Wednesday, 5 December 2007

A one-to-one basis

9 Jun 2006 Dave Wetzel

If we don't listen we'll never improve but at the end of the day The Mayor is our boss and he has to keep his promises to the electorate. Of course we do also have to work with other stakeholders like the LCC. Therefore my strategy would not be to suggest we slow up the work on LCN plus but to try to utilise any possible underspends in other programmes and make full use of new bus lanes and the period between 2010 and the Games.

14 June 2006 David Rowe

I have shared your proposals with the London Cycling Campaign and I'm awaiting a response back from them.

15 June 2006 Simon Brammer (Director, LCC)

In relation to the proposal that David Rowe forwarded, we have asked our Cycle Planning and Engineering Committee to have a look at the proposal, but only in relation to your recommendations for coloured signage.

In terms of routes, there has already been significant investment in these and LCC has no plans to challenge these. This is a matter that you would need to take up with the LCN+ team.

6 July 2006 David Rowe

TfL works closely with LCC, who provide a useful means of determining cyclists' views on different proposals (together with market research that TfL commissions directly with users). Clearly if a wider network of routes was to be pursued it would not only require support from the boroughs, but also from key stakeholder groups like LCC. I forwarded the information you sent to LCC who shared it with members of their Planning & Engineering Group. I met with LCC officials yesterday (5 July 2006) and they advised their priority is for TfL and the boroughs to complete LCN+ by 2009/10.

In light of the views expressed by the London Cycling Campaign [...] TfL cannot proceed further at the current time with evaluating the case for your proposal.

16 July 2006 Dave Wetzel

Have LCC given us any reason why they are only looking at Simon's signage and not his other proposals? Would it be worth a small experimental trial of his ideas?

31 July 2006 David Rowe

I believe the reason why Simon Brammer at LCC did not ask their Planning & Engineering Committee to look at Simon Parker's proposal for a wider network was due to LCC's view that the first priority should be completion of LCN+.

LCC's concern is that a wider network could (a) divert borough and TfL engineering and planning resources from LCN+ completion by 2009/10 and (b) divert financial resources.

10 Aug 2006 Simon Parker

Please note that the strategy of Minimum Functioning has never, ever, ever been challenged, either by TfL, or by the LCC, or by Sustrans, or by the boroughs. It is rock solid. It is a prudent course to follow. It will enhance, not diminish, the value of the LCN+. It offers the best opportunity to deliver a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network relatively quickly and relatively cheaply. It is the major part of my proposal.

It is also the proposal that I would like to see put before the Mayor. To my way of thinking, only once a decision has been reached on this issue would it then be appropriate for anyone to concern themselves with the various signing strategies that are currently available.

Certainly nobody needs to conflate Minimum Functioning with my signing strategy: it is entirely possible that TfL could end up accepting the one and rejecting the other.

14 August 2006 Dave Wetzel

[To remind you, on 15 June Simon Brammer had told TfL and myself that the LCC's Cycle Planning and Engineering Committee would look at my proposal for 'coloured signage.' Their findings have never been published.]

You have failed to convince the London Cycling Campaign of your proposals [...]. I'm not convinced that our officers should be spending time on your project. We need to complete LCN+ and standard signing (incl street names) before we look for a new project to complete.

28 October 2006 Simon Parker

To: Dave Wetzel(Vice-Chair TfL Board); Paul Moore (TfL Board Member) Peter Brown Peter (COO TfL); Chris Bainbridge (Chair BCOG); Rose Ades (Head CCE); John Dinunzio (LCN+); Borugh Cycling Officers: Camden, City, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Wandsworth, Westminster; Simon Brammer (LCC); Carl Pittam (Sustrans London)

Dear All,

As most of you will all know by now, my proposal can be broken down into two parts:

(a) a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network (the LCN/LCN+) developed, in the first instance, to the level of Minimum Functioning; and

(b) a signing strategy which uses 'compass colours' to distinguish one route from the next.

A small trial of these two ideas has been suggested. My intention is to ask the Vice-Chair of the TfL Board, Dave Wetzel, to formally approach the rest of the TfL Board and investigate the possibility of securing the necessary funding for this trial.

Before this happens, however, I want him to be assured that there are no theoretical objections to the ideas enunciated above. If there are any among you, then, who would oppose a trial on a matter of principal, now is the time to speak.

In the next couple of days, you should each receive a map showing the proposed study area. It is bounded to the north by the Thames, to the south by the A3/A2, to the west by the A217 (Trinity Road), and to the east by the A2210 (Deptford Church Street).

Thus, the bulk of the trial will take place in the northern halves of Lambeth and Southwark, with Wandsworth and Lewisham helping to tie up all the loose ends and bring everything to a tidy conclusion.

I would also like to ask that people start to look at the yellow circular route. This is, by a considerable margin, the single most important route on the entire network, and certain sections of it are new and/or require a high level of engineering. It seems to me, then, that the sooner attention is given to it, the more likely it is that it will be completed in time for the Olympics.

Finally, I had originally intended to wait until the end of the month before contacting you all, but I hear that there is a BCOG meeting this coming Tuesday, and I wanted to give them the opportunity to discuss this proposal if they felt it was appropriate.

The boroughs, I have to say, have generally been just fantastic. Having spoken to the relevant cycling officers again recently, I don't anticipate any problems from this quarter. For the record, their stated position is attached [not here].

With kind regards,

Simon Parker

28 October 2006 Dave Wetzel


I do NOT take instructions from you!

I'm not being bounced by your phone calls and e-mails! [I had previously spoken to Vicky Jennings, Dave's PA, just a few days before, to say that I intended to formally approach Dave with a view to asking him if he would take my proposal to the TfL Board.]

If you can't convince the LCC, Sustrans and our TfL officers of the need for your schemes then I certainly am not going to advance them.

If, as you suggest, the Boroughs are so keen to implement a trial then they can do so on their own roads at their own expense.

I 'd remind you that the TfL red routes are only 5% of London roads.

I have recently completed cycle training and so will be using my bike to travel from Brentford to Victoria again on some fine mornings. (I gave up when I was knocked off by a car some 3 years ago). I have no difficulty getting around by bike using the current signage and cycle maps although I do wish every road junction had street names clearly visible, and that pedestrians and cyclists had priority at all non-signalled junctions.

I also wish that more cyclists would give more respect to pedestrians!

Best Wishes,


30 October 2006 Simon Parker


I wasn't trying to bounce you. I honestly believed that you thought a trial was a good idea.

On 16th July 2006 you wrote to David Rowe and said, 'Would it be worth a small experimental trial of [my] ideas?'

I did not know that you had moved from this position. Nobody told me that you now believe it is no longer worth a trial of my ideas.

I don't understand any more. I thought we wanted to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and take up cycling.

The Europeans say that a basic precondition for a high level of cycle use is a comprehensive, city-wide cycle network. They also say that, in developing such a network, the level of Minimum Functioning is the most prudent course to follow.

This is the first and major part of my proposal. It's not my idea. It's what the Europeans say. And if officers from TfL disagree with this, then that's their opinion, and they are entitled to it.

The second part of my proposal uses 'compass colours' to distinguish one route from another. Simon Talbot-Ponsonby from Sustrans has said that a colour-based signing system would be intuitively useful to new cyclists in a way that numbers never could be, and Colin Wing from the Westminster Cycling Campaign has said that it would probably make maps easier to read. You yourself recently told a mutual friend that you thought it was 'a good idea'. We know what everyone else thinks.

In my last email I said, 'My intention is to ask the Vice-Chair of the TfL Board, Dave Wetzel, to formally approach the rest of the TfL Board and investigate the possibility of securing the necessary funding for this trial.' And now you say that I am giving you instructions! I don't understand any more.

Oh well, never mind, eh? We had a good go, didn't we?

Thank you once again for all the time you have put into this.


31 October 2006 Dave Wetzel


If you can't tell the difference between a question and a statement - then I don't think its worthwhile continuing with this correspondence.

Best Wishes,


1 November 2006 Dave Wetzel


I note that Peter McBride has now sent this reply to you.


30 October 2006 Peter McBride

Dear Mr Parker

Cycle route proposals

I write further to your recent e-mail correspondences with Rose Ades (Head of Cycling Centre of Excellence) and Dave Wetzel (Vice-Chair of TfL), including your most recent correspondence of 28th October 2006 with Dave Wetzel.

Dave Wetzel advised you previously that a TfL officer would respond to you on the signing strategy proposals you had set out to him and I agreed to do this in my capacity as Interim Head of Cycling, Walking & Accessibility. (As you may know the Cycling Centre of Excellence sits within the Cycling, Walking & Accessibility team). However, it seems you have chosen to disregard the advice given to you.

Your most recent correspondence is the latest in a long-running series of e-mail exchanges, meetings and telephone conversations with senior TfL officers, including the Vice-Chair amongst others, and a TfL Board Member, Paul Moore. This suggests that you have been given ample opportunity to convince colleagues in TfL of the value and worth of your proposals.

I don’t think that there is merit in inviting you to repeat the arguments already voiced; these are well documented as are colleagues’ responses. Suffice to say there is currently little or no support within TfL for your proposals and little or no prospect of this situation changing in the near future. This position is partly derived from concerns over the appropriateness and efficacy of what you have proposed and partly from our priorities and resources being focused elsewhere. (As an example, I have attached a brief outline of the work we are doing in relation to the signing and mapping of London’s cycle network).

In the light of the above I do not propose to pursue further the mapping and signing proposals you discussed with the Vice-Chair of TfL. I would be grateful if you now considered this matter to be closed.

Yours sincerely

Peter McBride
Interim Head of Cycling, Walking & Accessibility
Transport for London

Ongoing TfL work streams in relation to the signing and mapping of London's cycle network

1. 4000km recommended routes set out in London Cycle Guides (and TfL journey planner)
- the whole network will be reviewed and data upgraded using latest technology
- consultation on existing routes and facilities with stakeholders such as London boroughs, Sustrans and LCC, as well as consideration of additional routes where there are significant gaps in this network
- timetable: Cycle City Guides have been commissioned; planning phase and methodology established; work on site commenced end September with a view to complete end December

2. Review of scale and format for presenting the cycle route paper map for the third edition of London Cycle Guides due Spring 2007. This will include:
- data from item 1
- consideration of implications for TfL Journey Planner, and in-journey information system options
- market research and feedback
- scope for a stylised/simplified version showing whole cycle network on one map
- technology upgrade
- existing classification of routes will be retained ie signed, advisory, motor traffic free, shared cycle track adjacent to carriageway
- synergies where practical with walking / Legible London initiative
- base mapping to show street names as A-Z

3. On street cycle route signing
In Autumn 2005 the GLA Scrutiny of LCN+ recommended a review of signage on the LCN+ to ensure that it is clear and meets the needs of cyclists. The GLA/TfL are also committed to improving the public realm and simplifying and integrating transport information systems and wayfinding. Review, recommendations and further investment will include gap analysis and consider:

- place/street name signs (all road users)
- cycle related traffic signs
- direction signs (for general traffic/cyclists)
- cycle route status - (for cyclists and warning to motorists)
- generic symbols for new cycle facilities such as secure cycle parks
- synergies with Legible London

It is unlikely, but at this stage has not been ruled out, that TfL will progress a system of individual cycle route designation in addition to the above.

2 November 2006 Simon Parker

Dear Mr McBride,

Thank you for your letter dated 30 October 2006.

It is now abundantly clear there is no desire amongst TfL officers to present my proposal before the public, which is to be regretted, I think, because there would be much to be gained by considering a wider range of views.

Apparently this decison has been reached partly because of concerns that to do so would divert attention and resources away from the course which has been set, and partly because of concerns about the 'appropriateness and efficacy' of my plan.

I am not going to argue with you on the first point. I disagree with you, but I am not going to argue with you. However, I would like you to be aware of one significant detail.

Since 2001 tens of millions of pounds has been spent in trying to develop the current strategy. Last year alone it was announced that total expenditure amounted to £24m. And yet, over the same period there has been a 31% increase in the number of cycling fatalities (89 killed between 2001-2005). True, this is offset by a 50% increase in the number of cycle journeys, but this increase is not across the board, as is generally reported; rather it is only on the TLRN.

Thus we have had a 31% increase in the number of cycling fatalities set against a 50% increase in the number of cycle journeys on just 5% of the road network.

The significant detail that I wish you to note is that these statistics are not unrelated, I believe. The TLRN carries a lot of HGV traffic, and most cycling fatalities (more than half) involve HGVs.

Trying to get cyclists and HGVs to share the same road space safely is like trying to get surfers and sharks to share the same stretch of coastline safely. In other words, it's an accident waiting to happen. Of course, there are instances when it is simply unavoidable that HGVs would travel close to cyclists -- I would remind you that the routes on my design are, first and foremost, meaningful and direct -- but this is why I advocate the strategy of 'watercress seeds' and 'acorns'.

Wherever and as much as possible, then, the routes on my design avoid the roads that HGVs would use. The boroughs have consistently indicated their preparedness to develop these routes, but rather than welcome this I am told that if they think this would be such a good idea then they should go ahead and implement a trial at their own expense, as if council tax bills were not already high enough!

But as I say, I don't wish to argue with you about this. If you are convinced that it is in the best public interest to 'stay the course', then I am sure you are only doing what you believe to be right.

I must take issue with you about the second point, however. You see, no one has ever questioned the appropriateness and efficacy of my proposal before. TfL officers have variously described it as 'unhelpful', 'complex', 'prohibitively expensive', 'highly irregular', 'confusing', and 'inconsistent', but never inappropriate and inefficient.

Specifically, I do not see why I should be expected to accept any way of thinking without some form of proof. To be clear, I am not asking you to lend your support to a change in the existing strategy, nor am I asking you to explain why this strategy should be implemented instead of -- rather than as well as -- my proposal. No, I am simply asking you to develop the criticism levelled against my ideas in more detail.

Whether you accede to this petition or not, it is my deeply held conviction that your concerns are entirely without foundation, and if only for the record I cannot allow them to go unchallenged.

For example, it is assuredly appropriate, in an age when global warming and obesity are causes for increasing alarm, to develop a more comprehensive cycle network. Moreover, it is appropriate, too, to enable people to navigate their way around on such a network without the need to refer to a map.

As to the efficacy of my design, I have tested it using the origin and destination examples of a thousand bus journeys, and have yet to find it wanting! What makes you think it lacks efficacy therefore? Have you been able to identify even a single A to B journey which my network cannot provide for and which is not easily plotted? Please advise.

Unless you can substantiate either of the allegations you have made against my proposal -- that it is inappropriate and lacks efficacy -- I would be grateful if you would withdraw them forthwith.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Parker

3 November 2006 Peter McBride

Dear Mr Parker

Thank you for your e-mail dated 2nd November 2006.

I don't think we need get into lengthy correspondence on this. My letter of 30th October sought to summarise TfL's position on your proposals; namely that we invited you to make representations, we listened to what you had to say, we considered carefully but decided against.

The rationale behind our decision has been explained to you previously, at length and in detail and is the basis for my comment about concerns over appropriateness and efficacy. In this light I don't think that I owe you further explanation.

I've copied this reply to those on your circulation list not to draw them into any debate but to show that you have been given a fair hearing throughout your dealings with this organisation. I trust that you will now consider this matter closed: in the event of further communication I ask that this be done on a one-to-one basis.

Yours sincerely

Peter McBride