Croydon cyclists are feeling ignored and unloved. And it’s not just because they take their lives in their hands almost daily when they get cut up by speeding motor vehicles seemingly at every junction.
This week Croydon again missed out on investment on safer roads when the Mayor of London’s office announced that three other boroughs will be sharing £100 million of public cash for “mini-Hollands”, to develop safer roads and ensuring major junctions which work for pedestrians and bike-riders as well as cars and lorries.
And despite the (relatively) modest sum pitched into the roads pot by the Hammersfield developers to sort out the daily jams at Five Ways on the Purley Way to help speed shoppers into the proposed £1 billion mega-mall at the centre of town, Croydon’s cyclists are unconvinced that a viable cycling solution has been included in the schemes so far. Indeed, they are very concerned that the additional Hammersfield traffic will lead to a rise in air pollution and what they call the “carnage” of accidents on the borough’s roads.
So the Croydon Cycling Campaign has produced what amounts to their own local election manifesto. They won’t be putting up any candidates on May 22, but they are clearly watching and waiting to see how many of their ideas get to be embraced by the political parties.
Croydon Cycling Campaign, which is part of the influential London Cycling Campaign, states, “We need all those standing in the council elections taking place this May to take account of what local voters and Londoners want to help make their part of the capital a better place.”
Their “Space4Cycling” specifies six action points:
- Protected space on main roads
- No through-motor-traffic zones
- 20mph speed limits
- Safer cycle routes to schools
- Liveable high streets
- More parkland routes
The cyclists accuse Croydon Council of having a track record of inaction and under-investment. “Compared to other London boroughs, it has asked for less money, so got less and then spent less than it was given,” they say.
A Freedom of Information request showed that between 2006 and 2010, Croydon applied to Transport for London to spend £2.8 million on building the “London Cycle Network Plus” of cycle-friendly streets and other pro-cycling measures. Croydon received £1.8million. Between 2006 and 2009, Croydon spent £1.4 million – or about £4.50 per resident. Other similar London boroughs have spent £11.05 per resident; in Camden, this figure was more than £28 per person.
Croydon cyclists are not alone in their ambition for more cyclists on our roads, and a vision of more cycling friendly roads making for a better, less-polluted borough in which to live. One senior political figure has set a target of increasing cycling in London by 400 per cent by 2026. Who? The bicycling Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
A report published by Croydon Council in 2010, Biking Borough, found that in 2005-2008, just 1.13 per cent of all journeys made in Croydon were by bike. The average across London is almost twice that.
The report warned that “more of the same” by Croydon will not help to meet the Mayor’s cycling target.
But four years on from that report, the cycling campaigners say of the report’s recommendations, “Very few of them can be said to have been taken forward in any meaningful way.”
According to Croydon Cycling Campaign, Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s “cycling tzar”, said that Croydon Council’s record of non-delivery had counted against the borough when it came to choosing who would get TfL’s mini-Holland dosh.
The cyclists are also concerned by the rapidly rising number of accidents involving bike riders on Croydon’s roads, with those suffering serious injury more than doubling between 2006 and 2012. “We need the council to … develop a multi-agency approach to cut the carnage on Croydon’s roads.
“This would include taking active steps to stop speeding in the borough and pressing the police to tackle this anti-social criminal behaviour. Road safety should prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable, pedestrians and cyclists, and focus efforts on those that create the greatest danger, HGVs specifically and law-breaking drivers generally.”
And they say that there are other health issues which affect all Croydon residents, whether they ride a bike or not. “The air pollution monitoring station in George Street in Croydon has, for more than a decade, recorded repeated breaches of the legal annual safety limits for Nitrogen Dioxide,” the cycling campaigners say.
“It is perhaps paradoxical that this continuing failure has occurred in a period that has seen motor traffic levels along Wellesley Road drop by 20 per cent in the period 2000-2012. The Westfield development will see that reduction in motor traffic replaced by increased volumes of cars, vans and trucks.
“The council is under a legal obligation to tackle this problem – it appears to be taking the stance that as things are already bad, Westfield can’t make it any worse.”
The cycling campaigners say, “We need the new council to prioritise public health and take the steps to reduce harmful and illegal air pollution and increase the proportion of journeys made by bicycle.”
Coming to Croydon
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- March of the Mods at Oval Tavern for Teenage Cancer Trust, Mar 16
- St Patrick’s Night celebration, Ruskin House, Mar 17
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood Cemetery, Mar 20
- South Norwood Lakes Playground group workshop, Mar 25
- David Lean Cinema: Basically Johnny Moped, Mar 27-28
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
- David Lean Cinema: 12 Years a Slave, Apr 3
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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