Category: Cycling Policy

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.

Petition for more funding cycling infrastructure presented

Supporters of TACC presented their petition to Councillor John Woodman, Cabinet Member for Highways at Somerset County Council on 10 January. The petition (both paper and online) is signed by 1800 local residents. The petition asks Somerset County Council (SCC) and Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) to prioritise and develop a major bid for Government funds for cycling infrastructure.

Presentation of TACC petition to John WoodmanPip Sheard, Chair of TACC said: “Our work shows that many people would like to cycle but safe infrastructure is needed to enable them to. More cycling will create large environmental, health and social benefits.

In their Climate Emergency Framework documents, both local Councils identify more cycling as a way to reduce local CO2 emissions from transport calculated at 50% of all Somerset West and Taunton’s emissions. Swopping the car for a bike on a local journey reduces your carbon emissions to zero.

Over the summer, TACC supporters spent a considerable amount of time working with Somerset County Council officers and cycling the town looking at current cycling routes and how they could be improved. Some of this work has been sent to the Government in a document called the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) but now the proposed improvements need funding.”

TACC asks SCC to:
1. Lobby the Government working with our MP to ask them to set up a national dedicated cycling fund as part of the Government’s developing Infrastructure Plan.
2. Ask the Government that this national cycling fund be sufficient so towns like Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil all have a serious chance of getting funds.
3. To support the bid for a Somerset County Council budget for cycling at the Council’s February budget meeting.
4. To write to his officers to ask them to adopt the new proposed Department for Transport Cycle Design Advice and Chapter Six of Traffic Signs Manual, which reflects some of the guidance.

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

Road Safety Fund for a successful campaign

TACC successfully applied for a grant from the Road Safety Fund for a campaign to increase awareness of safe passing and improve local cyclists’ confidence on roads. Mike Ginger explains how TACC used the money.

Close Pass!

You can report any close passes on the special website  about near misses.

We know that most drivers are considerate of other road users, and that cycling is much safer than many people think. However sometimes a driver will pass us much closer than is ideal or safe.

Avon and Somerset Police would like to know about these incidents so they can educate and plan enforcement activity.

You can report any close passes on a special web page of Avon and Somerset Police.

Read more about Near Misses and how to avoid them.

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 Cycle 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.

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