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.
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:
- Kingston Hill/Queen’s Road junction
- Kingston Hill/Galsworthy Road junction
- 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.