Conference: Better town centres, by bike or foot – Wednesday 10 October in Manchester

North West Active Travel Network is hosting a conference in Manchester Cathedral Visitor Centre on Wednesday 10 October from 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. on Better town centres, by bike or foot.

Cycling and walking into town centres has declined in many places. Inner ring roads act as a barrier to walking and cycling into town centres from neighbouring areas. One-way streets and limited access discourage cycling. Parking on pavements means that people with pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility scooters often are forced to use the carriageway. It can be difficult to find solutions that suit everyone. Improving access to town centres by bike and foot is one way of reconnecting them to their surrounding areas and helping ensure their survival. The conference focuses on smaller cities and towns rather than major cities.

The cost is £50 (£30 for campaign groups), including lunch and refreshments.

More details and booking form on the NWAT website.

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Department of Transport Cycling & Walking Statistics 2016-17 published

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Dynamo’s very brief resumé of Department of Transport figures 2014-15 to 2016-17

The main finding from the Department of Transport’s 2017 figures is that cycling in Lancaster seems to have dropped significantly in the last year – e.g. cycling at least once a month has dropped from 26.6% to 17.8%*.  The 2014-15 figure was 21.8%.  Utility cycling is equally surprising: there seems to have been a big jump in 2015-16 and, for whatever reason (whether a cycling surge or a statistical anomaly), it hasn’t continued.  Look at the figures below:

  • 2016-17 figure for cycling 5 times a week for travel in Lancaster district – 2.6%
  • 2015-16 figure for cycling 5 times a week for travel in Lancaster district – 5.3%
  • 2014-15 figure for cycling 5 times a week for travel in Lancaster district – 2.3%

So 2016-17 is better than 2014-15 but worse than 2015-16.  Any idea how that happened?  However, we are always above the Lancashire average.

The message that Dynamo takes away from this comes in the accompanying report from the Department of Transport: 62% of adults feel that it is too dangerous to cycle on the roads.  Deal with that, and you will get more people cycling.

*All figures are based on a survey of 500+ people in the Lancaster local authority area, using the National Travel Survey and Active Lives Survey.  Read more about the methodology.

Links to documents:

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Objections to Cockerham planning applications

There are currently two current planning applications in Cockerham – one for 36 houses (18/00953/FUL) and one for 24 houses (18/00877/OUT).  Dynamo has objected to both as follows:

Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign) objects to this planning application on the grounds that it does not include provision for cycling to and from the housing estate (see National Planning Policy Framework paras 17 and 32).  Moreover, it will increase traffic on roads, thereby discouraging existing and potential cyclists.

This development will be built beside the A588 (currently one of Britain’s 10 most dangerous roads).  The Lancashire Cycle Way follows this stretch of road for a short distance, so there will be increased traffic – and hence increased danger – for cyclists to negotiate.

This is one of two planning applications for new housing estates in Cockerham.  What is happening is that the village is being expanded piecemeal while ignoring the need for new infrastructure for sustainable transport.  At the very least, the developers of this and other planned developments should contribute towards a route towards Galgate or Glasson Dock, upgrading and transforming existing bridle paths and footpaths.  (E.g. extend the Cockerham-Ellel bridleway, Cockerham BW13 to Ellel BW3.)

Unless the City and County Councils have a plan for sustainable transport to and from Cockerham, all we will get is an extra bit of pavement here and there while executive housing developments gobble up green space and create extra traffic.  This is definitely NOT “actively [managing] patterns for growth to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling, and [focussing] significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable” (NPPF para 17).  Neither does it fit in with policy SC1 (promoting sustainability) in the Lancaster District Core Strategy.

Posted in Cockerham, Cycling, planning applications | Tagged | Leave a comment

Collision at A6/Queen Square junction: can’t Queen Street be blocked off?

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Junction of A6 and Queen Square in Lancaster

A Dynamo member was knocked off his bike last week by a motorist pulling out of Queen Street.  She stopped, looked . . . and pulled out in front of the cyclist.  Fortunately he wasn’t badly hurt, and she was apologetic, but it does demonstrate once again that this is one of the district’s black spots for cyclists.  (Other black spots are the BP garage on the A6, Waterstones corner, the roundabout at Morecambe prom.  You probably have your own contenders.)

Dynamo has proposed in the past either clearer signing at this junction or – preferably – blocking it to through motor traffic.  There’s no need for it to be a through route; it’s used for access and car parking, which could be enhanced if it were closed.  The County Council isn’t averse to the idea of cutting off rat runs: in 2015 it proposed something similar on St Peter’s Road, but, as that is part of a bus route, it was too problematic.

Posted in A6, City and County Councils, Cycling, Lancaster city centre, Safety | Leave a comment

Road safety matters

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The Road Safety Foundation has recently published a new report entitled “Cutting the Cost of Dangerous Roads”.  Looking through this and comparing it to its 2014 report, we can see (table 2, pp.11-12) that the A6 from junction 33 north and the A588 from Lancaster to just outside Poulton-le-Fylde remain “Britain’s persistently higher risk roads (2010-12 and 2013-15)”.

The A588 had a 3% casualty rate for pedestrians and cyclists, but the A6 had a 77% pedestrian/cyclist casualty rate – not surprising, obviously, since much of that part of the A6 runs through town.  (One could remark that the reason there are few pedestrian and cyclist casualties on the A588 or the Kirkby Lonsdale road is that they are too scared to use those roads.)

So, what is being done about this?

Lancashire County Council is – slowly – moving, if not always in the right direction.  They have received £7.942 million from the Department of Transport under Safer Roads funding between now and 2021 for Lancashire’s most dangerous roads.  (See Proposed amendments to highways capital programmes attached.)  Lancashire is a big county, and different roads have different types of collisions, and this £7 million has to cover all of them.  Some of what is proposed seems – to an untrained eye – only tenuously linked to road safety.  It includes normal maintenance and improvement, or measures like a bus lane on the Greyhound Bridge as a precursor to work on the rapid transit scheme linked to Bailrigg “Garden Village“.

However, for Lancaster and cycling in the immediate future, this means (according to the Council’s current Safer roads 2018-19 programme) that next year there will be work on the A6 for “safety engineering measures”.  This includes cycle and pedestrian facilities on the Pointer roundabout (obviously we will bang on about cycle lanes on South Road here), work on the gyratory system and a sliver of shared-use path by Pointer Court.  Dynamo has been assured that it will be involved in consultation.

It looks as if all other cycling infrastructure will have to be bid for under the County’s Cycling & Walking Strategy or as part of the Bailrigg “Garden Village” development.

Any thoughts?

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Travels with a Road Safety Engineer

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BP garage on A6 near Boot and Shoe

Patricia met Steve Cartmell from Lancashire County Council this morning to look initially at the BP garage on the A6.  Despite the extra road markings (put in at the beginning of 2017), there have been 4 accidents involving cyclists along this stretch of road in the last two years.  This is the second time that we have looked specifically at this stretch of road.  To be frank, it is difficult to know what to do at the garage; the design of the kerb permits cars turn left into the garage very quickly, so it may be possible to build out the kerb to slow cars down.

Then a ride down the A6 (what an unforgiving road that is, with potholes, car doors, bus stops, lorries) to the Millennium Path to look at what could be put in place as a temporary route for cyclists and walkers when/if the Lune flood works are constructed.

It is possible – unofficially – to cycle on pavements all the way from the north side of Skerton Bridge to the Holiday Inn, but they offer poor sight lines at junctions and are narrow at the northern end.  Meeting an oncoming cyclist or someone at a bus stop would be tricky.  From a County Council point of view, it would be impossible to offer this as an official temporary route.  It was interesting to view this from a Safety Engineer’s perspective: shared-use paths must be 3 metres wide; the refuge opposite Langdale Place is too narrow and tight for cyclists; the button-operated crossings outside Diamond Resorts and the Holiday Inn are only puffins, not toucans, so – despite cyclists using them all the time – officially they are not for bicycles . . . and, all the time, the traffic thundering along Caton Road was a reminder of the horrors of cycling on the road itself.

Other snippets were that there is funding for work on the Pointer roundabout (any chance of cycle lanes on South Road at the same time?), and the County Council and police are well aware of the red-light jumping by motorists at the Boot & Shoe.

An interesting and salutary morning’s ride.

Posted in A6, City and County Councils, Cycle Infrastructure, Cycling, River Lune, Safety, Transport Masterplan | 1 Comment

Publicising the River Lune flood management planning application

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Concerned by how few people were aware of the planning application’s proposed closure for over a year of the Millennium Path beside the River Lune, Dynamo has put up a few signs to inform path-users and to let them know how to comment. We’re keeping a regular eye on them to ensure they don’t end up as litter.

Posted in City and County Councils, Cycling, planning applications, River Lune, shared-use paths, Sustrans | 3 Comments