Kingston Gate – save our protected bike lane!

Kingston Station is at the heart of Kingston’s cycling network. It’s the site of a new multi-million pound cycle hub, the brand new Wheatfield Way and nearby Old London Road Mini-Holland routes, and other bike routes linking to the town centre and north along Richmond Road. But only a hundred metres away, a planning application has been submitted to rip out the existing protected bike lane. So what’s going on?

Kingston Gate is a proposed development, building over a car park and an adjacent busy road. The developers propose diverting this traffic onto Richmond Road, but they want to remove the bike lane in order to do so. This will completely sever this cycle route, and their proposed diversion on the pavement around the back of the shops for people cycling is a waste of time. In the second phase of development, they say, they will demolish this row of shops, and they say they will then put a northbound cycle path back in.

But there’s a real risk that Phase 2 won’t even happen. If Phase 1 goes ahead as planned, there is no obligation on the developers to apply for the permission required for Phase 2. Even if they do, there’s no obligation to actually construct it – planning applications go unbuilt for all kinds of reasons. And most worrying of all, they don’t even own any of the properties that would need be demolished for Phase 2 to go ahead. This means the supposedly temporary loss of the protected bike route would become permanent.

This has to be stopped before it gets started, or we could lose this route completely. The Council should be upgrading this route in the first place – it’s a key link in their existing plans, and they should be providing protected space for southbound cycling, never mind retaining the northbound protected route throughout any planned works. Richmond Road is a key cycling artery, both now and for the future.

It’s not too late for the developers to change their proposals, or for the council to reject them. But for this to happen we need your support.

How to Object

Kingston Cycling Campaign have already submitted our detailed objection to this scheme – covering much more than the problems covered here. But the best way to ensure this route is kept is for everyone to add your own objections – we know from experience that the more objections, the more weight is given to them.

  • Visit the application on the council’s website: 19/02323/FUL
  • Fill in the form, and pick “Object” as your stance
  • Tick “Access or traffic problems”
  • In the comment, say that you object to the proposal on the grounds of Road Safety, that you object to the removal of the protected bike lane on Richmond Road during any phase of construction, that you object to any reinstatement being dependent on subsequent phases which may not go ahead and you object to there being no consideration of a southbound protected bike lane being added at any stage of the project or in the future.

Note that comments have to be submitted by the end of Wednesday 21st April – so please take a minute and submit yours right now!

Mini-Holland: Progress in 2020

As we reach the end of 2020, we’ve taken a look at the progress that was made on Kingston’s Mini-Holland programme (also known as ‘Go Cycle’) during the year and finish with a look towards 2021.

Kingston to Kingston Vale

The Kingston to Kingston Vale cycle route is the longest in the Mini-Holland programme and started main construction in 2019. It was due to be finished this year but events of 2020 caused this timeline to become unachievable. Despite the difficulties of 2020, during the year the 2-way track along London Road between Queen Elizabeth Road and Manorgate Road was completed as well as the cycle tracks between Manorgate Road and Queen’s Road. Some ‘snagging’ (fixing minor issues) also took place on Kingston Hill and Kingston Vale on stretches of segregated cycle track constructed in 2019.

The reconstruction of the junction between Kingston Hill and Wolverton Avenue finished this year (new and before photos)
Cycle tracks added to Kingston Hill (between Queen’s Road and Manorgate Road) finished this year (before and after photos)
New 2-way cycle track along London Road completed this year

The only sections outstanding on this route are the junction of Kingston Hill with Queen’s Road and the separate junction with Galsworthy Road. These should be constructed in Spring 2021, and along with finishing the ‘snagging’ items, this will complete the 4.5km route from Kingston Town Centre all the way to the A3 which is close to the Borough of Kingston’s border with Wandsworth.

Surbiton to Tolworth

The Surbiton to Tolworth scheme along Ewell Road will link these two areas with a safer cycle route and started main construction at the beginning of 2020. The majority of the route was due to be completed by the end of the year. However, again timelines have changed and only Phase 1 was completed (St Mark’s Hill to Browns Road). Phase 2 (Brown’s Road to Tolworth Broadway) has had its plans tweaked to fit within a reduced budget provided by TfL and its construction could start early in 2021 subject to TfL’s final approval and funding. Phase 2 could then be completed in 2021 creating a safer cycle route from Tolworth all the way to Kingston Town Centre via Surbiton.

First phase of Surbiton to Tolworth cycle route along Ewell Road completed in 2020. Photos of new and prior layout.

Kingston Station

Kingston Station is the ‘hub’ of the new Mini-Holland network of safer cycle routes and has seen a lot of associated construction activity in recent years. The main progress this year has been continued construction of the Kingston Station bike storage hub which will have space for 450 bikes as well as bike maintenance facilities, lockers as well as a space for a cafe.

Photos of the new cycle and walking bridge which will take people from Kingston Station towards the Thames and the new Kingston Station bike storage hub which will have capacity for up to 450 bikes

Next to the hub is a new bridge which is approaching its final stages prior to opening. This bridge will better link Kingston Station to the Thames and towards Ham. Together with the Low Traffic Neighbourhood along Lower Ham Road and the due to be completed Surbiton to Tolworth link, this will mean there is a 7km safer cycling route (almost!) all the way from the Borough of Kingston’s border with Richmond upon Thames (at Ham Cross) to its border with Epsom & Ewell (near Tolworth).

Both the bridge and bike storage hub should be open by the end of January 2021.

Anything else?

Right at the beginning of the year, the finishing touches were added to the Kingston to Surbiton route (along Penrhyn Road) though that feels a long time ago now…

Outside of the Mini-Holland programme, due to reduced funding and other obvious priorities, there were few infrastructure improvements to the Borough’s cycle network outside of the Mini-Holland (and Streetspace) programme. However, we were pleased that Kingston Council listened to our suggestion and found time to install a dropped kerb next to a ‘toucan crossing’ (for people cycling and walking) near Kingston Station to make it easier for people to get to/from the cycle path underneath Kingston Railway Bridge.

New dropped kerb near Kingston Station making it easier for people cycling to get to/from the cycle track under the railway bridge

Finally, the excellent and very popular New Malden to Raynes Park walking and cycling paths had its first birthday in 2020!

The future

As above, there are bits of the existing Mini-Holland programme to finish off which should be completed in 2021 with the main construction activity due to be along Ewell Road as the second phase of Surbiton to Tolworth is completed. This leaves the proposed Kingston to New Malden cycle route as the only scheme that would remain outstanding….

Kingston to New Malden is the final part of the Mini-Holland programme but is yet to start construction. We understand that this scheme is ready to start construction as soon as Spring 2021 (it received approval from Kingston Council at the beginning of 2020) but it is currently unfunded. We understand Kingston Council continue to lobby TfL for the funding to be provided but until this is happens, the final critical link in the Mini-Holland programme will remain unbuilt. This is despite large housing developments being built along the route as well as its dismal record for safety for people cycling and walking. We will continue to campaign for this vital cycle route and hope TfL will be able to fund it at some point in 2021.

As a final note, we would like to thank everyone involved in the Mini-Holland programme (designers; project managers; construction crews; cycle lane sweepers; Councillors; TfL sponsors; members of the public who have provided feedback; Kingston Cycle Campaign volunteers and many more) for their hard work and contributions during a very difficult year.

Wishing everyone a happier 2021.

Further reading

The Council’s Go Cycle website

Our map of Mini Holland routes open, in construction and proposed

Our guide to new cycle infrastructure in Kingston

Happy 1st Birthday to the New Malden to Raynes Park Cycleway!

A few people from Kingston Cycling Campaign and Merton Cycling Campaign met on the New Malden to Raynes Park Cycleway this afternoon (socially distanced of course) to celebrate its first Birthday which is due tomorrow, 13 July 2020.

The New Malden to Raynes Park Cycleway

The New Malden to Raynes Park Cycleway (also referred to as ‘Cycleway 31’) has transformed cycling and walking between the two locations since it opened. It opened up previously underused Thames Water land allowing people to cycle and walk between the two locations in a safe environment for the first time. After our successful campaign, the Cycleway was built with separate walking and cycling paths (instead of a single shared path) reducing conflict for people using the route too.

This afternoon we counted over 130 people on bikes in just an hour using the Cycleway with over a third of these being children either cycling with family or friends. There were a similar number of people walking too. This level of usage clearly demonstrates the desire for safe cycle and walking routes.

It doesn’t seem a year since Will Norman (London’s Walking and Cycling Commisioner) formally opened the Cycleway (and what a year it’s been since…) but we are delighted that this new link is being heavily used by the community just one year after opening.

A map of the New Malden to Raynes Park Cycleway

We expect that this Cycleway would be even more popular if it connected to safe cycle infrastructure at both its ends. We therefore will continue to campaign for the construction of the Kingston to New Malden Cycleway along Cambridge and Kingston Roads.

The proposed Kingston to New Malden Cycleway would pass close to the beginning of the New Malden to Raynes Park Cycleway providing a safer link onto it. The Kingston to New Malden Cycleway was approved by Kingston Council earlier this year but currently does not have any source of funding to start construction. In the meantime, people will continue to be put off cycling on these busy and dangerous roads.