QUESTIONS TO CANDIDATES FOR SOUTH WEST LONDON CONSTITUENCY IN 2021 ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

The London Cycling Campaign Borough Groups for Hounslow, Kingston and Richmond sent the following questions to all candidates for the South West London constituency in the 2021 London Assembly elections.

The candidates are:

  • Candice Atterton (Labour)
  • Andrée Frieze (Green)
  • Gareth Roberts (Liberal Democrat)
  • Nicholas Rogers (Conservative)

The questions and responses are:

Climate Change

Question 1

Can you tell us your personal commitment to act upon Climate Change, especially with regard to walking and cycling?

Andrée Frieze

As a Councillor in Richmond, we put forward the motion to the Council to declare a Climate Emergency in July 2019. This followed our previous motion of September 2018 which ensured that dealing with the Climate Emergency is seen as an over-arching strategy for the Council.

In our response to The Royal Parks Movement Strategy we outlined how Richmond & Twickenham Green Party would reduce car ownership and usage in the borough. You can read that here. As a party we support Sian Berry’s call in her manifesto “to build the case for traffic removal from all the Royal Parks in London” and see our response as providing useful steps to enable that to happen in Richmond and Bushy Parks.

Prior to being elected, I campaigned to get 20mph introduced across the borough to make it safer for people to cycle, which has now been enacted.

Reducing car usage is an essential part of cutting carbon emissions, and as part of this I have lobbied the Chair of the Air Quality & Transport committee in Richmond to:

  • bring in more bike hangars, and make them cheaper;
  • stop the 30min free and discounted parking in borough car parks to cut car usage;
  • not install on-street parking on specific roads.

I support Sian Berry’s proposal to flatten fares on the tube and train to make it cheaper for those in outer London to use public transport.

I also support The Royal Parks’ plans to introduce car park charging in Richmond and Bushy Parks

Candice Atterton

My personal commitment is to walk and cycle more, especially when I am making shorter journeys and journeys where I don’t have my children with me. For example, walking to work, the local Pet Store, the local mini supermarket and the town high street . I also want to do more walking as a way of staying fit and for wellbeing. There’s one day a week when I can walk to work as I don’t have the pressure of going straight from work to do the school run. I am really trying to walk that journey instead of driving. I am often rushing about so cycling and walking requires me to be a bit more organised but when I do it I always feel so much better not having to worry about parking and not feeling guilty and the exercise is so good for my wellbeing. My aim is to be able to do more walking and cycling with my children. We have recently moved house and are able to cycle together to Bedfont Lakes and Hanworth Air Parcs but there are a few parts of the route that don’t feel that safe so I often chose car over cycling there. I really want to be able to walk or cycle the school run, at the moment my primary aged children are in two different schools and it is not feasible to get from one school to the other and then on to work but when they are in the same school (working on this) I will be able to walk them to school and then cycle to work. I encourage my older son to cycle but he is quite nervous of the roads but he does walk.

Gareth Roberts

Climate Change is the single most pressing issue facing the world, far greater than the immediate threat of Covid19. As Leader of Richmond Council we have put our response to this challenge at the heart of our decision making; launching our climate change strategy and our Air Quality Action Plan. These are first steps and we hope to do far more.

As an administration we have already taken steps to encourage a modal shift away from car dependency and toward more sustainable modes of transport. Under my leadership we have introduced a 20MPH limit which covers the vast majority of borough roads, we have introduced fully segregated cycles routes in key parts of the borough, have had some limited advances to introduce low traffic neighbourhoods and have, of course, rolled out school streets across the borough.

And personally I cycle where possible, choosing to use either my long box bakfiets, my Pashley Sovereign Roadster or my mountain bike depending on the type of journey. Should I be elected to the Assembly I’m afraid that the siren lure of the fourth bike will be impossible to resist as a Brompton will certainly be necessary for the commute to City Hall.

Cycling Infrastructure

Question 2

In the government’s ‘Gear Change’ policy, the Prime Minister said: ‘When I was Mayor of London, one of the things I was proudest of was building some of the world’s best cycle lanes.’

Where in London would you ask the Mayor (whoever it is) to build some of the world’s best cycle lanes?

Andrée Frieze

I think this has to be looked at in conjunction with LTNs as main roads are where most collisions take place and where protected cycle lanes can be of most benefit, but in conjunction with reallocation of road space including LTNs on residential streets and reduced parking provision. Many residential streets are probably not wide enough for segregated cycle lanes. We know that a high proportion of car journeys are under 2km in outer London and providing for a safe local network is crucial to reducing this aspect of traffic, especially the school run, which we know has a significant impact on local traffic. So for cycle lanes I think Safe routes to School has to be in there as well as key destinations which people need to get to e.g. hospitals, shops, parks etc. This is something that close collaboration with Cycling Groups would be useful to determine precise locations. Finally, we need to get away from the idea of just providing commuter cycleways that connect people with London, as our current public transport network does. A focus on 15-minute neighbourhoods and women’s destination needs would produce a more effective and wider matrix of cycling provision.

Cycle routes must also benefit disabled people who use buggies, scooters and cycles as their main mode of independent transport. We must ensure that lane widths and access points along routes meet accessibility standards, minimising tight turns, difficult slopes, obstacles and fast-moving traffic.

Candice Atterton

Locally I would like to see more cycle lanes on routes around primary and secondary schools. The route to my children’s schools only have cycle lanes on parts of the journeys. I would also like to see more cycle lanes around high streets and town centres and good routes around train stations so that people are encouraged to cycle to their station for their commutes rather than driving and parking in nearby streets. I would also like cycle infrastructure into parks and green spaces and routes that flow well and make our park and green spaces more accessible. I would also like to see better cycle infrastructure on larger roundabouts as I still get nervous cycling round them.

In London I would like to see more cycle infrastructure in general including the wands to reduce accidents for cyclists.

Gareth Roberts

I would ask him to build routes which connect those existing cycle lanes. For example, It was the biggest missed goal that the Labour Mayor of London decided not to prioritise the introduction of segregated cycle lanes on Kew Bridge to connect with the provision Richmond Council installed along the Kew Road.

World Class Cycle lanes are all very well but if they don’t form part of a coherent network then they lose some, but by no means all, of their benefit.

As an aside, I think it is the most glaring of all missed opportunities that successive London Mayors have completely overlooked the potential for rolling out the London Bike Hire Scheme into South West London. I would be a vocal lobbyist for this oversight to be corrected by the Mayor.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Question 3

Traffic data shows there has been a steady increase in traffic through residential streets, probably a result of SatNavs. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have generated controversy however there are many streets in London with measures that restrict through traffic which have been implemented over many years, and there are no calls for their removal.

What criteria would you want the Mayor to apply to borough funding for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods?

Andrée Frieze

Ultimately it’s about safety, so criteria should include an increase in walking and cycling volumes and reduced car journeys. A key criteria should be improvement in public health ie increases in physical activity, reduction in air pollution, fewer road collisions, improved road safety, reduced social severance and, at minimum, over a 10 year lifecycle.

Where volume of traffic is higher on residential streets than on the main road network of A and B roads should also be a criteria.

There should be minimum size requirements for LTNs. If they are too local then the impact on the immediate surrounding residential roads can be detrimental. This needs to be coupled with a strategic approach that must include enabling active access to public transport and creating a network of ‘cells’ that connect. e.g. Barcelona. Parking within them should be restricted to residents only and/or a price for non-residents similar to CPZs.

Another criteria should be to create a public realm which supports play streets and other ‘social events’ to bring communities together and increase social cohesion.

Every LTN scheme should be designed and doublechecked to ensure that there are coherent, accessible, step-free routes into, out of and through the area. This means accessible dropped kerbs, even footways and appropriate tactile paving, so that children, older and disabled people can get around safely and conveniently especially around bollards and planters at entry points. This must be done to address some of the local barriers to mobility experienced by people using aids such as white canes, rollators, wheelchairs and adaptive pedal cycles.

LTNs should be trialled with on-going local consultation so that communities can respond to the experience. Ideally we should be pushing this out to Urban Design Agencies to do ‘proper’ engagement with local residents and businesses. This is the ‘accepted’ way to do these things and seen as good practice. Highways engineers tend to look at traffic movements rather than the public realm.

Candice Atterton

I have been very supportive of the LTNs and had the experience of cycling around some of the neighbourhoods and streets that have been closed off to cars. They feel really freeing to cycle down and I really like the additional planting and greening that is happening in some of the streets. The criticism that holds the most with me is that in certain parts of London traffic is more congested on some of our main roads and this is of particular concern if those roads have housing close to them or children and older people walking about and the air is getting more polluted for people in more urban and built up areas in towns. I understand that the Mums for Lungs Campaign have raised these concerns and there is evidence that this disproportionately impacts black and ethnic minority communities.

Gareth Roberts

The controversy behind LTNs has been largely caused by people feeling that they’re not listened to over changes which impact on their daily lives. What hasn’t been articulated well enough, in my view, is the benefit of the ‘try before you buy’ aspect of the implementation/trial/consultation method. People feel it is in some way anti-democratic because they don’t feel their views have been sought in advance. That is a massive failing – people need to be given the reassurance that their views will be heard but after the trial has been allowed to happen.

Personally the ‘trial followed by consultation’ method is a better model than the ”consult then implement’ approach as it enables evidence based decision making. But there has to be the assurance that if a trial doesn’t work that it will be removed.

A clear example is the closure of Bushy Park to through traffic. Had this followed the traditional method of Proposal followed by Consultation followed by Implementation I doubt it would ever have reached the implementation stage, such would have been the outcry. However by trialing the closure it has been seen to be largely a success – certainly any protest has been incredibly limited.

However the problem has been that people think that trials will be made permanent whatever happens and that needs addressing as that is what causes the anger, that is what causes the resentment.

Borough-specific questions

Question 4 – Hounslow:

Cycleway 9 construction is approaching completion at Kew Bridge and has been implemented using temporary materials on Chiswick High Rd.

Would you support the extension of the Cycleway 9 route to the west, linking town centres of Chiswick, Brentford and Hounslow?

Andrée Frieze

The simple answer is yes. I would also like it to be extended beyond Chiswick via Hammersmith and Kensington to Hyde Park to have a safe run into central London. It also needs to be joined with the new segregated cycle lane on Kew Road in Richmond borough to create a decent network of cycle routes that are circular as well as linear.

Candice Atterton

I certainly would, yes. I have cycled part of the highway and would love for it to come further West. It is a real shame where it stops at Kew Bridge. I have seen first hand how much use the cycleway is getting and the diversity of ages of people using it is something to celebrate.

Gareth Roberts

Yes.

Question 5 – Kingston:

Would you support creation of protected cycle lanes on the A243 Hook Road, currently a dual carriageway red route, to improve conditions for cycling between Hook, Chessington, Surbiton and Kingston?

Andrée Frieze

Again, yes. Kingston has a BIG problem with air pollution with two of the worst sites in London for air quality, and children in the borough are 47% more likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma than the national average. The Green Party in London (and Kingston) have supported the construction of segregated cycle lanes for a long time – we have a great track record in making this happen.

This route is one of the busiest commuter routes in the area linking commuters in Surrey with the A3 and Kingston, its also a key route for school children traveling from Surbiton to Chessington Community College and providing many schools in the area with access to the sports fields just off Hook Road.

Cyclists don’t feel safe using the current unsegregated lane on the A243 and improved cycle infrastructure here would help many more people in the area switch to active forms of transport, helping to reduce air pollution.

In addition, if Kingston Council were to adopt a Work Based Parking Levy (as suggested by Kingston Green Party Councillor Sharron Sumner) we could potentially use the revenue gained to fund la range of low carbon transport solutions for local people (in Nottingham they used the levy to construct a tram and provide showers for cyclists) further reducing the level of traffic, and pollution on the A243.

Candice Atterton

I would as long as it can be safe.

Gareth Roberts

Yes.

Question 6 – Richmond:

Our town centres are almost uniformly rendered unwelcome by high volumes of through traffic. Twickenham Church Street shows that businesses can thrive without these high volumes of traffic. Would you prioritise our town centres as places to which people can walk and cycle, and places where people want to spend their time, rather than simply being arterial routes for other areas?

Andrée Frieze

Of course. All the evidence about pollution shows that both Richmond Twickenham Town Centres are both designated Air Quality Focus Areas i.e. they have a combination of high levels of pollution and high human exposure.

We know from a TfL reports that where there is good walking and cycling provision, retail does so much better in turnover because people shop more frequently rather than passing through to bigger centres. Town centres should be places which everyone can enjoy, not just car users. We need to rebalance of space, as evidenced by the pandemic, plus more safer crossings. All traffic lights where people cross should have pedestrian crossing lights as well.

London Living streets have been working on an inner London Walking map https://londonlivingstreets.com/central-london-walking-network/ and there is potential for something in outer London, including Richmond which has historical links.

We could also look to parklets for businesses e.g. Hammersmith, https://hammersmithbid.co.uk/our-projects/cleaner-greener-town/hammersmith-grove-parklets/ where people can linger and spend money. Maybe create a space for ‘performance arts – music, mime, local choirs. Need to include the 10 Healthy Streets Indicators. Create green space and support wildlife/environment.

Having travelled in Ljubljana two years ago and seen how the city centre has been pedestrianised, George Street in Richmond could stop being a congested highway with dirty air and people on foot squeezed to the side and become a vibrant public realm with outdoor eateries and space for leisure that supports our health and wellbeing, and where local businesses can thrive.

Candice Atterton

I would indeed. I do think it is important for all residents to access our town centres so would want disabled parking bays for people with mobility issues or hidden disabilities. I want to bring people along with changes that are made and I think it is important to listen to the community. As we move to a future with less car use there will be a transition period where people still use cars and want to park and pop to shops, I would like the parking to be on the peripheries on town centres and high streets and not close to where people are walking and cycling.

Gareth Roberts

One of the challenges of Richmond is that there are few town centres which lend themselves to the transformative approach which has been applied to Church Street. Most are served by several bus routes and therefore pedestrianisation is not an option.

However it remains an ambition of my administration to continue working with local residents and local businesses to create more welcoming environments for pedestrians and cyclists and the reinvigoration of the High Street will prove a central plank of our post Covid recovery work in the months and years ahead.

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