Friday, 27 September 2013

If you don't like it, you can always move

On a local Streetlife thread which I started about Elmbourne Road a comment someone made, I thought worthwhile sharing to a wider audience.

The broad thrust of the comment made, was that if you don't like how the streets are in your area all you need to do is move somewhere else. The issue is that for many parts of the UK, our streets are dire from a pedestrian or cycling perspective.

As the commenter alluded to moving home, I continued with the analogy. When people move into a new home, often changes are made quite early on as a fresh perspective has been given to the property in question. Things are changed because:

Why did the previous owners have that?
Why did choose that colour?
Why did they put that wall there?

I think once we have changed our streets for the better, we too will look back at how our streets are today, and ask similar questions.

Why did they do that?
Why didn't they just have safe cycle routes?
Why did they just let people drive and park their cars almost anywhere they want?

Below is the actual comment made, and my response.

James commented:
when people moved to this area they knew what the traffic situation was like and after a period of time you dont like it and  wish to change it for your needs i'm sorry its not going to happen. It draws a comparison to someone who moves to a village with the loverly village church where the bell's ring when ever and it starts to get on your nerves. I'm sorry but you best start thinking again where you might want to live my friend.

This was my response:
Dear James,

That's a very good point that people when they move to an area know what it is like, if they don't like certain things they can move elsewhere.

To continue using a house or home as an analogy. When you move into a new home, or purchase a property, you know what it's like, and what's it's issues may be. 

Many people look to do home improvements just after they move in to a new place, because they have a different perspective, or have a fresh view on things. They see problems where the previous owners didn't, and generally look to fix or improve their new home.

I see the local area as my home. I see problems in terms of how our streets are managed, and from the growing numbers of people signing the different petitions that I'm running, I'm not alone in that view. I think we can make 'home improvements' to our local area to the benefit of all. 

Where those 'improvements' can be run as pilots, to ensure that they genuinely deliver the benefits that are claimed (and repealed if they don't work) I find it hard to understand why some people are so dead set against any change at any cost. 

Thanks for your comment, and hope you have a good weekend.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Elmbourne Road - roadworks, or trial road closure?

This afternoon coming back from Balham, I noticed these roadworks taking place at the north end of Elmbourne Road. Thames Water are doing some emergency works which has meant that the road has been closed at this point, but you can still walk or cycle past, and indeed park your car in front of, or nearby the properties adjacent to the works.

Approximate location of the works
Roadworks, or trial road closures are happening all the time, and we just adapt to them. That is why I don't believe that the fears of chaos caused by piloting low-traffic zones or home-zones will actually happen.

I'm looking for more support for the petition in the link below, which happens to be calling for a pilot in the very same area. If you live locally, I do hope you can support it.

Sign the petition here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Back to School & the school-run nightmare!

Summer has clearly ended as lots of pupils went back to school today. I don't have any children of my own at the moment, but the conditions on local streets this morning was dire. Making it very understandable why people who own cars, choose to drive their children to school.

It also rams home part of the reason why 50% of car trips are 2 miles or less. Combine that with the main reason that parents are afraid of cycling, and understandably might not want their children cycling on the roads, fear of motor traffic and we have the perfect storm.

Download the full report here:

At this point, most people shrug their shoulders, and say well that's just how it is. Fortunately a growing number of us are no longer accepting the status quo as good enough. Frankly it's been horrendous for far too long.

I don't want people to not have a choice to drive locally. However, I don't see why the choice to drive should inhibit or drive everyone else away from being able to choose to cycle locally.

Again, I can hear the siren voices, "You still can choose to cycle, you do don't you?". Yes, I do cycle, but most people don't, and I along with everyone else have to put up with dangerous drivers who frankly shouldn't still be allowed to drive. Those are just the ones that have been caught!

So, what can we do? What can be done? 

Good news is that we can change things for the better. We are changing things for the better. However, the process is taking time and far too long in my opinion.

  • Join London Cycling Campaign

The London Cycling Campaign is doing a fantastic job in lobbying and presenting the massive benefits of creating a people friendly city. They need our support, so if you aren't already a member please do join.

  • Support these local petitions

Locally in Tooting/Wandsworth, with the support of both Wandsworth Cycling Campaign and Wandsworth Living Streets I've been very active in pushing forward proposals for trials to take place which will, I believe create the safer streets, we need and deserve. I've got these petitions live, but I do need more people to sign them so that they can see the light of day. With the help of Joe Dunckley who blogs here, I now have this short video (on Smallwood Road) which tries to explain why I'd like your support.

Tooting Common - Dr Johnson Avenue

Clapham Common petition

Blackshaw Rd - Smallwood Rd - Fountain Road

All of the petitions above are 'just' asking the authorities to conduct trials. Let's give it a go! I presented a similar petition to the council last summer for Fishponds Road, and that has been approved by the committee we are currently waiting for dates as to when the scheme will go ahead. These petitions can and do work!

Let's make Mitcham Lane safe for all

This last one I'm hoping to get formally endorsed by Wandsworth Cycling Campaign. All being well that should happen too. If we don't ask, we definitely won't get. If you like what you see, spread the word. Together we can improve our streets, but we need to ask the powers that be to make it happen.