Today was an opportunity to take the council to task over their recent report on 20mph schemes. In particular the way the report attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of councillors. At the last-minute, purdah was invoked to remove the item from the Scrutiny Panel until after the election. Let’s be clear. This was not political. This was a major concern by Living Streets, Cycle Bath, 20 is plenty, and Transition Bath, that a fundamental building block of good road design was being removed through deliberate misrepresentation of data in a report.
In May 2017 N & NES Council released a report on their recent 20mph area schemes. Whilst we believe that assessing the results of 20mph limits is important in order to better implement ongoing schemes and formulate local authority policy, this must be done in a reasonable, balanced and objective manner.
20’s Plenty for Us refute the findings and conclusions in the report and advise members that the report is so compromised that it would not be reasonable for them to make any decisions based on the report. This critique looks at the report in detail.
In particular it finds the report biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality.
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.
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.
Avon and Somerset cycle groups, including CycleBath, petitioned PCC Sue Mountstevens to bring this to ASP.
Apparently getting police on bikes not only allows them to prevent close passes, but also connects them with their communities, and more importantly, enables them to capture more people driving using mobile phones.
The Avon and Somerset Initiative was announced in the Bristol Post yesterday:
At the meeting on Wednesday I was informed they would be implementing this scheme, but wanted me to hold off saying anything until an official announcement.
We also discussed 3rd party video evidence and how to make it easier for submission and the acceptance of it. There is currently a court case in progress that they are waiting on the result. So watch this space. I will continue to press this hard as I see this key for many people.
If we truly truly want to “get people out of cars” then we need to provide an environment that is built from the ground up to prioritise the safety and convenience of people walking and cycling. This video explains Vison Zero, an approach to road design that has been adopted in the USA and most scandinavian countries.
If we’re going to have a conversation about cycling in Bath and North East Somerset we need to be able to know where we are starting from and where we want to end up. More importantly we need a way of talking to individual councillors and asking them, what they are doing about “their” patch.
So something that was started as a project at a Bath Hacked “Celebrate the City” hackathon, has very quickly, over the last couple of days, evolved into something rather powerful:
Yesterday I spent close to 3 hours looking at Saw Close with Frank Thomson (a.k.a. Mr. Two Tunnels) and attending the public consultation. What was really good was meeting a lady that was blind and seeing her perspective on it.
For those unable to attend it looks like this:
Today the Bath Chronicle posted an article about Saw Close. I wrote a reply and then realised it had gone completely over their word limit, so had to edit it down.
I think the critical bit that UK Highways needs to listen to is: “Many countries have seen a considerable drop in traffic injuries and deaths since roughly the 1970s. Reasons were the introduction of seatbelts, drunk-driving laws, helmet laws for motorcyclists and mopeds, car cages and airbags. But in the Netherlands there also was a dramatic drop in injuries and deaths of the most vulnerable road users: cyclists and pedestrians. Traffic researches attribute this difference to the introduction of Sustainable Safety.”
Sustainable Safety (“Duurzaam veilig” in Dutch) is the name of the Dutch approach to achieve a better road safety. This policy is lesser known than ‘strict liability‘ and underestimated. Where strict liability is a cure after something went wrong, sustainable safety does much more and at a different time. The main objectives of this vision are preventing severe crashes and (almost) eliminating severe injuries when crashes do occur. It was introduced and quickly adopted by all road managers in 1992 and has since been very successful. In 2005 it was revised and extended. The approach began with establishing that the road system was inherently unsafe. The goal was to fundamentally change the system by taking a person as a yardstick. The guidelines for design were to be the physical vulnerability of a person, but also what a person can and wants to do (humans make mistakes…
If you haven’t been down to the towpath recently you really need to pop down. Better still wait to a rainy horrible day and then pop down. Try to remember how bad it was.
Let me help you:
What is down there is rather fantastic now:
I also think the pea gravel surface on top of asphalt works really well although speaking to somebody who was pushing their father in a wheel chair it was harder going than on the smooth asphalt. The spray and chip top layer is still being applied.
What I do like about the pea gravel is that it makes it noisy to ride/walk along the towpath, and whether we like it or not, we unfortunately have people that do ride too fast and close to people walking and are not prone to using bells and create conflict.
Where the pea gravel surface doesn’t work so well is on the slope down to Grosvenor Bridge. Thankfully it stops halfway down but it feels a bit slippy.
One of the key points made during the consultation was the provision of signs educating people about the Canal and River Trusts Towpath Code of Conduct.
I have not seen any of these along the route. I’d like to see these down there pretty sharpish. Having spoken to a few people down there, it is a problem and it can be easily addressed.
So what still needs to happen?
The spray and chip surface along the whole length needs to be finished.
The footpath between Hampton Row footbridge and the ramp is being made into a gravel path to make it useable all year round.
Code of conduct Signs need to go up.
The exit area onto Beckford road needs asphalt and the desire line footpaths in this area I believe are going to be gravelled to make them useable all year round.
Working, Living, Cycling, and campaigning for better cycle infrastructure in Bath, UK