WECA Head of Transport, walking and cycling not needed

Before attending WECA meeting today to do my speech (WECA 18 April March 2018 pdf) on behalf of Cycle Bath and Bristol Cycle Campaign, somebody made me aware that the West of England Combined Authority is looking for a Head of Transport. Within the job specification document the key responsibilities listed are:

  • Manage the Transport Team of the West of England Combined Authority.
  • Manage and lead on the strategic transport functions of the West of England Combined Authority including the Joint Local Transport Plan, Bus Strategy, Key Route Network and Major Transport Scheme programme and other transport projects and initiatives that arise.
  • Manage the West of England Combined Authority’s Integrated Transport Authority functions for concessionary travel, bus information, community transport and supported bus services, clean air zones and transitional arrangements with the constituent councils
  • Monitor and manage spend from the West of England Combined Authority’s transport budgets.
  • Lead and co-ordinate the development, adoption and enactment of transport policies and schemes that assist the West of England Combined Authority in making best use of its capital and revenue resources including the West of England Investment Fund.
  • Develop the future role of the West of England Combined Authority in taking on responsibility for new transport powers and functions.
  • Provide strategic transport advice to the Mayor and the constituent councils on transport and planning functions.
  • Provide a lead role in joint working with the constituent councils on developing and delivering transport schemes including leading on bids to Government and other agencies to maximise investment in the area.
  • Promote the role of the West of England Combined Authority as a transport authority.
  • Engage with a range of stakeholders including Network Rail, Highways England, bus and rail operators.

Continue reading WECA Head of Transport, walking and cycling not needed

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Where the **** is our Cycling and Walking Tsar?

Chris Boardman is Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Tsar appointed by Metro Mayor Andy Burnham. Andy has been a Metro Mayor for almost 1 year. West of England’s Metro Mayor Tim Bowles has also been in the role for almost 1 year.

I am utterly disappointed with Tim Bowles. He appears to be way over his head and has no idea what he’s doing with transport. Casual observers might think he is utterly obsessed with junction 18A of the M4 or any scheme as long as it appears to make it better for motorised vehicles.

Continue reading Where the **** is our Cycling and Walking Tsar?

Bath Preservation Trust support for Clean Air Zone.

It’s good to see the Bath Preservation Trust calling for the hypothecation of revenue to prioritise the delivery of walking and cycling infrastructure.

BPT recognising that the Clean Air Zone does not change behaviour and does not get people out of cars really needs repeating. It does nothing to solve congestion.

I note that BPT says a CAZ tackles Air Pollution but a CAZ ONLY tackles NOx, not PM2.5/10 (brake ,tyre, road dust etc) pollution. BPT calling for the CAZ to be the largest and include private vehicles is something everyone should be telling the council. I really hope the council takes note of BPT’s statement. We need so much more from the council. The vacuum of political will is really not helping here.

We are in a Public Health crisis caused by Air Pollution and Transport related Obesity. We need so much more from our councillors.

BATH NEWSEUM

Bath Preservation Trust  has come out in support of the proposal by B&NES to introduce a Clean Air Zone in Bath (CAZ) – particularly because its boundaries take into account the through traffic crossing Cleveland Bridge and exiting the City along the London Road. 

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In a press statement – released today, Tuesday. April 10th – BPT say:

‘We support the highest category of restriction (category D) in order to encourage behavioural change for car users as well as commercial vehicles.

Bath traffic results in three problems which can damage the listed buildings and harm the amenity of the World Heritage Site: pollution, congestion and vibrations. The CAZ is primarily aimed at the former (pollution) though it is to be hoped that it will also change behaviours of both longer distance drivers and local users.

While the CAZ is therefore by no means a total solution to the traffic problems…

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Waltham Forest Mini-Holland (part 3) – Modal filters

I really think with sat navs and map apps giving drivers almost perfect information on an area, modal filters are a key cheap tool to reclaim our streets for residents and make them liveable places where it is pleasant to walk, cycle, and play.

Just Step Sideways

This is part 3 in my series of posts looking at Waltham Forest Mini-Holland, looking at modal filters.

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City of Bath Cycle Network Print

This is a bit of a teaser. We’re looking to run a 2019 Cycle Bath Sustainable Transport Festival (hopefully at the Bath Quays), produce better campaign materials that we are using (brochures, banners, etc). We also see an “opportunity” to double any money raised through the use of the BaNES Community Enablement Fund available through the Bath City Forum.

We’re in the process of producing a high quality (300GSM) A3 print of the the Cycle Network Map on a 50cm x 40cm mount that will be sold for £20. It will be available through all local bike shops shortly as well as directly from Cycle Bath (best for revenue generation).

Mail order will also be possible but there is some concern that sending prints through the post is not a good idea.

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I really hope you like this. I hope to see it in every house in Bath 😀

Don’t mention the helmets

I think if you’re trying to get people to consider cycling, the easiest option can be to get them to try an electric bike. BaNES council offers an opportunity to loan an electric bike for two weeks. Other councils offer similar schemes. The RAC in Australia offered a 10 week eBike trial at the end of which 50% of users bought the bike they had been using (https://rac.com.au/car-motoring/info/e-bike-trial).

Normal bicycles for many people are that little bit *too* hard to consider despite the immense time savings and health benefits, particularly if you live in a hilly areas. Whereas an electric bike magically flattens hills and gets you to work without being in a sweaty mess. They are just a joy to ride and people “get it” within seconds of being on one. They also give you similar health benefits to a normal bike 😉

If your company is already supportive of cycling, then it might be worth persuading the company to invest in a good quality eBike to loan out to employees to trial commuting by eBike. I’ve heard of places where there was a 90% take-up of eBikes once people had a chance to try one.

Wet, cold and angry

For a number of years now, a small group of keen cyclists (myself included) at my workplace have formed a cycling group. The original intention was to offer a place for all cyclists in the company to come together, do cycling things. It’s morphed, slowly, into a group that spends more time encouraging people to cycle to work, attempting to encourage the company to invest in cycling facilities and also working with the council to try and encourage better facilities. We talk to people to try and help them get past the barriers they erect for themselves to stop them riding to work, we provide an on site repair service which is very popular and we provide route guidance, facility support, purchase guidance…lots of things. I’d like to think we have made a difference but it’s hard to tell.

Surveys at work during events we hold have taught us that…

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I don’t have time not to bike

I follow a lot of sites/people focused on urbanism, design, best practice, and generally all aspects of transport. I have an exciting life 😀

This tweet caught my eye as it rang true for me:

I like cycling, but I don’t choose to cycle daily to work, meetings, or shops around the city of Bath for some sort of principled reason. I do it, because door to door, it is simply the fastest, time saving form of transport in the city. I cannot afford to consider any other form of transport.

Continue reading I don’t have time not to bike

Bath BreATHe: A closer look at the options

I’ve already analysed the proposed CAZ and how I feel there is nothing within it that reduces traffic or encourages behaviour change. But there is more to this proposal:

A quick recap on CAZ options:

  • Class B. Charges for higheremission buses, coaches, private hire, taxis and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
  • Class C. Charges as per Class B, plus higher-emission light goods vehicles (LGVs)
  • Class D. Charges as per Class C, plus higher-emission cars

Other Measures

To quote from the summary

Other measures Alongside the charging element, each package will include noncharging measures designed to encourage greener modes of travel and lessen the impact of a CAZ on residents and drivers. All of these ideas will be thoroughly assessed and discussed with local people. They might include:

  • Reduced cost of residents’ parking permits for low emission vehicles
  • Improved public transport facilities, such as bus priority, better bus stops and more realtime information for passengers to increase reliability and use
  • Improvements to walking and cycling routes and better provision for cycle parking
  • A review of taxi licensing policy, considering how low-emission vehicles can be encouraged
  • Improved use of variable message signs with information on parking options, travel times and air quality
  • Targeted traffic management improvements or improved bus priority on the A367 Wells Road
  • Making permanent the temporary bus lane on London Road.

If a Class D CAZ is chosen as the preferred option (which includes cars), then we’ll also look at introducing: electric cycle hire, priority parking areas for car sharing, and the expansion of the car club network, in addition to the measures above.

We’ll continue to look at other longer-term measures to improve air quality in Bath, such as the A46/A36 link road.

What I would like to have seen

A absolute commitment to deliver behavioural change.

  • Reduced cost of residents’ parking permits for low emission vehicles
    • Identify the commercial value of an on-street car parking space (about £1,200 per year) and set resident permit as a discount of that value. Offer no discount for high emission vehicles and longer vehicles.
  • Improved public transport facilities, such as bus priority, better bus stops and more realtime information for passengers to increase reliability and use. 
    • Park and Ride sites to become bus hubs with all passing buses stopping. All bus fares to Bath to use Park and Ride ticket pricing structure to encourage people to leave their cars at home. Realtime information to be provided to passengers.
    • New rural on-demand responsive bus network to be established integrating with major bus corridors. Traditional rural bus services to be cancelled.
  • Improvements to walking and cycling routes and better provision for cycle parking
    • Driving, walking, and cycling to be recognised equally important on our major roads and for separate space to be provided for each mode, prioritising all modes over on-street parking. The council will no longer encourage cycling but focus on enabling people to be able to cycle. A particular focus on delivering a safe network of cycle routes connecting schools to their communities.
    • Adoption of Oxfordshire Council cycling and walking standards to be a priority.
    • A recognition that transport is a public health emergency. MAKE HIGHWAYS ANSWERABLE TO THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SET KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS BASED ON PUBLIC HEALTH WITH CHILDHOOD OBESITY A PRIORITY.
  • A review of taxi licensing policy, considering how low-emission vehicles can be encouraged [good]
  • Improved use of variable message signs with information on parking options, travel times and air quality [good]
  • Targeted traffic management improvements or improved bus priority on the A367 Wells Road [why are they not doing this now?]
  • Making permanent the temporary bus lane on London Road. 
    • Removal of all on-street parking bays on London Road, Paragon, a redesign of Cleveland Bridge Junction and Morrisons junction to enable the creation of an east west “cycle super highway” going from Newbridge Park and Ride all the way to Bathford.
    • Ok maybe just the whole length of London Road.

Give me the D

If the council can persuade the people to vote for D then you get the extra bonus of electric cycle hire, priority parking areas for car sharing, and the expansion of the car club network. In other words what Exeter Co-Bikes/Co-Cars is doing right now as an integrated service allowing you to rent eBikes or rent an electric cars. Recognising that for most people an eBike gets you from A to B easily, but sometimes you need a car.

Exactly why are we not doing this now?

Reading between the lines

There is too much “might”. Too much about this is about encouragement. Not enough about enablement.

The resident permits is a joke given that a £1200 parking bay is currently sold to a resident for about £100.

The bus proposals are weak. The real issue is the cost of them. There is no recognition of new and successful approaches to public transport provision.

Given the council’s absolutely horrendous record on cycle infrastructure provision (I’m looking at you Keynsham) the wording is very weak. Improvements to cycling and walking is not “create a child safe cycle network to tackle the school run enabling children to cycle to school”. It could simply mean a bit of paint.

I leave you with this as a thought….

Change The Question

Come talk about clean air.

When comparing some of the options that are being presented here it’s important to view these within the context of what other UK cities are doing. Exeter introduced Co-Bikes electric bike share, then with the same membership, are now introducing electric car share. I also think it is interesting that they use the phrase “Extend walking and cycling priority schemes and encourage greater modal shift. Provide a safer environment for cycling and walking.” Given the recent debacle in Keynsham, we need to enable people to make the switch, not encourage. You can give all school children Bikeability 3 training and encourage them to cycle to school, but you can only enable them if there are visibly safe cycle routes that get kids from their schools to their communities.

BATH NEWSEUM

The first set of events for people wanting to find out more about plans for a Clean Air Zone for Bath – including charging high-emission vehicles to drive into the city centre – are being held during April.

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Two public events have been lined up by Bath and North East Somerset Council with lots more being planned over the coming months.

The Council has been asked to take urgent action to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide levels in the city and has drawn up a shortlist of three packages of measures which are capable of reducing vehicle emissions and bringing about the required improvement by the 2021 deadline.

No decisions have been made at this time but the Council is legally bound to reach a decision on a preferred package of measures by December and it is seeking people’s views. Over the coming months, each package of measures will be examined…

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It’s not the Air Quality stupid: CAZ treat the effect not the cause

A friend reminded me that I had told him a few years ago that Air Pollution is a sideshow. The real issue for transport is health, under which Air Pollution is a small aspect, with obesity having to be the primary focus.

Tackling Air Pollution, as BaNES are demonstrating, can simply mean “buy a newer car” and by newer, by 2021, a 15 year old petrol or 6 year old diesel. Surprise surprise, by 2025 traffic would have increased by 6% (large pdf). The table can be found in one of the annexes. Continue reading It’s not the Air Quality stupid: CAZ treat the effect not the cause

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