Manifesto for prioritising walking and cycling

A recent Freedom of Information request showed that Somerset County Council’s capital expenditure on new roads was £47 million in 2018-19, with £116,000 spent on cycle infrastructure. This is an extreme example, but in the years 2017-19 for every £1 of capital expenditure on walking and cycling infrastructure more than £13 was spent on infrastructure for motor vehicles.

Taunton Area Cycling Campaign, in close cooperation with Safer Walking and Cycling in Bruton and Bridgwater Area Cycling Campaign, have compiled a manifesto. This manifesto calls on Somerset Country Council to reverse the way it prioritises car traffic over walking and cycling in its design and resource decisions.
The manifesto is based on responses to a consultation with parish and town councils and other community organisations in Somerset in May/June 2020. Groups were consulted on an initial draft of the manifesto and the manifesto was amended to accommodate the comments, where possible. It has received support from many community organisations across Somerset.

Walking and cycling manifesto for Somerset

Somerset Climate Action Network has recommended that the five principal authorities in Somerset ‘remove barriers and lead joint funding bids to plan and develop effective cycling and walking infrastructure in all Somerset towns and key rural locations’. We very much welcome recent steps by the Somerset County Council to give greater focus to walking and cycling and the government’s recent announcements.
This manifesto sets out its signatories’ requests of the Somerset County Council as Highway Authority.

Policy

  1. Reverse the nationally prevalent prioritisation, which puts predicting and providing for cars first, with pedestrians, cyclists and those with limited mobility a distant second.
  2. Stop all investment based on ‘predict and provide’. To address long-standing historical imbalances future expenditure on Highways should normally be for maintenance and safety improvements only.
  3. Establish a specific and substantial budget with a named officer at Assistant Director level to champion the development of walking and cycling networks across the County.
  4. Adopt current best-practice guidance as standard policy:
    – Manual for Streets Vols 1 and 2;
    – The LTN 1/19 Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance.
  5. The County Council does not have the granular local knowledge to plan, control and manage everything that needs to be done. Having set the appropriate standards, the Council should devolve elements of decision-making and public engagement to District and Local Councils and community organisations.
  6. Highways’ advice to Planning Authorities should be consistent with this Manifesto. For any new development, walking and cycling connectivity with local facilities should be considered first, and s106 contributions sought to ensure connectivity is delivered to an appropriate standard. If a proposed development does not or cannot deliver this, its refusal should be recommended.

Read more about the Manifesto »

New Report on Garden Towns including Taunton

Transport for New Homes has published a report on Garden Towns and Villages raising concerns that their planning and layout will perpetuate the dominance of motor vehicles and dependence on them.
Garden Towns and Villages is a government initiative to tackle the housing shortage in the UK. More than 50 garden towns and villages are planned aimed at creating new sociable, green communities within walking distance of town centres and with sustainable transport systems.

Letchworth Garden City is the first garden city in the UK

Taunton is a designated Garden Town and is one of the case studies in the report. The report says: “Most are planned in the wrong locations, far from town centres and rail stations. They lack local facilities and their streets are designed around car use. Funding for walking, cycling and public transport is missing.
Sustainable transport is vital to tackling the climate crisis. Walking and cycling in particular have come to prominence during the health crisis, as have the benefits of living more locally. But the housing that we are planning threatens to take us in the opposite direction, locking us into car-dependent lifestyles for decades to come.

TACC encourages you to read the report and join us in working to ensure local authorities in Taunton work to preserve and develop the vision of the garden town in their planning decisions.

Download the report from Transport for New Homes.

Free Dr Bike sessions for key workers as part of the ‘Big Bike Revival’

Recent weeks have seen a surge in cycling. To help key workers take to two wheels, Taunton Area Cycling Campaign is organising two Dr Bike sessions where a qualified bike mechanic from On Your Bike will check your bike over for you.
These are on:
– 21 July, 10-2 at Musgrove Hospital for hospital staff,
– 28 July, 11-1 at CICCIC, Paul Street in the garden facing Billetfield, open to all key workers.

The sessions are completely free but you do need to book a quarter hour slot for your bike. The first one at Musgrove will be at 10am and the last one at 1.45pm. The first one at CICCIC is at 11am and the last one starts at 12.45pm.

To book a quarter hour slot email saying which slot you would like. We’ll try to fit you in as closely as possible with your preferred slot.

This project is funded by the Department for Transport as part of Big Bike Revival. The Dr Bike will be provided by On Your Bike.

Free one to one cycle confidence and skills training is also available, to all adults. It is provided by our friendly qualified trainer and take one or two hours. Please email to make arrangements.

Social distancing-pop up space for walking and cycling

TACC has been asking the leader of Somerset County Council to introduce space for walking and cycling to enable social distancing. We particularly suggested that they consider these routes:

  • Fore Street and East Reach. East Street has been closed to motor traffic previously. The pavements are of variable width and, even with reduced numbers of shoppers, social distancing is not always possible. As a major route into the town East Reach has not been a comfortable place to cycle. Dedicating one lane to cyclists would encourage people to cycle into the town, leaving their cars at home.
  • A38 Wellington Road from the Bishop’s Hull roundabout to County Hall. Again this is a major route into the town with three lanes. Dedicating one lane to cyclists would help commuters use this route as well as leisure cyclists.
  • Cheddon Road and Station Road. This is another normally busy and uncomfortable cycle and walking route that is now relatively quiet. This route is two lane, with a lot of on street parking, both legal and illegal, making social distancing impossible for pedestrians.Our proposal is for a temporary coning off of a section of the carriageway to create safe space for pedestrians and cyclists. The photo below illustrates a problem that often occurs on Cheddon Road.

Illegal parking on pavement on Cheddon RoadThe types of segregation and other provision that other Councils are using are: using cones, some planters as temporary bollards, suspending push buttons at pedestrian crossings, closing ‘rat runs’ using experimental traffic orders.

Initially it seemed that Somerset CC didn’t fully recognise the opportunity and need. However, on 14 May we received this email from Somerset CC:

Thanks for your recent email and it gives me an opportunity to update you on our current approach to the issues of safe cycling and walking.

We are taking a flexible and dynamic approach and are actively developing plans that will:

  • address the immediate concerns of maintaining safe and socially distanced walking and cycling;
  • encourage longer term behaviour change and active travel modal shift.

We are still waiting to hear the details of what our share of the £250million emergency funding announced by the DfT will be and when it will be received. We know that initial tranche won’t do everything we want, so we will have to prioritise the immediate needs.

You will appreciate that such opportunities are not without their challenges. Clearly, issues of both capacity and budget will be to the fore, especially given the speed at which we are being expected to act. So it will be important to clearly identify the priority areas that require immediate actions and those that can be delivered in the weeks to follow. 

The main areas of focus will include:

  • Schools –identify needs and respond;
  • Town centres – opportunities and feasibility engaging with business groups and town authorities;
  • Rural – taking advantage of the changes in rural areas to promote new and existing routes;
  • Communications –to both publicise local changes and amplify government messages on behaviour change.

I know that TACC were engaged in the development of the Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan (LCWIP) for Taunton and you asked about the consultation process. The LCWIP is being finalised but it is unlikely, given the situation, that it will go out for consultation before the end of June. My colleague [… – Ed.] will keep you advised.

One of the immediate tasks in our planning will be to review the LCWIP for any early wins and some of the elements might come forwards earlier.

You and other groups across the county have been submitting items for consideration, ranging from quite small schemes to larger area wide opportunities. Please be assured that these are all being actively considered and will inform the next stage of our programme, which is the delivery of wider opportunities and support to the behaviour change needed to properly embed the shift to more active travel patterns.

There is an expectation to encourage more active travel and we are rapidly putting an approach in place. But we will need to keep pushing government to release more money for walking and cycling initiatives, including the announced £2billion and more detail on how and when that will be made available.

These will be far reaching changes to the nature of our towns and communities, and will affect a wide range of road uses including maintenance, emergency services, public transport, and of course our elderly and disabled travellers. But we are committed to delivering the scale and pace of change that will make the most of current opportunities and hope to be able to embed longer term behaviour changes.

We will be communicating more news of the changes and their impacts as soon as we are able and to ensure that we have your support and further involvement going forwards.

More free one-to-one cycle confidence sessions

Thanks to Magic Little Grants, TACC can now offer more one to one confidence sessions. They are aimed at people who want to build confidence and skills in doing say to day bike journeys. They are provided by our qualified cycle training instructor, Nick Warner, and typically are 1 to 2 hours.

This is what one person said: “Nick who carried out the session is an experienced cyclist and he tailored the session to meet my specific needs. It was carried out in Taunton for 90 minutes and I now feel much more confident around bike safety and care, and also being safe on the roads. I would highly recommend this session to those who can already ride but lack the confidence to ride on the roads.”

If you would like to take advantage, please email us.

People's Postcode LotteryMagic Little Grants

 

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