Category Archives: Bath

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

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The problem is not us, it’s them!

When we ask ourselves how we address the transport problems in Bath, and particularly the air pollution that Bath suffers from, the language that organisations use gives you an idea about the direction in which those organisations are looking.

Reading both the statement put forward by BaNES  and the letter from FoBRA published in the Chronicle, it is pretty clear that the problem is the 12% through traffic ( 8760 drivers) and the naughty 900 HGVs. (FoBRA in their defence did list a few other things.)

What seems to have been ignored is that WE are the 88%. We are the 64240 people that drive into and around the city each day. Yet the answer lies with the 12%.

Let’s be clear. The A36/A46 bypass will ONLY remove 2000 cars form London Road and is 15 years in the making. Within the last 12 years we’ve already lost nearly 5,000 cars from London Road yet the bypass has been on the cards for 30+ years.

We need to be absolutely honest about what’s going on here and we need radical solutions and we need them now.

We need strong parking control across the whole city to keep Park and Ride sites fully utilised. The council can sell day time passes to commuters in areas where space is available if P&R sites get too full (but not for diesel). Call it the Bath RPZ+ if you like.

We need to prioritise separate space for walking, cycling, and driving on our major arterial roads over on-street parking.

We need better, smoother junctions using Poyntonesque style roundabouts with cycle bypasses (Poynton is horrible to cycle. I tried.).

We need a Link and Ride on the east side of the city using brownfield land between the A46 and the railway at Bathampon Junction, ready for when you implement the RPZ+.

We should be implementing some of the phases from the New Phased Delivery of the Bath ‘Living Heart’ Transport Plan making the city centre access only.

We need to kill the school run. Build School Streets. Fine parents for dropping their kids off outside schools as 5,000 of them do each day. LOOK AROUND YOU RIGHT NOW. Go outside tomorrow at 8:30am. Where’s all the traffic?

We need to ask why 10,000 people living in Bath, drive 2 miles or less to work in Bath each day.

What we don’t need to be doing is blaming the 12% or those naughty HGVs.

WE ARE THE 88%. WE ARE THE PROBLEM.

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Bath Quays, we have a problem and an opportunity

I’ve finally got my electric bike back and there is nothing quite like riding anywhere in Bath and not having to feel the burn of climbing hills. Holloway at 25kph. Not a problem. Actually that one hurts as it’s pedal assist but the motor happily takes a 130kg man up Holloway at 15kph with me free wheeling. However I digress.

What it did let me do is explore Weston to Camden and down through Larkhall and back to Locksbrook without worrying about hills. I found an extra fix for the link from Julian Road to Camden via Morford Street that is a lot more comfortable than Brunswick Place and will be updating the Cycle Bath Map shortly.

So why am I writing this?

While exploring the newly re-opened Quays route I came across this build-out:

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Continue reading Bath Quays, we have a problem and an opportunity

The Locksbrook Greenway – The final piece in the puzzle.

Part of trying to understand how to make walking and cycling more attractive given that 47% of people living in Bath and working in Bath walk or cycle to work is trying to create cohesive end to end networks.

Whether you like it or not, your only real option for accessing the city centre from the west is to use the congested river path. It’s not only narrow, due to years of poor maintenance, but is also not perceived as safe late at night.

The Locksbrook Greenway Scheme fixes this:

Locksbrook Greenway Scheme (4)
Using the proposed BRT route we can create a traffic free corridor into the heart of the city with a new parallel Fieldings Cycle Bridge, refurbishment of Locksbrook Bridge and replacement of Traffic Light controlled Windsor Bridge junctions with Cycle Bypass Roundabouts.

But significantly it also fits in with Cycle Bath’s call to break Pines Way Gyratory:

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Remove Pineway Gyratory, replace traffic lights with roundabouts, create segregated space for walking and segregated space for cycling. The gyratory is 4 lanes in parts and this enables it to go down to 2 lanes for cars creating a larger public realm and even enable bus bypass for the protected cycle lane.

This then delivers you directly to Quays Bridge and into the city centre.

This proposal is roughly identified in the Bath Enterprise Plan

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However their proposal around the Pines Way misses the trick of identifying a core transport corridor to the train station.

The Locksbrook Greenway is not a new idea, but simply one that seems to be forgotten.

Churchill Bridge Turbo Roundabout Proposal

I think when looking at road systems it can be hard to create something that is great for maximising vehicular traffic flow and keeps cyclists safe. Roundabouts fall into the keeping traffic flowing while making cycling unsafe category.

Bring in spatial constraints and you can end up with something horrible that is extremely hostile to people wanting to cycle.

As an exercise in rethinking Churchill Bridge Roundabout I began looking at turbo roundabouts. Something highways engineers use to create a high volume vehicular throughput.

Turbo roundabout

A specific form of roundabout for motorists, with a spiral pattern that commits motorists to choosing the correct lane before entering the roundabout. Lane changes on the roundabout itself are eliminated

And I came up with this:

Churchhill Bridge Turbo Roundabout Proposal (2)

The Churchhill Bridge Turbo Roundabout Proposal (3) pdf is probably clearer.

I’m really uncomfortable with creating a Wellsway cycle lane to the right which ‘forces’ somebody cycling to take a primary position to then access the new cycle crossings. So for people that are uncomfortable with roundabouts, it’s a big ask to get them to do this just to access a traffic free way to negotiate the roundabout.

I did try and have a west crossing point, but the sight lines make it phenomenally dangerous and even the east crossing point is probably inadvisable.

For people comfortable with cycling, the roundabout now offers a lot more ‘control’ as taking the lane controls the traffic around you. No longer will you be under/over taken

Comments welcome. I have submitted it to Highways for consideration, particularly as the layout fixes the accident blackspot which is the Wellsway leg of the current roundabout.

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What do each of the parties offer for cycling?

After the withdrawal of the transport hustings from all the candidates, Transition Bath, Transition Larkhall and Cycle Bath requested a one to one interview with all candidates. They obliged. During the interviews we gave each candidate the chance to air their views on some of the main issues in Bath and what their plans were to tackle them.

Each candidate was given an hour to interview and answer detailed questions. The full details of which can be found here.

A quick summary of local priorities:

Parliamentary-Election-2017-Candidates-Transport-Priorities-720x380

Focusing in on cycling in order of interview:

Wera Hobhouse (Liberal Democrats)

On Cycling and active transport

  • A keen cyclist with a history of prompting increased cycling in other areas she has lived in.
  • Wants to see a greater emphasis on encouraging people on to bikes and walking.
  • Demonstrated openness to working with groups like Transition and Cycle Bath, to implement and lobby for stronger initiatives and incentives.
  • Wants to create networks of cycling away from main traffic.

Ben Howlett (Conservative Party)

On Cycling and active transport

  • Will implement more cycle routes and safe walking zones
  • Working to implement cycle racks on the front of buses to help encourage bike use
  • Improvements to the Bristol/Bath cycle path, with more accessibility to more people and new developments in Bath.
  • Accessing government’s funds to improve the region.

Joe Rayment (Labour Party)

On Cycling and active transport

  • Like Ben, would like to see bike racks on the front of buses.
  • Segregated cycle lanes to make cycling safer to increase accessibility for all.
  • Prioritise walking, cycling and buses above the use of car.

Eleanor Field (Green Party)

On Cycling and active transport

  • Safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists, including segregated cycle lanes.
  • Walking buses for children on their way to school.
  • Less cars will encourage more active travel, so it has to be key to reduce car use.
  • Wants to encourage more e-bikes in Bath.

Interviewer’s Conclusions

There were some big differences between candidates and some similarities. All accept there is a problem with air quality and congestion in Bath, and all want to encourage more walking and cycling, whilst trying to make public transport more affordable. All candidates apart from Ben seem to agree that more roads and car centric schemes are not the answer. Joe and Eleanor both see an opportunity to take rail and buses back into public ownership, at least at a local level, and Joe strongly made this the centrepiece of his plan. Wera looks strongly to working within communities to instigate change through movement away from the car, and Ben wants to put the emphasis on reducing traffic in Bath by diverting it where possible on alternate routes. Please take the time to listen to the interviews yourselves and hopefully this will help you make the choice you feel will best serve the city, and our future.

My Conclusions

I felt that much of what an MP can and cannot do is constrained by a willing council. It’s all very good Ben Howlett pushing for more cycle routes and walking zones but that actually means very little. All roads are cycle routes and walking zones. Just some are safer than others. The other candidates all wanted to segregate cycling away from motorised traffic which I feel is the only viable approach.

All candidates wanted to ‘encourage’ people to cycle. This is a politically weak construct that allows you to do nothing. With 5.5% of commuters in Bath cycling to work (Census 2011), but only 1% of school children cycling to school, it is the perceived safety of our roads that is ‘discouraging’ people from everyday cycling. The only way you get more people cycling is to segregate, to make it safe.

Putting the work an MP does at parliamentary level within the context of what can be achieved locally I think is a hard thing to do.  An MP can do a couple of things at national level that will have a profound impact at a local level:

  • Legislate for 10% of DfT budget to be spent on cycle infrastructure.
  • Legislate for a set of national enforceable cycle infrastructure standards that take the speed profile and minimum requirements as set out in Highways England IAN 195
    minimum
  • Legislate to require councils to meet minimum infrastructure standards as part of resurfacing/maintenance programmes and provide access to DfT budget to implement those changes.
  • Petition to switch from maximising traffic flow to maximising road capacity. Replacing 2 rows of parked cars on a major route with cycle lanes can increase road capacity by 63%.
  • Legislate to recognise that road design has a key role in delivering public health improvements around Air Pollution (average 7 months loss of life) and Obesity (average 36 months loss of life) and refocus the DfT and Local Authority Highways departments around prioritising active travel on our roads or provision of good alternatives.

Whoever wins on Thursday, I hope Cycle Bath can sit down with them and work at a national level to make a real difference locally.

Please go and look at the detailed analysis available on Transition Bath’s website

Creative Bath Innovation Award Finalist

On September 3rd 2016, I (Adam Reynolds) took part in the Celebrate the City Bath Hacked Hackathon winning the event, with the help of one other hacker, with the following graphic:

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Upon releasing this onto social media, people began feeding back information, even laminating it and using it to get around the city. I realised there could be some mileage in evolving the map into something better.

Continue reading Creative Bath Innovation Award Finalist

In support of the Bath Cable Car

Recently I have been working with census data that indicates around 31,000 local car journeys are being made in the city, with around 7000 Bath residents driving to work in Bath and 5000 school children being dropped off and picked up by car. The decision commuters and parents make to use the car is fundamentally down to the choices they feel they have to make those journeys.

For many people living on one side of Bath that work or go to school on the other side of Bath, the lack of good cycle provision, the challenging seven hills of Bath, and the time consuming hub centred bus network requiring you to change buses at the bus station, reduce the choices people feel they can make down to one. Use the car.

Continue reading In support of the Bath Cable Car

BaNES just closed a vital traffic free cycle path and made it dangerous

Now this might come across as hyperbole, but I am adamant that if you want people to stop using cars, you need to provide good safe choices. This evening I discovered that the council had removed a wide dropped kerb, and created a narrow crossing that is not part of the desire line that 1000s of people use every day. It not only creates problems for people cycling, but has a real impact on people on mobility scooters, wheelchairs and push chair. It’s a vile, thoughtless, bureaucratic piece of bullsh*t that has me spitting feathers.

This is what they have done:

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This is what it used to be:

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[google streetview]

And this is the result of removing the dropped kerb and enabling easy access for people…

The river path is now no longer a good ‘legal’ cycle route. It is now a desired cycle route. Even if you used the dropped kerb, the footpath is 1m wide. It’s creating huge amounts of conflict between users of the path and requires people cycling to ride illegally along a footpath.

Even if you ignore the cycling aspect, the gradient of the path is steeper on the narrow footpath making it a problem for wheelchair users. The path is 1m wide making passing hard.

This is utter utter utter bullsh*t and a complete waste of taxpayer’s money.

I have no idea who you write to about this. I’m guessing local councillors (Jasper_Becker@bathnes.gov.uk & ian_gilchrist@bathnes.gov.uk) and definitely Cllr Anthony Clarke (anthony_clarke@bathnes.gov.uk)

This is sheer incompetence and complete disregard for accessibility or a need to recognise air pollution is a problem in this city and cycling is one of the answers.

[Update 14th of March] I have been reliably informed that this footpath is actually a road called Spring Gardens that was closed to traffic, hence the bollard. The council have infact, illegally closed a road by building a kerb across the access point to it.

 

Events: How can walking and cycling be improved in Bearflat (Thu 26th Jan) and London Road (Tue 31st Jan) 3pm-6pm

Sustrans are working with Bath and North East Somerset Council as part of the Cycling Ambitions Fund 2 (CAF) to consider how walking and cycling in several areas throughout Bath could be improved. We will be engaging directly with local communities in order to understand the needs and aspirations of those living and working within the project areas.

As part of this process, Sustrans and BANES will be holding a number on-street events and running an online interactive map, giving people the opportunity to tell them what is currently stopping them from walking and cycling and which routes they use at the moment.

We would value your input into this process so please do come along to the events or log onto the online mapping tool and record your views (http://www.sustrans.org.uk/bearflat & http://www.sustrans.org.uk/londonroad).

IF YOU CANNOT MAKE THE EVENTS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FEEDBACK THROUGH THE ONLINE FORMS: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/bearflat & http://www.sustrans.org.uk/londonroad

Bearflat event is this Thursday the 26th of January: bear-flat-event(pdf)

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London Road event is this Tuesday 31st of January:london-road-event(pdf)

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