General election: our questions to the local candidates

GE Elections 2019 and cycling policies in Taunton
We have written to all the declared Parliamentary candidates with the following questions. We’ll post the responses as soon as they are received.

Question 1: Dutch-style cycling network for the Taunton

The Department for Transport sponsored Propensity to Cycle Tool shows that with Dutch-style infrastructure, around a quarter of all commuting trips in Taunton Deane would be by bike, increasing to around a third if E-bikes become popular as well. This area has amongst the highest potential cycling rates in the region. TACC has launched the ‘Turn the cycle network blue’ campaign and to date 1700 people have signed our petition to support this.

If elected, would you work for the development of a comprehensive, Dutch-style cycling network for the Taunton area, seeking significant investment from the Department for Transport, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership and local authorities to deliver it? If yes, how would you work to that end?

Question 2: Adopting up to date design guidance for cycling infrastructure

TACC has identified numerous problems for cyclists, and potential cyclists, in the design, construction and maintenance of roads and cycling infrastructure (see Design Issues and Standards). There is currently no specific funding for cycling infrastructure set aside by Somerset County Council (SCC), and there are no national design guides for cycling infrastructure. Furthermore, SCC often uses outdated and/or inappropriate road design guides.

If elected, would you lobby SCC to adopt up to date design guidance for cycling infrastructure, and would you support TACC in seeking dedicated local funding for cycling infrastructure construction and maintenance, nationally and with local authorities?. If yes, how would you go about this?

Question 3: Creating high quality safe cycleways

Would you support the creation of cycling superhighways from the proposed urban extensions to the centre of Taunton and the railway station, to provide genuine, high quality safe cycleways providing a real alternative to motorised travel for work, shopping and leisure journeys for our newly designated garden town?

Question 4: Spending to improve bus services, walking and cycling

Currently there is a large national road building programme (at least £15 billion) and planned major investment in HS2. Meanwhile bus services are being cut back and there is little specific direct funding for walking and cycling, particularly in Somerset.

Do you believe that the current transport spending priorities are right and are there any changes to it that you would like to make? Should improved levels of capital investment come from central government to improve bus services, walking and cycling?

Question 5: Working with TACC

If elected, would you be prepared to work with TACC and the local authorities to improve cycling as a day to day means of travel to all? If yes, what would be your approach to this?

Getting the ‘safe pass’ message out

As part of our campaign to pass safely, we have been getting the ‘safe pass’ message out with our vests and back pack covers during the summer months. Users of these hi-viz vests and covers have answered a short survey about their experience.

  • All but one of the 43 respondents found the vests/covers to be significantly or slightly positive in terms of influencing driver behaviour (60% significantly positively);
  • All users felt safer, of whom: 21% a lot, 60% moderately and 19% a little;
  • A very large majority of 90% would recommend the vests/covers to other cyclists.

Our safe pass vest

Getting the safe pass message out with our vests and back pack covers

We support Somerset County Council with Cycling and Walking plans

We support Somerset County Council with Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Planning

TACC has taken an important step towards joining up the fragmented network of cycle routes in and around Taunton – Turning the Network Blue!
In 2017 the Department for Transport published guidance for local authorities to produce local plans for improved cycling and walking infrastructure. To complete this work in Taunton the most important routes needed to be audited and reported on in detail.

TACC volunteers spent lots of their time in the summer months completing 40 of these audits, identifying some excellent routes and infrastructure along with significant gaps where work is urgently needed to make cycling direct, safe and comfortable for everyone.
This work has recently been presented to an officer of Somerset County Council to support their work in improving transport in and around Taunton, and will be submitted to the Department for Transport in late November 2019. There are high hopes that the plan will attract national and local funding.

Foxglove Trail Celebration Ride

Cyclists of all ages celebrated the anniversary of the Foxglove Trail on Saturday 5 October 2019More than thirty cyclists of all ages met at the bandstand in Vivary Park to celebrate the anniversary of the Foxglove Trail on Saturday 5 October 2019.
The group made its way around the 11 miles of the trail circling Taunton town centre on a mixture of shared paths and dedicated cycle trails, and found time to get to know each other.
Thanks to the ride leaders who helped a varied and large group stay safe and cause as little disruption to other trail users as possible.

Want the confidence to cycle? Help is on hand

Want the confidence to cycle?There are many people out there who would like to cycle but don’t feel confident to use the road and in their own skills. To help with this, free one to one cycling confidence sessions are available until 27 July 2019. The sessions typical take an hour and are provided by a qualified cycle instructor. They are tailored to the needs of the person taking part.

In Bristol, thousands of people have done these sessions and many now cycle to work, to shops or for other purposes. One person taking part said “I am now fully committed to cycling to work and I have enjoyed every minute so far. Thank you all!”.

Local instructor Nick Warner said “Taunton is a compact town and for many the town centre and work are only a couple of miles away, a perfect cycling distance. The cycling sessions build confidence and road awareness to make local journeys by bike”.

If you would like to take advantage of this, fill out our contact form and we will be able to arrange a time to suit. We advise you to book by 10 July 2019.

The project is being funded by ‘Big Bike Revival’, which is all about overcoming those little barriers and to help people feel more confident about cycling. Information at www.cyclinguk.org/bigbikerevival. This local project is being organised by Taunton Area Cycling Campaign.

Boost your health, save money, cut your carbon footprint and have fun!

More bicycle racks needed and installed at Taunton station

Great Western Railway have installed 22 new cycle spaces at Taunton station in January 2019. This is in respons to our call for additional ‘interim’ spaces in August 2018.
More cycle racks installed at Taunton railway station.
Hundreds of people arrive at Taunton railway station every weekday and many who commute to work often find that all bike racks are taken.

In total 150 new cycle spaces are proposed but the rest are part of the major scheme for the station, and the current interim provision might be moved as part of this.

‘Turn the network blue’ – petition

Taunton has massive potential for more cycling and walking journeys as an alternative to short car trips. Fifty percent of trips in Taunton are less than 2 miles. More cycling and walking would help reduce congestion, cut pollution, improve health, give people more reliable journey times, and save them money. It would give freedom and independence to some of the thousands of people who don’t have access to a car, particularly young people and children. An efficient transport system will support the economy.
Sign our petition to invest in more cycle routes and parking

Somerset County Council tends to favour road schemes when bidding for capital funds for transport. Over £40m has recently been spent or is planned for road schemes. We are asking their the next major scheme is a cycling and walking network project.

Therefore we ask you to support the campaign for new cycle routes and parking in the Taunton Area. Read more about our campaign and please sign our petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/taunton-area-says-yes-to-better-cycling-and-walking-provision

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