Hackney is now the cycling heart of London, as was shown by the 2011 census figures. 15% of Hackney residents now cycle to work, and car ownership is falling. As always with demographic changes, there are myriad causes, as I suggested here.
But the fact that the Hackney borough group of the LCC has been so active in transport planning with the borough over the last 15 years is not just a correlation, it is causation. As Danny Williams (Cyclists in the City blog) says, it’s the bike-friendly policies, stupid. Despite the Kerb Nerds insistence that the only way to increase numbers of people cycling is total segregation, and that all other policies are a waste of time, this increase in levels of cycling to around about where the Dutch and Danish were in the 70s has been achieved without great lengths of separated bike paths.
If you think I’m overstating the Kerb Nerds fervour, David Arditti came back from a trip to Copenhagen tweeting that: got to understand this: you need all to stick your Hierarchies of Provision, Quietways, Graeenways [sic], 20mph etc in the bin….Cause the solution is segregated cycle tracks on *all* main roads. That’s the only thing that gives you fun cycling for all. UK politicians, don’t waste time, don’t bother with cycling at all if you are not interested in doing this. Over and out.
I think this is an extraordinarily blinkered view, especially the dismissal of 20 mph zones. 20 mph zones are important not just because they might encourage cyclists, but because, along with other policies like ‘Safe Routes to School’, they are accepted to have helped drive down child pedestrian fatalities in London. So-called Vehicular Cyclists such as myself are often dismissed by the Kerb Nerds as ‘advocating only for themselves’. I don’t how considered David’s dismissal of 20 mph zones was, but it looks an awful lot like advocacy only for himself.
As Danny says in his piece for the Standard, Hackney’s policies have focused on making sure that every scheme – whether it’s a new building or an upgrade of an existing road – improves the public realm and sense of place, not just focussing on providing separated cycle paths along all main roads. And before we go any further, I agree that there remains a lot to do in Hackney. I live right by the A10 Kingsland Road, on which 3 cyclists have been killed in the last 10 years. This road desperately needs some redesigning, but not just for cyclists, for pedestrians as well.
But despite all that remains to be done, no-one can deny that Hackney Cyclists have achieved great things, and are way ahead of every other London borough. Should you wish to Hackneyise your own borough or town, you could do worse than attend the 2nd Annual Hackney Cycling Conference, June 6th.
The following is from the Hackney Cycling Campaign:
2013 is set to be a landmark year in the UK for cycling.
High-profile media attention and campaigns, ambitious policy statements and proposed funding for London and the recent All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group report from the Get Britain Cycling inquiry have created political momentum that suggests now is the time for ambitious improvements and initiatives to encourage an increase in the number of people riding bikes.
But big questions remain about how best to achieve these changes. For example, how to translate public support for cycling as an abstract idea into support for local schemes, how to design for cycling and other kerb-side needs, and how to deal with emerging problems as the number of cyclists goes up, like conflict with pedestrians in areas of high cycle traffic.
The Hackney Cycling Conference seeks to further the debate on these issues and more by bringing together politicians, professionals, academics and campaigners from across the many disciplines and sectors that are involved in influencing an increase in cycling in the UK.
Confirmed speakers include
Andrew Gilligan, London Cycling Commissioner; Prof. Phil Goodwin, University of the West of England and author of the APPCG report ‘Get Britain Cycling’; Dr Adrian Davis, Public Health and Transport consultant at Bristol City Council
The conference is on 6th June. Tickets etc can be found here.