Category Archives: Bath

Bath Clean Air Zone Consultation, DEFRA’s failure to understand the problem

As people are very aware I am not just somebody that campaigns for cycling but spend a significant amount of time working on policy and, with my systems analyst hat on, how we create better cities and towns.

The council are currently consulting on the Clean Air Zone here and I’ve written my 25 page response here: CAZ Response.

The TL;DR is to implement:

  • Workplace Parking Levy
  • Citywide Parking Control with inner and outer zones based on CO2 g/km, car length, and a 50% diesel surcharge
  • Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)
  • Sustainable Transport Levy on all parking fees
  • Free/cheap public buses

Continue reading Bath Clean Air Zone Consultation, DEFRA’s failure to understand the problem

BaNES spent £300k on polishing a turd

If you haven’t guessed this one is going to be all about the renovation of the Widcombe Subway.

The barriers have now been removed.

NOBODY WANTED THIS!

This is a renovation that locals in the area did not want and one that was imposed on them by traffic modelling and air pollution. Yes, Cllr Clarke suggested a level crossing would create air pollution. Oh and despite there being a level controlled crossing on the west of the roundabout.

I have emails about this going back to 2016 where people were asking for a level crossing. The decision to renovate the 1970s subway predates the golden era in transport policy brought about by Cllr Shelford and is the last gasp of the dark ages of Cllr Clarke (a.k.a Mr 30mph).

1970s built in conflict and poor social safety

You cannot paint over tight corners and very confined space to make it better. It’s simply a horrible shared space route that we should have just filled in and left to rot.

What they should have built.

The real issue with Churchill Roundabout is that it’s horrible to use and the south exit is an RTC black spot. I drew this proposal and I realised last night that by opening up one of the arches you could have created a very wide route into the city centre rather than the narrow path through the bridge.

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It needed imagination and a willingness to prioritise walking, cycling, and tackle car dependency. Instead we, the people of Bath, are sacrificed at the god of vehicle traffic flow.

Concerns for the future

As a side note, Cllr Mark Shelford has announced he is running for Police Crime Commissioner. This is hugely disappointing as this is likely to mean, should Mark retain his ‘seat’ and the Conservatives win in May, he is likely to step down as Cabinet Member for Transport . No matter your colour be it red, blue, green, or yellow, it is the individual councillor’s views and capabilities that make the difference. Mark has been excellent and very capable but his predecessor was really really really bad. We are *still* suffering from his predecessors handy-work and he has left a legacy of issues that still need fixing.

Mark’s legacy, particularly beginning the introduction of the Oxford Walking and Cycling standards should stand us in good stead for decades to come.

Bath I think we have a PROWblem

Let me start by telling a joke…

For anyone that has joined Cycle Bath’s Facebook Group, you will be intimately aware of the work of Bath and North East Somerset’s Public Rights Of Way (PROW) team around Fieldings Bridge and ongoing river path improvement from Locksbrook to The Boathouse pub. For those unfamiliar here’s a quick history.

Fieldings Bridge Part One

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  1. For the last 10 ish years the owner of the car park next to Fieldings Bridge has been asking the PROW team to sort out the correct path and prevent people crossing the car park.
  2. Bath Spa University bought the Herman Miller building and boarded up the one access route from the river to Fieldings Bridge while they redevelop the site.
  3. The PROW team then installed a very poor set of concrete steps from the river to the bridge despite numerous calls from people and organisations for a connecting level path.
  4. Car Park owner now has anyone with a push chair, mobility scooter, bikes, anything wheeled, using the car park and decides enough is enough and fences off the car park.
  5. After much gnashing of teeth and councillor intervention (Thank you Cllr Doherty!) PROW team eat humble pie and install a connecting level path.

Fieldings Bridge Part Two (ongoing)

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  1. The council approves a significant number of student accommodation to be built on Lower Bristol Road, then the Lidl Retail Park, and the upcoming Bath Spa campus. It also helps develop and build the Two Tunnels which is a major tourist attraction and heavily promoted by Visit Bath. It’s also the beginning of National Cycle Network Route 244 and connects to NCN 4, y’know the Bath to Bristol Railway path and all the way to London.
  2. The council also publish an award winning Water Study that specifically highlights the issue of overcrowding on this bridge, how much worse it has become and how this bridge urgently needs replacing.
  3. There have been reports of a number of incidents of people cycling aggressively across Fieldings Bridge and colliding with people walking over it. That’s really sh*t behaviour. There have also been incidents of people blocking people cycling over the bridge and accosting them.
  4. PROW team removes the advisory Cyclists Dismount signs and replaces them with No Cycling signs. Job Done. Well but forgets to put one on the new level connecting path between river and bridge so any cyclist coming from the river has absolutely no clue that they are now illegally riding over a bridge.
  5. So now NCN 244 broken. The Two Tunnels Circuit is broken. Any disabled cyclist in a hand cycle can no longer use the bridge. I spoke with Visit Bath yesterday and told them they might need to inform any tourists about this. Sustrans are preparing a response.

Locksbrook River Path (ongoing)

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  1. Notices goes out that the PROW team are going to be upgrading the footpath as it is unusable.
  2. Being a nosey busy body, I dive in and find out that the new bitmac path width will be 1m wide all the way as there are bits of the path that are that narrow. In parts the path is currently 2.5m wide and heavily used. You can see this due to the usage pattern. In fact I’d say most of it is 2m wide given the amount of smooth clay either side of the new 1m wide tarmac strip.
  3. I requested that, at a minimum, passing places are put in to allow two mobility scooters to pass each other and am assured that intermittent passing places will be installed.
  4. No specific intermittent passing places are being installed. The only widening is done where there is a river feature or bench. It’s a nightmare for mobility scooters with 100s of metres without a passing point with a good chance of one of them falling towards the river off the raised tarmac path.
  5. The PROW team have designed in immense conflict on an exceptionally busy footpath that is impossible to use by somebody in wheelchair. Mobility scooters could not even turn round on it.

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We really do have a PROWblem!

So as far as I can work out, the councils PROW team has an immense hatred of cycling and makes sure as little wheel friendly new infrastructure as is legally possible put in place. This shafts wheelchair users, mobility scooters, push chairs, disabled friendly trikes, hand cycles etc. but hey at least you’ve tried to prevent those nasty bi-cyclists from using the FOOTpath.

There is something really wrong with a department that has such a clear anti-disabled bias operating within it. The PROW team should be all about creating wheel friendly infrastructure. Its core principle should be about tackling the social model of disability as part of its work.

The social model of disability is a way of viewing the world, developed by disabled people.

The model says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. Barriers can be physical, like buildings not having accessible toilets. Or they can be caused by people’s attitudes to difference, like assuming disabled people can’t do certain things.

The social model helps us recognise barriers that make life harder for disabled people. Removing these barriers creates equality and offers disabled people more independence, choice and control.

Building 1m wide paths, only building steps, refusing to build level paths, and putting up No Cycling signs on an overcrowded bridge caused by planning decisions made by their own council, shows a department with some very big problems and completely out of touch. I would strongly suggest there is a need for accessibility training.

Prioritise People with Disabilities in all you do

It should not be for the likes of Cycle Bath to point out the obvious need for 4 season wheel friendly infrastructure and the, sometimes, life changing benefits to people with disabilities.

If you want to see a slow car crash in motion, just pop down to Locksbrook and have a look at the new path. Now imagine you’re on a mobility scooter and want to turn around on it. Of course, if you mention this to the PROW team, their response is likely to be “Well you do know it’s a FOOTpath don’t you?”

London Road- A BaNES First

London Road has been a long running saga and although the design is poor particularly by keeping polluting cars close to pedestrians and honestly if we had the money, I’d start with fixing the junctions either side, ANYWAY, good things are happening with the installation of Orcas and wands to protect the cycle lane. The build out is being reshaped to allow you to continue through it.

TCY0004-104 (WP2 – General Arrangement) Rev BTCY0004-105 (WP3 – Site Clearance & GA) Rev B

Work has started today and will be complete in the next couple of weeks.

It’s good to see protected cycle lanes being built using orcas

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PS: London Road still needs a redesign with an east protected cycle lane but for now this is really good to see.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Many people are in awe of what has been achieved in Walthamstow, London with over 10,000 less car movements per day and a big shift to walking and cycling as the neighbourhood became car light and traffic free.

London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets London have now created a guide for campaigners, council officers, and politicians on how to achieve these cheap, hugely impactful changes within your towns and cities in a matter of months.

[EDIT] London Cycling Campaign has a really comprehensive page with two excellent documents.

The introduction I hope gives you a taste for what this document can do for Bath and North East Somerset, if the political will can be found.

Each neighbourhood or “cell” is a group of residential streets, bordered by main or “distributor” roads (the places where buses, lorries, lots of traffic passing through should be), or by features in the landscape that form barriers to motor traffic – rivers, train lines etc.

  • You should be able to walk across a neighbourhood in fifteen minutes at most. Larger, and people start driving inside the neighbourhood. We suggest an ideal size of about 1km2.
  • Groups of cells or neighbourhoods should be clustered around key amenities and transport interchanges in a 6-10km radius (with 1-2km walking journeys key) as a priority. This is typically what you get in Dutch suburbs, towns and cities. People walk and cycle within their area, and to the station etc.
  • Cells should link together with crossings across distributor roads or other cell boundaries – this enables people to comfortably walk and cycle between cells from home to amenities, transport interchanges etc.
  • The positive benefits of low traffic neighbourhoods can be further enhanced by providing high quality cycle tracks and pavements along the distributor roads also.

In the coming weeks I will be working publicly to identify all traffic light neighbourhood cells within the city and deliver a plan to create a city that truly prioritises walking and cycling and creates the behaviour change that a clean air zone could never achieve.

Watch this space!

Edit: Study of an introduction of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood cell in Dublin http://www.dublincity.ie/sites/default/files/content/RoadsandTraffic/Documents/Walsh%20Road%20Report.pdf

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

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

Stop being an idler…

There are many things people are doing to fight air pollution within the city. Getting on your bike is one of them. Today there is an opportunity to become part of an army of people directly tackling vehicle idling within the city. This is one of a series of events being held. If you want to get involved you can find out more here https://www.idlingactionbath.org/events2

First Bath Clean Air Champions Idling Training and Action Afternoon 26th March 2:15-4:15pm

Our first Idling Action event will taking place at the YMCA on 26th March from 2.15pm.

There will be a training session lasting about 45 minutes. Pairs of volunteers will then be sent on to the streets in Abbey and Walcot encouraging drivers who are idling their engine to switch off. After about an hour we will meet up for refreshments and a debrief.

We are currently recruiting a team of enthusiastic volunteers who want to be part of this innovative education and behaviour change campaign to reduce localised air pollution and improve air quality in their residential and workplace community.