Mini-Holland update – Autumn 2020

In our last update in May, we looked at the impact that Covid was having on Kingston Council’s plans to improve the Borough for cycling and walking. Since then, we’ve seen various Streetspace measures installed around the Borough as well as a restart to the construction of Kingston’s remaining Mini-Holland (or Go Cycle) programme.

This post provides an update on the progress of Kingston’s Mini-Holland programme since construction was paused in March this year due to Covid.

Firstly, why did construction stop?

When Covid lockdown measures were introduced, construction worksites across the country were paused and this included all those in Kingston’s Mini-Holland programme.

After construction was paused, Transport for London (TfL) got in touch with Kingston Council with some bad news….

TfL has been funding all of Kingston’s Mini-Holland programme and during the time that construction was paused, TfL realised that there was going to be a huge hit to its budget as people stopped taking journeys on its transport network. TfL therefore instructed all Boroughs to cease any remaining construction on TfL funded projects until further notice as they sought to save money.

Despite TfL’s request to pause projects, for some parts of Kingston’s Mini-Holland programme, contracts had already been signed with contractors and/or materials purchased with a number of worksites half finished. For these half finished sections, once safe social distancing measures had been implemented by contractors, construction continued to complete these stretches. This is why some limited construction on Mini-Holland projects happened in late Spring.

Following the pause in construction, the Government provided some emergency funding to TfL. TfL then awarded Kingston (along with some other London Boroughs) reduced funding to complete the remainder of the Mini-Holland projects that were already in construction:

  • Kingston to Kingston Vale (Kingston Hill and Kingston Vale)
  • Kingston Station hub and bridge
  • Surbiton to Tolworth (Ewell Road)

Unfortunately, as TfL only provided Kingston with reduced funding compared to the original budget agreed, the existing designs for the remaining stretches of the Mini-Holland schemes had to be revised to reduce costs. This meant that work couldn’t start on these stretches until new designs had been prepared; had new safety audits completed; and then received further TfL approvals. This is the main reason why some Mini-Holland schemes are still not completed.

Kingston to Kingston Vale

This scheme has been in construction for some time. However, since the start of this year, the 2-way cycle track along London Road between Queen Elizabeth Road and Manorgate roundabout was completed. The 1-way cycle tracks were also completed on each side of Kingston Hill between Manorgate roundabout and Queen’s Road.

London Road 2-way cycle track on the Kingston to Kingston Vale route

Apart from snagging (fixing small issues on sections now completed) the three remaining areas to complete the 4.5km Kingston to Kingston Vale route are:

  1. Kingston Hill/Queen’s Road junction
  2. Kingston Hill/Galsworthy Road junction
  3. Section of one way cycle track between Robin Hood Lane and the A3

All the remaining sections of this route have been redesigned (to fit within the reduced budget) and are going through final approvals ready to be constructed. As the remaining sections involve two busy signalised junctions, we expect the Kingston Vale route will now not be complete until 2021. Once complete, the Council will need to ensure that this cycle route is adequately maintained as there are already regular accumulations of leaves and rubbish in the cycle lanes around the Kingston Vale part of the route as well as illegal parking on the new cycle track near Manorgate roundabout.

Surbiton to Tolworth

The first stretch of the Surbiton to Tolworth (between St Mark’s Hill and Brown’s Road) has recently reached practical completion with just snagging and a couple of crossings to finish this section. This stretch provides much needed segregation from cars, vans and lorries.

2-way cycle track on Ewell Road

The first section constructed features good continuous crossings over side roads (where people walking and cycling are given priority crossing roads to people in cars), has improvements to the bus ‘boarder’ design compared to the Kingston Vale route and includes new cycle parking.

As approved by the Council, unfortunately there are areas of shared use on this section (where people cycling have to share with people walking), particularly around the shops near Langley Road. This was done to keep car parking spaces which remains extremely disappointing and means some people cycling will prefer to use the main carriageway whilst others will find sharing with people walking very frustrating. We remain hopeful that this section will be revisted again one day to provide proper segregation.

Shared use area on Ewell Road

On the remainder of the Surbiton to Tolworth route (from Brown’s Road to Tolworth Broadway), this has had to be redesigned to fit in with the reduced budget provided by Transport for London. This redesigned section is currently going through the necessary approvals with TfL before construction can commence.

We understand that this resdesigned route will feature more ‘bolt down segregation kerbs’ vs stepped cycle tracks than originally planned. However, these bolt down segregation kerbs have worked well on the outer parts of the Kingston Vale route where they’ve already been installed. They have the clear advantage that they can be installed at a fraction of the cost of a stepped cycle track and can be added to the carriageway very quickly.

Cycle segregation kerbs installed on the Kingston Hill Cycleway

Kingston Station and hub

Again, more delays caused by funding being paused have held up completion of the widened pedestrian and cycle bridge over Kingsgate Road as well as fit out of the Kingston Station bike hub. However, the Kingston Station bike hub has had its plastic sheeting removed from the exterior and the installation of lighting, security measures and provision of a potential bike maintenance and cafe area has recommenced.

Once complete, the hub will allow the storage of hundreds of bikes and will include areas for cargo and non-standard bikes too (which are often larger and therefore cannot be secured easily to some of the cycle stands around Kingston currently).

Kingston Station bike storage hub being fitted out

Kingston to New Malden

This proposed cycle route was approved by Kingston Council at the beginning of the year. However, due to Covid, funding from TfL has been withdrawn and there’s currently no funding to complete this safe cycle route despite most of the design work having already been completed.

People cycling along the route (Cambridge and Kingston Roads) will therefore continue to be put at increased danger and many will continue to not even think about cycling along this route.

Whilst public transport options are reduced due to social distancing requirements and with climate change an increasing issue, prioritising improving conditions for cycling on these roads is even more important. We hope the Council can obtain funding for the improvements and we wonder whether contributions from property developments could be an alternative source of funds.

Kingston to New Malden route – very poor provision for people cycling currently

Anything else?

Improvements continue on completed Cycleways. Over the past few months, this has included:

  • Removing dangerous bollards from the middle of the 2-way cycle track on Portsmouth Road
  • Installation of green Cycleway signage on Wheatfield Way and in Surbiton
  • Improvements to loading bays on existing Cycleways to make enforcement of illegal parking easier
Spot the new green Cycleway sign on Wheatfield Way

Next steps

We’re looking forward to the schemes currently in construction being completed and hope that the remainder of the Ewell Road Cycleway will start construction soon.

We also want to see funding secured for the vital Kingston to New Malden Cycleway.

As always, if you have any comments or improvements you would like to see, let us know and we can pass them onto the Council. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates too.

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

Mini-Holland (Go Cycle) – October 2018 update

Progress continues on a large number of different Mini-Holland schemes in Kingston town centre. The main progress since our last update in June has been:

  • The Kingston High Street scheme has finished;
  • Works continue on Wheatfield Way;
  • The Kingston Station plaza is almost complete;
  • Work has commenced on the New Malden to Raynes Park scheme; and
  • Work has started on the main Kingston Vale route.

Kingston High Street – construction has now (subject to a couple of snagging points) been completed. This high quality scheme extends the very successful Portsmouth Road segregated 2-way cycle track onto Kingston High Street until just after its junction with Kingston Hall Road. As a next step, we would like motor traffic to be restricted on the North part of Kingston High Street (between Kingston Hall Road and the Market Place) to finish this link into Kingston town centre. We have also asked the Council to review loading bays and the times when loading is allowed before they are placed next to/on cycle tracks; we understand that this is now being looked at for future schemes and is also being monitored on completed schemes.

Wheatfield Way – construction of the 3m wide 2-way cycle track between College Roundabout and the junction with Brook Street has been completed (signage/paint markings to be added). Work has recently been taking place at the Clarence Street/Old London Road junction (next to Wilko’s); Fairfield North junction (next to Fairfield Bus Station) and Brook Street junction. As per our last newsletter, we have been disappointed in some of the Wheatfield Way works and have been discussing with the Council the improvements that should be made. In good news, the Council has agreed to amend the shared island at the Clarence Street junction to allow easier and safer access by people on bikes. The Council is also looking at improvements to the Brook Street junction too. Unfortunately, despite these improvements, the scheme as a whole will still have a number of areas of shared use areas for pedestrians and people on bikes at junctions. We understand that this is due to TfL not allowing segregated space at junctions due to impacts shown in traffic modelling. We also await confirmation of when the consulted 20mph limit will be implemented on Wheatfield Way.

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Wheatfield Way segregated 2-way cycle track between Brook Street and College Roundabout

Kingston Station – construction of the plaza directly outside of the station has almost finished. The Station works have also included re-laying the 2-way cycle track underneath the railway bridge on Richmond Road to provide a much smoother surface than before. Works on this scheme are now focussed on Wood Street to get ready for the replacement pedestrian and cyclist bridge to be installed over Kingsgate Road in Spring 2019. We have also heard that the ‘Beacon’ planned for the station plaza has been cancelled. We welcome this decision as the savings from this will be reinvested in other Mini-Holland schemes which offer greater benefits for people on bikes (and pedestrians) than the Beacon would have done.

New Malden to Raynes Park – construction of this new route has now commenced. People on bikes and pedestrians will have their own separate paths from New Malden to Raynes Park Recreation Ground where the route will then connect into current cycle routes (which we hope will be improved by Merton Council in due course!). It is great to see construction start on this scheme and we are already looking forward to it being finished.

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Current state of New Malden to Raynes Park route

Kingston Vale – construction on the main part of this route has also finally started! Kingston Vale is the longest individual scheme of all the Mini-Holland schemes and reaches from Kingston town centre all the way through to the Robin Hood junction on the A3. On its way it will connect numerous shops, schools, Kingston Hospital and Kingston University’s Kingston Hill campus. Work has started between Derwent Avenue and Warren Road and will include the installation of new zebra crossings (replacing informal ‘refuges’), new kerbs where these are needed and, for most of this section, the installation of Orcas (or an equivalent) to separate people on bikes from motor traffic. Orcas have been successfully used in many cycle schemes already in London and provide semi-segregation for cyclists from motor traffic. Although we would have preferred full segregation along the whole length of the route, the cost of this would have meant that other Mini-Holland schemes would not have been possible. To supplement the Orca installation, the Council will also be looking at putting in ‘wands’ and segregation islands where these are needed on the route.

What’s next

As above, there are a lot of schemes now in progress. Works will continue this year and into 2019 on the Kingston Station scheme; Wheatfield Way; New Malden to Raynes Park and Kingston Vale. 2019 should also see the start of works on Penrhyn Road, linking the Wheatfield Way scheme with Surbiton (passing the main Kingston University campus on its way).

Kingston Cycling Campaign will continue to ask the Council for any improvements needed to schemes. If you have any comments on the Mini-Holland schemes proposed or currently in construction, please let us know.