Category Archives: New Infrastructure

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.

 

Keynsham High Street – Designing out inclusive mobility

The council recently announced a trial to create a one-way system on Keynsham High Street. I’ve even heard it was designed by cyclists for cyclists but I’m guessing the term ‘cyclist’ must have clouded their way of thinking and I’d just like to remind the council that ‘cyclist’ is not a middle aged man in lycra and that you must design better.Designing For.png

There are big big issues in the design which have not considered sustainable safety. I mean serious omissions. Highways have ‘baked in’ infrastructure that encourages illegal behaviour that creates real danger for anyone cycling in the space.

This is only a quick run down of the issues. If you want to follow along, this is the PDF from which I’ve taken the details.

Continue reading Keynsham High Street – Designing out inclusive mobility

Cycle Ambition Fund 2: Bear Flat Event Thursday 26th 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.

Please find details of the Bear Flat event attached, I will be sending details of the London Road event in the next few days but for reference it will be held on Thursday 26th  of January from 3pm until 6pm.

I would be very grateful if you could pass the details on to any groups or individuals you think would find this of interest and please do get in touch if you require any further information.

bear-flat-event (pdf)

West of England Joint Transport Study: Transport Vision Response from CycleBath

The vision is considered naive.

There are no target modal-split values in the vision. The poster child for sustainable cities is Freiburg in Germany. A city of around 150km2 vs Bristol’s 110km2.

Looking at the modal-split in Freiburg.

In 1982:

  • 35% of people walked,
  • 15% cycled,
  • 11% used public transport (trains, buses, trams),
  • 9% were car sharing
  • 29% in single occupancy vehicles.

By 1999, 17 years later:

  • 23% walked (-13%),
  • 27% cycled (+12%),
  • 18% were using public transport (+7%),
  • 6% car shared (-3%),
  • 26% single occupancy vehicles (-3%)

The ambition by 2020 is:

  • 24% walking (+1%),
  • 27% cycling (0%),
  • 20% public transport (2%),
  • 5% car sharing (-1%)
  • 24% single occupancy vehicles (-2%)

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Freiburg is a big city which has had phenomenal success and has achieved this through the building of 400km of segregated cycle tracks but think getting more than 27% of the population cycling is not possible.

So when you look at the West of England transport vision fails to answer two simple questions.

  1. What is the current modal-split by city/region?
  2. What is the target modal-split by city/region?

Once you have the answer to these two questions, you can actually begin to have a vision. At the moment the vision just feels like civil servants and politicians wanting to play with very big expensive train sets. It is vague and appears to have been deliberately written this way to allow for future back tracking.

Walking and cycling has been lumped into one budget. This type of lumping in creates situations where councils misuse money intended to develop good segregated cycling connections between communities and schools/centres of employment and allocate it to ‘public realm improvement schemes’. Bath’s Seven Dials scheme being a classic example of wasting cycling ambition fund money.

Cycling needs its own budget and one that has specific controls/standards/audits around the bid processes to ensure the delivery of high quality segregated infrastructure.

The World Health Organisation has recommended that 20% of any transport budget is allocated to the development of cycle networks as these support the 0-8km travel range which covers the majority of most people commuting to school/work. Given the £7.5 Billion budget, the vision should be allocating £1.5 Billion to cycling ALONE not £0.4 Billion to cycling AND walking.

An example to consider is London which has just allocated £900 Million to cycling. The cycle superhighway has enabled Embankment to increase road capacity by 5% by reducing the space allocated to motorised vehicles.

The vision also ignores the need for legislature to achieve better road capacity. Transport For London have been able to increase road ‘people’ capacity, note the lack of using the term traffic flow, as they ‘own’ the major corridors and can do what they want with them.

The trunk roads within our cities are at the whim of the councils. In many instances on-road parking is a higher priority for local politicians than the development of a balanced modal-split transport network. In other words, you can have segregated cycle tracks but only if it does not impact the residents on-street parking on major A roads. This approach must be changed.

The vision also needs to clearly state that transport is a public health crisis that, through deliberate design over many decades, has encouraged the use of the car as “the” premier form of transport while degrading public transport. This article discusses this in detail. Highways and planning must take responsibility for delivering healthy environments. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/15/sedentary-lifestyles-social-care-crisis-exercise-ill-health-old-age

Sedentary lifestyles and morbidity can be countered through delivery of good active travel options and discouraging the use of the private car.

The vision document fails to deal with any connection to Radstock. It very much discards rural North East Somerset. This seems short-sighted.

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Particularly within Bath the maps are way-off with the key cycle network routes. See the attached Bath Cycle Network Map. The light rapid transit system appears to be using the Bristol To Bath cycle path while running parallel to the current rail network. Why not increase the number of trains? The authors have forgotten the 2007 protests in Bristol when the BRT was proposed to run along the cycle path. The authors of the vision also seem to have forgotten that the path has been widened in parts due to the immense number of people using it.

It is estimated that 20-25% of rush hour traffic is the school run. The school run must be tackled and eradicated. Many councils are beginning to create school drop-off exclusion zones, but more importantly, ways need to be found to offer free public transport to all school children. Some schools in Oxford have 80% of pupils cycling to school, not through training and education, but because the provided infrastructure enables traffic free commuting from their communities to the school. Travel independence is key for school children.

The JTS mentions education, by which we are assuming Bikeability training. However cycling rates in 10+ children are phenomenally low. No matter how well you train kids, they will not share the road with HGVs and will be driven to school.

We stress again the modal-split that Freiburg will achieve in 2020:

  • 24% walking
  • 27% cycling,
  • 20% public transport,
  • 5% car sharing
  • 24% single occupancy vehicles.

The majority of travel within the city of Freiburg is by bicycle, the same can be said for Copenhagen, and even some parts of London.

It is considered vital that the JTS provides target modal-splits by region/city and then actively pursues those targets through the correct allocation of budgets to either encourage or discourage forms of transport. These can be derived from the 2011 census data and re-evaluated using the 2021 census data.

More importantly, the JTS MUST split cycling out from walking. It is not acceptable to have these two different forms of transport that do not mix well together in one pot of money.

Adam Reynolds

CycleBath Chair

 

You’ll Never Leave…

Following some chat on Facebook about how the cycle routes through Radstock are in the process of changing I thought I would try and clear up some of the current confusion.

Prior to 22nd August 2016 the “Colliers’ Way” cycle route left town in the direction of Kilmersdon, Mells and Frome via Church Street and Meadow View. This was always intended to be a temporary route, pending redevelopment of the former Radstock West Station site (once a busy station on the GWR Bristol and North Somerset branch) since the  cycle route opened in 2004.

Continue reading You’ll Never Leave…

Why “sharing the road” has failed

It’s quite interesting how you can end up with strange bedfellows within a Facebook group and have interesting, if unfortunately fruitless conversations. However I do think that the 44 ton truck driver I was in discussion with had some interesting points that needed addressing.

Do I think, that in anyway, I changed his viewpoint? I hope so. Some of what he stated and believed is quite scary, and if we, as a society, want to create better road spaces that provide facilities that enable people to make real choices to move away from the private vehicle, then we need to bring these truck drivers with us.

More importantly this discussion is about councils being honest with the way roads are perceived and how different types of traffic should be using them.

Continue reading Why “sharing the road” has failed

Shared Space – Saw Close and Seven Dials

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:

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Image taken from this pdf

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.

Continue reading Shared Space – Saw Close and Seven Dials

Saw Close squeeze on traffic.

The leaflet that is linked in the consultation is the “Creating space for Everyone”. This states:

The first modern Shared Space designs originated
in the Netherlands and have since become common
across other European cities. An area like this
recognises that people are equal and should be
treated as such. The perceived pecking order that
pedestrians must give way to cars is removed,
instead encouraging cooperation between users.
Cars no longer control the space and must allow
for pedestrians, this reduces traffic speeds and
makes the area less hectic. Cyclists can use the
area without being restricted to narrow cycle lanes.
The aim is for people to use this space courteously
and considerately.

Modern shared space is no longer being built in the Netherlands as it creates too much danger for pedestrians and cyclists. Instead it is absolutely and ONLY being used on roads where motorised traffic has been removed or excluded. https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/getting-shared-space-the-wrong-way-round/

It is why Seven-dials fails. You do not build shared space on a through road. Saw Close is still a through road (of sorts) and it is important to ensure that the route cars take through the space is not a direct fast line. Ideally Cheap Street/Westgate Street would have rising bollards put in place to prevent motorised access during the day as has been done on Lower Borough Walls, to fantastic praise from the businesses on the street.

The cherry on the top would be to install rising bollards on Westgate Street and to reroute buses to pick up on James St West.

Also of significant note, the Bath Accessibility report presented at the Bath City Conference specifically highlighted those corduroy stones as too narrow and easily step-over-able by a blind person at only 350mm wide and that a more suitable 800mm wide ledge was better. I would even suggest a slightly dropped kerb.

I’m also concerned that no clear route through the space is being provided for cyclists. However the fact the road is still clearly “marked” does give some hope, however the council must learn from Lower Borough Walls where they installed a 2m wide shared path in front of a very busy pasty shop, rather than a clearly defined contraflow cycle lane that should have been part of the road.

Unfortunately it does feel that lessons are not being learnt from the Seven Dials fiasco.

BATH NEWSEUM

As part of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s plans to remove obstacles for walking and cycling and reduce the dominance of motor vehicles in the city centre, the Council proposes to make improvements to Saw Close to  re-establish the area as a key social space and a focal point for Bath’s entertainment quarter.

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Saw Close experiences low vehicle traffic but is a busy pedestrian area that is largely occupied by carriageway. It is proposed to see the road narrowed to slow traffic and encourage pedestrians to make more use of the entire area.

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The plans will be on display on Monday, 11 July, from 1pm to 6pm in the Brunswick Room on the ground floor of the Guildhall in Bath, where locals will be able to give their views on the proposals. Council officers will also be present to answer any questions.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath &…

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Is Highways really delivering safe routes to Schools?

This one is slightly personal in that it directly impacts upon my daughter. She goes to Hayesfield and lives within walking distance of the school (Bear flat). She has asked if she can ride to school and we’ve told her no due to Wellsway. The recent Hayesfield newsletter had this message from the head teacher:

Crossing at Lower Oldfield Park

I would like to update you with the proposed new road crossing for our students. A £35,000 budget has now been allocated by BANES under the ‘Safe route to school’ section of the Highway Capital programme. The proposal is for a pedestrian footway buildout, zebra crossing and associated highway works near the student entrance on Lower Oldfield Park. The timescales for the various schemes on the capital programme are being drawn up over the next couple of weeks and I will let you know what the date for completion is once it has been confirmed.”

Now I’m all for making a crossing across the horror that is Lower Oldfield Park road, but I’m slightly concerned that we are creating a buildout that narrows the lane and forces a child cycling to school to have to “take the lane”. This crossing is important and needs to happen, but I’m unsure if a build out is the right thing here.

Maybe there is a better solution.

Continue reading Is Highways really delivering safe routes to Schools?