Thursday, 21 March 2013

Safer Lorries - open letter to Wandsworth Council

Cllr Russell King, Jon Irwin (Co-chair WEF), Robert Molteno (Secretary Wandsworth Living Streets)

Yesterday evening I went to Wandsworth Town Hall, and presented an open letter to the council.

As some of you may already know, lorries and HGVs are disproportionately involved in fatal collisions on our streets. In part due to their design, where many of the drivers have no visibility up to 4m in front of their cab.

In Wandsworth there have been 3 elderly people who have been killed by lorries in the past year, two incidents happening very close to me in Tooting.

Feb 17 2012 - Man decapitated after being run over by lorry

May 18 2012 - Elderly man dies after being crushed under truck

Sept 28 2012 - Pensioner killed by lorry in Putney High Street

Aside from lorries being involved in all 3 fatalities, each of the men involved were of advanced age. Unfortunately these deaths, in part due to the age of the victims, in part to the ubiquity of death and injuries on our streets, can too often become 'invisible'.

London Cycling Campaign (LCC) launched a 'Safer Lorries' campaign earlier this year, however, as we know from our local recent history not only cyclists are at risk from lorries on our streets.  With this in mind, together with other local groups, the letter below was drafted.

I hope that the widespread support shown including; Age UK Wandsworth, Friends of the Earth Wandsworth, the Putney Society, Transition Town Tooting, Wandsworth Cycling Campaign, Wandsworth Living Streets, the Wandsworth Society, and Wandsworth Environment Forum, will help illustrate the strong desire from the local community for our council to take action which will deliver safer streets for residents, visitors and people who work in the borough alike in the long term.

We can't bring people back to life, but we can learn how to reduce road danger, in doing so help change our streets to make them safer for all. Yesterday also saw London Cycling Campaign publish the following proposals of how safer lorries could be designed. This is how LCC suggest they could look like based on existing technology and design principles:

Graphic produced by for LCC

You can view an animation of the lorry here.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

From Balham High Road to Balham Boulevard

A vision who's time has come. Incredibly excited about this project, which I put forward in the autumn to Wandsworth Council.

This afternoon I saw this tweet:

In case you are wondering what I'm excited about, don't worry hopefully the following pictures will explain. If you aren't familiar with this part of London, here is a streetview picture to give you an idea.

View Larger Map

 I visited Paris last year, and took a picture of this, as I thought that this kind of idea could be replicated here in London.

So I took to my spreadsheet and google satellite view. Measured up the street, and then did this roughly to scale map. On the left is the crossing where Balham Tube station is, so under the bridge for those who know it.

Then, having a plan of what space is available, I played around, and came up with the plans in the pictures below.

The light blue is what I'm terming a 'service road'. It will be essentially segregated cycle route most of the time, but does allow people in cars/vans to use it when doing deliveries, or dropping into the shops/cafes/restaurants.

The parking bays are set away from the pavement. The black dots along the service road, are to illustrate that if you are in a car/van, you will need to exit once you've been to the shop, and re-join the main road. Doing the scheme in this way results in a very small reduction in road capacity (technical term for how many motor vehicles the road can hold).

I checked with Wandsworth Cycling Campaign @Wandscyclist and Wandsworth Living Streets @WandsLS first to iron out any potential issues. Now it seems that Balham Town Centre Partnership (@Balhamtcp), and Balham Town Centre Manager  (@Balhamtcm) are now on-board.

Update 21st April 2013

I was sent an email earlier from someone who lives in Balham. They received a Wandsworth Conservatives Borough newsletter today which includes the following text: 

"Your views on Balham Boulevard plans

Wandsworth Council is pulling together plans to create a Paris-style boulevard on the wide stretch of Balham High Road between Balham Station and Ritherdon Road.

The plans, which will be submitted to Transport for London, will separate cyclists from other traffic and enable a more continental-style 'cafe culture'. We'd like to hear what you think of the plans - please get in touch using the form below or the details above."

The email that they have asked for feedback to is:

If you are supportive of the proposals, please do let them know. Worthwhile also copying in your local councillor and our London Assembly Member Richard Tracey as TfL will need to give the go-ahead for this project.

Good to see that campaigning can deliver results.