Delivering great cycling with fine words – Richmond leads the way. (And an Elephant)

If fine words delivered a seismic shift in the number of people cycling, Richmond Council would be almost as effective as Boris Johnson.

Once again, we sat through a meeting which was heavy on rhetoric, promises and fine ideas, and pretty thin on actual action that will make cycling an enticing thing to do in the borough. The thing is, the council is very, very good at talking about cycling, and we’re fairly sure they understand our concerns about how to make cycling a real option for everyone in the borough, but when it comes to actually doing something, their failure to follow through is frankly distressing.

But for the record, here’s what Richmond Cycling members observed from the meeting: (there is some good news at the end!)

  1. Local police have been running some ‘education’ on local Advanced Stop Lines. This has run for two weeks, and now they’re planning some actual enforcement activity.
  2. Bike thefts in Richmond are up, but they’re down in Kingston. To be honest, I’m sick of hearing about bike theft at the Cycling Liaison Group. Everywhere that people use bikes to get around, someone finds a way to steal some of them – it’s great that the police are looking into this, but I don’t see why it has to come to the CLG every single time.
  3. We heard from TfL that 19 of 20 eligible boroughs submitted bids for the Mini Holland money. The TfL rep was very impressed with Richmond’s bid, but also masterful at dodging any questions of substance. What we did find out was that up to 8 bids would be called forward to the second round, with seed cash to improve their bids, and then up to 4 boroughs will actually share the money.
  4. And we discussed the mini Holland bid – both Councillor Harrison, the cabinet member for transport, and Chris Smith, the head of planning, waxed lyrical about how convincing Andrew Gilligan was, and how committed he is. Which is great – we just feel it’s a pity that they’re not reflecting this enthusiasm in the designs that we see.
  5. The borough’s cycling strategy, which has been in gestation for longer than the Trident upgrade plan, is now apparently going to have to be re-visited again, because the current version apparently describes a strategy that doesn’t really reflect the mini Holland bid. We’re choosing to interpret it as a good thing that the council is trying to align these things, but we’ll wait until it comes out before we comment any more. 
  6. The one point we found very interesting: the council told us that they’re planning to get more on-street parking rolled out. Specifically they observed that you don’t need planning permission to do this, so if you’d like some parking for your bike, please get in touch (or email us:, and we’ll start asking the council.

The Elephant

What’s that? Was there an elephant in the room? Well, yes. Sat on the table, in plain view but not on the agenda, was the Twickenham Plan. We managed to ask some questions about it, but basically we know that bits and pieces are going to consultation. This does represent a chance to at least seize the small improvements for cycling on offer, like the introduction of 20mph, and the Holly Road contraflow.

So if there’s one thing you do this month, please do reply to the consultation – we’ll provide some more details this week, and we’re also going to try to meet the council again, to see if we can get any improvements to the current appalling plans.