Profile in Courage: Waltham Forest Cllr Clyde Loakes

Waltham Forest Councillor Clyde Loakes (pictured) delivered this speech at the Healthy Streets conference in London, 2018. His speech was transcribed on Twitter by Chris Kenyon (@boxbikelondon). (Click here for the original Twitter thread.) Here is Chris’ rough transcription of Clyde’s speech:

I have been a councillor for a long time, since I was 27… I’ve spent more time dabbling in bins than anyone should and I have the scars from looking into car parking schemes.

I spent years talking about encouraging a shift to bikes and walking without actually doing the things that make a difference. If I am honest – I was tinkering with parking schemes and pandering to car owners. I was not delivering for our community.

Then I got a chance to do something extraordinary. We won our Better Waltham Forest mini-Holland bid with low traffic neighbourhoods and protected bike lanes. We had signed up to deliver a huge public health implementation at pace.

Surprisingly our plans for a human centric, better community provoked rage, protest and the use of four-letter anglo saxon words from a 500-strong group. Removing £100 million from our social services budget, nothing, but if you talk about parking…

But a ground-up movement of residents and fellow councillors championed a progressive intervention for our streets, making them better for everyone. We went house to house and made the case.

In the local elections in May this year and worried by what was being said on social media, the local press, in public meetings and on protests – I drafted my resignation letter.

But guess what… I got the largest majority I have ever had. Every Labour councillor that had backed the scheme showed a significant increase in votes. It was amazing. So it was popular once built… but was it impactful?

We commissioned Kings College to see the what the health impact of the scheme was. Again if you believed the local press – no one was now walking or cycling as a result of our work. Again… I prepared my resignation letter.

The impact of what we have done is enormous and it’s impacted public health measurably. DfT data shows that not only did the borough have the largest increase in walking last year, the increase is so large that life expectancy has been extended for residents.

Strain

Oxfordshire’s transport arrangements are strained. The annual budget for maintenance is £15 million. For context, this is double the amount cut from children’s services in 2016 (Oxfordshire County Council, 2016). Yet this is only a fraction of the estimated £400 million needed to put the county’s road infrastructure right (Oxford Mail, 2018). Added to this is the 40% growth in population expected by 2040 (Oxfordshire Growth Board, 2017). Without changes, this means a tremendous consumption of the county’s financial resources while continuing to suffer connectivity failure as a result of induced demand (Downs, 1962; Goodwin, 1996; Hills, 1996; Zolnik, 2018).

This failure reflects the limited efficiency of single-occupant car travel. The 13-mile journey from Witney to Oxford takes an estimated 1 hour and 15 minutes on any weekday morning (Google Maps, no date). By contrast, the ten-mile car journey from Houten to Utrecht (Netherlands) takes an estimated 30 minutes. The reason: appealing alternatives. Every 15 minutes a train takes travelers from Houten Station to Utrecht, with a journey time of 10 minutes. Likewise there is a safe, mostly segregated cycle route connecting the two. Advances in electric bicycles bring such commutes more easily within reach of a wide range of ages and abilities (van der Zee, 2016).

Sources
Downs, A. (1962) ‘The law of peak-hour expressway congestion’, Traffic Quarterly, 16(3), pp. 393–409. Available at: https://goo.gl/wXLsHC.
Goodwin, P. (1996) ‘Empirical evidence on induced traffic’, Transportation. Springer Nature, 23(1). doi: 10.1007/bf00166218.
Google Maps, (no date) ‘Google Maps transport journey estimate. See https://goo.gl/DVY2iN’.
Hills, P. (1996) ‘What is induced traffic?’, Transportation. Springer Nature, 23(1). doi: 10.1007/bf00166216.
Oxford Mail, (2018) ‘Oxfordshire’s crumbling network needs solution fast warn councillors’, Oxford Mail, 31 March, p. 4. Available at: https://goo.gl/KoDH9u (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
Oxfordshire County Council, (2016) Future Arrangements in Children’s Social Care. Oxfordshire County Council, p. 17. Available at: https://goo.gl/vaVMgy (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
Oxfordshire Growth Board, (2017) Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy. Oxfordshire Growth Board, p. 5. Available at: https://goo.gl/WJ7mYE (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
van der Zee, R. (2016) ‘Could intercity cycle highways revolutionise the daily commute?’, The Guardian, 30 June, p. 1. Available at: https://goo.gl/T8T3xM (Accessed: 5 July 2018).
Zolnik, E. J. (2018) ‘Effects of additional capacity on vehicle kilometers of travel in the U.S.: Evidence from National Household Travel Surveys’, Journal of Transport Geography. Elsevier BV, 66, pp. 1–9. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2017.10.020.

Tavistock Place, Camden (London)

The “Inspector’s Report on the Torrington Place to Tavistock Place Public Inquiry” was released on May 18 and is available here. Read more

Pedal & Post

Did you know that Oxford is home to one of the biggest “last-mile” cargo-bike logistics operations in the UK? Pedal & Post has 10 cargo-bikes covering the entirety of the city every day.

More than 25% of disabled commutes in Cambridge are by bike

Riding a bike may be easier than walking for two-thirds of disabled cyclists, but they often remain invisible to society. Many don’t realise that more than a quarter of disabled commutes in this university city are made by bike.

Read more

Fair-weather cycling?

Do people cycle in all seasons? In Copenhagen, pictured above, 75% of the city residents keep cycling through the winter months.

This study of Swedish households found active-travel commuters “to be much less sensitive to weather changes than non-commuters”.

There is even such a thing as a Winter Cycling Congress.

Stevenage’s unloved bike lanes

The UK town of Stevenage (pop 88,000) famously built miles of segregated cycleways in the 1960s … only to see them disused.

Carlton Reid tells the story.

Squint at Stevenage’s extensive 1960s protected cycleway network and you could be in the Netherlands – except for the lack of people on bikes. So why did the New Town’s residents choose the motor car over the bicycle?

Dronning Street in Copenhagen

Car space on Dronning Louises Bridge in Copenhagen was reduced to increase space for cycling, pedestrians, and buses. The result was an increase in cycling by 60%, walking by 165%, bus use by 5%, and increase from 81,000 to 97,000 using the bridge.

Source.

Motorised traffic journey times after space-reduction

London’s Cycle Superhighways (CSHs) offer one example of a reallocation of road space between cycles and cars. The graphs above and below indicate the impact on journey times for motorised traffic, as of November 2017. These are from Transport for London.

Journey times are certainly up. But for the first time, they are actually falling. This reflects in part traffic evaporation as commuters switch to other modes.

And keep in mind the overall increase in *people* being moved along these routes:

Recent monitoring data shows that central London segregated cycle lanes are moving five times more people per square metre than the main carriageway

– Transport for London, FOI request response

Oxford’s own Cherwell School is Number One!

Cherwell School in north Oxford has the best cycling modal share in the UK. The reason? It has a totally segregated cycle way to link it with student catchment areas.

From http://www.cherwell.oxon.sch.uk/information/school-travel

We are the number one cycling school in the UK! No other school has such a high proportion of students (58.4% and rising) who regularly come to school by bike. Our cycling rate is 20 times the national average. Cherwell has become a benchmark school, a model of good practice in promoting cycling. 15.7% travel by bus and 14.8% walk – adding up to a total of 88.9% who use sustainable means of travel. …

We strongly discourage dropping students off by car, unless there are special circumstances. Given the large volume of bicycles going in and out of the School, there is a risk of an accident – especially at the entrances to South Site and the Rugby Club car park.