A safe walking and cycling network
We want pedestrians and those who choose to ride bicycles to be safe and to feel safe, in RBKC.
RBKC’s own research shows that the biggest factor stopping people switching to bikes is safety.
Their most recent survey asked, ‘What is your biggest concern about getting around on Kensington & Chelsea’s streets?’ and the number one answer was “cycling doesn’t feel safe”.
Across the world, evidence shows the biggest blocker to getting people out of private vehicles and onto bicycles is safety, and the best way to do this is to provide physically segregated bike lanes on larger roads together with a well-structured network on smaller roads.
This enables people to feel safe across their whole journey, not just an isolated part of it.
Historically, RBKC have restricted plans for a meaningful network for cycling to a small number of Quietways. Analysis of the modal share (i.e. proportion) of journeys in the borough since their introduction shows that they’ve had no material impact. It’s not surprising. The routes – found here – are so few and scarce across the borough that they are not likely to cover many real journeys people want to make, and the routes themselves are varied in usability. Would you let a competent 12 year old use them? In almost all cases, probably not.
We’ve been encouraged by early signs of a fresh approach to this.
Low traffic neighbourhoods
Low traffic neighbourhoods – LTNs – can make a huge positive difference to an area. In summary, they are parts of a borough identified as small enough that walking or cycling from one end to the other is practical. No rat-running is then allowed through the area, although of course residents can still access their front door. The emergency services are consulted to ensure in their design their needs are taken into account. More on this can be found here.
The concept isn’t entirely new. It’s very widely used in different parts of Europe, and in London, similar schemes have been in existence for years but had not until recently been promoted. Within RBKC the area around Victoria Road is in many ways an LTN already. There is little rat-running, and residents and visitors enjoy quieter and friendlier streets.
We worked with RBKC to explain the strategy of an LTN, and are pleased that they are now endorsed as part of RBKC policy.
We now need to work on specific proposals in the borough. Good, thoughtful design is key.
We want our main roads transformed into a pedestrian and cycle-friendly boulevards, boosting local business.
We want to change our larger roads from unpleasant motor vehicle carriageways where dirty air, noise and danger put off people from visiting, shopping, sitting in cafes or on terraces meeting friends.
We don’t think, for example, that Holland Park Avenue today is a good example of a thriving metropolitan boulevard. The same is true of High Street Kensington. Or indeed the Kings or Fulham Road. Motor traffic prioritisation has made them polluted, noisy and dangerous places for pedestrians and those on bicycles to visit and enjoy.
But this can change. In Paris, for example, perhaps the world’s most famous boulevard, the Champs Elysees, is now benefiting from a segregated cycle path as Paris tries to restore the attraction of this once great road.
For businesses and shopkeepers we genuinely believe this will boost business, and that’s what the evidence shows happens when streets are made more attractive for people to visit.
We campaigned for 20mph to be the default speed limit across RBKC – and we did it!
This is a key change that has a huge impact on road safety, as the potential harm from a collision rises exponentially from 20mph upwards, as does the required stopping distance.
The next step is for this temporary order to be made permanent, and for enforcement to make sure we see the benefits. More on this can be found here.
There are too many cars on the school run in Kensington & Chelsea. We’re all aware of how much more traffic there is in term time than in school holidays. Also, many of RBKC’s school streets become danger zones during school run hours, with parent’s cars clogging narrow streets and with many school streets used as rat runs. This causes increased air pollution levels at the school gates and puts families off walking, scooting or cycling to school, as well as being unpleasant for residents.
A solution used by more and more councils across London is “school streets” – traffic bans on school streets at the start and end of each school day(residents are exempt). The results:
- Cleaner air
- Safety for children
- More families choosing to walk, scoot and cycle to school
- Fewer cars on the school run.
Of course, not all schools or school streets are suitable for this – those on bus routes for instance, but we think there are plenty of school streets where this could make a radical difference.
RBKC began working with Colville School in North Kensington, running a pilot since September 2019. As we have continued to advocate this policy, we were pleased with the further growth of the scheme now to eight schools, but there’s room for many more!