Dynamo went to the drop-in event on Wednesday to look at the plans and speak to those involved in its planning and design. There were people there from Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, the Environment Agency and contractors VBA.
The thing that stood out was how unfinished the scheme is. Dynamo had the impression that this is being hurried along because of hopes that a third of the estimated cost of £9 million will come from the European Union before Brexit in March 2019.
This means that at present there are no firm plans in place for a comprehensive alternative route for cyclists and walkers while the path is closed between January 2019 and March 2020 – the proposed start and finish dates of the construction. Nor is it entirely clear what the finished design will look. We may end up with something far less attractive and convenient.
There is some willingness amongst the authorities to look at what can to be done so that cyclists and walkers can still get through, but this is outweighed by their appearance of pushing through this scheme as cheaply and quickly as possible. We’re not clear if anyone realises the importance of the Millennium Path. Sustrans data from 2010 (the best we can find at the moment) shows a daily average of 211 cycle journeys, with weekday counts showing “commuter peaks”. Cycling home, I looked at the families with children, parents with trailers, commuters, pedestrians, dog-walkers . . . apart from some racing cyclists, none of them looked as if they would regard going along busy, busy and potentially dangerous Caton Road as an alternative. What will happen is that people will stop cycling. The recent series of commuter accounts in the Lancaster Guardian made clear how popular this path is.
Dynamo will comment to this effect on the planning application. We have raised this with Sustrans North West (the path is also part of the Way of the Roses), and we would encourage everyone affected to get involved and ask for:
- a decent, safe alternative route during the construction phase
- and a good-quality, attractive path on completion.
What you can do:
Write to Lancaster City Council to give your views, quoting reference 18/00751/FUL,
Below: FAQ picked up at Wednesday’s event:
Lancaster City Council are holding a drop-in event about the River Lune flood plans on Wednesday 1 August from 3.30 – 8.00 p.m. at 3-1-5 gym, Mannin Way, Caton Road, Lancaster LA1 3PE. More details in their press release.
There will be initial ideas to view, people to talk to, feedback to give, so do go along if you want to find out more.
There is currently a planning application (ref 18/00751/FUL) for a flood defence wall on the west side of the River Lune from Skerton Bridge to the Bay Gateway, and a smaller section on the east side. It’s designed to protect riverside businesses and is publicly funded. More details are in an article in the Lancaster Guardian.
From Dynamo’s point of view, the key aspect is that during construction the shared-use path will be “temporarily diverted along Caton Road” (see the 12 “proposed work area” plans and section 3.2.4 of the Planning, Design and Access Statement). It’s not clear whether this means that cyclists (and pedestrians) will be deprived of their normal safe route for over a year and hence have to mix it with lorries and other vehicles on Caton Road.
Experience shows that cycle provision is easily – deliberately, even – overlooked during construction works; you only have to look at the HS2 failure to honour their commitments to see that.
So that’s Dynamo’s line at the moment. If anyone better experienced at reading and understanding plans wants to comment, please do so.
To round off this series (which started back in November), Dick – who has collected and edited them all – writes about his rides around Lancaster.
He recalls the Cycling Demonstration Town years (ah! that was the time when the City Council really promoted cycling), and offers the bicycle as the solution to our traffic-choked, polluted city roads.
You can read Dick’s account in this week’s Lancaster Guardian or read a scan of the article here.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the series. Hopefully you enjoyed bringing to mind the reasons why you enjoy your cycle-commute as you wrote – and hopefully, too, you have encouraged others by sharing your stories.
Ready for when – if! – Dynamo hears more from Lancashire County Council about meetings of the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan for Lancaster, we have prepared an outline of big (and small) infrastructure items that we think would make a big difference to our district. The document is here.
In time-honoured fashion, James got a bicycle for his birthday – his 44th birthday, that is.
His reintroduction veered between rediscovering the joy of cycling (this time with 27 gears rather than a measly 12) and the negative bits – like being overtaken too close by both motorists and one lycra-clad cyclist. Fortunately the joy prevailed, and he continues to ride to work.
You can read James’s account in this week’s Lancaster Guardian or view a scan of the article here.
Louise competes in triathlons but insists that she “pootles” along on her cycle-commute into work. She sometimes puts more effort into her commute home to ride off the day’s stresses. Her bugbear? Ice. Her favourite? A strong tailwind home.
You can read about Louise’s ride in this week’s Lancaster Guardian or view a scan of the article here.