Sunday, 27 January 2019

MCC comments on Transport Chapter of Merton Draft Local Plan

Merton Cycle Campaign (MCC) is the local group of the London Cycle Campaign. MCC promotes cycling and seeks to make Merton’s streets better and more pleasant places, for the benefit of individuals, local communities and the wider environment by raising awareness of cycling issues, campaigning to improve conditions for cycling and providing a range of services for our members.


Merton Council extended the deadline for commenting on the Draft Local Plan to 28 January after MCC alerted them to the fact that they had not published the Transport section of the Infrastructure Chapter online.

We submitted our views on the rest of the Plan in time for the original deadline, and you can read them here. After review of the Transport section, MCC are concerned that Merton’s draft Local Plan 2020 does not demonstrate the necessary determination or assertiveness to significantly increase the number of people cycling in the borough or improve the current position of cyclists and other vulnerable road users. You can read our full submission on the Transport section here.

The Policy offers no Borough-initiated action, except in the new (yet to be published) LIP. Section 6.4.2 states that the LIP will be the means by which the Draft London Plan’s Policy T5 requirement will be met; based on the experience of the previous LIP in which cycling was largely ignored by the Borough, MCC have little confidence in this as a means to achieve the objectives of the Plan.

The ‘contented cycling’ cover photo of the Transport Section 6.4 is an example of the only time Merton has shown the necessary determination and assertiveness; however this was implemented in the mid 1990s. This now-vintage example of segregated infrastructure has not been repeated, and is now is very poorly maintained. Not only has this visionary approach not been repeated in 20 years, it is an example of a piece-meal approach to cycling infrastructure that does not truly encourage cycling across the borough – just outside of shot the cyclist has ridden through a forest of bollards, and is approaching a give way sign that will see her potentially join a line of cars.

We hope that Merton Council will take on board our comments in future drafts of the Local Plan.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

MCC comments on Draft Merton Local Plan

MCC has submitted our response to Merton's consultation on the Local Plan 2020, closing 6 January 2018. Commenting on the Draft Local Plan in relation to cycling, active transport and healthy streets has been hampered by the fact that the online consultation draft of the Infrastructure Chapter (which was stated as incorporating Transport policies) was not correctly published to the Merton website, a fact that MCC drew to the attention of the Council. You can read our submission here.

Merton Council quickly offered an extension to the deadline, however we are particularly concerned that this crucial chapter has not been available to residents, local groups and businesses to review and comment on for the full consultation period as Strategic Objective 5 of the Plan aims to  ‘make Merton a well-connected and accessible place where walking, cycling and public transport are the modes of choice when planning all journeys” by “creating streets and routes that encourage the use of cycling, walking and other modes of sustainable travel’.

MCC agrees with, and welcomes, the introduction from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, that acknowledges the built environment is a major driver of health inequalities and that unhealthy high streets and poor air quality impact negatively on health and the desire for the Local Plan to incorporate health and wellbeing into policies and the vision so everyone has a fair chance at a healthy life. It is therefore disappointing that the role that cycling and active transport can have in achieving in this objective is not embedded across the policies set out in the Draft.  On the evidence of the Draft Plan Policies, it does not appear that the Healthy Streets approach is yet embedded in the Council’s thinking. Most policies make more references to main roads, car parking and vehicle access to sites than they do to sustainable transport.

There is a limited scattering of meaningful ‘active transport’ aspiration in Merton’s 2020 policies but not in a way that suggests a proper support of the Draft London Plan‘s improved cycle infrastructure.
It is not enough for Merton’s 2020 policies to relate to control of new building development, they must also look to upgrade the existing environment. Merton cannot currently be called welcoming to cyclists because not enough people find it a healthy environment in which to choose to cycle.

For anyone in Merton an urban center is no more than 10 minutes away by bicycle. But, in most cases, there is little prospect that the cycling route to get there will look accommodating or feel safe. If the public realm is to be designed to prioritise active transport (Policy D5) then it is essential that Merton take account of the Draft London Plan’s Policy T5 requirement that, throughout the Borough, barriers to cycling are removed and infrastructure improved to create a healthy environment in which people choose to cycle.'

Cycling needs to be front-and-centre in a strategic plan if there is to be any chance of implementing a coherent network of quality cycle routes – because in individual developments cycling almost always isn’t considered. For 'Housing' the Merton Local Plan 2020 admirably takes serious account of the Draft London Plan’s target uplift in housing of 228% proposed for Merton, yet Merton’s 2020 Plan takes no account of the Draft London Plans Policy T5 requirement that such Plans should help remove barriers to cycling and create a healthy environment in which people choose to cycle. To be achieved ‘through supporting the delivery of a London-wide network of cycle routes, with new routes and improved infrastructure’.

MCC comments on Future Wimbledon Master Plan

Merton Borough Council have prepared the Future Wimbledon Masterplan to create a long-term vision for the future of development of Wimbledon town centre.

Wimbledon Station is described in the Plan as the most multi-modal in the UK, and one of the modes included is ‘cycle connections’. But commenting on the Master Plan in relation to cycling, active transport and healthy streets has been hampered by the fact that the consultation draft of the Infrastructure Chapter (incorporating Transport policies) of the Merton 2020 Local Plan was not correctly published to the Merton website. Whilst the relevant section of the Chapter was shared with MCC on 4 January when this was drawn to the attention of Officers, this has left little time to review the two Policies side by side before the deadline of 6 January, and presumably other responses will have also been hampered by not having this policy available to them.

MCC believe that if the multi-modal reputation of Wimbledon is to be maintained it is necessary for the Masterplan to integrate cycling infrastructure effectively, including cycle hire provision and charging points for electric bicycles/mobility scooters within developments and on the streets. You can read our response to the Future Wimbledon Masterplan here, and our comments on the Transport section of the Draft Local Plan here.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Join us for our Winter Warmer Ride 6 January 2019

Join us on Sunday 6th January for cycle tour of the borough and a sociable lunch.  We'll be meeting outside The Sultan at 10.30 and sticking as closely as possible to the Borough boundary, taking in West Tooting, Mitcham, the edge of New Malden, The Common*, The Village and The Wandle.

It's 17 miles all the way round, with the pace set to 'leisurely' (if you're a racer, wrap up warm).  We'll finish at The Sultan, where we'll have lunch and a beer.

Meet: 10:30 on 6 January, The Sultan, 78 Norman Rd, London SW19 1BT

Things to bring

  • You
  • Your bike
  • Maintenance kit (including spare inner tube)
  • Something to drink
  • Something to eat (optional - it's really not that long)
  • Warm clothes
  • A waterproof

*If you don't like mud, there'll be an on-road detour, rejoining the main ride in The Village.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Have your say on the Merton Local Plan before 6 January 2019

Merton Council are consulting on their new Local Plan 2020, which will be used as the basis for planning decisions in the future. Planning decisions are one of the ways in which cycling policies are put into practice, so it's really important that the Local Plan incorporates strong commitments to cycling and active transport.

MCC will be submitting a response to the Draft Plan, and we would love to hear your views to incorporate into our response. Comment below, or on Cycle Scape or email hello@mertoncyclingcampaign.org.uk 

Find out more at merton.gov.uk/newlocalplan  - the draft Cycling policy is set out in the Infrastructure section, and you can also find out how to submit your individual comments or view hard copies of the documents. (The Plan also covers policy on housing, design, schools, healthcare, streets, travel, utilities, waste, open space, playspace, air quality and the economy, so you may find you have lots of things you want to comment on!)

Copies of the full document are also available to read at the Colliers Wood, Mitcham, Morden, Raynes Park and Wimbledon libraries. 

For more information please email Merton Council at future.merton@merton.gov.uk or phone at 020 8545 3837

Saturday, 3 November 2018

TfL Consulting on Sutton Link until 6 January 2018

TfL are consulting on a proposed new transport link between Sutton and Merton called the Sutton Link. They are seeking views on three route options and whether a tram or Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) service would provide the best service.

We broadly welcome improvements to the public transport in Merton and the neighbouring boroughs as it reduces car use and improves air quality. We'll be pushing to ensure that the proposals don't negatively impact on cycle routes, that the proposed stations and stops have good cycling and walking routes to them and that the space for the final scheme comes from private car lanes, not cycling space. If the tram is the eventually chosen then any places where cyclists cross the tracks must be well designed with the latest materials to avoid tramlining incidents.

MCC will be submitting a response to the consultation and would love to hear your views to feed into our response. Let us know what you think by: 


Or you can complete TfL's online survey by Sunday 6 January 2019 www.tfl.gov.uk/sutton-link

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Annual Report and re-election of Committee Members

We held our annual meeting for MCC as part of our monthly meeting on Thursday 4th October. Borough Co-ordinator Kathryn provided the annual report on our achievements over the last year, which you can read below, or download here if you prefer a PDF. 

Kathryn, Hugh, David and Philip were returned to their positions of Co-ordinator, Engineering Matters, Treasurer and Secretary. However, Philip announced his intention to hang up his pen and pencil next year, so we will be on the hunt for a new Secretary!

We’re always keen to welcome cyclists of all frequencies, types and speeds to get involved so if you want to be part of making Merton a better borough for cycling and active transport, please get in touch or come along to one of our monthly meetings - you don't need to be a member of  LCC to join us.

Executive Summary 

Merton Cycling Campaign have had a busy year, welcoming new members and seeing some of our ‘newer’ initiatives beginning to turn into ‘what we do’. As a group I am grateful for and proud of the support that the whole membership has shown me in my co-ordinator role, stepping up to share responsibility for chairing meetings, respond to queries, represent the group in different forums, and promote activity on social media.  

A large part of the year has been dominated by the Local Authority elections in May, and our regular Borough Liaison Meetings have continued to hold Merton to account, whilst we’ve also began to explore other ways that we can push for improvements. In policy terms we have strong foundations on which to build.

At our January meeting this year we took stock of what we wanted to achieve in relation to our three objectives to: 
  • Raising awareness of cycling issues in the borough
  • Campaigning to improve conditions for cycling in the borough 
  • Providing a range of services for members
We’ve made good starts on all of these, but there is room to do more.

Raising awareness of cycling issues in the borough

We set out to raise the profile of cycling in the borough by running a number of events and campaigns. 

At the request of Merton History Society, Hugh Morgan successfully delivered an event focussed on the Year of Women’s Suffrage in July, with a well-received talk on ‘Our Cycling Suffragette’ Rose Lamartine Yates. We have since submitted a Blue Plaque application to mark her work. 
Our ambition to hold a pollution reduction activity during the summer holidays and creating a leisure circuit that links the green spaces in the borough remain outstanding, but are good ideas that we can hopefully turn our attention to next year.  

Despite the trials and tribulations of implementing the new GDPR regulations, we’ve increased our public communications activity. In 2016-2017 we posted to facebook only 8 times; this year we have posted over 50 times, with a mix of MCC and LCC messages, with each post reaching up to 100 people. Engagement with each post is still in single figures, but is slowly increasing. Over the course of the year we’ve grown our page followers from 40 to 55. We’ve also increased our tweeting and promoted our events via LCC channels including the events listings, e-newsletter and Magazine insert. 

Campaigning to improve conditions for cycling in the borough 

We sought to work with London Borough of Merton to achieve: 
  • MCC considered as a key stakeholder by Merton in developing active travel strategies and plans and asked pro-actively for advice and ideas 
  • Better Quietways, in particular the Quietway between Sutton and Kingston 
  • Removal of the railings on Durnsford Rail Bridge
We are making some progress in this regard, building on the strong foundations that our regular liaison meetings with the Borough Cycling Officer provide us with. We were recently invited to participate in the establishment of an Active Travel group in Merton by the Healthy Places Officer working in the Public Health team at Merton Council.

Huge thanks must go to Hugh Morgan, Jim Wagner, Philip Box, Charles Barrabell and all others who take part in these regular meetings.

We took part in the Borough’s early consultation on developing the Local Plan and are ready to participate in the next round of development. 

We carried out a survey in April to inform our campaigning, with good results. We have an opportunity to make more these results and internalise the findings and incorporate them more into our own campaigning efforts. 

A large chunk of the first part of the year was given over to the Local Authority elections; we worked with Living Streets to jointly campaign for Merton to submit a high quality Liveable Neighbourhoods bid ahead of the next elections in 4 years. Disappointingly, the Administration has not engaged with us on this objective, but the campaign opened up relationships with both Living Streets, and Merton Park Residents Association, that are seeing us build relationships and be more aware of what is happening at a policy level. 

We supported Kingston CC in clarifying and supporting the proposals for the Quietways between Sutton and Kingston, providing some links with other outer London boroughs that we can begin to build on. 

Our campaigning to remove the recently installed railings on Durnsford Rail Bridge have reached a disappointing stalemate, with no explanation of why they have been installed and no willingness on the part of Merton officers to consider the reasons for their removal. 

As an outer borough we often feel cut off from the wider campaigning of LCC, focussed on inner London boroughs. We set out to strengthen our ties with LCC, and have managed sporadic attendance at the Local Groups Forum, and have submitted the only two group motions for the LCC AGM in October 2018. Raising our profile with LCC is one way to gain support and visibility for outer London boroughs, and we will need to build on this in the next year to create a constructive dialogue about how we can be better supported. 

Alongside that there is more for us to do to strengthen our relationships with the neighbouring borough groups. 

Providing a range of services for members 

To achieve this objective, we planned to host events and rides throughout the year to encourage people who live work and play in Merton to ride and build relationships to support our campaigning activity, and it turns out we’re quite a sociable bunch! 

We hosted our second Vernal Equinox Drinks in March, welcoming new faces and reconnecting with older ones. We once again hosted a successful summer bbq and participated in the Summer Solstice Ride to Richmond Park. We also increased the number of marshals supporting the Freecycle Feeder ride, and plans are afoot for our third winter warmer ride. 

Challenges ahead 

Like any small community group, we face the challenges of a small membership which is stretched for time. We will need to widen our membership, and attract new members if we are to build on our successes this year and begin to achieve our ambitions and vision for a borough that has safe and pleasant places that benefit individuals, local communities and the wider environment.