Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alternatives to Individual Car Use

Over the past few months, Lewisham's Sustainable Development Committee, which I chair, has been conducting a scrutiny on 'alternatives to individual car use'. We've looked at existing schemes within Lewisham to promote walking and cycling and encourage people to use their cars less (eg the existing free cycle training for adults and children, the Lewisham Walking Festival), and heard from expert witnesses (Living Streets, Lewisham Cyclists, TfL, Streetcar and Council transport officers) about best practice elsewhere in London.

Last week we agreed recommendations, in a report which will be going to Mayor & Cabinet in a couple of weeks. Our recommendations included expanding and more widely-promoting the free cycle training for adults and children, extending 20 mph speed limits to all residential roads where practicable, and bidding for extra funding to complete, improve and promote existing cycle routes such as the Waterlink Way (there is some concern from Lewisham Cyclists that TfL have decided to withdraw the funding needed to complete the remaining sections of the Waterlink Way route, including the section from Wearside to Ladywell Fields, and Ladywell Bridge).

We were also keen to see the continued expansion of car clubs in the borough, as research has shown that for every car club car, as many as 20 private cars are taken off the road (or not bought). Incidentally, residents in Marsala Road, Ellerdale Road and Algernon Road might be interested to hear that a new car club car will soon be located on Elmira Street.

The full report is available online, but in brief other recommendations include:

  • The extension of car club provision in new housing developments of more than 30 homes
  • Promoting Workplace Travel Plans for local employers and their employees
  • Working with employers to encourage them to achieve substantial reductions in car use through workplace travel plans
  • The provision of shower facilities for cyclists in planning applications for new businesses
    Promotion of ‘Cycle to Work’ schemes that loan bikes to employees
  • More provision of more cycle racks at health centres, shopping centres and arcades
  • More active promotion of off-road cycle routes in Lewisham, e.g., LCN 21 and Waterlink Way


Fooboy said...

I agree with your measures on cycling, but I think more could be done. Hackney has some good ideas like increasing permeability and secure cycle parking for those in social housing which could apply well in Lewisham.

In general I'd be sceptical of on-road cycle lanes, poorly designed, narrow cycle lanes are frequently more dangerous than just cycling in the road.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments Fooboy, and the links. I think Lewisham is making some progress on 'increasing permeability' (eg removing the barriers in Brookmill Park) but I agree that there is still a long way to go and unfortunately only so much one cycling officer with a limited budget can achieve. She is, however, always open to suggestions of things that could be done to improve parts of cycle routes, so if you have any specific places in mind, let me know.

The link to the cycle storage project in social housing in Hackney was v interesting - I'm not aware of a similar scheme in Lewisham, but now might be a good time to suggest it, with so much work going on (or due to start)under the decent homes programme. We have fairly good planning policy for secure, covered cycle storage in all new developments, but improving provision for residents in existing developments is more difficult to achieve.