Day commuters and the school run are the real problems in Bath

I have sent this letter to the Bath Chronicle in response to the council’s “Our plan to get Bath moving” . It’s a bit long so unsure if they will print it. The key problems within Bath come down to two ‘actors’.

Day Commuters

28,000 people drive by car and park somewhere in the city. We currently provide 7,000 car parking spaces and most Park and Rides are only a 3rd full by 9am. Day commuters use free parking available on Bath’s residential roads.

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You need to remove the ‘free’ bit through the use of parking control in the form of ‘soft’ Resident Parking Zones across the whole of Bath. This ensures all Park and Ride sites are fully utilised and justifies expansion, and yes, an East Park and Ride solution will be needed, say a Link and Ride using existing brownfield sites.

 

The School Run

Transport for London brought out an interesting statistic. 50% of traffic is the School Run.

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The Council has absolutely no handle on this figure for Bath or even other towns. Priority number one for Highways should be the development of good walking and cycling routes to schools. We need to kill the school run and we need to kill it fast.

Obesity, not Air Pollution is the problem

Let’s be clear, if you focus on Air Pollution, you end up throwing money at Electric Vehicles that still suffer from brake and tyre pollution, but more importantly take up the same space as an internal combustion vehicle.

Air pollution kills 40,000 people a year, Obesity kills 84,000. 88 people each year in BaNES die from Obesity related diseases below the age of 75.

We’re currently at 27.5% obesity, whereas a country that has focused on “Stop de Kindermoord” now has a envious 10% obesity rating. Extrapolating this, 63% of obesity is down to our transport systems. 55 BaNES residents die because of the political decisions your councillors and highways officers make each year.

If we truly want to tackle the health crisis in our transport systems, we need to focus on creating healthy streets and we start with children. We tackle Air Pollution and Obesity through this approach.

We need our own “Stop the child murder”.

We need councillors and councils delivering safe routes to school that enable kids to be able to safely cycle to school. The evidence is though that our council simply does not get the need for this as shown by the up and coming Weston route.

The Letter

Continue reading Day commuters and the school run are the real problems in Bath

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The role of children in designing good cycle networks

Children cycling on a city’s roads and paths are the canary in the coal mine. Without overthinking this too much, a parent won’t let a child out to play on a bike unless that parent can perceive that the child can make mistakes and not be run over.

And this gets to the premise that Cycle Bath campaigns on:

To enable everyone to cycle in comfort we need high quality space for cycling, inclusive for all ages and abilities, connecting communities with schools and centres of employment. Routes must be direct and cohesive, with space on main roads re-allocated from the general carriageway, not the footway.

So when Peter Walker writes in the Guardian:

In countries where decades of investment in bike routes has made cycling safer and more everyday, the reverse is true. Almost 40% of Dutch children go to and from school by bike.

We need to understand how you achieve that level of cycling and for that we can look at Public Highways England IAN 195

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Continue reading The role of children in designing good cycle networks

CWIS and not getting a fair crack of the LCWIP

Something profound has happened to the way councils will be able to access money for walking and cycling. Chief Executives of Councils, Councillors, City Mayors, and Metro-Mayors really need to get a handle on this fast because they are about to lose out massively in ways that will only become apparent about a year from now.

The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) published April 21st 2017, has within it a requirement for councils to prepare Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs). Without these in place, councils and regional areas will have no ability to bid for any central government pots of money to improve cycling and walking networks.

Continue reading CWIS and not getting a fair crack of the LCWIP

Stands up for cyclists.

Get your free Sheffield cycle stands here!

BATH NEWSEUM

Well, B&NES cannot replace even the missing cycle stands outside the Guildhall but there’s more independent help for cyclists in  a new initiative which – ironically – is funded by the Council.

Cycling charity Life Cycle UK is offering community groups and small businesses in BANES the chance to apply for FREE cycle stands, thanks to funding from BANES Council.

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The charity thinks installing stands will:
“Encourage employees and visitors to travel the healthy way by giving them safe cycle parking.
Increase customer footfall whilst helping to reduce road congestion and pollution.
Landlords can avoid bike-related wear-and-tear by installing the stands outside their properties.
Sheffield stands are sturdy and secure, minimising the risk of tampering and theft.”

Take A Stand® helps organisations with limited resources to install safe cycle parking at their premises. The stands are provided and delivered completely FREE of charge – all you have to do is…

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The problematic philosophy of ‘shared use’ footways

“‘Shared use’ isn’t future-proof.” I think this problem is one that also pervades our the design approaches that architects use. There is an immense amount of shared space going in to some of these new developments and are based on the premise of cycling just being non-issue rather than a key solution to urban transport as is being demonstrated by London, Cambridge and many other UK cities.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

An old post from Joe Dunkley that resurfaced yesterday in the wake of some comments about Christopher Chope – a former transport minister in the Thatcher government and helmet law enthusiast – has prompted me to reflect on some of the intrinsic problems with ‘shared use’ footways.

The history of ‘shared use’ is itself rather murky, as that post from Joe Dunckley explains.

I understand the “cycle tracks” — that is, crappy shared pavements — that [the Thatcher government] introduced in the 1980 Highways Act were not intended to encourage and enable cycling, but to improve road safety by getting cyclists out of harm’s way while the poor things saved up to buy a car of their own.

This is a good explanation of the background assumption behind the Act – namely, an assumption that cycling was an insignificant mode of transport, one that would either remain insignificant, or…

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Removing separation between walking and cycling does not reduce conflict

I’ve been in a working group looking at the new Bath Quays Bridge (a major new transport corridor for Bath), where architects stated, without any hint of irony, that they are designing in shared space so they can use pedestrians to slow down the cyclists. Our group was shocked that this approach to designing public space was acceptable and considered ‘clever’ and reasonable. This idea that you can ‘control’ cyclists by throwing pedestrians at them really needs to die. It creates so many issues.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

The Royal Parks agency in London has a bit of an issue with cycling. The actions it takes – whether it’s adding cobbled speed humps to popular cycling routes in Hyde Park, or attempting to remove a popular cycle route from that same park, or chasing after a cycle taxi service – give the impression of an organisation that views cycling as something a bit… undesirable. For the Royal Parks, cycling is a problem to be managed, rather than an opportunity, and it appears to be actively trying to discourage it.

What’s even more unfortunate is that the policies the Royal Parks are implementing to manage this ‘problem’ are actually making the Parks worse for everyone, whether they are cycling or not.

A sensible strategy for managing cycling on the existing routes in Hyde Park would be to separate walking and cycling from each other, and to give…

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A better Advanced Stop Line

Over the weekend I made a rather ironic meme:

Blindspotand then tweeted it out:

It did result in a serious discussion and after a lot of thought I redesigned the markings for an ASL using the new deeper ASL standard to give better visual clues to cyclists, but also worked on a set of demands that would significantly improve junction safety.

Continue reading A better Advanced Stop Line

Bath, a city looking to tame the car

The UK has, for decades, been extremely backward looking when it comes to understanding how to build healthy livable cities. There are exceptions, Cambridge comes to mind. However if we really want to understand how we can make our city a healthier, more walkable, bikeable, economically vibrant place, we need to look further afield.

In particular there are two cities that have have had remarkable successes in achieving car free city centres; Pontevedra and Nijmegen. Continue reading Bath, a city looking to tame the car

The Public Health Time bomb created by the Council’s Highways Department

The rest of the world is waking up to the huge huge impact the way we have designed our roads is having on the health and wellbeing of our residents. We really cannot ignore how the attitudes that pervade our Highways Department has resulted in ‘car only’ schemes like the Two Headed Man junction improvements getting funded.

Canada is the latest country where organisations are calling for a National Active Transport strategy. Signatories to the joint letter include Heart & Stroke, Diabetes Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, The Canadian Lung Association, Asthma Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, Upstream, and CAPE.

Refocusing Highways

It is time for the council to recognise its role in delivering a better environment. It is no longer acceptable for this council to deliver ‘car only’ schemes. It is absolutely vital that Highways department’s core roles be re-appraised and improving public health become one of the core remits for the department.

The Role Of Councillors

Significantly, this vital role of improving public health, needs to be recognised by councillors and they must do their best to explain to their residents why certain schemes must happen and that the objections of residents, say on grounds of loss of on-street parking etc., are secondary to the building of healthy, active streets.

The Reality

Currently 10,000 Bath residents drive to work in Bath. 5,000 kids are dropped at school. That’s 40,000 car journeys EACH day. The recent stats from BaNES council states that a A36/A46 bypass would ONLY remove 2,000 cars off London Road, yet this is the call to arms the current council are using as a way to solve Bath’s transport problems.

Political Failure or It’s Not Us It’s Them!

We need council officers to recognise that political parties have the inability to deliver good, public health driven, transport policies as it might scare away voters and will only support schemes that ‘blame outsiders’. Even the use of 12% through traffic statistic by the council shows a political dogma aimed at preserving votes. What about the 88%? That’s where the change needs to happen.

Public Accountability

This needs to change but the change starts with the Highways Department core remit being public health and, going forward, being publicly accountable to residents for their failings to deliver healthier active streets.

The role of councillors must support the council in delivering this remit, not fight it tooth and nail to preserve votes. They must be part of the solution.

Benefits

We need the council and councillors to recognise the benefits of active transportation as listed in the letter:

  • make physical activity part of our everyday lives, increase fitness levels
  • reduce risk for many chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, cardiac and respiratory disease
  • control health care spending
  • reduce carbon emissions, support transit, improve air quality
  • reduce traffic casualties
  • increase transportation options and improve housing affordability
  • create communities where seniors can age in place, maintain mobility
  • improve accessibility for everybody
  • create more prosperous communities
  • attract creative employees and build the innovation economy
  • create vibrant communities with a sense of place, distinct character

Addendum

One of the interactions on twitter asked me what powers officers have to veto political ‘ideals’. They have none. In fact officers often present options that they know align with political ideals as was discussed in one of my previous articles on the attack on 20MPH zones in Bath.

This is also why things like the Two Headed Man junction improvements are happening now. The previous administration rejected the proposals twice. Not, however, with this administration that wildly embraced it. Officer have their own agendas and are happy to wait until the right administration is in place to act on them. Yes they play the long game. A very long game.

Public Health must become a legal requirement.

Bad Road Users and the Law as it Stands

An open letter to Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse and Avon & Somerset Police Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens:

Dear Sue and Wera,
I am writing to you as I think in the coming weeks and months there is going to be a concerted effort to start legislating against dangerous cycling behaviour. To put this in perspective, last year 1 pedestrian was killed by a cyclist and 399 were killed by drivers.
I am not trying to excuse what Charlie Alliston did and this article I think sums up my thoughts around his court case:
However there is a need to re-address the way we deal with the bad road users. A significant number of whom get away with manslaughter due to failures in process as well as failures within the law:
I would like, as stated within the above article, the following to come into place:
  1. The current guidance regarding referral of fatal road collision cases to CPS for charging decisions needs to become a requirement, a rule which police forces can’t simply ignore as they did in this case;
  2. Collision investigation standards are urgently needed, with accreditation and increased transparency as called for by RoadPeace through their collision investigation campaign.
  3. The current classification of careless and dangerous driving offences, how driving standards are assessed, and charging standards, are simply not fit for purpose. They must be changed, with the standard of driving required being more objectively determined. Currently, the law requires jurors to consider whether another driver’s standard of driving fell “below”, or “far below” the standard which they believe would be expected of “a careful and competent driver”, whatever that standard might be. One person might well think they’re a careful and competent driver as they overtake a cyclist whilst speeding, leaving a 30 cm gap. I would disagree, so our perspectives on what falls “below the competent and careful driver” test will be irreconcilable. We are asking jurors to apply a standard that few understand, and which is far too subjective.
There have been similar calls from Road Justice and Brake. The recommendations from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group also reflect similar demands:
We have a problem on our roads and the way cases involving Killed or Seriously Injured are dealt with by the police and the law. We are failing the victims of road violence, particularly the vulnerable road users.
This is being played by certain groups as a problem between pedestrians and cyclists when fundamentally, both these vulnerable road user groups are disproportionately affected by the bad behaviour of drivers.
New York City has found that the provision of segregated cycle lanes has reduced the number of pedestrian casualties:
Using cycle infrastructure to protect vulnerable pedestrians is enabling cities and even countries to achieve a Vision Zero approach to road safety:
We need to ensure that the conversation is not about the problem of dangerous cyclists and their impact on pedestrians, but that there are bad road users and how we fix the legislation and operational procedures of our police to ensure justice is done.
I hope you can convey that message in the coming weeks and months, and support working towards a better approach to road justice.
Regards,
Adam Reynolds
Cycle Bath Chair

Working, Living, Cycling, and campaigning for better cycle infrastructure in Bath, UK