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 of 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 SCC 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.
More 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.
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. 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, email email@example.com and we will be able to arrange a time to suit. We advise you to book by 10 July.
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.
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This is a brief report of what we did in 2018/19.
- Launched the ‘Turn the network blue’ campaign with mass launch at the Market House. Petition has 1100 supporters, 6 parish councils have written in support. Presented to Somerset County Council/Taunton Deane Borough Council (SCC/TDBC) full councils. Rebecca Pow MP is providing political support.
- A358 Expressway. Petition submitted to Highways England (HE) in Bristol. HE are studying options for J25 in detail and seeking funding to study Taunton – Ilminster. Meeting has been promised.
- Staplegrove (including Kingston St Mary – Town). Fruitful discussions with land promoters on various aspects. SCC have failed to provide a meeting to discuss key issues although promised twice. Have written to Cllr Woodman and action planned for 27 April 2019.
- Great Western Railway (GWR) have introduced 30 additional cycle parking spaces at the station, following our campaign and discussions with them.
- Articulated support for experimental closure of St James Street with impromptu flash mob in the rain. We were thanked for this. Experimental scheme expected to start in May 2019.
- Supermarket parking. Put on hold due to workload but plan to present Lidl/Tesco with wooden spoon or broken pedal and Aldi with a golden pedal (or equivalent).
- Station Road. Councillor Coles committed to putting forward our cycle improvement suggestions for Small Improvement Scheme funding, but didn’t. He hasn’t replied to our emails and phone messages so we don’t know what happened. However, we met Councillor Hunt, who has committed to promoting a scheme under the next round of funding.
- Commented on a variety of proposals including Rowbarton gyratory.
- Foxglove Trail launched in Bike week with leaflet, way marking and launch ride. Way marking is often vandalised at a limited number of locations (mainly in middle class areas).
- Application for GWR funding not successful.
- Application for Road Safety Trust funding successful. Project includes bikeability training, close pass hi viz materials, close pass signs and bike camera to load footage onto police website.
- Funding secured for feasibility study of Wellington-Taunton cycle route and study scope agreed with Sustrans.
- Took Councillor Woodman (SCC, Transport lead) on tour of cycling infrastructure and design problems.
- TACC surveys/data used to input into Local cycling and walking infrastructure plan (LCWIP). Review of network session using City Science report.
- Liaison group with SCC Road Safety and Police. We have been pushing for ‘close pass’ campaign but police are not supportive of free standing campaign. They ran an operation on Station Road in response to high collision rate there but only really focussed on footway cycling – a major missed opportunity. Generally disappointed with lack of progress.
- Survey of students at Taunton Academy resulting in advisory 20 mph zone and other areas of collaborative work.
- Meeting and support to Bishops Lydeard cycle route group.
- Support and advice in setting up of Bridgwater Area Cycling Campaign.
- TACC had stalls at 5 events. Supporters have grown to 700.
- Approx 12 newsletters sent out and regular postings on fb/twitter.
- Featured numerous times in local media and via radio interviews (BBC, Apple FM).
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.
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
On 29 September we launched the ‘Turn the Network Blue’ campaign – calling on the local authorities to support a bid for £10m so that the cycling network can be transformed in the Taunton area. This is just what our Garden Town needs.
The response to our call to wear something blue was fantastic. Thank you to everyone who came along. It was a strong demonstration of support for better cycling in the Taunton area. We made statements at Taunton Deane BC and Somerset CC on 2 October.
Thanks to people who have contacted us since the event. We really welcome people to become involved in our campaigns.
More photos here >
Cllr John Woodman, cabinet member for Highways and Transportation took up our invitation to join a ride around some the cycle network in Taunton. Accompanied by public health and highways officers and members of TACC, Cllr Woodman experienced for himself the good, the bad and the ugly of the cycle routes and highway design in the town, following a circuit from County Hall, via Wellington Road, French Weir, Trenchard Way, Winkworth Way, Duke Street and the Parade.
Among the problems highlighted were discontinuous cycleways alongside main roads, where people on bikes have to give way to minor roads, and difficult junctions at Compass Hill and Priory Park roundabout. An old but very good piece of cycleway design was highlighted at Winkworth Way, where there is a separate cycleway and pavement, a design preferred by both cyclists and pedestrians to the more recent shared pavements approach. The tour also highlighted the need to connect the network where there are missing links, to enable people of all ages and abilities to cycle without fear of fast moving and heavy motor traffic.
It was also an opportunity for Cllr Woodman to try an e-bike for the first time, kindly loaned for the day by Nationwide E-bikes on Priorswood Road.
Cllr Woodman said “I gained an understanding of what the problems are and how they could be addressed. The council will shortly start work on a new Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, to which TACC will be invited to contribute. The more people that cycle, the less traffic congestion and pollution we will have, and of course those people who do cycle will be healthier and fitter, which is great news for the NHS and social care. “