Seriously now, what are Lambeth Council’s plans?

I’m not joking here, I want some answers.

Recently my own dear council, Lambeth, voted through a “momentous document” which has already been praised as “terrific” by Andrew Gilligan and “fantastic” by the Lambeth Cyclists.

But walking and cycling have been the high priority for Lambeth Council for AT LEAST 11 YEARS, yet the streets remain curiously car-centric! Surely this terrific and fantastic document won’t turn out to be nothing more than wasted ink? So I pointed Lambeth Council to my last post which gives an example of the sort of thing they need to be looking at if they’re planning on being true to their word.

Lambeth Council's 2002 Road User Hierarchy, showing emergency vehicles at the top, followed by people with mobility needs, then walking, then cycling, with cars way down at the bottom.

Lambeth Council’s ‘Road User Hierarchy’ in 2002. With the possible exception of emergency vehicles, this entire list is an inversion of reality in Lambeth, and I have the concrete and asphalt to prove it.

The council, minds on other more important matters, failed to respond but I did get two replies.

The first was from London Green Cycles which said: “they’ve just agreed to offer free cargobike trials for businesses.” Now I make no comment whatsoever about London Green Cycles as a business, but I genuinely fail to see how offering cargo-bike trials to local companies will get more children cycling to school (for example). Why, it’s almost as if the council hasn’t got a clue what it’s doing! (Hint: install the infrastructure, which we’ve known about for decades, and businesses will be queuing up to buy cargo-bikes.)

The second reply was from Lambeth Cyclists, a group with whom I have had only fleeting contact. (Speaking about the LCC, one of their members said to me “I don’t like all this focus on Go Dutch,” as if Dutch infrastructure is some silly nonsense and can we please get back to doing bike breakfasts and handing out free hi-vis.)

Lambeth Cyclists offered the following: “Change is coming – Tfl CSH5 will make Oval junction better.”

Quite apart from the fact that CS5 is a TfL project not a Lambeth Council one, the latest plans for Oval junction are dangerous crap, nothing but the sort of paint job Boris’ vision assured us had been consigned to history. TfL are promising that the paint job will only be temporary, a stop-gap until something better can be installed in 2015, which is just far enough in the future that everyone will have forgotten about it when it’s finally cancelled due to budget cuts. (You’ll have to forgive me for being cynical, but the Internet’s memory isn’t as short as most cycling campaigners, it seems.)

So Lambeth Cyclists are offering a vague and distant scheme from TfL as evidence that Lambeth Council takes its goals seriously? Maybe whoever sent that tweet would be better off moving to Crapburgh, they’d fit right in there.

So, what concrete changes have Lambeth Council promised so far? What plans are they consulting on which prioritise walking and cycling and push private cars to the bottom of the transport pile? I genuinely want to see them. I really want this to happen. But I suspect that it won’t.

Will Lambeth Council make me happy and prove me wrong, or will they just offer me a free cargo-bike trial instead?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Seriously now, what are Lambeth Council’s plans?

  1. We have walking and cycling policies and they are totally ignored by politicians – unless there is political pushing on walking and cycling, it is pointless having policies.

  2. davidhembrow

    It’s good to draw attention to things like this. Civilized infrastructure for cyclists, pedestrians, older people, children and those with disabilities has been promised but not delivered all across the UK for decades.

    It has been too easy for politicians from all parties to make positive sounding noises while carrying on business as usual. This needs to be exposed and campaigners need to lose their amnesia.

  3. Sophie

    You highlight the problem of London government: the streets that are the major roads in the borough and those that make up the Oval Junction: ie the A202 Camberwell New Road, the A23 Brixton Road and the A3 Clapham Road are all Transport for London routes over which Lambeth have no control. they can lobby the Mayor of London and TfL but have no means of actually forcing them to make things better for cyclists. Lambeth can come up with all sorts of proposals for the area around Oval station but the Mayor can just say no.

    If its going to worth anything change must therefore come from the Mayor/TfL and it seems at last with the appointment of Andrew Gilligan as the Mayor’s cycling adviser change will come. The political will does seem to be there from Boris (maybe hes realised that the growth of cycling means that its not just ‘cyclists’ any more but people who cycle who may well be tory voters) Hence I dont think its unreasonable to claim as Lambeth Cyclists do that change is coming.

    • Ah, the old circle of excuses! TfL says “we only control 5% of the roads, blame the boroughs” and the boroughs say “TfL control all the important roads, blame the Mayor”, leading to no action by either.

      The truth is, they both need to to much better.

      Many main roads in Lambeth are the council’s. Westminster Bridge Road from the big hotel to the border with Southwark. Kennington Road from Kennington Cross north to Lambeth North Junction, then Baylis Road to Old Vic junction. Waterloo Bridge and Waterloo Road as far as St George’s Circus. Lambeth Road from the bridge to the Southwark border.

      So there are plenty of main roads which Lambeth could have improved but has failed to do so over the past 11 years. With the Mayor’s new focus on cycling infrastructure I’m sure TfL would support linking upgrades with their roads too.

      But Lambeth Council is failing even where they do have all the power. For example, Lower Marsh is currently undergoing massive refurbishment, but the junctions are finished and drivers have priority over pedestrians, in complete opposition to their hierarchy. More than once I’ve seen drivers bully people out of the way at the BRAND NEW junctions at both ends of Lower Marsh, and this is at least ELEVEN YEARS after their supposed Road User Hierarchy came into being.

      So you shouldn’t let Lambeth Council off the hook so easily. There are plenty of places where they could put their hierarchy into practice, but after more than a decade I still can’t find them.

      Also, I think you’ll find I’m just as hard on Johnson, Gilligan and TfL as I am on any council.

  4. Sophie

    (And no I dont have any connection with the group) – just a local cycling person who takes a passing interest in my local area and plans – probably as equally frustrated as you about lack of action

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