Category Archives: Bath

Cycle Bath calls for the withdrawal of the BaNES 20MPH report

Let’s be VERY clear that this article is exceptionally poor journalism given that at the heart of the story is a Communities, Transport, and Environment Scrutiny panel rejected report. This report is being sent out by the council.

Given national coverage that this rejected report is now getting we are calling on the council to withdraw this report as it reflects poorly on Bath and North East Somerset council and particularly the officers.

The JULY 2017 Scrutiny Panel RESOLVED to:

  • Note the report;
  • Accept that more data over a three year period for all schemes is needed to provide evidence for any future changes to the scheme;
  • Note that capital budget provision will be required to implement any future changes;
  • Await the outcome of the Department for Transport review and request a report on this to a future panel;
  • Continue to consider specific applications for 20 mph schemes especially where these relate to safety around schools;
  • Recommend to the Cabinet Member that 20mph signage be removed where it is illogical.

The data in the report showed that :-

  • Crashes in the 20mph limits had reduced by 28% in Bath.
  • Casualties in the 20mph limits had reduced by 23% in Bath.
  • The number roads with average speeds at or above 24mph had reduced by 43% when 20mph was implemented.
  • The number of roads with average speeds at or above 26mph had reduced by 78% when 20mph was implemented.

Now you may feel that these would have been worth mentioning as a finding in the report but they were excluded. Instead the report found that by looking at areas in detail they could compare the number of areas where casualties and crashes had increased or decreased without weighting or taking any note of the significance of a number. And from this they concluded that more areas had increased casualties than reduced them. This is completely bogus statistically.

I even wrote about this in May.

Dear Council,

Withdraw this report now. It’s embarrassing.

Adam Reynolds

Chair of Cycle Bath

Twitter: @awjre

 

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Council to investigate Resident Friendly Day Parking Zones

Although not strictly cycling related, many many many times, when we ask for better cycling infrastructure, the answer is no due to budgets. Even more insidious are Local Enterprise Partnership grants that can only be allocated on the basis of generating economic activity. So safe routes to schools from communities are harder to justify.

The Problem

  •  A council trying to find £16M cuts over the next three years.
  • Client Earth suing DEFRA again for not doing enough to tackle air pollution.
  • A city suffering from some of the worst congestion in the UK.
  • The cancelling of public bus services.
  • Lack of investment in walking and cycling.
  • 29,000 people commuting to Bath by car with most of them parking up in residential roads
  • 9,000 of those commuters live IN Bath and drive to work IN Bath

The Solution

We need a solution that

  • Removes ‘free’ day parking from our city roads removing the huge incentive to drive into the city rather than use provided park and rides or switch to public transport.
  • Enables the council to fund better public transport networks.
  • Enables the council to implement free bus passes for school age children tackling the 30% of rush hour traffic that is the school run.
  • Does not impact Residents financially for using a car, except when used to commute within the city.
  • Enables the council to work towards a fixed cost of say £35 per month to travel into and around the city by car or bus. Currently buses are £66 within the city or £80 from outside the city. Cars are ‘free’. Guess why people drive in?
  • Recovers some of the costs of Congestion to the city. Currently £9.9Million per year and car commuters directly impact that cost.
  • Delivers on Air Quality. There is no reason to consider that down the line, older diesel cars will be charged more for permits or even not allowed to have a permit.
  • Solves Congestion. Congestion is an exponential curve. A 30% reduction in number of cars entering the city would be similar to what happens to the roads in School Holidays.
  • Discourages car ownership within the city, particularly from students who are asked not to bring their cars with them, but many do.

We need a solution that changes the behaviour of car commuters getting them out of their cars. That places a cost on parking. That solution is Day Parking Zones.

Day Parking Zones

Keeping the current resident parking zones and placing the rest of the city under a new type of Day Parking Zone where:

  • Parking is free up to 4 hours Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm.
  • Council Tax Paying Residents get up to two free permits for their zone.
  • Day Tickets and ALL DPZ permits can be purchased from the council by anyone.
  • Key Workers get free ALL DPZ permits to enable them to carry out their jobs easily.

City Wide Day Parking Zones (3)City Wide Day Parking Zones.pdf

Show me the money

Generating around £54 Million in revenue over the next three years, enabling the council to invest heavily in public transport, walking and cycling, and simply getting more people out of cars. It even discourages students from bringing cars to the city.

I presented this idea to the BaNES Communities, Transport, and Environment Scrutiny panel last night, and they have now set up an All-Party Task and Finish working group to investigate the proposal further.

Bath Key Bus Network

This proposal is only the start though. We currently have a broken bus transport system and without delivery of a Key Bus Network that connects communities and park and ride sites to all economic centres of the city, we have to accept that people will still use their cars to get around the city.

Bath Key Bus Network MapBath Key Bus Network Map.pdf

If we want more cycling infrastructure, if we want a better environment, if we want a good public transport system, we need to enable the council to provide those. Day Parking Zones is that enabler.

IF YOU TRAVEL TO WORK IN BATH BY BUS IT SHOULD COST YOU LESS THAN TRAVELLING BY CAR.

What happens if this is too successful?

This one has been raised. Assuming that this creates a monumental shift in behaviour and suddenly, of the 29,000 commuters, we suddenly find only 50% switch to public transport. Over night air pollution would drop significantly. Public Transport would be heavily utilised requiring less/no subsidy. The economic cost of congestion to the city would drop. This is a win win situation. The less people commute by car, the better.

We need a functioning city, not this grid locked air pollution nightmare we currently have.

Bath North Quays, using pedestrians to slow down cyclists

North Quays is a piece of the puzzle that completes the vision for the Bath Enterprise Area.

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If we examine the role Bath North Quays plays within this vision we see it’s key role is to provide the major cycle route that connects the west of the city to the Bath Spa Train Station. Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 13.13.09.png

In other words it is a vital corridor for active travel.

A complete failure

However the reality of the North Quays Outline Planning Consultation is that this travel corridor has not been provided for.

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Alarming it also goes against the current requirements in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, in particular IAN 195 This is a busy 30mph A road and as per the DMRB this requires cycle tracks. Segregated cycle infrastructure is the required infrastructure.

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Conflict designed in

Yet what the council is proposing is that the South Quays route which will be significantly more attractive once the vision is implemented fully, should be the preferred route for cyclists to then ride along Riverside Parade, then dumping them onto the dual carriageway that is Ambury Street or, the more realistic solution, to ride the wrong way along the footpath round to the Bus Station then rejoin the carriageway on Dorchester Street.

It gets worse

Riverside Parade is also going to be prime café area with on road seating. It’s going to be a major focus for making this into a beautiful public realm for enjoying the river side. It’s brilliant, but should not be a preferred through route for the majority of people cycling from the south of the city.

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They were warned

The problem is that I met Cllr Anketell-Jones on site months ago. We discussed in detail the issues around creating a cycle desire line along Riverside Parade and we raised it with the officer responsible for the enterprise area and the plan has still not changed.

Simple ask

We, Cycle Bath, are simply asking that the council actually stick to the rules and regulations they love so much and deliver something that actually meets the DMRB. Build infrastructure to modern standards.

Vision is key

The big failure with the council and how they are looking at the North Quays is to consider better fundamental changes to the build environment. My proposed ‘Living Heart’ gives a better answer to their problem.

Simplified Bath Living Heart (1).png

By closing Green Park Road and access from Corn Street to St James Parade we create a really good quiet space where the current proposed scheme works correctly.

One more thing

The proposed scheme re-opens Milk Street making it a new rat run into the heart of the city. I have no idea why a council, strapped for cash would not create one large office/resident block rather than two blocks cut through by an unnecessary new road. Not sure I’ve heard of councils creating roads.

Big problems with simple solutions

The officers who came up with this were warned, they did not listen, and are now proposing a poor implementation that goes against current regulatory guidance. There is an implicit assumption that pedestrians can be used to slow down cyclists. The Riverside Parade MUST be a destination, not the most ‘safe’ feeling route to use as a cycle cut through. Protected cycle tracks is a requirement on a high volume 30MPH A road. Failure to consider these as part of the scheme show a training issue within the council Highways team and a very real mindset issue to take cycling seriously as its own form of transport and not one that can be controlled by throwing pedestrians in cyclists way.

They are even going so far as to deliver two below value buildings by building a new unnecessary road rather than delivering one cohesive building. The council is literally taking high value land and building roads on it. You could not make this up.

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 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