Sticking to the facts on cycling improvements

4652614096_4892153028_oIt’s great to hear that Sadiq Khan plans to almost double the investment in cycling initiatives compared to the previous mayor of London. It’s also encouraging that he is promoting a commissioner for walking as well as cycling. This surely is signal of an ambition to consider the needs of all road users.

But is ambition (and cash) enough? Boris Johnson’s vision only went so far. He faced massive political and public opposition to his plans for segregated cycle superhighways, leaving many still incomplete. London’s former cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, has also spoken of defeat, labelling TfL’s ‘quietway’ initiative a failure, with just one of the seven planned now open.

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You are here: trying (and failing) to lose myself in the city

IMG_5244I’ve been training for the Hackney Half Marathon and have been enjoying the chance to be alone, to explore the canals, rivers, back streets and parks of the city, and to think. The more I run, the more I’ve been thinking about the limits of my freedom as a runner, or indeed walker of the city. I’ve been thinking about the subtle, yet still powerful, ways our movements and interactions are being managed and planned.
These frustrations first surfaced in the countryside, during a run in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire where I grew up and my parents still live. I was looking forward to escaping the confines of the towpaths and to being immersed, perhaps even a little lost, in woodland. So I dug out my Dad’s Ordnance Survey map and traced a route I cycled as a teenager along the old Severn and Wye railway line.

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Street play: I’m an optimist, not an idealist

I was dismayed when Twitter followers recently suggested that I was either a neglectful mother or hopelessly nostalgic in thinking children might still play on the pavements of streets with low traffic levels. These comments were, for me, further evidence that society is too comfortable with the car controlling the street: so comfortable that it has become impossible to imagine anything else.

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London Fields traffic: why testing alternatives is essential

Since I posted my first blog there has been some interest in my links to the campaign supporting potential road closures in London Fields (my only link is Claudia Draper who spoke at the pro-road-closure meeting  in February and who helped me set up a play street last year). So I thought I’d add some detail about why I’m interested in a scheme that challenges the domination of cars in streets. Continue reading “London Fields traffic: why testing alternatives is essential”

London Fields traffic filtering: can traffic ‘evaporate’?

My inner traffic geek was intrigued when flyers appeared through my door last year about plans to close roads in my area to through-traffic. Hackney Council wanted to turn Middleton Road, a residential road near London Fields, into a cycle “Quietway”, part of a network of low-traffic, backstreet routes across London.

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Setting out

I’m a journalist and urbanist living in London, in search of examples and debate around diversity and vitality in cities. I don’t know where this blog will lead, but I’m going to start with a local, and perfectly contentious, issue to spark some attention and debate.

This issue — the London Fields traffic filtering consultation — also reveals some of my research interests in how public space can be balanced for a variety of users.