At last some public action on Kingston Council’s “Go Cycle” or Mini Holland programme ! On Thursday 4 February our representatives attended a “key stakeholder” consultation. Draft plans for around half the projects were on show. Some at an advanced stage, others very much an outline.
First the good news; Portsmouth Rd construction works are underway (photos above and below). The southern section is scheduled for completion, although not necessarily opening, this summer. The plans for the northern section look good; continuing the fully protected bi directional cycle tracks on the river side. There are some attractive public realm proposals for access to Queens Promenade for pedestrians. As so often cycling funds are being diverted for other purposes but if it enables the scheme to proceed so be it!
There is a potentially excellent proposal for a fully segregated cycle route from Kingston station to College roundabout. This comprises bi directional cycle tracks on the east side of Wheatfield Way providing a really safe route for families and children to navigate the intimidating race track which is the Kingston one way system.
On Thursday 7 January on a very wet morning three campaigners from KCC met on site with three traffic engineers from Transport for London (TfL) and the Cycling Officer from Kingston Council. The meeting was in response to our letter to TfL sent in November.
Many of our members will be aware of three major planning proposals near Tolworth railway station. To the north a large scheme involving around 700 homes is proposed. To the south of the railway a new Premier Inn is envisaged and, most recently Lidl are proposing to move their UK headquarters to a site at the junction of Kingston Road and Jubilee Way.
KCC discuss Fountains Roundabout with Cllr Terry Paton
On a dull Friday morning in December three campaigners from Kingston Cyclists met with Cllr Terry Paton at the Fountain roundabout in New Malden. Terry is Chair of the ‘Residents Committee’, the Kingston Council body responsible for the Mini Holland, or Go Cycle, Schemes. He is aware of our concerns about the very slow progress RBK has made with this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve provision for cycling, ameliorate air quality, and reduce traffic congestion.
We discussed the Fountain roundabout. At present it is a major barrier to safe 8 to 80 bike riding for all. Our preference would be for a Dutch style roundabout and we have argued for that. We understand that is only one of several options the Council are considering; all options will make it safer for cycling and more pleasant for locals.
It is now more than 18 months since Kingston Council (RBK) won over £30m of funding from Transport for London (TfL) for its Mini Holland (MH) schemes. We supported the original bid and see these funds as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to provide safe cycling routes in our Borough and to make improvements benefitting all. We appreciate such new developments take time but progress so far has been painfully and disappointingly slow.
1 Work on the Portsmouth Road scheme commenced November 2015. This scheme has improved radically to incorporate fully protected space.
2 We are now able to engage regularly and helpfully with both Officers and Councillors.
3 There are some really exciting and innovative schemes under design. Among these schemes are a segregated track on the east side of Wheatfield Way (avoiding the Kingston one way system), the Boardway along the Thames (bypassing, and allowing access to, Kingston Town Centre) and a semi segregated route from Kingston to Tolworth via Surbiton.
1 In the last year the project has had three Programme Managers and a considerable turnover of other staff. There appears to have been a lack of leadership and consistency at the most senior level from Officers.
2 There is a lack of political leadership and enthusiasm for the Programme. This surprises us as the Bid was supported by all political parties, has clear and obvious benefits for the Borough, is funded by a Conservative Mayor and RBK has a Conservative administration and we would expect any local Politician to support a scheme involving money being spent on, and in, his or her Borough.
3 There is very considerable support for the New Malden to Raynes Park route, which outweighed the poorly informed opposition, but we are frustrated that this scheme does not appear to have unequivocal backing from the Council. We understand there are issues to be resolved with Thames Water but that should not prevent RBK, TfL and Thames Water entering into a Memorandum of Understanding, or similar, to secure funding and proceeding to consultation.
4 We currently understand it is unlikely any scheme will be brought to consultation before the Mayoral elections “purdah” period; March to May 2016.
At last RBK have started work on a Mini Holland scheme! It has taken a while but they commenced work on Portsmouth Rd on 9 November. Contractors will work on the southern section before Christmas. After Christmas work will start on the northern section. They will try to avoid cutting any major trees. The project will be fully segregated from north to south with a bi-directional cycle lane on the west, or river, side.
Illustration of Portsmouth Road scheme
The southern section will have fully segregated two way 3m wide cycle track at road level. They will retain the existing kerb and pavement. Separation will be by rubber/plastic recycled 1/2m kerb/buffer, 12cm high. This is straight and the road curves so it will be laid in 9 to 10m sections with gaps of 1/2 to 1m for drainage. Each junction opening will have a bollard to make it clear to motors that they should not enter.
The southern section should be structurally complete by Xmas but can not be opened until it is safe which will be some time later as entries and exits have to be secure too. There will be a temporary zebra south of the Mall. Behind the bus stops, opposite St Leonards Rd and South of Palace Rd, there will probably be a raised ramp for bikes. Buses are about 2 an hour, mostly people going into Kingston.
Our campaigners attended, along with other interested parties, a “blue skies” thinking consultation at the Royal Borough of Kingston’s offices on 28 October run by their retained consultants, Atkins Global. There was much discussion of the proposed Boardway, much favourable, some less so. This has the potential to be a great amenity for the community, to improve the waterside and a safe cycle route into and around Kingston Town Centre but let us await some detail !
Illustration of proposed greenway
Our petition with 1700 signatures, both paper and electronic, in favour of the proposed New Malden to Raynes Park Mini Holland Cycling and walking route was debated at the Council meeting on Tuesday 13 October at 7.30pm, members of the public attended.
The petition in opposition to the route was also presented. After so many arguments had been raised in opposition the “Antis” confined themselves to one point. They argued the proposed route was a “wildlife valley” and this was not compatible with cycling and walking (or “fast” cycling, as they saw it). The area is not a nature reserve but a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). It is common for cycling to be allowed in SINC’s and for these areas to have cycle routes through them; they’re often ideal for family cycling.
Parts of the Wandle trail, Morden Hall Park and Hogsmill trail are all SINCs and all are also cycle routes. Therefore this does seem a bit of a non point. As we’ve always said low impact transport like cycling and walking is certainly compatible with a favourable ecology and environment for wildlife; in fact sometimes it can enhance it.
A Mini Holland proposal
Our petition with over 1600 signatures, both paper and electronic, in favour of the proposed New Malden to Raynes Park Mini Holland Cycling and walking route is to be debated at the Council meeting on Tuesday 13 October at 7.30pm, members of the public can attend;
Please keep signing the petition, every signature helps make the route more likely to happen;
The Co-ordinators of the Kingston and Merton Cycling Campaigns have jointly written to the local media in support of this route;
The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames has a once in a generation opportunity to improve its facilities for walking and cycling and for environment and community friendly travel for all its residents and visitors. Last year the Borough was awarded more than £30million from the Mayor’s Outer London Cycling Fund (the Mini Holland Programme) and has christened the project “GoCycle”. The idea is to promote active travel for all, particularly children, the old and women.
Illustration of New Malden end of route
The next Mini Holland Project in Kingston is the New Malden to Raynes Park greenway on a Thames Water Main and Sewer alongside the railway under the A3 dual carriageway.
This was taken to the next stage at the Council committee on Thursday 25 June. Initially Thames Water appeared to want £1m plus apparently to check this link won’t damage any of their pipes ! Following a meeting with TfL and RBK we understand Thames Water accept they can’t use the greenway as an opportunity to replace their infrastructure at the taxpayer’s expense.
There are also local protesters who do not want the route built. We look forward to engaging with them during the consultation in due course.
Illustration of Portsmouth Road scheme
On 25 June Kingston Councillors unanimously voted to approve the revised proposals for Portsmouth Road. Work will now start on the detailed design stage and construction schedule. The current programme is for construction work to start winter 2015 and be completed Summer 2016. We hope that ambitious timescale can now be adhered to.