We have written to all the declared Parliamentary candidates for Taunton Deane with a set of questions concerning various aspects of cycling in and around Taunton. In short, these questions touch a Dutch-style cycling network for Taunton, up to date design guidance for cycling infrastructure, creating high quality safe cycleways, spending to improve bus services, walking and cycling, and working with TACC.
We have made a summary of proposed policies from the candidates.
Category: Cycling Policy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 38degrees.org.uk.
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.“
This is an opportunity to show that cycling isn’t a peripheral issue but a part of the
solution to Taunton’s transport issues. We need to show support for the active
travel ideas in the plan, and push the local authorities still further. Please respond
to the online consultation here by Friday 17 August.
Large sums have recently been committed to road schemes locally. The NIDR,
proposed Toneway scheme and the junction 25 proposal together amount to
approximately £40m. The A358 upgade will cost £250-400m. So what is the
budget for cycling/walking? Nothing. Time to change the balance by asking say for
£5-10m investment in walking and cycling, as a ‘major scheme’ bid.
Tell the local authorities that cycling is important via this link.