A humble proposal to the City of London about transport

 

Any Journey is only as good as its weakest link

The European Transport ministers use the idea of chains to map out issues, and this idea, what are the connections, may be extended to all areas of governance. We do not now have public and private realms that achieve “any journey is only as good as its weakest link “ p77 1.

The idea is to think through about everything that happens in a person’s life, what issues they face, what barriers? Barriers, weak links in chains, may be physical, psychological, sociological, institutional, attitudinal.

Thinking about movement, we do not only move ourselves, we move with others and we move the stuff we want to use on the journey, later or for others to use. We use formal transport systems and the space between buildings.

We move stuff because we need it now or it will be needed to do something else. There are various permutations2

  • Ourselves
  • Stuff we wear and carry
  • People and stuff we move with – family, luggage, pushchairs, disability equipment, prostheses, cycles
  • Light goods
  • Medium goods
  • Heavy, wet big massive stuff
  • Tools equipment for work
  • Recycling, waste ….

There are also various nodes for storage  – for refreshment, for resting – cafe’s, waiting rooms, luggage lockers, car parking, toilets, cycle parking, public leaning posts as in Sienna.

We move stuff to help us do other stuff – gas, water, electricity, heat.

We need to design for and think through all the permutations.3

Many of the waste issues we face, for example air pollution from burning stuff is the result of a very long chain of consequences. Why precisely do we need to move that from there by that method? Would that conflict between heavy moving machinery and a person have happened if …

There are often gaps in the logical sequences we do use so that opportunities are missed because they were not considered.

Interesting gaps include understanding that disabled and older people often find cycling easier than walking, and seeing the cargo trike as also a mobility aid – if the lifts in stations are large enough for disabled people on cargo trikes, and baby buggies, they may also be used for light goods and scaled down containers.

Why pay out for disabled adaptations to trains and stations when similar adaptations may be multi purpose for both light goods and people?  Why use a specific physical solution when management and control processes with generalised larger scale solutions may achieve more synergies?

Using these “whole system4” methods mean it is then possible to create together, cooperatively person, family, community centred maps showing how someone got to where they are, audit where they are now and plan with them inclusively and sustainably our future. To find synergies.

Processes of change require working out what we wish to achieve, working out and sequencing the various short medium and long-term steps that are needed and then implementing them in the agreed sequence.

Tools for conviviality

Certain “tools for conviviality5” with appropriate infrastructure are having significant effects in enabling “the Well-Tempered City”6. I understand City of London Police and Gardening Services are already using some of these tools, but that there are various legal administrative and physical barriers to enabling their more wide spread use. Business use of cargo bikes is reasonably common.

Other transport tools

Some of the tools we use for transport are not as convivial as others. There are significant shopping trolley ecologies around the Barbican; the many supermarket delivery vans might be replaced with e cargo trikes.

Taxis and minicabs

A significant amount of traffic seems to be taxis plying for hire. Research should be carried out in where, why, and how efficiently taxi and minicab services are used, and what alternatives there might be.

Rail

There are significant rail services in the City. Historically, very significant amounts of goods were moved by rail, and some of this infrastructure still exists, abandoned.

Space

There are also significantly under used car parks, for example under the Barbican. These might allow synergies between rail and cargo bikes by solving the last mile issue by removing almost completely hgv and light van movements in the city.2 A freight light goods railhead under the Barbican enabling open source transfer to cargo bikes? A scaled up Zermatt?

Effects

The City of London has formally noted these issues, for example the City of London Air Quality Strategy states that the quality of air in the Square Mile is at a level that is considered to be harmful to health.7

The GLA reports some initiatives, for example travel awareness, ‘walk to school’, and cycling promotion are all widely supported throughout the boroughs, often in conjunction with wider public awareness campaigns linking transport, air quality and health and a number of boroughs have undertaken improvements to the urban realm to encourage active travel and facilitate walking on cleaner routes.

The GLA references the City of London, as having undertaken a significant number of these, including a new staircase onto London Bridge to encourage walking along the Thames Path as opposed to the polluted Upper Thames Street. 8

The Road Danger Reduction Strategy notes the need to help address the current red-risk, which is the perception that the City of London Corporation is not taking enough proactive, positive action to reduce road danger in the City.9

The Barbican

The Barbican will soon be 50 years old and it would be sensible to plan for at least the next 50 years. There are many excellent features and evidence that some matters need improving.

The Barbican is already a successful lifetime neighbourhood10 and with tweaking could be an international and national exemplar. It may already be a retirement village. The population of the Barbican is ageing. People are staying put11 and dying here. It is successful. People are choosing it because of their age its design and its location. There is very low car ownership, although not designed as car free it is becoming a car free development. People choose the estate because it is reasonably accessible. There are significant numbers of mobility scooters.

There are clear habits about shopping and daily movements to collect and move shopping that with thought may be improved. There are various shopping trolley ecologies. Cargo trikes are an important, often missing ingredient in the tools we use in our daily lives.

Detailed access audits of buildings and their environments.

More ramps and larger lifts are needed. There are management issues, for example an automatic door in barbican was not working, a disabled toilet was inaccessible during a graduation ceremony and had not been serviced. Handrails are needed on some of the slopes in the Barbican Centre. Legibility and maps need rethinking. The tunnel was very unpleasant with dangerous dropped kerbs giving unconscious priority to turning vehicles. The rules for cycling need thinking through, considerate cyclist rules may be appropriate.

The Barbican tube station urgently needs lifts – it has excellent train to platform access but then awful into the Barbican Estate from Barbican tube station. As the Barbican station is very close to St Barts it should be fully inclusive, which is achievable by rebuilding it with offices and rethinking the accessibility of the whole area.

Exploring synergies

There are possibilities for links for freight, light goods, waste transfer to rail and possibly water, using existing space like some of the car parking under the Barbican, reopening closed down rail resources and possibilities of energy and heat centres.

There is a clear need to upgrade the ability to walk and cycle, including using non standard cycles and mobility scooters everywhere to for example enable woonerfen.12 These types of traffic calming measures and mode shift initiatives would also enable appropriate security measures by significantly reducing numbers of vehicles and where they can go. A key objective would be to think through the myriad mode transfer and last mile issues everyone faces.

The aim would be to make cycling and walking in central London the preferred choice, not only for moving people but also a very wide range of stuff. Central London is not very large from a cyclist’s perspective.

Detailed mapping of the entire area with management plans

By mapping in detail, to equivalent levels as gardening does of every plant and its management cycle, every item of built environment and street infrastructure, and creating detailed asset registers with maps showing for example every kerbstone and sign, each item may be given a quality measure, risk assessment and a management plan. This will lead to iterations in the improvement and quality of processes and structures as reviews and lead to further integration of the currently often unnecessarily separate and siloed processes.

Research into the health and wellbeing needs of the community

Appropriate transport solutions may assist not only travel, but habitation and rehabilitation. Danish neurophysiotherapists prescribe cargo trikes as part of habitation and rehabilitation processes. Many people find cycling easier than walk and there is a very wide range of prostheses available13, including wheelchairs, mobility scooters, hand cycles, recumbents, trikes, and tandems.14 This would include research into specific design issues, for example storage, forgiving kerbs, and inclusive cycling design. Further discussion with the local hospitals universities and health services may be appropriate.

 Research into cycling and tourism and young families

A quarter of young families in Copenhagen do not have cars and use cargo trikes as a key component of their transport solutions. Copenhagen has about 40,000 cargo trike which scales to half million in London. This number may easily increase if the appropriate infrastructure and synergies are implemented.

For example the road tunnel under the Barbican is labelled a Quietway. It is not. Would tourists with a young family using a variety of bicycles use that route?

To meet their needs requires the ability to get to places safely, the availability of a wide range of cycles, the ability to transfer the cycle onto other transport modes and to store them and related things securely.

The fun factor

Processes of change require detailed consideration, including enabling people to explore what is being proposed. Experimentation, participation and consultation, 15the idea of the living laboratory are critical.

I recommend regular taster sessions and celebrations. 16

References

 

  1. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Improving Transport for People with Mobility Handicaps a Guide to Good Practice. (OECD Publishing and European Conference of Ministers of Transport, 2000). at <https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mp3WAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA77&lpg=PA77&dq=%22any+journey+is+only+as+good+as+its+weakest+link%22&source=bl&ots=eDcZBQAjiB&sig=H-8NRbIvpVRnZPKy9dI-i8f–V0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj27tiys9rYAhXrJMAKHfzKB6oQ6AEIRjAG#v=onepage&q=%22any journey is only as good as its weakest link%22&f=false>
  2. Durdle, C. The Armadillos are Coming Pt 2! – Clive Durdle’s Blog. at <https://clivedurdle.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/the-armadillos-are-coming-pt-2/&gt;
  3. New London Plan | London City Hall. at <https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan&gt;
  4. Perri, 6. Holistic Government. Demos (1997). at <http://www.demos.co.uk/files/holisticgovernment.pdf?1240939425&gt;
  5. Th Adam, by et al. Ivan Illich -Tools for Conviviality. Can. Conf. Law (1972). at <http://clevercycles.com/tools_for_conviviality/&gt;
  6. Rose, J. F. The Well-Tempered City » Jonathan F. P. Rose. at <http://www.welltemperedcity.com/&gt;
  7. of London, C. City of London Air Quality Strategy 2015 final. (2015). at <https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/environmental-protection/air-quality/Documents/city-of-london-air-quality-strategy-2015.pdf&gt;
  8. LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND AIR QUALITY. (2017). at <https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/borough_air_quality_report_2017_final_2.pdf&gt;
  9. ONE Road Danger Reduction Communications Strategy Produced by the City of London Corporation on behalf of the Road Danger Reduction Partnership 2 ONE. at <http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/s77263/Road Danger reduction Appendix.pdf>
  10. Bevan, M. & Croucher, K. Lifetime Neighbourhoods. DCLG (2011). at <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6248/2044122.pdf&gt;
  11. Staying Put | London Borough of Bexley. at <https://www.bexley.gov.uk/services/housing/staying-put&gt;
  12. Hass-Klau, C. An Illustrated Guide to Traffic Calming: Amazon.co.uk: C Hass-Klau: Books. (1990). at <https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00800P16U/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1&gt;
  13. Wigley, M. Prosthetic theory: The disciplining of architecture. Assemblage (1991). at <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3171122&gt;
  14. A guide to inclusive cycling. at <http://wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/v2-Nov-2017.pdf&gt;
  15. McCormick, K. Kes McCormick | The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE). at <http://www.iiiee.lu.se/kes-mccormick&gt;
  16. Matt McFarland & McFarland, M. This Danish city is so bike-friendly even kindergartners ride to school – The Washington Post. Washington Post (2016). at <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/02/23/this-danish-city-is-so-bike-friendly-even-kindergartners-ride-to-school/?postshare=2961476706616250&gt;

 

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