TfL Transparency Consultation Response.

Closing today is the TfL Transparency Consultation. I’ve just put in a relatively hurried response but I thought I’d share it in case anyone else finds it useful.

You can make your own response here.

I am particularly focussed on the question of data and how open and useful the data TfL is publishing is for transparency.

My particular experience comes from having been working within the London Cycle Campaign as an activist for some years and is mostly focussed around that. It strikes me that the kind of data that is suitable for TfL for customers who are passengers is not the same as the kind of data that is needed for TfL to interact with campaigners. Here follow some examples and suggestions.

Highway ownership, TLRN and SRN designations:

Within some existing data you are sharing the details of which roads are TfL or Borough controlled. However the situation is inevitably more complex with both the borough SRN typically having TfL input as part of LIPs via bus service targets but also TfL signals having input on key junctions. Regardless the only data set I am aware of in which you describe the ownership of the road is within the TfL release of STATS19. It would seem to be a reasonable request that some kind of open data was made of the ownership of roads.

Bus data:

It is possible to get the address of every bus stop, it is also possible to obtain live feeds of bus arrival data. However, it is not possible except with a lot of parsing to assess the bus traffic from timetabled services. I think a clear form of this data should be made available at street and stop level. It would help a lot in informing the debate around for example conflicts between bus and cycle traffic.

Collision data:

Collision data is still only published annually, in line with timings from the DfT for Britain as an island. Can some means be found for more regular publication to enable more informed debate upon both collisions and also to inform debate about measures like Operation Safeway. In addition, some form of reporting should be possible to rectify issues of omission especially on collisions felt to be serious.

Furthermore collision data should be linked back to hospital and police data to examine trends in some form. Again, this may be a DfT request but it is relevant in London given the political pressure on KSIs.

Traffic data:

TfL itself publishes only aggregate traffic data, but the DfT AADF provides some further useful data for campaigning. However, there are now a number of automatic data counters for cycling that are not openly published in any form. In particular to my knowledge there are TfL, Borough, Sustrans and Canal/River Trust sensors in London boroughs (and possibly more!) but nobody is drawing together this data and where it is combined in boroughs it is only with a lot of hard effort. Can TfL use it’s own funding and governance strength to get these into a single clear database and also enable some form of regular publication?

Consultation details:

A number of consultations for cycling are now produced in the form of maps. However, these are all too often so high level as to be useless. The Central London Grid map provided neither borough boundaries nor road names initially, and only added the former after some complaint. It seems obvious that some kind of interactive tool should be provided when considering networks and that it needs to combine much of the data discussed above on traffic, ownership, collisions and so on. This may be something that campaigners could best do themselves but that will require all data to be published openly and in usable formats. I would advocate some kind of stronger consultation platform from TfL which can help show the long term plans for cycling or other network development alongside the other key indicators.