, TfL and the DfT, including the Mayor's 'Cycling Vision' document)?  Does the Council consider these cycle lanes to have high levels of usage by cyclists and/or pedestrians?
The TfL publication “London Cycling Design Standards”, Draft Appendix D , Off-highway design guidance gives the following criteria for usage designation.  This guidance was developed in association with SUSTRANS.  The Council does not consider the cycle lanes across Wandsworth and Tooting Commons to have high usage in accordance with this guidance.

Level of flow on greenway
Pedestrians per hour
Cyclists per hour
Very low
Very high

11 What are the current usage levels of the cycle lanes?  When were these measured, and by whom?
The survey data available was captured in 2007.

Pedestrians per hour
Cyclists per hour
Tooting Commons
Very low
Wandsworth common

12 Please explain why no letters or leaflets were sent to residents around the two Commons to advise them of these proposals.  What is the Council's policy regarding such correspondence?
It was not considered appropriate or necessary in the circumstances to send leaflets to nearby residents.  Many users of the commons do not live locally and it was decided that notices should be displayed prominently at all access points to the cycle tracks so as many users as possible could be informed.  Notification was also provided in the local Guardian newspaper.  Councillors and the Wandsworth and Tooting Commons Management Advisory Committees were also informed, together with all statutory consultees which include local groups representing pedestrians and cyclists."    

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