Response to Boris Johnson’s “golden era” for cycling”

Dick had a letter published in The Guardian today:

London is “the world capital of the velocipede”, Boris Johnson boasted in 2013. A visit to any number of European countries that were taking investment in utility cycling seriously would have disabused him of his ludicrous claim. Now he promises “a golden era” for walking and cycling (Cycling ambitions for England move up a gear with No 10 plans, 27 July).

The last 10 years have been completely wasted for active travel, with no meaningful increase in cycling numbers, which remain pitifully low. One of the first acts of the coalition government in its “bonfire of the quangos” was to abolish Cycling England, which was effectively encouraging utility cycling with schemes such as Cycling Demonstration Towns. Since then, local council funding has been squeezed so hard that very little investment has gone into cycling.

So what awaits the next decade for active travel? Without sustained and generous levels of investment, we can expect not a golden era but a tinpot one.

Posted in Cycling | 1 Comment

New cycle infrastructure in south Lancaster

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Spotted today on a meandering walk towards Lancaster University: a new shared-use path (above) which links the A6 with Collingham Park/Bentham Road.  It goes round EDD2EDB7-36A1-4829-9507-8D3D835E9644the back of the new Aiken Meadow housing estate (so, meadow no more). It joins the A6 almost opposite the muddy footpath which joins up with Uggle Lane/Cinder Lane.

Also photographed is the yet-to-open shared-use path from Bailrigg Lane to the Health Innovation Campus/sports complex/Bigforth Drive. Judging from the lampposts, it will be lit.

Posted in A6, Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling, Lancaster, shared-use paths | 1 Comment

Planning application for 55 houses on Ashton Road

89C8799E-8B4C-4D6E-9543-09037A659D0FThere is currently a planning application (20/00305) for 55 houses on Ashton Road, between Pinewood Close and the canal.

Dynamo has objected as follows:

While Dynamo recognises the importance of increasing housing provision, we object to this specific application on the following grounds.

1.   SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

The application recognises the need for sustainable transport, but section 4.4 of the Transport Assessment makes it clear that there are no realistic measures to provide for it (contravening sections 102 and 103 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2019). As it currently stands, it simply adds to the burden on the existing roads. Without any suitable provision for cycling the vast majority of journeys will be made by car, resulting in additional pollution, congestion, and inactivity in the area and having a negative impact on the existing road network for all road users, including cyclists.

1.1   ASHTON ROAD

Numerous important destinations are potentially within a 20-minute cycle journey of this site, but current traffic conditions on Ashton Road make it unattractive for many would-be cyclists. Specifically, there is no dedicated cycle provision between this site and Lancaster city centre (for shops, railway station) and beyond (Salt Ayre leisure centre or Asda, a 22-minute cycle ride away), or Booths supermarket on the A6. Despite having a 30 mph speed limit, Ashton Road carries fast traffic and is reduced to a single carriageway outside De Vitre cottages. Existing provision for both walking and cycling is thus inadequate given the actual speed of traffic along this road. The section between Cherry Tree Drive and Haverbreaks Road is a somewhat hairy cycle ride in the rush hour – particularly when heading south, with the wall of the Jamea Al Kauthar College on one side and lorries on the other. The cycle lanes on Ashton Road referred to in the Transport Statement are intermittent, narrow, and unprotected.

The Transport Statement notes the utility of links to the Morecambe Bay Cycleway (section 5.3.4), but still fails to recognise the need to provide safe access to it from the development site itself.

This highlights the importance of making Ashton Road suitable for everyday utility cycling, in addition to the other benefits that increased levels of active travel provide for congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and improved public health. These aspects reflect Lancaster City Council’s Climate Emergency policy.

With particular regard to active travel and public health, the recent lockdown has clearly demonstrated that there is a considerable potential for increased levels of cycling in the region, but only where ordinary members of the public consider that conditions for cycling are sufficiently safe. Suitable provision for cycling along Ashton Road could be implemented either by providing a protected route for cyclists, or by implementing traffic calming measures to manage traffic speeds to within the speed limit without increasing conflicts with cyclists.

1.2   ASHFORD ROAD/CASPIAN WAY

Realistically the only local facilities that can be reached by walking within a reasonable time frame are in the vicinity of the Boot and Shoe, a 20-minute walk away. Ashford Road is a reasonable route (once you reach it), but there is a bottleneck between Cinder Lane and the A6 and the footway disappears. Extra traffic on this road would render it less attractive for active travel.

Ashford Road footway opposite the cemetery is very narrow (certainly not wide enough for 2 people) and so overhung with vegetation that you have to step into the road to avoid it. Section 4.3.6 of the Transport Statement makes it clear that there will be no widening of this footway. The developer will merely fund the pruning of vegetation – almost as if this needed to be done only once rather than regularly.

Traffic calming measures along this road are in a poor state of repair, but are extremely important for managing traffic speeds along this important link for walking and cycling. Improving the standard of traffic calming measures should be considered as a minimum here.

Buses use the link between Ashford Road and Caspian Way (section 4.3.4), even if only for parking, meaning that the route (with no pavement) is not vehicle-free for walking and cycling.

1.3   CANAL TOWPATH

The canal towpath between Deep Cutting and Aldcliffe Road is – as the transport statement acknowledges – primarily a leisure route (section 3.4.17). Without proper maintenance or lighting, it cannot be considered an all-weather, 24/7 route, and it cannot be made wide enough to meet County Council guidelines for a “proper” cycle route. Therefore Ashton Road is the only option as a promoted cycle route.

2.   ACCESSIBILITY SCORE

The planning application for the previous development on this site (15/01342) included an accessibility score which was borderline. There is no accessibility score provided for this development. If there are plans to develop the field to the south of Pinewood Close (as implied in the meeting with County 29.8.2019), it seems incredibly short-sighted not to re-assess accessibility.

3.   UNCERTAIN PLANS

It is premature to permit large-scale development on this or other sites while the plans for the Bailrigg Garden Village/South Lancaster area are still unformed. We have no idea what plans there will be for safe cycling and walking infrastructure between Lancaster city centre and BGV or how satellite developments, like this one, would link into them.

4.   OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

We would draw your attention to the current planning application for 72 residences at Pathfinders Drive off Ashton Road (19/01568/FUL). If both that and this current applications are permitted, the knock-on impact on the local road network without mitigating measures would be substantial.

We are also concerned that at some future date there will be a planning application on the land to the south of Pinewood Close (Transport Statement 6.1.3), as with the previous application (ref 15/01342). The minutes of the meeting held 29.8.2019 (Transport Statement) between the County Council and the developer imply that this is still the case:

“DJ explained the Curtins was currently working to c.130 units (80 on the southern parcel, 50 on the northern parcel) albeit these numbers are not yet fixed. This is a similar number to that previously proposed”

Is it possible that planning applications will be made piecemeal, and as a consequence will circumvent the need for coherent sustainable transport provision? This would be deeply concerning.

5.   AIR QUALITY CONSIDERATIONS

Since Lancaster city centre is an Air Quality Management Area, and has been failing air quality standards for many years, it is inappropriate to permit this development without some measures being taken to ensure that travel between it and the city centre can be made safely and without contributing further to the existing air pollution problems. The Pointer roundabout and South Road are likely to be particularly affected.

6.   PUBLIC HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

Since the cost of physical inactivity in Lancashire is estimated to be over £22 million per year, and over 15% of adults in Lancaster are considered to be inactive (reference https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/media/899640/physical-activity-report-and-resources-2016.pdf, page 3), providing improved facilities for safe active travel between this development and the city centre should be a priority.

7.   CROSSING ASHTON ROAD

It is unclear if there is to be a pedestrian crossing with signals across Ashton Road to the development site, or if there is simply a pedestrian refuge.

8.   SO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

The announcement in the March budget that £140 million will be made available from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to develop area of south Lancaster offers the opportunity to put in place good-quality sustainable transport infrastructure that will reassure everybody – not just existing cyclists – that short journeys can easily be made by bicycle or on foot.
Dynamo has made proposals in the past about this area (e.g. a new route parallel to the railway line, cycle lanes on the A6, some kind of link on Ashton Road between Cherry Tree Drive and Haverbreaks Road) and, once again, we would urge the City Council to build such infrastructure before the first homeowners move in so that sustainability is ingrained from the very start.

With regard to this particular development, the developer could use some of the land to provide a good-quality shared-use path along the full length of the site on its western boundary with Ashton Road as far as the canal bridge. Move the pedestrian crossing/refuge to the canal bridge so that you can safely cross the road.

Posted in Cycling, Lancaster, planning applications | 2 Comments

Cycling on the pavement

Prompted by a tragic incident not so far away last weekend, we have been thinking about how safe people are walking around the city.  We often hear about how much of a danger people cycling on pavements are to people walking, and this is a very understandable concern.  Whilst Dynamo doesn’t encourage people to do do this, we do recognise that riding bikes on the roads surrounded by lots of much larger and faster vehicles can be very scary, and understand why some people might feel that they need to ride on the pavement in order to complete their journeys safely.

So what is the law and what are the dangers to pedestrians of pavement cycling?

Legislation

Riding on the pavement is an offence under section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 and Section 129.5 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. Both these laws apply equally to drivers and cyclists and prohibit the ‘driving or riding of a carriage on the part of the highway set apart for traffic on foot’ (the footway).

For cyclists, this is set out in Rule 64 of the Highway Code, which states that ‘you MUST NOT cycle on the pavement.’ This also applies to children, although as those under 10 years old are below the age of criminal responsibility, they cannot be prosecuted.

On 1st August 1999, new legislation came into force to allow a fixed penalty notice to be served on anyone who is guilty of cycling on a footway. However, the then Home Office Minister Paul Boateng issued a letter stating that:

The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of traffic and who show consideration to other pavement users when doing so. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.

In 2014, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, reiterated this view in a letter to a cycling campaigner saying :

I agree that the police should be using discretion in enforcing this law and would support Paul Boateng’s original guidance.” The Association of Chief Police Officers subsequently re-issued the following guidance on fines for people cycling on the pavement;

The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users. Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required.

People riding bikes on the pavement can be fined, but one would usually only be issued in cases where the manner of riding was inconsiderate and likely to cause a danger to other users of the pavement.

Dangers to pedestrians

So, what are the facts about the dangers to pedestrians on our streets and are people riding bikes really a danger to people walking? Out of close to 1,800 deaths that occur on our roads annually, around 450 of them are pedestrians and most of these are killed in incidents where motor vehicles are involved. Only around 1 per cent of people who are killed while they are walking are hit by people on bikes. Most of these crashes occur in the roads, but some do happen on pavements.

The real threat to pedestrians on pavements

A report for RoadPeace (February 2020) found that 548 pedestrians were killed on the supposed safe haven of pavements or verges between 2005 and 2018. The overwhelming majority (542) of deaths involved motor vehicles, with just 6 pedestrian-cycle footway collisions over 13 years.  

Below are some examples of crashes where pedestrians have been killed on pavements earlier this year. All involved motor vehicles. The most recent of these happened just last weekend when a father and his two children were all killed whilst enjoying a Father’s Day walk on a road with a 30 mph speed limit in Dalton in Furness.

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Armadillos in Salford

armadillos(No, not a report of unusual wildlife.)

In partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester, Salford City Council trialled protected cycle lanes in 2 trial sites, using pre-cast dividing features (armadillos) to deter vehicles from entering a mandatory cycle lane.

The results of the trial are here; basically, Salford intends installing more.

Interestingly, the Department for Transport does not consider armadillos to be traffic signs or road markings, so they don’t require DfT signs authorisation. It’s up to the individual highway authority to decide whether or not to install them.

Could armadillos work on South Road?

(Dynamo was impressed by armadillos spotted in London in 2015.)

Posted in A6, City and County Councils, Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling | Leave a comment

Housing numbers for south Lancaster

Dynamo has tried to find out more detail about the numbers of new homes planned for south Lancaster (ranging from 3,500 to 9,135) and has received the following response from Lancashire County Council:

Lancashire Count Council notes your specific query relates to the housing numbers and the varying figures quoted. It may help to clarify that the different numbers relate to different spatial areas and timescales as they were produced for different purposes. For example the 3,500 figure you mention on your blog is purely the number of homes estimated to be in the garden village site. However, the HIF infrastructure is designed to unlock sites across a wider area than just the garden village, and also includes an allowance for the future beyond the current local plan period (ie beyond 2031) and these are what has informed a notional total of 9,185.

However, Lancashire County Council must stress that these are estimates and all sites, including the garden village itself, will still be required to go through all relevant planning processes (which include extensive public consultation) and must align with any adopted local plans and area action plans. We hope this helps explain why there are differing figures in differing documents.

Posted in A6, City and County Councils, Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling, Lancaster, planning applications | Tagged | 2 Comments

Cycling along South Road now

South Road 1

A Dynamo member has made a short video of what it’s like cycling along South Road with the new pop-up cycle lanes.  It’s clear they provide some protection now that traffic levels have increased post-lockdown.  (Sadly, there’s nothing being done at present about air pollution.)

While the lanes aren’t perfect – either for cyclists or for residents – they do provide some protection (as Dynamo has been arguing for for years) in the short term.  In the longer term an alternative separation that is not as intrusive as bollards but more effective than paint is needed – along with a 20mph limit and reduction in HGVs – and is what we hope to see.

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Lune flood defence wall update

mcdonaldsThis is the latest newsletter from Volker Stevin, the contractors working on the River Lune flood defence wall on behalf of Lancaster City Council.

Basically, despite Covid-19, work is continuing and completion is still planned by May 2021.  Currently they are working on installing the flood wall along the millennium cycle path.  Later in the year they will move to the opposite bank to work on the flood defences there.  The visitor centre on Caton Road remains closed to the public.

For cyclists, note that the river path behind the Holiday Inn is supposed to be CLOSED now (although reports are that it was still open on 7 June).

And, now that traffic is increasing, take care on the Caton Road diversion.  For one thing, McDonald’s has re-opened!  (Photo from the Lancaster Guardian website.)

Posted in Cycling, River Lune | 2 Comments

South Road pop-up cycle lane

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South Road, Lancaster

A cycle lane has popped up on South Road, Lancaster, as part of Lancashire County Council’s temporary measures for safe travel plus social distance.

Update: by the end of the day pop-up lanes had appeared on both sides of South Road.

NB: This is a temporary measure under Covid-19 legislation, for which prior consultation is not required.

Posted in City and County Councils, Cycling | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Small updates from Lancashire County Council

To keep you up to date:

1.   We have had a response from Lancashire County Council to Dick’s letter at the end of April about re-allocating road space for active travel/social distancing.  Work is ongoing (and covers the whole county) and we learn that the County Council has “created a cross service working group to identify, design and implement measures for priority active travel interventions and to facilitate safe travel to primary schools, in addition to other work streams including travel planning and communications”.

2.   Re worn-out road markings:  we have learned that the County Council has put aside funds to replace faded markings. In Lancaster, priority will be given to city-centre lanes and advanced stop lines. No date yet.

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