Category Archives: Cycle City Ambition Grant

Cycle Ambition Failure 3

There’s a theory that sequels get worse and the third series of Cycle Ambition Fund feels like the end of the line. CAF1 was good(ish), giving councils a heads-up and allowing them to put together proposals. CAF2 (£114M) was sprung on councils so quickly, and only thanks to our local Cllr Nigel Roberts working with Cycle Bath, were we prepared enough to put in a £3.8M bid. However lots of councils didn’t and £21M of the allocated money was returned to the DfT.

CAF3, just announced, has an even shorter bid window, and with only a paltry pot of £6.5M to be shared across 8 cities, it will simply be hoovered up in council officer time and might result in a bit of paint.

There are only two things that should be done with this money, and two things only.

We need shovel ready proposals

Delivery of a detailed costed designs to create a city wide cycle network in consultation with the public and use of TfL’s Strategic Cycling Analysis (pdf) methodology.

Use of & should definitely be part of the process. CyIPT should also be funded and supported fully by the DfT. It will save councils so much money and time during the proposal development process.

Mini-Holland Schemes

Given the success of the Walthamstow Mini-Holland Scheme, which boils down to 14 road closures using modal filters, cities should only be allowed to bid IF they are going to use Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (or even regular TROs), planters, and painted concrete blocks to close roads to through traffic and create a quiet street network connecting communities to schools, shops, and places of employment.


For £200k you could buy one ETRO and 50 planters, and a bunch of dead end signs and create 10-20 through traffic free roads. You could have a serious impact on rat running in these 8 cities for very little money.

Share equally and dictate

I would split the money evenly between cities and require them to deliver a fully costed LCWIP defined cycle network and a “mini-holland” scheme using ETROs and planters to close rat runs to cars and create a quiet street network.

We need money and TIME

Council’s need money and time to be able to develop schemes to the point where they are shovel ready. CAF3 could have been an admission that there isn’t the money, but to enable those cities to deliver a vision of what cycling could be if they had the money.

THREE weeks is ridiculous

This is a real failure of Jesse Norman MP (our cycling minister) not to recognise how he is failing to deliver on his brief. He could have been a lot cleverer here and made a real difference down the line.


Cyclists used to try and prevent towpath repair

In 2011, Sustrans, the council, Don Foster MP, and the Canal & River Trust came together and agreed that the state of the Kennet and Avon Towpath between Sydney Gardens and Bathampton was in such a poor state that funding would be found to upgrade the towpath to a 4 season surface that would last for 15+years.

£135k was found in the council budget and Sustrans had reserved £315k of their core funds for the project. Then in 2012, the UK experienced extreme flooding and the government cut Sustrans core funding to support the development of flood defences.

In 2014 the CRT wrote a planning objection letter to the redevelopment of the Warminster Road MOD site demanding £315k towards maintenance of the towpath as the new bridge across to the towpath would increase footfall on an already busy towpath that was suffering from severe erosion.

In January 2015, the council bid and won Cycle City Ambition Grant money to finally do the repair under the CRT’s new “Better Towpaths for Everyone” policy. A national policy to bring ALL 2000 miles of towpaths up to a better standard through a three pronged approach:

  1. Better infrastructure :- Widening all towpaths (where necessary) and upgrading to 4 season surfaces usable all year round.
  2. Better signage :- Clear and prominent shared use signs to be installed across the country where there are concerns raised by local users.
  3. Better behaviour :- A range of initiatives to encourage considerate use of towpaths. These include the CRT’s “Share the space, drop your pace” campaign and the recently developed towpath code of conduct.

There are some people in the community that do not want this repair to go ahead and have started a shock campaign around the idea that the repair will allow cyclists to cycle even faster along the towpath using a rather horrible picture from an inexcusable hit and run incident on a towpath up on the Wigan canal. They want this upgrade stopped at all costs. They like it the way it is as it slowly becomes unusable to all but the most determined users over years to come.

Continue reading Cyclists used to try and prevent towpath repair

Seven Dials, what happened to the Monmouth Street contraflow?

Seven Dials consists of a new shared space and a swathe of Traffic Regulation Orders to develop a more direct cycle network through the implementation of cycle contraflows. The Avon Street contraflow was applied for on the 15th of January 2015. If you look at the scheme map, you’ll see that the Monmouth Street contraflow is key to delivering the scheme as it provides a direct on road contraflow route into the scheme for cyclists:

Seven Dials Missing Monmouth Street Contraflow
Seven Dials Missing Monmouth Street Contraflow

So in theory as part of the delivery of this scheme, this TRO SHOULD have been applied for at the same time as the Avon Street TRO, sometime around the middle of January. So what happened? Why did council officers not apply for this TRO?

Continue reading Seven Dials, what happened to the Monmouth Street contraflow?

CycleBath Meeting Towpath Write-Up

It was exceptionally fortunate to have David Fearne there. As K&A Trust chair he was able to keep people informed. It was re-assuring to know that anything done to the towpath would be done to exceptionally high standards and must preserve the heritage of the K&A waterways. The CRT are GOOD people.

There was a lot of fear about what a smooth surface will do to the speed of cycling along the towpath. It was good to get the focus on to the benefits to everyone else. The path currently excludes people with disabilities and families with pushchairs.
It was emphasised that any work to the towpath would also include promotion of the towpath code of conduct. The towpath code of conduct is a key part of educating bad users, not keeping the path in a bad state of repair to hopefully curtail bad behaviour.
Further to this, Cllr Lin Patterson emailed me this morning and stated that a public consultation will be held by Cllr Martin Veal (Cabinet Member for Communities Services) [TO BE CONFIRMED WHEN] on this. I will see you there.
I will keep people informed as I find out more. I have informed the CRT of this meeting. Hopefully they will be in attendance.
Of note, I sent Martin an email and in it provided him a timeline of CycleBath’s involvement. This is important for people to read:
Quick Timeline:
  1. Nov 2014 : £114M CCAG Money announced.
  2. 30 Dec 2014: CycleBath hold workshop to determine their request to the council’s Cycle Forum on the 7th of Jane 2015 for what the BaNES bid should be.
  3. 12 Jan 2015: With much negotiation this is the final letter: ads the council officer has decided the CCAG bid will deliver two new bridges and the repair to the towpath. LEP money would be bid for to provide the Weston and Newbridge Hill routes CycleBath desperately want done.
  4. March 2015: £3.8M CCAG money awarded. Cycle Forum is held, CycleBath begins it’s work on it’s own proposal for expanding the CCAG Bath East to connect better with communities. A public consultation is promised.
  5. Elections blow things up. No consultation is held.

Important Information:

  • Before the CCAG money came along, council had allocated £180k to upgrade Larkhall path and part of towpath in the 2015/16 budget. This can still be used to ‘fix’ towpath connections.
  • The Canal and River Trust, Sustrans and the council have been trying to find money to do urgent maintenance on the K&A towpath for many years. CCAG solved this for them.
  • Towpath is cared for and owned by the CRT. They are unbelievably tough when it comes to what is done to the towpath.

The Towpath and getting things wrong

When you campaign for better cycling infrastructure to get more people cycling, you can very quickly get focused on fixing what you perceive as issues and move on from what you see as the obvious. The upgrade of the towpath and ramp was one of those things that I, and Cycle Bath, saw as an obvious thing. As can be seen by the Cycle Bath CCAG Bath East bid the ramp and towpath are pretty much mentioned in passing. The focus is on connecting communities to schools and the heart of the city. Getting more people cycling.

I’d like to apologise to the people that signed the letter in the chronicle. The way this has all gone makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t think my “I know a little bit more about the history of the towpath upgrade” attitude has in anyway helped.

I also think the fact the council’s Cycle Forum promised a public consultation on the work and then this never materialising has not helped either. Again I think (I do not know) this comes about because, from the council’s point of view,  the upgrade of the towpath and ramp are “obvious” and there is a previous “agreement” in place with the Canal and River Trust to get this done . I believe (I do not know) that the CCAG bid money has now been limited to the towpath and  ramp upgrade, and this is why the public consultation will not happen.

For the people that love what the towpath currently is, this is a low blow. I cannot apologise for the lack of a public consultation. It was not mine to give. I had written multiple emails over the months trying to get the date of the consultation.

From Cycle Bath’s point of view we do not connect communities, we do not get child friendly routes from communities to schools and the heart of the city. We do not fix Batheaston to Bathampton, no toucan upgrade across London Road and no new toucan on Beckford Road into the back of Sydney Gardens and connecting to the Cleveland pools. It means years of campaigning to get the extra bits done to get safe routes to the towpath.

Now if possible I’d like to get into why Cycle Bath and the council thought the towpath upgrade was “obvious” and it comes down to a planning objection letter linked in the heated discussions on the Bath Chronicle website.

Continue reading The Towpath and getting things wrong