Kingston upon Thames is one of the boroughs selected for “mini-Holland” funding.
What this means is that the borough has received a grant for various cycling projects, with the aim being of transforming cycling in the borough. Now, mini-Holland can mean a variety of things. Cynically, one might suggest that it’s a handy means of grabbing extra [cycling] funding while making cycling worse, through the simple process of taking a specific instance of Dutch design and using it incorrectly.
But let’s be positive. Mini-Holland can also mean taking Dutch best practice and applying it here. They’ve got a 40-year head start over the UK, so will have already made many mistakes and undertaken years of research that we can learn from. This doesn’t, of course, mean that we should apply everything they do now. Some of their infrastructure is clearly more suitable for demand that we can only dream of:
My preference is therefore clearly for simple infrastructure that will make the biggest difference. Identifying the issues that prevent people choosing a bike for short journeys and dealing with them. Of course, Kingston’s vision has its Obligatory Landmark Project in the floating walkway, running parallel to an existing road but more scenic and expensive, with poorer access to housing and shopping (beyond the waterfront bars). However, there are plenty of more mundane, but useful schemes. The cycling vision can be downloaded here, and is helpfully thorough. I would prefer fewer floating boardwalks and skybridges and more removing of rat-runs, but this is a good start. Tweaks will be needed; for example armadillos are suggested to separate cycling lanes, which is a nonsense suggestion, but the main routes around the borough have been identified and spades are due in the ground in Spring 2015. Importantly, with the change from a Labour to a Conservative majority on the council, this has cross party support.
My intention for this blog is to largely focus on Kingston cycling issues. The devil is in the detail and there is much of this plan that could be watered down and rendered pointless. Getting Kingston cycling is vital for the borough; this opportunity must not be wasted.