TfL have abandoned the funding for Cycle to School Partnerships so it looks like the Tufnell Park Cycle Loop has stalled. The conversion of Holloway School’s ample cycle parking into picnic tables is clear evidence that Islington is failing to get local children cycling to school.
Islington Council allows the public to ask questions at Full Council meetings so I asked what the council would do to get children cycling in Tufnell Park. The question was answered by Councillor Claudia Webbe who is Executive Member for the Environment.
Below is the verbatim record of our exchange at the Full Council Meeting on Thursday 4th December. Councillor Webbe recieved the first question in advance and then I was allowed a supplementary question. The council meeting was chaired by the lady Mayor who, I thought, made a rather unwarranted intervention for a council trying ‘to make it easier for members of the public to make their voices heard at council meetings.’
Holloway School recently converted its impressive bicycle parking racks into picnic benches. This is sadly indicative of the failure to get Islington’s children cycling to school despite many children saying that cycling is their preferred transport option and despite the tremendous health & social benefits that could be achieved by incorporating this physical activity into children’s daily routine . Now that the ‘Tufnell Park Loop’ bid for Cycle to School Partnership funding has been rejected by TFL, what practical steps will the council take to facilitate a sustained increase in children cycling to school and play in Tufnell Park?
Thanks for bringing this very important question. You asked about the cycle parking racks. What I want to say to you is we are very supportive of the bid to TfL and I’m equally disappointed with the result. However none of the bids for Cycle to School Partnerships programme across London were successful. None of the bids. And this was due to TfL reallocating funding to their quietways programme. TfL have very recently informed us of that they have decided to absorb the Cycle to School Partnership Programme into the Quietways programme for the following reason. They state that it was always their intention to support a small number of pilot projects. However a significantly greater number of proposals were put forward from London local authorities than could have been supported under their programme or under their budget. When reviewing the Cycle to Schools Partnership Programme submissions from London Boroughs it became clear according to TfL in many cases there was overlap with the proposals for Quietways and so as a consequence they decided to consider these as part of the wider network of Quietway routes.
Thank you for the answer. My interest is not really just about an unhealthy fascination with bicycles but London has a big problem with obesity and the answer is glaringly obvious. Your answer was about TfLs reasons but there was a lot of investment from Islington and Camden Councils and volunteers into the bid. I wonder if you think it would be a good idea to ensure that investment wasn’t wasted and maybe we could explore ways that at least elements of the scheme in Tufnell Park………?
Could you please just pose the question? You are supposed to be asking a supplementary question not making a speech so can you move onto the question part?
I thought I was asking a question?
My question was do you think that the investment should not be wasted and we should explore ways of implementing elements of the scheme so the children of Tufnell Park, in fact people of all abilities, can cycle safely as part of their daily routine?
I think it goes almost without saying that the very nature that we were able to be ready to submit a funding bid to Transport for London for the Cycle to School Partnership Programme, we were making a very strong statement as a Borough about our commitment to children and their ability to be able to cycle safely to school and be able to have the input to enable them to do so. Consequently as a Borough we’ve been doing quite a lot when it comes to children and cycling. We have been doing it for years, if not decades, but years at least. And what we’ve been doing, therefore, are quite a range of things. We’ve had a programme, in fact I was delighted to join with the Leader of the Council and with our Shadow Transport Minister to visit a school where we witnessed a Bikeability programme for children in schools. And we witnessed that kind of programme that we do, not just at one school, but at many. And in all our primary schools we offer cycle training, we call it Bikeability, to enable children to understand how to cycle safely. We also deliver Bikeability in half our secondary schools. We have gained TfL funding under the Borough Cycling Programme to extend delivery and the reach of these beyond 2014 into 2017, so three years of programmes. There is support for several of our Youth and Play Projects where staff have been trained as cycle instructors. Our Borough wide 20mph scheme is, in effect, a cycling promotion since perception of cycling risk is the number one barrier to starting to cycle. So we in a sense want to say to you, David, is that we are a pro-cycling Borough. Not only are we a pro-cycling Borough but we support that to come from the next generation of children to be able to cycle safely to school, we think this is absolutely important and we will do everything possible and will continue to do everything possible to make sure that is a reality despite where TfL may be. And we are pursuing our Quietways programme so that it’s not lost and we will introduce cycle safety for children in those programmes as well.
Do you agree that Holloway School converting cycle parking into picnic tables is a bit disappointing and not really a sign of success?
A third question is not allowed and wasn’t answered (even though it is actually the question I asked in the first place.)
The Full Council Meeting was live streamed and the recording can be viewed here: http://bambuser.com/v/5125890 The segment for my exchange with Councillor Webbe start at 43.40 and ends at 50.40