Continuing our series of interviews with the people in charge of cycling in London’s boroughs, I spoke to Feryal Demirci, Hackney’s Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods – a brief that includes cycling and other transport.
I’ve picked out fifteen new things she told me about the future of cycling in Hackney. If you missed my interviews with her counterpart in Camden, and Westminster’s transport officer you can catch up on them here.
Pitfield Street in Shoreditch could be closed to motor traffic
If the road was closed, it would provide a traffic free route from De Beauvoir/Haggerston down to Old Street.
I’d rather close off roads like we did in Goldsmiths Road [than build segregated lanes]. We are looking at Pitfield Street – that goes into Shoreditch from De Beauvoir.
The Narrow Way will see further improvements
The street will see junction changes at the Clapton end to make it safer for cyclists waiting for a gap in the traffic, and further public realm improvements.
It’s our aspiration for the street to be permanently traffic-free. We’ve got to find the funding from to do the public realm improvements along there. We just put some painting, tried to make it look funky… it didn’t quite work! Now, fingers crossed, it will be completely transformed.
We have to make changes or create some sort of safe space for cyclists who are actually stopping when you’re going down from Mare Street, stopping before you turn right. When you go down there there’s not very much space, it’s a bit scary standing there in the dog-leg … It will definitely include some sort of waiting box for cyclists.
Hackney wants to close Broadway Market to traffic too
If the aspiration, which has long been called for by Hackney Cyclists, came to fruition, when joined with existing traffic free sections, it would create a traffic free route all the way from Hackney Town Hall down to Hoxton.
In an ideal world, we’d be able to pedestrianize Broadway market as well, so there would be no traffic as well. Ideally you’d have this mile from the Town Hall back roads, through London Fields, Broadway Market, Goldsmiths Row, and we’d work with Tower Hamlets to improve the entrance onto where Columbia Road is.
Hackney is blocking Cycle Superhighway 1, and won’t accept segregation on the A10
TfL want CS1 to go down the A10 – from Tottenham, through Stoke Newington, and Kingsland Road – but Hackney won’t have it. When asked whether CS1 would be going through Hackney, Demirci replied:
Oh no it’s not! Well, yes, it is supposed to go along the A10, but we are very resistant to really bad cycle infrastructure. We don’t want just a strip of blue paint going down A10 on a stretch of road where a part of it is a gyratory. The biggest problem for cyclists at the moment is the one-way. The plan was to have a gyratory cycle superhighway, which benefits no-one.
When pressed on whether the council would accept a properly segregated lane, Demirci said there wasn’t enough space for one without sacrificing too much of the bus lanes and footway.
The problem is until you remove the gyratory along it there is no [point in a segregated lane]. Also along the end quite a lot of it is very narrow so you’d be taking quite a lot of the footpaths, and they’re red routes, so the bus lanes.
Hackney wants a quietway running parallel to the A10 instead of CS1
What route it would take is yet to be decided – have a look at the map of the streets around the A10 for possible options.
We are discussing a quietway – it’s parallel to the A10 along the backstreets. All two-way.
For the A10 itself, Hackney sees a 20mph speed limit as a solution for cyclists
A trial for a 20mph limit in the City could be extended north through Hackney.
The A10 is obviously a very direct route, and if it was safer it would be better. So what we’re talking about with TfL is putting in 20mph on that route. They’re going to trial 20mph on parts of the A10 in the City and only last week I met up with them to talk about extending that trial and maybe looking at the bits of the A10 in Hackney, so maybe we can extend it all the way through Hackney.
The council says there isn’t space for segregated cycle infrastructure in Hackney
Demirci says segregation is better suited to outer London’s dual carriageways.
What we like to do in most of the areas is do everything else you can do to improve cycling there, because segregation is very costly, and you can’t put it everywhere. It’s not possible to have segregation everywhere.
Segregation [may be okay] in the outer-London boroughs, where they’ve got massive amounts of space around dual carriageways, but in a borough like Hackney that is very densely built up and tight, there just isn’t the space.
Lea Bridge Road may be getting a segregated cycle lane
Hackney might cooperate with a neighbouring council to build a segregated lane on the main road connecting Clapton with southern Walthamstow.
We’re talking to Waltham Forest because they want to have a segregated cycle lane along the Lea Bridge road along to Hackney. So that could be an area where you could have segregation.
I think segregation, is a tool in a box that anyone could use if other things aren’t available.
There will be no new car parking in Hackney, and much is being removed for bike parking
The council is removing car parking to improve safety, and replacing it with on-carriageway cycle parking.
We’re not actively going to be trying to create more parking spaces. What we’re also doing at the moment is putting cycle parking on carriageway, so we’re removing car parking space and replacing it with cycle parking. So yes, actively, to benefit our residents, to improve safety, to make it feel and look nicer, we are actually taking away some parking.
Having controlled parking, reducing parking along the roads, freeing up the roads, is a great way of improving cycling. Wherever we can we try to remove car ownership and encourage people to actually make that… actually, we take away their ability to own cars.
Hackney is putting cycle parking on all of its housing estates
Car garages units are being retrofitted as car use in the borough falls away.
We think our estates need [more cycle parking] because units are very small, social housing, there’s not enough space for people to park their bikes. We’ve been retrofitting some of the garages with cycle parking, we’ve put in stand alone parking, we’re putting in more. That’s my aim for estates at the moment, we’re doing them all.
The council wants Boris bikes in Hackney Central and Dalston
They currently stop around the Regent’s Canal, but Transport for London aren’t likely to extend the scheme any time soon.
We would like [Boris Bikes] to come further into Hackney Central. We’ve pushed it as far as we can. I would like it extended to Dalston, that’s another growth town centre for us, so yes, we would like that extension. I don’t think they are extending it at the moment, and only if boroughs are able to pay for it themselves.
The council wants to replace Old Street roundabout with a crossroads
It may not be technically possible, however.
We are still talking to TfL: in an ideal world we’d want [Old Street roundabout] to become a crossroads. There are proposals to remove the roundabout – what ends up in place of it is very important, there are discussions still ongoing. … It might not be possible: there are issues with the weight of the slab on top of the station, how much it can carry.
TfL thought Hackney’s cycling targets were too ambitious
Even though the targets were below what it had already achieved.
We have quite ambitious targets for cycling and I remember when we had to respond to Boris’s transport strategy in 2011 and when we sent in cycling targets, we were sent them back saying ‘Hah, can you be a bit more realistic please, this is ridiculous’. And then when the census came out it transpired that we were way above what our targets were at the time.
Hackney thinks Camden’s Royal College Street tracks cause conflicts
The bus stops and segregated cycle tracks on Royal College Street cause conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, Demirci says.
It’s a good scheme for Camden, but I think my problem with that, from the videos and things I’ve seen about it, is when people step into the road to get into the bus. It’s just creating an additional conflict; and for us in terms of priority, pedestrians are above cyclists, and cyclists are still a vehicle, even if it’s not motorised. We don’t want to create an environment which is unpleasant for people to walk.
Hackney is launching a new cycling strategy in the next few months
The strategy will be released as part of a general transport plan – keep your eyes peeled.
We’re in the process of finalising [our cycling strategy] and we will probably be launching it in a couple of months time. That will have our vision for the next ten years in terms of cycling.