Plans to improve safety for cyclists on Hackney’s main roads announced

Speakers pose outside the town hall. Picture: Gary Manhine/Hackney Council

Speakers pose outside the town hall. Picture: Gary Manhine/Hackney Council - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s transport boss has said there is “huge potential” to tackle safety issues for cyclists on the borough’s main roads.

Phil Glanville speaks at the annual cycling conference. Picture: Gary Manhine/Hackney Council

Phil Glanville speaks at the annual cycling conference. Picture: Gary Manhine/Hackney Council - Credit: Archant

Cllr Feryal Demirci was speaking at the Hackney Cycling Conference at the town hall yesterday.

Responding to a question about what she would like to see done in London that is being done elsewhere, she said: “Over the last 10 years in Hackney we have concentrated on removing barriers to cycling on side streets.

“I recognise the need to start tackling safety issues on the main roads.

“We still have huge potential and we’ve done a lot of work trying to look at where the potential is. We need to start dealing with it.”

Earlier mayor Phil Glanville had talked about what his new administration had planned in terms of cycling and improving the borough’s streets.

He mentioned the £8.6million that will be spent on improving Pembury Circus, one of the most dangerous junctions in the borough. The makeover will include removing through traffic from Amhurst Road and improving walking and cycling routes, including protected cycle lanes in Mare Street.

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Mr Glanville also touched on the improvements to Seven Sisters Road, announced last year at the same event, saying protected cycling routes would be looked at by the council and TfL.

He also mentioned the living streets campaign, pioneered by Brenda Peuch, who installed – repeatedly – the “people’s parking bay” across the borough last year.

She had strong support from the community but the council banned it before eventually coming round to the idea.

Mr Glanville said: “What a year for innovation, and dare I say it the power of parklets. I would like to thank Brenda from Living Streets for pushing this up the agenda.”

He said the council would now look at coming up with policies to create community parklets across the borough.

Touching on the ultra low emission zones Hackney and Islington are pioneering in Shoreditch and Old Street, he added:

“I was pleased to see a number of mainstream press coverage around the scheme, and it certainly contributed to the large number of consultation responses from taxi drivers.”

Simon Munk from the London Cycling Campaign talked about the importance of “liveable neighbourhoods”.

He focused on the success of the mini-Holland scheme in Walthamstow as an example of how it can be done.

“If you remove some of the rat runs and put the traffic all on the main roads they will grind to a halt and it will be Armageddon,” is what people were saying, according to Simon. “But that simply doesn’t happen.”

He urged the council to talk to locals, rather than just send out consultations with “yes” or “no” boxes. He said social media had put an end to such practices due to the discussion that takes place online.

He also said Walthamstow’s road closures had led to children playing out in the street for the first time “in a generation”.

TfL’s planning chief Jeanette Baartman said chiefs were looking at reducing the 20mph limit in such areas, as it was too fast.

Copenhagen’s former bike programme manager Andreas Rohl spoke about his work in creating liveable cities and how it could be done in London.

In Copenhagen, for the first time since the 1940s there are more bikes travelling to the inner city than cars. But in 2007 it was a political risk to try and take the infrastructure to a new level.

He said speaking to people who oppose major restructures of the city in a way that interests them is the way to go, rather than talking about how good it is for cyclists.

“Cycling isn’t the goal,” he told the room. “It’s a means to an end.”

He said the way to convince finance chiefs that huge cycling and liveable city infrastructure was worthwhile was to focus on the public health cost benefits.

“Use those methods,” he said. “Cycling projects create so much more savings, use these methods to show a positive return. What it’s worth totally depends on what you compare it with.”

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