Lancashire County Council elections – 6 May 2021

Lancashire County Council is the highways authority for our district. They are the ones who decide what (if anything) the budget is for cycling infrastructure, what gets built, what gets maintained, etc.

On Thursday 6 May you have the opportunity to vote for your local county councillor – one of more than 80 who make up the county council. Before casting your vote, why not get in touch with the candidates to ask them about active travel measures that matter to you? It may seem like a drop in the ocean, but by doing so you are raising the profile of cycling and encouraging the candidate – possibly for the first time ever – to give it and active travel/sustainable transport some thought.

It does require some detective work to find the contact details for all candidates. Often there are only addresses, but you may be able to contact some through the website of the local political party they belong to.

A full list of candidates is available on the Lancashire County Council website.

Websites for local political parties should be able to pass on your queries to candidates:

Queries you may have:

Posted in City and County Councils, Cycling | 2 Comments

The canal towpath south of Lancaster: an active travel corridor? Really?

From pp 68-69 of the Bailrigg Garden Village Final Masterplan March 2021

There are two proposed new developments in south Lancaster/Galgate. One is Bailrigg Garden Village, and the other is Ellel Holiday Village. The first intends to build 3,500-5,000 homes in south Lancaster; the second some 450 holiday lodges plus a hotel south of Galgate. How many people is that? 10,000 residents plus 1,000 holidaymakers at peak periods, perhaps?

There is a feeling in the air that the canal towpath can provide a sustainable transport link for these developments and many of the trips they will generate. The alternative is clogging up south Lancaster with yet more cars.

Yes, it would be great if the towpath were surfaced well enough to cycle or walk on without getting muddy for much of the year . . . but if permitting these developments is the only way to get it surfaced, then it’s bound to backfire.

The Bailrigg Garden Village final masterplan even has a nice illustration (see above). It shows a boardwalk – thus, raised above the level of the ground – wide enough, it would seem, for a pushchair. It’s not clear what happens when this pushchair meets another pushchair – or even a cyclist – travelling in the opposite direction.

There is talk in the masterplan of a water taxi to the city. A subsidised water taxi. The Lancaster Canal Trust wonders about a water taxi for the Ellel Holiday Village scheme. A water taxi – travelling at a maximum speed (if the canal will take it) of 4mph. Frankly, it would be quicker to walk.

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The canal – particularly around Ellel – is a wildlife corridor, a County Wildlife Site and Biological Heritage Site. Any idea of turning the towpath into a decent utility and leisure route – surfaced, lit – is highly problematic. Moreover the idea that the towpath – even if properly surfaced – can cope with the number of people generated by these two big developments is, to put it mildly, debatable.

And maintenance. How many of us have given up cycling to Carnforth on the towpath because of its deteriorating state at the northern end? (See photo from 2017 near Hest Bank.)

In a nutshell, the idea that the canal towpath – or even the canal – is able to simultaneously provide an active travel corridor, a wildlife corridor, a heritage corridor and a playground for holidaymakers needs very careful scrutiny indeed.

Posted in Cycling | 1 Comment

The Millennium Path re-opens

A Reader Writes:

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Well, the Millennium Path is open and on the whole it’s quite a pleasant surprise – as well as a big relief to know I need never again dice on Caton Road with MacDos’ insouciant breakfasters and Barghs’ towering trucks (not to mention the crazier two-wheelers flying through and round them without looking).

Positives first: the surface is good – for now at least – and the contractors have even thrown in a stretch of slightly cheap-looking new surface on the tree-lined avenue leading upstream from Skerton Bridge. The contentious up-and-overs turn out to be extremely gently graded and shouldn’t give anyone much difficulty. In a concession to safety the modest drops off their high points have been protected by natural wood post-and-rail fencing, a welcome use of natural materials for once. And as for the wider landscape, many more trees have survived than some of us might have feared, so apart from some raw earth and new planting next to the track, which will soon blend in, the general feeling of friendly greenery beside the river has not been wrecked.

On the other hand, the far from natural precast concrete segments of the flood wall are just about as unappealing as you might have imagined. And the proudly proclaimed sections of ‘proper’ masonry wall, intended to complement the Lune Aqueduct, don’t exactly do much to counter the industrial and/or warehousey surroundings, especially when topped with another couple of feet of black-painted plain metal railings. No doubt it will all ‘soften’ in time, though the white concrete might just be an invitation to graffiti artists, whose spray cans won’t be much troubled by the bumpy surface. Lots of trees have been planted, so far mainly pretty sizeable ones (maybe there is also more hedging to come?), but it’s perhaps a pity that the planting planner seems to come from an urban-park rather than conservation background. As with the Morecambe Bypass, the trees look to have been planted in clumps of each species rather than mixed. So we will end up with mono-cultural groves: doubtless pleasing to some tastes, but a contrived effect a long way from anything that might encourage a little biodiversity. At least the undamaged wider treescape is still varied and messy in a nature-friendly way

On balance, then:

Cycling and pedestrian utility: A/A+
Aesthetic appeal: B/B- (and that’s mainly credit for not flattening the lot) Conservation value: B- (ditto)

Posted in City and County Councils, Cycling, River Lune, shared-use paths | Leave a comment

Dynamo’s objection to Ellel Holiday Village outline planning application

There is now an outline planning application for the Ellel Holiday Village scheme. Dynamo has objected as follows:

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We appreciate that this is only an outline application, but the absence of any transport overview is disturbing. This is a major development (potentially more than 1,000 people on site at any one time) adjacent to another major development (Bailrigg Garden Village) at a time when the Transforming Lancaster Travel scheme is underway. Therefore the thought of permitting anything to go ahead without assessing the impact on the transport infrastructure is frightening. More cars – and this is the only option the application proposes – equals more dangers and deterrents to active travel.

Also concerning is the fact that this development is outside the scope of the Local Plan.

Incidentally, both Ellel Holiday Village and Bailrigg Garden Village suggest a taxi service along the canal. This seems highly unlikely: there is a maximum speed limit on canals of 4 mph, and the Lancaster canal is so shallow that 2 mph is a more likely speed. It would be quicker to walk, and the fact that both developments contain such fanciful proposals undermines their credibility considerably.

Dynamo’s response to the scoping request in February 2020 may seem equally unlikely, but it bears repeating:

“Could this site not be marketed as an environmentally-friendly holiday complex where you leave the car on arrival (or even leave it at home) and spend the rest of your holiday using sustainable transport? Why not make this vast site into one from which hundreds of bicycles (both pedal cycles and e-bikes) take to the roads each day to explore the local countryside and spend their money in local businesses?

“There are studies about the economic benefits of low-impact tourism like cycle-touring (e.g. section 1.5 of Sustrans report https://www.sustrans.org.uk/media/4472/4472.pdf) which make a good case for this vision.

“If this sounds fanciful, then please stop to consider that we need to change direction to avoid the very worst of climate change and biodiversity loss. It is even more fanciful to assume that we can continue with high-impact developments in the way that we currently do.”

Posted in Cycling, Galgate, planning applications, Safety | Leave a comment

Transforming Lancaster Travel: the options

Lancashire County Council have published a newsletter outlining the options they are taking forward as part of the plans for reconfiguring junction 33 of the M6 and changing how traffic moves through Lancaster city centre.

Dynamo is pleased to see that our preferred options are included: i.e. Central 1 option for the motorway junction and 6a (a sustainable transport corridor on the eastern gyratory) for the city centre.

The County Council now has its work cut out modelling the impact of these options on traffic flows elsewhere and air quality. Further consultation is expected later this year.

Posted in A6, Air quality, City and County Councils, consultation, Cycling, Galgate, Lancaster city centre, Transport Masterplan | 2 Comments

State of the Morecambe-Lancaster shared-use path

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One of our less interesting photographs, admittedly, but it does show the state of the path

A Morecambe resident has written to the City and County Councils about the state of the Morecambe-Lancaster shared-use path. His particular concerns are:

  • graffiti
  • horse manure on the path
  • mud on the path (presumably left by Council vehicles emptying bins, etc.)
  • broken paving strips
  • contractors near Parliament Street, Lancaster, leaving the path in a mess.

So far his only moderately helpful response has been from two councillors. Obviously Covid-19 has caused backlogs of work to build up, but these concerns have been expressed over many months and still nothing has been done. (And continues to get worse.)

Thank you to concerned residents, everywhere, and we await any response with interest.

Posted in City and County Councils, Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling, Lancaster, Maintenance, Morecambe, shared-use paths | Leave a comment

Counter-arguments to the suggestion that painted cycle lanes don’t really benefit cyclists

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Ashton Road

A recent Dynamo post suggested that painted cycle lanes may not be as safe as originally believed. This was based on a study of roads in London with advisory cycle lanes – i.e. painted lines – which suggested that roads with cycle lanes have more accidents than roads without cycle lanes. (It should be noted that much of the advisory cycle lane infrastructure in London would not meet Transport for London’s current criteria. By the same token, one might, of course, say the same for Lancaster and Lancashire County Council.)

Dynamo member, Matt Hodges, has been in correspondence with one of the authors of the report, Professor Rachel Aldred, with counter-arguments.

In essence, Matt’s views are:

This claim results from a superficial reading of the study report and from slightly loose wording in the summary of the findings: in particular from the sentence “When compared to no infrastructure, this study found that protected cycle infrastructure reduced odds of injury by 40-65% in the morning commute, whereas advisory lanes increased injury odds by 34%.” The problem here is that the wording implies a causal relationship between the presence of an advisory cycle lane and the higher injury rate on that stretch of road than on the aggregate total of roads used that do not have an advisory cycle lane.

The evidence in the study does not indicate any such causal relationship. It is not a comparison of roads that are similar apart from the presence or absence of an advisory cycle lane. The study shows that for the morning commute injuries included in the study an advisory cycle lane is ASSOCIATED with a higher risk than no cycle infrastructure. There are probably several reasons for this. Possibilities include:-

– Cycle infrastructure has probably been introduced on roads that had a high accident record in an attempt to reduce it. The type of infrastructure possible is limited by the space available. Advisory lanes may have reduced the injury rate on those roads but not as low as the overall rate.
– Minimum width cycle lanes may have been introduced on narrow sections of busy roads where there is insufficient width for a kerb separated cycle track or even a stepped cycle track. These roads would be hazardous with or without a cycle lane.

There are other anomalies in the findings. “Counterintuitively, risk decreased as speed increased. When looking at the absolute numbers it appears that roads with speeds less than 10mph are more dangerous, indicating congestion could increase risk.” But the report does not imply a causal relation that cars travelling faster makes it safer for cyclists. It looks for a reason and suggests congestion. i.e. ramming too many vehicles and bikes down too little space.

The conclusion “cycle infrastructure on main roads and junctions must be protected (kerb separated or stepped tracks, rather than painted lanes), particularly when there is high traffic and/or pedestrian activity” is fine if there is room, but it does not mean that a painted cycle lane is not better than no facility where there is no space for a protected facility.

It would be interesting to hear other people’s experiences and view about cycling on busy roads with and without advisory cycle lanes.

(Obviously, the report’s other conclusion that cycle infrastructure on main roads and junctions must be protected gets Dynamo’s full support.)

Posted in Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling, Safety | 3 Comments

Electric cargo bikes are the future

Dynamo member, Jack Lenox, on his e-cargo bike, which he uses to deliver goods locally for Single Step and Filberts Bakery. You can find out more on Jack’s Instagram account.

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment

Dynamo’s response to Bailrigg Garden Village consultation

Well, we decided not to pull our punches and responded as follows:

If Bailrigg Garden Village is to be built, then let it be one where sustainable transport is actively prioritised over the private car (whether ICE or EV).

Don’t just focus on making it easier for people not to use cars: instead, make car use for short local journeys less convenient so that cycling, walking or catching the bus becomes the default option. Stop continuing to make driving the easiest option, for – frankly – very few people will actually choose something that requires more effort. The environment, climate and roads can’t take any more of this mindset.

Market BGV as an “eco village”. Prospective purchasers should be informed in advance that they will expected to avoid as much environmental damage as possible in their transport habits and all short journeys should be on foot, by bike or bus. All relevant cycling and public transport infrastructure should already be in place before the first resident arrives.

Our views are:

1. Have 3 routes: we suggest an off-road route parallel to the railway line, a protected on-road route on the A6, and improvements to the existing route between Lancaster University and Bowerham.

2. Get the infrastructure in place and discourage car use before the first houses are occupied. Make it quite clear to future occupants that it will be difficult for them to use their cars unthinkingly.

3. There should be excellent permeability for cyclists and walkers within the site, but not for cars, to encourage sustainable transport.

Posted in Cycling | Leave a comment

Quick round-up of news

Apologies for radio silence of late. It’s just . . . well, you know.

But here is what is happening at the moment:

Chapel Street, Lancaster

Following the recent collision, Dick has written to Lancashire County Council suggesting that vehicle use of Dye House Lane should be restricted to delivery vehicles and residents.

Long Marsh Lane, Lancaster

Patricia has entered into correspondence in the Lancaster Guardian about the closure of Long Marsh Lane to through vehicle traffic. We are still waiting for the Traffic Regulation Order from Lancashire County Council.

Petition to extend 20mph speed limit on Quernmore Road, Lancaster

There is petition to Lancashire County Council, organised by North Lancs Green Party, calling for an extension of the 20mph speed limit on Quernmore Road to beyond the Co-op. You can sign it at Extend the 20mph speed limit on Quernmore Road – Action Network

Consultation on Bailrigg Garden Village ends Thursday 25 February

Your last chance to respond at Bailrigg Garden Village. Dynamo will be responding in our usual vein.

Pop-up cycle lanes on South Road, Lancaster

Dynamo is writing to Lancashire County Council about their failure to meaningfully re-allocate road space during the pandemic. In summary, with regard to South Road, we are seeking:

  1. An explanation of why alternative forms of light segregation not considered to be appropriate as replacements for the original wands on the southbound cycle lane, with evidence to support the position taken.
  2. The justification for the narrow width of the advisory cycle lane, with evidence to support the position taken.
  3. The results of monitoring of the pop-up cycle lanes on South Road conducted by Lancashire County Council.
  4. The bid submitted under Tranche 1 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund by Lancashire County Council.
  5. The bid submitted under Tranche 2 of the Active Travel Fund by Lancashire County Council.
Posted in City and County Councils, Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling, Lancaster, River Lune, Safety | Leave a comment