A plan developed by campaigners wanting to transform their borough and the way people move within it
Hackney Cycling Campaign released our Vision for Hackney in May 2020, detailing how the borough’s streets can be transformed. We categorised all roads in the borough, identified all the existing interventions, and then highlighted all the interventions that would ensure that the borough’s roads are fit for the 21st Century.
The Vision allows us to be proactive in pushing for more and grander changes. Rather than fighting for each additional filter or cycle track, and responding to each consultation in isolation, we are now able to present a vision for how all streets in the borough can interact, what the priority for each road should be, and how each area of the borough can be improved. Residents, businesses, Councillors and Council Officers can now see the Hackney Vision and the justification for why particular changes are needed.
Creating the Vision for Hackney
The process of creating the Vision started in summer 2019 with a presentation given by one of our members on the approach that has been taken in the Netherlands from the 1970s onwards. Since then the Netherlands have created the infrastructure that has enabled the highest rates of cycling in the world.
As in the Netherlands, we approached the Vision with a sustainable safety approach, which is designed to prevent crashes, with 4 core principles:
- Functionality of roads
Each road and street should do just one thing – you don’t encourage speeding through traffic down residential roads.
- Homogeneity of mass, speed and direction
Differences in speed and mass of different users in the same space should be minimised and ideally eliminated – you separate a lorry doing 30mph from a child pedalling at 5mph.
- Instantly recognisable road design
All users on a road should instantly understand what they can expect and what is expected of them on each road: you don’t turn a corner and suddenly find a car coming the other way.
- Forgiving environments
A recognition that everyone makes mistakes: roads should be designed so people don’t get hurt as a result.
Mapping the Vision
With these principles in mind, we ran a series of workshops, and categorised every road into one of three categories: Main road (red), connector road (blue) and local access road (green). We further subdivided the local access roads, to those which are currently adequately addressed and those that should become ‘green’ with the right interventions. The purpose of creating these characterisations is to help identify the type of treatment that is necessary on each street. Having categorised the streets, we identified low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).
Mapping the existing filters, bus gates, School Streets and other interventions also demonstrated where new interventions are required. We identified how each LTN could be created, the requirements for the boundary roads, and identified where new public spaces could be created using existing road space.
The exercise of creating a borough-wide vision ensures that we can present our long term plans, and encourage the Council to ensure that any new developments will comply with these. Creating the borough-wide Vision allows us to present each small intervention within a bigger context than has been possible previously.
Replicating the Vision exercise in other boroughs
We think that the vision processes can be replicated in other boroughs. However, in Hackney we do have some advantages that may not be replicated elsewhere.
Firstly, Hackney Council is pro-cycling, and both the directly-elected Mayor and the Councillor responsible for transport, Jon Burke, agree with the Hackney Cycling Campaign that the borough’s roads can be improved, and that increasing the share of walking, cycling and public transport trips is essential if we are to tackle some of the major problems faced by the borough, including air pollution, the obesity crisis and climate change.
Secondly, the council has been at the forefront of installing modal filters and creating low traffic streets. There are well over 100 existing modal filters in the borough, and while many are recent, others have been in place for decades. Similarly, Hackney Council are at the forefront of introducing School Streets. We therefore have a good starting point, and we can also easily demonstrate to any sceptics that filtering streets can indeed be beneficial and popular.
Hackney Council has until recently shunned any protected cycling routes. This objection to protected routes has been removed recently, and two schemes have now been installed over the past year, and there seems to be a recognition in the council that more protected cycle routes are required if the scale of change that is required will be achieved.
Whatever the context in your borough, the process of undertaking the Vision would be beneficial to local groups. The Vision allows a bird’s eye view for others to see possibilities that may not otherwise be clear, and to encourage them to engage with it and to imagine a new reality. The Vision will also be the basis for responses to our consultations from now on. We can now point to a whole plan, and encourage those critics to back the big vision, and see how an individual intervention would fit in a bigger masterplan.
Main image: Hackney Cycling Campaign