#Croydon #TechCity and Cycling


By - Monday 27th May, 2013

Kristian Gregory explains how ‘cycling culture’ could be the engine room of Croydon’s tech revolution

 


If you keep an eye on Croydon’s twitter community you can’t have missed the activity surrounding Jonny Rose’s vision for a Tech City in Croydon.  You may have also caught his article on how the Croydon Tech City vision is compatible with the politics of all the major parties.

Perhaps his ideas for the Green Party seemed little quirky and eccentric to you, though:

“If I were the Green party, I would look to the cycling culture that goes hand-in-handlebar with tech ecosystems. One cannot walk through east London’s Tech City (the name given to a cluster of 400 tech firms near the Old Street roundabout) without failing to see the curious sight of grown men in purple trousers rushing to meetings on fixies.”

After all, surely you can have technical innovations without fixies and purple trousers?

Creating an environment in which many people cycle is a key element of creating a highly liveable modern city

There is a strong correlation globally between tech cities and cycling culture. However, we know correlation is not causation, so writing off the absurd suggestion that tech enterprises cause cycling cultures (or that cycling cultures create tech enterprises), why does this correlation exist?

In order to support a thriving tech sector a city will need to do three key things.

  • Educate, encourage and develop local talent
  • Retain local talent
  • Supplement the workforce with international talent

Technically competent people are in great demand around the world. This means that these people are highly mobile. They can choose any city in the world to live and be sure of securing work. So if you want to retain your local talent and attract international talent, your city is going to need to be an attractive place to live. This is where cycling comes in. Creating an environment in which many people cycle is a key element of creating a highly liveable modern city.

When we have parents and children cycling around town, we will know that Croydon has become the sort of place that people will want to live

By designing a city fit for cycling and walking you will encourage many more people to travel by these means, which translates into far fewer journeys by car. With far fewer journeys being made by car, air pollution levels plummet. Noise pollution dissipates. The frequency and severity of road collisions fall. Congested roads become a thing of the past. Urban space can now be reallocated to create new green spaces, plant new trees, create play areas for children, and provide outside seating for cafés.

Meanwhile, the population becomes healthier from the regular exercise. Recent trends in rising obesity and rising levels of respiratory diseases (particularly among children) are reversed. Healthy people require fewer sick days, saving local businesses money. Healthy people place a much smaller demand on health services. Savings from this reduction in demand allow for health services to focus their funds on a smaller number of cases, creating an increase in the quality of care.

Croydon currently has very few tech entrepreneurs and start ups, and very few cyclists. What cyclists you do see in Croydon bear the hallmarks of an unhealthy environment for encouraging cycling: Hi-vis clothing, lycra, helmets, and anti-pollution masks. When these are no more and we have cyclists in Croydon wearing ordinary clothes, and parents and children cycling around town, we will know that Croydon has become the sort of place that people will want to live. The sort of place that can attract and retain the best talent.


Interested? Don’t miss Emily Brooke (of cycling accessory startup Blaze Components) at Croydon Tech City’s ‘Women in Tech’ event on Thursday 30th May at 7:30pm at Matthews Yard, Croydon.

Kristian Gregory

Kristian Gregory

Kristian is a software developer and volunteer with the Croydon Cycling Campaign.

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  • Anne Giles

    I am not a fan of cyclists at all, especially when they go through red traffic lights.

    • Kristian

      oh is it the transport bigotry game? Can I play?

      I am not a fan of train passengers at all, especially when they talk on their phones

      I am not a fan of pedestrians at all, especially when they cross the road without looking

      I am not a fan of motorcyclists at all, especially when they speed

      I am not a fan of aeroplane passengers at all, especially when they put their seat back DURING LUNCH!

      I am not a fan of car drivers at all, especially when they run over my neighbours

      • Anne Giles

        Not bigotry at all. Many cyclists are very prejudiced against car drivers. How a disabled person is supposed to get out and about AND carry shopping without a car is anyone’s guess. I can neither stand or walk for very long. Motorcyclists are fine, provided they are properly trained. I report the speeding ones. Pedestrians also fine, particularly when they use zebra crossings rather than crossing in the middle of the road. Aeroplane passengers fine, but putting their seats back during the day causes problems for the person behind. Train passengers great, as long as mobile calls are done quietly, not shouting! As far as cyclists are concerned, we are having problems with a group of 4/5 adults who are coming down the alleyway into our street, when it is illegal, as they could knock the children down who are playing there. I am sending an e-mail to our local Safer Neighbourhood Team about them later.

        • Ashley

          So in other words Anne, everyone is fine as long as they behave like reasonable people. Except for cyclists, who you hate universally because of 4-5 adults causing a problem?

          As far as car drivers are concerned, we are having problems with a group of 40-50 adults who are coming down our street, next to a school, in excess of 30mph, which is illegal, as they could KILL children who are walking to school or playing outside. We aren’t talking ‘knocking’, at these speeds they would KILL or seriously injure.

          Should I hate all car drivers because of the behaviour of this reckless 40-50?

          • Anne Giles

            Take down their registration numbers and pass them on to police.

          • Ashley

            Until the drivers hit a child, there’s nothing the police can do without evidence from a proper speed trap.

            How many people do you think have been seriously injured by cyclists so far this year in Croydon?

            Here’s a small sample of the people killed or seriously injured by motorists:

            Motorcyclist seriously injures teenager: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/10382794.Teenage_pedestrian_seriously_injured_in_motorbike_crash/

            Car driver kills pedestrian: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/10322161.Pedestrian_killed_in_car_crash_named/

            Car driver kills pedestrian: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/10233217.Woman_killed_in_Purley_road_crash/

            Van kills child: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/10311802.UPDATE__Toddler_killed_by_van_after_pushchair__blown_by_wind__into_road/

            Car driver seriously injures girl: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/10392883.Girl_taken_to_hospital_after_being_hit_by_car_in_Thornton_Heath/

            What’s the biggest danger to children on the roads, do you think?

          • Anne Giles

            I can see that you are an argumentative person, so there is not much point in carrying on with this. :-)

          • Ashley

            Not argumentative – evidence-based decision making. I’m happy to change my mind if you can produce evidence contrary to my point of view.

          • Anne Giles

            I have heard all this before. I have a nephew who always goes on and on about “evidence”. Can’t be bothered. Too time consuming and I fancy a bit of fun and relaxation.

          • David Fisher

            So it’s fine for you to respond to a perfectly reasonable article with a insulting and dismissive 17-word reply, but heaven forbid anyone try to call you out on it?

            Please go back and re-read your second comment (“Not bigotry at all…”), and please try and understand how ridiculous it is as an argument against cycling.

          • Anne Giles

            No time. Sorry.

          • David Fisher

            Then don’t expect others to have any time for you.

          • Anne Giles

            Strange, then, that I receive over 100 Christmas cards every year and I am constantly being invited to things.

          • David Fisher

            Good God, are you really this obtuse? I don’t care how many Christmas cards you recieve. I’m simply saying that if you cannot be bothered to listen and engage with others’ points of view, then why should others extend you the same courtesy? You are basically inviting your opinion to be ignored.

          • Anne Giles

            There is no point in engaging with your particular point of view, because arguments are a complete waste of time. You have your view. I have mine. End of. You may feel free to ignore my opinion as well. I don’t mind that either. Go and find someone else to argue with. As in the famous John Cleese sketch: “I would like to book an argument, please!.

          • David Fisher

            Right, well, I guess that’s that. Arguments are a complete waste of time, and there’s no point engaging with anyone about anything (how do you know what “my particular point of view” is, anyway? You didn’t even ask!). In that case, I’m genuinely bewildered as to why you commented in the first place.

          • Anne Giles

            Never mind. :-)

        • Steve Lawlor

          Campaigning against the dangerous drivers in the UK, how is that prejudiced against car drivers?

          If they can’t be bothered to treat other road users in a respectable manner, they shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car, lorry etc.

    • Steve Lawlor

      Why do car supporters (such as yourself) ignore all the cars that go through traffic lights Anne? If you are gonna complain about people who go through red lights, at least be consistant and stop picking on cyclists.

      • Anne Giles

        I report bad car drivers as well, as it happens. Road rage, white van drivers, etc.

        • Steve Lawlor

          But do you admit they go though red lights? As you appear to think that “only cyclists” do this.

  • http://mrqwest.co.uk/ Anthony Killeen

    The problem with Croydon is that it’s a very car-orientated town. The council aren’t doing enough to encourage healthier lifestyles (lord knows how any cyclist would attempt the Fairfield roundabout!!) – I’ve not ridden a cycle in Croydon for 4 years (bike was stolen back then) so now I run for exercise. It’s a bit easier for me running on pavements but its still no walk in the park! (Pun intended).

    I would love to see dedicated cycle lanes kerbed off from roads and not just a line painted 2ft from the kerb. I’d love to see some amazing forest trails to run / cycle around the beautiful countryside that surrounds Croydon (not tucking in on narrow lanes avoiding speeding drivers) but the sad fact is, the roads are what will bring in customers to the retail haven that is Croydon.

    • Anne Giles

      You should see the marvellous cycle lanes in Copenhagen!

      • http://mrqwest.co.uk/ Anthony Killeen

        That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It goes against the councils vision of Croydon as a retail hub, not tech / innovation hub…

        • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

          Tbf to the council they have applied for a portion of the funding that was announced to upgrade to Dutch style cycle networks. Even though I have a bicycle I think its a shame if we don’t get the chance to also be the pilot outer london borough for Boris bikes.

          • Kristian

            Hey Wes,

            The council hasn’t applied for a portion of the funding for the ‘mini Hollands’. TFL hasn’t laid out the guidance for them to do this yet so the application process is currently undefined. They are working on their cycling strategy in the mean time and hopefully this will lead to an ambitious set of plans when the application process is laid out in more detail.

          • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

            Ok then the article in the Guardian was a bit misleading then.

          • Anne Giles

            But when it comes to lots of shopping, a car is essential. Also essential for families with children. Another thing is that one can go from A to B to C in a car, whereas by public transport a journey can take a good hour longer.

          • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

            Its fair enough driving if the journey is long, you need to get something thats too heavy to get back home on public transport or you have a disability or condition that hinders long journeys on foot but there are too many people using cars for short journeys that are within walking distance.

            The flipside the argument is the internet quashes the need for everyone to need a car to get loads of shopping. The only reason I can see why you wouldn’t want to use internet shopping is because you want to pick everything yourself.

            I’d like to see the autolib car scheme make an appearance over here. Thats another problem that people own cars but they don’t use it 24hrs a day so could share the use of a vehicle. Theres too many journeys with 4/5 seat vehicles with one person in it. More carpooling would reduce the traffic on roads as well.

          • Anne Giles

            When I lived in Argentina, police would stop drivers if there was a public transport strike and make them give people lifts. I have often given people lifts here when the weather was bad. A lot of mothers are too lazy to walk their kids to school and the children don’t get enough exercise. Of course, some mothers have to go by car, as they need to get to work straight from there. I don’t do internet shopping, as I really hate having to stay at home waiting for parcels!

          • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

            I’d heard about that couldn’t remember which country it was but thought it was Cuba, maybe they do it there as well. There was a man on dragons den who came up with a chiller box for internet food shopping to be left in should you be out that only you and the driver could access. I think they didn’t go for it but seemed like a good idea to me. Probable felt the market was too small to make enough money.

          • Anne Giles

            If they left anything outside my door it would get pinched.

          • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

            Was like a wheelie bin but it could be locked so only you and the driver had access, I guess you’d have to remove the whole box and its metal where the money is. Thats why my beloved £500 bicycle got nicked in Coventry and years before the brakes got stolen on dingwall ave while I was at work in Allders.

          • Steve Lawlor

            Many people survive without a car Anne, I know you can’t manage without one, but there are too many cars on the road as it is.

          • Anne Giles

            That is true. I disagree with parents buying cars for their offspring. We used public transport when going out as teenagers or in our early twenties. One of our neighbours has four children. Two of them now have cars, when the other two are older they will have cars too. That is crazy. My parents bought me half a bicycle. I paid for the rest.

        • Kristian

          There have been some studies of shops in NY where bike lanes have been laid down and they’ve seen increases in sales. Other studies have shown cyclists visit more regularly, and spend more in total. So I don’t see that it’s necessary to pour hundreds more cars into the borough in order for it to also work as a retail hub. Public transport links are excellent from across London and a park and ride scheme to the south could work for those driving in from Kent/Surrey.

          However, I don’t think the hammerfield developers see it that way, and I think you are right that their view of what is necessary for a retail hub is currently in conflict with our hopes of a more people-oriented city. I also think they will be the ones pouring the pressure on the politicians for attracting customers who travel by car. If politicians yield to this it is likely to result in junctions such as Purley Cross being redesigned to support a higher volume of traffic, whereas this junction should be being redesigned with the goal of making it safe and pleasant for cycling.

          There may be money for improving roads for cars, and money available for improving cycling, but something has to be compromised when it comes to redesigning a junction, and I do fear that cycling will continue to be low on the priority list at such times.

          • http://mrqwest.co.uk/ Anthony Killeen

            Kristian, I completely agree with the Studies, *most* cyclists will be travelling slower than cars, hence more chance to view shopfronts and lets be honest, it’s a lot easier to stop a bike, jump off, lock it up & visit rather than trying to find a parking space for a car that’s not too expensive and remotely close to the shop. Chances are, you’ll think “I’ll come back later” and inevitably don’t.

            Of course Hammerfield haven’t thought about that. They get money from drivers for parking so they’ll be encouraging drivers to come to hammerfield as much as possible. As much as Croydon Council want the Hammerfield development to increase Croydon’s retail offering, Hammerfield are in it for the money, and only the money.

            Ultimately, having a centre like Hammerfield slap bang in the centre of Croydon will only mean more traffic being diverted to the center of Croydon. I can’t see things getting ANY easier for cyclists :(

          • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

            I find that cycling cause I do loads of photography and as you say its so much easier to spot things and just stop to snap something or in terms of shopping stop and chain up. What I’ve noticed is a large portion of our population expects to be able to drive everywhere even if its very easy to get there by public transport and I wonder who needs to stop and say no enoughs enough. On my page people complain about how developments like Saffron square don’t have a parking space for every flat and I get frustrated thinking well look how close these places are to two big train stations.

            I’ve heard Westfield are supposed to be contributing to the redevelopment of West Croydon station which has the full sized bicycle friendly Overground. Thinking about all my bike journeys to Stratford city it doesn’t have dutch style cycle lanes but it does have quite a bit of parking for bikes and lanes on pavements in parts. Personally I think we need such a brand in town with what we all have to admit is a modern half dead mall and an old dead mall. I’d like to definitely see more provision for cycling and with the plan to have the cut through from Wellesley road to north end to increase permeation I’m sure they are up for this.

            When I compared Westfields presentation to Hammersons it seemed Westfield had thought things out far more. Hammerson was just talking about the malls and saying they want to focus the whitgift towards centrale but Westfield was talking about research into why Wellesly rd doesn’t work. Seemed it was down to the fact coming into Whitgift if you come from West Croydon you have to head south go round the junction up at fairfield.

            It seems they are also up for the councils narrowing of Wellesley rd so I’m hoping since theres gonna be more than enough room they have lanes where the rod has been removed. But we should make sure they know that those of us that do cycle are very passionate about the upgrade of our networks being upgraded is something thats also very important.

          • http://mrqwest.co.uk/ Anthony Killeen

            Good points Wes.

            I think generally, it comes down to laziness. It’s more convenient to drive everywhere in a car than get onto public transport and share with others.

            Regarding the comments you’ve got about Saffron Sq and the lack of parking, you’ve got to remember that sometimes, a car is just easier. Have you tried getting on a bus with £150s worth of Tesco shopping? That’s difficult in itself (lets not forget the 15 minute walk from the bus stop to home after), but factor in a couple of kids and all of a sudden, the car is a very attractive offering. I’ll stop there because I don’t want this to turn into a pro-car comment as it’s not.

            Ultimately, someone dropped the ball in the 60′s and made Croydon a concrete mess. Who’s bright idea was the current Wellesley Road? Croydon is a town for cars.

            I’ve not seen any plans for the future of Wellesley Rd, but seeing the current daily gridlock on there at rush hour, I shudder to think how bad that’ll be when Hammerfield open up. And if, like you said, the council are planning on reducing the width of Wellesley Rd, it’ll be utter mayhem.

            It’s a great idea to improve provision for cycling to Croydon / Hammerfield but 90% of visitors to Hammerfield will be there for a shopping trip. They’re not going to cycle their if they plan to leave with 10 bags worth of new clothes…

          • Wesley Jordan Anthony Baker

            With Saffron sq I think people are forgetting its not aimed at people who would have families they work in central london so would see it as a great close flat next to or close to the station. Like how all these other places in Ldn have boomed cause they have tube stations that get you to the city. With Saffron sq its about 100 metres from Sainsburys if Tesco express is too lacking variety. Isn’t buying so much food as convienient as it is in one go not really a great thing due to food wastage unless its all frozen I guess.

            Yh when I was living in Coventry you could see the car being the way ahead was even more of a strong ideology and its really ruined that city. Tbh I do like the Wellesley road in terms of its scale and grandness and must be one of the few cyclist to ride along it but definitely not the fairfield end. Your always too outnumbered up there to be able to change lane so I turned down George st and go along high street to get to the south end of town. But ldn rd and brighton rd are such great routes for commuting into town and would be great to see more people utilising it.

            I agree many will drive but then I also think of how for the 1st year Stratford city closed its car parks and even after the Olympics they didn’t open for quite sometime. From my observations most of the shoppers seem to arrive by train so I’m really hoping thats the case here as I can’t see a major influx coming in by bicycle either.

            There was a show on C4 years back where a lady tried to get people to cycle or at least walk and she had all the attitudes of drivings safer for the school run and faster. Took a lot of effort but she finally made them realise school runs are unsafe cause loads of people drive and you just end up in jams, Do you think the tech people like the ones around old street just ultimately have a totally different attitude and would a campaign help. Like the poster that has the car and bicycle and says this one makes you fat and eats money, this one eats fat and saves you money.