Flailing limbs: LCC and its famously anti-policy branch

London Cycling Campaign is a funny beast. It seems to be the vague head of a loose collective of local cycling groups scattered around London, of varying sizes and levels of activity.

I call it a “vague head of a loose collective” because the local branch campaigns seem to be free to say and do almost anything they want, even if they go entirely against the campaign’s stated goals.

After decades of failure, LCC members have voted, passed the motions, and at long last the LCC has started to become a modern cycling campaign which is asking for the right things.

But isn’t it time to make sure the local branches are following suit?

Most famously – and I’m not the first to notice it by a long shot – the Hackney branch is known for its adherence to what might be called the Franklin and Forester view of cycling: The proper place for it is on the road, mixed with cars, lorries and buses (or at best meandering around the back streets) and anything else is pure namby-pamby devilment. They’ve been this way for many years.

Hackney Cyclists claim to support LCC HQ’s “Space for Cycling” campaign, yet at least three committee members are firmly against some of the campaign goals – co-ordinator Trevor Parsons, long-time LCC member Oliver Schick, former Hackney councillor Rita Krishna, to name the three whose public comments I’ve used in this post.

While the group does support the cycle-friendly intervention of removing through-motor-traffic from minor streets by means of modal filtering (a worthy and important goal), they adamantly refuse to support – and actually work against – the biggest single intervention to enable mass cycling: cycleways on main roads.

How does someone follow LCC’s democratically-approved AGM motions while describing bus stop bypasses as meaning “bus users being done over and having to dodge cyclists“? What sort of cycle campaigner considers cycleways to be “attacking bus users“, and London’s first half-decent attempt at providing for cycling as “the emperors new clothes“?

How is the Space for Cycling manifesto remotely compatible with the belief that that “cyclists and cars want to share” on a vast, fast, six-lane road? And how can a cycle campaigner believe that everyone who uses a bike should be held responsible for the actions of anyone else using that same mode of transport?

The belief that Dutch-style cycleways won’t work in central London is surely in opposition to “Space for Cycling”, which calls for far bigger road changes than merely insisting two-way streets are all that’s required to make cycling safe and inviting for all. (As if having cars and buses moving both ways at Aldwych would make me ride there – ha!)

Apparently “Dutch police shout at people for cycling on smooth, empty carriageways. We don’t want that over here.” That’s not my experience of riding a bike in the world’s best country for cycling. Hackney Cyclists don’t want “tokenistic, and in the long term potentially dangerous, engineering solutions such as cycle lanes and tracks.”

Instead of copying a proven method to gain a mode of transport which is safe and appealing to everyone, cycle training will solve all problems, as “a well-trained and assertive bicycle rider will in any case take the primary position when approaching a narrowing such as this pre-signal, to ensure that the driver of the vehicle behind him or her is not tempted to pass too closely.”

How is any of this compatible with the LCC’s policy of pushing for physical separation of motor and cycle traffic on busy roads?

I don’t see how the LCC can allow Hackney Cyclists to bear their name and logo when so many of the leading lights believe the very opposite of what the campaign stands for.

Hackney LCC also have close links with Hackney Council, not just former councillor and party activist Krishna, but also her husband, councillor Vincent Stops, who describes Hackney Cyclists as “the most sophisticated cycling campaign group in London“, considers Dutch-style cycleways to be “trip hazards“, and sees bus stop bypasses as “terrifying pedestrians“.

Councillor Stops also claims that Hackney Cyclists consider Kingsland High Street is “perfect for cycling” – though it has since been revealed that this was merely the personal opinion of Hackney Cyclists committee member Schick.

This is Kingsland High Street:

Kingsland High Street in Hackney, London. A bus is stopped, and a lorry is overtaking it. A cyclist dressed in high-visibility clothing follows the lorry, and a bus follows the cyclist.

“Perfect for cycling”

Does this road look “perfect for cycling” to you? Do you believe someone who said this really has LCC’s Space for Cycling principles at heart?

I don’t even want to debate the actual views held here – madly wrong as I consider them to be – everyone has the right to believe whatever they want.

And of course not everyone in the LCC is going to agree on everything. I’m not suggesting that the LCC becomes some sort of Stalinist one-party state which allows no dissenting voices. Open debate is good, there needs to be room for a wide range of views.

But when a local branch is dominated by beliefs which are clearly at odds with core campaign objectives, it makes no sense for it to be part of the campaign any more. London Cycling Campaign is now, in policy, a campaign which believes in separation of traffic modes along Dutch lines, yet one of its branches works against the LCC’s goals in their area.

At what point does LCC HQ decide that such views aren’t compatible with the campaign’s core objectives and take action?

For example, Special Resolution 3 was voted on at the AGM, committing the LCC to opposing discrimination on any grounds, which I have heard was introduced to prevent people with extremist political views from gaining positions of influence.

I don’t know the finer details of the matter, but it seems that if the LCC is willing to say that a person’s political views (which may be distasteful, but unrelated to cycling) are unacceptable, then surely advocating road designs that aren’t safely usable by less-able people is also discriminatory and unacceptable, and in a way that’s extremely relevant to the campaign.

I’m not even sure why these take-the-lane addicts and bus exhaust sniffers are even active members of the London Cycling Campaign any more, considering that the Dutch model of modal separation has been overwhelmingly approved by LCC members now. I wouldn’t want to be a member of a campaign that opposes everything I believe in.

I’m glad that Special Resolution 3 was passed, as I consider advocating Vehicular-Cycling-as-an-end-goal to be discriminatory (VC is fine as a danger mitigation method in car-sick areas, but it should not be a campaign target, and we shouldn’t be creating roads designed for it). Is a wheelchair or handbike user really expected to “take the primary position when approaching a narrowing” to control the bus behind them? Isn’t advice like that, offered as a reason why cycle infrastructure isn’t required in that location, discriminatory against those who don’t have that option? An anti-discriminatory cycle campaign needs to campaign for infrastructure which is accessible to all.

The London Cycling Campaign needs to either make sure that its Hackney branch is following the charity’s democratically-chosen principles, or it needs to strip the current group of affiliation and allow a new group to be formed – one that actually believes in safe, pleasant cycling conditions which are suitable for everybody.


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36 responses to “Flailing limbs: LCC and its famously anti-policy branch

  1. Paul Gannon

    Whilst in agreement with most of your comments, I would add that the cookie can crumble in different ways. 15 years ago the LCC policy (of the key activists) was strongly against segregated cycle tracks, however the federal LCC structure allowed us in Camden at that time to go directly counter to that policy trend & install the RCS & Bloomsbury tracks (to the fury of some key activists who lobbied behind our backs to veto the tracks). Memory of this experience makes me somewhat less worried about Hackney’s waywardness than Alternative DfT.
    Anyway Rita does give us all some wonderful entertainment and repeated object lessons in how not to conduct political discussion.
    I recall Trevor writing an account of a trip to NL which could easily be mistaken for a modern version of Three Men in a Boat (Three men and One Woman on Recumbents) were it not serious. Trevor, who must have been wearing blinkers, concluded, if my memory serves me right, that NL had a ‘short journey’ cycling culture, not a long-distance one. How anyone can go to NL and miss observing that it has a MASS cycling culture, I do not understand. I clashed with Trevor and Oliver many times, but they lost and had to accept our success in Camden. They’ll have to accept the new cycling lobby’s success with the E/W cycle routes too as it is becoming clear that the momentum is building up for these routes to be installed however much the terrible trio wail about them – and sooner or later Hackney will come on side.

  2. Proper segregation is a necessary precondition for mass cycling.
    It’s as simple as that. Anyone who is opposed to segregation is also opposed to mass cycling.

    • @angus_fx

      This. Because while suitable training can, eventually, render most working-age adults capable of dealing with prevailing conditions on the A10 (in the same way that suitable training can render most healthy adults capable of operating a loaded firearm or indeed an HGV reasonably safely), cycling simply doesn’t have to be like that. People other than working-age adults have the right to move around the city by bike!

      No other mass transport mode in the city (not even driving) requires such a continual high awareness/alertness level of its users just to stay in one piece. Cycling in London can feel like riding in a Tube carriage without doors – your safety only reasonably guaranteed provided you remain on high alert at all times. Many people can’t or don’t want to maintain that kind of high awareness just to get from A to B, and they won’t cycle in current conditions for that reason.

  3. merv

    it’s a shame. So many people use bikes in hackney, and a few of them (myself included) would otherwise be tempted into joining the LCC campaign, were they not such a bunch of elitist VC curmudgeons in their local area… Kingsland Road is ‘perfect’ is it? Perfect for whom, exactly?

    • You can be a member of LCC without joining a local group. I am, and I don’t belong to a local group as I live outside London and work in the City – where there is no local group.

      You’d be making a contribution to LCC;s work simply by paying the sub, and you’d get third party liability cover (if you don’t have it already) in case anyone ever wants to sue you for scratching their car as they close-pass you.

  4. Your point about Resolution 3 and discrimination applying to cycling policy itself is an excellent observation. If you are a member of LCC you should consider how this should be taken forward. To be absolutely fair though, LCC in Hackney do want conditions to be easier for cycling, not just for people to adapt to current hostile conditions a la Franklin/ Forrester. It’s just that they see design in purely public realm terms, if you will, rather than focusing on cycling-specific infrastructure, and that measures overall will reduce motor traffic overall (thus making segregation ‘unnecessary’). I’m not saying I agree, just pointing out there’s more of a subtle nuance to their position.

    • Philip is right, I think that is how Hackney LCC would present their position.

      The problem is that this fails to recognise some basic realities, particularly that we will, for the foreseeable future, actually need to accommodate significant flows of motor traffic on many roads which the dense cycling grid (that is needed to enable mass cycling) will not be able to totally avoid, and they have, as the OP says, no realistic solution to this. In the failure to grasp what a big problem this is, there also seems to be some failure to be able to see into the minds of those (99% of the population) who are not determined cyclists, and in this respect they do repeat the psychological mistake of Frankiln. (I am not sure that this is a mistake shared by Forester, as he writes as if he doesn’t really care whether cyclists are a tiny minority or not. He’s not an environmentalist.) The only way Hackney LCC can square the position of opposing segregation on busy roads with the reality that there needs to be lots of buses, taxis and delivery vehicles on certain roads is to claim that this doesn’t matter too much so long as cyclists are appropriately skilled and not too fussy about subjective safety. This view, is, as the OP points out, exclusionary.

      Another, variant, idea that seems to exists in Hackney cycling circles is that they, or we, are headed for a ‘perfect’ world where we will not even need buses or lorries any more on any roads, and cycling will have taken over everything. I think it is hardly necessary to engage with such a daft position.

      • I think you’ve summed up what I’d have said here, David! Placemaking and quiet streets are fine, but I don’t see anybody saying let’s turn the A10 into a pedestrian plaza. Until that happens, it needs footways and cycleways to be accessible for all.

        I remember reading somewhere that Trevor comes from an anti-roads campaigning background, possibly from the early 90s motorway-building opposition, like many other cycle campaigners of today. While I respect that movement, and can sympathise with views against motor supremacy (I knit my own tofu sandals as much as anybody) it’s just not pragmatic to expect the country to suddenly turn against motor vehicles overnight.

        And the truth is that while conditions for cycling feel hostile, the vast majority of people just aren’t going to do it. (And before anybody asks, 6% modal share is not large, though it may look that way from where you’re sitting.)

  5. Thank you for putting it so eloquently. I wish I could support LCC, but while this is what my local group are doing and saying in my name, I just can’t. Given that Rita has blocked me on Twitter and repeatedly lied about me being rude and abusive to her, there’s no way I could ever be on a committee with her.

    From my point of view it just stinks of an “I’m-alright-Jack” attitude from people who have been cycling in London so long that they genuinely believe a couple of bike contraflows are a major game-changer. A recent positive addition to the committee has been frustratingly unable to effect much, if any change in policy. Unfortunately I’ve also found the group largely lacking in online engagement. The sum of this is that Hackney Council – and Vincent Stops – can go on stating that “cyclists” (>1000 members of LCC who live in Hackney) support their anti-segregation policies, while actually it’s 7 people.

    • I’m glad you like the article. I’m also blocked on Twitter by Rita, but I don’t consider it any great loss. It’s like being banned from reading the Daily Mail.

      It’s sickening that the people in charge of the local cycling campaign completely fail to take into account the views of others, ignoring those who say it’s too uncomfortable and feels dangerous. That LCC HQ allows this small group of ideologues to misrepresent the campaign’s goals to the council is disgraceful.

      It probably won’t surprise you to know that Oliver Schick is also a CTC “Right to Ride” rep and on the board of Cyclenation too, so his influence extends beyond the LCC.

      Vincent Stops is also a policy officer at London Travelwatch, which is supposed to represent the views of all Londoners, however they travel, yet going by Stops’ recent missive-of-lies-and-misinformation is biased against providing safe cycling conditions for all.

    • Michael J

      I think all the local groups follow the same procedures, whereby LCC members can vote at group meetings. So if enough local LCC members went to the meetings then committee positions were being voted on, then you could get a different committee (assuming other people stood for the roles).

      I had no idea that Rita Krishna was involved with Hackney LCC given all the ludicrous anti-bike arguments she has on Twitter.

  6. Paul Gannon

    I thought that it would be worth sharing Trevor’s account of his trip to the Netherlands, written 8 years ago in October 2006. I still find it hard to believe it’s not a spoof when I read comments such as “I found it somewhat lonely being separated from people travelling by other modes.” But I assure the following is deadly serious!

    “… the culture in .nl seems in general extremely
    welcoming to cycling. The bike parking was excellent. They had nice wheeling channels on all the stairs we had to go up and down. Local trains were set up to carry bikes. And there were lots of people
    cycling, of all ages and both sexes, almost all on chunky roadsters

    The non-voluntary nature of the system was brought to our attention
    straight away. A couple of miles in from the Hook, we were riding on the deserted road to Rotterdam at midnight, using the smooth, wide carriageway in preference to the bumpy, narrow parallel cycle track, when we heard a voice over a tannoy behind us barking “op de fietspad”. The police car caught up with us and, in response to our uncomprehending looks, an officer wound his window down, ascertained that we were from England, pointed to the sidepath and said: “You have to go on that. It’s special for the bikes.”

    The distance we travelled on bike tracks/paths seemed to me to be always further than the parallel carriageway. The bike paths go off round the back of roadside obstructions such as bus stops, petrol stations, and of course there is a great deal of circumnavigation at roundabouts. Out in the country, where bike paths often diverge from the roads substantially, the situation seemed to be exascerbated. There are no doubt also cases where bike paths genuinely provide a short cut, but we didn’t encounter an example. I guessed the distance penalty overall to be between ten and 15 per cent.

    Navigation over a long distance was quite difficult because one had to stop at the frequent intersections of bike paths to check the signs,
    which were not always particularly consistent as to choice of marked
    destination. It would have been unwise for someone unfamiliar with the territory to travel without a map. In this country, I’m used to being able to travel between unfamiliar destinations fairly straightforwardly without constantly having to check the map. (Then again I don’t use Sustrans routes much for that reason).

    I found it somewhat lonely being separated from people travelling by other modes. In England one can often exchange smiles, waves and even a little conversation with people as they pass or as you pass them. This opportunity simply did not exist in the Netherlands, and I found the travelling experience a bit sterile as a result. Of course you also got to avoid the occasional ******** you might have met on the way.

    Widths of tracks and paths were generally fine, and often absurdly
    generous. Bends, however, could be quite tight, requiring slow-speed manoeuvering. We were riding recumbents, and the least experienced member of our party constantly had to dismount and womanhandle her bike into direction, not something she has had to do when making longish rides in England on the same bike. I was also surprised that bike tracks/paths never seemed to have any banking to assist cornering.

    The collision crunch points one associates with cycle tracks – side road junctions etc – were less of a worry because of the impressive
    compliance of Dutch motorists to the requirement to cede priority to
    cyclists at these nodes.

    System breakdown
    The system was extraordinarily complete, but it did break down at one point, where there the only road to where we needed to go had a ban on bikes but no parallel bike path. We had no choice but to use that, or take a very length diversion. The road was perfect for cycling on, but one motorist in ten took it upon themselves to hoot their horn, pass unpleasantly close, or shout at us in order to emphasise our error.

    The Dutch system seems to be to be set up to suit a culture of
    short-distance cycling. People doing any significant distance – as lots
    were, the Netherlands being an even more hypermobile country than the UK – were probably on the motorways and trains, not the bike paths.”

    So ends Trevor’s salutary account of the sad, benighted state of the Netherlands with its “absurdly generous’ network of cycle tracks”. Go to Netherlands – and see all the lonely people on their bikes!

    • Wow, such comedy genius! I must have missed all those friendly drivers smiling and waving when I cycled in Britain. Perhaps those shouts of “get off the road” were just a precursor to an amiable chat?

      Conversely, perhaps Trevor misunderstood the Dutch drivers who tooted at him. Maybe that’s just their way of saying hello, and if he doesn’t understand Dutch how could he tell whether they were saying “use the fietspad” or “beautiful fiets, pal”?

      On a serious note though, individual experiences (positive or negative) don’t really matter, as millions of people use the cycleways safely and efficiently every single day, the concept is proven beyond doubt.

      It’s also irrelevant that Trevor and his gang found a narrow and bumpy cycleway or a roundabout route, I’m sure they exist, I’ve found some. But that doesn’t disprove the concept of modal separation. It just means that those poorer cycleways need upgrading. (In the same way that the existence of a badly-maintained footpath somewhere doesn’t mean that we should therefore get rid of all paths.)

      For what it’s worth, I never felt more lonely when cycling than I did in London after being bullied by some arsehole in a motor vehicle, or after finding my one accessible route suddenly blocked without safe diversion.

  7. As a Dutchman the one point I take away from Trevor Parson’s travel report is that I should go to England for my next cycling holiday. Avail myself of the facilities while waving at the friendly motorists. I take it each and every one of the later will observe a clearance of 2.5 metres, more if the speed difference warrants it?

  8. Branko Collin

    I had hoped to banish Trevor Parsons from my mind, but here I am again, posting about him.

    After having typed the comment above, I hopped on my bike to shop for groceries. Riding along the Roelof Hartstraat in Amsterdam I was planning to cross the Hobbemakade onto Ceintuurbaan, but the bridge was closed for repairs.

    To a Dutchman every interruption of his cycle route is an annoyance (as a result pavement riding is a bit of a problem here), but then I realized that the next bridge was only a hundred metres away. Why get worked up over such a minor detail, right?

    That’s when I spotted the temporary bridge (shared pedestrian/cyclist) that the city had built five metres next to the bridge under repair.

    And the next moment was the exact time I had to think of Trevor Parsons and his multitude of detours again.

  9. barry

    ‘I found it somewhat lonely being separated from people travelling by other modes. In England one can often exchange smiles, waves and even a little conversation with people as they pass or as you pass them.’

    this is astonishing

  10. Apart from all this absurdity with Hackney LCC that you point out, another issue with the LCC devolved groups structure is that one or two borough groups don’t really campaign at all. At least Hackney LCC is definitely a campaign, though not always for sensible things. Some of the groups however are not campaigns, they are old-tyme cycling clubs, and should really by CTC branches rather than LCC groups. This is the case with Barnet Cyclists, who explicitly describe themselves as “a friendly group of men and women leisure cyclists” (yes they do have a ‘campaign group’, but it is inactive), and probably others in Outer London I am less familiar with.

    It’s fine having such suburban cycling clubs organising leisurely ‘runs’ and pub lunches on Sundays, but the problem is that there are people in those boroughs who want to campaign on space for cycling. They go along, and find a completely different type of person to what they expected, and no interest in campaigning for better cycling conditions in the group, and they leave disillusioned, or leave LCC entirely, or never join it in the first place.

    One reason for this overall looseness of structure is that some of these groups were formed before LCC, and then affiliated to it, they didn’t develop out of the same movement, and have a very different ethos.

    This is hard for the current board and management of LCC to deal with. In the end, they may have to just lay down the law, disaffiliate groups, and set up new ones that contain people who believe in advancing LCC’s policies. I can see this would create much bad feeling, and would be a last resort. They probably prefer to try to move things on gently, and, as people who have been on committees for a long time retire, pro-actively work to find more ‘on-message’ people to take over.

    • LCC cant that easily “set up new groups” surely? If there’s enough strength of feeling in the area, locals could set up a new group though. Running a volunteer campaign is a big time commitment.

    • TomP

      The lack of obvious campaigning in Barnet has been a big let-down for me as someone who moved here about a year ago. From the small amount I’ve seen of it the Barnet branch is more of a social club. Really, as someone who uses a bike in Barnet, I’d hoped for the sort of body that would play hell with TfL over the cancellation of CS12 and give Barnet council a hard time over the total lack of cycling provision here.

  11. jimmy-j

    As you can see from their committee meeting minutes (http://goo.gl/O4HpAi), Hackney Cyclists is actually run by a small number of people, a long-established clique that makes it difficult for opposing views to get any traction.

    However, it is a democratic organisation, so bear in mind that it would only take 20-25 people (all LCC members) to turn up at the next Hackney Cyclists AGM and vote the Parsons/Schick axis out of existence.

  12. fred

    One would have to wait a year to replace a committee that has just been put in place. On the other hand, there’s nothing stopping any group of Hackney LCC members starting their own local group specifically to campaign for LCC’s core priorities. LCC trustees would then have to decide which group to support. It shouldn’t be a difficult decision.

  13. levermonkey

    1) A jimmy-j points out if you don’t like the status quo then there is a very simple democratic process to change it. All you need to do is get of your backsides and take action, don’t whinge about things you can do something about.

    2) Cycling is a broad church and all points of view need to be respected. No clique should be so powerful that it can shout-down all opposition and drown-out all debate.

    My point of view?
    1) A road IS an item of cycling infrastructure! The trick is how do you make is a safer and pleasanter environment for ALL road users, but especially the vulnerable.

    2) Segregation is NOT ALWAYS the answer. Each situation must be dealt with on a case by case basis. For instance, all roads with a speed limit in excess of 40mph should have a properly designed and implemented totally segregated cycleway. But a quiet residential street…? Bow roundabout [and others like it] should be demolished and rebuilt with proper cycling and pedestrian infrastructure built in.
    Note: A shared footpath is not proper, well designed segregation neither is infrastructure what is disjointed and stop-start in nature.

    3) Make other modes of transport more convenient and pleasanter than driving then people will leave their cars at home. A good start would be a creeping policy of slowly reducing the availability of car parking.

    4) The ultimate goal is ‘Critical Mass’ – the point where everyone knows someone they care about who cycles – how we get there will always be up for debate.

    Ear-plugs in!

    • Paul Gannon

      I agree with your key points, ie nos 1 & 2, but not with the way you phrase them. My view is the same as your: segregation is not needed everywhere. But it’s a bad idea to open with a negative as it makes any subsequent suggestion of where segregation is needed come across as grudging.

      Segregation is not a second class option. We should willingly embrace it as our primary position, so to speak.

      Take the positive approach lane. I would say: widespread segregation is vital to get more people cycling as a realistic option in our towns and cities, and critically to get many more younger people, women and older people cycling. Widespread segregation works by giving people the space that will create attractive conditions for cycling.

      You adopt this approach in the para on other modes of transport, I would implore you to adopt for cycling as a mode too.

      • Paul Gannon

        Sorry – I failed to clarify that I meant the second set of 1 & 2, not the first.

      • Levermonkey

        The trouble is that what our idea of segregated cycling infrastructure and a council’s/highways authority’s idea of segregated cycling infrastructure are so far apart.

        a) As a general rule a council’s idea of cycling infrastructure (if they are prepared to do anything) is
        1) Paint,
        2) A skinny lane about the width of a set of handlebars with high kerbs,
        3) A shared footpath, or put another way
        4) Whatever costs the least amount of money.
        As a general rule a council’s idea of maintenance is “What, you want them maintained as well? I’m not sure it’s in the budget.” Please note that I am generalising and I accept that there are councils out there that are trying.

        b) Our idea of good cycling infrastructure is a well maintained, wide, smooth, clean and free of overgrowing vegetation ribbon of tarmac with physical separation from motorised transport (and clear demarcation from pedestrianized traffic) that flows. By flows I mean is prioritised, continuous, doesn’t appear and disappear every 100yrds or so and doesn’t have a ‘Give Way’ every 50yrds.

        If we regard this as a sliding-scale we, as cycling advocates, want the slide to be as near to ‘b’ as possible.

        However, we must accept that we can’t always get what we want particularly in the urban environment (rural roads have a whole set of additional problems to be addressed) for reasons of cost and space.

        This is why I start from the fundamental premise that:
        Once you accept that then the challenge is how do you make it safer. Here is a short and not exclusive or exhaustive list of ideas
        1) Better road surface,
        2) Removal of clutter (excessive signage etc),
        3) Reductions to on-street parking,
        4) Modal permeability,
        5) Reduction of motorised traffic,
        6) Education (for ALL road-users, in particular other users points of view),
        7) A change to the Law so that is a motorist is convicted of Death by Careless Driving or Dangerous Driving (irrespective of whether a death occurs) should automatically have their Driving Licence permanently revoked.

        The problem with painted cycle lanes at the side of the carriageway is that it creates a ‘kiddy in the play-pen’ mentality in the minds of motorists ie. that’s all the room a cyclist needs – as they fly past your handlebar end at 60mph in a 30mph zone (or that’s what it feels like).
        If a council is going to resort to painted cycle lanes at the side of the carriageway they should be 2.5m wide with a solid rumble-strip white line and in operation 24hrs a day (to remove any doubt about parking).


        • I think your logic is faulty, Levermonkey.

          The first part of your post is true, but you go off-beam at this point in your argument:

          “However, we must accept that we can’t always get what we want particularly in the urban environment (rural roads have a whole set of additional problems to be addressed) for reasons of cost and space.”

          We don’t have to accept this. Of these two items, cost is the one we need to campaign on. Our campaign needs to be for enough money, plus correct technical standards, to get the job done right. This stuff is not that expensive on the scale of public finances.

          Space is not a limitation. If there is not space on a road for protected cycle infrastructure, then it is a small road, and the solution for making it safe for cycling is to reduce the volume and speed of traffic to below the guidelines adopted as policy by LCC (20mph and less than 2000 passenger car units per day). On this, I think we are in agreement with Hackney LCC. If the local authority will not accept this, we need to organise the political campaign, emphasising all the other non-cycling benefits of people-friendly streets, to try to push it through. This is the campaign we need to fight. Your strategy sounds like giving up.

          A road is not an item of cycle infrastructure unless it has been made into one by applying the speed/volume criteria or carving out adequate protected space from it. We’re not advocating painted cycle lanes.

    • Further to what Paul says, I don’t think anybody is saying that segregated cycleways are the only answer. If you could point out to me where that’s been said, I’d be grateful.

      The main problem with Hackney LCC is that they believe cycleways along busy roads are NEVER the answer. They point-blank refuse to consider it.

      Regarding your other points, I agree that debate should be had, but when there’s overwhelming evidence pointing towards a conclusion (most won’t ride a bike amongst heavy motor traffic) and there’s someone who constantly wants to assert otherwise, that’s distracting and annoying. Debate is one thing, ranting nonsense is another.

      And while a road technically is an item of cycling infrastructure, if it’s full of buses and lorries and taxis and vans and cars, I don’t think it counts as one any more. The two options are to remove nearly all of the motor vehicles from the road itself, or provide an area along it where motor vehicles aren’t allowed. Simply telling people to ride amongst heavy motor traffic, as Hackney LCC do against LCC policy, isn’t the answer.

    • It’s a reasonable point about engaging, unfortunately Hackney LCC don’t make it very easy to do this unless you can physically turn up at meetings. For example their social media presence is considerably less than other LCC groups. I have 2 young children, a job that involves significant shift work and a husband who works evenings, but I was actually planning to put myself forward for the committee at some point in the next couple of years. However now Rita is on the committee I don’t consider this an option given the way she has treated me. Plus, to get on the committee you need to get voted on… Anyone with strongly and vocally opposing views would likely fall at the first hurdle unless they turn up with many other supporters.

      As regards segregation, I am also bot aware of anyone proposing it for every single road in the UK. However I think just looking at speed limits misses the point. There are several key routes in Hackney that are extremely busy with a constant flow of buses and HGVs. The fact they are 30mph (hopefully to become 20mph) doesn’t make them safe or pleasant to cycle on. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to get around Hackney without encountering one of these hostile roads or even more hostile junctions. This puts a lot of people off cycling, full stop. Segregation on key main roads and protection at junctions would make a huge difference. Although we have good rates of cycling overall, this is massively dominated by young people. You see proportionally very few families or children cycling (outside of a tiny bit around London Fields) and very few older people.

      I don’t think any of this is controversial, but apparently it is. Back before Rita blocked me, she was arguing absolutely resolutely that no-one is put off cycling in Hackney due to fear of traffic, which is just ridiculous to say.

  14. Pingback: Cycle Alienation | The Alternative Department for Transport

  15. I just came across this page (https://hackneypeopleonbikes.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/hackney-cycling-campaign-meeting-on-5-december-2014/ – the post is a few weeks old), which is somewhat enlightening. In particular:

    A couple of points were raised by Charlie Lloyd, Campaign Officer for LCC as follows:

    HCC policy was not at odds with LCC motion 3; in particular, motion 3 was open to interpretation and should only be applied to the “core network”. On this point, Harry [HackneyPOB] said that motion 3 is crystal clear because it is framed in terms of objectively measurable numbers.

    A reminder of what LCC Motion 3 refers to – http://lcc.org.uk/articles/we-define-what-motor-traffic-speeds-and-volumes-are-acceptable-for-mass-cycling-and-what-solutions-can-tackle-problem-streets

  16. I love the fact Hackney is always crowing on about it’s high level of cycling, even though it’s horrible to cycle around.

    If I imported the youth population of western Europe to one small area, I could guarantee similar levels of cycling.

    • Mark Williams

      I love the fact Hackney (branch of LCC and the council) is always crowing on about its `high’ level of cycling, even though that level of cycling is, to put it politely; not exactly impressive—nor noticeably growing. The best that can be said of it is that it is slightly higher than the rest of London (which, itself, is slightly higher than the rest of the UK). The low levels of cycling given its demographics ought to be deeply embarrassing and an indicator of the failed campaigning of the LCC branch and policies of the council…

      What I love less is the [acolytes of the] LCC branch (and probably the council, too) shouting down reasonable criticism of their failure from people who do not live or work strictly within the parochial boundaries. Especially when we make up such a large proportion of what little cycling does take place there!

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