The draft Local Transport Plan for Lancashire can be accessed here. Deadline for comments is 14 January 2011. This document will form the basis of transport funding in the county for the next 10 years.
Dynamo will be making its own submission to promote cycling and reduce unnecessary car use. Below are our initial rough notes:
1. The document talks of “High dependency on car for personal travel” in Section 3 as one of their biggest challenges, but there is little indication of what measures will be taken to actively reduce that dependency beyond trying to make the alternatives look nice. There is nothing about actively DIScouraraging car use for local urban journeys – e.g. by blocking rat runs or reallocation of road space. Research by Sustrans has shown that just under half of local urban car trips could be changed to walking, cycling and public transport, but this is not going to happen without a major effort.
2. Traffic congestion and poor air quality in Lancaster/Morecambe Heysham are mentioned on page 6. Yet on page 13 the aim is to “increase road capacity, improve highway links and junctions” and “deliver adequate parking” – i.e. encourage more cars. The Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA) found in their report “Transport and the Generation of Traffic” (1994) that providing extra road space generates more road traffic. This will NOT improve congestion or the air quality and will produce more greenhouse gas emissions. What will happen if if providing a sustainable alternative clashes with taking road space away from private cars?
3. Dynamo welcomes the commitment on pp.18-19 for 20mph schemes but will argue for widespread rather than piecemeal schemes. We welcome the overall commitment to improving safety of streets, but this does need to be non-negotiable.
4. Dynamo welcomes the acknowledgement of the impact that traffic has on our general quality of life.
5. Re economic generation – p.10 proposes the Heysham-M6 link road, but SACTRA also demonstrated in their report “Transport and the Economy” (1998) that in the type of economy which we have in the UK there is no automatic link between providing more roads and economic benefits/attracting more employers. Indeed, new roads can lead to an outflow of commuters to work elsewhere. The public enquiry into the M74 in Glasgow and the Thames Gateway Bridge in London made similar conclusions.
6. Dynamo welcomes the commitment to active travel on the grounds of public health, but what are the targets? Given that there are economic benefits to having a healther population, these are crucial.
7. Improving cycling facilities makes good economic sense, particularly in time of falling investment. Sustrans have shown that they can demonstrate a benefit to cost ratio of up to 20:1 (Economic Appraisal of Walking and Cycling Routes, 2006), although 8:1 is more usually quoted. Moreover there are tourism benefits. One only has to look at cycling “honeypots” on the continent – e.g. Loire Valley and German river routes, with hotels full to bursting with cyclists in July and August – to appreciate that.
8. Page 4 – “New developments will be located to reduce the need for unnecessary travel and developers will provide all reasonable opportunities for people to arrive or depart safely and conveniently by a choice of travel modes.” Excellent! But this doesn’t seem to be followed up in the report, apart from a mention of reducing CO2 emissions. This is KEY! We are used to an enormous degree of transport mobility and hence most new developments expect people – and people themselves expect – to travel long distances simply to go about their normal activities of daily living. This is simply not sustainable.
9. Dynamo will also provide a vision – along the lines of making cycling (along with other sustainable forms of transport) the easiest and safest choice for shortish journeys, particularly within towns. Accept that it makes efficiency, environmental, health and economic sense. Roll out the Sustrans Bike It scheme (or similar) to get schoolchildren cycling from the start. We must realise that cycling proficiency has skipped a generation or two – getting children cycling as a normal form of transport cannot be left to parents who have never done this themselves. According to Sustrans’s research, the Bike It schools programme tripled daily cycling. (There is a focus on getting schoolchildren travelling by something other than private car in the LTP draft, but it’s very general.)