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”.
This is not unexpected.
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.
Lots of London boroughs are now doing this, and seeing the benefits, but RBKC (so far) hasn’t.
Low traffic neighbourhoods
RBKC streets are the most polluted of inner London boroughs.
We also have the dubious honour of having the worst pollution recorded – as this excerpt from a 2017 survey states, “The worst place for nitrogen dioxide pollution in 2017 was Kensington and Chelsea, followed by Leeds and Doncaster.”
RBKC is one of the richest places in the world but we are really bad at making our streets healthy.
Lack of resources isn’t an excuse, which means it is our choices and policies that are the problem.
That doesn’t mean it is easy to change, or that the challenges don’t exist, but it does mean that we are not unique in having challenges and while others are finding solutions we are failing. It may not be popular with some. But we should be honest with ourselves that the perceived convenience of a few in private cars (most of whose journeys would be quicker even by the most sedate cyclist) shouldn’t be our policy priority.
We want our main roads transformed into 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 want 20mph to be the default speed limit across RBKC.
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.
We are very pleased that RBKC have begun to trial this in some areas, but we want the trials to be permanent and borough-wide.
Danger and pollution at the school gates
There are too many cars on the school run in Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC). 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.
So far in RBKC…
RBKC has been working with Colville School in North Kensington, running a pilot since September 2019. We welcome the councils shift in position and this is a good start however we want to see a coherent plan for rolling school streets out across our borough.
We would like to see RBKC making school streets traffic free wherever possible in 2020
From our Twitter feed
An @imperialcollege research project is looking for research participants for a study about air pollution. If you live in #WestLondon, find out more: https://bit.ly/INHALEresearch #whitecity #hammersmith #KensingtonandChelsea
Our first meeting after the summer break is next Weds, 30th Sept, 6.30. Plenty to talk about ! Details and an update in our newsletter